My Client Gave Me 3 Levels of WOW Customer Service!


Last Friday I had the great pleasure of delivering 2 half-day workshops to a wonderful new client, Silverstein Properties. Silverstein Properties is a full-service real estate development, investment, and management firm based in New York. I fell in love with this client from our first conference call. My primary contact, Andrew, has a real spirit of service. He arranged interviews for me with the principal managers so that I could indeed get to know the Silverstein culture, goals and challenges. He meticulously worked behind the scenes on so many levels to help me be great.

During my stay in New York City, Silverstein gave me super impressive accommodations in a corporate apartment. The apartment deco was just fantastic, and it felt like home away from home. I stayed at the corporate apartment the night before my workshops. During a break during the morning workshop, the head of Corporate Housing, Katrina, asked me how my stay had been. I told her how much I loved the apartment layout, interior design, amenities, concierge, and location. Katrina asked a few follow-up questions to ensure that my expectations had been met and exceeded. There was one little problem I experienced. I couldn’t get wifi. I was hesitant to tell Katrina because everything else was so fantastic and I didn’t want to “complain” about this one little thing.

The first WOW. Katrina could tell I had something to share.

Katrina picked up on my body language or hesitation and probed politely until finally, I told her about the wifi issue. She apologized genuinely and assured me she’d have the wifi taken care of before I got back to my apartment. Her response made me feel good about giving her the feedback.

The second WOW. My problem was fixed at lightning speed.

I finished the first workshop, enjoyed lunch with the participants and set up for the second workshop. Right at the start of the second workshop, a lady, Sarah, walked in, introduced herself and told me that she had just left my apartment and fixed the wifi. Apparently, a cable had been unplugged from the modem. My reaction was “WOW!” Talk about responsive!

The third WOW. Wine and Chocolate.

Then, get this, I get back to my corporate apartment, and a bottle of wine and a basket of goodies await me, along with a note from the business apartment staff.  If Silverstein treats its tenants this way, and I’m sure they do, tenants will never want to leave their properties!

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How an Otter Used a Monkey to WOW Me. (OtterBox uses Survey Monkey to Get Customer Feedback)

My cool OtterBox case for my iPhone 4s

Last week I contacted OtterBox for a problem with my fantastic Defender iPhone 4s Case. I was so Wowed by the Otter (customer service representative) I spoke with that I tweeted about it. My issue was quickly resolved and the replacement case is on the way to me. The email confirmation of shipment of my case included a link for a very good customer satisfaction survey through Survey Monkey. Two things about this survey impressed me and I want to tell you about my impression.

First off, I’m impressed with any company that seeks customer feedback. Feedback truly is the breakfast of champions. Customer satisfaction surveys help companies determine what they’re doing well and what they need to be doing differently. The second thing that impressed me about the OtterBox survey is the strategic purpose for gathering this feedback. OtterBox is clearly right now trying to determine how to make their website more user-friendly so they can deflect agent calls through a comprehensive web self-service portal.

My survey asked such questions as Did you visit our website to obtain information or assistance prior to contacting Customer Service? and What type of information was missing from the OtterBox website that required you to contact customer service? Responses from questions like these will help OtterBox create a web self-service experience that meets the needs of their customers. Just for fun, here is the survey I took for OtterBox.

The bottom line: Make sure you capture customer feedback at every opportunity. Don’t just use a generic survey that gives you nothing. Identify your service gaps or gaps in contact center service metrics and go out and solicit feedback from your customers what will help you close the gaps.

Is it possible? AT&T drops lower in customer satisfaction survey

It’s a bit of a surprise. AT&T has dropped below Sprint in consumer ratings, at least according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, as reported by the Associated Press. I think AT&T needs to call me. Read the full story here.

4 Better Ways to Handle Consumer Complaints

If you WOW a customer at the Moment of Truth , the average customer will walk away and tell 5 people about the experience.

If you fail to meet the customer’s expectations at the Moment of Truth , customers are very likely to tell 11 people about the problem they had with your company.

If you drop the ball with customers at the Moment of Truth , but rebound with a quick customer recovery, research shows that the customer will tell up to 17 people about your service recovery.

Did you get that? Customers will tell 5 people if you WOW them, BUT if there’s a problem and you quickly fix it, they will tell more than 3 times as many people as they would if no problem had occurred at all.

One of the fastest and easiest ways to grow your bottom line is to equip your front line employees with skills to respond to complaints and problems in such a way that they completely regain goodwill and restore the customer’s confidence.

Read on to find out exactly how to do this.

