Customer Satisfaction

Customer Service Lessons from Station 2

Customer Service Lessons from Station 2

Had a chance to visit a local Tempe, AZ fire station last night (career night with venture scouts). I was impressed and came away with a few lessons, or at least things to think about, to improve customer service.

  1. Hiring. When asked what it takes to become a fire fighter our tour guide responded, "They can teach anyone to do this job. What they are really looking for is some one with people skills that can deal with the public and get along with everyone on the team." Now certainly there are certain skills that you look for when hiring for a particular position, but in my experience the fire chiefs got it right: most important is people skills. The cost of hiring someone that is hard to get along with? Read this.

  2. Everybody's Job. Apparently the greater Phoenix area has a dispatch system that is the envy of most metropolitan areas. Somehow common sense won out over politics in this area and the number one rule of dispatch is "closest engine gets the call" regardless of which city pays the bills. Simple but powerful, and in this case, life-saving concept. If you've decided to sequester your "customer service" people in one corner of your building and have everyone forward irate customer calls to them you are losing lives. Change your policy to "closest employee solves the problem."

  3. Know Your Role. When the alarm goes off, firefighters in station 2 have 60 seconds to be in their clothes, in the truck and screaming out onto the street. At night they get an additional 30 seconds to allow for wake up time. Everyone obviously has to know what their duty is, where their equipment is, etc. to make that happen. If the engineer is off or out for a particular shift a substitute driver is designated at the start of the shift--no time to do rock, paper, scissors for driving privileges once the alarm has gone off. Here's the point, knowing what they are supposed to do when there is an emergency empowers firefighters to be fast and effective. Do your employees know what their role is when the alarm goes off? Perhaps even more important, have you given your customers an easy way to set the alarm off? Someone with a house fire knows to call 911 and will follow through and do it--they have no other option. Someone with a bad experience at your business could easily just walk away and tell several of their friends. Unless you provide an easy and obvious way for them to sound the alarm, you may never know what damage is done.

Maybe it is extreme to use the firefighters as a standard for customer service--after all, they are dealing with life and death situations. On the other hand, ignore or handle poorly volatile customer situations and it could be a life or death situation for your business.

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? Learn more

Carnival of Marketing August 13, 2006

Carnival of Marketing August 13, 2006

Welcome to the August 13, 2006 edition of the Carnival of Marketing. Summer is winding to a close, kids are heading back to school, and it's time to take down the big top and move this carnival elsewhere. For our last carnival hosting this summer, Seeds of Growth is please to present the following "big ring" attractions.

Daniel Scocco discusses the evolution of advertising and what will make the next great advancement to aid both consumers and retailers in Intelligent, Interactive and Converged Advertising posted at Innovation Zen.

Wow! Lot's of neuroscience info from NeuroGuy who presents Why Negative Ads Work: Framing, Emotions, and Irrational Decisions posted at Neuromarketing, saying, "Brain-scan proof that emotions affect everyone's buying decisions."

With a nice comparison Kevin Hillstrom presents Branding verses Selling: Gap vs. Zappos posted at Kevin Hillstrom.

Mr. Spock would be good at business due to his purely logical decision making. Well, David Maister doesn't talk about Spock, but he does present How We Really Make Decisions posted at Passion, People and Principles.

Imani Peterson does a product review in Professional Logo Designing Made Easy posted at AmericanInventorSpot.com.

Writing to real estate agents, Jim Cronin presents Your Company Provided Website Is A Waste posted at The Real Estate Tomato.

Some companies need to grow, some just need to grow up. Benjamin Yoskovitz presents Companies That Act Like 2-Year Olds Need to Grow Up posted at I Got News For You.

I have been a PalmOS fan so this discussion of a public relations stunt by a Palm OS developer was interesting. Tam Hanna presents Dmitry Grinberg evaluating PocketPC? so what? posted at TamsPalm-the Palm OS Blog.

