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Smile and Move Video
by On December 4, 2009

This video, from www.SmileandMove.com, offers great reminders on how to be of service.

We need to get over ourselves and give more to others, connect, listen, be thankful for our challenges and opportunities, happily lend a hand (even when it is not convenient), complain less and smile more.  

Remember the small things can make the biggest difference, and if you give more to others, you will enjoy more as a result.

Be Free!

Video
by On October 23, 2009

Simple Truths of Service

Watch the video

This video was created by Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz. Barbara was hired by a supermarket chain to help increase their customer service. During her talk she stressed the point that EVERYONE can make a difference for their customers and that will make them come back to the store over and over.

A 19-year-old Down Syndrome grocery store bagger, Johnny didn’t think he could make a difference in the experience of his customers at first. Then he had an idea to make a “thought of the day” and include a printed copy in everyone’s grocery bags. As a result, Johnny’s checkout line was always longer than anyone else’s, and the shoppers were happy to wait in line just to get Johnny’s Thought of the Day.

One customer even remarked she made extra trips to the store just to get Johnny’s Thought of the Day! Even more amazing, because of Johnny’s simple act, the entire store’s effort to make memories for their shoppers increased exponentially.

What can you do to put your personal signature on your job that will creative a memory with your clients, a memory that will make them recommend you and become loyal?

Be Free!

How Do You Take Care of Your Clients (and Mistakes)
by On August 13, 2009

How do you go above and beyond to care for your clients?

What can you do to have someone laughing and sincerely thanking you while they hand you money?

When do you have the opportunities to turn prospects and clients into dedicated and repeat buyers?

Here is a great example of a company that went above and beyond to correct a mistake they had made AND had me smiling and thanking them when I left their store.

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You know when you have so much going on that you can barely make it to the store to buy groceries? I was having one of those weeks and decided to take advantage of a local grocery store’s (Farm Fresh) service to do your grocery shopping.

I ordered at night, set my pick up for 11 AM the next day, and went to bed. The next morning, all I had to do was walk in, pay, and put the groceries in my car. Or so I thought.

I walked in, and they clearly hadn’t even started the order. The woman at the register called the manager, and I said I’d be close by. I was trying to decide what to do if the groceries really weren’t ready because I needed to pick up my kids, and I didn’t think I had time to shop and get to my kids on time. However, I needed the groceries before I would have another chance to get to the grocery store….hmmmmmm. I was bugged-here’s this “great” service, and all it had done was screw up my schedule!

Over walks the manager, and-trying not to assume anything-I say, “Hi, how are you doing?” He replies, “I’d be better if your groceries were shopped. I’m really sorry they haven’t done it yet. I could explain what happened, but nothing really makes it acceptable. So instead, I’ve got two people out shopping for you right now, and they’ll be done in less than 10 minutes. I know that’s not what you expected, and it doesn’t make it all right, but we’ll get it taken care of as quickly as possible. And for your inconvenience, here is a $25 gift card for your groceries. Will this work?”

What was I supposed to say!?! He was kind, understanding, didn’t make excuses, already had a solution in place, and offered something to me. I was a bit concerned about the time, and, probably, wanted to verbalize my initial frustration, so I said, “thanks, but I’m concerned I won’t get to my kids in time.” He quickly offered to deliver the groceries to my house! I let him know that we live over an hour away, so that probably wasn’t a good option for him, but that his first offer was appreciated. I’d look for something I didn’t put on the list and be up in the front in ten minutes.

When I got up front, two women started jumping up and down because they were so happy. They said, “Oh yeah! Our goal was to beat you to the register, and we did it! You’re all set-we’ve run everything through, we just need your payment.” They asked if I needed anything else-“fill your gas tank, a back rub…” I laughed and said to, “Watch what you offer, I’d always take a back rub!” The woman ran over and started rubbing my shoulders!!

I left the store laughing with them and sincerely thanking the manager for how he handled the whole situation and for the attitude of his staff. Who’d have guessed that ten minutes earlier, I was debating about how to “handle” their incompetencies?!! Do you think I’ll shop there again? Do you want to shop there, too? This is what happens with great customer care.

I realize that we try to avoid negative situations with our clients. However, I share this story as an example of how really GREAT customer service and going above and beyond can truly change a client relationship.

How do you go above and beyond to care for your clients? Please post your comments below.

Be Free!

Leah Simpson
Instructor

Top 10 Tips for Knock Your Socks Off Customer Service
by On August 11, 2009

customer-serviceHere are 10 tips to improve your company’s customer service and most of the ideas can be implemented for free.

1. Stay in contact with customers on a regular basis.
Offer them a free e-zine subscription. Ask customers if they want to be updated by e-mail when you make changes to your Web site. After every sale, follow-up with the customer to see if they are satisfied with their purchase.

