A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.

–Chinese proverb

Upset

I took the day off yesterday. My family and I joined my parents at a WNBA game. Our team, the Tulsa Shock, won convincingly. After the game we walked over to a flatbread café and had a delicious lunch.

While sitting in the restaurant I spotted a familiar cupcake bakery. I’d been to this bakery in Oklahoma City a few times. The décor is an immediate wow. It’s a French inspired, pink crazed, whimsical pink boutique. The cupcakes are almost too pretty to eat, yet too tasty not to devour. The taffy is good too.

IMG_3338

As we finished our meal and took care of the check, I raved about the cupcake bakery to my mother and insisted that we stop in before heading home. My mother, fully satisfied from our flatbread, wasn’t interested in cupcakes. But I went on and on about the cupcakes, candy, trinkets and décor. Finally she gave in.

We walk into the bakery, nearly empty that time of day, and my energy of anticipation of sweet artistic treats matches the hot pink walls. With a big smile, I look toward the 3 employees up front behind the counter. No one makes eye contact with me. No one smiles. No one speaks.

That was a let down. So, I simply give my mother a tour, pointing out the party rooms and showing off some of my favorite treats. Employees are engaged in conversations with each other. After several minutes I catch up with my daughter and tell her how disappointed I am that no one bothered to greet us. She tells me noticed it too.

I was ready to grab to-go cupcakes for my entire family. And these cupcakes are not cheap. As you know, service is everything to me. Yes, the cupcakes here are freakin good. Yes, the hot pink walls and whimsical details are insanely beautiful. But none of this is good enough for me to ignore being ignored by the staff. So, I say to my mother, “The service here is pissing me off. Let’s go.” And out we walked.

My mother and daughter get me when it comes to service. I have to feel welcomed and a sense of warmth in order to trade my dollars for a product. As I walked out, I thought of the Chinese proverb:

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.

Yep.

Related

Bad Customer Service Makes People Cry, Shout and Experience Headaches

I stayed at the Grand Hyatt DFW Airport. Was it worth $300 a night?

Grand Hyatt

I missed a connection in Dallas and had to spend the night at the Grand Hyatt. Well, I chose to spend the night at the Grand Hyatt. American Airlines offered to put me up in a very low-budget hotel, or was it a motel? The hotel or motel, whatever it was, was several miles away. It had no onsite restaurants. I was tired. And hungry. This hotel was just not an option for me. Not even for free.

I fly through DFW often and I recalled seeing the Grand Hyatt right onsite at the airport. I looked them up on my MacBook. I loved what I saw when I clicked “About.”

About Grand Hyatt

Expect nothing but the best at Grand Hyatt hotels. The most spectacular accommodations. The most savory dining options. The most eye-opening entertainment. You’ll find our distinctive hotels in major cities and resort locales, right in the center of it all. Our hotels are places to enjoy, to socialize within and entertain on any level you wish.

All our hotels boast dramatic, energetic lobbies, exquisite dining options, state-of-the-art technology, spas, fitness centers, and comprehensive business and meeting facilities.

So throw the wedding of your dreams, plan your yearly conference, or just settle in for a romantic weekend of luxury for two. Our hotels will meet and exceed all your needs throughout your stay.

 

After checking out the hotel’s restaurants and factoring in the close proximity and wonderful overview on their website, I decided to book the hotel.

The lobby was dramatic and energetic, just as the website said. There were a few guests checking in when I arrived, maybe 3. I’d been in line about 10 seconds when a hotel employee walked up and offered me a bottle of water. He spoke and carried himself with the formality and eloquence of a host in a country club.

IMG_3363

My room was the bomb! The window shades ascended the moment I stepped through the door, the lights came up and the television came on. Wow. The bed welcomed me like I welcome springtime.

IMG_3359

I appreciated the electrical outlet nestled into the nightstand next to the bed. So often in hotels the outlets are behind the nightstand which can be a little inconvenient.

