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Building a successful business requires customer loyalty

Every successful business has to attract customers or clients. We need to persuade them to purchase our product or service, buy a lot of our product or service, return to do more business with us because they were pleased, and then tell their friends and family how great we are. Loyalty comes with a number of perks, therefore pleasing everyone we can with a “wow” experience attracts more and more business. In addition our loyal customers may pay less attention to the lure of our competition and will often come running to our defense because they have always been treated so well.

So how do we build customer loyalty? When you think that people are moved by emotions, and they want us to make them our priority, success depends on figuring out what our customers need and want and then delivering that service or product to them honestly, in the quickest amount of time, and in the most convenient manner. As an example, my air conditioning unit stopped working late Sunday afternoon, and when one lives in South Florida in the early autumn, a lack of air conditioning can be a “sticky” matter. I called the emergency service of Aspen Air-Conditioning  convinced that no matter how much a service call was going to cost on a Sunday evening, just being able to sleep would have been worth the extra weekend charge. When the technician called me, and I explained the problem he told me to remove the cover from the thermostat and replace the batteries, and indeed that was the problem. He could have easily charged me for a service call, and I never would have known the difference. This was my second positive experience with this company, and will now be the company I choose to use and recommend.

Organizations don’t just arrive at being honest and reliable with the best products and service by chance. Owners recruit and provide the best training for their personnel  as well as treating their employees with respect so they will treat customers the same way. Sometimes an employee vacancy remains that way until the right person comes along; it’s not just filling the spot so the boss doesn’t have to work on Sundays.

Competition in all business venues is so steep, and too often customers run from one place to another looking for the best bargain or the promise of the best service. When success depends on pleasing and satisfying one customer at a time and making each and every encounter that “wow” experience, we develop our customer’s loyalty. Of course we keep in touch by email marketing and thank you notes, we offer rewards and anticipate their needs, but it’s those personal touches when a customer knows they have been made a real priority.

Customer service experience with Comcast

I live in a community with a Homeowner’s Association, and Comcast high speed internet is part of our package, so basically there are no other  options. The past few weeks have been wrought with intermittent service, and as is true to form for those of us dependent on the internet, the problem gets very frustrating.

I repeatedly called the first level of support, but as it is with most companies, the representatives are not very skilled. Dare not deviate from the procedure the representative orders you to follow; otherwise their standard response is they cannot be of help. Each time I was assured the problem had been fixed, and for a day or two that may have been true, but the problem kept happening. When finally a technician appointment was scheduled for a few days later, the internet was working and nothing was done to resolve the problem. It reminded me of taking my car into the dealer when I hear a noise; that noise is never apparent when the mechanic is listening, but it’s still there. More calls to the customer representatives; more technicians coming to my house, and eventually a new modem (a different brand) has seemed to solve the problem.

Comcast claims to proactively monitor equipment and empowers their customer service representatives to perform home checks to determine some of the causes of trouble and to focus on network reliability known as “node health.” Their Customer Guarantee briefly includes:

  • A 30 day money back guarantee on all equipment and services.
  • A promise to treat you and your home with courtesy and respect.
  • Answer your questions at your convenience 24/7.
  • Easy to understand statements and bills.
  • Best and most video choices.
  • Address any problems customers experience.
  • Schedule appointments at customers convenience and be mindful of customer’s time.

While I commend Comcast’s pledge of service, my own experience would suggest that customer service representatives need more training and be able to either send a customer to the next level or be better trained to evaluate initial problems and how to more efficiently deal with customers. These people are first impressions, and as the old adage rings out, there is only one chance to make a first impression.

On the Comcast blog, Rick Germano, SVP Customer Operations writes about how Comcast employees took it upon themselves to help others in the recent heavy snowstorms in the Northeast. Some employees drove their coworkers into the office; others helped to plow out driveways, some slept in the offices to be ready to help or even prepared food. That truly shows the ability of employees to think out of the box and go beyond the basic manual, so why not follow that lead in the customer service department?

photo credit: dmuth

Comcast Customer Service

comcast_logo ISPs have a reputation of providing terrible customer service. My experience with Comcast over the last two weeks or so was an example of the company living up to its reputation.

I had been having intermittent issues with my Internet for a while. Comcast had been out once before, looked at the computer for about a minute, and said nothing was wrong. Everything was fine for a month or so and then the issues started happening again. My Internet would go out for an hour or two and then come back. No apparent reason for it going out randomly – it just did.

