Category Archives: Unwritten Rules

Customer Service Checklist

And here we go again…

Any veteran Expect The Exceptional reader out there will know that customer service is one of the most common topics discussed. This could be because in so many businesses,  customer service is dying as a focus on short term profits overpowers building customers for life. Today we take a look at things from the business owner’s side of things and provide you with an editable template that can be used to evaluate your team and their treatment of your clients.

One of the best pieces of advice that I can provide to business owners is to set the expectations for superior customer service from the very first moment that you interact with your candidates. Throughout your entire business there needs to be a consistent message of how crucial your patrons are to your business. This information needs to be present in job ads, needs to be addressed in the interview process, and should be a key component of your training process, weekly meetings, and work reviews.

The following checklist should be a good start to getting your customer service up to the levels you desire if you aren’t currently there. Please modify as required to make this more applicable to your individual business. This checklist can be used for quarterly reviews with your team, and you can also get a little more complex if you wish to create some quantitative metrics. This will allow you to compare employees across your network, and will also give you valuable data that can be used for training and evaluations.

Check out some of

  • Customer Interaction 
    • Greets customers in a friendly and professional manner at all times
    • Services all customers the same regardless of their age or appearance.
    • Makes suggestions based on customer comments.
    • Makes eye contact with customers.
    • Appears engaged and interested in what the customer is telling them.
    • Minimizes any wait time.
  • Brand Awareness
    • Confidently explains the company’s products and services.
    • Has a good working knowledge of the company’s goals and objective
    • Is able to explain the features and benefits of each product.
    • Understands how to match specific products and services with particular customer needs.
    • Shows a passion and enjoyment of the company’s products and purpose
    • Goes above and beyond to demonstrate your competitive advantage over your competitors
  • Diffusing difficult situations
    • Acts within the chain of command in conflict situations
    • Understands who can authorize actions or changes
    • Remains calm during conflict situations
    • Acts to diffuse or alleviate the situation
    • Applies best practices effectively and offers different problem-solving options to customers to ensure they are pleased with the outcome of their interaction with your business
    • Resolves customer service issues in a fair and equitable manner
  • Attitude and behavior
    • Displays professionalism in their appearance, timeliness and interaction with customers
    • Is a team player who is prepared to listen to and help their colleagues
    • Shows an interest in wanting to continue their education and excel further in their position

You could also collect comment cards from your customers, or have them submit a simple online survey after an interaction with your business. This is usually very helpful as typically it is the customers at both ends of the satisfaction spectrum that will take the time to provide feedback, whether it be good or bad. All of this data is extremely valuable and can be used to steer your ship in the direction you desire.

This might sound daunting if your business is not currently known for it’s excellent customer service, but this is something that can be changed. This will also allow you to differentiate your business and take your immediate revenue and long term success to new levels. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and start making changes today!

Have any customer service tips that set your business apart from the competition? Have a favorite business who take exceptional care of their customers? Please share them in the comment box below.

Our personal favorite here at #ExpectTheExceptional is Southwest Airlines. These guys are pioneers in their field, aren’t prepared to go against the grain, and put their customers at the top of every priority list they create. The company culture is incredible as any of you who have flown with Southwest will attest.

Company culture at Southwest Airlines

Until next week, be safe, make the most of every opportunity that comes your way, and Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do.

 

 

 

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Honesty in sales SHOULD be the norm

When you work in retail, or any service industry, it is easy to forget why you are there.  In high school, I worked at Victoria’s Secret.  It was a fun job, but like most retail locations, it did become a little repetitive.  Day after day, I refolded the same table of underwear that people continuously destroyed.  Occasionally I had the pleasure of helping a man who was looking for – it pains me to even type this word – “panties” (ick!) for his wife.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved helping those men!  Especially the older ones; it made me feel happy that the love was still alive after many years of marriage.  But since I brought it up, here is a public service announcement: Men, please, I beg you – do NOT use the “p” word.  It is gross.  But I digress.  The point is, I would at times forget that the reason I was working there was to help people with their shopping and make sales.  I’ve never been great at sales; I actually realized that at VS when a young college student came in looking for a teddy for a gag gift.  I could not stomach selling him a $75 piece of lingerie for a GAG when the man could have gone to Walmart to get something for ten!  I also had the “pleasure” of working at a for-profit university as an admissions advisor, which can be translated into “high-pressure sales” advisor.  Once again, I found myself sending people away to the community college down the road to receive the same degree at a much, much, MUCH lower price.  Probably not what my employers were hoping for, but while my sales skills were lacking, at least I can sleep at night knowing that I was truly helping the customers.  That is not something that can be said for all sales associates.  Often, you will find someone utilizing hard-core sales techniques without the best interest of the customer in mind.  Think about your experiences at car dealerships – most of mine have involved this kind of salesman.