2. Create a customer focus group.
Invite ten to twenty of your most loyal customers to meet regularly. They will give you ideas and input on how to improve your customer service. You could pay them, take them out to dinner or give them free products.

3. Make it easy for your customers to navigate on your web site.
Have a “FAQ” page on your Web site to explain anything that might confuse your customers. Ask them to fill out an electronic survey to find out how make your web site more customer friendly.

4. Resolve your customers complaints quickly and successfully.
Answer all e-mail and phone calls within an hour. If possible, you the owner of the business, personally take care of the problem. This will show your customers you really care about them.

5. Make it easy for your customers to contact you.
Offer as many contact methods as possible. Allow customers to contact you by e-mail. Hyperlink your e-mail address so customers won’t have to type it. Offer toll free numbers for phone and fax contacts.

6. Make sure employees know and use your customer service policy.
Give your employees bonuses or incentives to practice excellent customer service. Tell employees to be flexible with each individual customer, each one has different concerns, needs and wants.

7. Give your customers more than they expect.
Send thank you gifts to lifetime customers. E-mail them online greeting cards on holidays or birthdays. Award bonuses to your customers who make a big purchase.

8. Always be polite to your customers.
Use the words your welcome, please, and thank you. Be polite to your customers even if they are being irate with you. Always apologize to your customers should you make a mistake. Admit your mistakes quickly and make it up to them in a big way.

9. Reward customers a point for every one dollar they spend.
Let’s say customers can get a free computer for 300 points. That means customers will spend $300 dollars on your products and services to get enough points to get the free computer.

10. Build strong relationships with your customers.
Invite them to company meetings, luncheons, workshops or seminars. Create special events for your customers like parties, barbecue’s, dances etc. This will make them feel important when you include them in regular business operations and special events.

© 2004 Larry Dotson

Sponsored by Simple Joe, Inc. makers of simple PC software. Simple Joe’s Money Tools gives you 14 professional money and finance calculators. The secrets of the pros. Visit http://www.simplejoe.com/moneytools

Video – Top 6 Ways to Get An Angry Customer to Back Down
by On August 7, 2009

good-customer-service

Click Here to Watch the Video

1. Apologize

This makes the customer feel heard. Regardless of who was at fault, let your customer know you are sorry for the situation. Studies show that the mere act of apologizing reduces lawsuits.

2. Use Diplomacy

This defuses anger and let’s your customer know you are on their side and you can avoid getting drawn into the drama of the situation.

3. Go into “Computer Mode”

This means you take on the formalities of a computer. Speak without emotion, with an even tone and impartial attitude. This doesn’t allow the customer to feed off your anger and escalate the situation.

4. Ask, “Have I done something to personally upset you?”

This forces the customer to think about the situation and the way they are speaking to you.

5. Show Empathy

This is good for both you and the customer. You start to see the situation from their point of view and helps you from loosing control of your emotions. Some examples are, “That must have been very frustrating for you,” or “If I was in your shoes, I am sure I would feel just as you do.”

6. Show Appreciation

Let the customer know you are happy that they called to point out this situation. That way you can correct it and prevent this from happening in the future.

Be Free!

Take the Time To Do the Little Things
by On April 14, 2009

The one thing that is fairly consistent in our memories is the feelings and emotions that surround the events in our life. When you think about memories that have withstood the test of time, you usually forget the exact specifics or the facts and figures and what people did. But we tend to remember whether we liked someone and how they made us feel. Your clients will forget exactly what you said or what you did but people rarely forget how you made them feel. I think that this is known as the Great Buying Effect.

Life is a series of moments. Think about it, our day, week, month, quarter, a year, etc is nothing more than a bunch of individual moments all strung together.

Take a moment to make an impression on your clients with the little things. A simple courtesy or a follow up call or a short note of thanks after the meeting can make a huge impact. Go even a step further and send them a card on their birthday or when you see their company mentioned in the paper. These are the kinds of things that make people feel good or feel special and most importantly, they are the things that people remember.

When it comes to business, most of the time, all things are relatively equal in terms of our products and services. You can set yourself apart by making your client feel special, valued and cared for with small jesters.

Think about a purchase that you made recently. How did you feel about it? Would the person you dealt with remember you if you called today? Did they follow up with you to see if you had any questions after the purchase was made? How would you feel if they did? Obviously you are more likely to refer them to your friends or go back to them to do business if they took the time to do the little things.

It is not rocket science when it comes to dealing with people, it is little things that make a big difference. They stand out and it is becoming increasingly rare in the society today to follow up with a note in the mail or do something out of the ordinary.

When you talk about the moments of our day and the little things that make up the moments of our life, it should be your goal to make people feel special and remember you forever. What could be better, especially with your clients?

Be Free!

