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Apple’s Customer Service Hire Comes From Company With Bad Customer Service
In announcing its new retail chief John Browett, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we’ve met.” But, some are pointing out the poor customer service performance of Browett’s previous employer, British Electronics retailer Dixons. [Source: The Atlantic]
Alice.com To Invest in Customer Service
Alice.com just landed a few more million. The online retailer of everyday items such as trash bags, detergent and shampoos from more than 600 manufacturers says a portion of the funding will be used to boost its customer service efforts. The company is on the right track, display their STELLAService Excellent rating on their front page. [Source: Internet Retailer]
Retailers Look To Smartphones For Better Customer Experience
“Customer-care programs will quickly move from e-mails and phone calls after the fact to smartphones and tablets in-store and in the moment.” [Source: AdAge]
Birchbox Bets On Solving Beauty Shopping Pain Points
We get excited about stories of businesses trying to solve pain points for shoppers. The Birchbox founders wanted to help customers deal with an overwhelming selection of products and the inability to get a hands-on experience before making a purchase. [Source: Mashable]
One of my favorite parts about working during summer, are the interns that join the STELLAService team. It’s awesome to see young college kids, eager to learn about what we’re doing, really try their hardest to contribute and change the way things are done here at STELLAService.
We recently brought on three new interns to join the STELLAService team! One of our new rockstar interns wrote an incredible cover letter and I wanted to share with everyone.
I am writing to express my interest in the summer internship position at STELLAService. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you an experience in customer relations that had a profound role in shaping my views on business, sales, and service.
For two summers I worked as a clerk at an independent bookshop in Sag Harbor, New York. While my nominal duties were to work the cash register, customer service was an integral part of my daily routine as well as our business mantra. The store’s owners understood that their prices could never compete with the likes of Barnes & Noble or Borders, to say nothing of online vendors, but that customers were willing to spend a little more in return for knowledgeable and friendly service. We sought to make our customers’ book buying experience the antithesis of shopping at a large chain store and, to that end, we were instructed to warmly greet everyone in the store, recognize regular patrons and their preferences, make strong recommendations, and alert shoppers to in-house readings by authors. All prospective employees were required to take exams on literature prior to even being considered for the job and a variety of programs encouraged us to read new novels in order to keep up with our customers’ questions and tastes. The management insisted on not only a high level of literary knowledge, but also relied on us to create a congenial atmosphere. Aware that some may find a bookstore daunting, we strove to be approachable for advice and guidance.
Expertise and a feeling of welcome brought customers back month after month, despite the fact many of our patrons lived in communities that had access to less expensive, corporate book vendors. This taught me that people are willing to pay a little extra for excellent customer service. In an age when online competition has driven prices to near uniformity, a record of strong service can be the distinguishing factor in a customer’s decision to buy your product.
I believe this lesson is very applicable to the work that is done at STELLAService. In addition, I feel that I would be a strong candidate for this position because of my ability to identify needs, successfully multi-task, and rise to challenges. I’ve spent the past year honing my analytical skills at Vassar College where I received distinguished grades. I’m confident that I would make a beneficial contribution to your team.
Attached is a resume outlining my qualifications and achievements. Letters of recommendation as well as academic grades are available upon request. I look forward to speaking with you and discussing further options.
SENSAI STELLA INTERN!!!!
I found this to be an incredible summary of what we’re trying to achieve here at STELLAService. The e-commerce landscape is filled with companies just like the independent bookshop in Sag Harbor and we want customers to find those sites. We are evaluating a large spectrum of the e-commerce landscape because we understand that you don’t have to be a giant multi-million dollar shop to bring a great experience to your shoppers. At the end of the day it’s about being knowledgable about your product, friendly to your customers, and going above and beyond to help their needs.
Share with us your awesome intern stories! We are glad to have three new rockstars on board and it should be an awesome summer!
Last week in the STELLAService offices there was discussion around the differences between brick-and-mortar retail stores and their online counterparts. The conversation mostly focused on how retailers can ensure that their online service experience is commensurate with the experience they provide in-store (and vice versa). The conversation began because someone had mentioned Coach’s fantastic in-store customer service. One of Coach’s nicer in-store touches is that after your purchase has been made, the associate that helped you walks around from behind the register to hand you your purchase. Previous to this, we doubt that anyone didn’t buy something at a Coach store because nobody came from behind the counter to hand them their purchase. That said, we can guarantee that the simple gesture of handing a customer whatever they bought goes a long way towards ensuring that they feel appreciated and that they’ll remember that experience in the future. These types of gestures require ingenuity, ingenuity driven by insight. The insight comes from retailers taking the initiative to look at their service from the ground level (whether it be online or in-store). Without the valuable insight to see what their service looks like first-hand — and how it can be improved, the executives responsible for making changes couldn’t have possibly incorporated such a simple, yet meaningful detail.
At STELLAService, we often use our insight to find many examples of companies willing to ‘come from behind the counter’ to provide excellent service. As online retailers continue to place more emphasis onto their service, we expect there to be many more small, yet highly meaningful moments of great service. While we’re always impressed by them, we also love to hear stories from shoppers who have had their own ‘handbag hand-off’ moment with a retailer. Of course we’ll continue to post our own thoughts, but we’d love to get yours as well. With that in mind, feel free to use the comments section to share any small gestures from retailers that you’ve been on the receiving end of that have made you feel not only warm and fuzzy, but also deeply appreciated.
In NYC, I have grown to expect the expensive costs of dining-out, entertainment, and rent, but one thing I do not have to splurge on is flowers. A few days ago, I was buying flowers for Mother’s Day and there were two bodegas diagonally across the street from one another. Each store had your usual roses dyed in unnatural colors, pre-mixed bouquets, and chicken-scratch price tags. A quick glance revealed the prices were nearly identical as well.
