Archive for July 22, 2014

In Defense Of The Comcast Guy…

 

Last week the social world was buzzing with the news story that went viral. In case you hadn’t heard, a Comcast representative was recorded when assisting a customer to disconnect service. Suffice it to say, the conversation didn’t go very well, and the Comcast representative handled the call very poorly, insisting that the customer explain why they didn’t want to continue service, and to insist that they keep Comcast as their service provider.

 

While the situation was definitely handled in a poor manner, and Comcast had some damage control to do since the recording went viral, it gave me pause in the way companies train their staff who handle customer issues and resolution.

 

It reminded me a little of a telemarketing company I worked for one summer during college. We were calling with a variety of products, from credit cards to globes. Telemarketing is a tough industry, but what made it tougher was when the company insisted that we could not end a call until a customer said “no” three times. Three. And the calls were recorded and monitored, and representatives would get in trouble if this policy was not honored.

 

I fully understand probing for more information in an attempt to save the sale, I really do. But sometimes, it’s not warranted. A good customer service representative should know when to keep trying, and when to realize that there is no saving a sale, and have the ability to adjust their performance accordingly.

 

By pushing certain policies and procedures, offering little to no flexibility in certain situations, is setting up representatives to fail. I am not necessarily saying this is the case at Comcast – this certainly could be a situation where the employee was reprimanded for closing too many accounts, or didn’t follow procedure at all and never attempted to save the sale, thus putting his employment on the line, which resulted in him pushing too hard with this particular customer, setting off an unfortunate chain of events all the way around. However, cases like this serve as a good reminder to have strong policies in place, but realize that not everything is black and white in the world of customer service. By creating policies and empowering representatives to make decisions based on a specific circumstance, it is a win-win situation for all involved – employees won’t be pushed to the point of no return, and customers won’t feel like they have to fight to have their needs met, especially when stopping a service is concerned.

 

The good news? It looks like Comcast is admitting that perhaps their expectations need to be looked at, especially when dealing with customer retention. As recently quoted in an article written at the Consumerist:

 

“The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do,” continues Watson. “He tried to save a customer, and that’s important, but the act of saving a customer must always be handled with the utmost respect.

“This situation has caused us to reexamine how we do some things to make sure that each and every one of us — from leadership to the front line — understands the balance between selling and listening,” he admits. “When the company has moments like these, we use them as an opportunity to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do. We will review our training programs, we will refresh our manager on coaching for quality, and we will take a look at our incentives to ensure we are rewarding employees for the right behaviors. We can, and will, do better.”

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The Evolution of Loyalty Cards

 

Loyalty cards are getting a makeover in many ways. In the beginning, they were typically the size of a credit card and customers were required to hand them over at the point of sale. For consumers like myself, I was not always good about keeping them handy, and would sometimes lose them.

 

The first transition happened, much to my delight, when an option was added to be able to enter your phone number into the keypad to locate your card information. This was a nice transition and helped the less organized consumers of the world.

 

Then came my favorite transition for the loyalty card – key ring cards. Many companies started offering the traditional sized loyalty cards along with a key ring version. This was even more exciting to me, because my keys are always with me when I’m out shopping, so handing over my key ring was very convenient. Imagine my surprise when even our local library used the key ring version of the library card! This is such a convenient way to allow consumers to keep their loyalty cards handy, and use them.

 

Of course, things don’t stay the same very long…..now there are apps available for consumers to house all of their loyalty cards in an app, which allows cashiers to simply scan the appropriate code from the consumer’s phone.

 

One such app, the Key Ring, claims to allow consumers to easily house all of their loyalty card information from their favorite retailers and restaurants, all in one app. The company created a fun video to demonstrate:

 

 

 

 

Loyalty cards should be easy for consumers to use and keep handy. The evolution of the loyalty card has been in direct response to ease of the purchase journey as well as the goal of seamless shopping experiences. In addition to these changes, many companies are integrating the loyalty card experience into mobile apps, as the increased need for mobile opportunities expand among companies in order to keep customers satisfied.

 

Loyalty programs are incredibly useful to gain new customers, retain and reward current customers, and keep ’em coming back for more. Convenience of use is just one factor to consider. If your company is still using the “old fashion” credit card size cards, requiring customers to present them at the point of sale, it’s time for a loyalty card makeover.

 

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s an…Amazon Drone?

 

It looks like Amazon is serious about their newest plan for speedy delivery.

 

Their Prime Air program has been discussed before, but it looks like Amazon is taking steps to launch the program in 2015, if they can get approval from the FAA to begin testing.

 

Prime Air’s goal is to speed up the already lightning fast Amazon delivery via the use of drones. If you haven’t heard of this before now, here is a quick video showing how it might work:

 

 

 

The idea is to offer a 30 minute delivery of Amazon purchases, making it by far the quickest way to shop online.

 

At the current point, Amazon is requesting permission from the FAA to test this idea. However, there are many factors in play that will need to be worked out revolving around safety exemptions to the FAA’s restriction on commercial use of drones. However, it looks like Amazon is really trying to make this a reality in the next generation of online shopping.

 

In addition to offering speedy delivery, the company claims that the use of drones will reduce shipping costs to the company, which they claim are currently $4 billion per year.

 

While this concept is fun and interesting, and there is no doubt it would be quite the sight to see a drone delivering your latest Amazon purchase, but how necessary is this? Have we really become a society where we need our purchases within 30 minutes?

 

I’m all for companies trying to enhance their services, but this is a program that might be a bit overboard. I’ll be curious to see the next steps, and eagerly await 2015 to see if it becomes a reality. This is no small undertaking – if any company can manage it though, it’s Amazon.