Loyalty Fortune Cookie #003

“Dis-Loyalty is like a distant lightning strike… you might not see what it is impacting”
~ Chris Antonelli | Fantasticfailures.com

Loyalty Fortune Cookie #002

“Running a survey without a program, is like riding a rollercoaster without a seatbelt!” 
~ Chris Antonelli | Fantasticfailures.com

Loyalty Fortune Cookie #001

Loyalty Fortune Cookie #001
“Failures are  inevitable, but the recovery is a choice.”  ~ Chris Antonelli | Fantasticfailures.com

The Ultimate Service!

Many years ago I was working as a Technical Support Manager handling high level customer escalations in-order to ensure customer loyalty was retained during “sticky” situations.

During these escalations I constantly had to to interact directly with Executive Teams within my company and our customers to help bring resolution to complex issues. To say that some of these interactions were intense would be an understatement. I am pretty calm under pressure, but during this time there were a few situations that really got me worked up. My boss at the time (Ron Hine) gave me some really good advice. He said “Chris, remember this isn’t brain surgery, no one is going to die over these situations”… it was a great reminder that yes, take my job seriously, but in the end put it in context too that someones life isn’t on the line.

Well, today I was thinking of Veterans Day and it got me reflecting about how we say “thank you for your service” to these men and women who have literally given up their rights and lives in-order to serve us… WOW! Yes, I love what I do for a living, love helping people, and am very passionate about customer loyalty… but there isn’t anything life threatening about it… the military personnel and families on the other hand literally DO put their lives on the line in the name of serving our country and therefore me.

So, I want to say THANK YOU for serving our country, thank you for serving ME in such a powerful way. Words cannot express my gratitude for you giving your life to provide The Ultimate Service for our country. God, Please bless America’s troops and their families!

What Motivates Employees: Required Training for Business Leaders

“Engage Employees to Engage Customers to Engage Customer Loyalty!” ~Chris Antonelli

I have had a long standing belief that “engaged” employees are one of the main keys to customer loyalty. When we are truly and fully engaged in something we tend to apply all of our cognitive skills to it… rather than just going through the motions and doing the bare minimum to complete the task.

We have all been “served” by someone who is not engaged and not really there to serve us… they are there to make their money and apply the least amount of effort in doing so… but we have probably all experienced the inverse of that too where the person serving us is really engaged and seems to be “on their game” going above and beyond… so what is the difference and how do we “Engage Employees to Engage Customers to Engage Customer Loyalty!”

“Freedom from Command and Control” is a great book and business philosophy going around right now… this concept basically boils down to empowering your employees to do the right thing and encouraging them to utilize their cognitive skills to do their day to day work. One great example of this business philosophy in action is Zappos:

  • In 2001, Zappos more than quadrupled their yearly sales, bringing in $8.6 million
  • In 2003, Zappos reached $70 million in growth sales
  • Over the next three years, Zappos doubled their annual revenues, hitting $840 million in gross sales by 2007
  • In 2008, Zappos hit $1 billion in annual sales, two years earlier than expected (one year later, they fulfilled their other long-term goal, debuting at #23 on Fortune’s Top 100 Companies to Work For

Why has Zappos be so successful? Most would agree it is because their Customer Loyalty is second to none. CEO Tony Hsieh of Zappos believes “Empower and trust your employees. When you take care of your employees they take pride in the work they do, which helps to provide the ultimate customer service.”

So, What Motivates Employees to perform at these levels? Well, here is a video that I believe best articulates this business philosophy and should be Required Training for Business Leaders

The surprising truth about what motivates us:

References:
http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zappos.com
http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/4912-q-a-zappos-jane-judd-on-customer-loyalty

Guest Blog: Bruce Temkin

What separates Apple from the rest of the technology pack?

I work with a lot of technology-oriented companies filled with engineers and scientists. Many of those firms create products that do great things, but they’re missing an ingredient found in Apple’s products: Emotion.

