Category Archives for "Customer Satisfaction"

Customer Experience Boston Pizza Style

2015-01-15 13.37.17Today I had lunch at the Boston Pizza in Drumheller, Alberta.   If you’ve read my blast about the Boston Pizza in Courtenay, British Columbia in August, you know how unhappy I was with the customer experience there.

As I walked to the front door I saw this sign and I groaned.  “Really?”  I thought, “… we’ll see”.

Obviously this reaction indicates that I am a customer experience specialist who is a bit jaded — particularly when it comes to campaigns created at the corporate level.  The reason is that so many corporate leaders have no idea what is going on in the field.  They create policies, processes, strategies and profit-enhancing decisions without understanding how it impacts the customer experience and the employees who deliver it.  After all, every decision made from the Board Room, to the front-line, to the back-room and everywhere in between either positively or negatively impacts the customer experience.

From the moment I walked through the door I realized how wrong I was — this time 🙂

A woman greeted us with a great big smile   — not one of those forced smiles that those in service jobs often display.  When I joined my husband after a quick pitstop, this woman — our server — was waiting at our table with a great big hospitable smile.  A short while later she came back to ask what we’d like to drink and to explain the specials with gusto.  Today’s soup was chicken gumbo — I never remember what the specials are after I’ve left a restaurant — but I did today!

When she brought my tea and our water she realized she’d forgotten my husband’s coffee.  However, she made a little joke about keeping me happy and went to get his coffee.  We placed our orders and then she popped back and asked if my salad was a lunch size, which it was.  She agreed it was a good choice because the salads are huge.

Throughout our dining experience the hospitality that our server exuded was exceptional.  She seemed genuinely happy to serve us.  Sh2015-01-15 13.35.49e genuinely took care of us.  Her smiles were genuine.

I, of course, was watching her like a hawk.  I wondered if she would be like this with others too — or did she just take a liking to us?  Well, I was happy to see that the next guests were treated like family too.  She was helpful and patient as they decided what to order.  She made recommendations after asking what they liked and what they didn’t.  She also started a conversation with them, asking if they were visiting, where they were visiting from and what they were going to see while there.  In other words — she is the poster child for what hospitality is.

I decided to ask her if I could take her photo and I explained that I was going to write a blog post about our experience.  I told her about the experience in Courtenay and I told her I wanted to share what great service was all about.   She asked me where this was going to be, so I gave her my URL.   I joked about my makeshift purse and she joked right back with me.  I felt like we’d have become great friends if I lived in Drumheller!

As we were leaving, I took the photo of the poster above and just as we were about to get in the car, she came out of the restaurant and asked us if I could share my post with www.bostonpizza.com.  I said “for sure” and I’ll post on the Facebook Page too.

So here is recognition for a job well done, Cheryl S.  Keep on smiling and keep on sharing your great hospitality to those who come for a meal.

What lessons do you take from this experience?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Don’t Make the Same Mistake This Software Developer Made

young man pulling funny face on white backgroundI purchased a great video editing software a few weeks ago.  Fortunately (for me) I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to use it yet because all software has bugs — even after the beta testers have given their feedback.

I logged onto our Facebook Group today (which, btw, is a great tool for you to use to keep your pulse on what your customers are experiencing).   Sadly for the developer, there is a firestorm going on in the group because of a decision that he made to put ads on the software after we bought it.

The tribe is furious!  Comments are along the lines of “we didn’t buy a software with ads, so why are there ads now?” and “if you had given us the option from the get-go to have a version with ads or without ads that would have been one thing but to add the ads after we bought it is wrong”.

The developer is defending his position, stating that he was adding all sorts of value and that he didn’t make any money on the initial sale.  He then got defensive and told people they could ask for a refund.   Whoa!  Obviously ego and hot-headedness have taken over.

The initial purchase price was really low $39.95 (or something like that) and the developer is asking for $9.95 / year to have a version of the software that doesn’t have ads.  Obviously the $9.95 isn’t a large amount and everyone of his customers could easily pay it — but the issue we’re all having is with communication and the feeling that we’ve been the victims of a bait and switch.

Here’s my response to him / the group (which has received a lot of “likes” and a suggestion to turn it into a blog post.)

Carol Wain Andrew Darius — buddy — I am a customer experience specialist. Do not cut your own throat right now. You’ve nicked yourself but it’s time to put down the knife.

The best way to handle this is to stop for a second and look at how long you want to be in business.

Don’t piss off your early adopters.
Customers are a fickle bunch — don’t give us a reason to defect
There are others waiting in the wings to launch an even better software than you have. They will take what you’ve learned and what you’ve created and they will swoop in and “save all of us” who are not happy right now.
Do you want to be a one-hit-wonder who is gone next month or do you want to build a sustainable business?

Here’s what you should do. Reverse the decision for the ads and grandfather all of us. Do what you can to rebuild our faith in you.
Listen to what we’re saying. Remember that the initial promise was for a software that does X,Y and Z. Always deliver on that promise.

