Archive for category Customer Service Dept

The gift that keeps giving

Do you get excited and curious when you get a parcel you weren’t expecting? (Okay so you have figured out it won’t go BANG) 🙂 :()

So earlier this week when a plain box was delivered to my address… I was like a kid on Christmas morning. (clearly I don’t get enough deliveries :))

What was it? why me? oh and who sent it… (yeah that’s important)

Lot’s of questions running through my mind the whole time as I juggled my keys to get in the door (I met the courier out front as I was trying to leave to go to an appointment) then as my dogs barked with excitement on seeing me (Guys it was just minute ago that I left!)

From who?

Turns out it was a company I chatted to last week.

I hadn’t done any business with this organisation yet, so I was a little surprised.

As I opened the package, in it was a stack of samples of their food products and some promo gear (more good quality pens and simple notepads with their info on them. I like those, very handy…)

They sent it as a way of thanking me for the support and value I’ve added to her business so far. (one chat over for about an hour or so and a few emails of info)


Now, here’s the thing.

They didn’t have to send me this gift, but I’m glad they did, it picks me up, reminds me of the value I gave 🙂 and keeps them ‘top of mind’ with me and that’s good, very good!

An old boss of mine MANY years ago liked to call these packages “a pot of gold” and if the gift was just right and well considered it would be shared, that was a BIG pot of gold. We would talk about it for ages. (yeah pretty dull office I know…)

So, it was a pleasant surprise… it put a smile on my face AND, most importantly, it’s something I WON’T forget in a hurry!

It’s simple…

Going over and beyond what you have promised to your clients – by surprising them with bonuses they weren’t expecting – is a great way to build a loyal following.

People may forget what you say, but they seem to always remember how you made them feel.

Even if it’s something like a handwritten thank you note (these gifts don’t need to be extravagant or expensive) it’s the thought that counts.

Keep giving things to people that delight them and make them feel good, check out their needs and aim to keep them happy. Remember. it’s the little things that count.

Customers have needs too!

Customers, they have the cash in their hot little hands and if your business offering is worthy, they will spend it with you… IF you are not worthy they may go elsewhere.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Figuring out what they want is a matter of understanding they are generally not consciously aware of what they want in terms of how they want the experience to be. Thankfully there have been enough studies and research to help point the way. Here are a range of pointers to consider and work on so you can keep up with their needs and wants.

They want a solution to a challenge they face

If they are hungry they want food, if they have a car low on fuel they want to fill it, if they have any form of desire for an item or service they want a solution, if your business is in the right place at the right time they might choose  your business to provide that solution.

They want to feel good

After all who wants to feel bad when buying something. Make the buying experience personable, warm and welcoming so they can feel at ease early in the transaction. An emotionally rewarding experience will ensure the customer is enticed to purchase rather than pushed into a discount or other offer they may not connect with. If they can feel special at a range of stages in the sales process then you may just have a customer for life.

They want to be attracted, not pushed

They want to buy, not get sold to… The difference is a person motivated to do business rather than feeling uneasy about what’s taking place. By offering options and possibilities which you can readily support, explain etc will be a more positive stance for them to feel comfortable with.

People like destinations and journeys

Is the sales environment welcoming? Is the sales process a positive journey of discovery or a negative hassle? The more you can create a welcoming destination the more chances you have of getting positive results. Imagine arriving at a stunning oasis in a desert and then being wooed by a person who can readily show them around, taking them on a journey of discovery, now the destination just got better!

Champagne tastes on a beer budget

This statement applies to many customers but not all. They want the best but are only willing to pay the minimum to get it. Challenging I know, so what can you offer to make this possible? Big chain stores often entice prospects with a cheap option in their promotions, then show you options up from that lower cost enticement. People often want better and will ‘stretch the budget’ to make it fit to their wants and needs.

Inspire, intrigue, motivate

In a world where many things are standard packages, same old same old repetitive offerings, consider ways to alter that, aim to intrigue, inspire and motivate the prospect to think more about what they want and can readily get.

