Companies wanting to up their customer service game need to take a leaf out of Nordstrom’s book. Here are just a few aspects that put Nordstrom far above their competitors.
Lines are eliminated as much as possible. Nordstrom salespeople can offer to ring up purchases without the customer ever having to stand in line most of the time.
Salespeople are trained to walk bagged purchases around the corner to the customer as apposed to just handing it to them from across the counter.
Customers that have questions about where an item or department is located generally are walked to the location. A Nordstrom salesperson rarely directs via pointing.
1 to 1 service ratio. In most Nordstrom departments, there is a salesperson designated to serving customers with finding sizes.
An excellent return policy. Nordstrom’s return policy is by far a convenience that pushes the company far above its competition. No matter how long ago a purchase was made, how worn out it is, or whether or not the customer has the receipt, if there is a reason why the item is not working for the customer, Nordstrom will accept it as a return.
Nordstrom is testament to the fact that if you bend over backwards to help and serve your customers, your efforts will be rewarded.
When we think of customer service, we generally think of face-to face interaction. And in this conventional sense, customer service is at its best in a retail store where a personal interaction between customers and retailer can occur.
However, Amazon, an online company, has consistently made it in the NRF Foundation’s Customer Choice Awards: Top Ten. So how does an online company come in so high with their customer service? Evolution. The digital age has forced customer service to evolve, and Amazon not only kept up with the changes, but led the way in some of the innovation.
A key part of providing quality customer service is efficiently being able to communicate to customers. As a driving force behind the e-commerce movement, Amazon still prioritizes interaction and communication with customers; they just do it in an unconventional way. Amazon reaches their customers through channels of the customers’ choice. Through texts, emails, and other forms customers can make a purchase 24/7.
Some may consider non-traditional customer service methods as impersonal, but the way in which Amazon executes their system works, and it works well. It is through their efficient and effective way of communicating with their clients that Amazon has built a brand often described as efficient, fast, reliable, no hassle, easy, and free shipping.
Don’t be afraid of going with an out-of-the-box approach to your customer service, but make sure that whatever you do go out-of-the-box, you do well.
Some companies are beginning to view customer service as a marketing tool, and for good reason –it’s profitable.
Instead of viewing customer service as just a department or a necessary hoop to jump through, companies are starting to build their whole business model around customer service, and are essentially making customer service a business culture.
Just take a look at the NRF Foundation’s Customer Choice Awards. For both 2010 and 2011, the same ten companies made the top ten list. It isn’t just a coincidence that these brands are consistently associated with good customer service. These brands have made customer service a priority and a company culture.
Customer support shouldn’t be viewed as a cost, but as an opportunity to serve your customers, and by extension, an opportunity to market to and through them. Make customer service a priority and you’ll create three things for your company:
“Evangelizing” customers singing your praise.
Some of the best marketing and advertising comes from your customers’ experience. If you make a business promise and keep it, customers will love you for it and keep coming back for more while bring friends along with them.
There are a number of department stores that are excellent at providing good customer service, but here are three that really stand out and go the extra mile for their customers.
Nordstrom’s deals in convenience, and offer ways to make your life easier. For instance, you can return items with or without a receipt, and return things bought online without receipt.
Kohl’s gives their customers the power of choice with the options of making an exchange, making a return, or receiving store credit.
Dillard’s makes things easier on their customers by putting stickers on all purchases. These stickers act as a receipt, and as long as the sticker is still on the item, you don’t need a receipt to return a gift.
Tips to making your transaction smoother when taking gifts back to the store:
Be prepared and have a game plan: Know which store you are making the transaction at, and ensure you can make the return by keeping your receipt.
If you are not going to use a gift, don’t open it: Have your gift packed in the way you received it. If you tear open the gift, the odds of you being able to return it go down significantly.
Do your homework, review the return policy: This is important to keep in mind. Store employees may not know their own store’s return policy, and you may have more knowledge on what is returnable. Avoid an argument by knowing what is and is not allowed before going into the store.
If you don’t want a gift, don’t say anything to the giver: This is just good manners, no one wants to hear that you don’t like their gift. And if you are going to do any re-gifting, make sure you don’t re-gift to the same person.
Being prepared, doing your homework and being courteous will go a long way not only with gift return service, but in receiving better customer service in general.
In case you missed Royalyn Reid, CEO of CMI on Good Morning Texas last week, here are a few pointers that will help you receive better customer service this holiday shopping season.
Plan ahead: Avoid the compulsive buying by making a list and developing a plan of attack before you venture out on your shopping trip. Stores want you to buy, buy, buy, and that can not only be bad for your budget, it can cause additional stress and confusion. Know what you want to buy before you shop.
Do your homework: There are a lot of deals going on this holiday season, and doing your homework prior to browsing the stores can save you money, time, and convenience. Some stores are offering special online deals that will help you avoid the holiday shopping frenzy like Macy’s on-line holiday gift guide and Toys “R” Us’s holiday express store. Other stores like Best Buy are offering to price match with competitors, which can also save you time and money.
