Have you ever expressed interest in a product online but were never contacted by the company?
I recently visited a website seeking a specialty product for recreational vehicles. (Since I travel a good deal by RV and am always looking for products that will make traveling easier or better in some way.) The website was very user-friendly, and I easily requested more information. I received an email indicating that all their products were sold through dealers, and a dealer in my area (without the name provided) would contact me soon.
As some of the readers of this blog know, I frequently travel by RV. Given that we have many clients scattered throughout North America, many in small, difficult-to-reach places, an RV makes a lot of sense. Plus, I get to travel in the company of my wife and, this trip, my dog (not sure how she likes it).
One of the things that happens when I travel by RV is life tends to slow down and I have more time to read articles and books I don’t normally read. On this trip, I have focused on news about innovative new products, specifically in fields that may be over saturated, or there is the feeling that there is no room to innovate. I want to highlight three that caught my attention.
Guess what folks? I’M BACK! After a brief hiatus, the man with questionable grammar and curiously conversational writing style has returned.
I was stunned by a terrible commercial the other night. I couldn’t wrap my head around it and for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what they were selling or identify the company (even after extensive Googling). It fell into the realm of “weirdvertising” which is my made-up word for an ad where the content has nothing to do with the product whatsoever or just makes you pay attention with its sheer oddity. This… ‘thing’ got me pondering the good and bad in commercials or ad campaigns.
In the past, I have written about the importance of consistency in delivering a great service experience. In my opinion, you will likely win at the service game if you deliver good, no great, customer service consistently (rather than having it great one time, average the next, and not-so-good the next time). I want to highlight a critical component of delivering consistently great customer service which is not taking loyal customers for granted.
Whack-a-Mole is hilariously fun at first, yet it quickly becomes tedious and repetitive. Just imagine having to play it for a living. If you manage a customer facing team or function, that’s what you may feel you’re doing when dealing with customer service issues. You run from one problem to the next, stopping just long enough to apologize or extend a goodwill credit before dashing to the next fire.
If you’d like to stop playing customer service whack-a-mole, consider using “continuous improvement,” a management method made common by Toyota and other manufacturing companies to help identify, fix, and prevent production errors. Continuous improvement works on customer issues, too.
I cannot say if customer service is, in general, improving or getting worse. The American Customer Satisfaction Index suggests that customer service improved until mid-2014 but has been trending downward since. It is probably growing in some industries and not in others. Personally, I am occasionally impressed with the service, but the service I receive is “adequate.” I give talks frequently, and I often start the presentation by asking who can recall a positively memorable service experience in the last few months. Typically, I will see a smattering of raised hands. If asked about unsatisfactory service experiences, the number of hands raised is usually far larger. Is Customer expectation changing or is consistency slipping?
I had the good fortune to speak at the annual MHEDA (Material Handling Equipment Dealers Association) Convention earlier this week. I want to share a few observations and things I learned: