Tag Archives: customers

You are awesome. We will be back.

Most days I am thoroughly underwhelmed by mediocre customer service experiences.

It amazes me that in a competitive marketplace how little emphasis seems to be placed on providing outstanding service, especially when we know that personal recommendations are key in helping people make purchasing decisions, whether buying a new product or choosing what charity to support.*

If you receive poor or mediocre service you might not say anything. You just might not return. If the service is diabolical you probably will tell the world in order to stop anyone else having he same bad experience, or sometimes to give the diabolical service provider the opportunity to put it right. (You can see some of the best diabolical service complaints letters that went viral here)

So when something exceptional happens it really stands out. Something exceptional happened this week and I want to tell you about it.

I went for lunch with a friend at the Oxo Tower Brasserie on London’s Southbank. It’s on the 8th floor and has stunning views over the city. It was her birthday.

TG51We had a delicious meal and while we were waiting for coffee something unexpected happened. Our waiter, Marco, arrived at our table with a plate with Happy Birthday written on it in chocolate sauce accompanied with a scoop of ice cream with a candle in it.

My friend thought I had arranged it. (For a fleeting moment I thought of taking the credit, but I had to confess I hadn’t been that thoughtful.)

TG50

I asked Marco how he knew. He said he had overheard us talking when we toasted with our wine earlier and he thought it would be a nice thing to do.

It was more than a nice thing to do. It was awesome.

So a scoop of ice cream with a candle on is no big deal. The big deal was that someone was paying attention to us, understood that it was a special occasion and took the time and effort to do something to make us feel special.

Exceptional service like that is so rare. Yet in a competitive marketplace if you don’t offer exceptional service how do you get your customers to return and recommend you to others? The same applies to your supporters and donors.

It takes a bit of extra effort – but the result was that Marco and the Oxo Tower Brasserie stands out in a crowded marketplace of average experiences.

So thank you Marco for being a brilliant waiter and making our day. You are awesome. We will be back.

*Recent research claims that 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations (Source)while only 14% of people trust advertising.  Source: “Marketing to the Social Web,” Larry Weber, Wiley Publishing  2007

 

 

Have we amazed you?

The zip on my very very favourite pair of winter boots broke this week. It was devastating, partly because I had to walk round with one cold foot for a day and partly because no other boot in the shops would be as good.  These boots are perfect.

I knew I couldn’t replace them, (physically or emotionally!) so I investigated getting them mended. My local shoe mender took one look, inhaled quickly over his teeth and shook his head slowly, and said, “no. we don’t do zips here”. He suggested I tried some other shoe mender ‘in town’. *

So yesterday, when ‘in town’ I made another attempt at solving my cold foot challenge. The two shoe menders at Charing Cross Station were closed for lunch. In my frustration I remembered someone telling me about how good Timpson were, so I looked on my phone to see if there was a shop nearby.

I wish companies would think about how people are accessing their websites now. Stood in the cold waiting for the data to download and then trying to navigate reams of information on a little screen just to find a list of stores isn’t a great experience.

Anyway, I found a Timpson, I called them to find out exactly where they were and spoke to a friendly guy who gave me directions. Ten minutes later when I arrived he greeted me with a big smile and remembered the phone call.

Steve the Manager and I chatted about the devastation of boots breaking. To be fair I’m not sure he really felt the pain, but he made a valiant attempt which I appreciated. We also discussed the weather; we are British that’s what we do.  He explained the process to mend the boot, and why it would take 2 weeks and that he would call me personally if there was any problems.

On the counter I spotted this. Timpsons campaign for better service.

The first question; Have we amazed you? Actually you did, because your service was good, partly emphasised because most places give decidedly less than amazing service, plus you were actually open when I needed you.

£250 incentive; this is interesting. I don’t give feedback to be put in a prize draw. That’s not an incentive for me. I’m writing this and sending off my postcard because Steve did a great job and should be recognised for that.

We know that personal recommendations are key to making purchasing decisions so the ‘would you recommend a friend /colleague?’ question is a good one.

I think there was a couple of things missing; perhaps seeking to learn if anything didn’t amaze and suggestions for improvement.

I also question whether there should be a line about how they will use my data. As much as I loved the service I don’t want you to get in touch with me. (unless its Steve to talk about my boot.)

The branch number wasn’t filled in, so if I don’t write which branch amazed me how will Timpson be able to feed back to that amazing branch?