Most engineering teams work feverishly on meeting functional requirements, some also put effort into making their product easy to use, but very, very few worry about the emotional response of users. What happens? Some customers end up liking their products, but not many love them. Apple, on the other hand, also worries about how customers will feel about its products, and customers love them for it.

Certainly, Steve Jobs is responsible for much of Apple’s success. But it wasn’t one man that made the company’s products great. He pushed the organization to understand the nuance of design. Sometimes little things like a rounded edge, a softer color, or a larger icon really matter. These small changes can be the difference between customers using or not using products or between them liking or loving them.

When companies worry about function and ease of use, they’re doing what they’ve been taught to do: Engineering.  But Apple shows that it’s not enough. They need to worry about Experience Design, which requires focusing on three areas: 

  • Functional: Does it do what you want it to do?
  • Accessible: How easy is it to do what you want to do?
  • Emotional: How does it make you feel?

If you want customers to love your products, then make the move from engineering to Experience Design

***********************
Bruce Temkin is a Customer Experience Transformist & Managing Partner

of Temkin Group. He is also Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and writes a popular blog, Customer Experience Matters.

Steve Jobs Legacy – Great products and people win customer loyalty!

Sadly, Steve Jobs lost his battle with cancer yesterday, October 5, 2011

A long long time ago I was fortunate enough to get my first “high tech” job with a small software company called Aladdin Systems who were the makers of StuffIt for the Macintosh. My job was to provide customer service and front line technical support to our customers. I loved this job, working with customers, and working with the MAC… but eventually I left that company and started working in the PC market because frankly there were a lot more jobs available in those days in the PC market.

Many years passed before I used another Apple product, but I always remained an Apple fan… then one year Apple came out with the iPod, which gave me an alternate way to consume Apple products. I really liked my iPod a lot and used it daily, but then Apple came out with the iPhone which I believe revolutionized the way we use technology today. I had been using a Blackberry before the iPhone came out and liked it enough, but when I first started using the iPhone it was WORLDS above anything I had ever used before and still is today… I was an immediate promoter.

When I heard the news about Steve passing away it made me think about how he had impacted our world and what his legacy would be. It also made me reflect on how he impacted my life and the numerous times I had spoken about Apple’s Net Promoter Score being one of the bars for success because it was at iconic levels like Harley Davidson. I believe Steve jobs greatest legacy goes well beyond the products and something much more fundamental. He knew it took both great products and great people to win customer loyalty and he knew this strategy was a differentiator because this posture is rare in business today… hopefully more and more companies will get back to these fundamentals and follow the example of Steve Jobs.

#ThankYouSteve

Follow-up – Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa… sprints to the finish!

I recently posted a blog post about Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa where I explained how I was disappointed with my experience and their efforts to recover my loyalty… this follow-up blog is about how they “sprinted to the finish” to 100% recover my loyalty.

When I wrote the blog entry about Teton Mountain Lodge I decided I would forward it to their General Manager. I looked up his email address and forwarded it to him thinking I probably would not hear back. The next morning when I checked my email I was surprised to see a personal response from the General Manager and was even more surprised about what he said. Here is his email to me:

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Dear Mr. Antonelli,

Thank you for sharing your blog. I can see clearly that we missed the boat in dealing with your complaint. While we pride ourselves on friendliness and care in dealing with complaints, in this case, that wasn’t quite enough. Sadly, coming close doesn’t help you when we don’t reach the finish line.

I am grateful that you took the opportunity to give us another chance with your survey and disappointed in ourselves that we let the second chance slip away as well. I am further grateful that you reached out to me directly with what I see as a third chance. I hope that by sending me the link to your blog, you presented not only with a ‘teachable moment’ (which we are using to full advantage) but also with a final opportunity to recover your future business and recommendation.

