Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I wanted to share what I read... thanks Guy Kawasaki... nice chapter... We should buy that Reality Check book.
This got me thinking about customer service, so I’m providing you with a chapter of my book, Reality Check, that explains the Art of Customer Service.
- Start at the top. The CEO’s attitude toward customer service determines the quality of service that a company delivers. If the CEO thinks that customers are a pain in the ass, her company will provide lousy service. If the CEO thinks customers are treasured assets, it will provide great service. If you’re not the CEO, either change her mind, quit, or learn to live with mediocrity—in that order.
I’m pretty sure you can check this box off at Virgin.
- Put the customer in control. The best customer service happens when management enables employees to put the customer in control. Th is requires two leaps of faith: first, trusting customers to not take advantage of the situation; second, trusting employees to make sound decisions. If you can make these leaps, then the quality of your customer service will zoom; if not … well, there is nothing more frustrating than working for a firm that cops the attitude that something is “against company policy.”
- Take responsibility for your shortcomings. Companies that take responsibility for their shortcomings garner good customer-service reputations because they have acknowledged that the problem is their fault and their responsibility to fix. Most people understand that “shiitake happens,” but it’s aggravating when companies deny that the problem is their fault and responsibility. Th at’s when you hear people say, “It’s the principle.”
- Don’t point the finger. This is the flip side of taking responsibility. For example, when a computer program doesn’t work, vendors resort to finger pointing: “It’s Apple’s system software.” “It’s Microsoft’s application.” “It’s Adobe’s PDF format.” A great customer-service company doesn’t point the finger; it figures out what the solution is, regardless of whose fault the problem is, and makes the customer happy. As my mother used to say, quoting Eldrige Cleaver, “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” (By the way, as a rule of thumb, the company with the largest market capitalization is the one at fault.)
- Don’t finger the pointer. Great customer service companies don’t shoot the messenger. It could be a customer, an employee, a vendor, or a consultant who’s doing the pointing. The goal is not to silence the messenger, but to fix the problem so that the messenger never has to bring that message again.
- Don’t be paranoid. One of the most common justifications for lousy service is “What if everyone did this?” For example, to cite the often-told, perhaps apocryphal, story of a customer returning a tire to Nordstrom even though Nordstrom doesn’t sell tires: What if everyone started returning tires to Nordstrom? However, the worst case is seldom the common case. There will be abusers, but generally people are reasonable.
- Hire the right kind of people. To put it mildly, customer service is not a job for everyone. The ideal customer-service person derives great satisfaction by helping people and solving problems. Th is cannot be said of every job candidate. It’s the company’s responsibility to hire the right kind of people for this job, because it is a bad experience for the employee and the customer when you hire folks without a service orientation.
- Underpromise and overdeliver. The goal is to delight a customer. For example, the signs in the lines at Disneyland that tell you how long you’ll have to wait from each point are purposely overstated. When you get to the ride in less time, you’re delighted. Imagine if the signs were understated— you’d be angry because Disneyland lied to you.
- Integrate customer service into the mainstream. Let’s see: Salespeople make the big bucks. Marketers do the fun stuff. Engineers: You leave them alone in their dark caves. Accounting cuts the paychecks. And customer service? They handle angry people when something isn’t working, and something isn’t working all the time. Customer service largely determines the company’s reputation, so do not consider it a profit-sucking necessary evil.
- Don’t give them a sales pitch. Never give customers a sales pitch unless they’re calling your sales department. When customers call for customer service or technical support, they are hardly in a mood for a sales pitch. If you sell anything, you’re in danger of losing the customer, so you certainly should not ask customers to shell out more money to fix problems that they perceive as the company’s fault. And don’t even think about off ering more free defective products as a token of your appreciation for their business.
- Use operating procedures, not scripts. You’ve probably called at least a few companies and been sure the representative is reading a script—it’s annoying and certainly not personal. Have standard operating procedures for common things, like cancellations and product returns, to ensure the job is done properly, but never ask or train your representatives to read from a script.
- Use operators. Use people, not PBX systems (the push 1 for sales, 2 for billing). Make it so the operator can answer basic questions (like How do I sign up?), collect information about problems, assign a ticket number or reference ID, and find an available representative to take the call. If you must use a PBX system, keep it to one level with three or four options, as well as an option to be connected immediately to an operator.
- Use a callback system. A few companies have a callback system by which they off er the option of calling you back at a set time rather than making you wait on hold. The first time I encountered one of these systems, I hesitated, thinking I might lose my place in the queue, but it really worked, and I’ve been a believer ever since.
- Keep customers in the loop. Customers should never have to ask what you are doing. Let them know what’s happening as you’re doing things like looking up their account or researching an issue. Extending this concept, you can post information about outages right on your Web site, so people don’t have to call to figure out what’s happening. Be honest: Tell them if there’s a problem and what’s causing it, when service will be restored, and what you’re doing to prevent it from happening again.
- Make customers feel important. Train your employees to make customers feel important. If a customer makes a suggestion, the representative should note it and let the customer know he’s noted it. Don’t hesitate to do things like give credits or say things like “because you’re a valued customer, we can do this for you.” Customers are usually frustrated when they call customer service or support, so try to make them feel good.
