Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Father James DiLuzio

I have to write a post about this incredible performance I witnessed recently.  Luke Live! is a one man show performed by Paulist Father James DiLuzio in which he reads and acts out, from memory, the Gospel according to Luke.  In the segment of the show I saw, he read chapters 7 and 8.  It was amazing.  I read the Bible like I do most things, in fits and spurts.  When I do read however, it tends to be the Gospels.  In an hour and a half tonight I had these two chapters opened up to me in ways I hadn’t previously experienced.  I had a chance to talk about it with Father afterwards.  I shared some of the insight I gained, and he further explained his mission.  I love talking about religion and politics, but that side of this post is best saved for another place.

I first heard Luke Live! was coming to our parish though standard communications.  An ad was placed in the church bulletin, an announcement was made before mass.  I knew it was going on, but none of these things stirred me to want to go.  It turned out that the religious formation class I teach was going to be attending, so I eventually found out I had to go, but again, that in no way excited me.  Then came the hook:

Freemium.

Just like a movie trailer or that free demo version of your now favorite paid app, I got a free sample of the performance.  Father DiLuzio delivered the homily and sang a song at mass the Sunday before Luke Live was to start.  I was hooked.  He delivered such a high paced, well thought out, rehearsed and organized set of ideas that I knew I had to hear what he had to say over an hour and a half! I know that Father showed up at mass that day because it is what he does, he evangelizes.  I am sure he just saw that homily as a logical extension of his ministry.  But it was well executed marketing at its finest.

In many businesses that are not tech based, the idea of giving it away for free can be scary.  There are other good examples of this in the food industry:

Rita’s Water Ice: I don’t know about where you live, but here in SO-JO if it is the first day of spring, it is free water ice at Rita’s!  We drove through two obnoxiously crowed parking lots this year just for a free cup of flavored frozen sugar water.  Why?  To ensure you get in the habit early of finding your local Rita’s of course, and the press coverage doesn’t hurt either.

Dunkin Donuts: I am a D and D junkie.  Every once in a while I get frustrated that coffee there costs more than other place (with one notable pretentious exception of course) and try a local deli or something.  It almost seems that Dunkin’ knows this, and just when I start thinking I will stray something ‘Free Coffee Mondays’ come around or an online deal like this one.

Chick-Fil-A:  Seriously, if you are still going to other fast food places, stop, find a Chick-Fil-A, and thank me later.  Not sure about chicken for breakfast?  Keep an eye on your local circular because they will invariably send you a coupon for a free breakfast sandwich at some point, and you will forget all about your McMuffin…

I struggled with this in my landscape design business.  Looking back I would have tried a product giveaway to compliment my services, rather than ‘free service’.  Any tangible product has an implied value that promised service does not.  That is of course one of the biggest challenges with marketing a service based business.

Important to note: while I said earlier that the print marketing didn’t stir me to action, it was important.  Without it, I may have been overwhelmed and unaware and the ‘freemium’ content would have gone passed me.  Marketing needs to be integrated to be effective.

In light of my posts earlier this week, I thought this would be of interest.  See the article below from PC World explaining how Pinterest just changed their terms of service.

Pinterest Responds to Concerns, Changes Terms of Service | PCWorld.

This is designed to do a few things, including manage potential copyright infringement, but something I found interesting is they are ‘paving the way’ for private boards.  This would make Pinterest available to use like a personal diary or even vision board.  Something to look for in the future.

This was a note I posted on my Facebook page some time ago.  Thought it made sense to share here. – 

Some people think that things happen for a reason. Others think that things happen to them. Sometimes, they will say, others are just lucky and they are cursed. There is something true about all those examples, things do happen, everyday, all the time, anywhere you are. Things continue to happen regardless any effort on our part. As a matter of fact, if things stopped happening ‘to us’, then we would really be in trouble.

After breakfast with my wife this morning, she noticed that the dishwasher was not draining. We both had the same ‘oh great what now’ reaction. Seems my morning, scheduled with a long list of to-do’s, was about to take a detour. I was very frustrated. Standing dishwasher water is kinda gross, but I manually bailed out the unit anyway. I found nothing. Enter the negative thoughts: “I don’t know what I am doing. I have to much to do to worry about this. Why is this happening, now, to me, etc.”. I did the only other thing I could think of and pulled the washer out from under the counter and removed the drain hose to see if it was blocked. It was not blocked, and I knew this because now there was a large pool of washed water covering the kitchen floor.

It seemed that what I should have done from the out set was call a appliance repair company. The appliance in question is fairly new, but of course just out of warranty, something else I thought ‘would of course happen to me’. It seemed that the major piece of self talk stopping me from seeing a solution here was “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know anything about Dishwashers.” These thoughts left me feeling worthless and frustrated.

After I gave up, I called a service tech. I stood there staring at the machine, wanting to kick it, to puish this inanimate object for destroying my day. With the day completely ruined, I began to sulk and called my dad.

When I explained to him the problem and how frustrated I was, we began to discuss the unit and how it worked. “So the water flows in, then once the basin is full, a pump circulates the water through the machine. Once the rinse is done, a second pump flows the water out. That must be the problem.” So, of course, I responded, “Well thats great, I am glad I called the tech, because I know nothing about pumps.” Seemingly without emotion, he asked me a simple question, “You know something about screws, don’t you?”