I’m impressed that there was a feedback card in the first place. It’s amazing how many customer-facing businesses don’t actively seek feedback from the people who are the key to their business success.

I was talking to a friend recently about how he felt about seeking 360 feedback from clients, which he does at the end of every piece of work. He felt apprehensive. Especially as part of his service was to give feedback to fundraisers on their work, he felt concerned that an invite for feedback could be ‘pay back time’. I don’t actually think that is the case, but understand his apprehension.

So it can feel a bit scary, but if you don’t seek feedback, how will you know the amazing things you are doing that you could do more of? And as importantly, how will you know where to make improvements?

When you are giving feedback, do consider the impact it will have. Always tell people when they have done a good job, and always tell people when they haven’t, but take care to be constructive and thoughtful. Telling someone they are rubbish with no explanation isn’t ok. It’s just plain mean.

So get over the fear and make giving feedback and seeking feedback from customers, clients, donors or colleagues a habit.

Without feedback it’s hard to become amazing at what you do. And you all deserve to be amazing. Right?

Your thoughts and feedback welcome…

*’in town’ being central London

Failure – it’s the real thing

Last week I ran an innovation breakfast for fundraising leaders with the creative team from Sandbox. One of the key discussion points was that in order to innovate well, organisations and individuals would need to take a new approach to failure. In fact, failure must be actively encouraged in order to learn, and ultimately achieve greater success.

One of my favourite (?!) failure stories is from Coca-Cola.

In 1985 in response to its declining market share and the increasing popularity of its key rival Pepsi, Coca-Cola launched New Coke.

At the time Pepsi’s advertising campaigns were based around asking the public if they could taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke. They could – and they preferred the taste of Pepsi.

In response Coke developed a new sweeter tasting formula.  After conducting over 200.000 taste tests, which according to the taste testers not only tasted better than the old Coke, but also tasted better than Pepsi, New Coke was ready for launch.

However on 23 April 1985 when New Coke was launched and old Coke was taken out of circulation it was a disaster. Customers were horrified that their Coke had been changed. Some people likened the change in Coke to trampling the American flag. A black market for old Coke emerged, at a market value of $30 a case.  On July 11, Coca-Cola withdrew New Coke and reinstated old Coke.

So what happened?

“We did not understand the deep emotions of so many of our customers for Coca-Cola,” said company President Donald R. Keough.

The development of New Coke was all about taste and overlooked the importance of the relationship customers had with the brand. Until the launch of New Coke, Coca-Colas brand had been about its ‘original’ status. For example in 1942, magazine adverts in the United States declared: ‘The only thing like Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola itself. It’s the real thing.’

If you tell the world you have the ‘real thing’ you cannot then just come up with a ‘new real thing’. To make matters worse, since 1982, Coke’s strap line had been ‘Coke is it’. Now it was telling customers that actually coke wasn’t it, but New Coke was now it instead.

Coca-Cola were fighting a taste battle with Pepsi in response to Pepsi’s marketing campaign. What Coca-cola overlooked was that the battle was not about taste, and they underestimated the value of brand loyalty and the heritage of Coca-Cola.

Ironically, through the brand failure of New Coke, loyalty to ‘the real thing’ intensified and Coke recovered its market position with old Coke, repositioned as Coke Classic. Some conspiracy theorists say the whole campaign had been planned order to reaffirm public loyalty for Coca-Cola. But whether it was planned or not, the fail of New Coke affirmed the value of the brand and with that insight Coke went onto retake its leading market position.

Learning important insights from its failure was key to Coca-Colas reclaimed success over Pepsi. So what if organisations and individuals actively encouraged failure in order to gain insight and ultimately achieve greater success? What would it look like? What would our leaders, managers, fundraisers, volunteers and supporters need to do to really make failing part of ‘how we do things round here?’ How do we make failure an important part of the organisational culture and an important part of greater success?

Answers on a postcard please or to @lucyinnovation.

P.S. If you are interested in failure you might also like my blog on sofii.org

Better to aim too high and miss

For me customer service is really important. Often I’m criticised for having too high expectations of people. I don’t think I do. I just think most people have very low expectations because they are so used to getting crap service.

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”  Michelangelo

Last week my brilliant friend Sue booked a meal for four of us through Groupon (and you know how I feel about Groupon) at a London restaurant called The English Pig.  Great concept, unless you are a vegetarian as it only serves pork. Delicious pork.

We got off to a great start, the manager was brilliant, friendly, chatty, told us about how business was tough but the Groupon deal was really working. He recommended several top dishes and we were all suitably impressed.