Many commission-based sales jobs will cause the salesmen and women to feel added pressure to seal the deal, which may in turn force them to lose sight of the full purpose, helping customers and making the sale.

Chances are, if you are looking out for the best interests of your customer, that sale will make itself because people are far more likely to purchase from someone they can trust.  And if they trust you, then they will most likely return again and again!  So remember your customers, and remember to do the best you can for them.  This is key to building a loyal client base!

 

Not another sales presentation…

My husband, two boys and I made the 3 hour 15 minute trip south to Branson for Labor Day weekend this year. We have visited the town on several occasions and keep returning as there are lots of things to do, it’s a relatively short drive from our home in Kansas City, and we really enjoy being at an exceptional resort that is well maintained and has plenty of activities available to entertain all members of the family.  We love that we own a timeshare with Wyndham and can experience a weekend getaway at a moment’s notice without worrying about a dirty room, poor service or an unsafe location.  However, while we are owners and not required to attend sales presentations, they offer many incentives for us to listen to a speech for an “hour” during our vacation, and despite almost every single experience being negative, we continue to get sucked in time and time again.

timeshare

 


This article about timeshare presentations is hilarious if you don’t mind a little bit of language.  My favorite sentence:
“Will, our sales associate, came over and met with us. He was a gangly, mid-20’s asshat from Dallas who looked like he was cut out from a business casual ad with dork scissors.”
www.ruthlessreviews.com

And for even more hilarity, check this one out:

“I said hell yes I’d like to take just one hour of my time to hear about an exciting way I could save money on future vacations. I mean, it sounded pretty awesome to me,” Jones said.

The promised one hour presentation turned into a two and a half hour adventure once Jones arrived at the all inclusive Global Sun Grand Resort. Jones expressed gratitude that she would be privileged with more time in the company of such esteemed individuals.
sarcasticnewslive.com

 


On our first Wyndham vacation together, we went to Las Vegas and had an amazing time.  The incentive to sit with a sales representative and listen to his schpeel was a meal at a nice restaurant, so we thought “Why not?”  It was actually a great experience, the man did not try to sell us anything, simply educated us about new locations we could visit, as promised when we made the appointment.  After that, our experiences have all gone downhill.  Again and again, we check into our room and are offered something seemingly awesome – a one hour meeting in exchange for dinner certificates, Visa gift cards, sometimes with a meal included at the meeting, sometimes all of the above.  Again and again we tell the person that no, we will not attend because the one hour meeting always ends up being two or more hours and we do not want to spend that much time of our vacation being sold to when we most certainly will not be buying anything.  Which prompts them to say “Oh no!  We promise it will only be ONE hour, and the purpose of this meeting is to teach you about something new and awesome that you don’t already know about!  No selling involved!”  Inevitably, we agree because their offer seems too good to pass up on.  And inevitably, we leave feeling angry and saying “NEVER AGAIN! NEVER!”  Labor Day was no different.  As current timeshare owners, our experiences are not as bad as what was portrayed on the famous episode of South Park, where the characters are held at gunpoint during their presentation.  However, sales people will be sales people, therefore we get to experience a little of the cliché pressure whenever we choose to attend.

south-park

We arrived at the meeting with the boys in tow (they wouldn’t allow just one spouse to attend this “educational” meeting about website reservations – that should have been our first red flag).  The young man who sat us down at his desk was very new to the game.  He was trying to play it cool, low pressure, just shooting the breeze until the required hour was up.  I mentioned the website changes we were supposed to learn about and he had no idea what I was talking about (red flag number 2, ignored). We did learn a lot about his life, and he about ours.  We shared laughs and told horror stories about our past sales meetings.  As we were closing in on an hour, the boys were beginning to get restless, I was getting extremely warm and my husband was trying to wrap things up.  Just as we thought we were about to be dismissed to collect our gifts, he mentioned something about a VIP package; upon seeing the blank looks on our faces he immediately realized he probably should have been doing his job the whole time.  He left the table to get a senior representative and that is where things went sour.  Our first guy bailed, and the new guy began the hard sell.  When my husband pointed out we had been there an hour and were ready to go, without purchasing anything new, the man completely ignored him.  When we pointed out our fussy children ready for naps, we were again ignored.  Finally my husband got stern and told the man that we were leaving.