Ken Budka
Speaker

Book Review – Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
by On October 15, 2008

Book Review by Andy Sheehy

Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Ap To Customer Service is a book on providing excellent service in your business. It follows the career of an “Area Manager” and his fairy godmother Charlie. Charlie has a knack for mentoring business owners and managers to providing service so well that their fans become raving fans.

Charlie introduces the area manager to four companies that he uses as examples of service, and gives him three concepts to guide his decisions. These concepts are:

1. Decide what you want
2, Discover what the customer wants
3. Deliver the vision plus one percent.

Success requires that we have raving fans and the concepts defined will help you create a company that
creates raving fans.

In conveying the concept of “Decide what you want”, Charlie introduces the area manager to two service
companies. A department store and a grocery store. The department store has a greeter at the door that pins a flower to your shirt, the book he wanted to purchase was out and the attendent went to another store to purchase it for him and was back within 15 minutes. The owner (Leo) has his office at the center of the store so that he can see down all aisles and is approachable by the customers. The grocery store is owned by Sally and it has valet parking. A grocery consultant that will enter your list into a computer and organize it by the rows, give nutritional value and sales. All of these enhancements that these companies implemented have been done by their managers/owners first “creating a vision of perfection centered on the customer”. This detailed vision encompasses every detail of the experience that you want the customer to have. It is the model that you can strive for, that will show you the changes needed in your organization, but this model is not static and must be adjusted as we combine it with the other concepts.

For illistrating the concept of “Discover what the customer wants”, Charle introduces the area manager to one more company. A manufacturing company managed by Bill. “The key is to discover the customers vision for your company and then alter your vision if need be.” Your vision provides the framework for you to understand the customers vision, to fill in the gaps in the customers vision and to help you to know when to ignore the customers vision. It is challenging to get this information from customers for three reasons:

1 Customers say one thing and mean another
2. Customers are disappointed in your service but they do not want to go to the effort of telling you so they just say “fine”.
3. Customers are silent. To get this information you need to listen all the time

Lastley, in conveying the concept of “Deliver the vision plus one percent”, Charle introduces the area manager to two more companies. A taxi cab driver with one cab and a gas / service station. The gas station is a full service station where the attendents pump gas, wash windows, check fluids and their gas price is the same as self serve.

The key to delivering service is to do it consistently, every time!. Consistency creates credibility in the eyes of the customer. As we implement changes do them in small increments. IE he started with only cleaning the windshield even though his vision was to have all windows cleaned. It is better to find a smaller service that you can implement 100% of the time then to strive for too much and underdeliver. Meet the customers
expectations first and then exceed their expectations. “Meet first, Exceed second”. The only way to be
consistent is to have systems and training in place. Systems are the core to a sucessful, consistent delivery. The purpose of systems is to ensure consistency. The rule of one percent reminds us that all we have to do is improve in one percent increments. This guides us to make small managable changes that we can deliver consistently.

Purchase Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Ap To Customer Service at Amazon.com

Book Review by Andy Sheehy – “Getting the Deal Done!” – RE/MAX Greater Waco – 254.776.8100 office

Treating Co-Workers Like Your Best Client
by On May 21, 2008

jodi1What if you were paid not by your own performance, but by how well and how diligently you encouraged and treated your co-workers? This doesn’t automatically sound like something we’d enjoy doing or even thinking about, but doing so will make you look at your life and your business in a powerful new way.

When you treat your co-workers with the respect of your best clients, you’re building a relationship that serves everyone. It builds unity within your organization, creating that well-oiled machine everyone wants to be part of. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey uses the metaphor of the Emotional Bank Account to describe “the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.” That trust is built on expressed appreciation and respect.

It’s challenging to do this because we’re not robots who think and act the same way. Everyone has a different view of deadlines, how to handle stress, how to manage their time, and so on. We’re different from each other. Learn to view the differences as a good thing. For instance, no two voices on this planet are identical. Consider the TV commercials where we don’t see the celebrities, but we hear their voices. You instantly recognize them.

If everyone, or even a few, knew your specific accomplishments and challenges on a regular basis and gave the appropriate encouragement, you’d feel appreciated and understood — “instantly recognized”. Instead of just expecting everyone to start doing that for you, spend a few minutes thinking about how well you know what your co-workers are doing, what projects they’re working on, what their successes and challenges might be. Based on that information, see if you’re treating them like your best client. Then, take the following steps:

  1. View Everyone as a Team Member
    It really doesn’t matter what their position is, they ARE part of the team. Treat them that way. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.” Really talk to and especially listen to your co-workers so you can be specific and encouraging when you respond. If you don’t understand what they’re saying, ask for clarification. This may take practice, but keep trying.
  2. Always be Sincere and Respectful
    Within the concept of treating co-workers like your best client, your job is to make them look good and succeed. Don’t be afraid to give them the credit they deserve. Our clients know when we’re sincere and so do our co-workers.
  3. Preface Concerns and Counsel with Something Positive
    This is a great atmosphere in which to practice tact. If you’re willing to look, you will find something positive about every co-worker, just as you do with your best client. Start looking. When issues come up (and they will), find a way to apply the counsel given over 4,000 years ago by King Akhtoi of Egypt to his son: “Be diplomatic. It will help you gain your point.”

