Ralf Weiser's Blog – Shake Up Your Snow Globe! ©

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”

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.


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.


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.


It is a bad practice following best practices and best method

It is a bad practice following best practices and best methods pablo-9

Photo credit: Pablo by Buffer.com

Who doesn’t know a little about the beaten path? Following best methods or best practices is generally portrayed as something good. It is highly desirable for folks to follow them because they render better results, or so they say. In fact a best method approach just means that it is the most often used method – no more, no less. It may also be a sure fire way to entrepreneurial mediocrity and a blah-blah life.

Just because many people have taken the path you are about to take does not automatically tell you that it is the best thing for you to do, is it? Does this even fit your set of conditions? Chances more often than not they are not, or not fully applicable. There is an even bigger issue with the best method approach.

In business, if you have managed to drive out cost by doing what other people do most often may be beneficial at first, but you actually help marginalize your product or service. Merely lowering sales price to increase sales volume you will have to drive down cost. You may encounter a nasty spiraling downturn in sales in the end anyway because now you are just doing what other people are doing too. That’s what is called a “me too” approach. Worse may be your financial folks paying you a not so comfortable visit because of dwindling profits. There will always be people who can copy our stuff faster than we can develop and market new ones. How is a best method approach going to render a competitive edge anymore?

Best practices in our social life are quite problematic. They are incredible boring. With no drive to change anything you are just waiting for low self-esteem, frustration, and perhaps even depression pestering you. The beaten path will beat you up, of course only figuratively.

What can you do about this? First and foremost you have to become fully aware about your situation. What is really going on and what is not being said when people say something to you? Are you just copying something, or are you providing real and intrinsic value? Ponder what the right thing to do is that is congruent with the legacy you want to leave behind. Find that alignment and start delivering it. You will never lead a bland life that way. You will never deliver commodity items at cutthroat prices either. Best practices simply have nothing to do with “best”, they just embody “average”. Look at best practices to merely represent industry and life trends. These do not work for you unless you learn how to make them relevant for you and your organization.


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