In light of both the initial complaint and our incomplete attempts as resolution, I would be pleased if you would accept my offer of a refund of two nights room and tax charges.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your feedback. As I wrote above, we pride ourselves on resolving problems, but when we think we know what will make a situation right, it is easy to forget to ask our customer what they think will make it right. Rest assured, even if it is too late to recover your business, we will use your encounter to learn and do better for our future customers.

Warm regards,
Tyler Barker
General Manager
Teton Mountain Lodge

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… all I can say is WOW… this is exactly the type of response I was looking for and I responded to him with the below email:
——————————————
Dear Mr. Barker,

Thank you for the quick reply to my email. I was pleasantly surprised to get a personal reply from you and appreciate you taking the time to do so. This type of response goes a long way and demonstrates that you and your team are very serious about building customer loyalty… something I do not take lightly!

I am very encouraged to hear that you view this as a “teachable moment’… this is a lost posture in the service industry today and further proves that you “get it”. I am also pleased to except your offer for a refund of two nights room and tax charges… this offer was above an beyond my expectations and negated any doubt I had about your company.

I talked this over with my wife and we both agree that you have indeed recovered our business for our next trip and are grateful that we have obviously found a company who is willing to make things right when things unexpectedly go awry. My entire bog is about taking potential loyalty failures and turning them into gold “fantastic failures” … you have done that and I can hardly wait to post an update about how amazingly you did it.

Much Appreciation,
Chris Antonelli

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So there you have it… My entire Blog is about “Fantastic Failures”… it is about turning potentially damaging experiences into positive, loyalty building “golden” opportunities. I am now looking forward to my next stay at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa knowing they do not take customer loyalty lightly… and I have just a little bit more faith that there are still service professionals that take pride in the service they provide.

Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa… so much potential, but ends up disappointing!

This summer I decided it was time to take my family on a memorable summer vacation. It had been nearly 3 years since we had been on a true vacation due to my work commitments after the company I work for was acquired. Don’t get me wrong, I still spent lots of time with the family, did some weekend getaways, and even had multiple “workations” where the family traveled with me and they played while I worked… but we hadn’t had a true “bona fide” vacation for way too long.

After looking at our options my wife and I agreed it would be great to visit Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. We figured this would be the perfect mix of driving distance from Seattle (14 hours), outdoor adventures, and great selection of hotels. I started mapping our journey and decided we would stop at Missoula Montana for one night, then head onto West Yellowstone Montana for two nights, and then Jackson Hole Wyoming for 4 nights and then map a new route home while in Jackson Hole. I don’t know about you, but we are pretty frugal with our money. When we go on vacation however we try to have a portion of the trip where we get to live it up for a few days too. We mostly stay at reasonable hotels under $150 a night and then we always pick one really nice resort type hotel in the $300 range that we stay at for a few days too.

Ok, so now that you know the back story and how amazing our trip was, let me focus on one part of our journey that had so much potential, but ended up disappointing…

When I was searching for hotels near Jackson Hole I found a lot of potential hotels that looked good, but decided to use Trip Advisor to find the “cream of the crop” for the price range I was looking for. I heard really good things about the Teton Village which is outside of Jackson and ended up looking for hotels in that area. I came across “Teton Mountain Lodge”. The reviews were amazing, it had 192 reviews and was rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by those reviews… I thought to myself…. Jackpot! I went on their website and found a really good rate, plus I found a coupon to reduce the rate and give us a daily breakfast credit. I booked my reservation and was all set to go. I decided to call them the next day to inform them this was a special family vacation and we would appreciate a great room assignment. The person on the phone was VERY helpful and said I was booked on the 5th floor (top level) and facing the Teton Mountain range… perfect!