Since I couldn’t stand my Internet randomly going out, I called Comcast again. They tried to troubleshoot (which consists of blaming my router for the problem) and realized they couldn’t get a connection to the modem. A service call was scheduled for later in the week after 5 PM.

I was home by 5 PM and waited until 8 PM before calling Comcast. I called them and they said the service call had been canceled. They didn’t know who canceled it or why it was canceled, but the service call was canceled. I had waited at home for three hours and the call was canceled.

They had no additional information about why it was canceled, which was ridiculous. Their best answer is that they (the people who do the service calls) sometimes call in advance to make sure someone is home. Apparently, I had to wait home all day, in case someone from Comcast called. I asked to talk to a supervisor, but instead spoke to a “team lead.” He told me that he would try to get it rescheduled to Saturday (my preferred time), but at the moment, the only available time was Wednesday after 5 PM. I told him that I wanted to hear back from Comcast by 11 PM that night with a yes, no, or still working on it answer. He assured me that I would hear back.

As 11 PM rolled by, I had not heard anything from Comcast. They failed to do what they said they would do once again. I called on Tuesday evening to confirm my Wednesday service call and it was still scheduled.

At exactly 5:00 PM on Wednesday, my phone rang. It was the Comcast represenative confirming I was home and available. He told me he was in the area and would be there in a few minutes. By 5:15 PM, he was working on my computer. Apparently, nothing was wrong with it. After trying to sell me a modem about 5 times, he checked outside to confirmed nothing was wrong at the street level, and left.

The entire experience was absolutely terrible at worst and mediocre at best. I’ve written quite a bit about service calls and this experience was not the best by any means.

Companies that do service calls can learn a few lessons from my Comcast experience:

  • Communicate the times very clearly.
  • Never cancel a service call without talking to the customer.
  • If a service call is canceled, ensure you record all the details.
  • The company’s central office should have a better idea about what the field representatives are doing.
  • If you make a promise (whether it be to show up or to return a phone call), keep it. If you’re unable to keep that promise, don’t make it.

Outstanding Blog Meme

There has been an “Oustanding Blog” meme going around, which Service Untitled is proudly a part of. It was started by Troy from OrbitNow. There are a lot of great blogs here and there is a lot you can learn from them. Feel free to post the list on your blog.