As we left, we discussed how little the operations and sales teams worked together.  There is clearly no communication, and while they have different intermediate goals in mind, would it not suit them to work together on the ultimate goal, bringing people back to your place of business, and creating evangelists at the same time?  Ironically, one of the things the salesman was “educating” us on was the four things that Wyndham owners have requested to change – one of those was the sales meetings.  Yet there we were, in another sales meeting.

I did call to complain, and they did send us a fruit basket.  Very nice, and much appreciated (#harryanddavid #yesplease).  But when will enough be enough?  When we will we wise up and stop attending the meetings?  And when will Wyndham wise up and think about what their current customers want, as well as potential future customers?

 

Customer service in difficult situations

On several previous blogs I have discussed the importance of customer service and how the people in your front line can make or break your business. Customer service is one of those ideas that is frequently thrown around, but unfortunately not taken seriously when it comes to implementation. Despite the exceptional service that we received on our recent journey to visit my in-laws, unfortunately it is typically the not so good experiences that we hear about when it comes to customer service.

customer service

Can you afford to lose your customers? 

On our recent trip to The UK and Ireland, we found ourselves in many situations where we interacted with the front of house staff, whether it be the server in a restaurant, the cashier at a store, the barman at the local pub, or the flight attendants on our gruelling 8 hour Transatlantic flight.

We were blown away by how incredible the Virgin Atlantic staff were from start to finish. From checking in at O’Hare in Chicago, to recovering our lost luggage, the entire team were exceptional. I could go on all day about how incredible these individuals were but for the sake of time I have whittled things down to a list of 5 moments to share with you.

  1. USA to England check in – This was our first time traveling as a family of four with both of our boys with us. To spice things up a little we also decided to include my parents in the adventure! Checking in with 4 adults, 2 infants, and all of luggage and car seats was never going to be an enjoyable experience but it was pretty close. From interacting with our two boys to wrapping our two car seats in protective packaging and walking them over to the oversized luggage belt, the staff were superb and got our trip off to the best possible start.
  2. Inflight experience – The crew immediately recognized that travelling with young children is far from easy, and were sure to let us know that they were available to help with anything that we needed. Over the course of the flight we made numerous requests for milk, snacks, glasses of water, and even warm towels to help clean our babies up. The flight attendants were attentive and went out of their way to treat every passenger individually and make sure that they were comfortable.
  3. Check in at Heathrow for the return flight – We had a very early start (4:30am) in Dublin and when our flight landed at Heathrow we knew we were going to be cutting it close with connecting to our transatlantic flight. After being transferred to another terminal, going through security and the other formalities, and getting ready to head for the gate we knew that there was a chance that we wouldn’t make the flight. To make matters worse my mother’s bag was selected for an extra security check (due to the presence of a mini bottle of vodka in the side pocket 🙂 ) which meant we lost even more time. Throughout this series of events the Virgin staff stood by our side and communicated with their team to make sure the plane didn’t leave without us. These moments were very stressful as we weren’t really interested in spending 24 hours in an airport with two infants, but the staff diffused the situation and delivered.
  4. Inflight experience – Due to the delays mentioned above my mother and husband had to run to make the flight, and immediately after boarding they were presented with ice cold water and the assurance that they would be helped with anything that they needed. Every member of the staff clearly loves what they do and this happiness and excitement was contagious and visible for all to see. The ladies and gentlemen that took care of us and the rest of the passengers that day worked tirelessly to make sure their customers were happy and had a pleasant experience.
  5. Retrieval of lost luggage and owning mistakes – Upon arriving in Chicago we found that our 2 car seats unfortunately had not been pulled from our first flight of the day. We went to the helpdesk where two young gentlemen got things taken care of and put our minds at rest. We submitted the necessary claim form and were provided with directions to the nearest Target so that we could purchase replacements which would later be reimbursed by Virgin. We arrived home in the early hours of Tuesday August 16th, the seats arrived on the 19th and we were reimbursed on the 22nd. Exceptionally quick turnaround executed by knowledgeable and passionate team members who took complete responsibility of the situation.

