Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: customer service

Great service recovery from the Delta Burnaby!

When it comes to keeping your customers and clients happy, things don’t always go according to plan.  Stuff happens … deliveries are delayed, products don’t work exactly as intended, and your service falls short in one or more areas.  So, no matter how hard you try, the unfortunate truth is that things will go wrong!  Which is why I’ve always said that it’s not bad customer service that makes or breaks an organization, it’s the quality (or lack) of thdeltacardeir service recovery that makes the difference.  It’s how your staff react and respond to a customer’s problem or complaint that will decide whether you now have a disgruntled customer (who will likely tell many more via social media) or a raving enthusiastic fan.  I have blogged in the pdeltafruitplateast about how some companies don’t understand this fundamental reality of service recovery, most recently when writing about the Royal Bank.

But in today’s blog post, I want to go in the other direction – I want to tell you about an organization, and more specifically, one of their employees, who gets it!   Samantha Scott is the Guest Services Manager at the Delta Hotel in Burnaby BC, my hotel of choice when I work in the Vancouver area.  And something happened last week that reinforced why I choose to stay at this hotel, again and over again.

Is there a gym above me?

At about 9 PM on Tuesday night, an endless racket began in the room above me.  It sounded like my room was placed directly beneath a gym – I could hear furniture moving, what I thought were weights being dropped, and what seemed like an endless skipping rope, thumping against the floor.  Eventually, shortly after 10 PM, I called the front desk, and Samantha answered the phone. Continue reading

It’s time for the next customer service revolution

Customer satisfaction and customer service has been on my mind lately, primarily because I have experienced two situations first-hand recently in which two banks just didn’t get it!  Last November, I had an unfortunate interaction with ScotiaBank, and just earlier this month I blogged about how an employee at the Royal Bank couldn’t grasp the big picture.  Which got me musing about how customer service has changed significantly in just the last forty years, making it a moving target for those who aspire to exceptional levels.  When it came time to pen my regular column for The Globe and Mail, I guess it’s not very surprising then that I ended up writing about customer service. My column in this morning’s edition challenges you to envision three progressive possibilities that will ensure that your organization is at a significant competitive advantage.  You can read it here:

Artificial intelligence is the next revolution in customer service

customer service

 

Customer service has undergone at least two significant revolutions in the last forty years.  First with the invention of the 1-800 toll-free number, and then with the pervasive use of email.  Despite the significance of each of these two innovations, the underlying premise in customer service has always been to fix an issue identified by the buyer.  But it is 2018, so it is time to finally change that paradigm!  It’s time to fix the problem before your customer tells you about it.  The technology to power this transformation exists; it is called artificial intelligence, or AI.  And many companies have already harnessed its potential.

So, are you keeping up?  Or are you the company that makes your customers wait for hours on the phone for an issue to be resolved, or days for a response to an email query?  I would love to hear your perspectives on which organizations are ahead of the curve, and which are seriously far behind.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

Customer loyalty – easy to lose, but just as easy to keep

Just a few months ago, I blogged about a specific situation I experienced where a few ill-chosen words by a bank manager were able to destroy long-term customer loyalty in a matter of minutes.  Well, I’m sad to report that it’s happened again, another situation this time, but ironically still involving a(nother) bank.

One Friday afternoon in February, I was catching up on my banking and processed four transactions within three hours of each other.  Two were deposits into an account and two were transfers out of the same account.  What is key here is that all were intra-bank transactions, moving funds from one Royal Bank account to another.

Fast forward to last week when I was reconciling my bank statement and realized that I had been charged an account overdraft fee of $4.09.  Puzzled, I called customer service to find out what happened.  Turns out that while the two transfers out of that one account had been processed before 6 pm, the first deposit into the account had been posted at 6:01 pm and the second about 30 minutes later.  Apparently the rule is that transactions posted after 6 pm are recorded on the next business day, in this case on the following Monday.  So, in the system, the withdrawals were logged on Friday and the deposits were logged on the following Monday, three days later.  Ergo, the overdraft fee.

