MBA Mommy

Part MBA, Part MRS, Part MOM…..All ME

Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

What’s My Point?

Posted by mbamommy on July 9, 2010

A few days ago, I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my 25th birthday.  It just so happened to coincide with the 4th of July, so J got all patriotic on me.  What a nice guy!

(Side bar: Motivated Mom recently told me that while reading my blog she confused my mentions of JC (my husband) with JC, the Christian savior.  Yes, I did marry a Catholic man but no, I don’t sit around chatting with his son of God.  I am still a proud Jewish woman afterall.  So, in order to ensure no more confusion to my readers, JC will forever more be known as J.  And, while I’m at it, I’m switching up RunZMC to Z and Petite Syrah to S.  Call me lazy but that’s a lot less letters I need to type).

But, I don’t want to talk about my 10th anniversary.  What I want to talk about is my cleaning service.  I know, you’re probably sitting there thinking “Where in the world is this post going?  First she’s talking about anniversaries, then birthdays, then Jesus Christ and now her cleaning service? WTF?”  Stay with me though, I promise it’s all related….well….not the Jesus thing but I did preface that with a side bar (and italics no less!).

Aaaaannnnnyyyywaaayyyy.

I’ve been a client of Carpe Diem Cleaning for several years now. Honestly, at first I didn’t think much of it.  I switched services because my previous one jacked up their rates.  I learned about Carpe Diem from a mailer that hada new customer discount coupon so I decided to give them a try.  I’ll be honest, I’ve been a pain in the butt to them.  I change times, freak out when they come too early or too late and Z or S are asleep, cancel at the last minute and forget to leave the key.  I think I’ve even threatened to leave a few times and they’ve always been able to pacify me with grace.  Actually, I need to give a shout out to Hannah Benfield, VP Client Relations, in particular.  She’s amazing.  She handles all inquiries, changes and challenges quickly and effectively.  And, she never seems to get her feathers ruffled.

In addition, they’ve never raised their rates and their teams do an incredible job (difficult in my house because of all of Annie’s dog hair. I swear I don’t know how she’s not bald).

So….I’m also a fan of Carpe Diem on Facebook and they recently ran a contest: submit a pic of how you spend your summers and you could win tickets to see the Durham Bulls.  So, I submitted this pic (wow, I’m kind of on a roll here) and promptly forgot about it.

Surprise, surprise, I won!  So, last Saturday night, J allowed me a girl’s night out with a good friend and we went to the Bulls game.  Complete with an air conditioned box right next to the press box.  We lost, but who cares!  The food was great, the folks were great and the fireworks were amazing.

But, that’s not the point of this post either (Seriously? When am I going to get to the point?).  When Hannah called me to let me know I won, I “let slip” that Saturday night was the ‘eve’ of my birthday.   I was curious to see if she picked up on the not-so-subtle hint and I figured they’d wish me happy birthday while I was there or something like that.  True to her title of VP, Client Relations, she went above and beyond with this:

I mean, here we are at *their* event, *their* night to say thanks to their customers and partners, *their* night to preview the commercial they did with Woll E. Bull, *their* 4th of July celebration.  And they not only make mention of my bday, but they light candles and a room full of strangers sings Happy Birthday to me while I blow the candles out.

Talk about recognizing the customer…..and I’m a pain in the butt one!

So, that’s what this post is really about.  Another example of how one company shows how they value their customer. (Told you I’d get there!)

Oh, and just to add on a little more praise for Carpe Diem: they’re super involved in the community (they clean it up, one might say *groan*), they’re a family run business that takes care of their employees, they do great work at a great price and they put their customers first with a personal touch.

So, a big thanks to Hannah, Wendy, Jessica and the rest of the team for making my 10th anniversary of my 25th so memorable.

And, to all of you out there, if you’re looking for an amazing cleaning service in the Triangle, check out http://www.carpediemcleaning.com!

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My Little Mess Maker

Posted by mbamommy on July 7, 2010

About a month ago, I submitted a picture of Petite Syrah to BabyGanics “Mess Maker” contest.  It’s a pretty simple contest.  You upload a pic and then get everyone you know to vote for your kid. They pick monthly winners who receive a box of organic cleaning products.  Here’s the picture I submitted:

Cute, huh?  It was from her first birthday.  She really dug the cake.