Be courteous: Remember the employees working are people just like you. Going back to the basics and being calm and polite can go a long way. Treat the holiday workers with the respect you expect in return and you are more likely to have a better experience.
Enjoy the holiday season: Be careful not to get caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy. Remember what the holiday season is all about. When you shop, shop with purpose, but don’t lose focus and get caught up in it all.
Conference management is a challenging industry that requires a big picture understanding, and seamless execution of the smallest logistical details. Every aspect of conference management has the ability to make or break the conference and an attendee’s experience. Strategic market research can help conference planners to improve and streamline their process, and make sure that every conference is a hit.
Here are some marketing research essentials you don’t want to forget.
Establish your target audience: Don’t underestimate the who, what, where, when and why questions. You need to first make sure you have an audience for your conference before you start management an even that potentially no one will attend. Once you have established that there is an audience, you need to figure out the best way to reach them as far as what venue to choose and the best time frame for the conference. You wouldn’t want to plan your conference in the middle of a city downtown if most of your conference attendants will be commuting from rural area, and you wouldn’t want to plan an accounting conference in the middle of the busy season in early April, or you a government conference during a busy time.
Research your competition: You can’t stand out from the competition if you don’t know who they are or what they specialize in. Research what your competitors are doing well, as well as what they are doing poorly. Learning from your competition can put you ahead. Learn from their mistakes, and match or exceed what they do well.
Focus on customer service and satisfaction: Your clients will definitely notice when you go above and beyond the call of duty. Always under promise and over deliver. If you give your clients more than what they are asking for and expecting, you are sure to win. Take care of every detail, and anticipate your clients needs and wants.
Don’t forget to get conference feedback: As perfectly as an conference is executed, there is always room for improvement. The best way to judge the success of the conference is to do a post-conference analysis. This can be done in a number of different ways, but the most efficient way seems to be through a post-conference survey. Ask attendants to fill out a questionnaire about their experience, what they liked and what they disliked. Take any and all feedback as constructive feedback, and learn from it.
If you watched the Olympics this summer at all, you can’t help but be in awe of all of the Olympians’ determination and dedication. The athletes’ whole life careers came down to a couple of weeks on the world’s largest stage. However, getting to that point wasn’t an accomplishment they achieved all on their own. Each team, and in some cases each athlete, had an individual in the background who played a pivotal role in their success, their coach.
In this summer’s Olympics, and in the Paralympics going on right now, coaches stood by their athlete(s) and provided positive reinforcement and encouragement. A coach’s job is to push their athletes to the next level and provide constructive criticism, but from observing the Olympic coaches it appears that positive feedback is what produces performance. These athletes are the best of the best at what they do, and yet they still need coaching and positive feedback.
This is a powerful message that we can all learn from, especially employers. As the “coach” of your company, it is your job to push your team to the next level. The performance level of your business directly correlates with how well you are doing your job. Are you providing positive feedback or are you only speaking up when something goes wrong? Are the praises you give overshadowed by the amount of negativity that comes out of your mouth?
Frequent positive feedback results in employees who perform better. And even if you do give some positive feedback, if it isn’t on a consistent basis, it could lose its benefit. Four positive comments are required to make up ground from every one negative comment. There will be times when you must step in and make corrections and be the disciplinarian, but in general, if you want fast results, positive feedback is the way to go.
If you are constantly giving positive feedback, employees will also be more receptive to other types of feedback. Positive feedback works, and it builds an enjoyable company environment that encourages individuals to thrive. And if your employees are thriving, odds are your business will to. Learning this lesson from the Olympic coaches may just help you and your company team achieve results that of Olympic proportion.
CMI’s Royalyn Reid weighs in on 1200 WOAI Stereotype Search article:
Is Texas ‘stupid?’
A researcher who used the technique of what is called ‘Google autocomplete,’ checked out what the stereotypes are of all fifty states, and Renee DiResta says he found some interesting results.
She began by typing the names into Google and used the search engine’s autocomplete function to complete the query.
When ‘why is Texas so…’ is typed in, the first result is, not surprisingly, hot. But the second result is ‘stupid.’
“We know that perception is reality,” says Royalyn Reid, who is a cultural sensitivity specialist at the marketing group ‘The CMI Team’ based in Dallas. “What have we done, directly, or indirectly, to earn the perception of being stupid?”
It could be a lot worse. Alabama brings up the image ‘racist.’ Maine and Indiana bring up the image ‘boring.’ It’s ‘Why is Oregon so weird,’ and ‘Why is California so expensive.’
“Once you have identified these stereotypes, you put that marketing campaign together and move forward,” she said. “A lot of times, you can get to the root of it you can control perceptions, from a marketing standpoint.”
She points out that it’s not all bad. After ‘hot’ and ‘stupid,’ another response is ‘why is Texas so awesome.’