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Stop doing, shake your globe, ponder, dream, start reaching your full potential – live on purpose and do it with a smile!

Archive for the category “customer service”

How bad customer service is killing the product repair business


How bad customer service is killing the product repair business 

We are supposed to live in customer service heaven. When something breaks on household items, cars, electronics, etc it should not be difficult getting that repaired, right? Well, it appears that this industry’s general direction is more than troublesome in that unwanted, unneeded, and sometimes outright ridiculous staff is being pushed on to customers. Most simply lack technical and subject matter knowledge in order to prevent getting overcharged for needless stuff that is being hawked off as “value added”. The best tactic working for them is instilling fear in the customer that e.g. safety, efficiency, warranty, etc is being negatively affected. Before you know it you may have added 100s of not 1000s of Dollars to your bill.

Here is one of those incidents that happened to me just recently. I went to the local mall (yeah, some are still around) trying to get the battery changed in my watch. The friendly store clerk looked at the watch and then informed me that the battery exchange would set me back by 40 Dollars. Huh? FOURTY Bucks? Three times before I had gone to one of those mall hallway vendors and rarely spent 15 for changing out the battery. “It is 20 for being an expensive Swiss watch, and the other 20 are for making your watch water proof again. We are the only local area store that can offer this service.” I would have walked out after this, but I had a coupon reducing my total to 20 Dollars for the battery change.

The clerk pointed to a special machine – while pointing at it – for achieving waterproof status. I was totally puzzled what the contraption was supposed to do as the back cover of the watch has an o-ring that makes this happen. As long as the part does not sustain any damage no water will enter the watch there. It mystified me what else they could possibly be doing different from what the other mall vendor had done before.

I told her to proceed with the repair; I was willing to risk 20 Dollars and watching the special repair procedure. She took the back cover off and with it the o-ring. The latter was cleaned, greased, and re-installed. Then the watch was put under the glass globe of the special tool and vacuum was applied to it. After a little while she turned around and asserted that the watch will not hold a vacuum and that I should be careful not to put the watch into e.g. a washing machine and “don’t dive with it”. What happened to making the darn thing waterproof and “we are the only company who does this in the county”? It turned out that the special gizmo merely tested the watch, but it did not “make” it anything. In fairness she did not even attempt trying to charge me the extra 20 Dollars for this “service”. I left the store with a new battery in my watch and a giant smile on my face. I had avoided yet another extra charge for something that would not have added any value whatsoever. Grr. How many times do we get charged for nonsense like this? It is really frustrating and also no wonder that people would rather buy new stuff than getting the old stuff repaired.

I like to fix old stuff and if you do too than here are a few thoughts that can help protect you from spending extra money:

  • If the story sounds to crazy to be true, it usually isn’t.
  • Insist getting more info and get it in writing.
  • Insist on getting any old parts back after the repair has been carried out.
  • Do some Internet research and find out what other people may have experienced before.
  • If all else fails, replacing the item with a new one may be the better alternative.

Happy repairing!

Ralf

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United Airlines and how to kill your brand with bad customer service in three easy steps


United Airlines and how to kill your brand with bad customer service in three easy steps 

We supposedly live in the land of customer service. Worry-free shopping of products and services is the mantra. What really happens is most often totally horrific customer service when things do not quite go the “standard” and “normal” way. Last night United Airlines forcibly removed a passenger from a plane on flight UA 3411 trying to make room for United personnel on an overbooked plane. It was a horrific scene recorded by many on their cell phones. Just two weeks ago the same airline barred two teenagers from boarding a plane due to them wearing leggings. Then who has for instance not seen the little video clip of “United Breaks Guitars”? More than 14 million views for this little ditty all because United Airlines was particularly ignorant listening to Dave Carrol’s request for getting his guitar repaired or replaced.

United is doing everything to kill their brand’s reputation. Treat your customer as a second or third class one. Perhaps he will get the message that he is just wasting his time and will thus just go away. Killer move! They appear to have totally lost the focus as to who pays their bills. It’s the customer stupid. Is that the best an airline of this kind of magnitude can do? Top management seems to totally forget that customers choose with their clicks – and they do not need to ask for permission. They will just not show up anymore. Let’s hope they will learn their lesson well.

