Comcast profits were $1.99 billion for Q2 2014, up 15 percent from a year earlier, according to the company’s website. But the nation’s largest Internet and cable provider could be in for a rude awakening when third quarter earnings are released due to a bad summer of customer service.
Ryan Block, a San Francisco resident, recorded and uploaded the first customer service call heard round the world this past July. Block called to have his service cancelled, but was instead belittled for more than eight minutes by a retention agent. A few weeks later Youtube user Tim Davis uploaded another Comcast customer service call, this time catching company representatives lying about technician fees. Tom Karinshak, Comcast’s Customer Experience Vice President, said he was embarrassed by the calls and will take immediate action.
Large corporations are typically able to withstand these types of fiascoes. But small and medium-sized companies do not have this same luxury. Amazon, Chick Fil-A, and Trader Joe’s all earned spots on the 2014 Customer Service Hall Of Fame by Zogby Analytics and 24/7 Wall St. for their excellence. Every company can learn a few things from these perennial leaders in customer satisfaction.
The 2014 consumer has many avenues to engage a company, including smartphones, tablets, and of course brick-and-mortar stores. Companies that adapt to this new omni-channel consumer are putting themselves in the best position to succeed long term.
Amazon provides customers three ways to contact a representative: email, telephone, and live chat. The company understands that some people prefer text correspondence while others want to hear a voice. Now any company regardless of size can offer these same conveniences without breaking the bank for hardware.
There are several inexpensive options for cloud-based customer contact solutions to field inbound customer calls professionally and without land phone lines or physical telephones. A 2013 report by MIT found that 80 percent of customers check prices online before purchasing in store. Livezilla and Zopim are two options to consider for real-time chat on your website. Customers will see a pop-up window while checking prices, which creates the opportunity for live representatives to close a sale.
The world’s largest Internet retailer is even experimenting with brick-and-mortar stores. The first Amazon Web Services pop-up store opened near Westfield Mall in San Francisco this past June. Both customers and non-customers can test and purchase its cloud computing solutions right on-site. Ariel Kelman, of Amazon Web Services, told Bloomberg the store will serve as a model for additional physical shops in the coming years.
The Human Side
Mystery shopper and consumer data firm Mercantile Systems continually preaches to its clients that, when it comes to restaurants, customers are more likely to return for good service than good food. A simple, inexpensive way to ensure a positive customer experience is to greet them all with a smile.
Whether you’re in Arizona or Colorado, Chick-Fil-A employees will not only look you right in the eye and smile, but also use the phrase “my pleasure” as opposed to “your welcome.” The easiest way to get your employees to smile is to treat them with respect. It’s no coincidence that Chick Fil-A is the only restaurant to make the 2014 Customer Service Hall Of Fame, while also being rated one of top companies to work for by Glassdoor.
Once someone walks into a restaurant, they have already decided to buy something, most of the time. Give them what they want, which is a good overall experience and not just good food.
Trader Joe’s most loyal customers love the wide selection of wines and groceries, but also the overall culture. Employees wear Hawaiian shirts and communicate with one another with maritime bells rather than the traditional PA system. One bell ring lets the crew know that another cashier is needed up front, while three calls a manager to the register.
Market analytics firm Kissmetrics recommends hiring only people that fit your culture and are familiar with your company’s values and mission. Team building activities, like company-sponsored happy hours and holiday parties, will help employees see one another as part of a whole as opposed to individuals. The team mentality keeps everyone focused on a common goal, as opposed to individual accomplishments.
Good customer service simply requires a little effort and a lot of commitment. New customer and higher profits are sure to follow.