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Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Here at STELLAService, we try not to name names when complaining, but I’m sure you can think of a company whose customer service call hold times are consistently so long that you have to block out a time for it in your schedule.
What if I told you that you’ll never have to wait on hold again? Meet LucyPhone, a free service dedicated to preventing the many headaches, neck cramps, and frustration caused by long hold times. Featured most recently in a New York Times article and also on Lifehacker and The Consumerist blogs, LucyPhone does the holding for you. Log on to LucyPhone.com and create your free account. Back on the homepage, you can search for the company within their existing directory of used numbers, or enter the number you wish to call. You then enter your own phone number, and click start. Within seconds, LucyPhone calls you, and reminds you how things work, then connects you to the number you entered online. Things start off as they normally would, until you get put on hold to wait for the “next available customer service representative.”
How many times have you wanted to hang up at this point? After ten minutes? Twenty? An hour? Now you can. When put on hold while using LucyPhone, you simply press ”**” and your phone will be disconnected, while Lucy stays on the line. Feel free to do other things, without having to hear annoying hold music or needing to keep your head pressed to the phone waiting for an answer. When a live agent is on the line, Lucy calls you back immediately and connects you both. If you get put on hold again, just press “**” again!
While LucyPhone’s success does require some cooperation from representatives (albeit this is minimal – when they pick up your call they hear a recording telling them to press “1″ in order to be connected with the awaiting customer), LucyPhone is mutually beneficial for the customer service representatives.
“We’ve cooled their jets a little,” co-founder Tom Oristian said of LucyPhone customers. “These agents are delighted to have customers ready to talk about the problem at hand instead of ranting about how long they’ve been on hold.”
Now, if only there was a solution for waiting in long store check-out lines…
DISCLAIMER: While LucyPhone helps to make things less annoying and more convenient, a long wait for a response is annoying and inconvenient regardless of how the time “on hold” is spent. This invention does not mean –and this post is not trying to suggest- that long call hold times are now okay. Sorry!
Some critics are talking about how the world of e-commerce lacks the personal experience of shopping in a store. Without being face to face, often times what we’re also missing is the relationships with the store employees.
Perhaps the difference is more noticeable for me. I grew up in a town where any franchise-style stores are banned to help preserve the town’s beauty. Sounds crazy right? I loved it. When you have go to a different Mom and Pop store for each thing you need, the store clerks get to know you. Even with big discount stores in the next town over, I chose to stay loyal to the Mom and Pop stores for the relationships I made and the way they made me feel. I’m sure you can think of a store that you go back to for the same reasons.
You know that one website where every time you sign on someone smiles at you? Oh yeah, that doesn’t exist (and would actually be kind of creepy). But one important gesture that websites can make to their customers is to get as close to a relationship as possible by making an effort to make them feel like you know them.
I recently read a blog post by Joe Rawlinson on returncustomer.com about how the most important word you can say to your customer is their name. It’s incredible how little things like that so often get overlooked yet are so incredibly easy to incorporate. Emails can automatically insert the customer’s name throughout the message. On the phone, CSR’s should make a point to use the customer’s name in the conversation and when saying thank you and goodbye.
At the heart of things, the simplest additions by e-retailers to personalize interactions can make a big difference in the customer’s experience. Rather than the ones who address us like were all the same, the companies who are genuine in attempting to know each and every customer are the ones we’ll gladly take the time to get to know too.
When it comes to the understanding how important it is for a business to make its customers feel good, some people just get it. Or – well – they more than get it, they understand that it means everything. It can make a business, break a business, and most importantly differentiate a business.
Stan Phelps is one of those people who “gets it.” While the video on his website is four minutes long, it took less than thirty seconds before I was intrigued. Stan is a marketer and author of the upcoming book, “Marketing Lagniappe: In Search of Your Purple Goldfish.” I’m excited to read it.
“Lagniappe?” you might ask, “And purple goldfish?” They’re carefully chosen words.
Phelps explains lagniappe (pronounced lăn-yăp) both by definition, “a small gift at the time of purchase, or an extra or unexpected gift or benefit” and also through a quote by Mark Twain: “It’s the equivalent to the 13th roll in a baker’s dozen, something thrown in for good measure”.
What Phelps really understands and what he wants to share with the world is the importance of lagniappe. He feels lagniappe is “sorely missing in today’s business environment” and challenges businesses to find their purple goldfish. He mentions Seth Godin’s book “Purple Cow” in explaining that purple represents differentiation, to “stand out and be remarkable to your customers.”
The goldfish represents a business or product, with its growth being affected by four things: the size of the habitat (the market), the number of others in that habitat (competition), the quality of the fishbowl’s water (the economy), and the goldfish’s genetic composition including what makes the goldfish unique (differentiation). Just like a goldfish in a fishbowl, a business might not have control over the first three things, but “the one thing [they] have total control of is how to differentiate itself.”
Have you seen any purple goldfish lately? In other words, have you done business with a company that has “wowed” you? Then share your story!
To promote his upcoming book, Phelps is looking for examples of marketing lagniappe. For each example you pass along, Phelps will donate a non-perishable item to his local charity. If your story gets published in his book, you’ll receive a signed copy when it comes out!
Email your customer stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit marketinglagniappe.com.