A common but potentially fatal flaw for any service based business it to mistake their customer experience for customer service itself. Admittedly, I think we’ve all been guilty of this before–I know I have. Of course, it’s recognizing this flaw and turning it around that can make all the difference.
With the focus for many organizations being zeroed in on employee training and improvement practices around customer service that’s offered, many businesses miss the point of a bad experience in the first place. In this scenario, the majority of resources a business has for customer service are spent on ensuring that each touchpoint during the customer’s journey creates an exceptional service experience. It’s a great tactic, but it certainly does not guarantee you have a happy customer at the end of the journey. After all, if the process of obtaining, using, or troubleshooting a service or product is faulty, the customer experience may still be a negative one despite ideal customer service.
Traveling by air has become incredibly routine, particularly in the United States. One might even say that because it’s such a common way to travel, the whole idea has lost much of its romantic allure. People no longer dress up to travel, first class seating is often blended with economy, and forget about free meals! Seasoned travelers know all too well that instead of the excitement of travel, they can expect minimal leg room and incredibly ordinary customer service. Maybe that is why the experience of flying with JetBlue is refreshing, more than making up for not being able to choose who you sit next to!
Originally from Delaware and now the 6th largest American airline (as well as one of the more tenacious of the homegrown air travel companies) JetBlue’s unofficial mission statement of treating its passengers like people has seen it through some rough times. That mission statement has also ensured that its fleet has hung on in the turbulent world or air travel over the last 19 years. The airline’s charming local feel combined with a surprisingly simple, no-nonsense brand echoes Jet Blue’s straightforward approach to the airline travel business–and it works for them.
WHY THE CUSTOMER BILL OF RIGHTS?
One of the worst parts of airline travel is feeling like your just a number. As one of 200 passengers, you’re filed onto the plane and filed off, with little more than a “thanks for flying with us.” JetBlue on the other hand created a manifesto detailing what they believe the rights of their customers are, as well as Jet Blue’s obligation to ensuring excellent customer service. The Jet Blue Bill of Rights includes detailed information about how they will compensate customers for delays and other travel issues– and it is probably among the most comprehensive guarantees of good service I’ve ever laid eyes on.
It doesn’t stop there. Not only has JetBlue made sure their processes are customer-centric, they’ve ensured their flights are as well. Boasting comfortable leather seats, free wifi, inflight entertainment, snacks you’d actually want to eat, and a variety of drinks, Jet Blue has the traveling for distances thing down to a science. As if that’s not enough, Jet Blue also supports and mentors small start-up businesses to help foster their local economy.
JetBlue takes the needs of their customers seriously. They know exactly where to apply a little extra care and attention to ensure that everyone who buys a ticket with them has a great flying experience. Best of all, if for some reason things don’t go according to plan, Jet Blue does whatever they can to ensure their customers still have an excellent flight experience. It’s a welcome approach to travelers weary of airlines who bring to life the concept of “cattle class” and it’s why Jet Blue made the Hall of Fame Class of 2011 here at Purple Goldfish.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Jet Blue loves to help lift up small companies. Here’s just one example of how they support local.
I’ll never forget the first time I stayed at a Four Seasons hotel. The luxurious lobby was overwhelming enough, but once I was able to get past all of the marble and glass, something else struck me: every single staff member was totally on top of their game. From the way they answered my questions before I even asked them to walking around the desk to present me with my room key, it was an experience unlike anything else. Their customer service focus is just one reason why they’re part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
What started with just a building design by a young architect, turned into a revolutionized approach to hotels. Maybe you recognize the name of the hotel: Four Seasons. Focused on making the hotel stay an experience rather than just a place to leave your suitcase and rest your head, Four Seasons make their customers the central focus every single day–and it shows from the first impression they make at check-in to their very last impression at check-out. Additionally, their worldwide expansion has made them a hugely recognized and respected company, not least of all for each hotel’s beautiful interiors and overall sense of luxury as soon as you step through the doors. Four Seasons has a well-earned reputation for ensuring guests have a totally memorable experience, starting with efficient, organized customer service.
WHY THE CUSTOMER SERVICE FOCUS?