This was an airport, so the view was limited to airport stuff. From my room I was able to watch air traffic flow in and out of the airport. I rather enjoyed that.

IMG_3361

One of the reasons I chose the Grand Hyatt was the dining. Some of you know I am a foodie and a vegetarian, so the dining is the most important thing for me. Before booking this nearly $300 a night hotel, I looked at the restaurant menus. Here’s what I saw before reaching the menu.

Hyatt is proudly offering food options that are good for Hyatt guests, good for the community and good for the planet.

 From natural, local and sustainable sources.

We are always striving to honor the individual requests of our guests.  It’s why our menus feature plentiful, healthful options alongside our more indulgent ones. And our children’s menus encourage them to eat well and be well with right-sized options.  

So no matter what our guests order, a great deal of thought and care has gone into each dish. Our guests deserve nothing less.

I also saw that one of the hotel restaurants, the Grand Met, had vegetarian and vegan options. Again, as a plant-based eater, this appealed to me big time.

My dinner was among some of finest dining experiences I have ever had on a business trip. I enjoyed the Artisanal Green salad, which featured superfood greens, red spinach, carrot, grana padano and Banyuls vinaigrette. Then, for my entrée, I enjoyed the perfect Garden Pasta.

IMG_3364

I passed on the $7 bottle of water.

The Grand Hyatt delivered an amazing customer experience – from the dramatic lobby first impression, to the state of the art amenities in the room, to the very fine dining experience with conscientious ingredients and plant-based options. Was this hotel worth the $300 I had to shell out? Yes, yes it was.

Myra Golden is a customer experience keynote speaker and trainer who travels North America looking for great stories to share, and new ways to help her clients deliver the best possible customer experience.

The Secret to Being in Business for 60 Years: Patience, openness and warmth (Sanders Barbershop in Broken Arrow, OK)

A few weeks ago my daughter and I went on a photography walk in downtown Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where we live. We saw many interesting sites, many familiar, but some new finds as well.

Just as we were heading back to our car, I spotted Commercial Street. I couldn’t recall ever walking down Commercial Street. My daughter, 14 and easily aggravated when she has to be away from her iPhone for more than a few minutes, said, “No, let’s go to the car.” I had encouraged her to keep her phone tucked away so we could focus on conversation and street art.

So, we turned onto Commercial Street and started walking, the setting sun at our backs and deep shadows marking our path. The shadows seemed to be pointing to a barbershop pole. My eyes lit up and I pulled my camera to my left eye and focused on the pole. My daughter sighed. She probably rolled her eyes too, but I chose to not look close enough to see.

Barber Shop-3

Sanders Barbershop, Broken Arrow, OK

You just don’t see barbershop poles much these days. I began taking photos of the pole and through the windows into the shop. The Sorry, we’re closed sign was up. But to my surprise, a man with a broom filled the frame. He startled me and I was suddenly embarrassed to be snooping through his shop with my camera. I saw cut hair in a pile near the back. Ah, they’re closed, but he is still here cleaning up. I was sure the man was going to come out and tell me to scramble away from his shop.

Barber Shop

Original sinks and cabinetry in Sanders Barbershop 

I took my hands off of my camera and let the camera hang from its strap around my neck, as if that gesture would make my curious lens invisible. My daughter had a look that said I told you we should have just gone to the car.

He opened the door, smiled and said, “Why don’t you come in? You’ll get much better pictures from inside.” I nearly leaped off of the sidewalk! My daughter looked at me and tried desperately to speak to me with her eyes. She was probably saying, “Really mom!” But in I walked.

Barber Shop-2

Mr. Sanders is his name and he owns the shop. He told me his family has run his barbershop in downtown Broken Arrow for more than 60 years. Mr. Sanders took the time to give me a tour of the vintage shop. We talked about the furniture, fixtures, antique cash register and his years of service with the US Navy. As we talked, my camera shutter fluttered.

