My friend, Patricia has a mania for growing hollyhocks. She had some bad luck with a packet of $4 mail order Red Halo seed. They didn’t sprout!
Before you think a $4 pack of seed is small potatoes – let me remind you that gardening is THE number one leisure activity. Which makes the mail order seed business a highly competitive industry.
Back to Patricia- disappointed she emailed the company with her problem. Almost immediately Summer Hill Seed, sent her a personal reply and included a list of possible solutions. And Patricia was ok with their response. She ordered a replacement and then a few days later this note arrived in her in-box.
We packed your order today and I see that you ordered another packet of the Red Halo. I waited to send a replacement because we requested a fresh batch in case that germination wasn’t up to par.
I sent an extra packet of the Red Halo, a gift of the Lavender Halo (which is gorgeous!) and I sent a $10 gift certificate to help make up for the disappointment in germination of the Red Halo. You can use the gift certificate on anything at anytime. It does not expire.
I appreciate your business and you are important to us. We want all of our customers to have fun with their seeds.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.
Wow!! Summer Hill not only responded in a timely manner but they had flagged her future orders. Once they saw she had ordered more, Summer Hill made sure they sent a make-good plus two bonuses. In doing so, they transformed a good (but slightly disappointed) customer into a good customer for life.
With that being said – when I led the makeover of a broadcast TV website we took much the same approach to customer service. Might I add that this website gets millions of hits a day. So when it came time to go live you can imagine the pushback we received.
But all was not lost.
Each individual customer complaint (which there were thousands right after the launch) received an individual reply for their feedback. We did end up dedicating extra staff for this and used a great customer service cloud-based software, but I personally answered hundreds of emails in the first few days.
Nine times out of ten, the question “Is there something I can help you find?” solved the problem.
Within a week, the tide had turned. Many of our unhappy customers actually reconnected to let us know they had a change of heart and had come to like the change.
The takeaway here?
Relationships matter just as much today as they did in my great-grandmother Ester Mae’s rural community store. People want to buy from people they know and trust. Good customer service not only keeps your customers happy, but it builds trust – fast!
What have you done lately to make sure your customers are happy?
It happens. Things go wrong.
Deadlines are missed. Projects go awry.
In this case, my client’s web redesign was behind schedule. More and more deliverables were missed. Then, sadly, the project manager on the vendor side was fired.
At that moment, the vendors’ relationship with my worried client could have gone either way.
Unfortunately, it went downhill fast –
“We didn’t know that…we’re just hearing that…we’re doing that as fast as we can!”
The web company became increasingly defensive as the conference call went on.
That’s bad customer service. Very bad. Hard as it may have been, the vendor’s team should have been up to speed on the status of the orphaned account. An apology and a confident promise to make things right, would have gone a long way!
The thing is, no one would have asked for their money back if that approach was taken – which the client ended asking for it in the end, BTW.
It all comes down to one key thing.
Relationships are what make or break us in business.
We sit behind our keyboards and monitors so much that sometimes we forget those people skills that are critical in the business world: Delivering on promises, accepting responsibility; demonstrating confidence in your team and their abilities.
Still not convinced?
A few years ago, I was working for the Fortune 100 tech giant Cisco. This was during the beginning of the digital video boom. Customers spent
millions billions–on bandwidth and teleconferencing.
Why? So they could look into the faces of the people they were working with, so they could see eyes, expressions, get the vibe-
Relationships matter and they matter a lot.
So let me ask you this, when the tough gets going what are you doing to maintain your business relationships?
Part 2: Hollyhocks and local TV—two very different customer service case studies (in more ways than one). Tune in, as they say.
You probably were thinking basketball, right? Well that happens in March too, but so does Women’s History Month.
Last weekend was International Women’s Day and had I not been digging out of my inbox from being out of the country for 3 weeks I would have posted this sooner.
Take a look below at some astonishing feats women have conquered just in the past decade –
Pretty amazing!! Of course women couldn’t have accomplished all these things without some progressive men too. So cheers to you too!
If you would like to pay tribute to or learn more about the generations of women whose commitment to progress have proved invaluable to society take a look at the Library of Congress’ collection.
When life gets you down, pick yourself back up and remember-
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.
That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant
My Year at the Top of TIMA – How to Balance Time and Still Make an Impact Serving on a Volunteer Board
You can’t do it all –
Oh gosh, how many times have I learned and re-learned that cruel lesson. So as I begin my year of service as incoming President of the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association (TIMA), I think a critical step is to set obtainable goals and limits.
First some background –
TIMA is the organization for digital media professionals in the North Carolina’s highly innovative, rapidly evolving Triangle region. TIMA members are skilled, creative, cutting edge marketers and content producers: freelancers and entrepreneurs. In short, TIMA speaks the future.
We are busy and that’s a good thing – but more often than not we are too busy and that is not such a good thing. As with any “extra-curricular” activity members and board members do not have time to waste.
- Create consistent, relevant, repeatable events and modes of communication. Volunteer boards like TIMA often recreate the wheel every year. This is not only a big time-drain for the board, but confusing to members. As my legacy I want to put an infrastructure in place. By doing so I believe that TIMA will be able to run smoothly from year to year – focusing on things that really matter.
- Link educational opportunities to local non profits. During the year, I hope to create programs linking TIMA members educational outcomes with community non profits. Members will be able to build their resumes, expand their skills, and try new ideas. All while giving back – non profits can reap the free benefits and get much-needed help and marketing advice. It’s a big win-win for both.
- And I want to engage local business leaders and entrepreneurs with TIMA membership. Again, it’s an exchange of ideas and experience, another highly relevant win-win.
We started the New Year with an open house. Not just another party (marketing associations are good at those), but a community driven event. TIMA attracted more than 40 new members, and several new volunteers. We asked our members what they wanted out of us, how they’d like to see TIMA deliver value oover the next year.
So the stage is set.
In a few months I’ll check back with another post on how my volunteer year is progressing.
In the meantime, if you’d like – come be a part of TIMA. We’ve planned some awesome things for 2014! Be sure to check our website, follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook or hop in our Linkedin Group . And don’t forget to check out our current February e-vent! #TIMALove