3 Things I Learned About the Customer Experience During my Hike in the Albuquerque White Mesas

My family and I vacationed out west last week. We went to Albuquerque, spent 3 days there, then went on to Phoenix.

We took a tram up to the top of Mount Sandia, we toured Sedona, went off road in a Jeep to hike the White Mesas; we visited a museum, spent a full day at the Grand Canyon and we had some amazing food. My husband chose all of the restaurants, insisting only on local cuisine. He even made sure to select vegetarian-friendly spots for me.

Out of all of our experiences out west, my single favorite experience was the White Mesa Jeep Tour with New Mexico Jeep Tours. It was my standout favorite experience because the company, New Mexico Jeep Tours, gave me and my family a phenomenal customer experience.

If you’ve been to one of my keynotes or training sessions, you’ve heard me talk about the 3 Elements of the Best Possible Customer Experience. The 3 Elements create what I call “The Way of Harmony.” Continue reading

Yield to Callers (Don’t over talk or interrupt)

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I couldn’t remember the last time I got a really good photo of my daughter, other than the many snaps I take on my phone, so yesterday I grabbed my camera and had Lauren join me in the front yard.

“In front of the bird bath” I told her. “That way the evergreen will be in the background and it will be gorgeous.” She’s 16 and that means she’s tethered to her phone. Instead of posing for me, my daughter posed for the camera on her phone. Her smile was real and perfect. Her eyes lit up and she was clearly enjoying the photo shoot, her photo shoot. Alas, the “Selfie Generation.”

Continue reading

5 Things QVC Does Best in the Customer Experience

I am delivering my Way of Harmony keynote at a conference tomorrow. Rehearsals are complete, I had a fantastic dinner with my client, I just Faced-Timed my husband and kids and now it’s time to prepare my attire for the event.

I almost always deliver keynotes in a little black dress (My closet is literally full of little black dresses of varying simple styles for my keynotes). I got a(nother) pair of new shoes recently and I am in love with these shoes. I got the shoes from QVC.com.

I intend to slay

I know, right? These shoes came from QVC. I’ve worn these shoes one other time and they are comfortable and stylish with the surprise gold heel. Taking out my shoes in preparation for tomorrow’s keynote got me thinking about the QVC customer experience.

Full disclosure. I’m a frequent QVC shopper. And I’m not alone. QVC is the world’s largest online retailer, generating $8.8b in annual revenue in 2014. Not only am I QVC customer, I’m a fan. I’m a fan of their fantastic and profitable customer experience. Speaking from my experience as a long-time customer of QVC, I’d like to talk to you about 5 things you can learn about the customer experience from QVC.

My intent with this discussion is to inspire you, my friend, to take a look at your own customer experience and look for ways you can adopt and adapt ideas I’ll share to your own customer experience so you can make your experience fantastic…and profitable.

  1. Easy

That was easy

QVC has mastered easy, particularly when it comes to returns. QVC customers have 30 days to return or exchange any item. All orders arrive with a pre-paid shipping label. The return policy is no questions asked. The easy, no-questions-asked return policy allows customers to shop with complete confidence and complete ease.

2. Accessible

QVC is brilliant when it comes to creating a customer experience that meets their many demographics of customers. The company offers fast, live-person customer service over the telephone 24/7, which is very appealing to Baby Boomer and Veteran generation customers. Placing orders on the company’s website and smartphone app work very well for Millennial and Generation X customers.

3. Enjoyable

Many of the QVC hosts engage and interact with customers over social media. This engagement allows customers to feel more connected with hosts and it enhances the overall customer experience.

4. Emotion

QVC, which stands for quality, value and convenience, truly delivers their namesake. Customers get high-quality merchandise, from diamonds to shoes to gourmet food. Many products feature exceptional value pricing plus interest-fee installment payments – value. Shopping from home or on the go by phone, web or app is certainly convenient.

Delivering a customer experience of quality, value and convenience leaves customers feeling impressed with themselves; feeling like they’ve made smart choices. When a company can effectively introduce emotion into the customer experience, they have mastered the customer experience.

5. Friendly

I once chatted with a QVC Customer Service Representative about the status of a product return. I simply wanted to confirm that my return was received, but I walked away from the chat session with a Beyond WOW reaction. The WOW started with this message from the Representative:

“Ms Golden, I’m so sorry the Canon Vixia HV30 MiniDV HD Camcorder hasn’t been processed as of yet.  I know you’re anxious to have this completed.  The return processing time can take up to 17 days from the date an order is returned to QVC.  I hope your item is processed soon.”