Make the purchasing options easy

Do you take cash, credit card, paypal or any one of a range of ways to take payment. are your terms fair and reasonable and set up to make it easy for the customer to say yes more often? If not, it’s time for a change.

Customers will know more

The information age has done that, now what are you going to do to work with this situation to be part of the customers ‘psyche’ and provide a platform to work from? Perhaps it’s a sign that points out key things to know about what you offer, but your word it to say “You already know about these things, but just in case you don’t…” You could also word up and test your sales team that customers can be “know it alls” and work with this to add more information, or work with the information to keep the customer on side.

They want it now

People have become used to getting things fast, if you don’t have what they want, now your competitor might well have it… you may have been the business they stopped at on the way to your competitor, simply because your were closer. In a customised product sale, make sure you point to that what you offer has to take time, set them at ease and clarify that you have to order items in, and deal with other work before their custom work can be attended to.

People want to know

When will it be ready? What the progress is… if there are any holdups… If there are any issues, challenges or differences. They want this so they can feel they are being dealt with honestly, ethically and openly. Even on a small scale fast transaction, let’s say serving fast food… “Thanks you order has now been placed and will be put together shortly… I’ll just wrap that for you now… I have put the napkins in the bag…” etc… All this adds up to an informed customer that can feel good about the process.

This list should provide you with a range of starting points to improve your service offerings. Take an honest look at what you currently do, any chances you, your team or the customer interaction space is letting the sales process down. Now make changes and watch out for the positive results.


Steve Gray

Think service or fail

If ever there was a case for making sure your service has to be spot on, check out the early reviews online about Lumosity, the mind game site. People have rated it very poorly, on service, on responsiveness, of not being able to get a person on the phone, the auto renewal for charges, and the list goes on.

The people at Lumosity would do well to read some of these and act fast. Not sure if they have or not, but they will need to do something to stem the tide of negativity from their consumers that all the advertising in the world will not overcome.

In this enlightened age most people I know will now check reviews for anything they want to buy, and if it’s not so hot, they will check out other options.

What gives?

Customer service is a vital part of what your business does, get good at it… No get brilliant at it.

Who cares?

Your bottom line will care that’s who! and then you will, especially if your income drops too far. Then don’t come running to me saying “business is tight, people aren’t buying” etc.

Fact is people know what they want, a business that is easy to deal with, responsive and makes them feel ok at the very least. Lumosity reviews suggest the company does little of the above. If I had read these first I would would have avoided it. However I personally find it a useful mind tool to explore and so far I am reasonably happy, I have turned off my auto renewal and have not had to contact customer service!

Get Smart

Yes there are lessons here folks, get smart about finding out what your service is like, what things need to alter and do it fast. and don’t just say “Oh that was just one grumpy customer that complained” go all out and launch an investigation to discover if things could have been done better. Chances are you will discover plenty to work on. Send in spies, have your spies ring in and ask for quotes, information etc and see how well they were handled.

Get active

Make changes if you find any issues that can be improved. Let’s face it customer service is the first and last contact point you will have with customers, the product/service you provide will simply be the ‘meat in the sandwich’.


Steve Gray

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It’s all in the details

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

I have a few places I shop at for “musical items”, with about three places to choose from locally and a bunch just an hour up the road I am a bit spoilt for choice, not to mention the online stores. Today I was zipping by one of the three ;local ones and needed one simple item.

In a customer service sense I like to shop live, rather than onlilne, so I get to compare details, brands, friendliness, and sometimes even price, note how that comes in last…

This morning while looking and asking questions I was wonderfully surprised by the gent doing the serving. Firstly on the bench there was a beautifully hand crafted instrument, it looked like an eight stringed banjo, but I was soon mesmerised by the gent picking it up and saying “it’s a Ukelele… hand made in Australia, listen to this!” he played a few chords and it a lovely resonant warm tone that beckoned forth. Simply exquisite!

From that point he could have sold me a few items, I was captivated and it was there that the details all kicked in.

There was no “Can I help you?”, and thank goodness for that! There was no hurried “Yes what can I get you?” No no, it was a very dignified honest approach, I felt welcome from the ‘get go’ and for the first time in ages I felt like I could readily ask questions about a whole bunch of things, so I did, a few minutes soon turned into about twenty.