Thinking that marketing materials, including blogs, should be readable, cehwiedel presents Readability as an Online Marketing Tool posted at Kicking Over My Traces.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of Marketing using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Find your happy customers and put a megaphone in their hand. Learn more

Is Your Marketing Self-Perpetuating?

Is Your Marketing Self-Perpetuating?

As I've thought more about guerilla advertising and how it differs from quality customer engagement that turns customers into promoters, it occurs to me that the key difference is self-perpetuation, or the lack thereof.

The goal of both efforts is to get people talking to their friends or colleagues about your business--to create buzz. But guerilla advertising is based on a staged event or gimmick that may not even be related to the business. Yes, it creates buzz, but that buzz will wear off and then all you are left with is the headache of trying to come up with the next gimmick.

Turning your customers into promoters through quality customer engagement is different. It may not get as big of an initial buzz, but it grows naturally and is self-perpetuating. People end up talking not about your gimmick, but about how remarkable your product or service is. They plant seeds in the minds of their friends that produce additional seeds as those friends give your business a try and spread the seeds to their friends and so on and so on and so on.

Self-perpetuating word of mouth--start planting the seeds.

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Ode to The Pizza Man

Ode to The Pizza Man

She ordered that night (stomachs were growling)
A few pizzas to keep the kids from howling.

We waited and waited and waited some more,
Must the pepperoni age before it got to the door?

The minutes they ticked by--fifteen then thirty, forty-five, fifty--
Anger joined hunger as the clock ticked past sixty.

At ninety minutes, no less, the doorbell chime rang
Finally some food for our bedraggled gang!

Someone will hear about this she insisted
A phone call was made and the manager listened.

A few days later, by mail was delivered to me,
A note with certificates for two pizzas free!

The long wait of last week, its memory has faded
With thoughts that they listened, we're no longer jaded.

It's pizza tonight from Papa John's once more
the manager there knew how to settle the score.

Mistakes, they happen, but this truth remains:
To the business that listens come the most gains.

[Don't worry, I'm not quitting my day job! Nice to see a business do good and make a save. Aware of other saves you've made or seen made? Tell us about them--and no, you don't need to rhyme.]

Unhappy customers tell on average 22 other people. If you ticket price is $50 that is $1100 in revenue. How would you like to know before they tell 22 others? Learn more

Building trust - insights from my mechanic

Building trust - insights from my mechanic

I have a little '97 Dodge Neon that has been "enjoying" the heat about as much as the rest of the country and began overheating. I took it to Hefners and dropped it off with no fear. I had no worries they were going to be looking for ways to overcharge me or do something unnecessary to fund their vacation.

This kind of trust only comes through experience. On one occasion they explained I had a slow leak in my AC compressor system that would cost about $1000 to fix. However, they suggested topping off the coolant and watching to see how long it lasted to determine if a fix were worth it. Turns out it lasted for about 6 months. So I decided to pay $30 every 6 months rather than $1000. It would take 16 years to make the repair worth it! (probably be using hovercraft or something by then anyway).

I have gone in before and they just tweaked something and charged me nothing! I left the car at a repair place and came back and was charged nothing. Ask anyone that is lucky enough to know Hefners and they will tell you the same kind of stories.

Hefners is not a pretty place, they don't talk to you much, it is not in the nicest neighborhood. But they are honest, look to save you money, and keep you informed and I have been going there for nearly 20 years. They treat you like you are a family member with a car problem.

Are your customers feeling that way about you? What can you do to give them experiences that build trust. This is something that doesn't come from catchy copy or flashy fliers or wizzy webpages or slick salesmen, it comes from experience. With it you will succeed, without it you won't.

[OK, for those of you nearby that want to get some of that Hefner goodness here is their contact info: Hefner's Auto Repair (480)969-8291 they are on 502 N. Center Street, Mesa, Arizona 85201]

Do you remember your customers on their birthday? On their anniversary? Do you give special notice to recently acquired customers? Promoterz does. Learn more
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We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

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