Barber Shop-4

Each of the barber chairs looked like this. My jaw dropped as I ran my hands across the soft leather and took in the sturdy antiques.

My daughter and I stayed a good little while and then I realized Mr. Sanders must have someplace to be this beautiful Saturday afternoon. I knew my daughter was past bored. I thanked Mr. Sanders and we said goodbye.

Barber Shop-5

Mr. Sanders told me this cash register is 100 years old.

When I walked into Sanders Barbershop, I felt like I was being welcomed by an old friend. He smiled as we talked and I felt good, excited and at ease. He was open with me. My many questions, my large lens and my moving about his place of business didn’t make him impatient. He seemed glad I was there. I imagine Mr. Sanders treats his customers with the same warmth, openness and patience. Perhaps this is his secret to being in business for more than 60 years.

Myra Golden is a customer experience keynote speaker and trainer who travels North America looking for great stories to share, and new ways to help her clients deliver the best possible customer experience.

Myra has worked for 14 years delivering riveting keynotes and behavior-changing customer service workshops. Her clients include McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Ally, Lincoln Financial, Montage Furniture Services and Proctor & Gamble among others.

The New Face of Debt Collection – Empathy, Kindness and Compassion

Proud Businesswomen

The New Face of Debt Collection – Empathy, Kindness and Compassion

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from the collections division of a large financial company. The company wants to improve the quality of calls and improve the customer experience while still collecting debt.

That’s not an easy charge. Debt collectors are known to be threatening, aggressive, and intrusive, among other things.

So how will I help this company? I proposed we take a posture of empathy, kindness and compassion. Seriously, that is what I proposed for the company’s debt collectors.

I got the idea for a softer approach to debt collection from my husband. My husband used to work for a debt collector. In fact, he worked for one of the most successful debt collectors ever.

My husband’s former company, a consumer friendly company, bought delinquent debts from banks and then restructured them according to terms the customer could afford.

The strategy was successful. They were able to help 4.5 million consumers resolve $15 billion in debt, all of it without ever suing a consumer, producing net margins as high as 48%.

The company’s secret: Kindness, empathy and compassion.

I proposed to my prospect that I teach employees how to handle customers’ crisis with empathy. I told them that this empathy would bring in more money than any hard-hitting tactics ever could.

The company my husband worked for shut down. Long story.

But the owner, Bill Bartman, started another collections company, CFS II. (The original company was CFS). CFS II uses the same successful principles of kindness to collect. And it’s working big time.

Take a look at this video to get an inside view of how empathy, kindness and compassion work together to help consumers get back on track to pay their debts.

CFS II works off of the preface that people in debt don’t have money. What a novel idea!

They don’t hire debt collectors. They hire people with customer care experience.

Collectors aren’t rewarded based on how much money they collect. They are rewarded on the freebies they give away.

By freebies I mean help with consolidating debt. Resume writing. Pointing customers toward community resources. (This will make more sense when you watch the video.)

###

For help in how to talk to customers, especially when it comes to conveying empathy, check out:

5 Ideas to Improve the Way Your Employees Talk to Customers – Use these free 5 tips (plus videos) to hold a 5-minute training session to help your employees sound friendlier and “warmer”in face-to-face interactions and over the telephone

Customer Service eLearning– 10 courses to improve the way your employees convey empathy.

Learn more about this customer service eLearning, with a focus on empathy, by going here.

Telephone Call Flow Strategy – Free 9-point guide (also with videos) to improve your telephone customer experience

###

Was This Helpful?

I’m asking you because my newsletter offers ideas like this all the time. If you’re not yet subscribed, sign up here.

Surprise and Delight Your Customers with Technology – Here’s How Chili’s delighted my family with tablets

Chili’s has always been one of our family’s favorite dinner spots. Last night we went to a different Chili’s for dinner. We noticed immediately that each table had a tablet placed on the center. That was different.

