What Makes Customers Happy?

There was an interesting article in a Marketing Profs email a month or so ago about customer service and what customer service issues annoy customers the most. I am sure that most of us can guess what they are because they are the same ones that annoy us when we were on the customer side of the equation.

The article by Ayaz Nanji talked about the customer service issues most likely to make people stop doing business with a company. The two that customers found most frustrating were talking to company employees who were uninformed, and if they had to wait a long time to talk to someone.

I know, myself, that dealing with recorded messages that ask me to press this and press that and go on for minutes before I can get to an actual human being tends to put me in a bad mood before I even speak to the customer service person, who may well be doing his/her best to help me. When you have a simple question a recorded message can be quite helpful in getting you the information you need.

However, it is the uninformed employees that are most likely to result in the customer abandoning the company or product for another. It’s important that everyone knows that if they don’t know the answer to a question a customer is asking or they cannot solve the problem a customer has, then as quickly as possible get the customer to someone who can answer the question or solve the problem. If that is not an option, take the information about the problem and tell them you will get back to them.

Customers want issues they have to be resolved quickly. It is the most important thing about good customer service. So, whether it is in person, on the phone, through email or online chat, do everything you can to solve the customer’s problem quickly and efficiently, it will pay dividends in the short and long term.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Customer Service: The Good, The Bad, And The Very Ugly

After watching a segment on the television about a couple of companies that offer customer service that is above and beyond the norm, earlier this week, I decided to write my blog on customer service, talking about some companies that really go out of their way.

On Monday along came the story about United Airlines dragging a paying customer out of his seat and off an airplane. I was amazed. Not only at the removal of the man by airline security people but also by the fact that none of these people gave any thought to the fact that cell phones (which are ubiquitous these days) have cameras. It was not a pretty video.

This was followed up by a less than stellar “apology” from the CEO of United Airlines. All in all an extremely bad day for United, its employees and (it seems from the internet) its share prices.

That takes care of the bad and very ugly, as this incident definitely fits into both those categories.

On the other side, there are some great examples of customer service. Land’s End company will always refund the purchase price of any item. In fact, the information on the Land’s End website states:

“Guaranteed. Period.

If you are not satisfied with any item, return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price.”

That type of service with no questions asked is bound to make consumers life-long customers of Land’s End.

Another shining example is Nordstrom, a company known for the excellent treatment of their customers.

Of course, it’s not only no hassle return policies, it’s also the quality of service, being polite, friendly, interested in the customer and ready to help. All these will increase your sales and keep your customers coming back again and again.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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A Note From A Frustrated Wine Consumer

The other day I received an email from a wine consumer I know. This person is not in the wine business, neither is anyone in the family. As a couple, they go wine tasting regularly and are thinking about giving it up.

The note is exactly as I received it, except that I took out any reference to the location of the wineries visited as these things happen in all regions.

“For a while now we have stopped going wine tasting for one major reason: We hate being told what we are going to taste in the wine. After the n-th tasting room, where we have heard the wine notes and we were asked only where are we from, I have had enough.

95% of our tasting room hosts recited the tasting notes to us and all other customers and just wanted to see us buying a lot and get out of the door. I feel not like a treasured guest but as a “body in and body out” and I feel like they check some boxes with how much they served and how much we bought and that’s all. 

We now only have about five favorite tasting rooms in the whole area where we take guests and the hosts are not assuming that we are there in a group just to get drunk, or that we know nothing about wine tasting. 

More often than not we have had to ask for water in-between the tastes and dump buckets were available in about 2% of all the tasting rooms we have visited in the last six years. 

I used to go to discover new places and find new wines I might like. I don’t feel like going anymore. I rarely find good examples of customer service or folks who really care about the customer and want to establish a relationship (other than “buy something, dammit!”).”

Show this note to your staff, bring it up at the next hospitality staff meeting. You might not think it applies to your winery, but it might.

Next week I will talk about ways to fix the problems brought up in this note.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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The Best Customer Service Ever

I went down to Monterey, CA for a couple of days earlier this week as a quick getaway to celebrate my birthday. While there I spent a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The exhibits were amazing, but the thing I was most impressed with was the customer service. While there I spoke to at least seven different employees and volunteers and every one of them was helpful, informative, pleasant and interacted with us on a personal as well as a professional level.

During each interaction, we were given interesting information about the fish and birds that made up that particular exhibit. The person speaking with us, whether they were volunteers or paid employees were cheerful, friendly and obviously loved what they were doing.

In contrast, I was at a winery a few days before with a friend who had gone to pick up a quarterly wine club shipment. As we walked in the front door to the tasting room there was a woman behind the desk who was looking through some papers. She did not raise her head from the papers when we came in or acknowledge us in any way.

We continued over to the tasting bar and the young woman behind the bar who was pleasant but not at all engaged with us began to tell us how the tasting worked. My friend mentioned being a part of the wine club and she pointed to the other room and said that we could pick up the shipment over there. We stayed at the tasting bar to taste some wine. The tasting was free for anyone who came to the winery and there was nothing special for wine club members to taste. We were asked no questions, nor was any attempt made to form a connection with us by either of the two employees who served us. They just came over, asked what we wanted, poured and left. There was also no attempt to sell us on anything, asked how we liked the wine club. The tasting room was not busy yet there was no personal interaction at all.

When we went over to pick up the shipment, the employees put it into a bag, asked to sign the sheet and said goodbye. No suggestion that we might want to purchase something else was made. My friend will be cancelling the wine club membership at this winery before the next shipment.

The two experiences were polar opposites. If I had to choose where to spend my money based on how I was treated, I would be back at the Monterey Bay Aquarium tomorrow.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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