Anyway, I promptly forgot all about the contest until the UPS guy delivered a huge box filled with these:

How cool is that?!  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about cleaning products in my life (more to the point, I don’t think I’ve ever been excited about cleaning products at all).  But, these are green, organic, effective, good smelling…and best of all, FREE!  My only constructive criticism is that it came as a surprise; I didn’t get an email that I had won or a note in the box.  Just a sticker on the outside saying congratulations.  It would’ve been nice to get a head’s up.  But, hey, I’m not one to complain.

And, the timing of the surprise was fitting.  It was dinner time and Petite Syrah had just spilled milk all over herself, the table and the floor.  Perfect time for My Little Mess Maker to get cleaned up!

So, thanks to BabyGanics for the products; they’re already going to good use!

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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Posted by mbamommy on May 7, 2010

A tale of two restaurants….

Restaurant #1: Twisted Fork

Background: This restaurant is about 10 minutes from our house, ranked #1 in the Triangle for Kid Friendly by City Search and a family favorite.  We even had a particular booth we always asked for (in the back, semi-private and difficult for the kiddies to run loose).

One Sunday, JC, RunZMC, Petite Syrah and I head over for brunch.  We LOVE their Sunday brunch.  JC and I both got omelets and the kids shared pancakes.  Less than 10 hours later, JC and I are taking turns worshiping the porcelain goddess and feeling achy all over.  We double check with some friends who we had dinner the previous night? Nope, they’re fine. And, brunch is the only thing we had eaten that day.  Hmmm….looks like food poisoning.

On Monday, I called Twisted Fork and spoke to the Manager.  I told him the situation.  My main concern was to let him know that something was wrong with his eggs just in case anyone else calls….and, maybe he should make sure to throw that batch out.  Honestly?  That was it.  I just didn’t want anyone else to go through what we had gone through the night before.

Mistake #1: his first question was, “Is that what the doctor diagnosed”?  (no, you dummy, I’ve been too busy throwing up to go to a doctor’s!)

Mistake #2: he goes on to say that no one else had complained. (that’s cause they’re too busy throwing up!)

Mistake #3: he offered to give me a gift card for the amount we paid. (do you really think I want to eat at your restaurant again?!?)

Success #1: he offered to refund our full meal

BIG FAT MISTAKE: I never heard an apology or sympathy for my pain.  I *may* have gone back if I had heard him say “I’m so sorry that happened”.

Here’s some stats for you:

  • Approximate frequency of dining: 2x/month for 3 years.
  • Average bill: $50
  • Estimated amount of $ we spent there: $3600
  • Estimated LTV? Over $10k
  • Cost of refund: $44

But, alas, we now need to find a new favorite family restaurant…..which leads to….

Restaurant #2: Nantucket Grill

Background: This restaurant is 2 minutes from home and only recently opened.  JC and I decided to check it out on a date night a few months ago and loved it. Why?  It was reasonably priced, good food, good ambiance.  We just bellied up to the bar and talked for hours.  OK, I lied…that’s not why we (I) loved it.  Every Saturday night, they give out FREE CAKE. What?!?  FREE CAKE? I’m sold.

One night, a couple weeks ago when the g’rents were in town, we ordered in.  When the food came, two of the meals were incomplete and mine tasted terrible.

Success #1: the first time I called to tell them the order was incomplete, they apologized and offered either a free side or a free piece of cake next time we came in…just give my name to the manager, they made a note of it.

Success #2: the next time I called to let them know the food was inedible (waaayyyy too salty), they apologized again and said the next meal was on them.

Success #3: the next time I ordered for pickup, I mentioned my name, the manager gave me my food, apologized again for the inconvenience, chatted for a couple minutes and held the door for me on my way out.

And, some more stats:

  • Approximate frequency of dining: 1x/month for 3 months (future frequency? 2x/month)
  • Average bill: $50
  • Estimated amount of $ we spent there: $150
  • Estimated LTV? Over $10k
  • Cost of refund: $30

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

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I Love You More….

Posted by mbamommy on May 5, 2010

As a follow up to My Recent Epiphany, I wanted to share my thoughts on Jeanne Bliss’s book, I Love You More Than My Dog.  I should preface this by saying that over the past few weeks, Jeanne and I have struck up a partnership and I will be working for her on a part-time basis once my tenure at BBI is done (more to come on that…I promise).  So, as part of my “homework” assignment on getting up to speed on all things CCO, customer service and CustomerBLISS, I was anxious to start reading.

First of all, it’s a super easy read.  For all of you MBA’s out there, you know the difference between learning from a textbook and a case study.  My textbooks were always full of highlighted sentences that I never took the time to go back and review later.  Meanwhile, most of the case studies I read in b-school still live in my brain.  One of the many reasons why I LUV SWA so much is because their decision to start flying in and out of BWI was the first case study I read in my Corporate Strategy class.