When we arrived at the Teton Mountain Lodge it was right at the foot of the Teton Mountain range and the scenery and hotel were both beautiful. I went inside to check-in and the front desk staff was again VERY helpful and welcoming, a bellhop was immediately there to help me and he was one of the best bellhops I have ever had. The bellhop gathered our luggage and room keys and we took the elevator to the second floor?? .. ok I wasn’t going to say anything even though I was a little surprised… we got off the elevator and walked down a long hall and took a left… but wait… the mountain was to the right… hmmm…. when he opened the room it was really VERY nice accommodations and had a balcony… so again I didn’t say anything. Once the bellhop left I decided to go out onto the balcony and check out the view… I still hadn’t decided if I was going to say anything to the front desk. When I opened the sliding glass door I immediately heard this really loud wind sound… it actually sounded like a hurricane! I looked down and there was a large metal grate on the ground floor the size of two large SUV’s…I think it might have been a really large air conditioning unit… whatever it was.. it was VERY loud! Plus the view although decent was of the valley NOT a view of the mountain!

I went inside and my wife asked me what was wrong… because I don’t have a great poker face. I told her I was pretty disappointed with the room because I had gone through so much trouble to make sure it was going to be that “cream of the crop” part of the trip. Yes the room amenities and decorations were great, but the valley view and the fact that I had a constant mechanical hurricane out my balcony really diminished my “value for price” assessment of the room. At that point I decided to approach the front desk with the issue and explain gracefully the whole situation.

The front desk supervisor was again VERY pleasant, but she was unable to find another room that night and said she might be able to move us up one floor and on the mountain side the next day… but we would need to be out of our room early in the morning and would not have access to our new room until late in the day. It sounded less than ideal because we have 2 young kids that sometimes need to take naps, but I told her I would talk it over with my wife and let her know. We decided it would be too difficult to repack everything and not have access to the room all day, so I called her and told her that wasn’t an option for us and we ended up staying in the mechanical hurricane room. When I asked her why we lost our assigned room she was not able to give me a straight answer. I found out from another staff person that the Teton Mountain Lodge is run like a hotel, but each room is independently owned and if one of the owners decides to come… even last minute… they get priority. That makes sense for the owners, but can leave guests like us out on a limb.

I bounced back and enjoyed our stay. The hotel staff was great, the food was good, the location was great, the room setup and décor was great… and overall it was a good stay, but on the day of check-out I decided to give them one more chance to recover my business and told the front desk manager what had happened. She was VERY polite, apologized, and even offered us one free night stay during our next visit. I know this was a nice gesture, but it just didn’t sit well with me or recover my loyalty. I would have much rather had a credit for one night rather than a hook to get me back for another visit. I thanked her and left still feeling disloyal to the Teton Mountain lodge.

After getting resettled at home and work for a few days I started reflecting on our trip… and then I received a email survey from the Teton Mountain Lodge. I took the survey to see what would happen… my whole blog is about “Fantastic Failures” and I wondered if I filled out the survey would I receive a follow-up and would they recover my business and loyalty. A few days letter I received a personal email from the front desk manager and she said she remembered talking to me at check-out and re-iterated her offer for a free one night stay in the future… I was really happy they followed up on the survey to “close the loop”, but if the offer didn’t sway me the first time it wasn’t going to work the 2nd either.

Yes the trip was fantastic, but as a Loyalty professional I like discussing my real life experiences here on my blog and what I find that make people loyal or disloyal… this is a perfect example. Since I run a Net Promoter Program, I asked myself:

On a scale of 0-10, How likely is it that I would recommend Teton Mountain Lodge to a friend or colleague?
My Answer when I checked out: 0
My Answer after the follow-up Survey and email: 2
My Answer if they would have given me a partial refund: Probably a 9

At this point I would NOT recommend Teton Mountain Lodge to anyone and even if I use that one night stay voucher, we’ll probably only stay there one night. This got me thinking about what was missing and how they could have better handled the situation… and it boils down to one thing… an open conversation on what it would take to recover my loyalty. If they simply ASKED “what” they could do… I probably wouild have asked for a one night credit… which would be the same cost as what they offered me without the “hook”. Yes, sometimes you get people who ask for the moon, but an open discussion leads to better outcomes and would have turned this failure into a Fantastic Failure!

