Category Archives: Customer Service

Why refer me to your feedback link?

Aaah, don’t you love it when you provide a customer service team member with feedback, and they refer you to a website link for you to give them the feedback you just gave them!

Melbourne IT recently gave me the pleasure of that experience.

Gary RyanI asked their team member, “Why would I now spend time typing in my feedback when I have just given it to you?“.

She responded, “Oh, I’m sorry, maybe I could record it for you?

Yes, that would be appreciated.” I responded.

However, I don’t have a lot of faith that my feedback will have been recorded because, based on my experience, I’m not confident that Melbourne IT have a system for their staff to enter feedback on behalf of their customers.

Such a system could work like this:

  1. Customer provides verbal feedback.
  2. Customer service team member clarifies the feedback to make sure that it is properly understood.
  3. Customer service team member asks the customer if they would like them to enter the feedback to their system on behalf of the customer, confirms the customer’s email address and sends a copy of what has been entered into the system via email to the customer.
  4. The customer has the opportunity (if they wish to do so) to check and edit the feedback via a link provided in the email.

Companies must understand that feedback is a gift from their customers. They need to make it as easy as possible for customers to provide their feedback gifts. Smart companies understand that at least one-third of customer issues are caused by the customers themselves. They understand that you can’t help a customer better understand your products, services, terms and conditions etc. if you don’t know that your customers are sometimes confused by them.

Smart companies choose to love their customers, which means they forgive them for the things they get wrong.

I didn’t have to offer to help Melbourne IT with my feedback. I could have easily not told them that their system wasn’t working for me and moved to a competitor. I don’t think they understand this reality; otherwise they would have already made it easy for me to provide my feedback, not hard.

The obvious lesson is to ask yourself, “How easy do we make it for our customers to provide feedback to us?“. It needs to be as easy as possible.

There may be immediate opportunities for you to take action that will help improve the quality of the service experience that you provide your customers. Take action now, and make it as easy as possible for your customers to give you the gift of feedback.

Gary Ryan was awarded the Honorary Title of Senior Assessor for the Customer Service Institute of Australia in 2006.

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good®.

How to resolve issues caused by customers

When you raise the standards of customer service in your organisation, customer expectations also rise. This is in the context that your customers will expect your service or product to be provided at least at the same level as their most recent experience.

Fluctuating service levels equals poor service. Your performance will always be judged by your customer’s most recent experience versus the expectation they have of your service or product. It is not possible to deliver great service if your organisation is not set up to provide great service every time.

Gary Ryan, Organisations That Matter, Yes For SuccessIn order to provide consistent service experiences for your customers you need to balance the passion of your staff with the systems and processes that you have in place to support your staff.

Service recovery is what you do to correct a mistake and/or when your customers perceives that you have made a mistake (up to 33% of customer complaints are caused by the customer!). If you don’t have a service recovery system then your staff will either do nothing to resolve the error or they will make it up on the spot. The latter approach may resolve the problem but the next time the same customer experiences a service problem a different staff member may not do anything to resolve the problem. The result – fluctuating service levels!

The flip side of this example is to have a system that is so rigid that your staff have to follow a procedure even when they recognise it isn’t appropriate for the situation. When your meal arrives late at a restaurant you want an apology and a ‘fair’ offer to repair the poor service you have just experienced. You don’t want a pen (yes this is what happens when management misunderstands the principles of service recovery; a pen is offered as a fair ‘fix’ when a meal arrives late!).

Your systems and processes need to support your staff. Your staff should have a range of options at their disposal so that they can determine the fairest choices to offer their customers. By ‘choices’ I mean that from a service recovery perspective a customer should be given the power to select the fairest option from their perspective to resolve the problem. When you have a system like this in operation your staff can use their passion for service excellence to select (from their secret menu that is known to the staff) three options that are suitable for the situation. If the customer doesn’t like any of the options then your staff member can add items to the list of choices. The customer remains in control of the selection of what is fair within well thought out parameters set by the organisation. A system such as this supports the passion of your staff in creating great customer experiences.

