Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The ying and yang of customer service

January 9, 2014

One of the things I strive to receive in my work and personal life is good customer service, yet all too often I find myself having to complain about awful service. I don’t like to name and shame companies but when my experience has been shockingly bad, I feel compelled to tell others, so they too can be on the watch out.

On the other hand, to balance things up, this morning I received an excellent level of service from another company, so I have given below some of details, so that you can see the differences.

Company 1
I have an i-Phone and I have phone insurance, I also run a business and have to complete VAT returns every quarter, so naturally everything I pay VAT on, I need to have copies of. So I phoned my insurance company to retrieve this information.

2 phone calls later, totaling around 45 minutes (mostly on hold with ear-bleeding loud hold music) I was initially informed that the monthly premiums ‘included VAT’ but when I asked if I could be sent a copy for my VAT return, I was informed that a) they didn’t usually do this and b) they couldn’t provide anything showing the VAT breakdown, but c) that VAT was definitely included in the monthly payments and d) they could send me a statement but it would only show payments, not VAT.

Both people I spoke to didn’t really understand what I was asking of them and had to keep ‘putting me on hold’ so they could ask ‘their manager’. I thought the request was simple enough, so after not receiving a resolution, I ended the conversation (and contract) by saying “I’ll make this easier for you, I would like to cancel the contract” to which the answer was ‘OK sorry about that, let me take some details’.

The result, I didn’t get a resolution to my query, they lost a customer (and I don’t think they even cared about it either – which was worse).

The company was: The Geek Squad (Part of Carphone Warehouse).

Company 2
Being a keen runner, I rely on my equipment, so when the USB connector for my GPS running watch failed to work, I phoned the company, explained the situation. They asked me for my serial number, email address and postal address and informed me they would send out a replacement. Gave me a case number and asked ‘is there anything else I can help you with today?’. I was put on hold, but only for seconds, and the total time of the phone call was less than 5 minutes.

The result, a happy customer, who will tell all her running friends how good the company was at dealing with the issue.

The company was: Garmin

So 2 sides of the coin there, 2 different days, 2 different companies, 2 different experiences. I do ask myself if this was down to the experience (or inexperience) of the customer service advisers or whether ‘company policy’ comes into play at all in these situations.

If I do receive bad service on the phone, I usually ask if my phone conversation is being recorded ‘for training purposes‘, and I will say ‘I hope this is being recorded, and that you will use it in future to teach your staff how not to treat your customers’.

I may be a tough cookie, but after having spent a lot of time developing and teaching people in the workplace, and working with call handlers in customer service centres, I know that most companies would cringe if they heard the way their front line staff are talking to their customers.

In summary, don’t put up with bad customer service.

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Looking back to 2011

January 9, 2012

At the start of the second week of 2012, there will be plenty of New Years Resolutions that have already been broken (it’s almost as traditional as setting the resolutions in the first place).

This January I am going to take inspiration from the Roman god ‘Janus’ who is said to be the ancient god of doorways and beginnings.  Janus is usually represented as having one head with two bearded faces back to back, looking in opposite directions (one into the past and the other into the future). So in my first blog post of the New Year I shall be looking at the highs of 2011 See a photo of me this time last year.

My next blog will look forward to 2012.

2011 Best Bits

January

  • Spent a fantastic week in France with family and friends, lots of cheese, wine and snow!
  • Also published my first range of Greetings Cards – see blog post here. 

February

  • Spent a wet Sunday afternoon learning how to decorate cup cakes.  My blog post has photos, but I did this for several reasons, a) to take time out for myself, b) to see what all the fuss was about with cupcakes and c) to meet some new people. A bit of fun, but the enjoyment far outweighed the cost and time out of my day.

March 

April

  • Started taking part in a twice monthly local pub quiz at The Richmond in Bath. Our team ‘The Charlie George All Stars’ named after our mascot (our dog) has finished first or second every time since the start. Still going strong in January 2012.
  • April 29th also saw the Royal Wedding of William and Kate most people remember this as they got a free day off work/school etc.

May

  • Carried out a bit of consumer research by using Groupon extensively for a while, to see how it worked, how it would work for other businesses and how it could work for me.  My blog post here was very positive, an update should follow as my views have changed/evolved some-what.

June 

  • Ran in the Bath ‘Cancer Research Race for Life’ only 5km and only raised £39.90, but it started off my running passion.
  • Also took part in the Bath Sky Ride – a cycle around Bath for all ages, on closed roads.
  • And attending a ‘Breakthrough Breast Cancer’ charity Twenty20 cricket match at Bath Cricket Club and won a signed shirt in the silent auction.

