Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

“Slow-boating”: What’s up with Amazon?

June 3, 2015

I used to heap high praise on Amazon. Not so much any more.

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First, some background …

Free shipment time from Amazon used to be one of my primary economic indicators.

If a free shipping order arrived in 2 or 3 days, I concluded that the economy wasn’t  doing so well.

Why?

Free shipments essentially fly stand-by,

If there’s space on planes & trucks then they get loaded.

If there isn’t, then the orders sit on the docks.

So, in a slow economy, orders come fast.

In a hot economy, orders take longer.

At least, that’s the way things seemed to work.

Not so predictable these days.

What’s up?

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A new twist on “Press or say ‘one’ if …”

January 10, 2014

First, let’s lay down a marker by flashing back to the late Steve Jobs.

One of the things that bothered Steve Jobs was the time that it took to boot when the Mac was first powered on.

To motivate the designers, Jobs reportedly exhorted them:

“If it could save a person’s life, would you find a way to shave ten seconds off the boot time?”.

The engineer allowed that he probably could.

Jobs went to a whiteboard and showed that if there were five million people using the Mac, and it took ten seconds extra to turn it on every day, that added up to three hundred million or so hours per year that people would save, which was the equivalent of at least one hundred lifetimes saved per year.

A few weeks later the engineer had the Mac booting up twenty-eight seconds faster.

Keep that story in mind the next time that a digitized phone answerer asks you to “press or say 1 for English; press or say 2 for Spanish”.

Not a big deal, right?

It only takes about 5 seconds to work thru the prompts.

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But take Jobs rules and multiply the 5 seconds times a few million calls per day getting the prompt and you’ve got a statistically significant number of “lost lives” … or at least, lost productivity.

Rather than getting better, it’s getting worse.

I have proof.

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Storm call: “To continue in English, press 1 …”

February 2, 2011

Last week, a 6-hour heavy snow fall crippled the Metro DC area, causing broadscale electrical power outages.

The utility companies were immediately getting reamed on the talk shows  — though I’m not sure who was listening since the power was out – for making it hard for folks to report outages.

My thought: cut ‘em some slack, the call volume is high.

Then the lights when out at the Homa house, putting a new paint job on the mess.

The transcript:

Thank you for calling Dominion Virginia Power.

To continue in English, press 1.

(In Spanish) To continue in Spanish, press 2.

To make a payment, press 1.

To hear your account balance, press 2.

For other options, press 9.

And on and on.

It took a couple on minutes to get to the option: If your freaking power is off, press 1.

Didn’t those jabrones realize that there was an area power outage going on?

Why didn’t the transaction go like this:

Thank you for calling Dominion Virginia Power.

To report a power out, press 1.

To report a downed power line, press 2.

For any other business call back when the freakin’ snow melts.

Then the company could have simply used its caller ID system to identify the location and say “Thank you for reporting a power outage.  Now, try to stay warm”

I figure the process would have taken a max of 20 seconds.

BTW: Who calls to check their account balance in the middle of a freakin’ snow storm?

Best brands: It’s how you treat (not tweet) your customers …

January 30, 2011

TakeAway: Social media has increased the speed at which customers hear from their friends about good and bad experiences with companies.  In times of recession, low prices AND good customer experience are what’s needed to succeed.  People-centric industries, like retail and hotel, where there is more competition tend to spend more to create a good customer experience and find success in doing so.

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Excerpted from AdAge, “The Marketing Value of Customer Experience,” by Josh Bernoff, January 12, 2011

Customer experience is marketing. That is, in a world drenched in social word-of-mouth, the way you treat your customers — and the way they perceive you — makes all the difference in what they say to their friends.

…results from Customer Experience Index survey.

  • Only six percent of the brands were ranked as excellent… two-thirds were rated “okay” to “poor.” Eighteen percent were ranked as poor. …
  • Retail and hotel companies did the best; health insurance and TV service providers ranked worst. … The cost of great experience in the retail and hotel business is very high, they are people intensive businesses where it’s easy to fail. And yet the companies that succeed here succeed in part based on great service — because they compete. In health insurance and TV service, there is far less competition. 

The best performers overall were Borders, Barnes & Noble, Kohl’s, Costco, Amazon, JCPenney, Walgreens, Target, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and USAA (credit cards). …a great experience by itself doesn’t make up for an industry facing digital disruption. It’s also fascinating how many low-price providers are in the top ten,… . In a recession, providing low prices and an experience that’s better than people expect is a prescription for success.