Create opportunities to increase your revenue.

Increase the price immediately. (btw, create a new FB group for the new people… let us be your advisory group here without the new people seeing what is going on. This group and the posts will scare away any new customers.)

Identify your core product — what we were promised and what we’ve paid for. Deliver that exceptionally well.

Identify add-ons.

I believe your approach to over-deliver is getting you in trouble. You’ve missed the mark on what to over-deliver.

Over-deliver on service.

Up-sell on features that weren’t included in the core product.

Cross-sell on products that enhance the overall experience with the product (but remember the product must work without them).

By all means — stop, look and listen. Let your guard down to truly hear what we’re saying. Make a plan for us early adopters and another plan moving forward.

Smart business owners know that it costs 6x (or more) to get a new customer than it does to keep one. They also know that the initial purchase is the tip of the iceberg — make the initial customer experience great and expect at least 10x the initial purchase price over the customer’s lifetime.

Stop complaining that you hardly made anything from the initial sale — if you make things right with us you can easily turn things around. Many people will break even or take a loss knowing that the money is in the back-end.

Use good judgement and wear your “Customer Experience” hat as you make decisions. Always think about how this decision will impact your customer experience — and never, ever underestimate how important it is to your success.

If you need assistance, PM me.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much — a monthly fee of less than a dollar to stir up a bees nest.  How you respond will make the difference between success or failure because your customer experience is the only true differentiation between you and your competition.

Have You Experienced Any Situations Like This?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Customer Experience Failure – Boston Pizza Style

I have always been a champion for the customer, which is why I look at the customer experience first when I help business leaders to transform their businesses to become more profitable.

People-Power-Profit-300x35

People can power profit — or they can destroy it. And sadly — more often than necessary — they make decisions to destroy it.

Tonight is a case in point.

I have taken my first day off in ages. It’s a glorious, hot, sunny Sunday here in Courtenay, BC. It’s also a long weekend. And here’s where Boston Pizza comes into the picture.

It’s 6pm and I’m well into the “relaxation mode” I had planned for, so I went online to place an order for delivery. I’d been building myself up to have my absolute favourite dish — the Chilpotle Chicken Salad — for a few hours. I ordered 2 of them for delivery.

2 Seconds after I ordered online I got a call – which is normal and appreciated. However, this time the message was “I see you chose debit at the door as your payment”. I said “No, it’s credit, which is what I chose. There was only an option for cash or credit payment at the door.”

I was then told that they could not deliver to me because the machines for accepting payments at the door were broken. If I have cash it’s fine.

Okay… think about this for a second as it’s a classic Customer Experience Fail.

#1. I was able to place my order online. Why can’t I pay online? (my guess is that it will require extra administration on behalf of Boston Pizza — guess what? I don’t care!) The customer experience is what matters across all touch points in the customer journey. So figure out the logistics behind the scene and don’t make any decision a burden for your customers.

#2. Why are the machines broken? Every single one of them? On a long weekend? On a hot and sunny long weekend?

and most importantly…

#3. Why didn’t the gal say “I’m really sorry but we’re experiencing problems with our machines for payment at the door. Can you give me your credit card number and I’ll punch it into my machine here? Then you can sign when we deliver your meal.”

or failing all of the above, as a back-up measure…

#4. Have one of those old fashioned machines with the “cha-ching, cha-ching” that takes an imprint of the credit card and you sign it? I travelled to Mexico a few months ago and they still use them there. My credit card was charged just fine too.

So, before I go off to spend 10 minutes making a salad — I’ll share these parting words:

The majority of customers will not return after a poor customer experience. Often it only takes one poor experience to lose a customer.

Many people (myself included) will happily share customer experience fails online via social media, review sites and blog posts.

Boston Pizza — and every other business — needs to start thinking about the customer experience as the only true differentiation between itself and the myriad of other choices in each market.

Customer Experience is in every decision.” ~ Carol Wain

3From the decisions at head office — those who made a website that allows you to order but not pay — to those in the field who don’t think about how they can make a work-around to ensure their customers have an awesome experience, it’s time to rethink what you are doing.

  1. Think about how your decisions impact your customers and ask before implementing.
  2. Have designated staff to be the Voice of the Customer and ensure those people have a seat at the Executive Table. Ideally, all employees should be encouraged to watch and listen for customer reaction and are invited to share what they learn.
  3. Train your employees to ensure your customers’ experience is as expected. Of course you have procedures and systems but there are times when employees should be permitted discretion to go outside of them.
  4. Have a back-up plan
  5. Ensure your customer journey is consistent across all touch points

 

Update:  August 11, 2014  — Here’s what has happened since my initial experience.

After I wrote this post and shared it on LinkedIn I went to Boston Pizza’s Facebook Page and posted there.

I applaud the community manager for responding and suggesting we take the conversation offline (which I teach!)