Ralf

Why choosing curiosity on the road is a good thing – part II Berlin


Why choosing curiosity on the road is a good thing – part II Berlin 5e497a1b-d651-4aeb-a4cf-ab52fbe5ef67

Photo credit: Kathryn Weiser

There is a good reason why franchise restaurants and hotels work so well. Any established brand suggests you get a predictable service and/ or product. That is usually true no matter where you travel. Our hasty lifestyle sometimes doesn’t allow an awful lot of wiggle room for experiments.

While convenience and predictability are great time savers, they come with a big bill. We lose diversity and with it a ton of potentially great experiences. There are so many great sites and tastes out there to experience. All it takes is a little curiosity and courage trying out new and untried things.

This time I did not rent a car and I did not stay at a conventional hotel while traveling to Berlin Germany. I signed up becoming a member of www.db.de, which is the German railroad. When you also sign up to become a discount card member the travel is cheap, clean, on time, and you get to your final destination well rested. I was astounded how much better I felt not having had to drive. Local street and underground rail systems as well as buses get you within blocks of where you need to go. It is incredible how well this worked.

Another first for me has been using www.airbnb.com for finding a place to stay. Here private homeowners rent a room, apartment, etc to you for little money. Comfort and value were astounding. The apartment I stayed at was exactly as advertised and the host was super nice and could provide ample insight as to where to go shopping and even where to have a nice meal. All the while no fuss during check in and check out. I will try this again next week and can recommend this for you to give that a go.

Make good use of times like the holidays or other vacation and take some time to explore the richness of diverse restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and many a hole in the wall places. Choose diversity over convenience – at least once and a while. You will not regret it. Much like this time there may not even be any loss of comfort or convenience.

Ralf

9 nifty points helping you gain and retain your customer’s trust


9 nifty points helping you gain and retain your customer’s trust Ralf a

Trust makes our world go round. Period. In business that is what you really sell and you can only do that when people trust you personally first and foremost.

Today I am shaking the snow globe of anyone who interacts with customers. In a business setting nothing can be worse than to mutter the words “maybe”, “I think so”, “supposedly”, “perhaps”, etc. in the context of handling customer questions. Well, there is something worse and that is asking the customer for advice as to what should be done.

Why is this the worst case scenario? Because it marks the time from which trust starts to downward spiral. The moment the customer gets to know that you are not sure of yourself and you seem to be grasping for answers is also when his attention is awakening.

It is a totally human response. If something is uncertain and the predictable and expected outcome of the interaction is in question, guess what almost always will happen? The customer will scratch at the surface a little more and ask more questions and will do that more frequently. The more the uncertainties pile up, the worse this condition gets. Heaven forbid other people in your organization give different answers. Now the customer is really getting worried.

Do not let this happen to you. There are a couple of really important and easy to implement steps to get you out of the hot seat.

  1. React and respond expediently. Speed equals trust. Make sure that you are always the one who calls the customer first so they do not have to call you. You send the message that you are on the ball.
  2. Be firm and confident. Much like your smile can be seen at the other end of the telephone line, it is the same with confidence. What are you afraid of? They cannot pull you through the telephone if you do not have all the answers.
  3. Listen to understand, don’t listen to respond: Genuinely try understanding your conversation partner.
  4. Have some fun, but stay professional: Humor can go a mile for a relationship. There is a fine line though that you should not cross. Don’t mistake having fun for being silly all the time. People will avoid you once you have overdone it.
  5. It is ok not to know the answer. The way out of this is to always tell the customer what you do not yet know, but how and when you intend to get the answer.
  6. Tell the truth. No one can mess with the truth. Tell it how it is. Focus on gathering and dishing out “just the facts, Mam”. Have a plan handy how the financial side will need to work out.
  7. Never get emotionally involved. You will lose – big time. Do not answer statements. Instead show compassion and genuine empathy. It is what you do and not who you are, so do not let it get to you.
  8. Tell them what you can and will do. Do not tell them what you will not be able to do or what you have not done yet and why. All the customer will hear while you are speaking to him sounds much like the Peanuts’ teacher.
  9. Deliver upon your commitments. Under promise and over deliver. Repeat at will and do so

While I intentionally focused on the business aspects with this post, reflect on how much of it also applies to your social and love life. Consider this as a starting point for your own personal experience based pre-flight check list. I would love to hear from you, if you have some other favorite tactics how to inspire trust.

Ralf

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