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T-Mobile Customer Service

A few days ago I was on the phone with T-Mobile. I had some questions about my possible smartphone buy and couldn’t easily find the answers online. So I gave T-Mobile a call. Their phone menu was a pain to get through to, but after yelling at the phone menu for a few minutes and waiting on hold for about 15 seconds, I was transferred to a human.

The call started off with the lady sounding very friendly and very happy to talk to me. She asked me how I was (which I don’t advise – but since it was the sales department, it probably isn’t too bad of a question to ask), I said I was fine and asked how she was (great, of course) and she asked how she could help me. I told her I was interested in buying a smartphone and had questions about the T-Mobile Dash.

It took her a few seconds, but she pulled up the page on the T-Mobile Dash. It was in the time it took her to look up the answers that the customer service experience became interesting.

She asked me how I was, how the weather was, if any of my football teams were doing well in the Superbowl (it was the playoffs, but I’ll forgive her. I told her the Giants didn’t do well), she told me that I “had just made a friend” because she was from the NY area and liked the Giants, and so on.

I asked my questions and she answered them and was quite friendly. She knew a majority of the answers off hand and looked the others up. All the time, she avoided “dead air.”  The customer service experience was good. All it took was a friendly customer service representative (attitude) that knew what she was talking about (aptitude).

Have a great weekend!

Adify Customer Service Experience

I recently joined the Washington Post Blogroll and had a good customer service experience with their advertising partner, Adify. The whole process of entering any sort of advertising arrangement can be quite confusing, especially for people not familiar with all of the terms.

After some questions via email and the phone to the guy at the Washington Post I decided to sign up for the blogroll, which also includes the account at their advertising partner, Adify. I signed in to Adify and was somewhat confused by some of the terms and how to do certain things. The guy at the Washington Post said that my questions were getting a bit beyond his level and said he would have the technical manager from Adify call me.

Sure enough, a few minutes later the lady from Adify called me. She introduced herself and was very nice. I asked my questions and gave her my requests. As I was talking, she was working on fixing it. There was no dead air or anything of that sort, she addressed me by name a few times, knew the answers to all of my questions, and was quite helpful. I was impressed by the company’s customer service.

There was even a little humor (though I don’t think she was kidding) – I asked if she had a direct line and she gave me her BlackBerry number and said “I have it with me at all times.” Talk about dedication!

I still had one thing needed to be done. She told me she would be able to do it, but there was no need for me to stay on the phone while she did it. The lady said it’d take a few minutes, but wasn’t a big deal. I hung up. A few minutes later I got an email from her saying she was on a call, but would be doing it soon. An hour or so later I got an email saying it had been done and sure enough, it was done (correctly).

This experience, much like my experience at Tumi was not phenomenal in the sense that she went way above and beyond, completed some customer service miracle, or anything of the sort. It was a great experience, though, because she did what was expected and did it well. Unfortunately, this isn’t terribly common, which is why experiences like this are such a pleasant surprise.

Complain constructively for better customer service

Cliente enfadado?In a global survey, Accenture wrote about deteriorating customer service and how most of us have at least switched one of our own service providers because we were displeased that our expectations had not been met. Now in the great realm of this very complicated world, happiness with a company might be perceived differently – that is depending on what we expect, how and of course to what extent.

Statistically, or at least according to the Accenture survey of 2010, two-thirds of the respondents stated that customer service is a significant issue, and over half of consumers are not willing to compromise. We’re obviously all looking for better prices and better service, but how do we handle situations when they go awry? Do we abandon a company the first time there is a mistake? All companies are bound to drop the ball at one time or another, but I think it’s important to complain constructively. Chances are you will get what you want, and just as importantly it will give you the opportunity to see if that particular organization truly deserves your loyalty by how they handle the situation.

Too often when people are frustrated and lose their tempers, the dispute ends up at a dead-end. The consumer no longer will deal with that organization, and the company has lost a customer. So how do you deal with a problem so you can come out on top? Begin with taking a deep breath, and do not get near the telephone or the computer until you are calm. Remember the ultimate goal is to give the business the opportunity to resolve the problem. Also make sure you address the problem immediately; don’t ever procrastinate on a complaint.

Now on to a positive outcome. Be pleasant, polite and charming. In my own career I sell real estate, and especially in this economy realtors aren’t always the most pleasant with other realtors, however greet someone (even a grumpy realtor) with a cheerful “hello, how are you today, ” and rarely do you ever encounter a growl of displeasure. Do the same when contacting an organization. I also suggest you know what you want the outcome of your resolution to be. Last month Continental Airlines provided very poor on flight service to myself and my companion during a flight from Florida to Las Vegas. Immediately on my return I wrote to CEO Jeff Smisek, informed him of our disappointing service and reminded him of my customer loyalty for all of these years.