Email Customer Service

This chat experience was personalized, friendly and fast. I was beyond impressed.

Your Take-away

Make your customer experience easy, accessible, enjoyable and find ways to leave customers feeling impressed with themselves. When you do, you’ll be well on track to consistently delivering fantastic customer experiences. Good luck!

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What It Means to Be Out of Harmony with Customers. A Lesson From Carl’s Jr.

 

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No, this is not a Carl’s Jr. veggie burger. Not even close. This is what a Veggie Burger Should Look Like.

My family decided on Carl’s Jr. for lunch. Fast food was the last thing I wanted, but I wanted to go with the flow with my kids. I quickly pulled up the Carl’s Jr menu on my iPhone and to my surprise and delight they have a veggie burger (I’m a vegetarian who eats vegan 99% of the time).

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On the website the Carl’s Jr. veggie burger looks delicious and they describe it this way:

Veg It.® – Guacamole Thickburger®

Feast on guacamole, Pepper Jack cheese and fresh fixings, all on a toasted sesame seed bun. The meat goes, but the flavor stays.

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This is perfect for me. I’ll simply hold the cheese and enjoy this flavorful veggie burger.

I’m the first to order. I order the Veg It, and please hold the cheese. The lady behind the counter says, “We don’t have any veggie burgers of any kind.” I tell her about the Veg It burger from the website. Again, she says they don’t have veggie burgers.

Ok, so I ask if they can make a veggie burger based on what I read on the website. I explain that the Carl’s Jr. Veg It has guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion and comes on a sesame seed bun. She sighs, looks like I am personally putting her out and takes my order. I’m delighted that I could at least request what I wanted and after my kids order, we take a seat and wait for our food.

To my chagrin, this is what I got. I open a burger container to see two large leaves of iceberg lettuce, a single tomato slice, and red onions that are less than fresh. On the side there is a plastic cup with guacamole. No bun is included, mind you.

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This is what they are calling the veggie burger. Wow. Um, wow. My neighbor’s rabbit would be disappointed in this meal. I was speechless. Actually, curse words ran through my mind. Were they really serious? I should have taken a picture of this thrown together mess. Instead, I closed up the carton and pushed it away.

I deliver a keynote I call “The Way of Harmony.” It’s about aligning an organization’s processes, people and products (or service) with the needs of customers.  When an organization is in harmony, the customer gets a delightful and memorable experience. When it’s out of harmony, customers are left disappointed and are at risk for defection and spreading negative word-of-mouth advertising.

Carl’s Jr. was out of harmony. The website listed a veggie burger, described it in a way that pleased my palate and even showed an image of a lush guacamole burger on the website. Yet, the store in Italy, Texas either had no idea that the company advertised the Veg It burger or didn’t care to make the burger.

Being out of harmony creates a frustrating negative experience for customers. It gets customers talking to their friends and family about the let down. It motivates people to tweet rants. It reduces the chances of customers coming back. Certainly, I’ll never return, not even for my kids.

Here’s a tip for any business that has a website, and that should be EVERY business. Make sure your actual product and service offerings are in harmony with what you advertise. When your advertisement is out of alignment with your actual offerings and experience, you confuse customers and send them running….to the competition.

Keeping the Customer Experience Fresh Through Responsiveness (How Hello Fresh delighted me by keeping me apprised)

 

Mature businesswoman smiling

On Sunday I had to reach out to my grocery delivery service for help. I sent an email and almost immediately I received an automatic reply. The reply was simple, just letting me know that my email had been received.

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Hi there,

Thanks so much for getting in touch! 

We have received your email and will respond shortly.

While you wait, take a look at our FAQ’s at http://www.hellofresh.com/faq/, in case your answer lies there.

Lastly, if you need to make meal choice, update your payment details, cancel or pause your account, please login https://www.hellofresh.com/customer/account/login/.

Talk to you soon,

The Friendly Freshers

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I appreciate getting an immediate response to my query, even when I know this is an automated computer generated response. It lets me know my email successfully reached the company. It puts me at ease.

When I’ve contacted this company over email in the past, the response from a service rep is pretty fast, usually within 1-2 hours. But nearly 24 hours had passed and I hadn’t heard back from the company. It was Martin Luther King Day and I thought perhaps they were short-staffed with people taking the day off. My kids were out of school and my husband and I had also taken the day off. But, to my delight, exactly 24 hours after my initial email, I got a second automated email from the company.