Customer loyalty is easy to lose …

While the overdraft fee was logically accurate because of the computer algorithm, it clearly didn’t make common sense, at least from a customer service perspective.  It was a simple timing error, and one that had zero impact to Royal Bank as all funds had been moved between Royal Bank accounts.  So I fully expected the phone agent to willingly acquiesce to my request to have the amount waived.  Imagine my surprise when he “put me on hold to talk to a supervisor”. Continue reading

Here’s how to destroy customer loyalty in a matter of minutes (aka lack of empathy)

I was recently reminded, first-hand, of how customer loyalty can be lost through a few ill-chosen words.  Let me explain.

Lack of empathyA couple of months ago, my elderly father was unexpectedly admitted into the hospital due to some health complications.  The hospital stay was longer than anyone had anticipated, and in the stress and anxiety related to this medical emergency, he missed making his payment on his ScotiaBank Visa credit card.  Now he’s been a ScotiaBank customer for at least thirty years and has a track record of not only paying all his bills on time, but also carrying a zero balance.  By the time we realized the oversight, he had been charged approximately $12 in finance charges.  As a senior with limited income, this distressed him greatly, so I promised to call the credit card company to see if they would, as a gesture of goodwill for his ongoing customer loyalty, reverse the charge.

My initial conversation with the customer service rep got nowhere.  Even though I explained why my father could not come to the telephone, the Visa rep, citing privacy laws, refused to discuss the situation with me because I was not the holder of record on the credit card.  Fair enough.  However, he suggested that I contact my father’s bank manager who would be able to assist.  So I did.

The real surprise was the conversation with the branch manager …

And promptly discovered a very surprising (and disappointing) approach to treating a long-term loyal customer.  Continue reading

Customer Service Leadership Summit – advance registration deadline is midnight Wednesday

Customer Service Leadership SummitIf you’re a regular reader of the blog, or if you receive my monthly Mega Minutes, then you already know how excited I am about sharing the stage with three exceptional speakers at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary AB on November 15.  Not just these three amazing thought-leaders, but three industry experts will also be on stage, each of whom know exactly what they’re talking about and willing to share their extensive knowledge with you!  Why make the most common mistakes when you can learn how to avoid them from people who are incredibly successful at what they do?  The advance registration deadline is just two days away … just until midnight on Wednesday November 8.  If you act before then, you’ll save 30% off the standard rate.  On Thursday, the price will go up.  We only have a few seats left, so do it now!

Still not sure whether you should attend? Get a sample of what you can expect

If you’ve been waffling on whether or not you should attend, following are four videos that give you just a small taste of what you can expect.  Michael Kerr, Tina Varughese, and Jeff Mowatt are not just my professional colleagues who are renowned experts in their individual areas, but they are also professional speakers who know how to engage and entertain a business audience while sharing relevant ideas

Michael Kerr – Best-selling author

Tina Varughese – Cross-cultural communication expert

Jeff Mowatt – Customer service strategist

And … yours truly

Customer Service Leadership Summit – early bird rates only until Wednesday!

I am thrilled to be sharing the mainstage platform with three exceptional thought-leaders at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary on November 15.  If you receive my regular monthly Mega Minute, then you already know about this premier event, already tracking to be a sellout.

Customer Service Leadership Summit

Act now for early bird pricing!

I will be joining my professional colleagues – customer service strategist Jeff Mowatt, cross-cultural communication expert Tina Varughese, and best-selling author Mike Kerr – to share smart practices and fresh ideas to not just attract new customers, but also turn current customers into raving fans.  Plus, there will be a bonus super-session titled “Selling the Invisible: Growing your business when your ‘product’ is actually a service”, presented by a panel of industry experts, people just like you who’ve figured this out.

