This Blog is Getting a New Home

It was a short visit to wordpress.com and although it was lovely and I learned a lot, I will be moving on.

Not so sad though! Not like I’m quitting already! Just getting a new address.

I will publish future posts on:

http://www.athingcalledservice.com

Hope to see you there 🙂

 

 

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My favourite branded April Fools Day pranks

A good laugh is always in order. This post by stacysbloghasit is a compilation of the funniest April Fools Day pranks this year. It is just great when companies show the lighter side of business and stop taking themselves so serious. Wish they would do it more often really. Making your customers smile can only be great customer service!

STACEY'S BLOG HAS GOT IT GOING ON

April Fools day was two days ago so I thought I would do a quick round up of my favourite branded April Fools Day pranks.

Companies with high marketing budgets and creative staff and agencies can create hilarious and often-times believable advertisements and ‘new products’ for launch on April Fools day. This is a great time for companies to show their sense of humour.

Google has fooled people over the years with their incredible April Fools Day ads. This year they advertised a very convincing new technology – Google Nose -‘The new scensation in search’. The video offered the ability to search for smells as well as identify smells in your environment. Google Nose went one further with the prank and offered a trial scent to test if you put your nose up to the computer and sniff… Would have loved to have seen people in the office doing that one!

YouTube announced that…

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Tips on How To Make Customer Service Work Using Social Media

Many businesses have a presence in social media with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and a host of other options available. Social media is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word and show lots of great content. It is also a great way for consumers to interact with a company and reach out in times of customer service needs.

Departments pie chart

And it is exactly on the customer service side of the equation that the film often breaks. Social media is usually the responsibility of the marketing and/or and public relations departments, and they do a fantastic job when it comes to transmitting corporate messages and showing off all sorts of “can’t-live-without” features and latest models. It seems that some companies forget that good customer service is out-of-this-world fantastic marketing and PR. Adding customer service to the mix will complete the circle and add tremendous value to the overall customer experience.

Unfortunately I see an awful lot of poor customer service on the various walls around the net. Unanswered queries and messages that get answered by someone who either doesn’t work in customer service or shouldn’t be working in customer service, they often carry a  passive-aggressive tone with a hint of defensive self-righteousness. They make my toes curl – it looks ever so bad.

Seeing such walls makes me wonder what kind of customer service I can expect from these companies who seem to prioritize pushing sales messages so much that they don’t have time to stop and pay proper attention to existing customers. I have actually chosen not to buy from companies because of how poorly they have demonstrated their ability to handle after-sale service issues on social networks. Surely I’m not the only one…

So here are some tips on how to it right.

The first tip is really not a tip at all. It’s a requirement. Answer ALL customer queries. There really is no middle ground here. You answer the phone when it rings right? This is no different, except here everyone can see when you choose to ignore the call.

There is a lot discussion going on as to whether 1 hour or 24 hours is the correct amount of time to answer customer queries. I’d say it really depends on your industry, but in general the sooner the better. Customers love immediate attention; makes them feel valued and a timely reply can easily be an ice-breaker if the query is of a difficult nature.

twitter-customer-service1

When a customer reaches out, the first and most important thing you must do is to acknowledge them and show them empathy. I see companies using phrases like”Oh no, we understand your frustration and will….” or “Dear XXX please accept our sincere apologies we will immediately….” These types of responses are great, they really show that you care about the customer  and appreciate their predicament. One thing to keep in mind though is to not use the same phrase in response to all queries, a whole wall full of “Oh no..” looks like the responses are insincere and rehearsed, like a broken record.

The second thing to do is to demonstrate action. Let the customer know what you intend to do about the situation. And please do not say that “there is really nothing you can do” or “Facebook is not the right place to…” Yes, I have actually seen responses such as these, and there is ALWAYS something you can do and Facebook is an obvious place to demonstrate how much you care about your customers. So tell them that you will personally see to some action taking place or ask them to contact you personally with more details.

The last bit of advise I’ll give for now, is to NEVER reply to a customer query if you are in a bad mood or feeling irritable. In that situation a later reply is likely better than what you would be delivering immediately. When we communicate in writing, we only have the actual words to interpret, there is no tone of voice or body language to guide and help us, so you have to be acutely aware of your choice of words and using positive and supportive phrases is just a lot easier when you are in a good mood.

