Tag Archives: Customer Loyalty

Following Up Turns the Tables

Turning the Tables

A friend of mine recently catered a home party for a regular client and received a gratuity that was not as generous as in the past. As part of his regular practice he  placed a follow up call to the client the next day. When asked about the service and food quality the client replied ” I didn’t want to say anything, but one of your employees was not very professional in the way he interacted with my guests. ” “He spent too much time in causal conversation and not enough time clearing dishes.”

My friend thanked the client for making him aware of the issue. He apologized and said he would pay closer attention to supervising his staff and speak to the employee about the incident to ensure it would not happen again.

A few days later in the mail my friend received a check from the client to compensate for the gratuity and a request to cater an upcoming party. The same client made recommendations to her friends regarding his catering service and he was awarded several future catering jobs.

Following up is an opportunity to turn around a bad experiences,  strengthen relationships and turn customers into evangelists.

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I Didn’t Want to Say Anything But…

Ever talk to a customer and at the end of your conversation they say those words “I didn’t want to say anything, but…”

The customer feels hesitant about relaying information and it’s your job to extrapolate it.  It’s so easy to brush it off and sweep it under the carpet, instead keep positive and look at this as an opportunity to turn a bad experience into a positive one. Information obtained from customers can be used to improve processes, service and relationships with customers.

It starts with customer engagement:

  • Listening – Carefully listen to what the customer is saying without interruptions.
  • Documenting – Take detailed notes so the customer does not have to the repeat information.
  • Expressing Empathy – Be empathetic to help prevent further frustration.
  • Apologizing – Say your sorry and be genuine. Focus on restoring the relationship. Let the customer know how the issue will be resolved and what will be done to ensure it does not happen again.
  • Following Up – Take ownership of the issue and keep in contact with the customer on the status and when it will be resolved.

The most important part of this phrase is what comes after the but. Instead of just letting it go by the wayside, take time to stop and listen for an opportunity to learn.

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Giving to Customers Throughout a Lifetime


I can reflect back to a book that was read to me as a child called ” The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. To this day I think of the value it has brought to me throughout my life and am thankful for the message it has instilled upon me.

We often forget about how customers thank us everyday without saying the words thank you. So I thought to myself when interacting with customers what can be done to give the best service and experience?

  • Focus your undivided attention to the customer.
  • Greet customers with a smile. Whether in person or on the phone a smile can be both seen and heard.
  • Recognize customers and address them by name.
  • Listen to customers needs.
  • Anticipate customer preferences.
  • Be knowledgeable about products and services and if you don’t know an answer be diligent in finding the answer.
  • Have patience. Don’t make customers feel rushed. Rushing customers can make them feel unappreciated.
  • Be empowered to do what is required to satisfy a customer.
  • Summarize service issues and explain how and when they will be resolved.
  • Tell customers you appreciate their business.

Rewards for providing the best service may not be expressed in words such as thank you, but by simply having customers come back for more.

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ESP or Successfully Anticipating Customer Preferences?

Each time I visit the Fifth Third Bank I would get the eerie feeling that my favorite bank representative Rossana had ESP. Wikipedia says that ESP involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses, but sensed with the mind.

My experience starts by pulling up to the drive-thru window and Rossana greeting me with a smile and before I can say anything she says “Good morning Mr. Sorensen what can I do for you today?”  She notices I’m listening to the radio and asks me what I am listening to. I replied some classic 80’s music. I’m depositing a check and based on passed visits she remembers my preferences of needing a copy of the check along with an account balance. She smiles and asks me if there is anything else that she can help me with today.

My next visit a week later, I’m greeted again with a smile, good morning and by name.  With my radio on Rossana asks “Are you listening to some classic 80’s music?”  Rossana remembered that I liked the 80’s sound which made me feel connected and sincerely interested on a personal level. I gave her a check to be deposited and Rossana mentions that Fifth Third Bank has a new type of savings account with a higher interest rate and asked if I was interested and I said yes I am, but I don’t have time today to sign up.  Rossana replied “I already switched your account over their is no paperwork that needs to be completed.”  She quickly gives me my deposit receipt, copy of the check, my balance and information on the new savings account all in a matter of a few minutes via the drive-thru.

Rossana not only anticipated my personal preferences of getting an account balance and copy of the check each time I visited, but also recognized that I was in a hurry and did all the paperwork in getting me a better yielding savings account.  I realize now that Rossana doesn’t have ESP, but has mastered the skill of successfully anticipating customer preferences and by doing so she takes the hassle out of banking and makes it easy to do business.