I wrote a very long email with suggestions and counter-arguments to some of the “policies”.

I was assured that someone would be in touch shortly.

I received a phone call from the restaurant owner, Gary, who was on vacation at the time.  He left his cell phone# for me to call.

I called back a day or two later and we had a conversation about the experience.

I explained my Customer Experience passion and that I can’t help but speak up when things are going badly.

He spoke for a while to explain the problem (again, as the customer, I really don’t care that TD Bank had screwed up so none of the machines were working).

I was sitting there ever so silently wondering if he was going to ever get to “me” rather than an explanation about why I experienced what I did.

I also wondered when he would accept ownership (or if anyone would).

I wondered what — if any — offer would be made to “make it up to me”.

I was waiting and waiting…

And then Gary said “I would like to offer you gift certificates to make it up to you”.

He also suggested I may be able to help them improve the customer experience (oh hell yes, I can!)

I was not angry — I came from a place of  “sharing and caring” while I also wanted a resolve.

I explained how most people wouldn’t give a second chance and how important customer experience was.  We chatted a bit about my services and we ended the call.

Fast forward to today — exactly one week to the day I attempted one more time.

What a nightmare!

Today, I placed my order online.

I received a call a few min later to confirm the order.

I corrected the delivery time — I didn’t want it in 50 min, I wanted delivery at 6:30.

So at 6:35 the delivery person arrived (oooh… he smelled badly… not good in the food service industry … although he was pleasant enough as a delivery person.)

This time the order was for one Chilpotle Chicken Salad and one personal cheese pizza….

…………Except the “chicken and bacon” part of the order was missing…………

You’ve got to be kidding me!  The Customer Experience is actually worse this time!

6:38   I called the restaurant and explained what happened.  I received an apology and a promise the chicken would be delivered soon.  I pressed to find out what “soon” meant.   I was told 15 – 20 min depending on traffic.

6:39  I emailed the email address Gary gave me when I spoke to him

7:15   I called the restaurant again and apparently the driver was there and he’d be leaving with my chicken right away.  I asked to speak to the owner.  Gary is still on vacation.  I asked to speak to the supervisor.  I explained today’s situation and last week’s situation and I had spoken to Gary.  She attempted to correct me that perhaps I spoke to “Steven”.  I said “no, I contacted Head Office and Gary gave me his cell phone #.”  She seemed surprised.

I’ll cut to the learning points:

  • I discovered during this call — this is a common occurrence — the onus is on the host/hostess to ensure the order is complete but they don’t.  Why is the problem common?  and…. Why on earth do they share this?
  • The supervisor does not have the authority to authorize a refund — this time I’m expecting one — tomorrow she’ll talk to the office manager to see what can be done.
  • The delivery guy showed up with my new salad and he said words to the effect that he only delivers what he’s given.
  • It is now 1 hour after I asked for my salad to be delivered… 45 min after I was promised the chicken would be delivered.
  • I’m actually surprised I haven’t “Lost it” by this point — maybe because I knew I’d be using this as an example in my teaching for years to come 😉

Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!

You’ve got to be kidding me…  Remember, the customer doesn’t give a sh*t about excuses and who isn’t doing what.  The customer expects to experience the brand promise and to receive what they bought in a timely manner with the quality promised.

Boston Pizza desperately needs a Customer Experience overhaul — I’m here and I’ll consult with corporate and franchisees.  I’ll also train staff.

Consistency is missing — as is a focus on the Customer Experience — instead, the culture appears to be one of “pass the buck”.

In the restaurant business, this combination is a death sentence… perhaps my first best-selling book Guerrilla Tourism Marketing might be useful as the first step!

What Suggestions Do You Have for Businesses That Have Challenges Like This?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Want to Make Your Customers Feel Special? Thank Them!

TD Bank Takes a Page from WestJet — Combining a personalized Thank You with great PR

Watch and you can’t help but feel moved.

This video shows the power of a personalized thank you.    How are you thanking your customers — particularly your long-time, most profitable customers?

How do you show your customers that they are valuable to you?

It seems like such an easy question to answer, doesn’t it?  So why aren’t more people doing it?

In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the Joie de Vivre hotels in California.  As part of their Dream Maker program, the hotels ask each guest to provide a significant amount of personal information upon registration so that they can find ways to give their guests a memorable experience.

This program challenges the employees to come up with ways to provide exceptional guest service.

Gary tells a story about a reservations manager, Jennifer Kemper, at the Hotel Durant in Berkeley, which incidentally is the number three hotel in Berkeley according to TripAdvisor.  One of the hotel guests needed multiple, long-term stays because her son, a 20 year old Berkeley student, was undergoing chemotherapy treatment while trying to continue with his studies.

The guest needed to visit often to help her son during his sessions but some of the dates that she needed were not available.

Jennifer told her guest that she would be taken care of but she did not stop there.