If this is something you know you need, then you must act now to take advantage of early bird pricing.  If you want to save 40% off standard rates, you have to act before midnight this Wednesday October 18.  On Thursday you’ll be paying more!  More details and online registration is on the Customer Service Leadership Summit website. Continue reading

Is your customer service helping you laugh all the way to the bank?

MikeKerr1Later this year in November, I will be sharing the mainstage platform with my professional colleague, friend and all-round funny guy Michael Kerr at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary.  Which is why I am thrilled that he agreed to guest on the blog again today.  Well that, and of course, because his messages are always so on-point.  Last time Mike was my guest on the blog, he wrote about the Seven messages leaders need to deliver to their customer service team.  Today, he poses the question:

Is Your Customer Service Helping You Laugh All the Way to the Bank?

One way to exceed your customers’ expectations and stand out from the herd to be heard over your competition is to look for creative ways to add a bit of fun to your customer service. Here are just a few ideas from my latest book, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank, to help you get your creative juices flowing: Continue reading

Seven messages leaders need to deliver to their customer service team

mikekerr3My professional colleague and friend Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker and the author of six books, including The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.  He is also my guest blogger today, writing about what it takes to create an organizational culture that is focused on customer service.  Even though I’ve often blogged about specific situations that demonstrate what it takes to build (or destroy) customer loyalty (for example, Tilley Endurables, G Adventures, United Airlines, and Sahara Furniture), Michael’s post today comes at this subject from a more macro perspective.  Good reading, I hope you find it of value as well.

P.S. Michael and I will be sharing the mainstage platform (with two other exceptional speakers) at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary later this year on November 15.  More information about the Summit is at the end of this post below.

A young woman approached me after a talk recently and asked me the following question:  “I’m a brand new leader overseeing a large customer service department and I really want to drive home the importance of customer service,  so what messages could I deliver to help my employees embrace a service-first attitude?”

Seven messages you should heed

Here’s the gist of what I relayed to her –  seven messages I think any customer service leader needs to tell their employees around the topic of customer service. Continue reading

Can the latest apology from United Airlines heal the rift?

United AirlinesOn April 12, I blogged about the immediate aftermath of United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz’ (lack of) leadership.  This following the upsetting video that surfaced the night of April 9th, showing the violent removal of a passenger from an aircraft.  On April 19, I wrote a further commentary in my regular column for The Globe & MailLessons from the United Airlines debacle (or how not to destroy your brand) – in which laid out five leadership lessons that any CEO should internalize so as not to find themselves in similar shaky situations in the future.

Is it too little, too late?

I still maintain that this unfortunate United Airlines incident is destined to become a textbook case of how a leader should not act in a state of crisis (particularly in the age of the Internet).  But I am pleased to say that on April 27, Munoz also demonstrated how to do it right.  United issued the results of their internal investigation as well as a public apology in major newspapers, individual apologies to the airline’s frequent flyers (I got an email) and a statement on their website.  Granted, it may be the proverbial equivalent of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but in my opinion, late is better than never.  Continue reading

One more reason to create a customer-focused culture

jeffmowattWhen it comes to customer service expertise and creating customer-focused cultures, my professional colleague and friend Jeff Mowatt didn’t just read the book – he wrote it!  He’s the author of the best-selling business books, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month and Influence with Ease.  In a recent conversation, I realized that while Jeff has guested on the blog previously, the last time was in December 2010 when he penned Use your intuition to make better strategic decisions.  Needless to say, it’s been wa-a-a-ay too long, so I was delighted when he agreed to write a guest post again today.  Jeff, let’s not wait this long the next time!

How do I get my staff to get along?

“I can accept it when one of my employees makes a mistake. What I don’t have patience for is when my employees don’t play well with one another.” This was a client, a business owner with 45 employees, who explained, “When there’s a problem with a customer, employees focus more on blaming other departments and covering their own backsides than stepping-up to help each other to resolve the problem. We need a stronger commitment to teamwork.” Continue reading