virgin-atlantic-1

We know you have a choice of airlines when you fly, and we want to thank you for flying with us” is the cheesy line that most flight attendants regurgitate at the end of each flight. After our experience with Virgin, we know that we made the right choice and will continue to use them for our future travel needs. If you haven’t previously travelled with Virgin Atlantic and they fly a route that you will be travelling, you should check them out, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Until next time, Happy Travelling 🙂

Con Artists at work in Dublin, Ireland

One of the things that we are most proud about at Royal Services is our honesty and transparency. In an industry where many of our competitors have a used car salesman reputation, it is obviously a big struggle to get potential partners to lower their defenses. However, since 1993 we have treated our clients with the honesty and respect that they deserve. We are a family owned company and we live by family values. If we make mistakes we own them. If we can’t do something we communicate with our clients and try to find an alternative solution. When we bid a project, we do it as thoroughly and accurately as possible and provide our client with what the job will take. Unfortunately many of our competitors will make promises ahead of time and provide you with low prices, and then take advantage of you once they have got you in the door. 

royal services in dubin

This week’s article looks at a dining experience that we had on our recent trip to the Emerald Isle. We had purchased the Cityscape “hop on, hop off” bus pass, and after an incredible 2 and a half hour tour of the city, the driver and tour guide suggested that we visit Murray’s bar and restaurant. He told us that it was one of the most popular venues in town and that we would be able to get a “2 for 1” deal on meals by showing our bus tickets. We thought that this sounded like a good idea so got off of the bus at the nearest stop to Murray’s and made the short walk along O’Connell street.

We arrive and are immediately handed a piece of paper with a very simple menu on it. It looks like something that a 4th grader put together for a simple project using the most basic of online templates. There was a good variety of meals available with all meals apart from starters priced at 12.95. We could see the “traditional menus” under the hostess stand so assumed that we had by default been handed the “Cityscape menu”. The moral of this story is to not assume 🙂

We spent a few minutes reviewing the options available to us and then placed our order. It took some time to get our order but once everything had arrived we all tucked in and enjoyed our evening meal. We sat and chatted for a while as our 2 year old “flirted” with the waitress and then the screaming emanating from our 10 month old’s mouth signalled that it was time to head back to the hotel.

Temple Bar Dublin and Royal Services

We ask for the bill and all of a sudden the barman goes into hiding and has one of his colleagues bring the check to us. Upon quick review we noticed that we had been charged f0r all 6 meals, and that the discount had not been applied. We questioned the barman who informed us that we should have told him ahead of time that we were looking for the discounted menu. Obviously the fact that our tour brochure and bus tickets were clearly visible on the table didn’t mean anything. The barman showed little signs of wanting to solve the problem and provide us with what had been promised, so we had to take it to the next level. In more ways than one 🙂

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

We immediately headed upstairs to find the manager and get things rectified. As we were waiting to speak to the manager, the barman comes flying up the stairs thinking that we had done a runner. I imagine that there have been several customers that have done this in the past, but two wrongs don’t make a right. To his credit, the manager acknowledged the original deal and reduced our bill accordingly. He then mentioned about the need to make things clearer and let patrons know ahead of time what the deal was, but a quick search on Google shows that this scam has been going on for some time with several visitors expressing their disappointment with this “deal”.

This tactic might earn some short term business as a large percentage of patrons are tourists who will never be in Dublin again. There are also many non English speaking visitors from all corners of the world who wouldn’t be able to understand what is going on and how they are being mislead. However, it doesn’t matter who your customer is, you need to do the right thing and take care of them if you want to be successful in the long term. This experience felt similar to a company shortchanging a customer because she was blind and couldn’t see what was going on.

the emerald isle and royal services

This left a very bitter taste in our mouths, and even though the food was very good, the dishonesty and trickery from this establishment means that this is not a venue that we would recommend. After all of the talk that you hear about how beautiful Dublin is and how welcoming the people are, we left with different feelings after our encounters. This company did themselves no favors here, and I do not think that their future is going to be anything special. In anything that I do I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day knowing that I have done the right thing. I might not make as much money, or drive the same car as my highly successful neighbor, but I can live with a clear conscience.

