Loyalty Fortune Cookie #004

“Puppies and Customers both thrive off the same thing… Undivided Attention!”
~ Chris Antonelli | Fantasticfailures.com

 

Thank you to Jennifer Combs @JCPhotography for inspiration!

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

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

——————————————

… 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.

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

Executive Sponsorship… is the Golden Ticket!

A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in a conference room with the top Executives of my division. Our discussions where wholly focused on our loyalty programs, the data, action items, and how we can leverage our data to further improve our customer’s experiences and therefore increase our loyalty. I had a light bulb moment realizing that I am particularly fortunate to have the ears of these key leaders and that they are fully engaged in the loyalty program. They view the loyalty info as fundamental, rather than an afterthought or a bright shinny object that they can point to.

These meetings got me thinking about how many loyalty programs are destined for failure… or at least they’ll be marginalized in their success because of their lack of top Executive Sponsorship. Having the top Executive sponsorship allows countless synergies that cannot be listed here, but here are a few top benefits:

1) The Executives set the standard for the focus of the company. If they are really focused on customer loyalty and are using the data… ultimately so will everyone in the organization.

2) The Executives have the larger broader view of the business economics and can bring a valuable perspective to the loyalty data. In the end this will make the program much more successful with increasing loyalty.

3) The foundation of a great loyalty program is not collection and dissemination of the data, but rather the operational and strategic changes we make in our business based upon what the data is telling us… you NEED Executives to drive these changes!

4) When customers know that a loyalty program is being utilized by the Executive Team to drive operational and strategic changes, they are more likely to:
a. Take the survey and therefore increase sample response rates
b. Provide in-depth verbatim responses that help make the statistical information more actionable.
c. Respond when asked for more in-depth interviewing of their experiences.

Over the years that I have been running loyalty programs, I have had a mix of whether the programs were appropriately sponsored at the Executive level, but now that I have had exceptional Executive sponsorship over the last 2 years… it has convinced me of 2 things:

1) Having Top Executive Sponsorship…. is the Golden Ticket!
2) I really don’t want to run another loyalty program… unless I have the golden ticket!

Sincerely,
Chris Antonelli
FantasticFailures.com

Auto Zone… going above and beyond

Recently my car had a problem starting in the morning and I had a friend give me a jump start. The car stayed running so I figured it probably was the battery not excepting a charge anymore rather then it being an alternator… which is good because my cars alternators are not cheap 

I decided to find the closest auto parts store and have them test to ensure it was the battery. The closest auto parts store was O’Reilly Auto Parts and so I drove there and walked in to get some help. The store was pretty empty with a couple of customers here and there and all the employees seemed busy doing other things, when I asked from some help the person looked and sounded annoyed and said “what do you need??!” when I explained I wanted to have the battery tested because I was having issues … they responded “oh well, we can’t do that cause we won’t be able to start your car again.” They didn’t stop and ask any questions, they didn’t try to figure out a way to help, they just shut me down with a nasty attitude… so I decided to go down the street to “Auto Zone” and see if I had any better luck.

When I walked into Auto Zone there were a good number of customers in the store and the employees seemed to all be helping people. I stood in a short line to be helped and within 5 minutes got someone to help me. He asked how he could help and when I explained the situation he said no problem he would help test the battery and if we had to shut off the car he would get me restarted. We went out to my car. He put a tester on my car and he determined it was the battery, he removed the battery for me and saw it was a brand they carried, and looked in his system to see if I bought it from Auto Zone. He informed me that I did buy it from them and that it was still under warranty for another month, so he replaced the battery for no charge and then helped me put it back in as well.

He did such a good job I decided to ask for his manager to praise his efforts. When the manager came over she was very thankful for the positive feedback and informed me that the district managers number was on the front door if I wanted to let them know as well. I went outside and to my shock she was right… the District Supervisors and the Regional Vice Presidents numbers where right on the door with a sign that said, “We want to know how we are serving you” … so I decided to give the VP a try and within 24 hours got a call back from them too. I let them know about my experience and praised their efforts to stay in touch with the customer loyalty.

I must say that it was refreshing to have this experience at a retail store… needless to say, I will be going back to Auto Zone anytime I need something for my car because they are going above and beyond to service me as their customer and the management team obviously understand the importance of customer loyalty.

Chris Antonelli
FantasticFailures.com