Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thriving in the New Economy - WOMEN PRESIDENTS' ORGANIZATION - Annual Conference

KEYNOTE ADDRESS - PROFESSOR NEELI BENDAPUDI, Ph. D., Professor of Marketing and Director, Initiative for Managing Services Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

We had the pleasure of hearing Professor Bendapudi speak today at the opening session of this year’s annual conference. Here are some of the highlights from her speech.

Title of Speech – Customer Apostles
·         Do you REALLY know who your customer is?
·         Do you REALLY know what they want?
o   Try standing behind your customer and looking at the world from their viewpoint
o   Does every level of your company see their part of the process from your customer’s viewpoint?
·         How do you create WOMP? (Word of Mouth Potential)
o   Your employees are your living brand
o   Can every employee tell your company story?
-        Effective way to teach your culture
o   Do your employees know how to create a Gumby moment?
-        Being flexible to your customer needs
-        The ability to really listen and solve their problems
-        And do it with speed and accuracy
o   Your customer highest trust is in what other customers say about your product service over what you claim
·         Your employees are your living brand
o   Hire correctly
o   Do they show passion
·         Customer Apostle versus Terrorists
o   Do you know which buckets your customers are in?
o   Only 4% of customers ever complain
o   You should see a complaint as a gift
·         Make a LASTing impression when you receive a complaint
o   Listen
o   Apologize
o   Solve the problem to the best you can
o   Thank them

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Do You Guarantee Good Service?

Last week my brother -in-law was visiting us. My family loves a great meal so I decided to book a table at One Market in San Francisco. Even though I live nearby I have never been to the restaurant. Since they were just awarded a Michelin Star again I thought it was a safe choice. Boy was I wrong! To sum up our experience I will give you the lowlights - we were informed that since we are not "regulars" or one of their "good customers" we would be receiving a different amuse bouche (it was awful), I was labeled "trouble" by our waiter for asking questions, the food was marginal, when we denied dessert the waiter stated "what not even a shot of Jack Daniels?" and then he proceeded to abandon our table. The woman who gave us our bill left our credit card out on the counter and never returned to our table, so we had to find and retrieve our card ourselves.

This experience was offset the next night by a very enjoyable and tasty meal at Chevalier in Lafayette. There our waiter warmly chatted with us, happily answered all our questions, and no request was a bother or an issue. It also helped that the food was fabulous and exceeded our expectations. Then yesterday before flying out to Chicago I had to make a mad dash to Safeway to get cat food. It was early morning with only one checker (interesting that they turn all the self check registers off). Of course there is an issue with the person being checked out. The line starts to pile up. The checker calls for another checker. Minutes pass. She calls again for a checker. Minutes pass. She calls for an override. Minutes pass. Then a very snide page comes on stating that the checker's pages are not understandable. The checker repeats both of her requests. The same snide and snarky page is repeated again that the pages are not understandable. The checker now resorts to her phone. Minutes pass. Then out stomps a girl who is obviously pissed at being called out from her office. She starts berating the checker the whole way across the floor. Meanwhile the line is probably 15 plus people deep. The girl never acknowledges any of the customers. Punches her code into the register and then turns and stomps back off to her office. Still no additional checkers. The checker pages once again. Finally several checkers show up. I get checked out by a sourly woman who is upset about being called of her break (at the wrong price to boot) and I am finally on my way. Do I really need to state that this is my last choice in grocery stores?

Each one of the scenarios had the potential to succeed or fail. Two failed and one cemented us as a repeat customer. We all have the ability to wow our customers. What is even more amazing is that it usually just takes courtesy, a good product and the willingness to listen.  I am sure all three of these companies have a corporate mission to please their customers. Yet only one succeeded. How do you create a company culture where every employees truly gets  and lives their mission? You can read many case studies on how the Ritz Carlton achieves their consistent world class service. Every customer interaction large or small is crucial to your company's success. How do you train and create an environment that guarantees a winning interaction each and every time?