Jennifer thought of the guest’s plight and determined that she would be a great candidate for the Dream Maker program.  A few days later, Jennifer went and bought a card, sunflowers, chamomile tea and a dragonfly mug with a built-in strainer.  The card said “For a loving mother who deserves to relax.  Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Naturally, this touched the heart of the guest, who continued to stay at that property until her son graduated.  This example of a fantastic customer experience also shows how a simple touch can have a viral effect.  Imagine how many people heard about this story from the guest and her son.

Thank-You-300x199That caring, attentive service, which is one of the guerrilla marketing principles, provided exposure to this hotel they could never afford through traditional marketing.  Talk about a win-win situation.

The appreciation you show can take many forms – from saying “thank you” to following up after the sale, to responding quickly to requests or questions to finding a special gift for them for a special occasion.

 

 

How can you / do you thank your customers in a meaningful, personalized way to make them feel special and appreciated?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Enlightened Capitalists Focus on Customer Experience

5 Reasons to Focus on Customer Experience  (CX)happy-customer 300x300

  1. Increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  2. Decrease Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  3. Support an increase in employee engagement
  4. Create brand advocates and greater loyalty
  5. Differentiate your company among competitors

CX Insights

  • In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.  (Forrester Research Navigate the Future of Customer Service in 2014)
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. (Customers 2020 Report)
  • In a poll of enterprise contact centers by Deloitte, 82% view the customer experience as a competitive differentiator, and view accuracy and quality of information provided (82%), as well as ease of interaction (73%), as the most important attributes of a quality customer experience. (Deloitte’s 2013 Global Contact Center Survey Report)
  • In 2013, 62% of global consumers switched service providers due to poor customer service experiences, up 4% from last year.  (Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey)

Customer Experience Process

  1. Secret-shop in person, on the phone and online – you need to know what it’s like to be your customer
  2. Understand your culture – does it support a great customer experience?
  3. Obtain Board and C-suite commitment to improving customer experience
  4. Review your customer complaints / testimonials / online mentions – where are the gaps?
  5. Ask customers what their needs are.
  6. Allow customers to state their preferences for the communication they have with you
  7. Use a combination of high-tech and high-touch – high-tech to easily disseminate data collected about each customer and to create models for ideal customers and what they may need.  High-touch to personify the customer experience.  Strive for consistency – each and every time, the customer needs to know what they will experience – regardless of employee, regardless of location, regardless of time of day
  8. Ensure that all touch points are reliable – websites, phone, in-person, email etc.  They must all deliver a consistent experience based on your brand promise
  9. Eliminate silos within your company and promote cross-department communication as it relates to increasing the customer experience
  10. Build a community around your business and your business around a community
  11. Create a Voice of Customer (VOC) program – and always be reviewing social conversations, online reviews and testimonials, customer surveys, call center and customer service feedback, and feedback from tech-support and retail reps
  12. Realize it’s a game of measures that has meaning to your customers and employees – that there is not one “perfect” measure for customer experience

Customer Experience KPIs

The 3 main Customer Experience KPIs are Acquisition, Retention and Profit

Acquisition = Goal is Lower CAC–measure referrals, social mentions, efficiency of marketing campaigns, conversion rate

Retention = Goal is Increased CLV – measure average order value, average frequency of purchase, average length of “customer” (how long they are your customers), average resolution time for a complaint, cost of loyalty programs, and mark-downs for repeat purchases or to avoid loss of customer

Profit = Goal is Lower Cost to Service – measure revenue per employee, gross profit per employee

5 Steps to Success

Define – Define what objectives you want to achieve, what KPIs you want to impact, what touch points you are focusing on for this initiative (don’t attempt to do all at once!), prioritize your objectives, define the timing, identify resources, allocate budgets, identify return on investment expected

Discover – Map your customer’s journey from the moment they first hear about you through to repeat purchases.  Be sure to include customer experience perspective from employees in all departments – not just “customer service”.  Also be sure to include data from relationship surveys and transactional surveys of your customers

Design – Using best practices, discovery insight and your objectives, design a customer experience plan

Implement – Implement your plan, educate your employees, engage in two-way dialogues with employees, encourage two-way dialogues between customers and employees

Monitor – Monitor employee responses, customer reaction, customer learning, feedback, impact to KPIs and adjust as needed

Our Role

  1. Coordinate with your project managers, VOC team, senior leaders, management team, supervisors and trainers for requirements
  2. Define – what are your objectives? … Identify KPIs, create your baseline
  3. Discover – what is it really like to be your customer? … Coordinate with VOC team and test that VOC insight matches employee insight and customer reality
  4. Create your transition plan with input from all stakeholders
  5. Implement and support training, coaching, mentoring and facilitating
  6. Coordinate with your team to report on results and make appropriate adjustments
  7. Leave you with the insights and practices to continue to grow your customer experience

If you’d like to know more about how to transform your business or reinvent your life, contact Carol or check out how to work with Carol

What are some of the ways you focus on customer experience in your business?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

carol-showCarol Wain is the founder and leader of many brands which help leaders to create more profitable businesses that transform lives and positively impact our planet.  She is an author, speaker, trusted advisor and mentor who won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003. 