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Hello, Myra,

We’re sorry we haven’t gotten back to you yet. We have received your message and will respond to you very shortly. Thank you for bearing with us.

If you have anything else to add, please just reply here http://hellofreshusa.zendesk.com/hc/requests/854899 and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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I loved this second email, so much so, that I took time out of my holiday weekend to sit down and talk to you about it.

Hello Fresh normally replies to emails within 1-2 hours. But this time they didn’t, but they proactively updated me. This little update, timed perfectly at 24 hours after my initial communication, assured me that my email did not get lost and that they were on top of things. This update kept me from losing confidence in the company and it took away any need for me to reach out again by email or telephone. It protected me from becoming upset or even worse; it protected me from defecting.

Keeping customers apprised via automated emails is brilliant. It puts customers at ease, helps customers feel confident that the company is working on the problem, and it keeps customers from feeling they need to reach out to the company a second time.

The customer experience needs to reduce customer effort, keep customers apprised and it’s a treat when the experience can delight customers. Hello Fresh did each of these things by simply having an automated response built in to launch 24 hours after my initial email.

When you don’t immediately acknowledge a customer a customer’s inquiry, they may wonder if their communication even reached you and this may prompt follow-up communication that cost you time and money. Failing to acknowledge customer inquiries and not providing updates can result in losing customer confidence and trust.

What You Can Do

Review one aspect of your customer experience and explore how you can reduce customer effort and keep customers apprised. If you’re feeling really creative, consider how you might add surprise or delight to this aspect of the customer experience.

The Bottom Line

 

The outcome of an automated customer apprising strategy is customers who are updated and less likely to have to follow up to check in, and your organization will build customer confidence and trust through proactive communication.

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.

2 Reasons Your Employees Are Failing at the Customer Experience

 

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You know your customer service is not where it needs to be. You know your employees aren’t delivering the level of service your customers expect and deserve. And this is keeping you up at night.

There are 2 reasons why your people are failing at the customer experience.

They aren’t establishing rapport with customers. And this is a big one. And, they aren’t in harmony with what your customers need and expect. Let’s take a look at the reasons agents fail at the customer experience, and explore what you can do about it. 

  1. They aren’t establishing rapport with customers

This morning I was monitoring calls for a contact center client; something I do often. Here’s how the Agent opened the call.


Customer: “Hi Bill. My name is Marley Robbins (not her real name), how are you?”

 

{Dead silence followed. Bill did not respond to Marley’s greeting. At all.}

 

After exactly 6 seconds, the customer picked up the conversation. Not the employee, the customer.

 

Customer: “I’m calling about…..”


 

Do you see the problem with this call? The Agent failed to acknowledge the customer; he failed to simply answer the question, “How are you?”

The customer was stunned. I could hear her shock in her silence and in the tone and guarded way she spoke for the remainder of the call. Not surprisingly, the call didn’t go well. Bill was rote, defensive about company “policy” and the customer became argumentative and eventually requested to speak with a supervisor.

 

How did we get to a place where exchanging a simple pleasantry is “too much” for an employee?

yc

 

Bill could have simply said, “I’m well. How nice of you to ask. How may I help you today?” Or something similar. A response like this would have completely changed the feel and outcome of that phone call.

What Bill failed to do, what Bill needed to do, was establish rapport. There are many elements to creating rapport; most of them incredibly simple to pull off, but one key way to create rapport is to engage the person in conversation.

You create rapport by having conversations with people. Not by having rote exchanges that could be done better by an IVR. If someone says hello, say hello. If someone asks you how are you are doing, for goodness sakes, answer the question!

 

  1. They aren’t in harmony with what the customer needs and expects

 

Bad Customer Service Makes You Sick

 

A great customer experience must meet 3 criteria.

  • Meet needs. The customer’s need(s) must be met.
  • Easy. You must be easy to do business with.
  • Enjoyable. To get to the level of great experiences, the experience must delight customers in a meaningful way.

 

A couple days ago I went to a grocery story to get fresh Brussels sprouts. That’s all I needed. I went to the produce section and I didn’t see Brussels sprouts. I asked an employee who was working in produce where I could find Brussels sprouts.

You know what she said to me? “If they’re not out here, we don’t have any or we haven’t put them out yet.”

And she turned around and continued to stock fresh corn on the cob. No friendliness. No offer to help me look for them. Certainly no intention on going to the back to see if they, indeed, had fresh Brussels sprouts.

“If they’re not out here, we don’t have any or we haven’t put them out yet.”

