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 Recently I had to call the contact center of FootJoy regarding an order I had placed on their website for golf shoes.  With a size 11 woman’s shoe, it is almost impossible to find golf shoes in local retail outlets.  In the FootJoy order process, the size menu defaults to a size 5.5 and you change it to see if your size is available.  I was excited to be able to find a pair I liked and ordered the size 11.   When I got the confirmation email it said size 5.5 ...  Oh NOOOO!

​Needless to say, Cinderella was not going to fit in those 5.5s!  I knew I had changed it to size 11 because I was excited to see that they had ONE pair left in my size.  I called FootJoy customer service.  Joe answered on about the second ring with a professional greeting, requested my name and asked how I was doing.  It immediately struck me that he sounded sincere, so I replied, “I’m great Joe, how are you?”  He said, “Wonderful, how may I help you today Teresa?” This was a great start for the conversation that followed.

When I relayed my issue, I fully expected a response that included at least a hint that I may not have selected the right size.  Not Joe, he immediately expressed regret on the order snafu and immediately focused on the future by clearly explaining what ‘we’ needed to do next for me to get the shoes the fastest.  He also commented on the fun colorful shoes I was ordering. He asked if he could put me on hold while he checked with the delivery department to see if they could still cancel the order.  In a minute or two he came back on the line and confirmed that it had not been shipped out yet and that he would be able to cancel the order. He suggested ordering the new pair right away with a separate order since they only had one left in stock in my size and knew I didn’t want to miss getting it.  He then explained how he would immediately process a credit to my credit card for the original order.  He further explained how both charges would be on my card for just a few days, but that the credit would soon appear thus rendering only one charge.  During this entire conversation, he sounded so clear and confident that I had no doubts my situation was being handled appropriately.

Think about how differently this could have gone.  I could have called and been put through a long menu of service options, followed by a hold time, followed by a rep who sounded like they could care less about me or the product I had ordered, and who instilled no confidence in a good solution.  Think about when you call customer service of a company... have you written a script in your mind of how it will probably go?  Joe was able to surpass the expectations of my mind script by a mile.  As I hung up the phone, I pondered this and realized what a clear illustration my close encounter with FootJoy was of the all important Cs of customer service:
  • Courtesy from the greeting to the conclusion of the call
  • Compassion for my situation evident throughout the call
  • Clarity about what actions needed to be taken by the company and by me the customer​
  • Confidence in outcome instilled though confident handling by the representative

Kudos to Joe and to @FootJoy for hiring and training him to maximize customer close encounters!
Is your call center using the 4 Cs of Customer Service in every close encounter?  If not, give me a call and we can discuss training in these common sense service principles. 

Remember… service excellence happens one customer service close encounter at a time.  Invest in your success!   

To fire up the 4 Cs of Customer Service in your organization, give Teresa a call at 800-797-1580 or email her at tallen@AllenSpeaks.com.  Teresa is ranked in the Top 5 of the World's Customer Service Experts on GlobalGurus.org and is ranked as a Top 5 speaker on Speaking.com
When you NEED experience and you WANT fun,
Teresa is the Perfect Speaker for your meeting or convention!
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​At the conclusion of any year it is wise to look back a successes and failures but also to move forward with a specific strategy for improvement and growth.  The five steps below are critical for review of 2017 and planning for future success in 2018:

1. Study and prepare for your customer journey
Identify customer types and map their journey from purchase research through product delivery and customer service follow ups.  Find the specific customer touch points and analyze how you are doing and what improvements can be made.  Study customer feedback data to see where negative customer experience can occur and seek proactive customer conflict avoidance strategies.  Make sure that every employee knows how they fit into the customer journey and desired satisfaction and delight.

2. Provide customization through choice of channel and choice of product features
We are in the era of customer service customization.  Even small business must find ways to adapt to individual desires.  Whether it is a small grocer offering a choice of self service or full service or a large call center offering alternatives of hold or call back, placing the power of choice in the hands of the consumer is critical to winning customer loyalty.  Before adding customer service channels, however, every organization must make sure they have mastered the intricacies of current customer service channels.  Delving into new customer service methods before current methods are mastered is a risky venture.  If you open a Twitter account with the intent of responding to social customer service complaints and then have only intermittent interaction, it would be akin to opening a call center and only answering the phone every few hours.  Financial and staffing commitment are necessary to any customer service channel expansion strategy.

3. Listen to the customer voice
Many technologies are now available to monitor the customer voice and even to route specific voices to specific responses.  For 2018 what is your strategy for gauging customer satisfaction by listening to and monitoring your customer voice?  Simply having a ‘feel’ for satisfaction is no longer a valid strategy even for a small business.  Have a plan in place to formally measure satisfaction and delight at each touch point on the customer journey (see step 1).  Investigate customer voice monitoring and response technologies that can enhance your customer experience.

