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Archive for the tag “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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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.

Ralf

9 sure fire way to providing bad customer service


9 sure fire way to providing bad customer service Smaller FB

You pick up the phone, call the customer service hot line and anything after someone or something picking up the line at the other end goes downhill from there. Sound familiar? It should. Even though we live in one of the most service oriented countries experiencing truly great customer service is the exception more so than the everyday occurrence. If you are the customer support team leader or the entrepreneur who is the ultimately responsible for everything including after sales than the quick cheat sheet is for you.

Sure fire ways of telling that you or your organization is delivering below average customer support:

  1. Your customer support folks have responsibilities, but they have no or unknown authority over making things right for the customer.
  2. The warranty or freebie account/ project review process entails a personal line item by line item review through either management or the CFO.
  3. Your business plan does not allow for or plan on warranty and freebie costs (service or products that you give away even though you could have fought the claim). Does your sales price account for having to be able to offer hassle free service?
  4. The word “policy” is uttered in front of customers.
  5. Your support folks are eagerly telling your customer what they cannot do – instead of what they will do.
  6. You have an automated phone attendant instead of a live person. Worse: you have a system that lets the customer enter his product/service/personal info and by the time you speak with a real person you need to repeat this again.
  7. Really bad: you do have a live attendant, but he/she picks up the phone immediately asking the customer if he can hold just to be put on hold and not waiting for an answer.
  8. There is no complaint or feedback management system. If you do not have the awareness, how are you ever going to improve anything?
  9. Your accounts receivable department is sending out overdue and collection agency threat notice out without first letting your sales or customer support departments review the case(s).

If any one or more points apply to you then you really have some work cut out for you. You want to know the fix? Two action items lie ahead of you. For one listen – really listen – to your own people. They have the best answers already in their heads. Start with the weak points that you uncover and turn them into opportunities. That would be the best way to turn a desert into an oasis.

Ralf

How time and money should be leveraged


pabloHow time and money should be leveraged 

Everything we do seems to revolve around it. Time is money. Our lives provide us with the time to earn money. Then we can start living, but primarily we live to work. Should it not be the other way around? It all sounds wrong. The shocking truth is that we are looking at money being a thermostat that regulates everything when in fact it should be viewed as a thermometer that provides us with input and feedback so we can make the best decision possible.

A thermostat regulates heat and air conditioning. Is that not the same with time and money? We direct our doing (and I might add our sense of being) and align it directly with how much time and money may result from it. The result had better be positive and the more we can put away for ourselves the better it is. Time and money directs what we do and sometimes unfortunately also who we are. That would be the thermostat way of looking at time and money.

Now take a look at the thermometer version of this scenario. A thermometer merely tells you the room temperature. It does not directly impact the heating or cooling. It takes our intelligence, heart, and instinct to take this information to turn it into actionable items. Substitute the thermometer with time and money. Both are only the outcome of our doing and being part of life. Therefore, it is the result of how well we live. Now we are talking. Quality of life comes from our choices. It makes a huge difference whom we spend our time and money with, and where and how we earn our money. That in turn is related to our core values, ethics, morality, believes, goals, strategies, tactics, purpose, priorities, etc. (did I forget anything or anyone?).

It still all starts with your choices. The most important choice that you can make in your life ever is to start thinking about time and money as your success thermometer and not thermostat. Do it sooner rather than later, or do you like living to go work over working so you can live?

How does one balance and leverage your time and money? Here is an excellent and must-see video by Kris Kelso: (click here to watch his Youtube video).

Ralf

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