When we stay in a hotel, we’re just not…home, are we? While some of us love to travel, there always comes a time when it gets a bit tedious. The Four Seasons believes that it’s the little experiences that make up the bigger picture of customer service. Little things like walking around the desk to present a room key speaks to the lengths Four Seasons is willing to go for their customers.
Whether you’re there for one night or a whole week, your choice of hotel is very much a part of your travel experience in work and pleasure. The Four Seasons has a near 60-year history of creativity and innovation in the hotel industry. Perhaps that’s why they pride themselves on what they call a mission of offering only experiences of exceptional quality. The Four seasons is truly a pioneer of hotel luxury and ease, built on the foundation of service to their guests. It’s not hard to appreciate the care that goes into treating each person who walks through their doors like a VIP.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Four Seasons latest hotel recently opened in downtown New York–and you’ll really enjoy the tour.
Tracking customers by location used to seem a bit invasive, but with new possibilities of providing better service or incentives, customers are warming up to the idea of sharing more with companies. Companies are using location awareness to accomplish all sorts of enhancements from knowing when a customer has arrived, to helping them navigate a complicated building.
There is a quote that I love. “Go the extra mile–it’s less crowded up there.” While this quote can be applied to a great many customer service situations, I feel that there is one company who is especially good at going the extra mile for their customers. What is more, they have done business this way since the beginning, so they’ve got everything down to a science. That company, and this week’s Hall of Famer, is Disney. They always go the extra mile, ensuring that what their customers get is more than what was ever expected. Everything from their service to their park experiences to their parades tacks on the extra touch that makes all the difference to both children and adults alike.
Disney’s stories, characters and experiences reach consumers and guests from every corner of the globe. They have operations in over 40 countries, and their cast members (Disney word for employees) work together to create entertainment experiences that are both universally and locally cherished. Those words are straight from the Disney website, and they really ring true. In order to promote the idea that a Disney experience should be valued and cherished, the company and its employees always work to give more than expected. That’s part of what enhances the value in the first place, and it certainly promotes positive memories.
WHY GIVE MORE?
Often, a business looks at “giving more” as “spending more.” Here’s the truth: you don’t always have to spend money to add value. At Disney, they’re no doubt working with a multi-billion dollar budget–something most companies don’t have. However, Disney doesn’t need a big budget to make people smile. They simply need to have the right people working for them at the front lines, offering a friendly smile or directions to a nearby attraction, to offer those little extras.
It doesn’t take much to go the extra mile–yet so few companies do it. Take pause and look into ways your company can go above and beyond for your customer. It doesn’t have to cost anything more than politeness, a smile, or a helping hand.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Is there anything better than a child being surprised with a trip to Disney World? Here are some of the best reactions on the internet.
When it comes to your customers, it’s important to realize that building a relationship with them begins immediately. When you meet someone face to face, you have about seven seconds to make an impression. Seven seconds! The truth is, your website probably doesn’t have much longer than seven seconds to keep the attention of your customers and your potential customers. Everything from the color palette you choose to the font you use speaks volumes of who you are as a company–and what you stand for.
It’s not easy finding a pair of shoes that you like for a particular occasion. What is even worse is when you find the perfect pair, but your feet are slightly different sizes–and one of the shoes doesn’t fit well. Our feet, much like us as humans, aren’t perfect. In fact, many of us have feet that aren’t quite the same size. Whether one is longer, shorter, more wide, or more narrow, the shoe department at Nordstrom understands this–and they’ve been using it to their Purple Goldfish advantage for a long time.
Since 1901, the good people at Nordstrom have worked to deliver the best possible shopping experience, helping customers possess style—not just buy fashion. Additionally, they’re committed to providing their customers with good service. With 347 stores in 40 states and Canada, you can certainly tell that their commitment to their customers has taken them far in the world of retail. In addition to selling customers two different shoe sizes as needed, Nordstrom also offers free shipping and free returns, and mobile shopping.
WHY TWO SHOES SIZES?
