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Tour of Headsets.com’s Offices

When I was in San Francisco for Customer Service is the New Marketing, I took some time to meet some folks from Headsets.com and get a tour of their office. My tour guide was Leslie, who currently runs a customer service team at the company and has also held roles related to hiring. Since it was a Saturday (the only open day in my schedule), the office wasn’t open, but there were still people there and interesting sights to be seen.

In addition to some of the thumbnails below, you can view the photos of the tour (about 20 or so) here. There are some ridiculous cubicles and photos (like the middle picture below) as well as some cool things (like their “Wall of Customer Love on the left).

The Headsets.com offices: more photos (along with captions) here.

Mike Faith: CEO & Founder of Headsets.com – Part 3 of 3

Here is part three out of three of the interview with Mike Faith, the founder and CEO of Headsets.com. Part one is here. Part two is here. In this part of the interview, Mike discusses where Headsets.com still has room to improve, how they are different, how they gather feedback, and tips for other customer service organizations.

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Mike Faith: CEO & Founder of Headsets.com – Part 2 of 3

Here is part two of the interview with Mike Faith, the CEO and Founder of Headsets.com. The first part is here. This part of the interview covers more about the company’s hiring and training, how they keep their customer service culture going, and common issues they run into.

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Interview: Mike Faith, CEO & Founder of Headsets.com

I’ve been excited to post this interview since I first mentioned it in September. I’ve talked quite a bit about Headsets.com, mainly because they are a very interesting and fairly unique company. They have really embraced customer service and it has paid off.

I interviewed Mike in mid-September and it took a few weeks for me to get the time and finish writing out the whole interview. Then, we had to go back and forth a bit with clarifications and such. After that, I had to wait until I had a few free days of posts to get the interview posted, which took about ten days. Now, I’m finally ready to get it posted!

This interview will be three parts (all posted over this week). The first part of the interview talks about Headsets.com’s customer service-oriented model and philosophy, their hiring and training processes, and the company culture. Click on “More” to read it.

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Upcoming Interviews & More on Headsets.com

The last few days has actually been fairly big for Service Untitled.

Mike Faith, the CEO of Headsets.com discovered Service Untitled the other day and I exchanged a few emails with him since his comment at Service Untitled. I spoke with him this afternoon. He is an interesting guy to talk to and I noticed a few things:

  • First of all, he took the time to A) comment on Service Untitled, B) respond to my email, and C) talk to me. Very few companies will do any of those.
  • He apologized profusely about not returning my call. I think he apologized about four times during the phone conversation and twice during the few emails we exchanged.It’s okay for you to not return a phone call occasionally, as long as it isn’t consistent and you can make sure any issues get resolved when the customer follows up.
  • He uses Google News to monitor the web for updates on Headsets.com, which is how he discovered Service Untitled. Mike said that if a customer or an article is written, they either thank them (assuming the write up was a good one) or try and resolve issues (if there was a problem).This technique isn’t new or revolutionary, but it’s not done as often as you think it would. Guy Kawasaki actually wrote a post about this topic not too long ago.
  • I mentioned I had bought a headset from Headsets.com and he was genuinely interested in my experience purchasing it and how it was working (never had a problem with it).
  • He likes Service Untitled. This isn’t really related to his customer service expertise, but it may mean he has good taste, right? Regardless, it also shows that Mike understands Headsets.com has room to improve (as do all companies) and that a blog on customer service is worth reading.

I’ve talked before about how important it is for the management team to care about customer service and Mike and the rest of the Headsets.com management team is a quintessential example of that. I’ll be interviewing Mike sometime over the next few weeks. I’m pretty sure he’ll have some good insight and tips to share.

There are also two more interviews in the works over the next few weeks.

  • A senior executive from HP about how the company is embracing customer service, trying to improve, and more.
  • The executive at Rackspace who pioneered the company’s legendary “fanatical support” about how Rackspace has embraced customer service, what they are doing to improve, and how they do it.
  • A senior executive from Automattic on many things related to customer service and blogging.