I literally had to pause and compose myself so that I would walk out of the store like a patient and dignified woman. But I was thinking, well, never mind what I was thinking.

This is a perfect example for harmony. Again, the 3 criteria for being in harmony are: Meeting needs, being easy to do business with and providing an enjoyable experience. Here’s how this store measured up:

Meets needs. Nope. I had one need. Brussels sprouts. I’ve gotten them at this store before, but this day they were out. My needs were not met.

Easy. Parking and getting into (and out of) the store was easy. Finding an employee was easy. So, yes, the experience was easy.

Enjoyable. Uh, no. The one interaction I had with an employee made me pause and think negative thoughts. I didn’t enjoy an employee not making an effort to look for Brussels sprouts. She didn’t smile at me and she didn’t seem concerned about my needs. She didn’t even pretend to care. This was not enjoyable.

This grocery store was not in harmony. You have to meet at least 2 of the 3 criteria to be a candidate for harmony. Obviously, the goal is to meet all 3 of the criteria for harmony.

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(I went to a natural grocery store and got my Brussels sprouts.)

 

You can fail to meet a customer’s needs and still provide a great customer experience. Whole Foods did this for me.

friendly

Right before Thanksgiving I was looking for Arrow Root Powder. I went to Whole Foods. I thought Arrow Root Powder was a spice, so I went to the spice aisle. The store was crazy busy. Employees were running, serving and working. There was a man on a high ladder on the spice aisle. I couldn’t find Arrow Root, but I didn’t dare ask him for help because he was 15 feet in the air.

After a few seconds, though, the man looked down from the ladder and said, “Can I help you find something ma’am?” He then climbed down from the ladder and helped me look. When we couldn’t find it, he took me to not one, but two other sections in the store. We still couldn’t find it. He urged me to come back tomorrow afternoon, as a truck was due to arrive later that day.

I didn’t get my needs met that day at Whole Foods, but the experience was enjoyable, because one employee took the time to talk to me and try to help me. The experience was also easy. Whole Foods was in harmony, by meeting 2 of the 3 criteria. I give Whole Foods an A+ for the customer experience based on the one employee I spoke with.

Note: It turns out Arrow Root is a powder and it is in the baking section. I discovered that on my second visit. Now I know.

Position your employees to create rapport with customers through conversations and engagement. Fiercely focus your customer experience on meeting needs, being easy and enjoyable. When you do, your company will be well on the way to delivering consistently great customer interactions.


 

Now you can get even more tips for the telephone call flow! Sign up for my free on-demand webinar and learn 4 ways to establish rapport with callers, discover Disney’s “3 o-clock Parade” strategy and see what Gumby can teach you about the telephone customer experience. Watch this 60-minute video now or share it with your employees.

 

 

Details Matter In the Customer Experience

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I don’t like shopping. Yes, I’m a woman and I don’t like shopping.

I should clarify. I don’t like getting out in malls and retail shops, but I do love buying new things. Hence, I do a lot of my shopping online.

I bought the dress, shoes, belt and lipstick for next big keynote online. I get my groceries delivered to my front door. My MacBook was an online purchase. I order a lot of things online.

And I notice things. Like, was the shipment delivered on time? Did the merchant send shipment confirmation? Was my item damaged in shipment? Was shipment fast? Is customer service easy to reach? How helpful is the online FAQ section?

Last week in my grocery order, my can of whole tomatoes was smashed and split wide open, making the tomatoes unusable. These little details, on time or not on time, confirmation sent or not, or damaged goods all makeup the customer experience. Every detail matters.

So, when I got a special delivery on my porch from Williams-Sonoma today, I was surprised and delighted to see how carefully my order was wrapped.

I ordered Pumpkin Bread mix and Pecan Pumpkin Butter. Yummy! I bought these special items for a fall dinner I’m hosting in my home in a few weeks. I opened the box to find my Pecan Pumpkin Butter nestled safely in airtight bubble wrap.

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My eyes lit up and I just had to take a photo. The glass jar was perfectly intact. More than that, I was so delighted that Williams-Sonoma had taken the time to carefully secure my glass jar so that I can impress my family with a unique and tasty bread spread during my fall dinner. If only the merchant who sent my canned tomatoes had taken such care.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to the customer experience, details matter. Take the time to identify customer pain points and have an answer to the pain points so that your customers get the best possible customer experience. Also, try to anticipate questions your customers will have and answer those questions proactively. When you do, you’ll surprise and delight your customers and you’ll develop a reputation for a great customer experience.