… advertising is a lot cheaper and easier than changing… to focus on customer experience. … sure, you can keep hammering the message of how great you are, even if your customers think differently. … But in the end, people will find out the truth — and with social technology, that happens more easily every day.

Or, you could put your money and effort into improving the experience. That’s an effort that will take a couple of years, but with buyers coming back and seeking value as the recession lifts, you’ll attract the leaders. They’ll talk. You could end up like Zappos, where the customer word-of-mouth is most of the marketing. Or, you could just develop a customer experience that resonates with consumers, which is a whole lot easier to advertise.

Edit by HH

 

 

 

Starbucks: “Hold your pants on, your latte is coming"

November 4, 2010

TakeAway: Starbucks is telling its harried baristas to slow down, which may result in longer lines.

Amid customer complaints that Starbucks has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process, Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time.

Starbucks says the changes are part of its ongoing effort to make stores operate more efficiently.

But some baristas worry it will create longer lines.

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Excerpted from the Wall Street Journal, “At Starbucks, Baristas Told No More Than Two Drinks” By Julie Jargon, October 13, 2010

Starbucks insists the new procedures will eventually hasten the way drinks are made and lead to fresher, hotter drinks. Steaming milk for individual drinks, for example, “ensures the quality of the beverage in taste, temperature and appearance,” Starbucks documents state, while focusing on just two drinks at a time “reduces possibility for errors.”

Customers have indicated that the quality of espresso drinks at Starbucks is “average” and that the beverages are inconsistently prepared from barista to barista and from store to store, the documents say.

Over the last few years, Starbucks has been applying to the coffee counter the kind of “lean” manufacturing techniques car makers have long used as a way to streamline production, eliminate wasteful activity and speed up service. The company has deployed a “lean team” to study every move its baristas make in order to shave seconds off each order.

The company has made numerous changes to its business amid the economic downturn, including closing underperforming stores, trimming its number of bakery suppliers, boosting the perks of its loyalty-card program and introducing new varieties of its Via instant coffee. The cost-cutting and customer-improvement paid off in the company’s last quarter.

Edit by AMW

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Full Article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704164004575548403514060736.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTWhatsNews

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Productive whining: how to resolve your consumer disputes

July 1, 2010

When Outback cut the size of their salads, I expressed my disappointment via OB’s online customer feedback site.  Result: free din-din next time in.

That may have been my only complaint win … ever.

Below are some more powerful techniques for whiners. 

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Excerpted from NY Times: A Guide to Complaints That Get Results , May 21, 2010

Here are some favorite techniques and stratagems for prevailing in consumer disputes …

USE YOUR CAMERA:  always photograph any unpleasant surprises in hotel rooms – like dingy towels, broken shelves and a view that was less than promised and paid for. A picture is worth a thosand words.

REQUEST A PRIVATE CHAT: Another hotel technique:  ask the manager to step out from behind the counter. “This sets a tone of importance and mystery.”

BE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE, PART 1: Some have succeeded in a number of on-the-spot negotiations in hotels and restaurants by simply recounting the flaws in the experience and their unhappy effect on them and their family. Never lie or exaggerate. Just state the facts, calmly. When the manager inevitably asks, “Well, what can we do to make this right?” be ready with a reasonable request.

TRY TO REVERSE THE CHARGE: You can skip direct negotiations entirely and call your credit or charge card company. If you can provide compelling evidence that you’ve been snookered, the maker of your plastic will first suspend the charge while it looks into the matter, and then reverse it if your version of events wins the day. American Express gets especially high marks in this department.

BE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE, PART 2: When you’re talking to a phone rep, time is on your side for two reasons. The first is that phone reps are often timed and expected to churn through a certain number of calls per hour. The second is that nearly all call reps are prohibited from hanging up on you. So the longer you’re willing to stay on the phone and repeat that you are not satisfied, and do not want to end the call, the better your chances of getting what you want.

ASK THIS SIMPLE QUESTION:  When stymied by phone reps, simply ask, “What would you do if you were in my situation?” They’ll often pass along an effective tip about how to get the desired result” 

WRITE THE CEO: Lots of complainers have success sending letters to the C.E.O., or chief auditor, or any combination of higher-ups — the more the merrier, it seems.  Send it registered mail for added gravity and while you’re at it, note that you’ve sent a copy of the letter to a government agency, like the Federal Trade Commission.

