Steve Ferrante's High Performance Blog for Sales/Customer Service/Leadership Champs and Progressive Professionals!

Posts tagged ‘Pinnacle Performance Training’

Leader Lessons in Delivering World-Class Customer Service from Amazon.com

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I love Amazon! Over the past 10 years or so, I have purchased countless items from Amazon.com; books, office supplies, DVD’s, electronics, coffee, assorted gifts and a lot more. In fact, rarely does a week go by without at least one Amazon package arriving from UPS.  I even have my own “Recommended Reading Store” powered by Amazon.com. You can (and really should) visit it here > Steve’s Recommended Reading

Apparently, I am not alone in my infatuation with the company. In the published 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings, Amazon was ranked #1 in customer service out of 143 large companies across 12 industries. According to Temkin, the results were based on feedback from 6,000 US consumers that evaluated three components of the customer experience:

  1. FunctionalHow well do experiences meet consumers’ needs?
  2. AccessibleHow easy is it for consumers to do what they want to do?
  3. EmotionalHow do consumers feel about the experiences?

Anyone who has participated in my Pinnacle Performance sales/customer service training can tell you this is remarkably similar to my teachings of the ingredients of a properly-balanced world-class customer service organization. As an example, far too often I see businesses that focus too much attention on meeting customers “functional” needs, compromising or outright neglecting the “emotional” aspects of the customer experience.

As I have stated many times, great customer service is a feeling thing; its how the customer feels when they’re doing business with you and, more importantly, how they feel and the stories they tell when their business transaction is complete. Amazon, as well as any company, figured this out and committed to consistently delivering a complete customer experience.

Speaking of Amazon’s customer-centric philosophy and success, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said;

“If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word of mouth is so very, very powerful.”

Here are a few Amazon best practices that every tire/auto service business can also do to improve the customer experience, customer retention and sales:

  • They Personalize

When you purchase an item (any item) from Amazon, you will often receive an email back that reads “customers that purchased what you just purchased are also interested in these items”.  Every time you visit their website and search for an item you are also shown alternative items that other customers have ultimately purchased. These types of recommendations personalize the customer experience and make customers feel like someone is paying attention and is interested in helping them. Speaking from personal experience, Amazon not only knows my buying history they use it effectively to introduce me to other items aligned with my interests.

How well do you monitor and manage your customers specific service/product purchase potential? How well do you communicate this with them in ways that do not feel generic or one-size-fits-all?

  • They Keep You Informed

One of the biggest consumer grievances in all of customer service is the lack of progress updates once a business transaction is underway. This is especially true of service providers where consumers typically experience anxiety and frustration when they are not kept informed of developments with their job.

This issue rarely, if ever, occurs at Amazon. Place and order and you’ll receive an instant email with your order confirmation and estimated time of delivery. Not long after that first email you’ll receive another with your shipping information and tracking number. Any questions along the way can easily be administered by email or, if you prefer, by calling a real live human-being on their customer service line.

Do you practice pro-active customer-contact? When customers are waiting for service, do you check-in with them and provide progress updates? Do you phone customers if their service may be longer than originally anticipated?

  • They Reward You

Amazon apparently understands a fact I reference in my training; keeping your existing customers is cheaper and more profitable than getting new ones. Accordingly, they have created a rewards program that, well, rewards customers for their loyalty.  As an Amazon Rewards card holder, members receive points on purchases transacted with the card and can then apply those points as rebate dollars towards future purchases – something I regularly do!

Amazon is not alone in this endeavor. Most industry-leading retail and service companies have some type of customer rewards or loyalty program. Why? Because they work to strengthen the customer relationship, make customers feel that their business is valued above and beyond the transaction at hand, and provide an added incentive to continue the relationship.

What does your customer rewards program look like? If you don’t have one, why not? Are you losing business to competitors that may be benefiting from their program?

  • They Practice Customer-First When Things Go Wrong

As I wrote in my Winning and Losing with Customer Complaints article in Tire Review magazine, the true test of a business’s customer service effort is not when things are going right – but rather what is done when things go wrong.

Consider this personal experience I had while attempting to purchase an MP3 player as a Christmas present for my daughter. Below is the self-explanatory communication between myself and Amazon customer service.

Me

My MP3 product was delivered today. It arrived in a thin white box with “BP Consulting” on the return address. I opened it and was (still am) shocked and upset to find the product in a plastic bag with PC connecting wire and headphones – that’s it. There is no original product packaging, users manual, mfg info, etc. I will leave packaging feedback with photo shortly.
This is a gift and I can’t give it as is. Looks like I purchased, discarded packaging, used and re-gifted this way.