He took our order, the food arrived, which I have to say was delicious, but sadly, after that the service nose-dived. We had to practically do a Mexican wave to get anyone’s attention to order more drinks, we quite fancied dessert but by the time anyone noticed our frantic waving the moment had passed. So we tried to get the bill, but ended up going to the bar to ask for it as all the staff had disappeared.

Now is it just me, or is this a common occurrence? You arrive at a restaurant and staff are falling over themselves to take your order, often more than one person is prowling round the table interrupting your conversation in their eagerness to serve. As the meal progresses the staff become sparser until you are left stranded, desperately vying for someone’s attention to process the bill.

So we know that the world is a tough place for any business right now. We also know that it’s way harder to and more expensive to get new customers than to keep and develop your old ones.

So why invest in a Groupon deal to get people through the door and then do such a rubbish job that they won’t come back? Or worse still they tell their friends/the whole world about their below par experience?

Now let me make an analogy to fundraising; Groupon is the equivalent of a mass participation event. It’s about getting lots of people through the door. If you do not have a strategy to get those people more engaged, to make them want to come back then you are not making the most of your investment.

So ask yourself; Are you really looking after your donors, or are they going thirsty? Does their experience with your mass participation event leave them full and satisfied, eager to return, or are some leaving feeling short-changed?

How can you use the restaurant analogy to think of ways to engage supporters?

A well used creative thinking technique is to view a challenge from a different perspective, so for example you could use the restaurant analogy in a fundraising context as an example of how not to treat donors, and then do the opposite. You may come up with a fresh perspective on how to engage supporters.  Go on, have a go. I’ve given you some examples below to start you off.

  • Prowl around at the start and lose interest towards the end could translate into – celebrate at the end, make the end of the event really special, make the process of giving money a pleasure
  • Allow them to leave feeling uncared for, like you don’t value their custom could translate into – giving them a reason to come back; a post event party, an opportunity to volunteer/make more of a difference
  • Don’t make any attempt to build a relationship apart from the initial greeting could translate into building great rapport; have dedicated volunteers whose role is just to build rapport with participants

What other ways of developing supporter relationships can you come up with using the restaurant analogy?

Gotta Share

There is no doubt that social media enables us all to share what we are doing, thinking and feeling like never before. There are great opportunities for organisations to tap into the insights and conversations that customers and potential customers are sharing online.

As highlighted in previous posts, I’m trying to make sense of the world of social media, hoping to navigate through it and establish some common etiquette. Recently I was out with two friends who seemed to spend a lot of time updating various statuses that they were out in a bar having dinner and drinking wine. I felt a bit bemused at all the time spent frantically texting, tagging and updating that detracted from the real life chat we were having.

It made me wonder if we are spending too much time ‘sharing’ at the expense of real life experiences.

Often we know what our friends are up to because their status tells us; on the one hand this is a great way of being connected, on the other if you spend your real life time updating that you are “Having a great time with blah at ‘name drop’ cool place” then I’m not so sure its such a great idea.

I would like to question people’s motivation for sharing; is it a competition as to who can be tagged in the coolest places with the sexiest people? Or is it about proving your wit and intelligence? Or is it for a sympathy vote and attention? Or is it a combination of all of the above? Who are your status updates for? Yourself? Your friends? Your enemies?

If you are in real life having a real life experience, does posting something to tell everyone detract from that experience or does it enhance it?

Personally, my view is if you are having a conversation in real life, unless it’s a life or death situation I think it’s rude to be on your phone updating, surfing the net or whatever. Your focus should be on the present.

I found this brilliant piece on YouTube which to some extent sums it up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m on Facebook and I love Twitter – a lot. I learn lots, ask for help and information and in turn hope that I provide useful tweets to the people who follow me.

My point is that sharing the moment on social media should not be at the expense of experiencing and sharing a real life moment.

I’d be interested to know what you think….

It’s no longer good enough just to be ‘good’

Life is competitive. I think Darwins’ theory of natural selection also applies to organisations. Put simply; evolve or die.

In order to survive your organisation needs to understand its customers and offer them incredible products and services. You also need to be able to anticipate change and be able to respond more quickly and more remarkably than your competition.  It’s no longer good enough just to be good.

It’s also no longer good enough to be very good. In his book Purple Cow, Seth Godin makes the point that very good is an everyday occurrence and hardly worth mentioning.  Because it’s boring and expected. He claims that ‘very good’ is the opposite of remarkable.