I came across a great example of how you can turn a very uncomfortable and difficult situation 180 degrees by giving the customer the answers they are looking for. It was a furniture company with a very unhappy customer who had received a sofa in less than prime condition, the reply to the customer was a detailed explanation that with complete transparency and honesty told how and why the situation had occurred, apologized for the unfortunate events, offered a solution and was signed in person and with a personal e.mail address attached.

Not many companies would dare to expose faults as openly as this company did, but judging from the subsequent comments I think it was the right thing to do. Admitting when you are wrong is a character trait that earns respect, not just for people but for businesses too.

How can you make Showrooming work for you

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Basically Showrooming means that consumers browse physical stores in order to gather information only to turn around and purchase the products online. This practice is not likely to become a favorite with retailers anytime soon, as it in 33% of the cases[1] means a lost sale for the brick and mortar store. 90% of smartphone owners who used their mobile while in a store to research products were looking at somebody else’s site. That’s not good news for the pure brick and mortar operations as they have very limited means to fight it. As for multichannel retailers, they better do everything in their power to make sure the consumer is encouraged to surf their site.

If you can’t beat it – join it!

According to an IBM study, Showrooming drives 50% of online sales[2] perhaps not surprising considering one in five American consumers actively practice Showrooming.

The main reason consumers showroom is to compare prices between retailers, so the obvious answer to combat Showrooming would be to be the cheapest. This approach however is gravely flawed, as that would catapult every retailer into the reddest of red oceans, leaving everyone on the brink of extinction.

A much better approach would be to recognize that not all consumers are created equal. Not everyone is driven purely on price. Offering your customers an engaging and satisfying shopping experience will go a long way to retain them in your store. Good old fashion customer service would be a good place to start. A study done by Zendesk shows that the two main factors in creating loyal customers are quality and service, price only makes it to third place[3].

But since 20% of your customers will likely reach for their mobiles while in store anyway, the second place to focus attention is on the online experience you present them with .

Ready – Set – Engage!

Engagement is the keyword here; make the experience interesting and useful. Personalize the journey as much as possible by allowing customers to interact with your brand, make it suit their specific needs and let them share their findings with the world through social media. The more time a consumer spends online with your brand, the more engaged they become and the more likely they are to close the sale with you.

In addition the transition between the online and offline store should be seamless and coherent; the offering, look and feel should be equal across all channels, leaving the customer with the feeling that it is one integrated experience. The use of responsive design when building websites, where the pages will adapt automatically to the medium being used to view them, will go a long way in creating a consistent impression when using a digital medium.

Use data driven marketing and take advantage of what technology makes possible, offer free wi-fi in store and include smart sensors and QR codes offering personally tailored specials and information in real time. A global survey done by Cisco reveal that 75% of consumers want a personalized experience, once they have opted in[4].

By making it more advantageous to be on your site while in store, you actually make Showrooming work for you.

Build customer service on effective communication

Good customer service is founded on the exchange of information; messages being send out, received, de-coded and acted upon. Needless to say it is very important that the messages we send out are de-coded in the way we intended them to, but more often than we like to admit our messages become misunderstood. To our great bewilderment what we thought was ever so cleverly communicated turns into a tangle of confusion, contention and more questions than answers.

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Human communication is a complicated business it involves a complex mixture of verbal and non-verbal cues such as; tone of voice, the words being used, facial expressions, gestures, posture, appearance and the list goes on and on. Ever since Albert Mehrabian published his 7-38-55 rule, which basically states that we base our approval of a person on 55% body language, 38% tone of voice and only 7% on the spoken word, the importance of non-verbal communication has received much attention and discussion. Whatever the distribution really is one thing is for sure; the majority of the cues we use to understand a message are not actually related to the spoken word, but are instead based upon physical observations. If you work in customer service you will know that being liked by your customer is crucially important for the outcome of any given situation.    

The root of the problem lies in the emotions we build into the messages we send by our physical behavior. Being able to understand the messages from the receivers perspective can alleviate potentially negative and contentious situations. It’s a case of “putting the shoe on the other foot” and imagine how you would feel as the receiver.

Here are a few tips on non-verbal communication that will help resolve differences, build trust and foster an environment where cooperation can flourish.