Worst case, suing in small claims court, turns out to be a pretty effective way to get the attention of just about any corporation. Reportedly, some companies surrender once the case is filed, or skip the court date.

Full article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/your-money/23haggler.html?ref=business

If the shoe fits, wear it: Zappos’ strategy is for sale

February 10, 2010

Key Takeaway: Behind every great new product, there almost always is an organizational structure in place that acts as a catalyst for success.

Zappos, an online shoe seller, has decided to generate a new source of profitability by selling the secrets of its business model.

While Zappos will surely benefit due to the widespread interest in its unique culture, will each client find success in using this model?

It’s friendly, easy-going atmosphere possibly isn’t transferable to many industries…

 

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Excerpted from BusinessWeek, “Zappos Retails Its Culture” by Christopher Palmeri, December 30, 2009

Zappos already knows how to sell shoes. Now it’s hoping to profit from people’s fascination with its friendly, antics-filled business model. Last summer, the company began holding two-day, $4,000 seminars on how to recreate the essence of its corporate culture.

The goal behind these activities is to build more buzz around the Zappos brand and its extreme customer service. Anthony Hsieh, 36, is an avid consumer of management tomes. He has 1.6 million followers on Twitter—more than either CBS News or the NFL—and he regales these fans with inspirational quotes, riffs on the news, and whatever else is on his mind. In the October seminar, which will be repeated once every quarter, Hsieh, the chief financial officer, and two dozen other staffers shared tips on hiring, compensation, customer care, and creating the right work environment.

There’s certainly much for students of management theory to try on at Zappos. For example, pay for call-center operators starts at a modest $11 an hour, and there are no bonuses or 401(k) matching contributions because Hsieh believes the most productive employees work for the psychic gratification in helping others. Customer service reps are given plenty of freedom. They may chat for hours with customers, write thank-you notes, send flowers, and even direct shoppers to rival Web sites if an item is out of stock. In a tough year for retail, sales are up by double digits.

Edit by JMZ

 

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Full Article
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_02/b4162057120453.htm?chan=innovation_branding_brand+profiles

Press zero if to want to talk to a customer service rep … yeah, right.

January 8, 2010

Excerpted from: WHAT AMERICANS REALLY WANT by Dr. Frank I. Luntz

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According to Dr. Luntz’s surveys, 1/3 of Americans say that customer service is worse at major companies than it was five years ago … and people prefer taking out the trash to phoning a customer service call center.

There are two aspects of service that drive consumers crazy:

  • First, getting a live voice on the phone.
  • Second, actually getting help from that person

Telephone automated answering systems were created to organize and streamline consumer interactions, as well as to replace expensive personnel with cheap software and technology. But the cost in consumer irritation is often more than the savings.

It’s no wonder that road rage has given way to phone rage as the number one time-consuming annoyance.

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Companies that insist on automated phone systems to answer customer questions and complaints need to follow three procedures if they want to maintain customer credibility.

1. Three rings, max.

People expect the phone to be picked up just after the third ring. That’s the standard set by home answering machines and cell phone voice mail, so people are conditioned to it. Anything longer triggers an immediate negative emotional response and is almost guaranteed to make the call more unpleasant than it otherwise would have been.

2. Two people, max.

Even more irritating than waiting for the initial telephone pickup is being passed from one representative to another.

A company is allowed one transfer. If a generalist transfers you to a specialist, you’ll accept that to get the expert advice implied by the word “specialist.”  But if you’re transferred more than once, people lose confidence in the company and its ability to figure out what’s wrong and fix it.

3. Americans, please.

People are immediately suspicious when they hear a foreign accent. To them, it’s a sign that the help desk has been outsourced, and it immediately destroys customers’ confidence that the problem will be addressed and resolved.

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From: WHAT AMERICANS REALLY WANT. . . REALLY – The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams, and Fears
by Dr. Frank I. Luntz

When you let folks down, spit out the words: "I’m sorry"

November 10, 2009

Ken’s Take: Here are two very different stories re: how companies respond when they let customers down.. AT&T tries to slick over the problem.  Cox Cable steps up, takes responsibility, and offer a couple of freebies to ease the pain.

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AT&T 

“AT&T customers have been complaining for months about dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and slow download speeds for the iPhone”.