  1. 100 Bloggers
  2. 37 Days
  3. 3i
  4. 43 Folders
  5. A Clear Eye
  6. A Daily Dose of Architecture
  7. The Agonist
  8. All Things Workplace
  9. All This Chittah Chattah
  10. Angela Maiers
  11. Antonella Pavese
  12. Arizona High Tech
  13. A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye
  14. Badger Blogger
  15. Bailey WorkPlay
  16. Being Peter Kim
  17. Brett Trout
  18. Best of Mother Earth
  19. Beyond Madison Avenue
  20. Biz and Buzz
  21. Bizhack
  22. BizSolutions Plus
  23. Blog Business World
  24. Bloggers Showroom
  25. Blogging for Business
  26. Blogher
  27. Blog Till You Drop!
  28. Bob Sutton
  29. Brain Based Business
  30. Brains on Fire
  31. Brand Autopsy
  32. The Brand Builder Blog
  33. Branding and Marketing
  34. Branding Strategy
  35. Brand is Language
  36. BrandSizzle
  37. Brandsoul
  38. Bren Blog
  39. Business Evolutionist
  40. Business Management Life
  41. Business Pundit
  42. Business Services, Etc.
  43. Busy Mom
  44. Buzz Canuck
  45. Buzz Customer
  46. Buzzoodle
  47. Career Intensity
  48. Carpe Factum
  49. Casual Fridays
  50. Change Your Thoughts
  51. Chaos Scenario
  52. Cheezhead
  53. Chief Happiness Officer
  54. Chris Brogan
  55. Christine Kane
  56. Church of the Customer
  57. Circaspecting
  58. CK’s Blog
  59. Come Gather Round
  60. Community Guy
  61. Confident Writing
  62. Conversation Agent
  63. Converstations
  64. Cooking for Engineers
  65. Cool Hunting
  66. Core77
  67. Corporate Presenter
  68. Crayon Writer
  69. Creating a Better Life
  70. Creating Passionate Users
  71. Creative Think
  72. CRM Mastery
  73. Crossroads Dispatches
  74. Cube Rules
  75. Culture Kitchen
  76. Customers Are Always
  77. Customer Service Experience
  78. Customer Service Reader
  79. Customers Rock!
  80. Custserv
  81. Craig Harper
  82. Daily Fix
  83. Dawud Miracle
  84. Dave Olson
  85. David Airey
  86. David Maister
  87. David S Finch
  88. Design Your Writing Life
  89. Digital Common Sense
  90. Director Tom
  91. Diva Marketing
  92. Do You Q
  93. Duct Tape Marketing
  94. Empowerment 4 Life
  95. The Engaging Brand
  96. Essential Keystrokes
  97. Every Dot Connects
  98. Experience Architect
  99. Experience Curve
  100. Experience Matters
  101. Extreme Leadership
  102. Eyes on Living
  103. Feld Thoughts
  104. Flooring the Customer
  105. Fouroboros
  106. Franchise Pick
  107. FutureLab
  108. Genuine Curiosity
  109. Glass Half Full
  110. The Good Life
  111. Great Circle
  112. Greg Verdino’s Marketing Blog
  113. Hee-Haw Marketing
  114. Hello, My Name is BLOG
  115. Holly’s Corner
  116. Homeless Family
  117. The Idea Dude
  118. I’d Rather be Blogging
  119. Influential Marketing
  120. Innovating to Win
  121. Inspiring & Empowering Lives
  122. Instigator Blog
  123. Interview Chatter
  124. Jaffe Juice
  125. Jibber Jobber
  126. Joyful Jubilant Learning
  127. Joy of Six
  128. Kent Blumberg
  129. Kevin Eikenberry
  130. Learned on Women
  131. Life Beyond Code
  132. Lip-sticking
  133. Listics
  134. The Lives and Times
  135. Live Your Best Life
  136. Live Your Inspiration
  137. Living Light Bulbs
  138. Logical Emotions
  139. Logic + Emotion
  140. Make It Great!
  141. Making Life Work for You
  142. Management Craft
  143. Managing with Aloha
  144. The M.A.P. Maker
  145. The Marketing Excellence Blog
  146. Marketing Headhunter
  147. Marketing Hipster
  148. The Marketing Minute
  149. Marketing Nirvana
  150. Marketing Roadmaps
  151. Marketing Through the Clutter
  152. Mary Schmidt
  153. Masey
  154. The Media Age
  155. Micropersuasion
  156. Middle Zone Musings
  157. Miss604
  158. Moment on Money
  159. Monk at Work
  160. Monkey Bites
  161. Movie Marketing Madness
  162. Motivation on the Run
  163. My 2 Cents
  164. My Beautiful Chaos
  165. Naked Conversations
  166. Neat & Simple Living
  167. New Age 2020
  168. New Charm School
  169. Next Up
  170. No Man’s Blog
  171. The [Non] Billable Hour
  172. Note to CMO
  173. Office Politics
  174. Optimist Lab
  175. The Origin of Brands
  176. Own Your Brand
  177. Pardon My French
  178. Passion Meets Purpose
  179. Pause
  180. Peerless Professionals
  181. Perfectly Petersen
  182. Personal Branding
  183. The Podcast Network
  184. The Power of Choice
  185. Practical Leadership
  186. Presentation Zen
  187. Priscilla Palmer
  188. Productivity Goal
  189. Pro Hip-Hop
  190. Prosperity for You
  191. Purple Wren
  192. QAQnA
  193. Qlog
  194. Reveries
  195. Rex Blog
  196. Ririan Project
  197. Rohdesign
  198. Rothacker Reviews
  199. Scott H Young
  200. Search Engine Guide
  201. Servant of Chaos
  202. Service Untitled
  203. Seth’s Blog
  204. Shards of Consciousness
  205. Shotgun Marketing
  206. Simplenomics
  207. Simplicity
  208. Slacker Manager
  209. Slow Leadership
  210. Socially Adept
  211. Social Media Marketing Blog
  212. Spare Change
  213. Spirit in Gear
  214. Spooky Action
  215. Steve’s 2 Cents
  216. Strategic Design
  217. Strength-based Leadership
  218. StickyFigure
  219. Studentlinc
  220. Success Begins Today
  221. Success Creeations
  222. Success From the Nest
  223. Successful Blog
  224. Success Jolt
  225. Talk to Strangers
  226. Tammy Lenski
  227. Tell Ten Friends
  228. That Girl from Marketing
  229. Think Positive!
  230. This Girl’s Weblog
  231. Thoughts & Philosophies
  232. Tom Peters
  233. Trust Matters
  234. Verve Coaching
  235. Viral Garden
  236. Waiter Bell
  237. Wealth Building Guy
  238. What’s Next
  239. Writers Notes
  240. You Already Know this Stuff
  241. Zen Chill