If you’re one of those lucky people whose feet are the same size, I salute you. Speaking as someone whose left foot is slightly larger than his right foot, I can tell you that Nordstrom has a customer in me for life. I’m sure I can’t be the only person who feels this way. After all, most of us wear shoes every single day of our lives. It’s important that they fit well–and sometimes that means they have to be two different sizes.
Your customers are human. Realizing that they, just like you, are imperfect is they perfect way to find common ground. Purple Goldfish like these not only help you connect with your customers, but also help you retain them forever.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Ellen sent her beauty guru Kym Douglas to Nordstrom with a secret earpiece. The results are hilarious.
There is one on every corner–and thank goodness! Sometimes I just need my coffee. While some people might get annoyed by the fact that their seems to be a Starbucks everywhere you go, loyal customers couldn’t mind in the least. These customers are the ones who appreciate the little things that Starbucks does for them every time they enter the coffee shop–no matter which Starbucks it happens to be. From similar atmosphere to free iTunes downloads to samples of their latest creations, Starbucks knows how to make their customers feel like they’re visiting a good friend.
The story behind Starbucks is one of those feel-good stories that really makes an emotional connection with customers. Again, they’re all about giving their customers that warm fuzzy feeling and they’ve been that way since the beginning. According to the Starbucks website, “It’s just a moment in time – just one hand reaching over the counter to present a cup to another. But it’s a connection. We make sure everything we do honors that connection – from our commitment to the highest quality coffee in the world, to the way we engage with our customers and communities to do business responsibly. From our beginnings as a single store over forty years ago, in every place that we’ve been, and every place that we touch, we’ve tried to make it a little better than we found it.”
WHY FREE SAMPLES?
Starbucks believes in coffee. More than that, they believe that people can become connected over coffee. When you meet someone new, your first date takes place somewhere safe and simple–a coffee shop. Have a business meeting? You offer to meet them halfway at the coffee shop. Starbucks knows that people come to them to settle in and to connect. Free coffee helps people build a connection with Starbucks–and with one another.
Never doubt the power of a good connection. As humans, we need to connect with other people regularly in order to maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle. Starbucks realizes this–and they want to be the place customers go when they’re ready to slow down and connect with one another.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Did you know that Starbucks has a secret menu? Here are the reactions of people trying drinks off of the secret Starbucks menu–and they’re great.
Don’t get caught up in thinking that customer relationship management is just for those big box store brands. As it stands, managing the relationship you have with customers can make or break your business. If you’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, or something in between, I’m willing to bet that you’re wanting your business to succeed–and customer relationship management is key. Sure you can invest in expensive CRM software, but remember that all the software in the word can’t take the place of YOU.
Taking your children just about anywhere these days can be tough. Most places aren’t exactly “kid friendly.” I don’t know about you, but I find the grocery store to be one of the least kid friendly places out there. That is, unless the grocery store accounts for children as part of their business plan. Very few do, but businesses who know best seem to know that if the children are happy, the parents are happy. And if the parents are happy, businesses know that they’ll be frequented again and again–simply because they offered that little extra to parents. At least, that’s the case at Trader Joe’s.
When it comes to a good customer service experience, taking care of the customer is the number one way to make them happy. What many businesses forget is that oftentimes, while the customer base itself is not made up of children, it IS made up of people who HAVE children. Trader Joe’s has not forgotten it–in fact, they’ve embraced it since the 50’s. In addition to offering a variety of free samples (at several dedicated sampling stations) examples of Purple Goldfish for kids have included a stuffed whale (if you find him, your child gets a treat out of a treasure box and then you get to hide the whale yourself for others to find) and miniature carts.
WHY CHILD FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES?
If you’ve never gone grocery shopping with a small child, you can count yourself lucky. They want to sample the food (even the food that isn’t there to be sampled–like fruit) and they want to push the (often huge) grocery cart. Any grocery store that can get ahead of these basic needs parents experience simply by walking through the door is a solid place to do business.
When you take care of the needs of children, you take care of the needs of parents. While this seems like an easy concept, many businesses forget that children are often part of the equation for their customer base.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – There are a lot of reasons to love Trader Joe’s–and they don’t all have to do with children. Watch this video to learn more about what makes Trader Joe’s great.