So how do I decide from which bodega to purchase the flowers?
Idea 1: Bargain shop for the cheapest flowers. Count stems, petals, etc. to make sure I’m getting the best deal. I should save on something that’s going to die in a few days anyway, right? Come to the conclusion that price is a wash (also, Mom might be reading and I don’t want her to think price matters when it comes to her!)
Idea 2: Choose the bodega with the coolest, most unique-looking flowers. A bunch of electric blue orchids caught my eye, as did a spiky, artichoke-looking plant (which reminds me-whoever picked up an artichoke and decided it was something humans should eat deserves a culinary Nobel Prize). Decide neon-colored hydrangeas might look cool but Mom might disagree.
Idea 3: Determine which store has the best quality flowers. Realize quality amongst the two bodegas is nearly identical with the minimal flower knowledge I possess.
Idea 4: Select the bodega with the shortest line. Spend 30 seconds waffeling about which line is the shortest. Conclude time spent waffeling is longer than the little time I’d wait at either bodega.
The clerk of bodega A recommended potted tulips since I could put them on the table of the brunch I was attending. He said the flowers would continue to bloom over the next few days and he told me the suggested sunlight exposure and how often they should be watered. This helped make my decision and I arrived at the restaurant armed with not only a floral gift, but also knowledge of how to take care of the botanical flair.
In my flower excursion, the main service component that was key to my decision was the power of knowledge that the bodega clerk shared with me. He wasn’t pushy in any way and I wouldn’t even consider him a salesman, but rather a customer service-oriented possessor of floral knowledge that enabled him to help me make an informed purchase decision.
Do you ever pick up floral knowledge along with your bodega flowers? Or do you prefer your local florist?
Everyone needs help once in awhile. When you contact a company about a question or an issue, you enter this realm. You’re looking for an answer, and your fingers are crossed that the person who answers on the other end has one. But sometimes they need help too, (everyone, remember?) so they may need to pass you along to a co-worker or manager that can handle your needs better. It’s during this hand-off where there seems to be giant room for improving service across all companies. You just explained yourself to the first person reached, you may have a detailed story with layers of complexity that led you to needing help. Now you’re speaking to the second person, and it’s the dreaded “broken record” scenario. Same account or order information needed, same story told.
This is an area where companies can differentiate themselves, improving the customer experience substantially. Nobody likes repeating themselves, especially when they’re describing a problem. The best companies don’t work in silos, they pass along information to other colleagues when it’s needed to speed up issue resolution times. This is efficient and pain-free as possible for the customer. Great service isn’t just about issue resolution, it’s about issue resolution while not wasting your customer’s time.
Working in New York’s Flatiron district has its perks around lunch time – mainly the plethora of delicious places to choose from for lunch. Given the competition, however, it must be super difficult for each sandwich shop to separate and distinguish itself. If I’m looking for a chicken wrap, there are about 50 places in a five block radius that I can go, all offering a similar product at a near identical price.
Like the world of e-commerce, we believe the best way to separate yourself is through WOW customer service!
Today, my co-workers and I were WOW’d by great customer service at The Pump on 17th Street. After telling the cashier that it was my colleague’s first time at The Pump and that I had suggested he try it out, she ensured that the delicious and hefty wrap below – which was made for me quickly and to perfection – was free!
So, where do you think we’ll go next time we want Chicken wraps…?!
So I’ll admit it, I was eavesdropping the other night at dinner. I heard a man complaining to his wife about a poor experience he had shopping online (it didn’t hurt that the guy was one of those loud talkers). Anyway, he went on and on about some expensive tennis racquet he wanted to buy and how he didn’t really know which site to buy it from (apparently there were numerous online shops that carried the one he wanted). He ultimately purchased from one of the sites and, of course, they sent him the wrong racquet! They made him pay for return shipping and apparently no one in the company’s customer service department could be bothered for the hassle it caused this guy. He was pissed. I, on the other hand, leaned back in my chair and smiled. I know, I know…not cool to take pleasure in stuff like this, but what a case study for STELLA!
Over the past couple of years my co-founder and I have had the opportunity to chat with some of brightest folks in e-commerce, and along the way we’ve realized that everyone (subconsciously or not) thinks about online buying behavior in the same three buckets (what I like to call the “E-comm Big Three”): Price; Selection; and Service.
Thinking through this, we began to formulate an opinion that two of these Big Three (Price and Selection) we’re not sustainable differentiators for most of the e-commerce landscape. Consider this: I can visit TheFind.com, a popular shopping comparison engine claiming to have 400,000 Internet retailers in its database, and see over 200 results for the same “Spalding TF-100 Basketball”, sold for more or less the same price at each store. Should I buy at Sears.com, DicksSportingGoods.com, or Dazadi.com (Dazadi…huh?). STELLAService is our solution to this very problem. With price and product selection continuing to converge across most online categories, customer service has increasingly becoming the leading reason why shoppers select one shop over another. All else equal, why wouldn’t you want to do business with a company that focuses 110% on providing great service?
I should also mention that our team has been hard at work creating an enhanced version of STELLAService.com – it will hopefully go live in a matter of days. The new site will give shoppers a much more detailed look at the specific service features and elements of online retailers. No two shoppers are the same, and each values different service attributes differently. So we plan to share some key metrics with shoppers so they can see for themselves which stores deliver the kind of customer experience they’re really after. Stay tuned!
The team here at STELLAService loves when companies display a color coded map of shipping speeds across the US. Not only does it do a better job of communicating shipping time than just plain old text, but it also gets customers to think more pragmatically about the reality of the fulfillment process. Customers sometimes lose sight that a package may have to travel thousands of miles to reach its final destination. It’s really an amazing feat and, thus, setting clear expectations is extremely important.