Workplace Wisdom

17 Oct 2017

The Devil’s in the Details. For Customer Loyalty, You Need to Be There Too.

How can you apply enough of the right kind of attention up and down the hierarchy to ensure a seamless customer experience? Last week I stayed at a major hotel chain in New Orleans for a few days. Everything seemed pretty standard for a business hotel in a touristy city. Almost all the staff members I interacted with were extremely pleasant, and the room looked quite fine on the surface. But as a trained observer, I can’t help looking at […]

26 Sep 2017

Why Your Silos Are More Important Than You Think

Last month, a longstanding client brought me in after reviewing some recent customer research. The company provides a relatively complex service, and one of their most common and unprompted customer complaints was that the company’s various service areas “worked in silos.” Some staff leaders agreed that the organization was siloed and others did not, but they all recognized that the tone and consistency of the complaints meant that their customer experience needs work. The staff leaders also acknowledged that they […]

15 Aug 2017

What Can You Do When a Customer Explodes?

I just watched a customer take offense in a situation where no one was actually in the wrong. She reached into an awkward — although salvageable — circumstance, and pulled out a negative experience for herself — and a terrible experience for the employee trying to help her. Round 1: The Customer Picks a Fight Over a Price I was finishing a cup of tea in my favorite frozen yogurt place when a customer came in and ordered two large […]

05 Jul 2017

Your Complaint Was Refused? No Surprise, They Don’t Care

If an employee ever says the equivalent of, “Please don’t tell me about your problem; I really don’t want to know,” you can be sure that the organization has bigger problems than the one you happen to be having. That was my sad experience traveling on the Hickory Hop shuttle from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to my long-awaited vacation destination. It turns out that the shuttle’s cute name is no indication of appealing service: Hickory Hop is in the business […]

23 May 2017

3 Practical Ways to Prevent United Airlines-Style Damage

Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, recently ran a public letter of apology as an ad in several major newspapers. A much more detailed, self-abasing version of the apology was sent as an email to customers and ran in the May issue of United’s in-flight magazine, Hemispheres. In the more extensive letters, Munoz referred to the “important promise we make to you, our customer” and admitted that “we broke that trust.” He described concessions that United will make “when […]

25 Apr 2017

Is It Time to Shake Up Shake Shack?

How does the chain break in chain service? Danny Meyer would not be happy with this story. The famed New York City restaurateur and Shake Shack founder has explained that his business strategy is “built on both good service, defined as the technical delivery of a product, and ‘enlightened hospitality,’ which is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel…‘You must make customers feel that you’re on their side.’” But recently, I visited a Shake Shack in Terminal […]

04 Apr 2017

Who Needs Attention, and Can I Get a Quality Latte with It?

The other morning, I was feeling cranky, unfocused, and unproductive — the perfect situation for coffee. Sadly, I haven’t been allowed to have caffeine for a couple of years, on doctor’s orders, and I miss it terribly. Coffee gets the day off to a civilized start, provides a boost in the afternoon, enhances all kinds of well-being, and delivers a satisfying snap! of clear-headedness. I still believe in — and crave — coffee’s healing powers, even though it’s not healing […]

21 Mar 2017

Please Stop Sending Me Annoying Emails Like These!

I’m used to receiving prospecting emails from companies that claim they’ll lift response rates, help me be more productive, and provide other kinds of help to a small business like mine. But sometimes I so dislike their marketing techniques or style that I write about them as cautionary tales instead of having anything else to do with them. Exhibit A: Don’t Pretend I’m Your Friend Occasionally, these irritating communications come in series. A recent email’s text was poorly written and […]

07 Feb 2017

How to Make Exceptions When Real Life and Policy Collide

My friend recently shared a story about a striking customer experience after she accidentally left her wallet at a meeting. When I showed up to claim it, the receptionist asked: “Do you have photo ID?” “Yes,” I said. “In the wallet.” “Oh,” she replied. “But we will need to see ID to return the wallet to you.” “How about this,” I suggested. “You look at the photo ID that’s in the wallet, and if it looks like me, you give […]

06 Dec 2016

Do You Share This Bad Communication Habit?

I’ve got a bad habit in some of my interactions. It breaks my own rules about showing respect, recognizing that I don’t know everything, and giving people full control over their own choices. I was reminded of it recently one evening during rush hour in Penn Station. I passed a very tall fellow who was hollering into his phone, “You know what you need to do…” as if he meant it as a question. But he clearly wasn’t asking, he […]

 

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