I received an apology and a promise to research the problem in the future, discounts for  new tickets were issued to our accounts, and the problem was solved. It was important however that I maintained all of my receipts, vouchers, and provided times, dates, and destinations. Each time you complain, you want to ascertain complete credibility – much better when you state your case using facts.

And may I make another suggestion that positively elevates one’s status when it is time to lodge a complaint? If you are speaking with a representative over the phone, be sure to use proper grammar, and make a conscious effort not to use “filler” words as “like,” “you know,” “uh,” “um,” and “er.” When I used to teach a speech class, I would count the number of “ums” a student would use during his seven minute speech, and at the end of his presentation told him the number of “fillers” he used and how it was most distracting. Additionally, if you are writing a letter to a CEO of a company, use spell check and find a friend or relative to proofread your letter for grammar and content before sending it out. Professionalism does count, and it is guaranteed to help you achieve results.

photo credit: Daquella manera

Book Review: Four Seasons – The Story of a Business Philosophy

I just read Four Seasons  The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp, founder, chairman, and CEO of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. The recurring theme in  the book centers around the Golden Rule; if you treat people well and the way you would like to be treated, they will do the same.

Sharp begins the book with his personal story. He came from a modest, unpretentious family with a background in construction. His first motor hotel (motel) opened in Toronto in 1961, and what made it different was his service oriented philosophy. By 1963, his second hotel opened called Toronto’s Inn on the Park, and its resort style setting with its gym claimed instant success. By 1976, the opening of the Four Seasons in San Francisco which entered into a management contract for The Clift already defined true luxury.

When the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue opened, the phenomenal service transformed the hotel owner-operator to a hugely successful management company synonymous with quality and the worldwide reputation of luxury travel. “One way to characterize Four Seasons – exchange of mutual respect performed with an attitude of kindness,” states Sharp, and that same promise remains  today as the Four Seasons continue to have the highest rated 140 luxury hotels in more than 40 countries.

The Four Season’s business plan focused on quality 24 hour service. In the 1970’s, the concentration on exceptional quality set apart business travel. The introduction of hair dryers, concierge service, televisions with concealed doors, non-smoking rooms, and fitness centers provided service and luxury to the sophisticated traveler. Even today, the morning meetings remain an integral part of the four primary elements of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts property.

Every morning service, quality, and culture brand are set forward by the guest relations manager. This includes a recap of the guests staying at the hotel and discussions ranging from a guest needing a hypoallergenic pillow, gluten-free food, or even a special skin cream. The Glitch Report, which is a review of the previous day’s mistakes is a way to make it right with a sincere apology and then doing something special for a guest later on. Every department is represented in the morning meetings from housekeeping to upper management. The team effort is what makes up the cornerstone of the Four Seasons culture, and trusted employees are granted the discretion to do the right thing to make their guests happy.

Sharp’s personal tragedy and his philanthropy reveal the very human side of a vulnerable person. In November 1976, his son Chris, a strapping, six-foot-two athlete was diagnosed with deadly melanoma. On May 10, 1978 Chris lost his battle, but his spirit inspired The Marathon of Hope two years later when a local newspaper carried a story  of a young man Terry Fox who had lost a leg to cancer and was running across Canada on an artificial limb to raise money for cancer research.

Dear Terry:

The Marathon of Hope has just begun. You started it. We will not rest until your dream to find a cure for cancer is realized. I am asking every Four Seasons hotel to organize, along with the local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society, a Terry Fox Marathon of Hope Run to be held on the first Sunday in October. Beginning this year, it will become an annual fund-raising event for the Terry Fox Cancer Research Fund and we will not stop until cancer has been beaten.

Isadore Sharpe

Terry died the following year, but not before he learned his dream had come true. He raised one dollar for every person then living in Canada:$24 million.

In the last few pages of his book, Sharpe tells us who they are, and that is a company that manages the finest hotels, resorts, and residence clubs supported with a “deeply instilled ethic of personal service.” And in response to how they succeed, Sharpe concludes with;

We succeed when every decision is based on a clear understanding of and belief in what we do and when we couple this conviction with sound financial planning. Our greatest asset, and the key to our success, is our people. In all our interactions with guests, customers, business associates, and colleagues, we seek to deal with others as we would have them deal with us.

Bottomline: The book is unpretentious, inspirational, and offers excellent advice about the importance of customer service. It provides some good lessons about the value of long-term service employees and how they are role models for new hires and front end advisers for improvement. The book offers excellent advice on training to help employees realize the importance of consistently amazing customer service.

Pros: The book provides a great personal story of a man who started out with little money and no training. Rising through the years of a sharp recession makes his story more pertinent today. The personal photographs brings in the humanity and compassion of Sharp.

Cons: There were few secondary sources. I found some of the foreign stories one-sided.

Interested: You can purchase this book from Amazon.com for $19.77 in hardcover format or $19.99 in Kindle format. You can buy it here.

