Posts Tagged ‘angry customer’

celebrate friends and fans – 2011

Fridays are for celebrating Stance Friends and Fans. I encourage you to visit their facebook page, website or place of business and tell Stance about your experience with their company, product or service.

 

There is a great word that originated in Louisiana called: lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap). The Creole word literally translated means “the gift.” It refers to a small, unexpected extra gift or benefit presented by a store owner to a customer at the time of purchase. The people of Louisiana have embraced the term and broadened the definition to include any time a little something extra is given.

When applied to marketing, it equals a marketing lagniappe: any time a business goes above and beyond to provide a little something extra.
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Stan Phelps, Chief Solutions Officer for Synergy Events, is searching for 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for his book: What’s Your Purple Goldfish?
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The basic ingredients or R.U.L.E.S of Purple Goldfish: Relevant-Unexpected-Limited-Expression-Sticky.
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REWARD: For each of the first 1,001 examples of lagniappe Phelps will donate a non-perishable food item to the Thomas Merton Center, a soup kitchen in Bridgeport, CT that provides food and other programs that help people move out of poverty to become self sufficient.
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In addition, each Purple Goldfish example will be featured on the website and the best examples will be featured in his upcoming book.
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How to contribute:

:  e-mail your Purple Goldfish to sphelps@synergyevents.com.  
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BONUS:
If your Purple Goldfish gets in to the book, you receive a complimentary signed copy.

Examples of worthy marketing lagniappe or Purple Goldfish:

Southwest Airlines – Grab you bag . . . it’s on. Southwest doesn’t charge for bags.

TD Bank – TD Bank’s penny arcade in their lobby, a free service to exchange coins.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries – Free peanuts while you wait and extra fries with your order.

Doubletree Hotels – Complimentary warm chocolate chip cookie when you check-in.

Zappos – Free upgrade of your shipping to next day.

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What is your recent Purple Goldfish? Tell Stan Phelps and share with Stance.

Want to learn more? Watch this YouTube video: Marketing Lagniappe – In Search of Your Purple Goldfish.

Visit marketing lagniappe for more great examples of a Purple Goldfish.

Follow Stan on Twitter.

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If you have submitted a Purple Goldfish, please share it here. If not, visit them today and submit a new one for the book. I look forward to hearing about it and sharing your experience with other Stance Friends and Fans. 

why do you social media?

I have almost 800 friends on my persoanl Facebook page, over 300 fans on my business fanpage and close to 1500 followers on Twitter…not huge numbers, but respectable. Of those 2600 friends, fans and followers, 75 percent consists of retail, blogs, restaurants, services, entertainment, career connections and news sources.

Every day I read about what is for sale, what the economy is doing, how to run my business, what time happy hour is, what the special is tonight, why bedbugs are making a comeback, how to train my dog and the latest top 10 list about something.
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I comment. I engage. I ask questions. I like. I share. I tweet. I retweet. I post. I suggest. I repost…and over and over.
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Oh, and I also schedule updates to post later. I do this to make good use of my time and share information on a wide variety of topics that interest me and my friends and followers. I am proud to say that 99.4 percent of the time, I am available to ENGAGE with friends, fans and followers when the post goes live because that is the point of social media.

So why do I Social Media?

From a professional level (for my business and for my clients): to build relationships and to understand the root causes of customer sentiment and behavior in order to prioritize improvements that enhance each customer’s experience.

  1. Listen
  2. Know your customers
  3. Care about your customers
  4. Evolve with your customers

From a personal level: to create relationships, to support those I believe in, to stay connected with my past, to build my future and to find out what the special is tonight….because after all, food is high on my list of priorities.

Why do you Social Media?

third party doldrums

I spend a lot of time building relationships on the great internet via social media. I talk regularly with people I have never had the pleasure of meeting and have made some real friends along the way.

I also have regular cyber conversations with restaurants, hotels, out of state services and local business owners. Each group has created an identity for themselves or the establishment they represent. As a consumer and believer in the almighty word of mouth marketing (WOMM), it excites me to watch the relationships grow before my eyes.