- Follow up. The biggest difference between acceptable and great customer service is how often and how well the customer-service department follows up on requests. Give customers a call or send them an e-mail with the result of their complaint or request. If a customer calls with a problem and you believe it’s resolved, call or send an e-mail to ask if the issue has been resolved to their satisfaction.
The irony of customer service is that at an intuitive level, most people know that it largely determines a company’s reputation, but companies spend less money on it than sales and marketing. The double irony of customer service is that nothing I’ve listed is particularly expensive. Now you know what to do, how to do it, and how cheap it is to do, so you have absolutely no excuses for poor customer service.
And the next time I fly to London or Las Vegas, I’m going to give Sir Richard’s airline a shot especially because there’s WiFi in some of his planes.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
This was the DII championships and Winona St. were huge favorites that hadn't even lost a game in forever..Barton comes back to win the national championship, down 7 with 45 seconds to play. The win ended Winona State's 50+ game win streak, dating back to the '05-'06 season. This is probably the best ending to a basketball game that I have ever seen....
Thanks to... internet.
Did you ever realize that the letters, A B C D do not appear in the spellings of the numerical 1 to 99 !!
D appears first in Hundred.
A appears first in Thousand.
B appears first in Billion.
C appears first in Crore
Everyone must wait for his turn and his share of success !!
From Amitabh Bachchans Blog.
This is my 75th post.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Naming a starWhat better gift could you give someone than the symbol of the first Christmas -- a star? Various companies claim you can name a star for between $20 and $150. These companies will send you a certificate with the name and location of "your star" and promise that your star's name will be in a star registry.
Here's the problem: Stars are named by the International Astronomical Union -- and they aren't selling. Names for stars (and most are given numbers) are assigned according to the internationally accepted rules of the IAU. Anyone else who claims to be able to name stars has no more legal standing than your neighbor's Rottweiler. When they say your star is going into a "registry," they mean whatever registry they made up -- not the official catalog that is kept by the IAU and used by all astronomers.
According to the IAU's Web site, "such 'names' have no formal or official validity whatever. Like true love and many of the other best things in human life, the beauty of the night sky is not for sale, but is free for all to enjoy."
If you want to give someone a star, save yourself some money: Go to the closest planetarium, pick a star you think is pretty and ask the astronomer for the coordinates. Then go home and make your own certificate on your own computer.
Fake charitiesIs that sound holiday carolers at your door? No. It's kids selling magazines to support a local scam artist -- oops, they meant to say charity.
Many charities will come knocking, calling or mailing you for donations because during the holidays, people remember that part of being human is helping out those less fortunate. Unfortunately, many of those so-called charities are fakes.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, many of the calls you get this year will be from scam artists. The FTC has a checklist of warning signs to help you steer clear of charity scams. Your best bet is to not make any quick decisions, ask for information in writing and research the charity before cutting any checks.
Spam solicitationsNever buy anything from an unsolicited e-mail. No matter how good a deal you think you are getting, it is not worth the risk of losing your money or giving any of your information to a possible scam artist. By responding to these e-mails, you are begging to receive so much spam as to make your inbox unusable, because this lets the spammers know that you have a working e-mail address. You are also proclaiming yourself easily fooled and a great target for any number of Internet scams -- such as identity theft.
It is unfortunate that spam scams have become so prevalent that they are virtually indistinguishable from legitimate advertisers -- and there are legitimate advertisers out there. But as this is the current reality, don't take the risk.
Online auction scams"Let the buyer beware" takes on a severe meaning when applied to online auctions. Accept the fact that you are dealing with a nameless, faceless salesperson that could disappear at any time.
Bid wisely and pay for items using your credit card, if not PayPal, so you can cancel payment if you don't receive your merchandise -- or if you receive that tea set you were bidding on only to discover that it is dollhouse-sized.
The high-pressure salePerhaps the most annoying scam is the legal one: the high-pressure sale. It can happen anywhere -- the mall, the car lot, over the phone and even in the salon. You've been through it before: "No, really, you have to have this mousse so your hair will sit correctly. I'll just add it onto your bill," or "We have only two of these carrot juicers left. After these are gone, I won't have any more," and "This is a special price just for you, so take it or leave it because I am just about to close up shop."
Rest assured, there are lots of carrot juicers in the world, and if one person is willing to give you a "good deal" on it, someone else will too. Go home, research the product and prices online, and save yourself from paying too much.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Abraham Lincoln 's Letter to His Son's Teacher
He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish Politician,there is a dedicated leader... Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,
Steer him away from envy, if you can, teach him the secret of quiet laughter.
Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to lick... Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books... But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside.
In the school teach him it is far honorable to fail than to cheat... Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong... Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with the tough.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the band wagon... Teach him to listen to all men... but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him if you can, how to laugh when he is sad... Teach him there is no shame in tears, Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness... Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders but never to put a price-tagon his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right. Treat him gently,but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
Let him have the courage to be impatient... let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have sublime faith in mankind.
This is a big order, but see what you can do... He is such a fine fellow, my son!