“Um, yea?”

He proceeded to tel me that I didn’t need to know about how a pump worked to take a pump off. But, since he thought I might want to know, he told me how the pump worked and how it might just be jammed, not damaged or broken. With a good luck, he said good bye and left me, alone again, with my mess.

“You know something about screws, don’t you?” This echoed in my head. I guess I had nothing to lose, right? So, I took a look. Two screws and two clips. Simple. I removed them and the pump. More water on the floor, but I was less agitated this time for some reason. I looked inside and there is was, a toothpick, two actually, stuck in the impellor. I took the pump to the work table, removed the cover, and the toothpick just fell out. Just like that, fell out. I was thrilled! Reassembling the pump, then reattaching it, then putting the unit back in, I pressed the wash button. Everything worked! And drained!

I called my wife. I called and canceled the service tech. I called my dad, and then I just stared for a while smiling, realizing I had just learned and applied some valuable lessons.

1: Nothing happens to you, things just happen, then you DECIDE how you are going to react to them.
2: Use what you do know to anticipate what you don’t. A simple, patient thought would have told me, without knowing anything about dishwashers, that water would have spilled on the floor.
3: I did know something about screws. I was so focus on what I couldn’t do that I never considered what I could do.
4: I assumed. I assumed when I saw the standing water that I have a huge problem. I assumed my day was ruined. I assumed I could do nothing about it. When I stopped assuming all those negatives, I realized I didn’t have a 200 pound day-ender in my kitchen, I just had an out of place toothpick.

Do you have big problems at work or at home that you feel you can’t do anything about? Don’t focus on the overwhelming problem, focus on the screws, and maybe you will find a toothpick or two.

God Bless!

Tucking In The Kids

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Customer Service, Marketing

As happens most nights, I am the last one up at my house.  For reasons I have never quite figured out I am at my most productive between 9 and midnight.  It is also best time of day get a good politics fix (thank you Hannity and Stewart).

I always check on my kids before bed.  Tonight I gave my 3 month old back his pacifier, and put a blanket over the 2 year old.  I took the magazine off my wife’s lap, turned off her light, then got into bed myself.  Even though this is pretty standard set of events, I was thinking tonight about how important these things are to the family dynamic, and of course, what are the marketing lessons from them….

Neither son, nor my wife, will know I tended to them when they awake.  Thats fine, and its kind of the point, right?  These are not things that are done for credit or for reciprocation, they are genuine acts of affection and caring for thier well being.

Do you tuck in you customers?  To you fold their magazines and turn their lights off after they fall asleep?

Customer service needs to happen even when your clients are not paying attention, for two reasons.

1. It means that they will be more satisfied, even if they don’t know why.

2. It means you really care about your customers, clients, and ultimately that you really care about yourself and your own success.

Next time you are tempted to promote every little thing you do in your business, ask yourself, is there anything I do to tuck in my clients, and is best if I don’t wake them up to the fact that i am doing it?

How familiar are you with this cycle:Paperwork

  1. work really hard and generate leads
  2. put all energy into selling (ignoring generating more leads)
  3. put all energy into doing ‘real work’ (ignoring other sales or lead opportunities)
  4. get caught up on paperwork (because you have no new leads to pursue anyway)
  5. Repeat
There are two issues at play here.  The first is internal, the second is external.  I want to focus on the latter.

Every time you correspond with a customer or a client it makes an impression. Even consumers who purchase primarily on price still have a certain level of expectation from your service. So don’t think of your bill as a bill, but as an impression. You always want to make a good impression.

When you invoice with consistency, regularly and on schedule, it does more than improve your cash flow. It tells your customers that you are serious about your business. It let’s them know that you are a professional. Consumers want to work with professionals.

Marketing equals everything. Even the most mundane experience can be turned into a message. What message is your billing practice saying about you?

Pandora Radio IconIf you are in business, you have customers.  Some are loyal, some are transient, but all have one thing in common, they like what you do, and pay you to do it.  What would you do if you received an email from one of your clients (not your best client, just any old client) thanking you for a job well done?  Maybe they tell you about a bad experience they had somewhere, and how they are now happy with you handling their business.  What would you do?  Reply and say thanks?

Over dinner tonight a friend of mine told me a story of his interaction with Pandora Radio.  He had purchased a new HD radio and was very unhappy with the sound quality.  He also was not happy with the quality of his satellite radio.  He was surprised actually that the best sound quality he got in his car was when he was streaming Pandora off his phone.  For no other reason than to be nice, he emailed Pandora to tell them their quality was good, better than HD Radio, and he was happy.  He also sent an email to the manufacturer of the radio.

The radio company replied with a brief technical explanation of what the problem might be, but offered no recourse to fix it.  Pandora sent him a free t-shirt.

Pandora was not running a campaign to give away free t-shirts, and they were not doing to make amends.  My friend was already happy with their service.  What they did was realize that if you don’t give your customers a story to tell, then they have no reason to talk about your company.

We all want word of mouth, it has always been the best form of marketing, and the one you can’t buy.  In business it is a knee jerk reaction to fight to keep the unhappy customers, so much so that the good customers can often be taken for granted.

So next time an average customer acknowledges your work, ask your self, what is my ‘free t-shirt’ that might turn this passive customer into and active evangelist?