Carol is passionate about reinventing business to become a force for good — positive businesses which respect, appreciate, encourage and support the right employees who voluntarily use their discretionary effort to bring the vision, purpose, platform, personality, passion and core values to life; businesses which create useful, meaningful and valuable products, services and experiences which improve the lives of people; and businesses which support communities, take a stand and have a higher-purpose.

For more information visit  http://CarolWain.com, http://EnlightenedCapitalist.org and http://WorldIncentiveNetwork.com

The Ever Fickle Customer and Why Customer Experience is Key

thumbs up thumbs downThis blog post was going to be about the nearly perfect customer experience I initially experienced when I rented a car from Enterprise a couple of weeks ago.  I got busy and didn’t get around to writing the post — which, in retrospect, was perfect.

A back-story is in order:  My car — a Mazda 6 which I am reluctant to upgrade because we are preparing to go on a worldwide adventure for a few years —  was making funky noises on a road trip to Whistler in December.  Fortunately, my hubby knows his way around an engine and he thought to check the oil.   We were down to 1 litre, even though we’ve been getting the car maintenance done at the local Mazda dealership since we bought it — uggh.

Ever since then, I’ve been reluctant to take the car on a big road trip, especially if I’m by myself, so I decided to rent a car for a meeting in Victoria, which is a 3 hour drive away.

I was bowled over by my initial experience with the car rental.  I’d booked using CarRentals.com and I really wasn’t expecting much.  However, the day before I was to pick up the car I got a phone call from a representative from Enterprise thanking me for booking and asking if I needed a pick-up.  I hadn’t considered getting picked up but when the offer came I said “sure”.  Pick me up at 1pm.

The pick-up was late — by about 45 min — which was not okay.  I know it’s a small operation but when people have an appointment and need a car, they need to be picked up on time.  Fortunately, I’d given myself an hour “buffer” between when I wanted to leave and when I needed to leave, so I was still able to make my appointment — (only “just” though because I’d left later and I hit rush-hour traffic).

The driver was friendly and apart from the delay, the pick-up was welcome.

When I arrived at Enterprise, the representative was great — and attempted to get me out of the office quickly to make up for the delay.  The guy who phoned me came out of the “back office” and introduced himself, shaking my hand and thanking me.  I was willing to forgive the lateness.

The rental itself went well — I drove 6 hours that day with no complaints.

When I took the car back the next day, there was a sign on the door which indicated they’d be back in 15 minutes — so I went to the coffee shop.  When I returned, the 2 employees who had welcomed me the day before were walking towards the cars and didn’t see me arrive.

I entered the premise — stepping over a small red bucket, a cloth and a spray bottle, which were sitting right in front of the one door out of two which were unlocked.  I waited a few minutes before the guy who had phoned me and welcomed me the day before returned.   He was surprised to see me waiting but quickly “returned” the car.

He asked how they could do better and by now I was no longer excited.

As I was leaving, I had to step over the bucket etc. again (which he had done himself twice — once to go outside to inspect the car — the other time when he came back inside).  I asked him why they were there and I was told that he was attempting to get the windows cleaned but they were busy.

What appears to have happened here is that the initial “wow” was all dictated by either corporate policy or corporate training but there was a disconnect in the rest of the experience.  Again, I realize it’s a small location and there isn’t enough demand to keep multiple people on staff — however, there are opportunities for improvement.

Customer Experience is in Every Business Decision

Next Rental – Approximately 1 week later

My daughter phoned from the ferry to say she was coming early and her friend couldn’t pick her up for hours — and considering my engine was now on the garage floor thanks to hubby, I decided to book a rental car again from Enterprise.  I showed up 15 minutes later and the car was not ready, which is understandable and forgivable.

I was asked to sit for 2 minutes while she washed the car (I was skeptical she could wash a car in 2 min but I didn’t say anything).   About 10 minutes later, I told one of the other employees that I was going to get lunch and I’d be back.
This time I was given a FIAT.

However, there was a problem with the car — on the way home the engine light came on and I immediately pulled over.  I called the office and explained the situation.   Again the experience was less than ideal — first response was could I take the car to the Nanaimo office (no — I didn’t know where it was — and besides the check engine light was on!).

We waited by the side of the road for an answer — we got one — someone would pick us up but it would take at least an hour (I expected 90 minutes).

I asked if it was safe to drive back to the mall because the last thing I needed was another engine issue!  I was told it would be fine, so I drove to Chapters and waited for a call to let me know how long it would be until someone picked us up.

