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Customer Service Hang Ups

hanging phoneIf you are tempted to think that how you handle in-coming calls as a business isn’t top priority…think again.

I had an experience recently to prove my point.

I called into a big box company to try and order a waterfall for my backyard.  I don’t want to mention names but I’ll give you a hint…it wasn’t Home Depot.

The department I wanted to reach wasn’t listed in the company’s phone directory, so I hit zero for the Operator. After not one, not two, but count them…five attempts to get through without being cut off, misdirected or simply left holding a ringing phone, I finally found someone to help me.

As I was wading through my five attempts to complete what should have been a very simple and straight-forward request, I made the decision to cross this company off my list of potential vendors to hire for remodeling a rental property I was preparing for market.

WOW! That’s the power that lies in the balance between a well-handled call and a bungled one.  All told, as a rough estimate, I could have easily thrown over $10,000 their way in remodeling business, but I won’t be doing any contract business with them at all. That sale (and future sales) was lost while I was on interminable hold. I figured, “Hey, if trying to buy a waterfall is this hard, what hell would I be in for, if I decided to remodel a bathroom with these people?”

This is EXACTLY what YOUR customers are thinking when they are on eternal hold…they start to question you as a company and then they start to question whether you are worthy of their business, since you seem so willing to waste their valuable time. It’s in this moment that they may decide that it’s time to find another vendor/contractor/supplier/retailer, etc. altogether.

How my call is handled speaks VOLUMES about the quality of the infrastructure within your organization and its overall dedication to providing great customer care from points A to Z.

So the next time the phone rings, answer it as if your paycheck depends on it. It does.

P.S. I decided not to buy the waterfall.

Karyn Ruth White is an Organizational Humorist, Funny Keynote Speaker, Comedian, Author and Speech Coach. When you call her office you will be handled with care, either by Karyn Ruth personally, or by her trusty assistant, Ms. Voicemail. (Quick responses promised.) Visit her at karynruth.com, email her at info@karynruth.com or if you’re feeling brave, give her a call at 303-369-8277.

Leave It Better Than You Found It

littering-3Between political pundits and power leaf blowers, there sure is A LOT of hot air blowing this month.

Tomorrow we elect a new president. I know who I am voting for and why, do you?

I am amazed at how many people seem to look to leaders to “fix” the problems in their own lives.  Sure, great leadership is an asset, but the ultimate responsibility for your life and your happiness lies in your hands alone.

There is a little old man who walks in the same park I walk in.  He always has a white plastic bag in his hands and he stops to pick up litter as he walks.  I love that he has taken it upon himself to better his immediate environment.  My prayer for him is that he doesn’t let his anger toward the litterers eat him up inside.

When I see him, I am reminded of the power of individual initiative. If each person on the planet just decided to do the best they could in their own realm of influence, the world would transform.

Instead of cranking up your leaf blower and blowing leaves off of your lawn into the street and making them someone else’s problem, instead of leaving a shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot and creating chaos for the rest of us– we could decide to become a more mindful people.  We could think about our actions and the consequences they create, and we could exercise our freedom to make a grander choice.

Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of personal accountability as a change agent for peace and progress.

The boy scouts have a great mantra- “Leave it better than you found it.”  This applies to camping, living and voting.

I love America (faults and all), and I will do my part, and more, to keep her great. Even if it means walking those five extra steps to put away my shopping cart…because…hey, that’s just the kind of patriot I am.

Karyn Ruth White is a thought-laugher in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is an author, a comedian, a proud American and the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to live and work from their greatness  Visit her on-line at karynruth.com or email her at info@karynruth.com.

Round Up the Round Uppers

lasso2When did it become OK to ask me for extra money at time of checkout?

I don’t recall getting a memo announcing that this was to become accepted practice?  Did any of you see a memo?

I am already supporting your business by choosing to spend money with you. Isn’t that charity enough?

Apparently not. Apparently now, the actual sale isn’t good enough. Now you’re not happy unless I cough up a little something extra every time.

I could live the rest of my life very happily without ever again hearing those six annoying little words:

“WOULD YOU LIKE TO ROUND UP?”

I am so over dealing with the same irritating ritual every time I buy something;

“Would you like to round up today to support…Children without IPHONES?

Would you like to round up today to help…Women Who Are Mayonnaise Intolerant? 

Would you like to round up today to help find a cure for…Clowns with Turrets?”

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

I want to say to the checkout person;                                                         

“Um, No.  Today I would prefer to “round down and donate the difference to my favorite charity…The Karyn Ruth White Kaaching Kaaching Fund. So… how much would you like to contribute today?”

And it’s not just happening at the physical check out, it’s also common practice online. Retailers like Go Daddy, Amazon and others ask this question at point of payment, “Would you like to round up for charity?” I “donate” plenty of money to Go Daddy and Amazon every year. I am not inclined to send them any “extra” coin.

Do I think that this practice has garnered some good results? I’m sure it has. But if you wanted my full participation, you should have consulted me first, before foisting this social shaming on me in a public place.

When I am asked the ubiquitous: “Would you like to round up today?”… my usual response is… “Not today, thanks.” In an effort to be polite, I hear myself actually thanking them for annoying me.

If I’m cranky and not in the mood for this bizarre ritual, I usually say NO before they can get to the word UP. So it sounds something like….

“Would you like to round.” “NO.”

 Sometimes just to keep life interesting, I surprise myself and them by saying,

“Oh sure, what the heck? Let’s Round’er Up.”