But, I digress.  Jeanne presents the 5 decisions Beloved Companies make in easily digestible, approachable sections.  She explains each on a high level and then gives a quick case study example.  She even gets a little personal and shares some of her personal Beloved Company experiences.  Here’s the best part.  She doesn’t tell you how to do it.  She gives you the questions to ask yourself/your company so you can show yourself .  Talk about giving a man a fishing pole, right?

I think that’s the right way to approach the challenge of becoming a Beloved Company.  No two companies are the same, so no two solutions will be the same.  Jeanne is able to get past all those differences and get to the root of how companies create ‘raving fans’.   Frankly, the one thing that resonated a lot with me throughout all of her example companies is that the folks running them seem like they’re genuinely good.  And, if you’re genuinely good in your personal life, that should carry into your professional life.  That, and guts.  It takes guts to take a step back and ask the tough questions.  And then to follow through.

To take that a step further, I read an interesting blog post yesterday from All In One Marketing called “The Open Chair“.  She recommends that companies keep an “open chair” at their strategy meetings.  This chair could be filled by either an outside consultant or an internal employee who understands the challenge but can also provide an outside/clear perspective.  This person would be able to help you ask…and answer…the tough questions.

Think about it, the best advice you’ll ever get is from an unbiased outsider who has your best interests in mind.  That’s why we lean on our girlfriend’s when we have disagreements with our husbands or our husbands when we have disagreements with our bosses.  It’s the same concept.

Back to the book.

Simply put, it’s a good, quick read.  It provides some great tools to get the conversation started.  Go.  Buy it.  Read it.  Apply it.

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Customer Service & Social Media

Posted by mbamommy on April 7, 2010

I’ve been out of the office for about a week and am still digging my way out of emails, which means catching up on my daily trends, recommendations and reviews.  One blog post I came across from eConsultancy struck a cord with me.  It’s an interesting take on how social media can add and/or subtract to your customer service.  Unlike most articles I’ve read recently, this one is saying not to jump all over a complaint but to manage those expectations.

I agree completely.  I do this on a regular basis….I call it “training your client”.  If a client wants to know how long a turnaround will be, I always give myself a day or two buffer.  In my experience, too many things can go wrong or take longer than you expect and as the responsible account manager/customer service rep, you don’t want to be the one delivering bad news.  Instead, you give yourself the opportunity to play the role of hero by managing their expectations and deliver (according to them) early.  An additional benefit is you also manage your internal resources and don’t cause fire drills or late nights.

This lesson goes back to my days of hostessing a restaurant.  I was taught that I had the ability to set the pace of the night and that I should try my hardest not to slam the waitstaff or kitchen (they had sharp knives).  Which, of course, causes bad customer experiences both internally and externally and we all know how against *that* I am.  I always had a go to waiter that could somehow miraculously get me out of a jam by turning a table quickly….and keep diners happy, but for the most part, if I was able to manage waitstaff and kitchen expectations as well as those waiting to eat, we all ended the night much better (and I got better tips!).

But, I (as usual) digress.  In today’s social media world, there’s so many ways for customers to complain (and they should if a company messes up) that a company could make the mistake of being hypersensitive and respond too much (and they should respond in a timely and well-thought out way).  If you respond to a complaint immediately and offer the farm as an apology, you’re only setting yourself up to create an expectation that you’ll give the farm away to anyone who bats an eye.  By managing expectations and treating each situation uniquely, you can make sure the “punishment fits the crime”.

Of course, I’m newly back from vacay, so maybe I’m wrong.  Thoughts?  Should companies jump all over complaints?  Ignore them as just noise?

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My recent epiphany

Posted by mbamommy on March 31, 2010

Have you ever heard of the job title “Chief Customer Officer“?  I have only recently and it’s been a complete game changer for me.  No more do I aspire to be a CMO….I want to be a CCO.

The idea behind a CCO is to truly put your customers first in everything a company does: customer service, sales, account management, product development, operations, accounting, finance, HR, marketing, PR, R&D, etc etc.  Instead of just *saying* you’re customer-centric, this role is responsible for *creating* customer-centricity.  It’s perfect and is in line with everything I believe in and have blogged about.  Treat your customers well, treat your employees well, set up your company to acknowledge the importance of your customer and you will succeed.