In response, AT&T produced a three-minute YouTube video in which it appears that a spokesperson called “Seth the Blogger Guy” will address concerns from a large number of unhappy customers.

“Look, we see the discussions on the Web,” he says, “on blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook. So we thought it would be a good idea to take what’s being said head-on.”

So far, so good, but Seth quickly loses his focus by:

  • Describing the huge demands placed on networks by smartphone usage
  • Congratulating AT&T for its role in expanding the smartphone market
  • Detailing the extraordinary efforts to facilitate a smooth rollout for the iPhone’s MMS feature (which had yet to be released when the video was made, and about which no customers had complained.)

Nearly two minutes into the presentation, Seth finally gets to the point.

“So what are we doing about it?” he says. “Well, put simply, we’re working around the clock to enhance and expand out network to meet these challenges.”

He concludes by telling viewers what AT&T plans to do and how much it plans to spend, but fails to offer concrete timelines, or much else that would matter to a customer frustrated by terrible service.

More important to consider is what Seth left out: He never says what customers really want to hear … sorry.'”

Source Marketing Profs: Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, Nov. 5,2009
http://www.marketingprofs.com/short-articles/1412/sorry-seems-to-be-the-hardest-word/?adref=NmiF1B9

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Cox Cable

Background: On Wed, Nov. 4 Cox had a massive system outage in Northern Virginia that lasted most of the nite.  As luck would have it, that turned out to be the nite that the Yankees beat the Phillies to win the World Series.  Lots of disappointed sportsfans.

Here’s how Cox responded.  I think they did a pretty good job …. considering.

An email from Cox NOVA’s General Manager:

We let you down. You expected to turn on your television and sit down to watch the game or your favorite Wednesday night show. That probably didn’t happen and I apologize for that.

Some of our most vital equipment took a significant power hit, and when rebooted, much like a home computer, it did not come back on line properly.

In spite of tremendous effort on the part of our best people, that reboot process took several hours and frankly, probably ruined your night. As your neighbor, I experienced the same in my home.

We are committed to you, our valued customer, and nothing is more important than rebuilding your trust in us by taking action to make things right.

First, we’re going to credit your residential account with a free month of digital gateway service.  The credit will be automatically applied to your account, no need for you to do anything. We also hope you will take advantage of a free video On DEMAND movie .

While such an outage has not occurred in the history of Cox NOVA, we take this very seriously and are already working to ensure higher reliability of our video network as we completely review processes and emergency procedures so that you can enjoy your your TV service uninterrupted.

We appreciate having you as a customer. It’s important to us. My thanks for allowing us to serve you,

Janet Barnard
SVP and General Manager
Cox Communications

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Good customer service is “one and done”

October 29, 2009

HBR, What Service Customers Really Want, by Dave Dougherty and Ajay Murthy. Sept 2009

On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company.

Recent research demonstrates that when customers contact companies for service, they care most about two things:

(1) Is the frontline employee knowledgeable?

(2) Is the problem resolved on the first call?

Yet those factors often aren’t even on customer-service managers’ dashboards.

Most service centers continue to measure time on hold and minutes per call. Such metrics encourage agents to hurry through calls—resulting in
just the kind of experience customers dislike.

And, these alienated customers often disappear without the slightest warning.

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Why It Pays to Apologize …

October 26, 2009

Ken’s Take: In personal life, apologies can clear the conscience and “clear the air”.

In business, apologies make for good customer relations …

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Excerpted from Business Week, Why It Pays to Apologize, Oct. 12, 2009

What’s the best way for a company to disarm a disgruntled customer? A simple apology beats a cash rebate, according to a new study.

Researchers at Britain’s Nottingham School of Economics worked with a large German wholesaler that sells goods on eBay, tracking the lukewarm or negative comments posted on the site by the company’s customers over six months.

They then responded to the 632 complaints—about defective salt shakers, say, or the late delivery of a leather belt.

Half of the e-mailed responses offered a brief apology. Half offered instead a “goodwill gesture” of a small cash rebate (from $3 to $8). All the e-mails asked the customers to remove the comments they had posted online. For those offered the rebate, it was a condition of receiving the cash.

The result?

About 45% of customers who received an apology withdrew their so-so or negative ratings, compared with 21% of those offered money to do so.

It’s worth noting that the e-mailed apologies were effective even though they were brief and impersonal — and asked for something in return.

Why?

