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Monday, January 26, 2009

What's In A Name?

The other day while out doing a bit of shopping, I was party to what struck me as a particularly positive service experience. I had taken my purchase to the cash and handed over my credit card.

Having shopped here before, I was expecting no more than the usual impersonal processing of the transaction; but, much to my surprise, the cashier actually spoke up and said, “Mr. Francis, did you happen to notice that we have a very similar item on sale.”

A few minutes later, I returned to the counter with two of the comparable sale items and thanked the individual, who I now saw as more of a customer service representative than cashier, for bringing this to my attention. She promptly rang up my purchase, smiled and said “No Mr. Francis, thank you, and please come again.”

In total, this young person had said no more than twenty-five words to me, but in doing so; she used my name twice and completely changed my perception of the institution she worked for.

Prior to this encounter, I’d always seen this particular retail establishment as cold and impersonal. I seldom shopped there and when I did, it was only out of necessity. I ignored their advertising and would never have recommended them to a friend or even hesitated to berate their service standards in casual conversation.

That caused me to wonder; why do companies spend so much on marketing to bring customer through their doors, only to send them packing with an impression of cold and impersonal service?

Just what would it take and how much would it cost, to get everyone in the organization to warm up a little and use the customer’s name at every opportunity?

Perhaps less than you may think.

To comment on this blog click on 'comments' below. To read previous articles, see the Blog Archive (lower right) and to become a Wavemaker Blogs follower, click on 'Follow' (just above Archive).

If you would like to know more about how Wavemaker Consulting can help your company improve the customer experience you provide, visit our Website, or email us at wmconsulting@live.com

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Zero Time Tolerance

Here I stand, checking my watch and rattling my change while I suffer an intolerable two-minute wait for my fries! So what is my problem? Am I late for an important meeting, double-parked, or just being totally unreasonable? Actually, I’m none of the above. I’m just your average customer and whatever I want - I-WANT- IT- NOW!

Remember when fast food first hit the scene? A little young for that? Well how about the advent of the microwave oven, or that first time you stepped up to a PC with 64 K of memory? Admit it, you were amazed! Now, what do you think as you queue up for your burger, add another thirty seconds to finish nuking your leftovers, or wait forever for a simple little multi-megabyte download off the net? Has fast food slowed down? Is your microwave on the fritz? Have you maxed-out your hard drive? Or, are you, like most customers - developing zero time tolerance?

In our grandparents’ day, word of world events came hours, even days after the actual occurrence. Weeks later, a few related black and white photos might be found in a magazine. By the time Gram and Gramps saw the ‘newsreel’, the event, by today’s standards, would be considered ancient history. Now, news comes to us in high definition with surround sound, as it happens, regardless of where it happens.

Did you know that in Japan, a car buyer can visit the dealer of their choice, either in person or on-line, decide on a model, choose from countless options and the very next day be driving a car custom equipped exactly to their wants and needs? Why are the car companies moving heaven and earth to make this happen? Because they know that, even if a customer takes months to decide on what they are going to buy, once they decided - THEY WANT IT NOW!

You’re probably thinking, not everyone wants it fast, right? What about the older folks who like to socialize with those who provide them service? While they may like to spend a little more time chatting, I guarantee they still don’t like to stand in line, or wait at the counter.

Fact is, gone are the days of deferred gratification. This is the era of Zero Time Tolerance. Whatever it is - WE WANT IT NOW!

So if you're in the sales and service business (like who isn't?) and you are not already obsessed with faster service, think about it - I am… and I’m the customer.

To comment on this blog click on 'comments' below. To read previous articles, see the Blog Archive (lower right) and to become a Wavemaker Blogs follower, click on 'Follow' (just above Archive).

If you would like to know more about how Wavemaker Consulting can help your company improve the customer experience you provide, visit our Website, or email us at wmconsulting@live.com

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Greater Purpose

At this time of year many of us give thought to changes we might want to make in our lives. Often, we even go as far as to set New Year's resolutions, usually along the lines of losing weight, getting fit, being a better person or something like that. A few of us even manage to keep these resolutions, but I'm usually not one of them. This year, I'd like to suggest something a little different. I'd like to suggest that we start not by creating a laundry list of end goals, but rather with a far headier task, that being the definition of our personal/professional purpose.

So what is your purpose…beyond profit…or a pay check?

Interesting question, isn’t it?

Over the years, I’ve probably asked this question of several hundred people and what I’ve discovered is, the vast majority have difficulty clearly articulating how they contribute… either to the companies they work for… to the customers they serve… or, for the more esoteric amongst us…to the benefit of all mankind.

Equally interesting is that typically, these same people are not all that clear about what they want out of life; albeit, they’re pretty darn sure they’re not getting it! Very few among us have specific goals, let alone ones clearly aligned with our greater purpose. Even fewer have taken the time to write them down. Yet logic would certainly suggest that knowing where you want to go, and the route you’re going to take, greatly increases your chances of getting there.

On both of these fronts, most companies are not all that different. When the goals of an organization are unclear, or don’t align with their greater purpose, that’s when the main focus becomes just the money; and that’s when things often go off the rails. This, in part, might help explain the events that have plagued much of the economy over the last few months.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against profits, or pay checks, but much like the hockey player who keeps glancing up at the scoreboard, if you become overly obsessed with the score, or the money, eventually, you’re going to take a hit.

Conversely, if you’re clear about, and true to your purpose (we’ll assume it’s a worthy one) and you keep your eye on the goal, there is little doubt that the rewards will follow.

What do you think?

What is your purpose beyond profits…or a paycheck?

Do you have specific professional and/or life goals that align with that purpose?

Are they written down?

If you’re wondering what my personal purpose is, well, that’s personal, but I am certainly willing to share my professional purpose: As the President (and only employee) of the newly formed Wavemaker Consulting, my purpose beyond profit is to help enhance the human experience.

If you want to know more about that, you'll have to respond to this blog (click on comments below), visit our Website (click on the link above), or email me at wmconsulting@live.com