Archive | Customer Service RSS feed for this section

Owning Up Follow Up

29 Dec

Since my last post about a week ago I have been thinking about why is it that “owning up” works as well as I believe it does. What is it about the vendor owning up to their mistake that makes us feel that much better? It just seems to elicit a positive emotional response.

Today I was listening to The BS Report, a podcast by Bill Simmons. His guest was Chuck Klosterman, they were discussing the Tiger Woods saga. Chuck brought up the point that Tiger should come out and own up to everything he has done. He believes that this would not be PR suicide on Tiger’s part because once you’ve owned up the ball is now in the consumers court. The consumers, us, now have the choice to continue to be Tiger fans or not. Until he says something the choice isn’t ours yet, it is still Tiger’s. The longer we wait the more upset we get because we are not in control.

There it is! Makes perfect sense!

As long as the vendor/athlete stays silent we sit there waiting for a response or communication from them. We don’t feel like we can act until they do. Once they make their statement the onus is now on us to make a decision (onus = on us) as to how we want to respond, but it is in our court. At least we feel some sense of ownership for the next steps. We can decide to maintain the relationship or walk, but either way it’s up to us. As long   as we feel like we are in control of the next steps we emotionally feel better. If they do not respond the issue continues to boil up in us and creates even more animosity then the original event.


Great Customer Service – Own Up

23 Dec

Although I may complain about it from time to time the truth is I am thrilled with my LIRR commute. The trains are generally on time, conductors are nice and aside from the occasional time I get stuck with one of the old trains, it’s a pretty comfortable ride.
Today as I got on to my train I noticed a letter from the LIRR signed by LIRR president Helena Williams. In it, she apologized for delays caused by snow last week and pointed out some of the great work the LIRR did overall through the storm (2 points for employee recognition). She then went on to point out an incident with one train that became stranded. She reviews the details of actions taken by the LIRR and then ends with this “While no injuries were reported among the customers or the crew and all were safely transferred onto another train at Farmingdale under extremely difficult blizzard conditions, we must do better.”
Leadership/Customer Service lesson: When things go wrong own up to it. No reasonable customer expects 100% perfection, but they do expect 100% honesty. Personally, I was not even aware of the stranded train, but I am impressed with the response.

Huge Amazon and Zappos Fan!

23 Jul

Love the part on obsessing about clients. Naturally!

NPS: Net Promoter Score

29 Apr

I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention lately on customer service excellence and researching ways to be come a great service organization. At an organizational level there are 3 steps to this process (well, there are a lot more, but here are 3 general steps):

  1. Identify areas for improvement. Accomplished by asking your clients. Accomplished through a survey.
  2. Create and Implement Action Items
  3. Evaluate Results

A common question asked on a survey might be, “On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate our organization overall?” or “On a scale of 1-10 how likely are you to refer us to a colleague?”. The responses might be insightful, but the bottom line questions are: What do they mean and what can I do about them?

My boss turned me onto something called the Net Promoter Score which “buckets” the responses to questions like this and identifies for you what they mean. Rather then try to explain it I’ll just point you to the site

Personally, I happened to find amazing correlations between the NPS and retention numbers. It really gives you some concrete data and action items or next steps based on what the responses really mean.

Customer Sat + Data = Huge Step in the Right Direction

My Internal “Give Em the Pickle” Struggle

31 Mar

Several years ago, as I started to learn about customer service excellence, a colleague of mine introduced me to the “Give Em The Pickle” philosophy create by Bob Farrell. Here’s the background story on how he created this philosophy.

Dear Mr. Farrell,

I’ve been coming to your restaurant for over three years. I always order a #2 hamburger and a chocolate shake. I always ask for an extra pickle and I always get one. Mind you, this has been going on once or twice a week for three years.

I came into your restaurant the other day and I ordered my usual #2 hamburger and a chocolate shake. I asked the young waitress for an extra pickle. I believe she was new because I hadn’t seen her before. She said, “Sir, I will sell you a side of pickles for $1.25.” I told her, “No, I just want one extra slice of pickle. I always ask for it and they always give it to me. Go ask your manager.”

She went away and came back after speaking to the manager. The waitress looked me in the eye and said, “I’ll sell you a pickle for a nickel.” Mr. Farrell, I told her what to do with her pickle, hamburger and milkshake. I’m not coming back to your restaurant if that’s the way you’re going to run it.


He signed his name and, fortunately for me, included his address. I wrote him a letter and enclosed a card for a free hot fudge sundae. I assured him we don’t run our business that way, apologized, and asked him to please come back. I had a chance meeting with him years later and I thanked him in person for his letter because it became the “war cry” of our young company, “Give ’em the Pickle.” When something happens with a customer and you’re not sure what to do? “Give ’em the Pickle!” Do what it takes to make things right!

So, basically the philosophy is to do whatever it takes to make things right with the customer. My question is, at what cost? This customer had been getting free pickles for 3 years and the one day a waitress says no and he decides to never come back? In addition, this “great customer” couldn’t give the benefit of the doubt for a new waitress? I am not sure that’s the client we are looking for when we are looking to retain clients. Sure, the pickle is worth the continued repeat business of the client, but should we be giving away products and services to clients who end up costing more than they are worth?