Despite the suspicions people might harbor, “apologies trigger a biological instinct to forgive that is hard to overcome.”

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_41/c4150btw802994.htm

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Tomorrow: Getting personal – 8 principles for making your apologies count …

How long do you wait in line to checkout at the supermarket?

August 20, 2009

Well, if you live in DC, you wait the longest – over 8 minutes on average. 

Best solution isn’t to pick moving lines  … it’s to move to St. Louis.

Here are the numbers.  Below are some ‘so what’ points.

 [ Average wait times in grocery-store lines, in minutes]

Excerpted from WSJ,  Justice — Wait for It — on the Checkout Line, Aug 19, 2009 

While Americans spend relatively little time in queues, a wait they perceive as too long or unjust could curtail repeat purchases.

The simplest way to reduce wait time is also the most expensive: adding more employees.

Instead, some retailers and fast-food restaurants have gone the way of banks and airports, shuttling customers into a single line where the person in front goes to the next open cash register.

Other retailers are dabbling in technological upgrades to improve the waiting experience with updates on wait times or pleasant distractions.

But the primary goal often isn’t a reduction in wait time.  Instead, retailers are appealing to consumers’ sense of justice by ensuring no one is served after another customer who arrives later.

“Supermarkets are one of the last major service industries in the country where you don’t have single, serpentine lines.”

Waiting research has attempted to quantify how qualitative factors can affect shoppers’ estimates of time in line and their reaction to that time. Customers overestimate their wait times by 23% to 50%.

When it comes to customer satisfaction, time isn’t of the essence; fairness is. Many studies have shown how frustrating it is for customers to see others get served faster.

Supermarket lines may not be the longest, just the most loathed. Two years ago, in 20 out of 25 major U.S. cities, the average wait time at grocery stores was under five minutes.

Many supermarkets address that tension with express lanes for shoppers with few items, so that they don’t have to wait for lengthy transactions. In other words, supermarkets are thereby treating their best customers – who buy the most —  the worst.

Nearly half of supermarkets have some form of self-checkout. But these systems are usually outnumbered by traditional cash registers and often slowed by customers’ unfamiliarity with barcode scanning.

Full article :
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125063608198641491.html

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Managing the customer experience … from "delight" to "good enough"

January 26, 2009

Excerpted from the McKinsey Quarterly, “Maintaining the Customer Experience”, by Adam Braff and John C. DeVine, December 2008

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Stinting on customer service is a common and sometimes costly response to tough economic times. By managing the customer experience more rigorously, companies can maintain quality while still saving money.

How can consumer businesses make necessary investments in service while facing the pressure on revenues and costs? One key is to minimize wasteful spending while learning to invest in the drivers of satisfaction. Specifically, companies should challenge their beliefs about service and test those beliefs analytically. Many will discover that long-held but seldom-reviewed assertions about what customers really want are wrong.

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Consider service levels, specifically average time-to-answer, which is one of the most common metrics used in call centers. Companies that closely manage the customer experience have taken a rigorous approach to resetting service levels and, in some cases, are saving money without degrading them or customer satisfaction. In short, these companies have carefully measured the “breakpoints” to find their customers’ true sensitivity to service level changes.

One company, a wireless telecommunications services provider, found that its customers had two breakpoints at X and Y seconds on a call; answering the phone immediately (less than X seconds) produced delight, while leaving customers on hold for longer (more than Y seconds) produced strong dissatisfaction (exhibit). Although customers were fairly indifferent to service levels between X and Y, the company’s average time to answer was only loosely managed between these two points.

 

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The company considered raising service levels to the “delight breakpoint” or reducing them to just above the “patience threshold.” Customer-lifetime-value economics pointed to the second option: relaxing service levels but guarding against crossing the patience threshold. The drop in customer satisfaction was negligible, but the savings in staffing were significant, and the company ended up saving more than $7 million annually.

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Other good places to look for potential overinvestment include marketing campaigns (for example, offering to move a customer to a cheaper rate plan regardless of whether the customer says cost is a problem) and excessive use of bill credits and adjustments. The business case for these “customer delight treatments” can include unrealistic assumptions about how they will increase customer referrals and retention. And often, there is no business case.

Finding these savings requires rigor in customer experience analytics: the collection of customer-level data, matching survey responses to actual behavior, and statistical analysis that differentiates to the extent possible between correlation and causation. It also requires a willingness to question long-held internal beliefs reinforced through repetition by upper management.

