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It’s easy (and quite common) to take frustration out on the customer service rep who isn’t fixing your problem or addressing your issue. We’ve all done it, been rude or short with an employee of a company that is causing us a headache. But it never seems to get people anywhere really, and it makes sense why. The person on the other end of the line is a also a human being (most of the time) and it’s important not to forget to treat them with respect just as you would anyone else. Who wants to help someone out who is being a jerk?
A few tips from an 18-year customer service rep were highlighted in this article on how to make the best of a situation when you need someone’s help over the phone. Bottom line, treat the person with respect, even if you are a bit upset about the wrong sneakers arriving in the mail. Odds are the experience for both parties will be much more enjoyable and you’ll feel better about it too.
If only he shopped online… more specifically on sites with the STELLAService Seal of customer service excellence.
What’s the furthest you’ve gone to purchase a product? Or better yet, what’s the easiest purchase you’ve made online thanks to outstanding customer service?
…Then show us some love and ‘Like’ us on Facebook! In so doing, you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate from any of our ELITE Retailers (retailers such as Amazon.com, Best Buy, Saks Fifth Avenue, and SOAP.com) and become a part of the only community that guides shoppers to the best when it comes to online customer service.
One of the best things about the concept of “service” is that it’s celebrated in just about every context. When done right, there’s nothing better than first class room service, genuine public service and of course top-rate customer service from a rockin’ online retailer.
Even beer companies are getting into the mix, finding a way to pair the concept of great service with their brands. The iconic beer company Budweiser has a new ad campaign called “Proudly Serving Those Who Serve”:
What do you think of the ad? Truly celebrating “service” or something else…?
When companies first began selling their products on the web, customer service and e-commerce were almost totally incompatible. Retailers competed over prices and selection, but excellent customer service was the selling point of non-Internet vendors. Physical retailers, the conventional wisdom dictated, were better suited to handle patrons’ complaints, questions, and returns.
Flash forward fifteen years or so and the ballgame is changing once again. No longer are companies striving to best each other in choice or cost – those factors are practically the same across the web. Instead, internet retailers are competing more and more for superior customer service. A recent study from the Forrester Group concludes that e-retailers now feel compelled to offer free shipping in order to remain competitive. These companies are coming to realize that free shipping policies are an excellent way to draw business and differentiate themselves. And when companies compete, buyers win. As more businesses adopt customer-friendly policies such as free shipping, their rivals are forced to as well. The customer service competition provides numerous opportunities for consumers to benefit.
Not long ago, online shopping was a trade off between selection and customer service. Now, e-retailers try to outdo each other in friendliness, convenience, and helpfulness. At STELLAService, free shipping is just one of the hundreds of metrics we use to evaluate the extent to which businesses are working for their customers.
Do you remember the NY Times article about DecorMyEyes.com last November? It was a story that created a big stir in the e-retail space and even caused Google to reevaluate its search algorithm to ensure that no company could use negative feedback to positive effect. Vitaly Booker, the owner of DecorMyEyes.com, threatened his customers on a number of occasions, which actually improved his position on search listings and boosted business for a while. Last month, the NY Times published this follow-up piece on the situation, stating that Mr. Booker could face up to six and half years in prison.
Although this was an unfortunate situation for every customer that shopped on the site, this case makes me proud of the way that STELLAService evaluates the service level of e-retailers. In other words, DecorMyEyes.com would have been flagged immediately by our team of STELLA analysts had we had an opportunity to assess the site’s service quality. We pride ourselves on conducting a comprehensive evaluation first-hand so that online shoppers know that the STELLA team has been there (and done that), testing everything from phone friendliness to the ease of returning a real product.
So keep an eye out for the STELLAService seal, the Web’s most trusted signal of high quality customer service.
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?
While it’s good to see American Express picking up the slack for retailers’ weak returns policies, it shouldn’t have to come to this (Amex will provide a full refund for items purchased on the Web up to 180 days from the date of purchase):
Companies of all shapes and sizes (and especially online stores) have the opportunity to connect with us as consumers by providing great customer service – truly being there for us when we need them. However, it appears there’s a critical mass of online stores missing the boat!
I have a feeling American Express did their research and made a calculated move to become the surrogate-customer-service-provider for online shoppers unsatisfied with their current returns experiences. What a shame for all the e-retailers out there who are now sending us somewhere else for customer service…how exactly does that play into the whole “building long-term loyalty with customers” strategy?
When a company fails to meet market demands for a certain kind of customer service (in this case the time-frame to return a product), we’re forced to go elsewhere to get the kind of experience we want (and apparently will even pay for!). Seems crazy to me that companies would spend millions of dollars to get us to visit their stores (which they do) and hopefully get us comfortable enough to buy (which they sometimes do), just so they can send us away to a big name brand we already trust (Amex) to take care of our returns.
If I ran an online store with a return window of 30 – or even 90 – days, I’d spend the ten seconds this morning to update that number to at least 180 days. Those ten seconds could bring $10 million in lifetime sales back to a business by simply giving shoppers what they want – a flexible and consumer-friendly return policy.
I recently requested an invitation to try out a brand new banking service from a Brooklyn, NY based startup called BankSimple. About a day after requesting an invite, I received the following email:
I’m (Name Redacted), a Customer Relations Representative at BankSimple. Thanks so much for requesting an invitation to try out our service! We’re still planning and testing, but we’ll begin opening up BankSimple soon.
In the meantime, though, I’d love to hear your story. I want to hear from you, personally, about what you want from a bank: your loves, hates, quibbles, desires, hopes, and dreams regarding your financial life. Really: what’s on your mind, and what are you hoping for from BankSimple? We’re committed to building the best service we possibly can, and the only way to do that is to know what you’re looking for. So, what’s up?
We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on– and get your insight into how we can make it better.
Thanks again. Hope to hear from you soon!
Given that I NEVER speak to anyone at my current bank, a personal email from BankSimple asking about my personal finances was very impressive. When I enrolled at my current account, I vividly remember salespeople trying to up-sell me on products and services I didn’t need, with little to no consultation. Contrast that to the tone of the above email which is thoughtful and considerate. With that in mind, I most definitely plan on responding. I have no idea what’s in store from BankSimple, but given this consultative email, I’m very excited to find out.