Promised Delivery Dates Appreciated By Customers

I have a fairly big house, and that means a lot of furniture and accessories. I do love to shop, but I don’t like to spend a lot of money on home furnishings because I never want to feel obligated in my mind and my conscience that I have to hold onto a sofa for the rest of my life because it costs thousands of dollars. A furniture store near me, full of contemporary and very hip sofas and “objets d’arte” caught my eye as well as my wallet, and I ordered a couch and matching love seat for my family room. Since it was only late August, I had no doubt that at the planned family gathering for Christmas, we would all be sitting comfortably on the new furniture watching Christmas specials on television, or so that is what I thought.

The salesperson told me that delivery usually takes 8 to 10 weeks. That was perfect because I would have plenty of time to spare and still be able to shop for matching pillows and tchotchkes at the same store once the couch and love seat arrived. The promised time came and went; the sales representatives had no answers and the customer service personnel stock answer was that they had no control over their vendors. It’s interesting to note also that at the time of my purchase I was invited to register my email and given a password so that I would be able to check the status of my order. Unfortunately, my status never changed.

My couch and love seat didn’t arrive January, which was clearly 7 weeks over their estimated time. Even if I subtracted the 3 to 4 weeks delivery could take to arrive at my home from the warehouse, it was still a disappointing experience.

The store’s website states the company strives to maintain the quintessence of a family business with outstanding customer service. However, the company obviously fell short of that by failing to do a few things:

  • It is true that a furniture company has little control over their vendors, however customers need to be reassured that everything possible is being done. Even if they had told me, “We’re aware that your order is late, but we’re looking into it. Thanks for your patience.” that would have been welcome.
  • The company should be more diligent updating the status of delivery by using a centralized system enabling customers to check their orders. A status system is useless if it isn’t updated.
  • Also, I would have felt the company really cared if they went ahead and waived the delivery charges. When shipping companies miss their deadlines, they waive the fees. It would make sense for the furniture store to do the same.
  • I really would have been impressed if someone from the store would have called me and apologized. If that had happened, I think it would have made a big difference, and I probably would have returned to the store to finish my accessory shopping.

The reality was that none of the things listed above happened and I have yet to go back to the store.

photo credit: Tammy Manet

Christoph Guttentag from Duke University – Part 2 of 4

Logo-1This is the second part of a four part interview with Christoph Guttentag, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Duke University.

In this part of the interview, we discuss the expectations that come along with the $75 application fee and how the early decision program plays into the application process at Duke.

Click the link to read on. Part one of the interview is available here, part three is available here, and part four is available here.
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The One Question Survey

A company called Mailtrust (formerly Webmail.us) hosts a majority of my email. I’ve been using them for several months and have been quite happy. I found a recent survey they sent me fairly interesting and wanted to write about it for today.

On Monday, the company sent me an email with the subject “Mailtrust: 1-Question Survey”. The text of the email was pretty simple and straight forward:

Hi -name-,

We are currently asking our customers to take a one-question survey so that we can rate their level of satisfaction with our company. If you have a few seconds, we would appreciate it if you would answer our one-question survey found by clicking the link below:

https://admin.mailtrust.com/include/netpromoter/email-survey.asp?id=#####&email=email

Thank you for your continued support

Pat Matthews
CEO, Mailtrust, LLC.

This is really dead simple, but also very effective. It is classic Net Promoter, which is extremely popular among a lot of companies (for good reason).  I like how they included a box for any additional comments instead of choosing to do a longer survey. The actual survey, the one you saw once you clicked on the link, looked like the image below.

mailtrust_sm

Like all surveys run by almost all companies, though, this survey has room for improvement:

1. Utilize the technology further. Mailtrust knows if I have HTML email or not and could easily do a form where I can do the rating right from the email. Making it more convenient will make customers happier and produce a higher response rate.

2. On the survey, show my email address. Customers may not feel like their comments are going into a blackhole (a common concern) if an email address was clearly shown under the comments box. I know the company has my email address because it is in the URL of the link I clicked on, but a lot of customers (especially non-technical ones) won’t notice this or put the two together.

3. Offer some sort of award (or possibility of an award) for participating.
Inc. Magazine sends me regular surveys and when it sends surveys, it says I have a chance at winning an American Express Gift Card or a signed book or something whenever I participate. I actually won a book once, so I believe in the possibility of it actually happening. If Mailtrust gave away something, it would increase the response rate and encourage even more people to participate in the survey.

4. Include a support / help link.
In the email and/or on the actual survey, there should be a link to contact the company directly or at least an email address to contact support. The logo links to their homepage, which subsequently has a link to support, but that isn’t direct enough.

Overall, this was a well done survey. It wins a lot of points for simplicity. The next step (one that perhaps Mailtrust can clue us in on) is how they will use the data and what they can do to increase their response rates (and of course, the ratings) next time around.

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

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