Face-to-face communication

When dealing with a customer face to face the most important part of your body to be aware of is, well, your face. And in particularly your eyes and the area around them. Raise your eyebrows to the top of your forehead and you will look like a deer caught in the headlights. Relax your eyebrows and you will look like you don’t give a damn. Practice what your facial expressions look like by standing in front of a mirror and be acutely aware of them when dealing with your customers.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Keep eye contact with the person in front of you, that will tell them that you hear them and are doing everything you can to understand them. But be careful not to stare at them, that could make you appear somewhat intimidating, and watch out for knitted eyebrows that read “I don’t understand a word you are saying, but you are giving me a headache”.

If you can smile with your eyes, well that is half the battle won right there. People who master this seem friendly, inviting, caring and attentive – all things that makes people relax and open up.

Your mouth is the second most important feature. A lot of people will look you in the eye while they talk, but quite often look at your mouth when you talk. Tight lips and clenched jaws will certainly make you look annoyed and angry. Pout and you look like an obstinate teenager.

It will probably not come as a surprise that I recommend smiling. Smiling is just one of the most attractive things we humans can do, smiling makes us feel good and it is infectious; in a difficult situation it can turn animosity into cooperation.

But smiling also has it’s limitations, as much as a genuine smile can bridge a gab between people, so can a fake smile widen the gab beyond repair. Do not attach hooks to your cheeks and pull them up behind your ears, apart from looking freakish you will also look condescending, and that will get anyone’s back up against the wall.

Moving on down the body we come to the arms. Try to avoid putting your hands in the pockets, especially the back-pockets, it looks a bit too casual like you are not taking the situation serious. And never cross your arms in front of you, by doing that you communicate that you are closed and will not listen. Instead keep your arms relaxed down the sides or hold them in a loose grip in front of you or behind you. When you talk use your hands to illustrate that you welcome the dialogue by holding your arms out and open up your hands.

Eyes, mouth and arms are the three main components to master when communicating non-verbally. Top them off with a good posture; straight back and chin up, and you are well on your way to making your customers feel appreciated and valued and that will help them de-code your messages in the way you intended them to.

In a later post I will give tips on effective customer service in non face-to-face situations, such as through social media or over the phone.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

I start this blog about customer service on the day they announced in the news that my native country Denmark, in a survey done by the World Economic Forum, is ranked as the number 117th nation when it comes to locals friendliness towards visitors.

Tourists are left to their own devices when visiting Denmark

Tourists are left to their own devices when visiting Denmark – no helpful Danes around!

http://cphpost.dk/international/denmark-less-attractive-tourist-destination

Ouch that hurt!

I didn’t expect such a paltry ranking, but I have to admit I am not surprised that we are no where near the top.

After 15 years in a country whose main source of income is tourism, it has been alarmingly clear to me ever since I returned to Denmark almost 3 years ago, that we have serious issues when it comes to our service levels.

In my other home country, Barbados, they often discuss whether or not their service level is up to par; they are all too aware that as a tourist destination, every day they must sell their country in order to prosper. Not to say they don’t have room for improvements as well, but at least they acknowledge the severity of the issue.

Is the lack of friendliness in Denmark because we think tourism isn’t that vital to us?

But it is. As a small nation we are deeply dependent on the rest of the world in order to maintain our high standard of living. It isn’t just tourists who experience the low levels of friendliness and lack of common courtesy. Businesses feel it too. We want and need to trade with the rest of the world, so shouldn’t we start giving our visitors are warm and heartfelt welcome, -who knows they might return to do business with us!

Why is it so difficult to be friendly?

I had a funny experience a while ago. I was catching the bus one cold and windy Copenhagen morning. There was a ton of people at the bus stop, everyone with5490020-bus their shoulders drawn up around their ears and no one speaking a word. As the bus stops everyone pushes to get on board, not giving the bus driver the slightest acknowledgement. When we are finally all cramped like sardines in a can, the bus driver closes the doors. Pulls the speaker and announces with a strong Indian accent: “500 people just entered my bus and only 8 said good morning. That is simply not good enough. I refuse to drive anywhere until everyone has said good morning” And so true, he didn’t move an inch until everyone on the bus like a bunch of naughty kids being scolded sounded out in unison “Good Morning”

That bus driver made my day and hopefully also made a bus full of Danes aware that a little bit of friendliness goes a long way.