Then I got the phone call — there was no-one who could pick us up.  I could call Roadside Assistance on the back of the rental form but it would likely result in a charge (and they wouldn’t get us home) or I could drive the car back — since the Nanaimo office also had problems with their FIATs giving “check engine lights” coming on randomly too.  In fact 2 out of their 5 cars has this issue — why they were still part of the fleet, who knows.

I expressed my concern about driving with a check engine light on and that I didn’t want to be held responsible if the engine failed.  I was assured that I would not be held responsible for anything should it happen.

A simple trip to pick up my daughter at the ferry — about 75 minutes away — turned into a completely stressful event.

I returned the car the next day — Good Friday — when the location was closed.   I put the keys into the return box, only to get them stuck.  I couldn’t open the return box door to see if the keys had dropped.  I phoned and left a message that someone should come and fix the box since I couldn’t confirm the keys had been “dropped” and if anyone else was returning that day they may not be able to return theirs.

(BTW, don’t even get me going on the fuel options — I’ve tried the return it as you got it and the return it empty, neither of them makes sense for the customer.  Enterprise… fill the car up before you rent it!)

Since Friday (it’s now Monday), I have heard nothing — nothing at all — and to me this is the most disturbing part of the customer experience.

Enterprise started off sooo well, yet I had a hell of a time with my last rental and no-one has even called to offer me anything — no thank you for letting them know about the key problem, no thank you for letting them know the check engine light went off when I got back home, no thank you for renting from them, no consideration as to the stress caused by driving a car 100km with a check engine light on, no apologies, no credit — nothing — not a word.

I have another car rental with Enterprise next week — and I wonder why.

Customer Experience Lessons

“Corporate” can dictate policy, procedures and practices and they can be followed with great results (as experienced with the first few  touch points I had, forgiving the delay in pick-up)

However, without a team absolutely on-board with the vision, the mission, the values and — most importantly —  a desire to deliver the best customer experience — a positive customer experience is not going to happen.

Update:  Last weekend I rented again from Enterprise.  I received the phone call 24 hours in advance again — but no offer to pick me up.  I showed up and spoke with the manager, Ryan.   My purse was open and he noticed the contract I had brought with me.  He asked about it and I said that I’d like to talk to him about what happened with that rental.  I explained the stress, the inconvenience etc. and he apologized.  He asked what I’d like — I said, I’d like you to write this rental off.  He said he couldn’t but what he could do is give me this rental (a 3 day rental), an upgrade and a tank of gas.  He also told me I could return the car to the airport which would alleviate the key drop problem I encountered.

I talked about customer experience and why consistency was so important.  I offered suggestions and let him know this is an area of expertise for me.  He kept checking in with me to ensure that he was meeting my expectations.   All, in all, he did everything he could and this experience makes for a great case study about why getting it right in the first place is a lot easier than attempting to fix it afterwards.

If you’d like to know more about how to transform your business or reinvent your life, contact Carol or check out how to work with Carol

What lessons do you take away from this experience?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

How to Win The Hearts of Your Customers and Employees

Learn a Customer Experience and Employee Engagement Lesson (While also learning about great PR!)

WestJet knocks one out of the park for its customers and its employees!

Check out the video and see what elements you can do in your own business to improve your customer experience and employee engagement.  We don’t all have the budgets or the networks to pull off what WestJet did — however, we can all do something special with our employees to make the day of our customers.   By including the employees, they had a lot of fun, yet imagine the trickle effect throughout the whole company.

So, my challenge to you for 2014, is what can YOU do in your company to strengthen both customer engagement and employee engagement?  Tell me below in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you!

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

My Top 3 Tips For Managing Your Online Reputation

A Reputation That Took Decades to Build Can be Threatened by a Single Event

Reputation

You may find yourself in the unfortunate position as the victim of a coordinated attack on your business using social media, which is a horrific situation for anyone who has lived through it.

Negative reviews are bad for business and no-one disputes this reality.  However, when you understand how to leverage online reputation, and in particular, your online reviews, they can be very powerful and very profitable.

#1 Evaluate your brand promise versus reality.  What are you saying in each and every marketing message?  What do people expect when they shop with you?  Is there a disconnect between the customer experience and your promise?
If yes either change your brand promise or fix the disconnect.  This could mean training, replacing people, investing in upgraded equipment, renovating and so on.

Remember… each and every touch point someone has with your business is marketing.  Be sure it is consistent with their experience otherwise your reputation — both online reputation and offline reputation — will suffer.

#2 Claim your accounts.   If you have not claimed your Foursquare, Yelp, Urban Spoon, Google Places, Facebook, Trip Advisor and other accounts where people are reviewing you, do it immediately and start responding to the reviews.

When you read a great review, thank the person for taking the time to comment, be humble but reinforce your brand promise and ask them if they would like to call out any employees who made their experience so you can properly recognize them.
By doing this it shows you are listening, you care, you appreciate, you are dedicated to a positive experience and you are a good employer that values the great employees you have.