I’m still working on getting a few more interviews with executives from various companies, but we’ll see how that goes.

On a semi-related note, I’ve been noticing that companies that provide great customer service also have equally helpful media relations departments. It’s been accurate every time so far and is even relative (company 1 provides great customer service and has great media relations people, company 2 provides mediocre customer service and has mediocre media relations people). When I say a company has great or mediocre media relations people, I’m generally talking about the customer service they provide, how quickly they get back to people, etc. – not necessarily how good they are at their jobs (I am no where near qualified to tell).

I’m also sorry to report that the trackback system is broken again. I have no idea why, but it is and I will try to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Edit: Trackbacks should be fixed.

Customer Service Difference #2: Headsets.com

I’ve written about Headsets.com’s customer service before. They are a company that I really find fascinating. They take an ordinary product (headsets), add great customer service and related policies, and they see tremendous success.

Here is what I think Headsets.com does right:

  • Return policy. Headsets.com has a very lenient and simple return policy and procedure. They make things easy, which does a few things: 1) It makes the return experience acceptable and customer stay happy. 2) It builds customer confidence in products, because it is easy to return something if it has a problem or the customer doesn’t like it. 3) It makes Headsets.com (rightfully) seem like an honest company that cares about its customers.
  • It is easy to contact them. Headsets.com is very easy to get ahold of. They have very noticeable live chat links on their homepage, a clearly published phone number (with a simple phone menu and reasonable hold times), and lots of contact pages. It is very difficult to find the phone numbers and live chat links for other major online retailers (i. e. Amazon) and doing something as simple as publishing your phone number makes things easier and likely increases sales.
  • They make it easy to find the right product. Headsets.com doesn’t carry too many products where it is overwhelming. They also have staff recommendations and an extremely helpful headset wizard that helps you find the right headset for you.
  • They are obsessed with hiring right. Just look at their employment page to see what I am talking about. Employees going through extensive training with a variety of people (speech coaches, business physiologists, etc.). They also give employees lots of benefits and above average customer service pay. This helps attract good people.
  • They are personal. Headsets.com has pictures of the live chat representative you are talking to, staff profiles, a letter from the company’s CEO, and more. They even have a stats page that gives potential customers some cool figures and 7 promises. These further increase customer confidence in both the company and the products.
  • They have the rest of the stuff. In addition to these things, they have a customer service-focused culture, a management team that cares about customer service, etc.

Check out my post here for more information about Headsets.com and my customer service experience. They are a top notch company and I am pretty sure they will continue to see success for quite a while.

Two notes:

  • When I wrote about Headsets.com on June 23, according to their web site, they had 212,671 satisfied customers. Their counter now says they have over 231,000 satisfied customers.
  • I had called the company’s CEO (as encouraged by the letter they sent me), but my phone call was never returned.

Great Customer Service at Headsets.com

A company that has impressed me quite a bit recently was Headsets.com. Besides ordering one headset from them in the past, I don’t have any relationship with Headsets.com, but they have been very impressive.

Here’s my story:

About six months or so ago I decided I wanted to start using Skype more than I did (this was before free SkypeOut). However, the microphone I had didn’t work very well so I went out to the local Radio Shack and purchased a headset. The new headset from Radio Shack also didn’t work very well, so I tried to return it. The guy at Radio Shack said I couldn’t return it because I didn’t have the “original packacing”, which was a piece of plastic stapled around the headset. I eventually called the credit card company and they took care of it, but regardless, I haven’t bought something at Radio Shack since then.

I still needed by headset so I did a bit of research and found Headsets.com. I found a headset I really liked, signed up, and ordered it. A few days later, I got it in the mail, but I quickly realized the headset I purchased was for a phone, not a computer.

I called Headsets.com and spoke to a guy who said I could return the product without any problem. I don’t even think I had to pay shipping or take the product to the UPS store. (Note: When you can’t remember how the product return experience is, it probably wasn’t that bad.) A few days later, I had my headset, which I use (and works perfectly) to this day.

