Workplace Wisdom

27 Nov 2018

Why Service Suffers When Unhappy Customers Sound Happy

During a recent visit at a client company, the management asked me about the problem of service reps who feel like they’re successful because a customer thanked them graciously, even enthusiastically, for their help, when, in fact, they had not been sufficiently helpful or gotten the customer the best possible outcome. Although the reps were patting themselves on the back, they weren’t using their training to help customers; they were merely answering the customers’ direct questions and getting off the […]

05 Jun 2018

Which Environment Is Being Improved, and Who Really Benefits?

Twice in the past month I’ve stayed at hotels that asked me to participate in new, eco-friendly programs with names like “A Green Choice.” And twice, I agreed to do it, because of the promised savings of 37.2 gallons of water, 25,000 BTU of natural gas, 0.19kWh of electricity, and 7 oz. of cleaning-product chemicals “for each night you forgo full housekeeping.” But I won’t be doing it again. For many years now, almost all but the most luxurious hotels […]

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 […]

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 […]

20 Sep 2016

How Can I Help You If I’m Not Listening to You?

“Andy, you’re not listening to me, bro!” I heard this accusation delivered in the hall outside my office in a very tense tone by a fellow with a very tense face. There’s a mortgage brokerage on my floor, and sometimes, when the phone reps are having a hard time with a borrower, they leave their office and talk on their mobiles or headsets in the hallway. Real estate transactions can be stressful. They involve big money, huge commitments, and multiple […]

30 Aug 2016

Support Your Frontline and Improve Customer Loyalty

“It’s not my fault!” the assistant practically wailed. “She never gave me the paperwork!” The poor woman was almost begging me not to be angry at her, and to put the blame in its rightful place — on the boss who hadn’t provided the paperwork that should have been ready for me. It was clear that she had been in this situation numerous times before, and that, unfortunately for her, previous customers had not responded with patience and forbearance. This […]

19 Jul 2016

From Urgent Care to Important Care: Design Considerations

Last Friday, I went to the new Northwell Urgent Care two blocks from my office. (I’m fine now.) It was a well-designed customer experience, and so different from the typical medical office intake, that it’s a useful example for other service interactions. Walk Right In, Sit Right Down As you enter the facility, a touch screen on a stanchion asks you to input your name and cell number, tells you the wait time (0-15 minutes for me), and asks you […]

 

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