My point is that if you don’t have these types of systems in place then your staff are left to their own devices and your service is guaranteed to fluctuate. Why? You will always have some issues that your customers have created. Remember, one third of customer complaints are caused by your customer. When you have a service recovery system that is designed to support your staff and you understand that customers get things wrong too, then you and your staff won’t freak out when a customer makes a mistake. Instead your staff will help them to resolve their issue in a way that both corrects the issue and allows your customers to save face in the process.

Likewise when your staff make a mistake they won’t freak out either. Instead, they will use the system that is set up to support them to resolve the issue in a fair way that improves your customer’s experience. An interesting anecdote is that resolving customer issues/complaints actually increases customer loyalty. Who wouldn’t want that outcome!

Quote from a research participant

It really annoys me when I know that the level of service that I receive is 100% dependent upon the person who serves me. Jill is great, but the rest of them just don’t stack up to her standards. As soon as I get another realistic choice, I’m going to try another company.

How do you balance human passion with systems and processes?

Gary Ryan has led multiple award winning teams for service excellence and was awarded the honorary title of Senior Assessor for the Customer Service Institute of Australia in 2006.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Passion and Success

 

Passion is the first principle that underpins the Yes For Success Platform. Several years ago Denis Smith held a high pressure sales job, was drinking too much and suffering from depression.

His life lacked passion despite all the trimmings of a successful sales career.

Published with permission

Fortunately he knew ‘something’ was missing from his life and he went on a search to discover his passion. He quickly found photography and realised that he was somewhat of a natural with the camera. Upon uploading his photos to sites he discovered that his ‘good’ photos were the same as everyone else’s. But he didn’t want to be the same as everyone else.

So his evolving passion took him on a journey of discovery where he came across the concept of ‘light drawings’ through photography. With passion comes innovation and he decided to ‘play’ with the concept, creating surreal ‘Ball of Light‘ images in his photographs.

Today Denis has turned his passion into a business. More importantly he is living a life full of positivity and energy. View this short video to learn more about Denis’ story.

Personally I feel energised when I hear about stories such as Denis’ and I thank my good friend Andrew Scott (an amateur photographer himself and a friend of Denis’) for sharing the story with me.

How present is passion in your life?

Learn about the Yes For Success Platform here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented people to move Beyond Being Good.

If you listen, service excellence follows

The capacity to listen is probably the most important skill that relates to service excellence. Without this capacity staff will not know the expectations of their customers, each other, or the key stakeholders of their communities. Organisations that provide great service are fantastic listeners; to their customers, to their key stakeholders and to each other within the organisation.

William Isaacs (1999) notes that our culture is dominated by sight. Light moves at 186,000 miles per second, yet sound only travels at 1,100 feet per second. In summary, William Isaacs says that in order to listen we must slow down.

How do you and/or your organisation slow down to listen?

Quote
Our hearing puts us on the map. It balances us. Our sense of balance is intimately tied to our hearing; both come from the same source within our bodies…Hearing is auditory, of course, relating to sound. The word auditory…most ancient root means “to place perception.” When we listen, we place our perceptions.
(William Isaacs, lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, consultant and author)

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com

Explaining the OTM Service Strategy® Audio Version

Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter provides an overview of the six key elements that underpin the OTM Service Strategy®.

Please visit http://orgsthatmatter.com/service-excellence.html for more information or subscribe to the What Really Matters For Professional Development Podcast here.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com

Great Service The Fijian Way

Recently I had the great pleasure to take my family on a vacation to Fiji to celebrate a relatives wedding. We stayed at the Outrigger on the Lagoon which is located near the small town of Sigatoka on Fiji’s main island.

The resort is on land that is owned by the two local villages and the vast number of staff have been recruited from those villages. From the moment we arrived until the moment we departed the resort we could not have had a more wonderful time. My wife and I, our five children and nearly 60 relatives and friends were not only impressed by the physical standards of the resort, but more importantly the staff who were always smiling and happy to please.

The talented Erami leads a water aerobics class

Despite talking about ‘Fiji time’, a reference to taking time to get things done, our experience was that requests of staff were always met by prompt responses and action, something that service and hospitality organisations here in Australia could learn from.