Papa John’s Customer Service – A Pizza Experience

I’ve written a very popular series on service calls, but as far as I can recall, I’ve never written about delivery experiences. I read about one the other day at Phil’s blog, Make it Great. Meikah, Becky, and Maria all wrote about Phil’s experience and I’ll also add my two cents.

  • Redundancy. I don’t know about the pizza delivery industry, but in technical industries, redundancy is important. Can’t they call in another driver or like Maria suggested, have another employee deliver the pizza? Redundant solutions should be available to prevent problems.
  • Work around the system. Robert Stephens says that his employees can break policies if it is for the purpose of “protecting the company’s reputation” – the store manager should have broken a policy and issued a gift card and/or refund to Phil.
  • Keep everyone in the loop. When Phil arrived at the store, the pizza was on a truck somewhere. They should have made him a new pizza for him while he was there and/or started making it as they knew he was leaving – for free.
  • Keep everyone in the loop (part 2). If the store knew there were going to be delays, they should have called and/or emailed Phil to let him know about it and offer other options.
  • Follow-up. The company should have followed up with Phil after the experience. He should have gotten a phone call later in the evening to confirm he got the pizza and later, a nice email or letter from a corporate executive or the manager apologizing and including a $25 or $50 gift card. Don’t be afraid to bribe customers – it may really help make the peace.
  • Apologize. Throughout the entire experience, Papa John’s should have been apologizing, explaining, and fixing. They should train their employees and managers to know how to apologize and to fix things.
  • Watch. If Papa John’s watched the blogosphere, they would have seen Phil’s blog post and dealt with it. Now, they would have to deal with the post on several other customer service blogs and all of the commenters who read about Phil’s experience on them.

I know that if I were in Phil’s situation, I would have given up and ordered from someone else. He was extremely patient and much more mellow about it than an average customer would have been. I admire his patience.

Have a great weekend! If you decide to order pizza, hopefully it will be a better experience.

Robert Stephens – Part 3

This is the third part of the interview with Robert Stephens, the founder of The Geek Squad. In this part of the interview, he discusses how they manage schedules, the common challenges, what they are doing to improve, and more.

Continue Reading

Service Calls: Conclusion

The service calls series went rather smoothly. I don’t have anything to add, but here are the main points:

Service calls can be a good customer service experience if they are done right. Hopefully this short series has provided you with some information about how to properly do service calls.

Very short post today, but I don’t have too much to talk about.

The Horror of Time Slots

It is every customer’s nightmare when a customer service representative says anything to do with a timeslot. “We’ll call you back between 1 PM and 9 PM”, “The technician will be at your house between 8 AM and 7 PM”, “We’ll start caring about our customers and trying to improve customer service between the years 2035 and 3261.” The list goes on and on and it gets even more frustrating.

The best way to fix the issue with customers being inconvenienced with timeslots is simply by getting rid of them. No timeslots are the best timeslots.

Unfortunately, since we don’t live in “Customer Service Paradise”, no time slots are unlikely to happen. They do have a function, but they are almost entirely created to make it easier for the company and not the customer (there is a reason the word customer is in customer service, not company service).

The second best way to deal with timeslots is to make them as small as possible without them being wrong. If customers are told a representative will be there between 4 PM and 5 PM, the representative better show up at that time. Not earlier and not later.

Throughout the timeslot, the customer should be kept in the loop. If the representative is running early, late, or even on-time, he or she should call the customer and let them know the status. A call before the representative is ready to leave the previous stop is an excellent idea and will make the customer sure that they haven’t been forgotten about and that someone will be showing up on time(slot).

The key to timeslots are to keep them short and keep the customer informed. They are almost always customer service nightmare (despite how well they are done), but it’s best to keep them at acceptable instead of bad.


  • Do not be early. The customer may not be home.
  • Do not be late. The customer will be home and will be furious.
  • Call early in the time slot if you’re going to be late.
  • Follow the Etiquette of Service Calls throughout the whole process.

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