Where have you felt hard done by? Which establishments have lied to get you in the door? Who made you feel like you had been stolen from? Let us know in the comments section below.

As the Irish say, Schloncha, and happy travelling 🙂

Guiness pint and Royal Services

The danger of casting judgement

As a retail owner, manager or employee you get to know the people who frequent your store, and the type of people you can expect to shop there.  If you work at Forever 21, you would not expect to see an elderly man browsing your racks, just like it would be surprising to see a teenage girl shopping at Brooks Brothers.  But is that to say they can’t, or should be looked upon differently for being there?  Maybe the man is looking for a shirt for his granddaughter; maybe the girl is shopping for a tie for Father’s Day.  I bring this up because when I occasionally have to make a visit to an atypical store, I sometimes feel uncomfortable upon walking in, but always appreciate when I am treated as though I belong there and am given the help that I so obviously need.  I recently painted a few rooms in my home and although I considered shopping for paint at a big box store, I remembered the last couple of times I looked for paint there and the negative experiences I had.  Somehow in the 21st century, the employees who “helped” me still acted as though a woman does not belong in a hardware store.  I was treated as though I were someone with silly requests, and they were too bored to bother fulfilling them.  So instead, I made the decision to pay a little extra and go to my favorite hardware store, Westlake Ace Hardware.  When I go into this store, I am immediately greeted and treated with respect.  When I select my paint color and inevitably have to return for adjustments to be made, the associates working with me have always been patient and made it very clear that they will go back as many times as I need to get the perfect color.  On the rare occasion I need to visit a hardware store for reasons other than painting or planting, I know that there is no way I will be left searching up and down aisles for what I need, which is what seems to happen at bigger stores.  At Ace, someone always finds me and offers to help.  When I leave, I feel satisfied and usually always have a smile on my face due to the friendly nature of the employees.

Next time you are at your retail location and someone walks in who doesn’t look like they belong, don’t let this happen to you:

Instead, treat everyone who walks in the door with respect, you never know how you can impact their day!

Unwritten Rules

In business dealings, there are often unwritten rules that legally do not have to be followed, but ethically absolutely should be followed.  Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company, a small retail location or even are just selling items online, following a code of conduct helps to build a loyal client base and ensure your customers are satisfied.

unwritten_rules1.jpg

Recently, I was shopping for a train table for my son’s second birthday.  I did months of research and now know far more about toy trains than I care to admit.  I decided that rather than pay full price for a new table, I would prefer to find one on Craigslist in like-new condition.  Every day, I diligently got online and checked new listings, until I was sure I would have to bite the bullet and purchase new.  Just before I did this, I checked one last time and lo and behold!  A brand new, in the box table and train set for a low price and it was even the exact brand I was looking for!  I immediately sent a text to the seller and lucky me, it was still available!  I made plans for my husband to pick the table up the next day on his way home from his first job, before leaving for his second job.  Obviously, he had to make special arrangements, but it was worth it – he will do anything to put a smile on that little guy’s face!  I was feeling so accomplished and thrifty that evening when I received a text from the seller: “Someone just came by and got the table-sorry.”  Pure devastation.  And immediately after, pure anger.  Usually, I would have just wallowed in sorrow without saying a word, but this time I felt the need to speak up.  I responded that I thought it was horrible she would do that after promising it to me.  She responded with, “Those are the rules, first come first served.”  I don’t make many purchases on Craigslist, but I was fairly certain that by responding to the ad first, I was in fact first.  But I did not respond and ended up finding a much better deal, much to my delight.

This whole situation made me think about unwritten rules.  Could I sue that lady for selling my table to someone else?  Absolutely not.  It’s her table, and she can do with it what she wants.  But I left that situation feeling cheated and sad, and I don’t think any business would want their customers to leave feeling that way.  Therefore, following unwritten rules like keeping promises, honoring coupons and sale prices, sticking to the original quoted price, and finishing jobs in the time frame that was initially given are so important in business today.  At Royal Services, the unwritten rules are followed.  Businesses need not worry about a job taking twice as long as planned or paying twice as much as they were quoted.  Companies get away with this every day, and technically, they have the right to do this.  But good companies, like Royal, would never dream of it. We believe in the importance of following unwritten rules in order to create long-lasting relationships with our valued partners.