Have you ever had a customer service experience that felt like fingernails dragging across a chalkboard?
Where the person you were speaking to stuck to a mindless script and was completely disempowered to make any real decisions?
Unfortunately this happens a LOT.
And research shows that 80% of prospects and customers are lost in a single interaction.
So let me ask you, what happens when a fan, prospect or customer emails your helpdesk or calls your office?
How long does it take them to get a response?
Does the tone, spirit and content of that response represent your company values and brand personality?
The larger your business grows, the more important it is to have your customer service dialed in.
Let me give you two quick personal examples of businesses that undermined their credibility with me in a matter of moments.
Then I’ll share 2 email templates for how to do it RIGHT. 🙂
Example #1 – AmEx: What Not to Do
When you think of AmEx, what do you think of?
Do you remember those old school ads of a FedEx agent hand-delivering replacement traveller’s checks to a wayward traveler in an exotic local? Really going to extraordinary lengths to save the day for their customer?
Those ads shared a brand promise of “world-class service and personal recognition.”
How are they living up to that promise?
Has anyone reading this talked to AmEx recently and have a different experience?
I sure have. AmEx called me last Wednesday morning to vet a couple suspicious charges on our corporate credit card… it turned out they were fraudulent, so they shut the account and offered to send me a new card.
They said they could have a card to me by Monday – 5 days later… (BTW, it’s Monday morning and I still haven’t received this card). I asked if they could have it to me sooner – by Friday – since this was our main corporate card and we use it virtually every day. I’ve been with AmEx since 1996 and spend $40K+ on this card every single month.
The customer service agent said he would look into expediting it, but 5 days later, still no card.
What happened to Mr. Wong meeting me at the Hong Kong docks? That’s the AmEx I want to do business with.
Example #2 – FedEx: What Not to Do
Now what do you think of when you think of FedEx?
Does their slogan come to mind?
When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight…
Or perhaps the scene in Cast Away where Tom Hanks hand-delivers the FedEx package 5 years later:
Well, last month I invested in a $2000 Ricoh laser-printer so we could print all the participant binders for our live events in house.
I ordered the printer on Sunday and the company promised it would be there by Wednesday or Thursday (at the absolutely latest) via FedEx Freight, since Your Brand in a Weekend was happening on Saturday and Sunday and I had to lead my Mastermind on Friday.
We got 2 pieces of the printer on Wednesday – the extra paper loading tray and a spare set of toner cartridges. But no printer.
I did receive a phone call on Wednesday afternoon from an unknown number. I didn’t pick up and I didn’t listen to the voicemail.
I called FedEx on Thursday morning. They let me know they had left a voicemail for me on Wednesday afternoon to arrange a delivery time with me. I didn’t know I would need to schedule the delivery, so I didn’t pick up my phone or listen to my voicemails. Most of the time FedEx just comes and delivers the package… but apparently this time was different. By Thursday at 9am, all their trucks had left for the day, so the earliest they could get me the printer was on Friday.
That just wasn’t going to work so Murray volunteered to drive an hour through LA traffic to pick up the 80-pound printer himself and bring it home. The delays meant that we were printing binders until midnight Friday, the day before the event. All because FedEx couldn’t live up to its slogan: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight…
They’re happy to use this slogan in their marketing materials and they’ve built their reputation around this promise. But at the end of the day, does it mean so much to them that they’re willing to go out of their way to deliver? Not really.
So what are the lessons here for your business?
- DON’T make promises you can’t keep.
- DON’T have customer support policies that undermine your core brand promise and values.
- DON’T assume your team knows how you want your customers to be treated. Train them in your values and your voice. Give them authority to make decisions on behalf of your customers.
- DO empower your team to really listen to your customers and give them authority to make decisions that really support your customers.
- DO look at customer service as a golden opportunity to engage your customers and keep your fingers on the pulse of what they need and want.
- DO look for opportunities to add a little humor, life and personality into boilerplate templates and policies.
Email Template #1 – HelpDesk Autoresponder
One of our high-end $100K customers recently let me know that he decided he wanted to work with me after he wrote us an email and got this autoresponder back:
Thanks for reaching out.
We got your message and we’re going to get you an answer as quickly as we can.
In most cases within a few hours.
Unless we’re eating.
Then definitely within 24.
Food’s a serious business here at LYM HQ. Along with weekends, holidays, and of course, YOU. 😉
Over and out for now.
Marisa, Murray and the rest of team LYM.
PS: Yes, real people with big hearts will read your email and get back to you. I know that sounds crazy because so much of online interaction today is impersonal but that’s not how we do things here at Live your Message and Superhero Summit HQ.
PPS: Your email is now in our customer support system so we can effectively and efficiently take care of you.
My client thought it was hilarious and showed that we were real people choosing to do business aligned with our values and personality.
Email Template #2 – Email Unsubscribe Text
Now here’s an example of the mandatory unsubscribe text at the bottom of our emails:
Why Am I Receiving This Email?
You’re receiving this email update because you registered on the Live Your Message website to view a training or download some of our materials.