And, here’s my new role model: Jeanne Bliss.  Every single professional mentor I’ve ever looked up to has been a woman and they all pale in comparison to Ms. Bliss.  This is as close to “girl love” (think Scrubs….”guy love“) as I’ve ever gotten.

I just ordered her two books, “Chief Customer Officer” and “I Love You More Than My Dog” and cannot WAIT to start reading.  Kind of makes me feel weak in the knees.

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I love a good “Fat-ty”

Posted by mbamommy on October 22, 2009

I’m going to say this right up front: I’m a wine drinker.  Back in college, I was a beer drinker.  And not even a good one at that (Keystone Light was my preferred choice as a freshman….oh wait, I was too young to drink as a freshman….just kidding.)  It wasn’t until I actually turned 21 that I started acquiring a taste for good beer.  And then I couldn’t go back to the cheap stuff.  And then I switched to mixed drinks and finally wound up with wine where I’ve happily stayed for many years.

OK, why the trip down alcohol lane?  Because I want to talk about the one beer that I LOVE…. New Belgium Brewing Company’s Fat Tire.  There are a couple other beers I’ll drink: Pyramid’s Audacious Apricot Ale and Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale in particular, but there’s nothing like a Fat Tire after a tough day on the slopes, hiking, working in the yard or playing with the kiddies.

Forget that they’re serious about sustainability (so is Brooklyn Brewery) and it’s a damn good tasting beer (so is Pyramid Apricot).  Forget that they’ve got a fun marketing campaign, “What’s Your Folly” that combines new media and traditional marketing.  The reason why I LOVE them is because they’ve dialed it up when it comes to customer service.   Here’s the story on why I will forever be a HUGE fan of New Belgium’s beers (btw, this an excerpt from my email communication with them).

MBAMommy: I LOVE Fat Tire.  I loved it when I was living in Boulder and I love it still now that it’s being distributed in NC.  So, imagine my disappointment when I went to my local store and bought a 6-pack last Friday night and the first bottle I pulled out was only a quarter full!  Cap on tight, nothing looked out of place.  But, there it was….only 1/4 a Fat Tire to enjoy.  My 6-pack was now a 5.25 pack and I was bummed.  Luckily, I had 5 more to enjoy but wanted to let you know about the issue.  I even took pics of it to show you (if you’re interested, I’ll email them).  It’s never happened before and I hope it never happens again!

NewBelgium: Thanks for taking the time to write. Sorry to hear about the low filled bottle of Fat Tire. What a bummer! Our bottling line is supposed to catch those before they get packaged, but as you experienced, sometimes it misses one. I would like to reimburse you for the 6-pack. Let me know about how much you spent, your address, and your tshirt size. Cheers!

Mandy Miller
Quality Assurance
New Belgium Brewing Company

MBAMommy: Hi Mandy, Thanks for the quick response!  I don’t remember exactly how much I spent, but it was somewhere around $8-$10.  My t-shirt size is Medium (thanks!!!) And my address is: XXXXX You guys are awesome, thank you!

Less than a week later, I received the t-shirt, a check for $10 and Mandy’s business carf.  Not so unusual, right?  Here’s the catch.  It was a check from New Belgium, hand written and signed by Mandy.  Why is this so impressive?  Think about it: the company is empowering its employee, Mandy Miller, a “Quality Assurance Analyst” to write and sign checks as she sees fit.  AND, she’s giving me her direct contact info, not just customerservice@newbelgium.com.  I’m sure there’s plenty of checks and balances (pun intended) internally for my friend, Mandy, but it’s a really nice personal touch from the customer’s perspective.

So, let’s review.  They made an error in their product delivery.  They responded quickly, they fixed it personally and threw in a t-shirt (which is awesome, by the way).  How much do you think that cost them?  $10 for the reimbursement, $5 for the t-shirt….add in postage and Mandy’s time….probably around $25?  For $25, they bought a lifetime customer, free publicity and a couple inbound links to their site. 

Not a bad ROI.

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Mommy-hood changes everything

Posted by mbamommy on October 12, 2009

Wow, do I love when the g’rents are in town.  I actually had a chance to read my eMarketer daily email before noon today!  That’s a good thing considering the article I just finished….all about how Moms and women without children differ in their attitudes, likes and dislikes regarding online marketing.

OK….that’s not really mind blowing, right?  But once you read the article….ask yourself “Why?” it gets a little more interesting.  In summary, the article says Moms are more willing to receive promotions, coupons and discounts that pertain to their lifestyle while women without children didn’t want all that ‘stuff’ in their inbox.  In my opinion, that makes perfect sense.  As a woman without kids, I had more disposable income and more freedom with my time – so I could go out and buy things when and where I wanted.  As a Mom, not only is my disposable income less, my freedom is as well.  It’s much easier to do my shopping online and through my inbox than it is to drag 2 kids out to a store.  And, coupons, discounts, freebies rock – especially when they come right to me!