IMG_1482

The table tablets featured the entire restaurant menu, games, trivia, USA Today and sports. We thought that was so cool!

IMG_1484We ordered our food from the menu. Kept up with the NBA playoff game on the tablet (and the overhead television), played trivia and we even paid our bill right on the tablet.

IMG_1485

The addition of a simple tablet at each table enhanced our dining experience. In fact, the tablet encouraged everyone to not use their smartphones (a problem we always have when we dine out). The tablet engaged the entire family, especially the trivia games.

Technology used in surprising ways never fails to impress customers. Remember how excited we were when the Apple store first started checking customers out on iPhones?

I challenge you to brainstorm creative ways to implement technology in your business to enhance the customer experience. When you do, you’ll surprise and delight your customers just like Chili’s did for us. 🙂

 

Be Welcoming to Your Customers So They Don’t Have to Talk About You On Yelp

IMG_9691

My family and I are enjoying a spring break get-away in Memphis. We came to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, the Slave Tavern and Beale Street. Yesterday my kids were in the mood for pizza and using my iPhone, I quickly found a cool-sounding pizza parlor online. The description said the parlor featured movies, books and famous pizza. We quickly pulled up the address on my husband’s iPhone and headed out for pizza. So quick in fact, that I didn’t take the time to read reviews, something I nearly always do.

We entered the pizza place in the middle of lunch time, yet no one was there. No customers, I mean. An employee emerged from the back and said, “Can I help Ya’ll?” Her body language was almost hostile. Her tone was defensive. I felt like we had accidentally barged in on a small family funeral. I said, “Are you open?” I felt I had to ask that because she came across like we were intruding and again, no customers were present. “Yeah, we’re open.” she said. Immediately, I wanted to leave because I didn’t like her attitude. We all felt so very unwelcome. In fact, I turned to my husband and suggested that we walk until we found something better. But my husband ushered us to a table. The lady that still stood near the kitchen didn’t walk us to a table. My husband did.

By now, I am uptight. Several minutes passed before the lady from the kitchen area came to our table. She said, “Would ya’ll want drinks or anything?” Seriously, would we want drinks or anything? I said, “Of course, we want drinks.” Yes, I had major attitude and my kids and husband feared I was about to embarrass them. “Well, what do ya’ll want?” Again, seriously?

The entire service experience was awful. I also noticed there were no books or movies as listed in the description. We paid $75 for below average food and shockingly bad service. As I sat there fuming, my husband began to read reviews on Yelp. The reviews were every bit as bad as the service we were experiencing. How could I have not read the reviews before choosing this place.

Two Lessons From My Experience

So, I have 2 lessons here. One, always read reviews on Yelp or a site you trust before choosing a restaurant you’re trying for the first time. Two, and this is really my point, be welcoming to customers.

Be Welcoming

First impressions set the tone for the customer’s experience. When you start out warm, friendly and welcoming, everything else will go very well, no matter what may happen later in the interaction. When your first impression is cold, defensive or in any way unwelcoming, everything will be perceived by your customer as negative, no matter how good things may truly be.

Starbucks employees are trained to “be welcoming” and that is why you are verbally greeted the moment you walk into a Starbucks store. QuickTrip, a super successful convenience store chain headquartered in Tulsa, greets every single customer upon entering the store. Every single customer gets a friendly and welcoming greeting when entering. Being welcoming means greeting customers immediately, putting a smile on your face, squarely facing customers and warmly welcoming customers into your place of business.

Being welcoming is not hard to do. It’s exactly what we all do when we open our front doors and welcome guests into our home. Be welcoming so that you get your customer experience off to the best possible start. Be welcoming so you don’t make your customers wish they hadn’t chosen you.

Now, I’m off to Yelp to post my review….

Now you can give your representatives even more great skills for delivering the best customer experience and for handling difficult customer situations. Sign up for my email list and learn specific tips, approaches and phrases to help your employees help your customers.