If, for some horrible reason you no longer wish to hear from me, I can’t promise I won’t get emotional and perhaps break stuff. But that’s only because I care so much about helping you create an amazing business. But if that’s not something you’re interested in then, hey, I get it. But know that I’ll always welcome you back when you’re ready to work on your business again. 🙂
Just click here to unsubscribe or change your email preferences ~ Marisa & the LYM Team
As you can see, we took the opportunity to inject a little humor and humanity into a situation where someone might be annoyed at receiving yet another an email, so our following has a great experience even as they decide to leave us.
Because we’ve implemented these policies, we have an extremely low refund rate and customers who love us…
It doesn’t take a lot. It just takes a little heart. And a little soul. And the willingness to keep your promises and stay in integrity at all times.
Call me old-fashioned but IMO people don’t focus on providing extraordinary customer service enough in this online business world we play in…
Half the online businesses out there don’t even offer an easy way to call them. It’s like their customers are a bother.
When in truth, your customers are your lifeblood.
So for the record. We’re real people here at Live Your Message and we WANT to talk to you. Call us anytime at 323-825-1085 and a real person will answer or call you back.
Let me know in the comments one thing you can do TODAY to improve one aspect of your customer service.
Love it? Hate it? Let me know...
Marisa: You and I share a common understanding: Caring is the basis for a successful and sustainable business, caring for our customers, caring for our fellow workers, caring for our community. So what are these other businesses doing? The simple answer is: Control, dominance and control, getting something for nothing, in a word, “Feudalism, financial feudalism.” Never mind that the productivity of feudalism is low, never mind that feudalism is not sustainable. They reveal their own stupidity, their learned corruption of learning. I could go on…
Yes Marissa – you make some goodpoint
In the article + offer some solid suggestions
To improve customer service.
Yet my experience with replying these emails is
To get the witty auto responder + no reponse
Perhaps because it is not a tech issue with the
Product – more of personal reply or experience
With a topic raised + am seeking a response from
You – not CS,
Spot on! I have had companies blow away 20+ year relationships with me–including the car brand that I’d driven exclusively from the 1970s. After an incredibly bad repair experience in which they told me at one point, “you have 24 hours to get your vehicle off our lot, and BTW, the engine is in pieces in the trunk,” the next time I went car shopping, I took my five-figure purchase elsewhere.
Perhaps not coincidentally, that was right around the time that I published my first book on green and ethical business practices; the current version is Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, co-authored with the legendary Jay Conrad Levinson.
I think you hit the nail right on the head there. The most common mistake I see is not lack of good intentions by companies, but failure to train their staff appropriately (at all levels of the company, even cleaner and road sweeper)and let them know what the company really stands for and what experience they want their customers and clients to have. My own first experience of this in my own business, was assuming that my secretary had realized that all outward communication from my clinic was to be typed up (this was when few people had affordable computers in 1986). Sending a letter to a good friend and colleague, I gave her the hand written, but legible, draft copy of a letter and some other documents. Later I asked where the typed letter was, so I could sign it. She had already sent it from the post office and not typed it as I knew this person so well, so she had not thought it necessary to type it up. I nearly had a fit, but also knew that I could not blame anyone but myself, so all I could do was to inform her that all outward communication in the future had to be typed and neat, no matter who the receiver is. My mistake as a new business owner, but a lesson I never forgot. I still see business people make these gaffes, so now I coach them on some of these aspects. Thanks Marisa for sharing your story, you are one of my superheroes (all 5’11” of you) and I love the human touch you add to your business and webinars. Sorry Murray, but you are second in line. In front of every good man there’s a good woman – just accept it! Regards, Paul http://www.bestbusinessdevelopmentcoaching.com
This post is so true,
We used to buy Purina dog food because their brand says they really know and care for animals. However we bought a bag of puppy food. Once opening the bag it looked wrong. You figure we have always used their puppy food for our last 6 dogs, so I was surprised to see the bag was filled with what looked like entirely filler.( Was it a mfg mix up? Is it safe to feed to my dog? So I went to their website that talks about ” the best dog food” and they will even help you find the right dog for you. I filled out a concern notice, provided my email and cell number…. no follow up! Days turned to weeks, weeks months, and to this date ..nothing! So we did not complain like the 90% of unhappy customers out there, we just took our business to another brand.
Personally I feel the Purina brand , implied brand, is a lie based on the experience we had.Had they handled our concern as I expected it was an opportunity to keep my loyalty and even turn me into a fan.
Enjoyed your post. I have plenty of experience with customer service because I used to own a small organic cafe were I always tried to give friendly, positive service. To the point of replacing a dish with something else if the customer didn’t care for it, even though the dish was perfectly good. However, I did feel irritated, inwardly, with these kinds of requests. It’s hard to say no when you are face-to-face with a regular, fussy customer. In retrospect I think I should have just made it my policy and cheerfully replaced it as a part of how I did business. I didn’t like feeling angry about the request, even though I was a small business with a small profit margin. Now that I am starting an online business I will improve this area because I am sure those fussy customers still exist.
Thank you for sharing Marisa, I had a similar problem with FedEx, it really make me think about my business, i have plan to open a office in San Diego where somebody will send my jewels wherever people want them, but what can I do if my packet have this kind of trouble?
Loved the humor! Am still in the baby steps stage of getting my book (and business) off the ground. thanks for your input.