Besides the return experience being really easy, here’s some other things that impressed me with Headsets.com:

  • A few weeks later, they sent me a satisfaction survey in the mail. If I filled out the survey, I would get a $10 (or something like that) credit to my account. I filled it out, faxed it in, and included a handwritten note asking them to email me confirming they got it. About 24 hours later, I got a personalized email saying they received the survey and the credit was added.
  • A few days ago I got a letter from Headsets.com thanking me for being a customer. The letter didn’t include a sales pitch, but was from the CEO outlining how 2005 was a good year for Headsets.com and how much they value their customers.
  • The letter had the CEO, Customer Service Manager, and Shipping Manager’s direct lines on it. I tried calling them and got voicemail for each line. However, I left a message for the CEO and will see if I get a call back. (If you call their 800 number, you do get to talk with a person quite quickly, though).
  • The letter had “7 promises” relating to customer service and customer service satisfaction on the back.

Some impressive statistics:

  • Headsets.com has not had a complaint filed against them with the Better Business Bureau for the third year in a row. (The company is only three years old.)
  • They’ve grown from what I assume is 0 to more than 212,000 customers in three years. They’ve also grown from 12 to 60 employees in that time. (They have a customer counter on their site. When I was there two or three days ago, the counter said 209,000. At the time of posting, it says 212,671.)
  • This page is interesting.

I read an article about Headsets.com saying how a majority of their success was due to their focus on customer service. They seem to be a company to aspire to. Good job Headsets.com!

Improving the online holiday shopping experience

SoWa in December, 2009It used to be my father and brothers enjoyed Thanksgiving Day for the good food and football, while my mother and I cleaned up and prepared for the biggest shopping event of the year. We would get up at 5:00 AM, and we were ready to join in the wild bewilderment of Black Friday.

Now that I’m all grown up and technology has enriched my life with e-commerce, not only do I get to sleep past 5:00 AM and not have to wake up the dog to take him for a walk, I just gather my shopping list and turn on my computer whenever I feel the urge. The holiday campaigns have begun; sales all over television, billboards, and online social media. It can be more confusing than the mall, but it saves the frustration of parking, long lines, crowds, and lack of sleep, but with the added convenience comes more risk and responsible shopping. When you walk into a brick and mortar store, you’re relatively assured the business will be there the next day, while an online store could just be that “404 not found” click.

So as a seasoned shopper, I look to the companies I trust. Competitive sites are appearing everyday with some unbelievable deals, and these are the things I consider before I purchase online:

  • When I begin my online search for holiday gifts, I am most attracted to professional looking sites that load quickly with pleasing visual graphics, correct spelling, and grammar. If a company can’t figure out the difference between “affect” and “effect” or “wrote” and “written,” it doesn’t inspire my confidence.
  • I want the contact information of a shopping site to be in plain view, and I look for their phone numbers and email contacts.
  • When a site wants my personal information as in my email address, my full name, my address, and my phone number, I want to feel confident that they do not sell, rent, or trade my information to any third parties.
  • I want information about the business. Who doesn’t feel they don’t know Tony Hsieh of Zappos? He’s a real person, and that brings credibility. We’re inspired by his success, and we’re impressed with his humility; all essential elements to the huge success of his online business.
  • Be honest about all fees and time lines. Many of us shop at the last-minute, so customers want to be sure of time lines for delivery. Before even proceeding to checkout, all fees should be listed. There is nothing worse than being presented with hidden fees at checkout.
  • Prominently display warranties and return policies. Make it clear how to return damaged items and what to expect if a product doesn’t work correctly. Headsets.com provides a return policy with no excuse ever necessary.
  • Have a prominent display of good business practice awards. Provide links with social media so customers can feel they are part of the community and have confidence in the store.

Even though people like to shop online for the convenience, shoppers still want that personal connection as online businesses strive for their corner of the market.

photo credit: SoWa Sundays

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