Overall our trip was amazing and one of the best vacations I have been on in my life. We got a lot of quality time together as a family and saw lots of breathtaking nature scenery. Here is a small sample of some of the photos we took on this trip:

If you want more info on *Net promoter, please visit the Net Promoter Website

Other External Links:
Teton Mountain Lodge
Trip Advisor for Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Bain & Company
Satmetrix

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.

Expensive Purchases Require Top Notch Service!

This week I have a great guest blog from my friend Kyle Mott who had a recent experience with a local car dealership… the story underscores that a great product and even good price does not build customer loyalty alone… it takes people who care and show it by their actions on how they serve us as customers!

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Customer service is an oft-overlooked art-form. All too often I’ve seen good products and services go to waste simply because there was not enough customer service (or the customer service was bad/inadequate). I’ve always operated under the assumption that if I am forking over my hard-earned cash, there should be something more than just a “product” or “item” I get in return. Relationship (IE, the process by which a company sells something to a given person/company/entity) is what makes people come back again and again, and also helps foster customer loyalty.

My wife and I decided to purchase a new vehicle this year. After much thought and deliberation, we decided to go with a Nissan Pathfinder at Bruce Titus Tacoma Nissan. While our experience during the initial negotiation phase went well, after we decided to purchase the vehicle we had a series of events happen that soured our opinion of the dealership, and definitely brought our customer satisfaction of the dealership to new lows.

The first (and biggest) thing we had happen was that we were forgotten about for 2 hours after we decided to purchase the vehicle. They were a bit busy, but we were told the wait would be about an hour, which is understandable. However, after sitting around for 2 hours, I decided to check in and see what was going on, at which point our sales associate told us the person in finance that was meant to close our deal forgot about us and left the building. We had to wait for another person in finance to be freed up before we could go in and finalize the purchase.

Because we had been “stewing” in our own juices for 2 hours, when we got to the paperwork review, we felt a bit rushed. It was a necessity because they were getting close to closing the dealership for the evening, but it would have been nice to actually review each of the items he was giving us in a bit more detail so we could feel a little more informed and not so rushed.

My wife had given her credit card to our sales associate for the down payment. However, once we got to finance, they couldn’t find her credit card. After searching for 20 minutes, it finally turned up, but it was quite surprising to us that they could lose something as important as a credit card for a $30k purchase, even if it did eventually turn up again.

Once the paperwork was completed, we had to move all of our stuff from the old car to the new one. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but since it was so late at night (remember, they “forgot” about us), they left us in the parking lot to move everything over, and didn’t leave the old car unlocked. Because of that, we ended up locking ourselves out of the car before we could get our CD’s moved over, and had to come back a week later to pick them up.

Call me old-school, but I have always believed that if you are plunking down your hard-earned cash for any purchase (doesn’t matter if it’s a $5 burrito or a $30,000 car), you should always be treated as if you have The Golden Ticket, and that Golden Ticket is worth something to the company providing the product and/or service to you. Even though my wife and I felt short-changed on customer service, there are (and still is) ways to win back our loyalty, but I haven’t received any type of “olive branch” offering from Bruce Titus Tacoma Nissan. I don’t have any animosity towards the dealership because of our experience–after all, we live in a broken and imperfect world where things just get messy sometimes–it’s what a company does after that bad customer experience that tells you the most about them and if they are really willing to go above and beyond. Thus far, Bruce Titus Tacoma Nissan has not been willing to go above and beyond to rectify our experience.

At the end of the day, my wife and I were happy about the deal we got on the Pathfinder. However, the customer service was very poor and the general business processes around the purchase were very cumbersome, and even confusing at times. I highly doubt we will be doing any future business with them, and would not recommend them to anyone else.

Kyle Mott
http://chaos.untouchable.net/index.php/Contact