Also respond to negative reviews.  If it is a legitimate complaint, recognize the person, thank them for giving you the opportunity to improve the experience your customers deserve and ask them to connect with you directly offline.

Note:  Always remember that just because you are offline, your conversation or correspondence can end up back-online.

#3 Be relentless in your quest for testimonials and reviews.  Remember, people look at reviews as social proof and many people will choose one business over another because of the reviews, so you want as many reviews as possible.

Many happy customers will say they will write but they don’t because they are busy or because it’s a pain to get an account so they can leave their review.

Tip: Knowing what is being said about you is the first line of defense and there are social media monitoring services, such as Trackur, Social Mention, Netvibes or Topsy. They will track mentions of your business online so  you can see what is being written.

You should also set up a Google Alert (http://google.com/alerts) for your business name but I would not recommend relying solely on that service as it is not as thorough as a social monitoring service.

What lessons do you take from this post?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Is Your Customer Loyalty on Life Support?

happy-customer 300x300What is customer loyalty?  Does it even exist — after all customers can be loyal to your business because of convenience only, yet given a change in their lives — whether a new job or a new home, their loyalty vanishes.  Customers can also be satisfied while doing business with you yet they aren’t loyal.

Do you do business with multiple companies that are competing for your hard-earned money?  I suspect you do, as do many of us — you may buy a book from your local book-store or department store, yet you also likely buy books online too.

So, how does one attract the right customer, convince them to buy, return, buy more and refer their friends and family?  The answer is simple to state in theory yet so many businesses find it difficult to implement because the answer is like a puzzle that requires all the pieces to achieve ultimate success.

 

Defining Your Ideal Customer

The first step is one that many of us fail to do.  We fail to identify our ideal customers — those people we want to serve and who are also highly profitable while being easy to serve.  Ideal customers appreciate what you offer to them and they make your lives easy compared to difficult or fickle customers.  They do not demand more than your product or service provides.

Effective marketing does not include throwing a “fishing net” out into the marketplace in an attempt to catch as many fish as possible.  Some fish will be great customers, some awful customers and the majority will be the type of customer that could go either way.

Instead we need to be very specific in who we want to attract as an ideal customer — we need a fishing rod with just the right bait.  For example, my business consists of coaching, training and consulting services with optional done-for-you services.  Although there are various divisions and a variety of products within each division, we have clearly identified who our ideal customer is for each.  We have an online training product called FORCE, which targets successful entrepreneurs, with an appreciation for the value of collaboration, and who are ready to take their business to the next level.  We also have a 30-Day Reinvention Challenge that we market to mid-life, successful, business women who are ready to put themselves first and live the life they were meant.

You need to get very specific with your own ideal customer, so that you know them “inside – out”.  Know their fears, worries, problems and exactly what they are looking for in terms of a solution.   When you speak to them in the words they use, solving problems that they have, you will not only attract more ideal customers but you’ll repel the customers you don’t want, which makes it easier to service your ideal customers in a way they will appreciate.

Making the Sale — again and again

When you have gone through the process of identifying your ideal customers and exactly how you can provide a valuable solution to their problems, the next step is to market to them.  You already know which words to use to attract them.  If you don’t, listen to what your customers are saying when they speak to you and then use those terms in your marketing e.g. our customers have “burning desires”; they are “overwhelmed”, “frustrated”, “unsatisfied”, “over worked”, “unappreciated”; they need “more profit”, “more customers”, “better employees” etc..

4 ways to increase your sales:

  1. Cross-selling, which sells a complementary product at the time of sale or shortly thereafter;
  2. Up-selling, which suggests / recommends a product or service which has a higher investment / cost yet provides more of what they need;
  3. Selling more frequently to the same customer using various promotions; and
  4. Adding more customers — preferably as a result of referrals from existing customers.

After you have attracted then convinced your customers to serve them (providing the solution they seek), the next steps are to offer an up-sell or a cross-sell at the time of the purchase.  Why?  Two reasons: they are already in the buying mode; and you are doing them a favour which saves them frustration and time.  For example, if you are selling battery-operated toys, ask if they need the batteries (cross-sell).  If you are selling a consulting package, suggest the next higher tier package if it makes sense (up-sell) or if it doesn’t make sense, suggest a complementary product or service that will make their lives even easier.

Selling more frequently to the same customer occurs when you establish a relationship with them where they will permit you to send relevant offers which they then act upon — even if they had no intention of purchasing at the time they received the offer.   Depending on your customers, you may call them, communicate through social networking channels, send them mobile messages or send them offers via direct mail.

Finally, ask for referrals — it is so easy to do and yet so many people are either fearful of asking or don’t know how valuable referrals are.  There are two great times to ask for the referral — immediately after you have made the sale and when you follow-up to ensure they are happy with their purchase.

Consider offering a “bring a friend” event which not only results in a purchase the original customer may not have made but it will also result in a referral — also remember to upsell and/or cross-sell. Creativity is the key!