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Online grocer offers unique service like no other

Online grocer Freshdirect has instituted a “Guaranteed Fresh” mark that appears on every item it’s kitchen produces.  According to their website the “Guaranteed Freshness Dates take the guesswork out of shopping so customers can make informed decisions that help plan meals, avoid waste and save money.”

Only FreshDirect offers this unique service, unlike supermarkets and other online grocers FreshDirect sources its fresh products directly from local dairies, fisheries and farms and then ships them directly to the customer.

If you are dissatisfied with any item you order contact them right away, FreshDirect will make it right with their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Companies like Freshdirect that differentiates itself by providing a unique customer experience will continue to thrive against competition.

To read more about FreshDirect’s unique service click here


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Building customer loyalty through the strength of social media and customer service

I recently attended an excellent seminar presented by Mohamed Nasir, a business coach and consultant  entitled “Social Media Network Marketing– what is it?”

In this seminar key benefits and examples were presented on how companies have embraced social media to deliver the best customer experience.  Companies like Comcast, Marriott and Zappos have grasped social media by engaging the customer.  Twitter and the use Blogs were used to collaborate and build  customer loyalty that has proven to be a very powerful marketing tool. Below are examples from the presentation:

In 2008, Comcast (www.comcast.com) was struggling to shake the reputation of being a company that had poor customer service. Looking for an alternative that would not only reduce waiting times of customers looking for support on the phone lines, but also bring a community culture to the company, Comcast turned to Twitter (@ComcastCares). The company invited frustrated customers to send their questions to the Twitter handle and engage a staff of 10 service representatives to try and solve their problems. The conversations would give Comcast visibility as a company who was there to support their customers and allow customers the opportunity to get help in a convenient way. The shift in support vehicles seems to have worked. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Comcast’s score rose 9.3% in satisfaction since 2008—an increase directly credited to Comcast’s Twitter support team.
Comcast’s strategy of inviting customer complaints gave it a direct line to hear what their customers wanted. As the leader of your business, you can also use social media to learn what your customer wants.

Marriott CEO Bill Marriott gets the importance of social media. Often, customers may interact with a brand on a daily basis and never feel a connection with that brand because there’s no personality behind it. Marriott on the Move (www.blogs.marriott.com) is a blog by Bill Marriott
geared towards anyone who’s interested in not only the brand, but the person running the brand. His blog began in January 2007 and has covered topics ranging from the birth of his granddaughter to the re‐opening of a newly renovated Marriott hotel in Miami, Florida. Each post incorporates a story or fact the average customer would never know. Bill bridges the gap between a corporate figurehead and the customers who stay at his hotels all around the world every day by sharing his take on real‐life situations. The blog adds a face and transparency aspect to a brand that otherwise is just a place to rest your head while traveling.
If you don’t have time to start a blog personally, other ways you can add a face to your business include responding to industry‐related articles as the CEO of your company, starting a personal Twitter account or writing a monthly newsletter to send to your customers and post online publicly.

Zappos may be the most successful case study for CEO success in social media. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, grew the company from $1.6 million in 2000 to $840 million in 2007. When asked what his strategy was for such staggering growth, Hsieh consistently touts customer support as his top priority. Zappos, and Hsieh himself, have done a superb job translating an online company into a customer‐service oriented community. Having adopted social media into their strategy early, Hsieh took it upon himself to lead the way, being an active voice on Twitter. Through engaging customers, perspective customers and the online community in general, Hsieh was able to cultivate a culture of personable service despite being a solely online company. Adding the additional platform of online customer service to an already established traditional model helped Hsieh establish Zappos as a leading distributor in the online shoes category.

So how does this affect business? Previously, a disgruntled customer had two options: call and complain to your customer service representative or not buy your product again and tell friends how disappointed they were in it. Times have changed. Now, one under‐satisfied customer can create havoc for your brand in a matter of minutes by blogging, tweeting and rating your product online. Negative comments about your product don’t even need to be substantiated in order to have a damaging effect on your business. But how does a company address this negativity and make sure that correct information is out there? By having an active presence in and monitoring effectively the social media world.

Mohamed Nasir is a Social Media Marketing Coach and Consultant. He is the owner and founder of Chicago Business and Practice Development. www.gochicagocoach.com and www.chicagobdc.com

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