Tag Archives: Customer Service

Steve, Sam and the Hard Mattress

Give me a mattress, make it a double

Give me a mattress, make it a double

My good friend, Steve, was on a mission.  His wife told him to get a mattress for his teenage kid.

“Don’t forget the mattress, don’t forget the mattress,” Steve repeated to himself as he left for work that day.

Steve remembered.  He made it to the store for an early lunch, the only customer there.

“I need a double mattress please,” he demanded, satisfied that he remembered the size.

The salesman berated Steve with questions: What ‘softness’? pillow top? what springs do you like? have you seen this?  How much do you want to spend?

“I just need a mattress….double.” Steve was deflated.

The salesman almost refused his request…”We don’t sell that here,” he said with his eyes.

“Just give me the list of mattresses and I will pick one..now,” Steve blurted out with his last bit of life before he walked out.

Steve got the list, picked one and checked out.

He is Simple Steve.  The guy who salespeople don’t need to ‘sell.’ They just have to lead him to water for him to drink, he walked in thirsty and just wants to consume the product and be done.

His cousin, Sophisticated Sam, is a different dude.  He has done some research, knows some detail and wants the salesperson to talk the finer points.  Sam walks into mattress stores with time, money and a willingness to learn.

If the salesperson complicates Steve’s life, he will get pissed and leave.  If salesperson goes simple on Sam, Sam will be left unsatisfied and go where he will be taken care of.

Sam and Steve are easy to identify, a few pleasantries will get you there.

I am Steve, hear me roar.

 

Fifty Shades of Customer Service

Christian Grey in action at Hylete HQ

Hylete.com makes and sells some pretty good work out apparel and gives me a discount because I’m a Soldier.  They do the same for professional trainers, emergency and law enforcement folks too.  40% off suckas.

I ordered a gray shirt which was delayed a bit when I received an email from them.  The personal email said that my order was delayed due to a shipping issue and will be sent the following day.  “No problem,” I thought.

I received an email immediately after that saying that a 20% credit was applied to my account.  That’s cool, I didn’t expect that but I’ll take it.

I ordered a slate colored shirt and received a gun metal shirt the next day.  Fifty shades of ‘Grey’ so to speak.

I replied to the email since it was written by a person, not a machine.  The email also didn’t have a nasty, “Do Not Reply” warning.

The customer service agent quickly replied asking for details so she could stem the problem which may be affecting others.  She also told me to keep the shirt and credited me for another.

After determining the cause of the problem she wrote to thank me for the information and said that she was contacting others affected.

A lot of companies make decent work-out gear. What a lot of companies don’t have is amazing customer service; they do.

www.hylete.com

Highway confessions; I ran over that sign

This sign has directed its last patron

So I had a bit of a rough weekend in terms of driving.  I had a hitch mounted cargo carrier on the back of my jeep to haul camping supplies.  I guess I had a hard time judging distances, I blame the heat.

I hit two things:  I ran down a fast food joint’s sign and bumped someones SUV in the parking lot.  There’s a difference.

When I bumped the guy’s car, I felt really bad.  There was barely any damage, a small dent in the rubber probably on its way to popping back out.  I stayed out in the parking lot and waited until he came out of the store and explained what happened and apologized.  He looked at the bump briefly and agreed that it was too small to care about.  We went on our way.

I stopped briefly when I cut a turn too hard and clipped the fast food sign.  It made an awful sound.  Not a full stop, a rolling stop really.  I’m pretty sure the sign was already down and I just finished the job, it was rusty and seemingly sheered off at the base.  I didn’t feel bad though.  As a matter of fact, I was more concerned with any damage to my jeep and wondering why they chose such a poor place for a sign.  Honestly, I laughed  hardily as I drove down the highway, trading jokes with my wife about the situation and my impending arrest.

Here’s what separates the two incidents:

I identified with the SUV owner, even though I’d never met him.  He is a person and deserves to know that his car was bumped.  I was prepared to pay for any damage caused because I wanted to do right by him.

This fast food place is a nameless and faceless corporation.  Their parking lot was unkept and cared about me only enough to get me out of their drive through line.

The fix?

Chain stores need to identify themselves using their people.  Managers should have their pictures up and meet customers.  Clerks should make a bit of small talk and use their names.  It’s an easy fix really and customers will come back because they were treated like people BY people.  It’s not that corporations need to increase the number of self reporting sign runner overs, they need to increase the customer return rate.  Even corporations can be small town shops.

If I had met Bill the manager or even knew his name I may have let them know that I ran their sign over.  I might mention to him that it was really poorly placed though.

Customer Service – What get’s it done?

The gym I go to has a great front desk staff.

Their greetings are strong when I come in, smiles big, very receptive to the few requests I’ve had and bid a great farewell when I leave.

Every time, all of them.

Most of the other staff seem to be on board as well.

So what is it?

Does American Family Fitness pay really well?  Do they just hire the right twenty somethings?  Are they consistently trained and managed?

I’m not sure exactly but what I am sure of is that the culture is right.

Regardless of hiring practices, pay or training models the culture set by the leadership creates the environment for success…or failure.

In my experience culture is determined through time by communicating with your peeps often, by being forthright with standards and expectations and, most importantly, by explaining “why.”  Explaining why means explaining to the staff the enduring end-sate, the objective, the second or third desired effect.

Your people are smart and will help you to your goal; if they know what it is (exactly) and you allow them to.

Leaders need to take some time to reflect, communicate and observe; this, done over time, will start an organization on an enduring path to success – it will create the right culture.

Answering lots of email doesn’t.