Customer Experience

The absolute best way to retain your customers is to ensure their experience is exceptional — that your brand promise is delivered; your product exceeds expectations; your employees deliver consistent service and you are easy to do business with.  Invest time and energy into being your own “detective” by shopping incognito.  Test your systems, your website, your call center, your employees and be sure that you are doing everything possible to retain your ideal customers.  You’ll be far more successful in engaging your customers than businesses that don’t.

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at http://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com

Living Your Brand Promise

“How can I optimize my marketing budget?” and “How can I get more sales?”

… these are two questions that I’m regularly asked and they are not only valid questions but they are indicative of reality… we need to spend less on marketing (and other expenses) while we increase our sales (and profit).

My answer is usually the same…

  • Where do you currently spend your marketing budget?
  • What marketing activities can be proven to increase brand recognition and sales?
  • What do you spend your money on that you shouldn’t because it does not work?
  • What do you spend money on without knowing if it is producing results?

Then, I ask tougher questions, still related to sales and marketing…

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What is your brand promise?
  • What is your customer acquisition cost?

… and once we know these things… I ask the one-two-punch questions.

  • Are you living your brand promise?
  • Consistently?

If you are not living your brand promise — consistently — and your customer experience is not consistently equal to or greater than your brand promise, you are simply wasting money.

Marketing isn’t just advertising, it’s every exposure to your brand.  From the cleanliness of your premise, to your service, quality and your customer experience, you must be relentless in delivering according to your brand promise.

Put your energy and money into hiring, training, equipment, infrastructure and whatever else it takes so that you know that day-in-day-out you will deliver what you say do.

Then… work on creating and nurturing relationships with your customers (you know, the ones that love you because you do what you say you’ll do… each and every time).  Use those relationships to increase referrals, increase joint ventures, increase sales and lower your customer acquisition cost.

A significant portion of a business’ value is based on intangible factors such as goodwill, partnerships, alliances and key employees, so it makes sense to spend time, money and energy to maximize that value.

A quick example of what to do and what not to do:

We have just returned from a cruise out of the Port of Miami.  This cruise line’s branding is all about “fun” yet, on the ship we saw one lone crew member having fun (excluding the activities people).  She was a waitress that had obviously bonded with a couple of passengers.  She was laughing and interacting with them.  Mind you, she totally ignored us but that’s a different story.

The rest of the crew, except for our cabin steward, who was friendly, hospitable and called out to us by name as he saw us; the dining room hostess who was the only person to ask for feedback and provide “hospitality”; and the waitress who served bar drinks on the “Serenity Deck”, the rest of the “team” appeared to be demoralized, unappreciated and they were certainly not having “fun”.

Eager to get back to our expectation of hospitality, I arranged to visit a couple of hotels while in Cozumel.

Hotel in Cozumel

We went to the Intercontinental Presidente and we were thoroughly impressed by the property and the staff.

I loved their attention to comfort.  They were hospitable, genuine, smiling and caring.  We were invited to stay for lunch and it was delicious.

 
We then went to visit the Cozumel Palace.  We’ve stayed at another Palace Resort twice in the past year and we’ve visited a couple of other properties.  We know what to expect in terms of quality and service.  This property was small – wedged between the road and the sea – and I was a bit concerned because of the noise on the road side and the lack of beach on the sea-side.  However, we would stay there because of two things:  Palace’s dedication to both quality and service.

So what has all of this got to do with “Living Your Brand Promise?”

Everything actually… you see, because the Intercontinental Presidente and the Cozumel Palace both deliver what they promise, they can lower their marketing costs and increase their sales because they engage their customers.

Engaging with customers means communicating with them..

Customer Engagement is different though … it means you’ve earned their “heart”.

Engaged customers are more likely to refer people to your business, they are more accepting when things don’t go right and they are more likely to continue to do business with you.

Compare this to a company that does not live the brand promise.  They constantly have to hire new employees (after all, employees won’t stick around either if the brand promise is inconsistent with reality), they constantly have to deal with rookie learning curves, they constantly have to spend tons of money on marketing and they do not enjoy the repeat, high-profit advantage of engaged customers.

So, the best way to increase your profit, increase your sales and optimize all your expenses, including your marketing budget is to go back to your roots and be sure that you are living your brand promise each and every day.

 

carol-showCarol Wain is the founder and leader of many brands which help leaders to create more profitable businesses that transform lives and positively impact our planet.  She is an author, speaker, trusted advisor and mentor who won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003. 

Carol is passionate about reinventing business to become a force for good — positive businesses which respect, appreciate, encourage and support the right employees who voluntarily use their discretionary effort to bring the vision, purpose, platform, personality, passion and core values to life; businesses which create useful, meaningful and valuable products, services and experiences which improve the lives of people; and businesses which support communities, take a stand and have a higher-purpose.

For more information visit  http://CarolWain.com, http://EnlightenedCapitalist.org and http://WorldIncentiveNetwork.com