I bought what I came for and left with a spring in my step, I had found soemone who clearly has a delight for musical things, an interest in quality, and the the discussion on alternative instruments was quite fascinating.

I was impressed, I bought, I gained more knowledge and feel as if I could go back and readily interact some time soon, I even went as far as to allow him to add me to their data base!

The only thing that bothers me is if the guy serving me is not there the next time I go in. I have shopped there before and have mixed feelings about some of the other staff. Indeed another staff member in the shop today was a surly so and so, and I deduced that just from her facial expression/s.

Next time I will stride in with confidence but perhaps fully expect to be let down, due to past experiences perhaps weighing heavily in the background.

What can we learn and put in place from all this?

  • Be genuine – I felt it right from the start, he was interested and interesting, warm and inviting.
  • Be nice – Welcoming, open and friendly, he even used my name as I left wishing me a good day, nice touch!
  • Know your product/s – My questions were answered with clarity and interest as well as showing a depth of experience, I know he knew his stuff.
  • Offer more – I got added to their data base becuase he offered me the opportunity, simply by asking if I was on the data base already, I then asked if he would like to add me, no hard sell from his side of things.
  • Impress me – The hand made instrument on the front bench had me from the start, how it looked and sounded, I loved it (although not a big Ukelele freak per se).
  • Leave me on the up – I felt good leaving, and felt so pleased here I am writing about it!
  • Train your team – Pick up on the details that work in teh intereactions your staff have with the cutomers, then figure out what is the most genuine way to make those details a reality. Now train the team in the details.

If you are into causing your customers to love what you have to offer, be all you can be to cause people to love what you have and how you present it, they will be back for more… Now to make it a consistent offering!



Steve Gray

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Train to Ease the Pain

I like to watch people in their businesses, their staff doing what they do, or don’t do… Case in point a restaurant. Even better when an industry expert with 25+ years of experience is with me.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

I like seeing the little things, the details, the ‘one percenters’ as I call them, the details which can snowball into a drop in efficiency a drop in quality and eventually lead to staff bad attitudes and fast staff turnover.

So there we were watching, table service people arrived and one had an attitude that was abrasive, short tempered, end of the shift type “gnarly-ness”, It was noticed. We had a simple order so things happened in an okay time frame but “with attitude”.

Earlier in the day we had a more positive experience at another establishment that we will cherish and smile about because it was great food, served professionally by pleasant attentive staff.

So here I am pondering the ‘experiences’ we had during the day and my mind flips through many other experiences I have had and my thoughts on how things can improve.

A big example shows up from my memory bank… Watching staff get behind in their service standards  in a fast food joint. Any semblance of a systematic approach seems to fade when they are under any pressure (more than three orders at one time.) The Manager seems flat out at the back frying chips or some such offering no guidance, motivation or positive communication to get and keep the team in line.

Years of experience mean I am on the lookout for things that don’t seem right and my analytic brain goes into overdrive as to how things can improve. The short answer is it’s all in the training, or lack of it.

I go back to my own experience delivering pizzas 25+ years back. Grab the packaged pizza, read the address, head out the door deliver, collect the money. Simple enough.

After doing this for a few nights I start to notice the guys processing the orders as they came out of the oven, slide the pizza onto the cutting board, cut then slide into a box, easy. The challenge is  however getting the practice to be able to do it fast without mistakes.

A few weeks in and box folding became a thing you had to do when things were quiet, a few paper cuts later and  you realised it wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be. Good practice however made it easier. The same with the slice and box routine, after a while you could recognise which pizza was which, put it int eh right box, cut the right way and all was good but heaven help you if any part of the process was slightly out the pizza could end up on the floor!

Any training takes instruction, followed by practice to get it right. Then when things end up getting into pressure cooker mode, it’s easy to do more of the right things, simply because the skill has become automatic, the  you do the right thing.