Which is why, on a recent visit to a local restaurant and bar, I was saddened by the treatment (or non-treatment) from the staff. Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT looking for handouts or freebies, just the continued sharing and conversation that is done online.
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Before heading to happy hour with four other ladies, we all did our fair share of tweeting and facebooking about where we were going and at what time. We included the twitter handle of the establishment and even received a tweet back from them. They were happy we were coming in and excited to serve us (I bet they were also happy for the free WOMM). Also, I should mention, this was not my first time “chatting” with this business. I have been a supporter and so have the other ladies who include foodies, business owners and mega social media users.

The staff had no idea who we were. I do not expect the average restaurant to know who I am as I am not famous, but when five ladies have tweeted, facebooked and checked in on foursquare, it is assumed that an owner, manager, bartender, host or bartender will have some clue. Nothing. Enter the third party doldrums.

This particular establishment hires an agency to manage their social media which is NOT a problem at all for me. The problem is they do not have a system in place to inform the on-site staff of what to expect at any given time.

One large benefit of social media is building relationships with potential and current customers. People do business with people they like and spend money in places that make them feel good.

At this point the relationship has been broken and the experience was a let down. Even more alarming is that the employee, customer and company are not aligned so there is no way to provide the optimal customer experience.

Have you had the third party doldrums? If you are an establishment who hires out of house social media management, what systems do you have in place to avoid third party doldrums?

the new #7

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A friend texted me an interesting question last night as she was eating in a local restaurant.

What do I do when the service is good but the food is not?
Do I tell them?

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A valid question and a reminder that not all the focus can be on the customer experience because the product is just as important.

A great customer experience supports a well planned product, whether it is the perfectly executed nine course tasting menu at The French Laundry, the best shoes at a great price from Zappos or a superb night’s stay at Ritz Carlton.
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Imagine that during your visit to The French Laundry you are treated as royalty, but instead of being served a divine dish fresh from The French Laundry farms, you are served beanies and weenies. No amount of planned, repeatable customer experience will make that acceptable for the price of the product, right?
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So I propose an addition to the Six Laws of Customer Experience by Bruce Temkin, customer experience transformist and Managing Partner of the Temkin Group.
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1.  Every interaction creates a personal reaction.
2.  People are instinctively self-centered.
3.  Customer familiarity breeds alignment.
4.  Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers.
5.  Employees do what is measured, incented and celebrated.
6.  You can’t fake it.

And the New #7: A well planned product or service that is aligned with the experience.

So what did I tell my friend? A bad product is a bad product. Fortunately there is always room for improvement…but not if they don’t know.

Although her opinion is just one of many, if the restaurant integrates customer feedback and insight throughout the organization (one of four core customer experience competencies by Temkin), then they already know and (hopefully) are making changes to the product so it meets the customer experience they provide.

And then, once again, the employee, customer, organization AND product/service are aligned.

don’t allow indifference

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I run in to this a lot:

I go to an establishment with certain expectations which are not met. I look around and note that everyone else seems to be happy with their experience, in fact, the place is packed. Are they receiving OR perceiving a different service or experience than I am, or are they just indifferent?

Last Sunday I went out to eat brunch and watch the Bronco game with a group of friends and it was not a good experience. The server was friendly but not attentive or helpful, they were out of two beers on the menu, they no longer served the “giant cinnamon roll” highlighted as a specialty, the hollandaise sauce was “refrigerator” cold, the eggs were runny and the breakfast burrito did not have any eggs in it. We were generally bummed, but it appeared that everyone around us was generally happy. Could it be that the overarching expectation of most customers was just to be fed, watered and provided a certain level of entertainment? Were their expectations just low enough to make mistakes acceptable?

If that is the case, then what is the motivation for the company owner to improve upon their systems and offer a solid experience? How about this:

Doing good business and making good money means there is an opportunity to do GREAT business and make MORE money.

 

I do not believe the company, employee and customer were aligned. Instead, everyone was operating independently of one another and without similar goals.

How do you approach companies who are doing well despite providing a mediocre customer experience? Are you indifferent?

Use Your Words

A picture is worth a thousand words. Fortunately I tend to frequent restaurants that don’t have photos on the menu (although, it sure would help in some instances). The wording (or lack of wording) on a menu, can help to create a great customer experience just as easily as it can destroy one.

What do you think of when you see Nicoise Salad, Eggs Benedict or Chicken Parmesan on a menu? You have an expectation because you have had it before, and for the most part, those items are classic in presentation.