I’m just glad to see marketers paying more attention to women as a subsegment of the population and further subsegmenting that population to better target a group that has buying power.

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Staying ahead of the curve

Posted by mbamommy on October 10, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a first adopter of new technology.  I typically wait for the 2nd or 3rd iteration because by then the cost and the kinks have diminished.  Plus, I can learn from other’s successes and failures.

For example, I started this blog about 6 months ago.  I created a Twitter account (@mbamrsmom) and bought a CrackBerry around the same time.  And, I’ve been using Facebook and LinkedIn for about a year.  I’d like to believe I have a handle on these channels of communication.  I am by NO means an expert, but I’ve dipped my toe in and found the water to be nice and warm.

So imagine my surprise when my daily email alerts (I know, email is so 2000) start making noise about Google Wave and Web 3.0.  Wave conversations: realtime feedback on your marketing successes and failures sounds amazing, but I’m a little lost on the How of it all.  And 3.0?  I think I’m still at 2.1.

How silly of me to think I was staying close to the curve.

I’m a firm believer that social media/marketing, along with all the other channels provided by technology: mobile, email, PPC, SEO, banner ads, websites, etc etc need to be communication channels that are part of a bigger marketing/branding/PR plan.  And which channels you choose needs to be dictated by where your customers are.  You could have the most amazing blog, tweet until your fingers fall off, and be #1 ranked on Google, Yahoo! and Bing but if your core customer only reads the sunday newspaper, you’re not speaking their language.  It all boils down to customer service; as does everything in MBA Mommy’s opinion.  Know who you’re talking to, make sure you’re offering is relevant, get in front of them and tell your story.  If you’re correct in your analysis of the situation, your marketing plan (and subsequent sales) should work.

But, I digress.  This post is about staying ahead of the curve….which I think is getting more and more difficult to do.  Google WaveGoogle Sidewiki3.0Augmented Reality?  *Oy Vey!*  The problem with staying ahead of the curve is we sometimes lose sight of where the curve began.  As essential as it is to stay on top of trends and opportunities, it’s equally important not to get too caught up in the Next Big Thing that promises to answer a marketer’s prayers: ROI, Analytics, one-to-one marketing (oh yeah…and SALES!) all wrapped up with a bow.  Know your customer and let *them* tell you which tools make the most sense.

Maybe I’m just getting old….

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Customer Service: online and offline tips

Posted by mbamommy on August 20, 2009

One of the running themes on this blog is the importance of customer service, both personally and professionally.  It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart given my career path.  Granted, with a blog entitled MBAMommy, the distinction between my personal and professional lives is pretty grey.  So, I guess I should simply say customer service is extremely important to ME.  Whether it be the Golden Rule or the Ritz Carlton credo, it’s imperative to treat others well.   And, with the growing popularity of social media, people are talking more, both on and offline. 

So, how do you keep your customers happy and loyal online and off?  I’m glad you asked.

This morning, I read two great blog posts about customer service, 1 for the online world and 1 for the offline world.

The first post is by Chris Brogan. I found his blog through All In One Marketing’s Greenhouse, written by an old classmate of mine.   Both blogs are fantastic reads, I’d highly recommend them!  Chris’s point in “Simple Touchpoints of Loyalty” is exactly that.  Customer service needs to extend into screen-to-screen interactions, not just face-to-face interactions and he lists out 9 online courtesy tips.  Definitely good advice…I’m actually doing #1 and #3 right now!

The second post is written by Robert Ferguson, of Quarry Integrated Communication.  I’ve spoken with him over the phone before and was blown away by his and Quarry’s commitment to their core values.  It was refreshing to hear and see that they not only ‘talked the talk’, but also ‘walked the walk’.  Robert talks about companies who tout their core value of being customer-centric, only to fall short in practice.  He compares them with Southwest, who I personally LUV.  SWA’s secret to creating an environment of almost cult-like customer loyalty?  Make a commitment to your employees.  It’s really simple.  If you hate what you do on a daily basis, you’ll pass that on to your customers.  If you LUV what you do, you’ll pass that on. 

As an aside, I follow SWA on Twitter (@SouthwestAir).  Their focus on employees, customers and fun certainly extends to this channel – check ’em out!

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