The culture of teamwork and the desire to create a wonderful experience for guests was self evident for our entire visit. Due to the genuinely friendly nature of the staff you could not help but make ‘friends’ with them. One of the staff with whom I had the pleasure to speak with at length was Moses Saukalou, one of the hospitality managers with vast experience who managed a large team of staff.

When I asked Moses about what drove the staff to be so friendly and willing to work, despite their relative poor pay (by Australian standards) he told me that the answer lay in their culture of respect.

“Respect is something that we value and it is taught to our children from a very young age. That is why it comes across as being genuine – because it is!”.

The staff work six days per week and many of them were multi-talented, being able to speak several languages, do public speaking, take water aerobics, weave baskets and hats and serve incredible cocktails as well as singing. And what I have just described is the skills of a single employee!

Singing good-bye on our final morning

When the staff heard of our imminent departure during our breakfast on the final morning of our visit, they gathered in front of us and sang us a good-bye song. While the staff were singing to us another team member came forward and explained the meaning of the words to us. We were being thanked for visiting their land and they were wishing us a safe journey home. It was very moving and once again was not contrived – it was genuine. We really felt like we were leaving special people. My brother, who was with us with his family mentioned how emotional he found the experience, a comment that was uncommon from him.

It was really us who should have been saying thank you, or as they do in Fiji, “Vinaka!”.

There is a lot that can be learned from the Fijians with regard to how important it is to have respect for other people at the heart of your approach to delivering service excellence.

And ‘deliver’ is exactly what the staff at the Outrigger on the Lagoon in Fiji certainly did!

Gary Ryan saves you time by helping you to know what to do to raise service standards in your organisation

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com

Virgin Australia Listens and Responds

When I ask people if they are proactive with providing feedback to organisations a common response is, “What’s the point? They won’t listen to me anyway so I don’t bother doing it. If I can, I just take my business elsewhere.”

You may have been following my recent experience with Virgin Australia. You can review the story here if you like. While it took some time from start to finish, Matt Dixon from the Office of the CEO at Virgin Australia did a wonderful job in recognising the seriousness of my issue, respecting his fellow Virgin Australia team members by investigating their side of my experience and even exploring my issue beyond the boundaries of Virgin Australia.

My original purpose for contacting Virgin Australia was to ensure that poor passenger behaviour be managed appropriately.

The outcome of my feedback is that the crew involved in the flight have been re-trained in following existing Virgin Australia procedures as they relate to managing unruly passengers. In addition, by the end of July all Virgin Australia crew will have received re-training on this issue.

A final outcome is that the passenger at the centre of my experience is now known to all domestic airlines and the relevant authorities. It is safe to say that this person will not be flying in Australia for some time.

The point of sharing this story with you is to highlight that it is worth providing feedback to organisations when the issue is one that really concerns you. No doubt Virgin Australia does need to improve on its systems and processes so that issues such as mine don’t require the intervention of the Office of the CEO for them to be resolved. Ultimately that is one of the purposes of such an office and I give Virgin Australia credit for having a system where issues such as mine can be resolved at that level when the rest of the system fails.

Hopefully passengers will not be at risk of having a similar in flight experience to myself. That is the outcome that I had hoped would be achieved and Virgin Australia have proved, ultimately that they were prepared to listen and credit should be given where it is due.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com

Virgin Australia – A brand damaging event

I fly a lot so that I can fulfill my client commitments. For the past year I have flown consistently with Virgin Australia and to be fair their overall service delivery has been very good. Most importantly my flights have been for the best part on time and I have felt safe on every flight.

Except for one of my flights late last week.

A return flight from Brisbane to Melbourne. The first 100 minutes of the flight had been effectively uneventful, which is what you actually want on a flight. I was sitting in a window seat in row 7, with another passenger in the aisle so we had a spare seat between us.