Edit by DAF

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Full article:
http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/article_print.aspx?L2=16&L3=14&ar=2259

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To continue in English, please enter your credit card number … a new low in customer service courtesy of Dell

December 15, 2008

Excerpted from Wash. Post,”The Bangalore Backlash: Call Centers Return to U.S.; Some Firms See Value in Familiar Voices”, December 11, 2008

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If you prefer a customer service agent who speaks “American,” then computer maker Dell has a deal for you.

Catering to consumers put off by the accents of Bangalore, Manila and other call-center hubs around the globe, Dell will guarantee — for a price — that the person who picks up the phone on a support call will speak “American”.

The Your Tech Team service, with agents in the United States, costs $12.95 a month.  It also promises that wait times will average two minutes or less. Without the upgrade, a customer is likely to get technical help from someone in India, the Philippines or the other places where Dell has operators.

Occasionally, “we’ve heard from customers that it’s hard to understand a particular accent and that they couldn’t understand the instructions they were getting,” said Dell. “This illustrates Dell’s commitment to customer choice.”

“Most people in the customer service world believe that if you have sold me a product, then support for that product should be free,” the managing director of  a call-center consultancy.

Full article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/10/AR2008121003574.html 

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Taking the hassle out of … well, everything

November 24, 2008

Excerpted from BusinessWeek, “Change Your Process to Boost Profits”, By G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón, October 7, 2008

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Wherever there is interaction among your brand, your people, and your customer, there is an opportunity for service innovation and increased profits.

Questions to Ask:

How do you serve up your products? What behavioral hoops do you make your customers jump through to get what they want? How much of how you are selling is due to tradition, habit, or a business model that has not been challenged?

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I recently went to the bank to make a deposit. I had to find a parking place, find the right form, find my account number, fill out the form, stand in line, show an ID, and wait for a receipt. If I wanted my balance, the process would take even longer.

If my bank eliminated some steps with, say, SpeedPass technology,  it would save us both time. Moreover, the bank would get a chance to make me feel special, and I’d might go to the bank more often and give it more of my money to invest.

Service innovations are often disguised as product innovations. Think about the airline kiosk, where you check in yourself, and the wedding gift registry. These enabling technologies are all born of the insight that the buying process was too cumbersome. Technology made a transaction easier, but only after the experience was examined and challenged.

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The primary arguments against service innovation usually come from high-touch, service-minded people.

They will tell you that by adding technology, or simplifying the ordering process “you are dehumanizing our business” or “that is not the way this business is done”—or something like that. Don’t listen. Push your team to create a totally new experience based on what your customers are saying or how they are behaving.

Then test the new experience. You will know soon enough if you have made life better for your customers. If you choose, you can then add a halo of people to the mix to make the service more personal. Southwest Airlines has kiosks. That does not mean it has used them to replace its incredibly well-trained and thoughtful employees.

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Typically, when we think about innovation, it is on the product side. How can you introduce something new, or improve an existing product?

Both those things are vitally important. But if you miss (or forget about) the chance to improve the service portion of your offering, you are missing a huge opportunity.

Edit by DAF

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Full article:
http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/oct2008/ca2008107_013799.htm?chan=careers_managing+index+page_managing+your+company

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Many Companies All A-"Twitter"

September 16, 2008

Excerpted from Business Week, “How Companies Use Twitter To Bolster Their Brands”, by Rachel Kin, September 6, 2008

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A growing number of companies are keeping track of what’s said about their brands on Twitter . . . using Twitter to do everything from burnish brands to provide customer service. The attention to Twitter reflects the power of new social media tools in letting consumers shape public discussion over brands.

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Begun in 2006, Twitter is a pioneer of microblogging, a way for users to keep others informed of their current status by way of text messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, or the Web. While Twitter doesn’t release exact numbers, estimates range from 1 million to 3 million users.

It’s not just audience size that draws brands. People who use the site are likely to hold sway over others. A single Twitter message—known informally as a tweet—sent in frustration over a product or a service’s performance can be read by hundreds or thousands of people. Similarly, positive interaction with a representative of the manufacturer or service provider can help change an influencer’s perspective for the better.

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In a July 2008 report, Gartner added microblogging to its list of technologies that will transform business over the next two to five years.

Edit by DAF

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Full Article:
http://www.businessweek.com/print/technology/content/sep2008/tc2008095_320491.htm

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