I think what bugs me most about this practice, is the subtle implication that if I choose not to round up, that I am somehow a bad person.  After I say “No,” I imagine all the people in line behind me shaking their heads in judgement.  I am pretty sure I have even heard an occasional “Tisk Tisk” from a fellow shopper.

What’s next? Automatic sirens and a voice coming over the loud speaker saying: “Security, you’re needed in Lane 3.  We have a customer who refuses to round up!” And you hear the whole store gasp in unison, and then let out a collective “Tisk Tisk.” And you are mortified. Few people ever fully recover from their first public Tisking. It’s powerful stuff.

I am perfectly capable of choosing and contributing to the charities of my choice.  In fact, I sent a donation check to a charity this very week…on my own…without any public prompting. Turns out, I don’t need the checker at Whole Foods to pick my charities for me after all.

Karyn Ruth White is a Success Humorist, Keynote Speaker, Author, Comedian and Presentation Coach. She is the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise dedicated to helping people live and work from their greatness. She has pretty much always been able to “round up” the courage to say what’s on her mind. Visit karynruth.com or email info@karynruth.com.

Can I Get A Witness?

forest-430397_1280If a compliment falls from your lips and no one is there to blog it, post it, tag it, pin it or tweet it…does it still make a noise?

Ah, I remember a time when the proper response to a compliment was a simple, heartfelt, “Thank you.” And getting one made you feel all warm inside…and that was reward enough.

Not anymore.  Now every compliment comes with homework. 

Would you mind filling out our customer survey? Would you mind posting that on Facebook?  Can I quote you on Twitter?

I have seriously curtailed my urge to compliment because frankly, I don’t have time for the follow up. I think that’s sad.

We live in a society that has gone ape for social proof. We live with the thinking that: “Unless someone else knows that I did something great, bought something cool or said something witty, then it doesn’t really count.”

We have confused “sharing” with “co-dependence.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with spreading the word of a good deed done, but the danger lies in forgetting that the first and most important person you need to impress with your goodness, is yourself.

Who we are is what we do when no else is watching. 

What would happen if you decided that you were your most important audience?  That how you behaved, the language you used, the gossip you avoided, the blaming you refused to participate in, the promises you kept, all stemmed from your own internal code of excellence and not by how it looked from the outside?

 WOW! That’s exciting to think about isn’t it?  And here’s the kicker…when you commit to personal excellence the world can’t help but notice.

So, put the social proof megaphone down for a moment, and go within.  Spend your time and your talents holding yourself to a higher code of personal excellence. (Even when it doesn’t appear that anyone else is watching.)

The proof is in the person.

“Spend less time focusing on the impression you’re making on others, and more time focusing on the impression you’re making on yourself.”

-Amy Cuddy, Presence

Karyn Ruth White is a Success Humorist, Keynote Speaker, Author, Comedian and Presentation Coach. She is the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise dedicated to helping people live and work from their greatness. She is proud of this blog post, and would be, even if no one else saw it. Visit karynruth.com or email info@karynruth.com.

FINE is a Four Letter Word

cash register 2I was recently eating at a local deli. I was having a light snack and catching up on my reading.  I was reading UnMarketing by Scott Stratten, an excellent book on engaging with your customers and treating people well in business.  I was reading about a coffee shop that seemed to be using their social media platform as a way to alienate customers, rather than using it as a tool to engage.

As I am reading this, a patron of the deli walked to the front to pay her check at the register.  I was within earshot of the cashier desk.

The cashier asked…“How was everything?” The patron grumbled that her salad didn’t seem fresh, and that normally when she eats here the lettuce is greener.  The cashier never even looked up from her register, never even gave the customer the courtesy of eye contact as she sing-songed a syrupy sweet, “Sorry about that,” took the money and let the dazed and dismissed customer walk out the door. My guess, for the last time.

Un-friggin-believable!!! I was SO unimpressed with this response that I vowed not to give this deli any future business myself.

Here’s the moral: EVERY COMPLAINT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE.

Every “less than enthusiastic” response from a customer should be immediately followed up by this question: “How can we make it right for you today?”

Why bother asking the customer, “How was everything?”, if you aren’t going to actually listen and use that information to engage and grow your business?

When you ask your customer, “How was everything?” and the answer comes back, “Fine,” remember FINE IS A FOUR LETTER WORD. People say “FINE” when they are so apathetic about your service or product that they can’t even muster the energy to complain. “FINE” is your cue to jump into action and become a detective.  Your mission is to find out what is “Behind the FINE” and create a delighted, loyal customer.

Back to the Deli…here is how the conversation should have gone:

“How was everything today?”

 “The lettuce was a little wilted, it’s usually so fresh and green.” 

“Well, we can’t have that, can we?  Let me extend my personal apologies. How can we make it right for you today?” (Said while looking the customer in the eye.)

Let the customer respond. Oftentimes, your customers will tell you exactly what will make them happy.

Be ready to extend the offer of a gift certificate for their next visit, or a free dessert of their choice to take with them. It only takes a little extra love to make the customer happy. As your customer, I can forgive your occasional shortcomings if I know you actually care about me.

It is much easier (and cheaper) to keep the current customer satisfied than it is to find (and keep) and new one.

I need to go, I’m off to find a new deli.

Karyn Ruth White is a Success Humorist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Comedian. She is the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, a company dedicated to helping people serve one another with love, laughter and respect. Visit www.karynruth.com, info@karynruth.com.