After the Captain had announced that we had commenced our decent and the Seatbelt sign had been switched on, a crew member approached the gentleman in the aisle seat in my row and asked him if he could move so that another passenger could be moved up toward the front of the plane from the rear of the plane. He stated that he didn’t want to move and would it be okay for the passenger to seat in the spare seat between the two of us. The crew member agreed and headed toward the back of the place.

Moments later she returned with a female passenger appearing to be in her early 30s. It became immediately clear that at the very minimum this women was extremely intoxicated and possibly under the influence of other substances as she literally fell into the seat bumping hard into my left side. She then proceeded to repeatedly swear at the top of her voice using swear words that start with the letters ‘f’ and ‘c’ in most sentences that she spoke. She was rude and obnoxious to both myself and the other gentleman and the other passengers in the rows around us.

She refused to put her seatbelt on and tried to make a phone call but was unable to punch out the number on her phone and gave up.

My peaceful trip had well and truly been interrupted.

It was quite an unusual experience as the woman’s behavior was unpredictable and dangerous from my perspective. It really felt as if she had been placed between the two of us by the crew and she had then effectively become our problem to deal with. Only once did a crew member check on her and he continued down the aisle after she gave him a ‘verbal spray’.

On more than one occasion when were were deep in our decent she attempted to stand up which is clearly dangerous behavior. Throughout this ordeal I kept telling myself to remain calm and not to do anything that could provoke further dangerous behavior. I also kept thinking that it would only be 25-30 minutes before we would be at the gate and she would be arrested and she would have to deal with the law for her unacceptable behavior.

After landing we had a long taxi back to the terminal. She got up out of her seat, climbed over the gentleman in the aisle seat and stood up. The crew called to her to sit back down, an instruction that she partially followed by choosing to sit in the lap of the gentleman in the aisle seat. He didn’t look as if he was happy about what was happening.

Again I thought to myself, “Well at least she will be arrested and have to explain her actions.”

Upon stopping at the gate and the seat belt sign went off she rushed toward the front of the plane. As we stood to collect our own bags from the overhead lockers the agreement from the passengers around me was that, “At least she will be arrested.”.

To our complete shock and disappointment this did not happen. Instead she was allowed to alight the plane just like the rest of us. We simply couldn’t believe our eyes!

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the passengers who had to sit next to her for 100 minutes.

From my perspective safety is the No.1 service issue for plane travel. This woman for whatever reason had chosen to put hers and the safety of other passengers, including myself at risk and there was no consequence for that behavior.

Frustrated by Virgin Australia’s inaction I called their frequent flyer program to register my concern. I was informed that if I wanted my feedback to be actioned then I needed to go online and type in my feedback. I asked the staff member handling my call if he could see all of my details on the screen in front of him. He informed that he could.

Despite having validated my membership number I was again told that my feedback would only be registered if I went online and typed it in. I was again frustrated, “Why would I go online to type in my feedback when I am already telling you and you have my details in front of you?”.

It seemed that Virgin Australia was making it hard for me to have my issue properly heard.

Due to the safety nature of this issue I did go online to report my experience. Have a guess how long the automatic reply informed me that it would take for someone to contact me regarding my issue?

I quote, “…we aim to contact all guests within 21 days where possible.” 21 days!

Surely Richard Branson would be shocked to hear such a period. I really was astonished. It seemed that Virgin Ausytalia really did fail us both at the gate and beyond.

The key service issues for me were that the Virgin Australia staff on board the plane did not provide any assistance to myself nor the genetleman in the aisle seat with regarding to managing this woman’s behaviour. Whether we liked it or not she had become ‘our problem’.

With regard to the lack of consequences for her behaviour I am concerned about Virgin Australia’s saftey procedures with regard to passenger behaviour. Was ‘turning the plane around’ more important than passenger saftey?

Thirdly, it is extremely frustrating when you verbally contact an organisation to provide feedback about their organisation, (feedback that could help it improve) and you are requested to ‘go online and type in your feedback’. Great service organisations make providing feedback easy. Why couldn’t the call centre staff member record my feedback and offer to have it followed up? Why couldn’t my call even be recorded (which is something that I requested).

