Killing your business with poor customer service?

Customer service
Think about it. What makes you like a company and what leaves you seething?  Sure, sometimes it's the quality of the product itself, but more often these days it's not the product, but the quality of service you get from the same company.

I love my gadgets and the price is often very comparable between stores. What sways my purchase decision is the customer experience that goes along with the purchase. I'll even go as far as saying I'll pay a little MORE for something from the retailer that believes in good service.

What is good service though?

I don't profess to be an expert on the subject, but in my mind it's mainly a warmth and desire to delight me as a customer. If I walk into an Incredible Connection, I don't expect the sales consultant to be knowledgeable on every single product, but I do expect him to be helpful. If he doesn't know anything about routers, instead of pretending to (and getting his facts wrong) or simply pointing to another colleague and saying "speak to him", a more positive experience would be "sir, my colleague over there is an expert on routers, let me take you to him").  It's those small moments of engagement that change a customer's perception of a brand.

Moment of truth
When I call a helpline and speak to an agent, he might be tired, bored and just running through the motions of reading a prepared script and vaguely trying and solve my problem. But to me, in that very moment, he represents the ENTIRE business. My entire perception of the company rests on his shoulders... it's whats called in organisational psychology the "moment of truth". If he's despondent and dreary, I don't just have a negative perception of him, I have a negative perception of the ENTIRE BRAND. Conversely, if he's attentive and knowledgeable, I'll be delighted as a customer. If this experience happens repetitively I'll even become a tacit champion of the brand, and make mention of the great service to friends and family. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

Let me use Vodacom as another example (I'm not picking on them, it's just based on a recent experience). I have very little signal in my home and a very helpful agent on the phone chatted to me about various solutions and said an engineer assigned to the suburb would get in touch. Whilst Vodacom did kindly resolve the issue by placing a booster in my home office, the dreariness and aloofness of the engineer who eventually phoned me to sort out the issue dampened my perception of the whole interaction with the company. Sure, I now have signal, but how did he leave me feeling about the brand? The engineer thought he was just in a technical field, but he got it so wrong. He's in customer service! In the 3 weeks of being assigned to me, he wouldn't acknowledge or reply to my emails, nor EVER answer his phone. BAM... a negative moment of truth with the brand.

How often do you phone a company and a dreary receptionist answers, and then doesn't even say a word when transferring you. The role of a receptionist is so vital in the customer's perception of an organisation, yet the training of this role is so often neglected.
Rude receptionist
A friend of mine experienced an exemplary example of great customer service recently when his Zodiac pool cleaner was playing up. The agent said to him something along the lines of: "Mr Silver, I'm sure you have more important things to do with your time than have to worry about your pool cleaner, so leave it in my hands. I will ensure a technician is there tomorrow and it will be working perfectly by the time you get home from work. What time would be suitable when someone is at the house?"

So what am I trying to say? If your staff member interacts with a customer in any way (even if they are not in sales or customer care), they ARE in customer service and you have placed the perception of your entire business in their hands.  It's time to create a more positive "moment of truth" for your customers. If you want to beat your competitor, it's not just about your product... it's about your service.

View Comments

The quest to conquer the Rubik's Cube

About 2 weeks ago my 6 year old daughter came to me with a Rubik's Cube she got in a party pack and asked if I could put the colours together. Being a Dad (who wants to be invincible in his daughter's eyes), I had to figure it out quickly... even though I hadn't been able to do it in the 34 years since I got my first cube in the mid 80s. I remember back then I had a little black and white book explaining what to do, but it was simply too confusing to follow.

These days we have Youtube and you can pretty much find visual instructions for anything. There are many different methods to solve the Cube, the easiest being to pull it apart and stick it back to together. Even online there are many different different techniques. I opted to follow the eight part algorithm method of LOUIE'S TUTORIALS. It took me about 9 hours to become familiar with it and another week to memorise the algorithms without looking at the clips again (or my notes). I'm now down to about 3 minutes to solve the Rubik's Cube... and I'm a rock star in my daughter's eyes!

Here's Louie's tutorial...

Step 1:

(Just a note. If you're using a really cheap Rubik's Cube, the opposite colours are not always the same, which initially caused me much head scratching. A proper Rubik's Cube should have yellow as the opposite colour to white).

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:

Step 6:

Step 7:

Step 8:


View Comments

You're never too old to study again.

The last time I wrote a varsity exam the hit TV show Twin Peaks was still on TV. About a year ago I started getting this niggle to start studying again. Not because my job required it, but I just wanted to get the neurons firing again.

We often don't follow the urge though, because life often gets in the way and we feel we don't have time and/or financial resources and/or emotional strength to start all over again.

Twin PeaksThat happened to me back in the early nineties. The year after completing my degree I enrolled to do a second degree in  Criminology... it lasted 4 months. I just couldn't muster up the passion to do it all over again. I preferred just chilling on the couch at night waiting for the next episode of Twin Peaks (because I wouldn't need an actual Criminology degree to figure out who killed Laura Palmer). Sometimes you need a clean break from studying. Mine was 24 years.

At the beginning of last year though I felt I was finally up for the challenge to do it all over again.

When I do motivational talks at corporates, I often use the example of learning to play a musical instrument. How many of us wish we had learned to play the piano or another instrument when we were younger, but just never committed to lessons? Well, why not start now? I decided to do it a few years ago. I'm a terrible player and am on Grade level 2, but by the time I'm in the old age home I'm gonna rock that place.

Mark Pilgrim
So in June last year I enrolled to do a MBA (Masters in Business Administration) through Edinburgh Business School (a division of the prestigious Heriot-Watt University in the UK). Jumping in the deep end while my enthusiasm was high, I started with one of the more feared subjects: ACCOUNTING. I spent many a morning over the past few months getting up at 4.30am to get in 2 hours of studying before the day started (and my girls woke up). There were days I wondered if I had what it took and if I really understood the material enough to pass the rigorous exam.

Honestly, I walked into the exam room in December with a lot of trepidation. If I failed, would I have the fortitude to re-write and also continue with the course? Would Nicole think of me as a failure? After 3 hours I walked out not quite knowing if I passed or failed (the joy of Accounting).

I got my results yesterday... 84%. In the varsity's classification system it is an "A with distinction". Thank God!

So now I'm back to getting up at 4.30am to tackle the next subject in the course.

I'm not alone in thinking it's never too late to go back to varsity. My old mate from 5FM days Steve Kirker (same age as me) just graduated with his Honours in Journalism at the end of last year (nice one brother!). My old class mate Lauren Gardener has just enrolled at WITS this year for a post-grad in Psychology.

I guess the point of this blog is, if you have the emotional fortitude, the message is... You CAN find the time. You're NEVER too old to study again. You've just got to WANT to do it.

Ironically, my wife never watched Twin Peaks back in the nineties, and with the new 2017 season coming up, I'm watching all the old episodes of the show again with her. If you bump into Nicole, don't tell her who killed Laura Palmer.

View Comments
See Older Posts...