4. Make service EASY
At the holidays we know everyone is short of time and stressed out.  The sad truth is that for most consumers, business and personal, these factors now exist almost year round.  For this reason, having a handle on customer effort possibly through the use of a Customer Effort Score (CES) metric is critical to success and growth.  Once again, this demonstrates the link between many of these customer service points.  Customer effort in the eyes of the consumer may be a direct reflection by the consumer on whether you gave them ‘their’ choice of channel on their customer journey in the time frame they expected.

5. Have a social service crisis plan
One needs only to have turned on cable news or surfed YouTube videos to understand the magnitude and possible positive or even more likely negative spin that can result from even one close encounter with a customer.  This points not only to having a media crisis plan in the unfortunate case that something does ‘go viral’ but more importantly points out the need for employee customer service training on how words and actions matter critically in an extremely connected world.  Customer service policies need to be examined to see if they support the company mission or if they pose a potential risk of firestorm if they are abused or misinterpreted by an individual employee or customer.  Foster a discussion with your customer service team on what delighted them during their holiday shopping and what made steam roll from their ears.  If they had a bad experience, ask how many contacts they shared it with and if they can remember any of the many viral service blunders of 2017 and how those widely publicized incidents impacted their image of the associated company brand.  Have a plan for customer service training on customer conflict response and proactive conflict avoidance in 2018.

Review these five customer service strategy steps and have an intentional rather than accidental strategy for moving forward and you will bolster your success path and profit potential for 2018 and beyond!

Teresa Allen is the Ranked #1 on Global Gurus list of the world's top Customer Service Experts.  She is often asked to share strategies for customer service success at meetings held across the globe.  Teresa can be reached through her website at www.AllenSpeaks.com or via telephone 800-797-1580.  This article may be reprinted if this credit box is included.
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There has always been a debate on whether customer service scripting will make customer service representatives sound too mechanical and less spontaneous.  A recent interaction with a credit card representative highlights exactly why scripting at least as a guide is necessary.

My daughter was about to travel out of state and had lost her debit card.  I had an extra card on my business card with her name on it since she sometimes does work for me.  I told her she could use it on her trip and made a call to the credit card company to make sure the card was still valid since it had not been used in a long time.  I was assured all was good to go.  A few days later, I was called by my daughter who told me that charges were being denied.  (Now we won't even get into why she was charging $3 and $5 items to my gold card!?)
 called the card company and they transferred me to the fraud protection unit who lifted the hold on the card and said she should have no further problems using the card.  Fast  forward 24 hours and again I get a call from my daughter saying that again charges were being denied. 

At this point I am a bit ticked off.  I had spent a good twenty minutes the previous day clearing up the matter and since on vacation did not look forward to going through it all again.  When I realized that they were going through the exact same process that had failed the day prior, I asked to speak to a supervisor.  It was a Saturday evening at 5pm.  I was told that the supervisor was in a meeting and would not be out for over an hour.  'On a Saturday night your supervisors are in a meeting?' I was a bit skeptical about there being a meeting of supervisors at 5pm on Saturday.  'Surely you have some supervisor who can talk to me... you are a big company!'    She put me on hold and came back and said that no supervisor could talk to me.  I then asked her how SHE could explain that after I had approved all future charges on this card in a specific location by my daughter, WHY this happened again.  Her reply? 

"Ma'am I'm sorry but our system is beyond our control." 

Seriously?  This is what this well known organization wants to convey to me when I am upset... that their system is out of control?

I was promised a call back by a supervisor.  Big surprise - that call never came.  So Lynn RVPG... (that was her rep number given to me when asked) maybe you never told the supervisor I was upset?  Not a good call!  If you did tell a supervisor and they never called back, even worse!

Lessons we can all take from this customer service close encounter?
  • Review possible scenarios that will cause customer conflict and angst
  • Determine causes of customer conflict and customer complaints to avoid such scenarios
  • When service failure occurs, have a scripted explanation that builds confidence in your company - not destroys it
  • Have supervisors available at all times if possible; Sometimes your customer just needs to talk to a voice of higher authority
  • If a supervisor is not available and a front line rep gives a promise of a call back, make sure it happens
  • One final thought:  what are the expectations of the level of service provided by your firm or organization.  In this case we were talking about a very reputable company, so my expectations were pretty high.  When you market based on an expectation of a high level of service, you are in greater danger of a higher level of dissatisfaction when service failure occurs!
Your customer service image should never be 'out of your control'.  Customer service training for customer confict and customer complaint scenarios will go a long way to protect and build your brand.  Customer service scripts should not make your customer service reps sound like robots but it can protect your from an out of control image!

​​Teresa Allen is the Ranked #1 on Global Gurus list of the world's top Customer Service Experts.  She is often asked to share strategies for customer service success at meetings held across the globe.  Teresa can be reached through her website at www.AllenSpeaks.com or via telephone 800-797-1580.  This article may be reprinted if this credit box is included.
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