A Business Technology Place

Learning from customer service experiences

I’m documenting some customer service experiences from the last two weeks. They had an impact on my actions and they serve as a good reminder of reflection for customer service actions that we provide to others. People do notice words, attitudes, and body language.

While on vacation at a location where the number one industry is tourism:

Trolley Driver

My wife and I rode a trolley as a means of public transportation. By chance, we were the only passengers. We used the time to talk to the trolley driver and he provided some valuable information to us. As we were leaving he mentioned that he would like to discuss more with us and to look for him on the return trip. We did find him for the return trip and we were able to ask a few more questions.

The result? We felt appreciated as tourists spending time and money in his area. We left very pleased with our experience and left him a nice tip.

Restaurant Hostess

We entered a restaurant at dinner time near a popular pier. It was the beginning of the dinner rush about 5:30 in the evening. As we entered, another two parties entered just behind us. The hostess on her way to pick up menus mumbled softly (but loud enough to hear), “Oh, here they come, it’s starting.” I can’t portray how it was said audibly, but it was unpleasant enough that my wife and I looked at each other with the same look of astonishment. We were a disruption and inconvenience to her quiet-time.

The result? We walked out. We didn’t want to be in a place that wasn’t happy to receive our business.

Restaurant Waitress

At a different restaurant, our assigned waitress approached our table with smile and friendly greeting. After taking our drink orders she proceeded to answer our questions about their menu including information about serving size and what other guests typically do with the meal. She refilled our drinks without us having to ask and even provided to-go cups for our drinks as we left.

The result? A nice experience. We felt like appreciated customers. A favorable review for the restaurant and a nice tip for the waitress.

Hair Stylist

It’s not normal for me to get haircut while on vacation, but I had other travel planned for the week after and didn’t have time to visit my normal hair cutter back home. I showed up as a walk-in at a local place. There were two stylists on duty. They had a queueing system there and it showed two people waiting as “online check-in”. About the time the two stylists finished with their existing customers, both parties in front of me arrived. The first was a single man. The second party was a mom with three children. So I was actually 5th in line.

That’s when it got weird. The two stylists disappeared for about 3-4 minutes without a word to the five of us in the waiting area. Maybe it was a bathroom break, but I wasn’t sure. Then one of them appeared and started with the gentleman who was first. The second stylist was not visible and the first stylist made no mention of his whereabouts. Realizing I had a lengthy wait in front of me, I left to get dinner. As I walked to my car, I spotted the second stylist smoking a cigarette behind the store. It just seemed odd he would take a smoke break with four customers waiting and not even mention that he was stepping out for a quick break.

The result? I left and didn’t return. Neither stylist cared enough to communicate with customers what was happening. The atmosphere was yucky.

While on business travel:

Hotel Cleaning Staff

While traveling on business I returned to my hotel room one evening to find a note from the cleaning staff. The note was cheerful and upbeat and made me smile. Here was someone who enjoyed their job. I realized their motive may have been to receive a tip for their services, but I didn’t take their actions for granted because all the other service providers in my example work from tips. From some research, I found there isn’t consensus with the public about tipping hotel cleaning staff members. I found passionate arguments for and against it. But regardless of the tip, it was nice to feel appreciated as a guest at the hotel. The manager had also written me a welcome letter thanking me for staying at her property.

The result? A great experience. I was told more than once my stay at the property was appreciated. I gave them a good review and would stay there again if I am in the area.

Onward and upward!

Photo credit: Marcin Wichary via creative commons: https://flic.kr/p/4qyEp4

Top drivers of small business satisfaction

A couple of business colleagues recently attended the Enterprise Council on Small Business Annual Summit. They shared their conference notes and summary with me and others when they returned. Information and knowledge share of meeting events is a great way to create conversation within your team and possibly create positive change in your organization.

One of the lists they shared with me was full of good principals that I thought was worthy to share and document on MerchantStand.com. It lists the top drivers for satisfaction when selling products and services to small business owners.

Top drivers of small business satisfaction in order of importance:

1. Make the message simple

Owners want a hassle free experience from suppliers. The same applies for individual consumers also. People like simple. People get simple. People use simple. So keep your message simple and on point.

2. Talk Straight

Talk about the problem you are solving for your customer, not your products. When you do discuss a price, show the price up front and give a dollar amount rather than a percentage off amount. Doing this will show that you are honest and credible.

3. Serve on their terms

Give small business owners control in service interaction. Owners are “take control” individuals, allow them to select the method in which they interact with your organization. This means traditional channels will blur. Some customers may choose to transact business with you on the phone, some on your internet site, others in person, and some via social media.

4. Commit Early
The first supplier of a product or service is most likely the one the small business will stick with for the foreseeable future. If part of your business plan is to become the first provider to new small businesses, then get in and commit your solutions early. This means becoming a recognized leader in your industry by participating in the conversations that are out there. It could be social groups, networking events, social media, blogs, etc.

1800PetMeds email marketing and your pooch

It’s been tough to find time to write this past week with the kids school ending, kids activities, and home projects. I did come across an email from 1-800-Pet-Meds in my inbox. The email was a marketing promotion to reorder heart worm pills for my dog. They knew it was time for me to reorder because I had ordered a 6 month supply from them 6 months ago.  We typically use this e-Retailer because they offer the same medicine as our veterinarian but at substantially lower prices.

Now, what was nice about this email was that it was composed in the form of the site shopping cart. The heart worm pills order was already in the cart. All I had to do was click to jump to their site and then click again to order with my profile information. 2 clicks and my order was complete. Fast, easy, and timely. Nice marketing job guys!

I believe this form of email marketing works well for a couple of reasons:

  1. It came from a merchant that I’ve used in the past (Trust)
  2. It offered a product that I’ve ordered in the past (Relevance)
  3. It came at a time when I would probably need to order this product (Timeliness)
  4. It offered a path to complete a transaction in two clicks (Efficient and Simple)

This type of email is an effective way to earn customer retention as repeat business.  I believe it creates customer loyalty as it focuses on the need of the customer based on some simple analysis of past behaviors.

What loyalty marketing programs advertise to you? Do you appreciate targeted marketing emails like this?