 Very Disappointed and Need Resolution ASAP (or sooner)

Actual response from Amazon.com Customer Service (received 3 hours after original message)

Hello,

I’m sorry to hear if your MP3 disc player arrived that way. This usually doesn’t happen. We make every attempt to package items securely to protect them during shipping, but sometimes cases like this occur.

We always appreciate customer input on how we can improve our store, and I’ve forwarded your message to our shipping department.

I want to make this things right for you, so I’ve requested a full refund of $79.99 for the MP3 disc player, since you received the item that way. This refund will appear as a credit on your American Express card in the next 2-3 business days.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Did I solve your problem?

Best regards,

Donna A.

Amazon.com

This response is right on many levels; there’s empathy, appreciation, no blame, accountability and action. You’ll notice I didn’t ask for a refund but that’s exactly what I received. Customer service champs like Amazon realize it is far better to lose a little bit now then it is risking the loss of a customer for life.

Do you have a customer-first complaint resolution process? Do all your employees understand and are empowered to use it?

Amazon practices world-class customer service every day. Following their lead can make a real difference in your business results as well!

Steve

Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit saleawayllc.com

Got PRIDE?

P.R.I.D.E. is an acronym for Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence!

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My Pinnacle Performance sales, customer service and winning team culture training is driven by research of world-class organizations; market leaders, customer service champs and many companies that are also considered to be the best places to work in the world. What did these businesses do to achieve their market superiority? What are the best practices and principles that guide and motivate their culture, engage and influence their customers, and deliver high-performance results? And, most importantly, how do you apply these winning elements in your organization?

As I pinball around North America training organizations on Pinnacle Performance we learn (and work to adopt and institutionalize) the answers to those questions. Answers that would take far more time than we have here and now.

However, there is something you can (and very much should) do now that will have a substantial positive impact on your organizations performance. That’s something is practicing PRIDE in all that your organization does.

I want to be clear here… Most executives already believe they have PRIDE. If you’re an owner or senior manager then it’s safe to say that you’re likely committed to delivering excellence in your organization. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that results for an organization are rarely the result of the senior executives efforts alone. By and large results originate from the employees that meet, greet and interact with customers (and potential customers) at the point-of-sale.  It is here that PRIDE is most vulnerable and often falters.

Let me give you an example… One of the companies I cover in training is a leading gourmet retailer. I’m intentionally leaving out their name here but they are a very popular, recognizable brand that most likely has a store location a short distance from where you are now. Their sales/customer service model for employees is a fairly straightforward 3 principles: Connect, Discover, Respond. This is how employees are trained and what they should be doing on a customer-by-customer basis to deliver the best results for the customer and, ultimately, the business.

The reality is that this model, and every other training model, only works when the employees that need to carry it out have true PRIDE. When I teach about the gourmet retailer, countless trainees think or say “I’ve been there… that didn’t happen to me”. That is true and the answer as to why often goes back to the employees lack of PRIDE.

Doesn’t training teach PRIDE? Good question.. In short, no. As the first letter implies, PRIDE is something personal. It is fostered by effective leadership and enriched by a winning team culture environment and should certainly be reinforced in training.

Here’s another example…

A popular restaurant chain (again, leaving name out intentionally) with locations through-out North America trains their staff that when greeting a party seated at their table they should 1) squat down to eye level or sit at table if a seat is available and 2) ask if guests have eaten at the restaurant before so they can welcome appropriately. I have likely personally dined at this establishment over 50 times in the past 10 years alone and have only seen this simple 2-step act maybe 1/3 of the time. I’d bet that percentage is pretty accurate for all guest greetings across the chain. Again, ALL staff is trained that way, not 1/3. The simple answer for the discrepancy is PRIDE. Many employees that attend training (and ultimately work for a business) are tourists, they’re just along for the ride and really don’t care what the company wants. The most important thing to these disengaged folks when they attend training is “what time is lunch?” and “when do we get out of here?”  

Your organization may be preaching and teaching world-class practices and principles but if the employees are simply going through the motions and don’t buy-in and commit to practicing PRIDE then results will suffer.

PRIDE is the executable of Pinnacle Performance. To maximize results, all employees must practice PRIDE every day in all customer interactions. 

Show Your PRIDE! Print this poster and display where your team can see it daily > Champions PRIDE Poster

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services visit saleawayllc.com. Steve can be reached @ steve@saleawayllc.com

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