Customer Service

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Lessons in customer service from Kijiji and Co.

By Leo Valiquetteonlineclassifiedads

Fish tanks, fishing boats and Fisher Price toys for the baby’s crib. Even jobs as sushi chefs. There’s no shortage to what you can find on Kijiji, Used Ottawa, Craigslist and the like.

Who needs old newsprint classifieds when you can self-publish, self-promote and engage directly with the marketplace for free? (Sorry, newspapers).

But, boy, does buying and selling through these sites teach you a lot about human nature.

We regularly comment, even rant, about customer service on this blog, out of the unwavering belief that superior customer service is the only truly sustainable competitive advantage available to most companies.

And of course, who among us doesn’t like to complain about the quality, or lack thereof, of the service we receive from a vendor of products and services? But the online classifieds prove that we often fail the customer service test ourselves when the shoe is on the other foot.

So here are my tips on how not to treat your customers, drawn from a variety of teeth-grinding experiences trying to secure a deal through the online classifieds:

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Great articles roundup: Public relations, growth, social media, tech trends & customer service

By Daylin Mantyka link

Friday has rolled around yet again, which means we’ve compiled a short list of the top articles we read and loved over the week. Grabbing our attention were posts from Spin Sucks, Fast Company, Social Samosa, memeburn and velocity.

Why newswire services don’t work (and when they do)

In this article, Kate Finley questions the value of newswire services. She states  they may be useful in some limited circumstances but mostly she is finding little value for her clients. Most of all, she says, newswires are not earned media. What do you think: Are newswire services worth their effort in this day and age?

What not to do when growing your company, from a CEO who’s done just that

Les  Kollegian is the CEO of an award-winning communications agency and has had his share of ups and downs. In this article, he recounts five pitfalls he experienced during the growth of his company and then provides insight on how to avoid them. One of the five lessons learned was, “Don’t rush the hiring process.”

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Don’t let your phone skills atrophy

By Leo Valiquettephoneatrophy

I got a call last week from my incumbent Canadian telecom services provider eager to justify its existence to me.

We all get these calls from time to time. One of those “how can we serve you better” calls. This shouldn’t have been surprising, considering how my service provider’s top rival had been crawling all over my neighbourhood the past couple of weeks installing new fibre services.

I don’t mind taking a call in the middle of a workday if the intent truly is to find a better way to serve me, and for less money, to boot.

But my patience had worn thin after 20 minutes on the phone while this less-than-nimble customer service rep fumbled around; it was all for the sake of a mere $7 a month, after all. Then I got lost in some on-hold void waiting to seal the deal with the verifier.

I finally hung up at the 30-minute mark. There was no profusely apologetic followup call through the remainder of that day. In fact, the service rep didn’t call back until the very same time the next day, when I had less time to spare. I didn’t take the call. She never left a message. Maybe I’ll call them back later this week. Or maybe I’ll call those other guys about their fibre service.

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How may my technology help you?

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from November 2007. We welcome your feedback.

Fotolia_27389812_XS-300x200By Francis Moran

Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, is airing a special series on its national radio news programs called, “How may I help you?” I caught the first in-depth piece yesterday evening and I so badly wanted to call in and share my endless stack of customer service horror stories. Many fellow listeners obviously felt the same way; as of late this morning, fully 279 (!) individual stories of lament had been posted to CBC’s web site.

The issue put me in mind of an article, authored by Graham Technology’s Frank Kirwan, that we secured in Customer Management magazine earlier this year.

As I was listening to the radio piece last evening and reading some of the horror stories posted online this morning, the key point that kept coming back to me from Kirwan’s article was “Dissatisfaction is a greater driver of (customer) defection than satisfaction is of retention.” And judging from the number of CBC listeners who wrote that they would never again do business with that bank, telephone company, travel agency or whatever, clearly it takes just a single outrageous example of lousy customer service to trigger that defection.

It really doesn’t have to be that way.
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Purposeful customer service

Hope-CartoonBy Shep Hyken

I recently posed the following question to a group of business owners at the International Franchise Association convention: “How do you ensure a great customer service experience for your customers?”

There were some commonalities among the answers. Even with the diverse collection of businesses, from quick-serve restaurants to online businesses, most of them agreed that good customer service starts with people. Everyone recognized that a good hiring strategy is the heart of good customer service.

I asked one of the owners about his hiring strategy. His strategy was purposeful. Even for entry-level positions, applicants are screened and must go through three rounds of interviews. He prides himself on finding a good personality to fit in with his culture.

Then I asked my next question: “What do you do after they are hired?”

His response was what I expected to hear. He put the new hires through training. I asked him to elaborate on what they learned in the training sessions. All new employees must go through an orientation on how the technology works, logistics and the organization’s business process. He also assigns a mentor to help the new employee through the first week.

I asked the others in our meeting what was missing. Most believed that customer service training was missing.

His response was quick. He defended his omission of any customer service training because he chooses his employees for the right personality.

He said, “I made sure that I hired good people. I hope they know what to do.”

When it comes to customer service, hope is not a strategy. Customer service must be purposeful. You can hire the nicest people in the world, but you still must give them direction, teach the best practices, and continue to reinforce your customer service strategy so that employees are continuously reminded and motivated on what and how to deliver your brand of customer service. You must take what they already know and teach, very specifically, how to make it work for your business. And it starts with some initial training.

For example, Disney puts every employee (also known as cast members) through a training program know as Traditions.  It doesn’t matter if the cast member is taking tickets, selling souvenirs, helping people on rides, sweeping up trash or being brought into the corporate offices. All new hires learn what the traditions behind Disney are all about and how to “Manage the Magic,” which is a very purposeful way of creating a connection with the guest.

Don’t leave customer service to chance. Regardless of how good the employees’ people skills are, you can’t simply hope they will understand how to apply what they know to your business. Train them and train often. Reinforce the positive and learn from any problems. Consistently amazing customer service doesn’t happen by accident. It happens on purpose!

Shep Hyken is a speaker and bestselling author who works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic, The Loyal Customer and the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestsellers, The Cult of the Customer and The Amazement Revolution, which was also recognized as a New York Times bestseller.

Image: Chamber of Commerce

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