Finally, a response time of 21 days simply provides the message that Virgin Australia really isn’t serious with regard to hearing feedback from it’s customers. In the year 2012 does anyone actually think a response time of 21 days is acceptable?

Service organisations are tested when things go wrong. How they recover is what really sets service organisations apart from each other.

I’ll keep you informed with regard to what eventually happens.

Learn about the OTM Service Strategy® here.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com

A genuinely great service experience!

If you travel a lot for business or pleasure you may be able to relate to that annoying feeling that you have forgotten something important, only to have it dawn on you as your plane is about to land at your destination that you have forgotten your phone charger (again!!!).

As your brain scans quickly for solutions you scamper off the plane only to discover that the airport is effectively in shut down. It is, after all after 8.30pm and you are in Australia. So the opportunity to purchase a charger isn’t going to present itself to you at the airport.

Catching a taxi to your destination you ask the driver if, by any chance does he have the same phone charger that you require? “Sorry, I don’t have that type of phone”, is the reply.

“Damn!”, you think yo yourself.

“I’m up here for two full days and my phone won’t last that long. It’ll be lucky to see the morning. Oh well, maybe I’ll get lucky at the local corner store.”

If you’re wondering why I haven’t suggested that you check if reception has a spare charger I need to explain that the particular hotel in which you are staying doesn’t have a reception service after 7:30pm, so you have accessed the key to your room via a secure key lock.

You look at your clock and notice that it is nearly 9pm. What are the chances that the local convenience store will still be open? “Hmmm, I might be able to make it it if I’m fast”, you think to yourself.

So you quickly race down the stairs and walk to the corner store that you discovered on your last visit. It’s still open, but they are bringing all the signs inside in preparation for closing. You pick up a few things for breakfast in the morning and search around for a phone charger, all the while thinking that it is a ‘long shot’.

You get to the the counter and say, “I’m not expecting your answer to be yes, but it can’t hurt to ask. Do you sell iPhone chargers?”

“No we don’t.” comes the reply.

 “But I can lend you mine if you like?”

 “Are you serious” I said, I mean you say (yes if you hadn’t guessed this whole story is about a real experience that I have just had!).

 “Yes I am serious. You are obviously away on business and I guess you would really need your phone. I have two phone chargers so you can borrow this one.”

What a wonderful gesture. I had never before met Andrew from Tuppy’s Riverside Convenience Store, (85 Deakin Street, Kangaroo Point Queensland Australia, just down beside the Storey Bridge) yet he was willing to help me out, for no other reason than he could. What was also wonderful about his gesture is that it was made both genuinely and purely. He made the offer with no expectations of me doing anything in return (except of course to return his charger.).

Great service experiences are characterised by little things. In that moment when Andrew heard my question, his response was to a fellow human being in need. Wow that made me feel good.

I explained to him that I write a lot and asked if it was okay for me to write about this experience and he gave me his permission. So if you are ever in Brisbane, check out Tuppy’s Riverside Convenience Store, I’ll certainly be going back – and that’s a promise!

By the way the ‘tagline’ on its simple brochure says, “More than a convenience store!“. Well, unlike many taglines out there, I can say that my experience of this one is that it is an accurate expression of the experience that you will have a Tuppy’s Riverside Convenience Store.

Thank you Andrew for providing a simple, yet genuinely great service experience for me. I genuinely appreciate it.

What are your genuine service experiences?


How do you bring genuine service experiences into the work that you do?


And finally, how do you bring your ‘tagline’ to life, just like Andrew did?

Visit here for information on how you can bring the OTM Service Strategy to life inside your organisation.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com

Conversation Starters Catalyse Conversations That Matter®

Conversation Starters are generally single page documents that are designed to catalyse Conversations That Matter.

Through using a combination of text and illustrations, Conversation Starters provide focus for conversations that otherwise might not be able to occur.

Through enabling people to focus on something other than another person, Conversation Starters allow people to talk about things that matter to them without fear of offending anyone – after all it is the document that can be blamed rather than a person.

Access a complimentary Conversation Starter ‘Who is the Customer’ here and please let me know how you have used it.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com