As I see it most people in business are not natural trainers, they are busy running a business and many see the training side as a cost rather than a thing to get right and save money later on in reduced staff turnover and by keeping customers satisfied with timely service and staff with a positive demeanour.

Learn to train your staff and do it long enough for the staff to really know the skills, if you let them loose on the customers before they are competent problems will arise. It’s up to you to get it right.

The service conundrum

Your team were doing poorly in the service stakes, you got someone in to fix it, and viola! All good, it took a while, some people fought it but you got their lazy butts moving, They started to acknowledge the customers by saying hello and provided good service with a smile.

Image courtesy of Satvva from

Image courtesy of Satvva from

Things were going swimmingly and people were praised left right and centre. This felt good, now some 18 months down the track the whole thing is starting to slide… What the?

You haven’t noticed it too much, but one of your stalwart customers has. You think they are just picky, yes they are, but in your best interests. They have noted the lack of acknowledgement, the lack of interaction, the staff walking past people pondering which item to buy who might need some assistance and the list of nasty pointers starts to build.

Did the system fail? Are your people slackening off? Did something change to cause this? Perhaps all of these pointers have kicked in and slowly over time the service culture has not cemented itself into the psyche of your team.

Think of it this way, if your people did bad service for five years, can they change the long term service to a more positive culture in eighteen months? Yes, but… It needs to done in a way to make that happen, a way that shows them there is a clear benefit to doing better service, a way that alters their thinking about how they used to do service and how good it feels to make the new change. They also need to lead each other, holding each person up to the fresh set of standards. New people that come in to the business also need to be trained in these new ways.

It wasn’t you who caused the team to slide, nor was it any one team member, but collectively if one factor moves off course by even one degree, then before long the destination can’t be reached because things are too far off course.

What may be needed are refreshers, service surveys, focus groups of live customers. In short feedback on what’s working, how people (customers) perceive the service.

Perception on the customers behalf is their reality. To keep the customers happy over the long term you need to make service a high priority and you need to massage it well in to place.

Happy customers spend more, they are content and feel the ‘love’ your people share. So ask yourself and your team, are we loving the customers enough to have them buy from us or not? Now take action to support better service reactions from the team.


Steve Gray

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Does Your Business Squeak?


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

Recently  a person I know was offered what looked like a great deal which involved some vouchers, and what seemed like an easy to use system to redeem the vouchers. So far so good. “Oh and there’s a ten day cooling off period IF FOR ANY REASON you want a refund.”

The person went ahead.

Then the vouchers arrived in the mail, along with forms to fill in and lots of information about terms and conditions… Sure that’s fine. After reading the details and doing some internet searching the person found things were not easy, and there were some grumbles about the process from others who had also bought, in short the thing ‘squeaked’ in a way the person did not like.

Refund time. Not so fast…  one call to the number listed, lots of questions why? why WHY? they asked, but it’s such a good deal… two more phone calls to catch the “Customer Service Manager” only to be told, oh we don’t normally refund, are  you sure you want to. By now the person wants to get the refund so strongly they are ‘over’ the whole process and are becoming more angst ridden by the minute. Return the vouchers and the forms all intact, came the reply, “When we get all that we will definitely refund this for you, yes  you are within the cooliong off period.” said the Service Manager.

Two weeks go by, Ring ring… “I just wanted to ask about why you wanted a refund?” said a new person on the phone. “But the refund is due to come any day?” said our intrepid shopper. “Oh no that has not been finalised… we want to figure out if there’s anything we can do?” – “Um no just give me the refund please.” CLUNK goes the phone.

By this stage our shopper has been run through the mill and wants nothing to do with this company. Jumps straight on to the “interweb thingy” and writes a bad review on this organisation. Still awaiting a refund…

The upshot of all this is making sure your organisation is squeaky clean in its dealings, and makes sure that they are not aggravating people in any way or form. If people say no, they mean it, push things too far and you will be wondering why the reviews slam your business left right and centre. Oh and no this is not a threat, it’s how things are today, get used to it OH and know that most reviews on the web are there for the long haul, you can’t get most of them removed.

What will you do to make sure your business squeaks! Regards Steve Gray

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