When you practice treating co-workers as your best client, who wins? Everyone! You’ve contributed to an atmosphere that builds confidence in others’ abilities. Those same individual contributions translate to a stronger company, more capable of adapting to changes in today’s economy and environment. You and everyone else can come to work feeling inspired and looking for success. It increases performance and directly affects the company’s bottom line. And finally, as the old adage says “What goes around comes around.”

Treat your co-workers like your best client and see how well you get paid.

Be Free!

Jodi Borden
Training Coordinator

Book Review – Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Customer Service
by On May 13, 2008

Customer ServiceDelivering Knock Your Socks Off Service should be mandatory reading for anyone in the customer service industry, and anyone who works with people for that matter. Whether it is customers, clients or co-workers, this book with increase your effectiveness and communication skills with people.

It is packed with practical tips, phrases and situations where small changes can make huge differences in the way your customers and clients feel about your business. These changes can take an average customer and convert them to a life-long advocate of your company with untold amounts of repeat and referral business.

Sprinkled with humorous cartoons this book is a fast and fun read.

It is divided into four parts:

  1. Fundamental Principles – The definitions of knock your socks off service, and the 10 deadly sins
  2. How To’s – Including tips and suggestions for listening, thanking, providing winning words and soothing phrases
  3. Problem Solving – Ample strategies for dealing with difficult customers and concludes with realistic, but humorous, examples
  4. Taking Care of You – Reasons why you need to take care of yourself before you are able to provide exceptional customer service and gives examples of how to do this

When our new COO was interviewing for the position, he asked our Customer Care team what book he should read to get a good idea of what our department does. We unanimously recommended Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service because we think it’s a great introduction to the topic, especially for someone who has never worked in the field.

I recommend this book even if you feel like you’ve already heard and know the information. It’s easy to read, to the point and I found it to be a great refresher.

In fact, I already ready it once and now am reading it again with my co-workers. With my co-workers, we read a little each week and then take time to discuss. This is valuable because we get to hear examples and insights from how other departments use and view customer service.

Our IT guy has even commented on how this will help him deal with other companies when he is the customer. These tips help people deal with other people, not just in typical customer service situations.

When we hire new Customer Care staff, we give them a copy of this book to read right away! I hope you do the same.

Order at Amazon.com

Be Free!

Nickole Koker
Customer Relations Manager

Take Care of Yourself Before You Take Care of Your Customer
by On April 15, 2008

Eric PlantenbergOne of the most important questions people ask when they are focused on improving their quantity and quality of business is: “What is my competitive advantage? What makes me unique, memorable, special… what truly sets me apart from the rest?”

While there are no definitively right answers to that question, most people come to some conclusion that customer service is a critical component of your competitive advantage. For most businesses, the service they offer can vary from exceptional to not so hot, depending upon circumstances.

Why is that? Why does the same company, and even the same people within that company provide world class service some of the time, and marginal service (or worse) other times?

That answer can be found in asking a different question: “What makes you (or your staff) happy when serving your customers?” While these answers also vary, most people come up with some sort of variation of “I am happy when my customer is happy.”

Do we enjoy dealing with agitated or disgruntled people? Normally not. We derive our joy from delivering value, by making others feel good about their experience, and by exceeding people’s expectations.

What comes first then, the happy customer or the happy person serving the customer? This is not the chicken or the egg quandary. The happy person serving the customer NEEDS to come first, because it is a very unusual day when your customer comes into your business looking to cheer YOU up.

This all seems very obvious. At the same time that many people realize this truth, it is rare that people consciously take steps to make sure that their greatest customer service assets are being serviced too – whether that person in on your staff, in another department, or if that person is YOU. It is critical that you continually improve the emotional, physical and mental support you are supplying to the people serving your customers.

One of my friends and colleagues, Paul Wesselemann, shared a story about his time working at an HIV/AIDS support network. He explained how it was absolutely unacceptable to come to work when you were feeling even a bit ill, as even the smallest cold could be extremely dangerous for someone with HIV. He was REQUIRED first and foremost to take care of himself, make sure he was 100% before he was allowed to offer help and support to others.

How committed are you to taking the same care of YOUR needs? Your task for the month is to identify and act upon a couple of ways to keep you in proper shape so you can take care of your always important customers. Share your experience and post a comment below.

Be FREE!

Eric Plantenberg
President