Category Archives: customer expectations

Epson – A Customer Service Class Act

When it comes to customer service, Epson is a class act.

My husband came home from a business trip to a printer that mysteriously no longer worked with his computer.  He’s pretty technical, so he tinkered. No dice. He went to the Epson website, found the place to submit a case and immediately received an email acknowledgment.  Besides being tech savvy, Tom’s also impatient, so he continued to tinker. Still no dice.

Two hours later, he received an email with things to try to fix his problem. None of the suggestions matched his tinkering – in fact, as he learned later, he probably made it worse.

Fast-forward to the next day. Tom went back to the website, found the Customer Service number and called.  The Customer Service Rep (CSR) asked  his name, phone number and email address. With just that information, the CSR pulled up his record. The CSR noted his email from the day before, noted the last contact he had with them 8 months ago and because their records told them what printer Tom has, started to solve the problem.

The rep spent 40 minutes, first undoing Tom’s tinkering and then fixing the original problem. Wow. My husband was delighted, and he’s a pretty hard grader.

Everything right
Epson has their customer management system wired. They understand that a customer is more than a set of data  and the CSRs have all the information they need at their fingertips. Once Tom identified himself, the CSR didn’t have to ask questions to understand how he fit into the Epson universe: No serial numbers, no purchase dates, no model number. Nada. In terms of a customer support experience, this is first class.

So whether you’re B2B or B2C and have customers – or you’re an organization that has members – when someone contacts you, are you able to easily see how they fit into your universe and relate to them as a “whole”? Make them feel valued and delight them? Or is the information that defines them scattered and hidden in separate systems and various places, requiring you to ask question after question in order to  understand who they are and what they mean to you, not to mention  why they’d call you in the first place?

Where do you stack up?

Unexpected Delight – from a marketing call?!?

Interruptive marketing calls- we all hate them. The only reason I haven’t signed up for the National “Do Not Call” list is professional curiosity.

Well, I got a call last week from a company that said they were contacting me based on my responses to an online form that expressed interest in their service. Yeah, sure.  I asked which site the form was on (suspecting they wouldn’t have an answer),  asked them to take me off their call list, and moved on.

Yesterday, I received the following  snail mail:

Dir Sir or Madam:

First let me apologize for any inconvenience that we may have caused you. As you requested,we have placed your phone number on our internal Do Not Call list. I’ve also enclosed a copy of <company name’s> “Do Not Call” policy.

Again, I sincerely apologize and ask that you contact me directly at <real phone number> if I can be of any further assistance to you.

Vice President of Human Resources

Wow!  I was impressed.  The letter was dated, had the name and number of a real person, and a copy of their “Do Not Call” policy. Thorough, professional and completely unexpected. If I WAS interested in their services, this is exactly the sort of company I’d want to do business with.

In a world where most interactions are answered with computer-delivered confirmations, this response, even though it was basically a form letter,  seemed personal. Why is that? Because they

  • Responded directly to my specific concern
  • Provided a real person to contact
  • Provided specific information that created transparency (the policy, in this case)

My cynical side fully realizes that in fact, this also served as another opportunity to put their name in front of me. Yet I remain impressed. They turned a no-win situation into a win-win situation by using the opportunity to demonstrate their company values. In the process, they provided unexpected delight. A good return for not a lot of effort – and if I ever need their sort of service, they’ll be at the top of my list.

So – which customer equation could you change by applying the same principles?

Who Represents Your Brand?

I had an interesting experience this weekend that reminded me that sometimes brand experience is as much about the messenger as the message.

Have a Glass of Wine
House guests in tow, we took advantage of a break in the weekend’s storm and went wine-tasting.  El Dorado County is an up and comer, with some very fine wines coming out of some very off-the-beaten path locations, so we sought out a small, well-respected winery at the end of a mountain road. 

Instead of being greeted when we walked in the door, the person behind the tasting bar (we’ll call her “Ms. X”) looked at us and said almost churlishly, “There are 15 wines, what do you want?”  Huh? With such (a lack of) welcome, we almost turned and walked out, but we’d driven somewhat far and the wines have a good reputation, so we stayed.

You’ve Got To Be Kidding
Instead of telling us about the wines as we tasted, Ms. X poured in bored silence. We had to start the conversation – talking about the storm and the low elevation snow that might shut things down.

Having a wine pourer make the statement “All I need is cigarettes and beer, and I’m happy. And I can walk to the store, if I can’t drive.”  was incredibly shocking. Hello? Appropriateness? You’re pouring WINE. You should be talking about the wine! If you’re partial to beer and cigarettes, keep it to yourself.

Ms. X indicated through conversation that she’d worked there for a while and I wondered whether the winemaker has a clue that she is making his business look bad and costing him money? It’s a common understanding that being hospitable translates into bigger sales, particularly in a face-to-face business. We couldn’t wait to get out of there.

This all made me think of how easy it is for a business to shoot itself in the foot. We think someone working for us is on the same page, so we don’t go over specifics about how we want them to behave with customers, or we think visitors to our website are on the same page, so we don’t make sure to make the experience THEIRS, not ours.

Ms. X  really didn’t care if we were there or not. Our experience seemed irrelevant to her.  I’m thinking of calling the winery this week and talking to the winemaker. His wines are pretty good; this is something he needs to know.

Promises, Promises

On Monday, my landline went from static-y to dead. ATT promised they’d be here yesterday (Wednesday) and I changed my schedule so I could be in my home office all day. They never showed up, even though I called in the morning to check.

They didn’t bother to contact me and let me know they wouldn’t show, either. When I called in frustration with an hour left in their “promise” window”,  they “handled” me with excuses: “We have a system that ensures you’ll get a call if we can’t come out. – -Oh, I see you weren’t called.”, a little scripted empathy and finally another promise to be here this morning.  Color me annoyed.

When ATT made a service promise on Monday,  I formed an expectation. They not only broke their promise, but when they didn’t contact me to let me know they wouldn’t be here, they failed to meet another expectation – that they’d keep me informed. Why else would they explicitly ask for a working number at which they could contact me?

By not following through with either the promised service or any basic courtesy, ATT told me exactly how they feel about my value to them as a customer.

This got me to thinking about the promises, tacit and explicit, that are made to customers (or members, if you’re an organization) – from brand promises to specific performance – and the expectations, conscious or unconscious, that customers inevitably form.  How well we meet or exceed these expectations day after day can drive or destroy loyalty.  I’m going to start paying even more attention.

We all make promises to customers daily. How well are you keeping yours?