customer service

The Rewards of Listening

It seems like 2013 just got started and we are already at the end of January. Beginning a new year is always exciting, as Listeningwe typically resolve to make improvements. While not a resolution, I made a personal commitment to strive to listen better. Listening is vital – hearing what others are saying is what makes listening valuable and it ultimately has it own rewards.

As we close out January I am seriously awestruck by what I have heard from business prospects and clients throughout this month. Listening is just a start – how we react, respond and produce results is what truly matters.

As I’ve listened this month, here’s what I’ve heard:

“We want you to raise our retainer fee.” Now that’s a first. Our client asked us to raise our fee by a set percentage as they wanted our firm to share in their success. To me this may be the ultimate recognition of a true partnership between firm and client, and a wonderful compliment to our work. The resulting reward is that we raised the bar for what we will deliver every day in this client relationship to yet a whole new level.

“Listening to your passion makes me want to go to work for you.” When the prospect says that after hearing your firm’s pitch for their business, you know they have already experienced the passion your team brings in their work. The resulting reward is a foundation of trust to build the working relationship with passion to help them achieve their goals.

“Best pitch ever. You blew the others away with your creativity.” Those are strong sentiments to hear after your team pitches a highly competitive national prospect. Yes, we won the business as the result of tenacious teamwork and creativity that positively differentiates our work. The resulting reward is that we continue to improve and innovate internally so we can share those great ideas with clients to grow their business.

The rewards of listening are not in hearing your own voice or thoughts but rather in experiencing the end result of what dedication, passion and creativity articulate in their own ways. You bet I will be listening even more.

Flooded with Customer Service

Keith McNeill PlumbingWhere do you expect to receive the very best customer service? When asked that question, most people would likely respond a five star restaurant or hotel. For me, the most extraordinary customer service I have recently experienced came from a Tallahassee plumbing company, Keith McNeill Plumbing.

Needing a plumber for a house call is not typically described as a pleasant experience, but the personal and complete customer service I received was positively memorable. Starting with the call to office; I was greeted by name and asked when it would be convenient for me to have the visit scheduled, followed by an offer of a 20 minute advance notification call to my cell to allow my travel time from my office.

Like clockwork 20 minutes before the appointed time, I received the call from Keith McNeill’s office staff to notify me that the technician, Nathan, would be at our home at 2:00. When I pulled in the driveway, I was greeted by a clean cut, smiling plumber who extended his hand introducing himself as Nathan and he began to review the planned repairs.

I had called for two specific items, one of which I thought would be a minor repair and the other request which I anticipated to be more extensive. As I walked Nathan through the house, he was greeted by and quickly befriended our Shih Tzu, Bailey. Nathan took less than a minute to fix a small issue in a hallway bathroom. I then showed him the bigger concern where water leaked from the bottom of the toilet in the master bathroom. After a minute of exploration Nathan identified the source as small leak in a flex hose; another quick repair for what I thought was a major problem.

Having quickly resolved the two requests, he asked if there was anything else I would like to have him look at while he was here. I took advantage of the time and asked a couple of questions about a proposed sink replacement in the kitchen. Nathan asked what we had in mind, offered some related suggestions, took quick measurements, called his parts supplier, gave me an estimate and told me he was scheduled to be back in our neighborhood the next week and the replacement could be done at that time if we were ready. 

As he was writing up our ticket, he offered us a special discount for a residential promotion the company was offering. He also reviewed the invoice with me to see if I had any questions.  He then thanked me for calling Keith McNeill Plumbing and left me a postage paid evaluation card regarding the service call. A handshake and smile completed a very pleasant plumbing repair experience.

Already pleased with the plumbing repair, I was further impressed when two days later, I received a hand written card from Chase McNeill thanking us for our patronage, following up on the status of the repair and requesting us to keep Keith McNeill Plumbing in mind for any referrals.

So here I am, happy to make an intro to and giving Keith McNeill Plumbing a five-star rating for plumbing service in Tallahassee. The true measurement of excellent customer service is the unsolicited accolades from an impressed client/customer. Total teamwork from Keith McNeill Plumbing for the customer service win!

A bite of the Apple

I was one of the fortunate 07/11, day of debut purchasers of an iPhone. As a confirmed BlackBerry user for six years with a PC on my desktop, this was a big day. After two weeks of use, I have become a solid convert. That may not sound unusual but here is the rest of the story.

iPhone 3GiPhone 3G

After waiting two hours in line to purchase my iPhone, my time with the clerk took longer than most everyone around me as she could not get the unit to complete the initial sync. Still euphoric for having one of the first 3G black 16GB units I tried to get some regular work done throughout the day. Looking through the accessories, I noticed I did not get the additional case I had purchased in my bag from the store. As my iPhone and I were getting accustomed to one another , I noticed the unit quickly went from warm to hot and the battery was draining in less than two hours with limited use. After taking forever for my new iPhone to get recharged, I headed back to the local AT&T store in Tallahassee. The helpful chaps there said I had to call AppleCare to get service or support and gladly handed me the case that was left out without question.

AT&T

AT&T

On my fourth day of iPhone ownership, AT&T gave me a “courtesy call” noticing I had accumulated over $1,200 in data charges since 07/11. They called to make sure I had the correct plan set up for my iPhone and after catching my breath, I assured them repeatedly I had selected the unlimited data plan. Great call on their part to not send a loyal customer to an early grave.

My dealings with AppleCare on the battery issue the following day were equally as satisfying. They first offered for me to send my iPhone to have them repair and return it; quickly amending their offer to send a replacement and I was to send my original back within a certain time frame. My new iPhone arrived next day delivery with complete instructions and everything for an easy return of my original.

A wait in line, slow checkout, missing merchandise, major billing error and product replacement all within four days – this sounds like a monumental opportunity to rant, complain and bad mouth on a blog.

Much to the contrary. AT&T and AppleCare are the Ritz Carlton of wireless providers and devices. Both are major corporate entities that took time to listen, resolve a billing issue and replace a product in a prompt, polite and responsible manner.

Any one of these issues could have damaged or destroyed a loyal customer relationship; instead they built and solidified customer loyalty. Imagine going through this and still telling everyone these are great customer service companies – they are! Oh by the way, my new iPhone 3G is functional and fun!