1. Resolve problems as quickly as possible. The faster the resolution, the better the chances for maintaining loyalty. TARP, Inc. found that ninety-five percent of complaining customers would remain loyal if their complaint was resolved on the first contact. That number dropped to seventy percent when the complaint was not immediately resolved. In fact, the speed of resolution has a greater impact on future loyalty than the resolution itself. Strive to resolve complaints on the first contact and when that isn’t possible, final resolution should occur within 5 – 10 business days in order to maintain and build loyalty.

2. Give Them Something. Coupons, product samples, and other freebies have a definite impact on loyalty after a service failure has occurred. Years ago American Airlines gave me 7000 frequent flyer miles after I experienced a gruesome delay. And that gift of miles, was enough to make me come back. But don’t take my word for it: A study conducted for the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) found that 58% of complaining consumers who received something in the mail following their contact with consumer affairs departments were delighted, versus only 40% of those who did not receive anything. Giving customers token items, such as coupons or product samples, after a service failure both increases the perception of value and serves to maintain loyalty.

3. Only allow the friendliest, most helpful, and diplomatic employees to talk to customers. Employee courtesy and attitude are critical factors in regaining the goodwill of customers who have experienced a problem. Customers contacting a company with a problem want to talk to a person who is courteous, professional sympathetic and understanding. Additionally, employees must be skilled in communicating with diplomacy, expressing empathy, and representing the company credibly and convincingly during times of consumer distress. The attitudes and behaviors of frontline professionals form powerful lasting impressions with customers whether these impressions are positive or negative.

4. Encourage your people to “Be Gumby”. You remember Gumby don’t you—the green rubbery figure that Eddie Murphy portrayed so hilariously on Saturday Night Live? In my seminars I teach employees to “Be Gumby” when it comes to dealing with customers. By being Gumby, I mean do whatever it takes to service customers. This includes being flexible, bending over backwards, making a 180 degree turn when you were heading another direction on a non customer-impacting task. It might even mean standing on your head. The idea is to be completely customer focused. Being Gumby guarantees you’ll always make customers happy.

Everything You Need for a Total Complaint Handling Training 
(Do-it-yourself Training)
Get your training materials now and equip your employees to deal with difficult customers with diplomacy and tact, say “no” without causing resentment, respond to negotiation ploys, and resolve problems without giving away the store. View details.

For Goodness Sake! Don’t Hide Your 1-800 Number!


Last week I decided to cut a business trip a day short and get back home to my family. I quickly found a flight using my iPhone, but for the life of me I could not find a phone number for the airline. After searching for several minutes I gave up and went to and within about 4 seconds, I found a toll-free number for the airline. was created by a frustrated consumer named Paul English who believes that customers should have easy and immediate access to the humans that run companies. What a novel idea. The site indexes hundreds of companies’ toll-free numbers and even gives consumers company-specific secrets to get out of IVR hell and immediately connect with a live person. I keep the site bookmarked on my iPhone.

Seriously, why would a company hide their toll-free number from consumers? I’m a numbers person and business owner. I get the need to slash costs and work smarter. But is it really smart to block consumer access to your company by telephone? Do you really want to make it harder for your customers to reach you with questions and when they experience problems?

While many companies are hiding their toll-free numbers and some are outright removing contact numbers from websites and product labels, online shoe retailer is aggressively promoting its toll-free number on EVERY page of its website.

Zappos encourages customers to call them about anything. Zappos views its 1-800 number as a branding device. They take over 5,000 calls every day and Reps are not bound by any maximum talk-time targets. And it’s paying off. Zappos was founded in 1999. In 2007 the company grossed over $800 million in merchandise sales and grossed over $1 billion in 2009.

I love this! Armstrong Floors prints its toll-free number on its no-wax floors with a message for consumers to call them to learn how to remove the 1-800 number. (It’s actually easy to remove the number with warm water.) The company wants customers to call them and they use this call as opportunity to explain to customers how to care for their new floors so wax build-up is avoided. Armstrong World estimates that this “toll-free training course” controls customer dissatisfaction and earns Armstrong $12,000 per customer over time based on customer retention.

Armstrong views their toll-free number as a revenue generator.

Companies, think about it. Do you really want to block consumer access to you after they’ve chosen to do business with you? Is it really your goal to make your customers work hard to find your contact number just so they can talk to you? Do you truly want to frustrate and tick off your customers just so you can save a buck?

Why not find other creative ways to save money? Like investing in improving the customer experience so you improve customer satisfaction, increase customer loyalty, and generate priceless word-of-mouth advertising. Or, maybe you could focus on innovation so you can bring in more customers. But for goodness sake, don’t attempt to save money by blocking customer access to your customer service team.  

That’s my two cents.