Most organisations are good. Few are remarkable. The lack of remarkableness is because people and organisations are scared to be different. They think it’s safer to be like everyone else. According to Seth this poses a problem because unless organisations are remarkable then they will not survive. See paragraph 2.

‘Tastes like chicken isn’t a compliment’ Seth Godin

Remarkable can be bad or good. If you travel by plane and get there safely you don’t tell anyone. That’s what’s supposed to happen.  That’s just good or very good. What makes it remarkable is if it is diabolical beyond belief or exceeds your expectations, e.g. rude staff, dreadful food, delays or a free upgrade without you asking, complimentary champagne or arriving early.

Remarkable spreads. People tell people about their remarkable experiences. Authentic remarkable can go viral across the world in minutes.

So what are you doing for your donors, volunteers, beneficiaries and customers that’s very good, and how can you make it remarkable? If the answer is nothing. I suggest you get thinking – or you quit while you are ahead.

If you are contemplating remarkable you might find these books inspiring

Purple Cow – Seth Godin

Linchpin – Seth Godin

Business Beyond the Box – John O’Keefe

Good to Great – Jim Collins 

A brief guide to social media friendship etiquette

When Tim Berners Lee invented the world-wide web in 1990 I don’t think he, or any of us could predict the huge changes it would make to the way we communicate and live our lives. The internet has shifted the basis of some fundamental relationships. With the growth of online social networking what does it even mean to be a ‘friend’? Personally I’m a bit confused.

The dictionary defines a friend as

• A person you know well and like, and who is not usually a member of your family

• A person you know, like and trust

• A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade

• One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement.

So when someone you don’t know declares their friendship online, what do you do? It’s not very friendly to ignore or reject someone, but then again is it ok to assume a level of intimacy by asking a stranger for friendship in the first place?

So to help me navigate round the world of online friendship I’ve set some basic friendship criteria.

Twitter

Twitter is a bit of a free for all, anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone. However, just because you are following someone on Twitter doesn’t make you friends. It’s the online equivalent of living in the same town, you have some common interest and Twitter is just a mechanism to allow you to more easily know about people doing the same stuff.

If, on Twitter, we chat, share links, share ideas and build some rapport we could be heading into friendship territory. We may even meet face to face, either at an organised Tweetup or networking events or a 1:1 meeting. For example great to connect with @commutiny recently and @ycharity at the Institute of Fundraising’s First Thursday last week. So once there is some specific contact we could be in a position to be ‘friends’ on Linkedin.

Linkedin

This is a professional network, so linking to people in your industry, people with shared professional interests including headhunters and job seekers. I love Linkedin, but just because you work in the same industry as someone you can’t assume you are ‘friends’. Sending a generic introduction ‘indicating you are friends’ if you are not – is not OK. If you work in the same org/industry and want to link to someone then that’s great, but put a line in your introduction, like ‘ I saw we are on the same group, work for xxx company and it would be good to talk about a project I am working on’ – or similar.

Declaring friendship with someone you do not know is the equivalent of rocking up to a stranger at a business conference and treating them with the intimacy of a long-lost friendship with a big hug and kisses an a reference to weight gained/lost. If you have not established any relationship before it feels uncomfortable and frankly weird.

Facebook

Now onto Facebook; a lot of organisations use Facebook as a corporate site and a lot of companies are doing a really good job of building communities of loyal customers, engaging them with product development, getting feedback and gaining insight.

However, I use Facebook to link with my friends. Real life people who I know. Facebook is great for sharing photos, keeping in touch with friends overseas, finding long-lost friends and stalking ex’s (apparently).

Seriously, you have to know me to be friends. Just because we went to the same school 20 years ago don’t assume friendship, and if it’s a bit of a tentative connection give an explanation when you invite me to be your friend.


My Facebook rule is ‘If they turned up at my house on a Sunday afternoon would I invite them in for a cup of tea?. If the answer is yes, then we can be Facebook friends.

If you are using Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook to build communities, donor or customer relationships, have a think about friendship etiquette. This is especially important for communicating with those born before 1990, because it’s a new skill. They didn’t grow up with the internet. Before you send a friend request take a moment to consider how the person you are befriending will feel about your request, it may be that there is a better way of communicating with them to get the result you want.

I’m not saying my view is gospel, but it’s helping me navigate in a way that feels right for me and importantly does not dilute the importance and meaning of offline friendships.

What do you think?