Overkill? How About Just Right!
My car passed out today; it didn’t die, thankfully, but it certainly had me worried for a minute. The experience to revive it was nothing less than fantastic.
I drive a GMC product, so thanks to the little phone-icon button on my rear-view mirror I was talking with someone from OnStar in a flash. They answered immediately, were very friendly, seemed genuinely empathetic to my situation, asked if I was in a safe place with my vehicle, and then immediately connected me to Roadside Assistance (RA). RA was the same – immediate, friendly, empathetic, concerned for my safety, etc. They told me they’d send someone out right away. Then they asked for my preference on how to receive confirmation and follow-up: text message, email or live automated call (I chose this one).
I received the auto-confirmation call almost immediately, as promised. This call told me the name of the repair service that would come out, an approximate time, and their phone #. That service’s technician then called within 5 minutes, confirmed my address, said he knew right where we were, and that he was on the way. Shortly thereafter, he actually showed up! While he was here, I received another automated call, confirming he would be there soon (he showed up early). He jumped my battery, then told me how to make sure it stayed charged. Then he recommended I buy a 2nd battery, showed me where to store it, how to connect it, and why it would be helpful to do so. He then asked me to sign a work order, gave me a copy, shook my hand, looked me in the eye and thanked me sincerely, and got in his car and drove away.
I just stood there for a minute, stunned. Literally, it was less than 30 minutes from the time I pushed the phone-icon button to having my car fully resuscitated with a new bill of health. They had given me options on how to be contacted, instead of dictating them. A service person showing up earlier than promised. Getting it fixed on the first try. Giving me additional tips to try to prevent it from happening again in the future. They did everything they promised, and more, quicker than they had committed to. What an incredible experience. Did that really just happen?
But that wasn’t the end. I received another automated call shortly after he left, thanking me for contacting them, and making sure everything really was taken care of; they gave me the option to speak with a live operator if I needed further assistance. Wow.
This didn’t all happen by accident. How much time, thought, and caring went into designing this service experience? Quite a bit, obviously. It happened on purpose. What processes do they have in place to attempt to insure it happens every time? How do they measure whether it does? I know they have a customer survey program; maybe they also utilize mystery shopping as well. Why can’t all customer-interactions be this way?
Whatever they’re doing, it’s working!
As the holiday season is now in full swing, you may be communicating to your Client Services Manager that mystery shoppers should not evaluate your locations on specific days. Your employees simply cannot be evaluated when they are at home with their families (whether gathered around a turkey, a fireplace, etc.) and your doors are closed.
Mystery shopping programs are often given additional “blackout dates” when evaluations may appear atypical for a number of reasons. Take the recent behemoth shopping day Black Friday for example, which is widely assumed to be a “blackout date” because employees are simply too busy to be appropriately evaluated. Contrarily, we must pose the question, “Isn’t customer service as important – if not more so – when serving more customers than usual?”
As Black Friday sales are starting earlier and sales are becoming predictable (see this recent New York Times article), the bottom line once again becomes customer service.
So, how does your company measure customer service on these important days without detrimentally skewing your ongoing mystery shopping results?
In 2013, we recommend you talk to your Client Services Manager about one of two possible alternatives to “blackout dates.”
One option is to create a complementary mystery shopping program to collect information about your customers' experiences on abnormal dates. An additional program can work identically to an ongoing program, or it can be tailor-made to suit the experience of a day like Black Friday. These results can then be compared to your own ongoing mystery shopping program and/or analyzed separately.
A second option would be to simply not restrict mystery shopping on any date; simply tell us that you’re interested specifically in the results for these days. You may be pleasantly surprised with the service your customers receive on hectic days. You can identify your exceptional representatives and areas where improvement can be made. Of course, we can still keep these evaluations separate from your normal reporting if you so choose.
Your best managers will inspire their staff to shine brighter when the store is busy. Pausing your mystery shopping programs at these crucial times is like changing the channel in the fourth quarter, when the game is on the line.
Customer Service Hall of Fame Inductees
Last week, MSN revealed their 2012 Customer Service Hall of Fame as well as their Hall of Shame, based on their survey, conducted with JZ Analytics. The results are fascinating though not entirely surprising. It is worthy of note that these survey are “consistent with what the American Customer Satisfaction Index has noticed lately,” in that customer satisfaction across many industries has been improving.
One important company in the Hall of Fame is American Express, who has successfully taken on the task of vastly improving how cardholders are treated. Executive VP of world service, Jim Bush, said about his approach to improving customer service at American Express, “I thought about the opportunity of capitalizing on every interaction and moving awat from being a cost of doing business to being an investment in buidling relationships. Read more about Bush’s approach and how AmEx call centers do not use any scripts in Fortune’s article here.
On the opposite end of the spectrum lies Bank of America, earning the top spot in the Hall of Shame for the second year in a row. In the last year, Bank of America announced (though never implemented) a hugely criticized plan to charge customers a $5 monthly fee for using debit cards to make purchases. MSN gathers three responses Bank of America has offered since they backed off of this plan. The bank first explained their announcement by claiming the fees to be necessary due to costs incurred from federal regulations. This explanation not only discounts Bank of America’s customers but seems to ignore them entirely. Second, spokeswoman Anne Pace insisted, “It’s important to note that we never implemented the fee,” which essentially says to customers, “We’re not that bad. We didn’t do that thing we said we would that infuriated you.” Lastly, a Bank of America senior vice president recently said, “I think we’ve learned a heck of a lot over the past year.” We certainly hope so.
