Visit us on Facebook!
Visit us at STELLAService.com
Call us: (212) 366-1483
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email us: email@example.com
To celebrate the New Year, we thought we’d share some of our favorite new TV commercials, which of course poke fun at embarrassingly bad customer service. You think companies are starting to get a clue that great customer service is no longer just a “nice to have”…?
These commercials were all posted to YouTube within the last few weeks — enjoy!
And an update recommended by our friends at GetHuman.com, a recently released DIRECTV commercial:
As a result of evaluating the service of thousands of online retailers – some of them with “unfriendly” return policies – we were unfortunately left with hundreds of random products at the end of 2011.
As opposed to auctioning off these products on eBay or otherwise disposing of them, we decided to turn the negative situation into a positive one by giving away the items to those in need. Check it out!
Happy holidays from all of us at STELLAService!
Watching out for consumers, Asa asks STELLAService about buying a Halloween costume online and how to identify the best sites when it comes to customer service.
Check out our previous post if you’re still in the market for a Halloween costume and don’t have time to get to a store…just a couple days left, so make sure you purchase from the best!
We deal with sites that offer sub-par service by not awarding them the STELLAService seal. Other groups, like the RevZilla.com Team, choose to handle bad service in a slightly different way….
What do you do to “shoot down” bad service?
I recently watched two episodes of “Undercover Boss,” a exposé-style show on CBS that documents the experiences of senior executives when they work entry-level jobs at the companies they manage. The first episode I watched featured Jim and Chris McCann, CEO and COO, respectively, of 1-800 Flowers, the world’s largest flower and gift retailer. The second show presented Michael Rubin, CEO of GSI Commerce who worked in the shipping warehouse and customer service “Escalations” call center. The final show I enjoyed exposed Rick L. Arquilla, President and COO of Roto Rooter, to both sewage and the customer service call center.
It is entertaining to watch each show as traditionally suit-and-tie-clad executives get their elbows dirty (sometimes literally) and experience the work of those who ultimately execute the day-to-day responsibilities for their companies. I noticed a common theme in each episode-you guessed it-customer service! The following are some anecdotes, highlights, and lessons learned by the CEO’s from the episodes:
1. Connect with Customers
Chris McCann (COO, 1-800 Flowers) learns from one of his employees at their most successful physical store that building loyalty with customers keeps them coming. Commenting on the employee who greets all her customers by name, Chris says, “She’s fantastic! The connection she has with her customers-if I can bottle that up and get it into all of our stores, oh my god!”
2. Build Relationships First, Do Business Second
McCann got a wakeup call when he saw how little foot traffic a Massachusetts chain received. The employee was amiable but not particularly friendly and did not connect with her customers. McCann reflected upon their best-selling store and realized the need to build a loyal customer base and then grow the business based on that support.
3. Put Aside the Pride and Apologize
Michael Rubin (CEO, GSI Commerce) was thrilled with the excellent composure of Adam, a CSR that worked in Escalations, the particular call support for customers who have conflicts with their orders. Adam kept his cool, was very apologetic to his customers, and aimed to make them happy. On the other hand, Danielle, another CSR, was rude to a customer and insisted on being right rather than making the customer happy-ingredients to guarantee a lost customer. Rubin becomes very upset with her performance as a result. See the clip below:
4. It’s Not So Simple
Rick L. Arquilla (President and COO, Roto-Rooter) worked in phone call support and struggled with basic order-taking. He talked at the customer, interrupted, and was pushy. Unlike Rubin who had to confront and re-teach Danielle after revealing his true identity at the end of the show, Arquilla learned from his employee that he needed to be compassionate with the customer and their problem. He quipped at the end of the segment, “I got to bring in some of that customer mentality. I got to be warmer and fuzzier.” The full-episode CBS link is below, and at 13:30 is where he begins his customer service training, and at 15:00 is his realization.
All three shows had an underlying theme of being compassionate with customers and building relationships, which is not a surprising necessity in the potentially impersonal relationship built through a telephone or website. The fact that each of the shows exposed the executive to the customer support department in addition to more menial, physical labor tasks reenforces the need for excellent customer service that is the very backbone of retailers. By stressing the need for warm, compassionate, and overall-fantastic customer service, companies can assure their customers will watch their troubles go down the drain, a la Roto-Rooter’s slogan.
The above comic reminded me of a call support phenomena that I have experienced on quite a few occasions. I’ve witnessed on several occasions a call wait time that turned out not to be the case. “We are experiencing a higher than normal call volume. Please stay on the line…” cooed the automatic recording. On most occasions, this is true. Other times, the expected hold time is much longer, and I sigh in relief when I am immediately transferred to a human.
So how are hold times estimated? IVR, or interactive voice response, is used to estimate the hold time of calls based on the wait times of previous calls and forecasts of future calls. IVR designers collect data across days and weeks to determine the average hold times, which vary based on the time of day, day of the week, and proximity to holidays. Using this information, customer service managers can staff customer support representatives so that more are available at busier parts of the day. Further, they can design the call menu to route customers to the most efficient customer support representatives, and even create automated processes for which customer service representatives aren’t necessarily needed, such as checking order status, purchasing products, and making payments.
Giving consumers a heads up about how long to wait is a convenience to the customer, who may decide to call back at another time or to leave a voicemail with the company if that is an option. It can help prevent customers from directing their disgruntlement to the customer service representative once he or she is reached. In any case, the call hold time should be accurate. If it’s consistently inaccurate, the customer may hang up, anticipating frustration due to unrealistic estimated call hold times and tell their friends not to trust the IVR-driven process.
Jay Goltz is a small business owner in Chicago who recently gave us his take on why customer service is slacking these days in his NY Times piece Why Customer Service Is So Bad. He is convinced that consumers are receiving the short end of the stick because of three reasons:
What Jay inherently points out is that the customer service engine is dynamic. Much like a basketball coach substituting players in and out of the game to find the right group of players to win on that particular night, or an e-commerce team trying to optimize their website in order to increase conversions, customer service has many different drivers – all of which can be tinkered with to improve (or not improve) the model. At the end of the day, however, Jay points out that the goal is clear: take good care of your customers so they’ll return to you and refer you to a friend. Above all else, what customers appreciate the most is when they know that a company is passionate about them and their business, and is forever committed to serving them.