3 Ways Your Employees Are Killing Your Customer Experience

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Making it hard, rudeness and fighting with customers ruins the customer experience

I’m standing at the front desk of a nice hotel in Baltimore. The front desk clerk is having a problem with my reservation. I wondered if it was because I had literally just booked the reservation 45 minutes prior, just as I got into my rental car at the airport. I told the hotel employee that perhaps my very recent booking was the problem.

He called hotels.com, the company I used for booking, not once, but two times, about my reservation. When he didn’t get things sorted out after 2 lengthy calls to hotels.com, he told me, “I’m just going to cancel your hotels.com reservation and rebook you in our system.”

I was eager to get into my room and rest up for a week of full-day training sessions. His suggestion sounded good to me. That is, until, a couple of months later when checking my hotels.com account, I get a message stating that my 6-night hotel stay in Baltimore had been removed from my Rewards Account and that I would not get credit for that stay.

The primary reason I use hotels.com is for the rewards. I travel a lot. It takes 10 hotel stays to earn a free hotel night. In June I earned two free hotel nights and used both of those nights for get-aways with my husband. I travel a lot.

Now, hotels.com is telling me that because they couldn’t help my hotel in Baltimore sort out a problem, they are removing my earned rewards?

Using hotels.com as the perfect example, I will walk you through 3 Ways Your Employees Are Killing Your Customer Experience.

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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.

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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.

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Bad Customer Service Makes People Cry, Shout and Experience Headaches

This customer recorded his call into a cable company. I listened. What I heard made me say wow. Just wow.

So this call was bad. Really bad. All the customer, Ryan Block, wanted was to cancel his Comcast service. Ryan shared 8 minutes of the call on Sound Cloud for all of the Internet world to hear. My favorite phrase from the call is, “Help me understand why you don’t want faster Internet?” I’m still laughing!

Listen to this nightmare of a customer service call and then be thankful that you train and monitor your employees. You do train and monitor your employees, right?

Ryan Block, the customer Continue reading

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

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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.

 

Febreze was the hotel’s answer to my request for a non-smoking room. Really?

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I was relieved to finally be at my hotel.  It was my second business trip in a week and I’d just spent several hours stuck in the Chicago O’Hare airport because of a winter storm. The front desk told me I had a newly remodeled room with a river view.  That’s just perfect after a day like today.

I get to my room and inserted my key into the door. The second the door opens, I am overpowered by the smell of cigarette smoke. Lots of it. Clearly there is a mistake. I always tell my clients to reserve a non-smoking room for me.  Immediately, I pick up the phone to call down to the front desk.

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Do you want parrots or people in your contact center?

Last October, after I delivered a wonderfully-received keynote in Orlando, I grabbed my camera bag, slipped out of the conference center and visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I’d never been to Animal Kingdom without my family and I was looking forward to just being able to walk around and take photos without the stress of searching for attractions or snacks. The very first photo I took upon arriving at the park was of two parrots.

The parrots were vibrantly colored to the point of taking my breath away. Parrots are not only stunningly beautiful, but they are among the most intelligent of birds. Their ability to mimic human speech surprises and delights children and adults alike. My keynote that morning focused on giving contact center agents the training, support, freedom and empowerment to make “emotional connections” with customers. As I shot photos of the parrots in Animal Kingdom, I thought about how often contact center agents are groomed to be parrots, instead of being intelligent human beings.

Contact Center Agents are often carefully trained with scripts that sedulously echo the company’s pre-planned words. They end up sounding robotic, cold, and not always intelligent. Making emotional connections with customers is nearly impossible when agents use scripts.

As beautiful as parrots are, we don’t want our employees to be parrots. Give your employees the freedom, support, and incentive to veer away from scripts. Encourage them to use their own intelligence, creativity, and energy to connect with customers. Encourage them to comment on things they hear. Hearing a barking dog in the background could spark a few seconds of small talk for the dog-loving agent.

Maybe they could talk about plans the customer has for the 4th of July. Making emotional connections puts customers at ease and it makes the service experience unique and memorable.

Don’t make your employees sedulously echo the words of a script. They aren’t parrots. They are people with energy, creativity, and intelligence. Set them free and I’ll bet your customer experience will burst forth like the vibrant color of tropical parrots.

Imagine sitting in a local coffee shop that’s nestled in a bookstore, and talking over a latte with Myra about ways to help your employees deliver the best possible customer experience, and ways to help reduce stress on your employees as they deal with difficult customers.

Every week, often literally from a coffee shop, Myra gives you ideas that in one way or another are actionable towards improving your customer experience.

Sign up and join Myra over coffee every week.