When the menu just says Eggs Benedict that is what I expect, but when it says: Root Down BenedictQuinoa “English Muffin”, Arugula, Iberico Cheese and Oven Dried Tomato Hollandaise I know I am getting something different­­—possibly quite special.

My general expectation of a Nicoise Salad.

I recently ordered a Nicoise Salad. In general I expect tomatoes, hard boiled egg, chicken or tuna, haricot vert, potatoes and olives served on a bit of lettuce and maybe one or two items that give the dish the chef’s signature. I also envision each item presented separately and not tossed together. My expectation and what I received were miles a part. What I got was an entire head of shredded lettuce, one slice of egg, three haricot vert, a tomato or two and cold, grilled chicken all served up to look like a side salad or an after thought dinner salad.

Eddie Lau, from Hot Food Porn and executive chef of The Summit Art/Bar Cafe soon to open in San Francisco, says it best:

“There have been instances where menus have been an undeniable factor in restaurant success and failure. Wording in a menu can be the difference in customer expectations including: how much people order, what people order and how people ultimately judge their meal. A menu that reads like a book can be intimidating, tiring and confusing for diners – which can lead to a situation where the words may ultimately overwhelm the food. A menu that reads too minimalist can be too vague and uninformative – leading to improper interpretations/expectations of what is actually written versus what is actually served. The dream menu should have the perfect balance of food seduction and honest expectations, which is honestly impossible.” 

Maybe the dream menu is impossible, but when considering menu wording, the writer should think like the customer. I was let down, and even though the waiter was friendly, the sun was shining and the bathroom was clean, my experience was ok at best. Oddly enough, if the salad had been called “Lo Cal Summer Chicken Salad”, I would have been pleased as punch because expectation, perception and the reality of the dish would have been aligned.

What’s in your salad?

CEM Gone Wrong

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I recently had an interesting customer experience with my mortgage lender. Ok, I know the experience was with the individual in the call center, but that experience was designed by someone in the CEM department, or whatever they call it, and it was also a huge failure.

While making my June mortgage payment on line through my bank for my rental unit, I inexplicitly switched two numbers and sent the payment $90 short. A week later I received a notice that I was two months behind in payments. Knowing I sent the payment, I checked the status on my banking site…yep, there it was. Sent, cleared and $90 short.

Last week, before leaving town, I called my lender to double check the amount owed before hitting the send button. The amount totaled two months plus a late fee. I was confused as I was only $90 short plus the full amount for July. The representative said that no amount is applied when an amount less than the full amount is sent….something I did not know and an expectation they never set.

What was clearly a typo on my part (two numbers transposed) was considered non-payment by them. Interesting…and infuriating. I indicated I would send July’s mortgage plus the coverage and asked if she would waive the late fee. She said she did not have the power to do that and would need to transfer me.

Then she asked if I lived in the home.

ME: “NO, it is a rental.”  (I could visualize her reading her script….if no, go to question 89. If also a rental, go to question 122.)

HER: “Do you plan to keep it and continue making payments?”

I thought to myself, what? Of course. But I said “why do you ask”?

Stumped. There was no script directive for that answer. She had no idea why she was asking. All she knew was that the when dealing with late payments on rental units she should ask if the intention is to keep the mortgage or not. Ok, I get it. The company is trying to foresee any foreclosures or bankruptcies for obvious reasons: they too have been hit hard over the last two years.

This is CEM gone wrong. I was insulted they insinuated I may be attempting to “walk away” from my responsibilities. The goal was to get a feel for if a customer is going to “walk away” but the result was making a perfectly happy customer angry. That is not a customer-centric (sorry Shevlin) company. It is a company-centric organization interested in covering their assets at all costs.

They set the protocol to ask a question, but did not empower the employee to stray from the script and engage me in informational dialogue that would have streamlined the process. I should also mention, the next day, I received a phone call from the collections department trying to make good on two months of payments. I told the guy to read the notes in their fancy CRM system and hung up.

Aside from re-creating the entire process and empowering and trainging their employees, how could this have been handled better? For starters, they could have been truly customer focused, and instead of a letter and an insulting phone call, they could simply have called and said the following:

Ms. Gore, it appears you have transposed two numbers in your payment amount. Would you like to pay the shortage now, or simply apply it to your next payment?

Problem averted and customer, employee and company aligned.

PS some BPM work would not hurt either. 😉