Read more about what MSN’s survey lists as the 10 best (Hall of Fame) and worst (Hall of Shame) companies in terms of customer service by clicking the corresponding links, and be prepared to not be surprised by where Apple, Google, Amazon, or several cable providers rank.
IntelliShop and RateWatch Announce Partnership
New Study Finds Big Banks Exhibit Better Sales Skills than Small Institutions
Credit unions and small community banks are missing the opportunity to grab market share from major financial institutions due to lack of sales effort according to a new study released jointly by IntelliShop and RateWatch. The study, which had 120 auditors pose as new checking account prospects, found that the large banks not only did a better job of assessing customer needs, they were much more proactive about “selling” the benefits of the bank and its services.
“The lackluster performance of credit unions in particular was disappointing because the Wall Street backlash gave these alternative institutions a great opening to grow their customer base,” said Chris Denove, IntelliShop’s Senior Vice President of Research and Analytics.
The study found that account representatives at the local institutions were pleasant overall, but tend to take a more laid back approach when they answer questions and don’t take it upon themselves to bring up the bank’s benefits on their own. For example, compared to small banks and credit unions, large banks were:
- Four times more likely to try to find out about all the other types of banking relationships prospects have at their current institution.
- Nearly twice as likely to ask prospects if they wanted to actually sign up today.
- Nearly twice as likely to collect a prospect’s contact information for follow up.
Smaller institutions, however, were more likely to hand prospects collateral material to take home and read, thereby requiring the customer to uncover the bank’s benefits on their own.
The study also found that in addition to placing a greater emphasis on “selling,” large banks also exhibited better “people skills” during the sales process. A few examples reported by the mystery auditors include:
- Large banks are more likely to greet customers as they enter the bank.
- Large banks are twice as likely to initiate conversation (small talk) unrelated to the transaction in order to build rapport with the prospect.
“The fact that the larger banks were more engaging at a personal level came as a surprise,” noted Rachelle Zorn, General Manager of RateWatch. “In the past small banks have tended to do better in terms of customer satisfaction. It will be interesting to see if the larger banks will begin carrying this high level of customer focus in their sales efforts over to their existing clients.”
IntelliShop and RateWatch recently established a partnership to provide mystery audit services for financial institutions and conducted this study to establish a performance benchmark for their clients. According to Mrs. Zorn, “We are extremely pleased about our new relationship with IntelliShop. RateWatch is in the business of providing financial institutions with timely and relevant market information that will help them better compete in a highly competitive marketplace and our relationship with IntelliShop allows us to provide our clients with additional performance insights that they need. With over 10 years of experience and extremely high customer service and quality standards, IntelliShop is recognized as a leader in the mystery shopping industry so we are confident that they will deliver the same level of service and quality that our clients have come to expect from RateWatch.”
To request a free copy of the report, or obtain more information about RateWatch and IntelliShop’s mystery audit services for financial institutions please contact Brian Davis – Business Development Associate, RateWatch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.348.1831 x4294.
Since 1989, RateWatch has been providing financial institutions with a variety of tools to accurately assess their position within their marketplace. Providing competitive rate and fee data for deposit and loan products, clients across the country map out their position and confidently make pricing decisions to maximize profit potential. With additional products and services to analyze market share, product line offerings, and historical trends, competitive comparisons and self-analyses are well rounded. Learn more at www.rate-watch.com
IntelliShop is a national mystery shopping and customer experience measurement firm dedicated to helping clients understand and improve what happens at the moment-of-truth with their customers. IntelliShop offers mystery shopping evaluations, customer satisfaction research, analytics and consultation, and much more. With over 450,000 evaluators, IntelliShop helps companies measure and improve their customer experiences onsite, on the phone, and on the web. Learn more at www.intelli-shop.com
This term is generally used by companies as a replacement for "layoffs". After an experience I had the other day, I have a new way of thinking about it. I frequently get my RBSUV (Really Big SUV) washed at a local place that offers hand-drying. Ah, there's nothing like a clean car! In the summer, they usually hire a lot of teenagers, mostly female, mostly pretty cute; good for business, no doubt. The girl who was drying cars the other day was only about 5' tall. Very nice, thanked me, smiled, etc. But, she couldn't reach across my windshield to dry it off, so I had two options: let it air-dry and live for a couple days with water spots, right in my line of vision, potentially causing me to fixate on those, versus dodging all the texting-while-driving idiots. Or, I could get out and dry it myself. If you know me, you know which option I chose.
Have you right-sized your staff lately? Do you have people who are too short to serve your customers? Not literally, unless you own a car wash (or maybe a giraffe-dentistry business). But, are they "short" with your customers, because they are simply not capable of being client services people? Have you hired people with great technical skills and knowledge, then put them into sales positions, instead of hiring great salespeople and giving them the technical training they'll need? Too often, we see people put in positions of selling, serving customers, and being on the front lines in general, who do not have the personality, skills or training to succeed.
So, Right Size. Next time you hear this term, hopefully you'll think of it in this way. But, if you put the wrong people in the wrong jobs, eventually you'll probably have to think about it the other way.