July

  • Went on holiday for 2 weeks to Corfu with the family. The first time I have taken 2 weeks out without phone or email. Practised what I preach and had all my calls and emails managed by some-one else, one of the new members of the team, Hannah who joined us in the summer.
  • Also went to see ‘Take That’ at Wembley Stadium. Amazing show and wonderful day out.

August

September

  • Helped to organise a reunion at Kelston Park, Bath for the ex-employees of The Andrew Brownsword Collection, Andrew Brownsowrd Gifts, Gordon Fraser Gallery and Classic Card Company (all latterly Hallmark Cards). Raised £250 for the RUH Forever Friends Appeal.
  • Also spent a fantastic week in New York. The same weekend as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 – will never forget that trip.

October

  • Had a weekend away in Wales and took my husband to the Black Mountains Falconry Centre for a half day hawk and owl experience. If any ‘townies’ want to spend a day in the country and learn lots, see beautiful creatures in a wonderful setting, I can recommend.
  • Also remembered that the world hit 7 billion people.

November

  • Spent a fantastic weekend away at Dartington Hall in Devon. Walked around the beautiful gardens, ate and drank at the White Hart (on-site) pub and restaurant and had a tour of the incredible conferencing/wedding/venue facilities. Was also interested to hear about their commitment to Sustainability and Social Justice.
  • Got some photos into the Bath Life magazine ‘By Invitation Only‘ event page.
  • Sponsored a few men in the ‘Movember‘ moustache growing appeal to help raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer.

December 

  • Created a Facebook Page for AMPMPA Ltd
  • Ran the longest distance in one go that I ever have attempted – 9 miles – all around Cambridge. Feeling confident that the half marathon is attainable. Decided that I needed to run a Marathon by the end of 2012 as a result.
  • Took 2 weeks off work and spent it with family and friends, a lovely warm end to an amazing year.

I think that just about sums up my year – I am sure I have forgotten a few things, so will update/edit as and when I remember.

Recognising Touch Points and Exit Points in buying behaviour

October 24, 2011

I recently read an article about customer relationship management and how to improve the customer experience and build loyalty.

Any interaction with a customer and a company can be defined as a ‘touch point‘ and in the buying process there are potential ‘exit points‘, or places where the customer can abort the buying process.

No sooner had I read the article, I was experiencing a number of ‘touch points‘ with a well-known pizza delivery company, with ‘exit points’ scattered throughout the process, and if it wasn’t for 6 hungry teenagers drooling at my feet, I would have aborted the buying process on 6 separate occasions, even though I had experienced 6 ‘touch points‘ within the space of an hour.

Scenario, 6 hungry teenagers wanting 6 large pizzas, from well-known pizza delivery company.

Touch Point 1 – A leaflet offering 50% on any online orders for pizza (from aforementioned company) was posted through my door.

Exit Point 1 – The leaflet should have been filed in the bin.

Touch Point 2 – I went to the website, and tried to order the 6 large pizzas.

Exit Point 2 – The sale was potentially lost as the ordering website was not working and I could not enter my order.

Touch Point 3 – Decided to telephone instead, only to be informed that yes the website was down, and to try later.

Exit Point 3 – The sale was potentially lost again, as being told to try later is never an option, this is fast food!

Touch Point 4 – I asked the telephone operator if I could order over the phone and use the special code, I was informed this was not available to use for telephone orders. 

Exit Point 4 – The sale was potentially lost again, even though I had given the company the opportunity to honour their deal.

Touch Point 5 – Due only to the fact that the aforementioned teenagers were begging me at this stage to try again, I went back to the website and tried again, this time it was working and I did manage to order 6 large pizzas for delivery, got all the way to the checkout process, entered the code and was given the error message ‘this code has expired’, checked the leaflet we had and it was still valid for another 10 days, by this point I am getting cross.

Exit Point 5 – The sale was potentially lost again, because the ‘online promo code’ did not work online.

Touch Point 6 – Final chance, I telephoned the store again and asked very politely to speak to the manager, I explained my situation and frustration with the points above and asked him for a solution. Fortunately he apologised, said he would take my order over the phone, he would apply the discount code and take payment at the same time and the pizzas would be delivered within 30 minutes. 

Exit Point 6 – Luckily there was no exit point 6, because even though I am not a loyal customer, the teenagers were and they got their pizzas, I didn’t lose my temper and it gave me the idea for this blog, so all was good.

The morale of this story is, that this could happen to anyone at any stage. It could be when some-one visits your website, when they try to phone in, email or get in contact. My suggestion is that you draw a flow diagram of how customers interact with you as a company, and what are their ‘touch points‘ and potential ‘exit points‘ in the buying process?

Please do comment on this blog, I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Customer satisfaction or delight??

August 26, 2011

My blog today is about customer service and the different extremes I have experienced in the space of 1 hour.

Scenario 1 – after SIX MONTHS of continual phone calls, emails, web-sessions and letters, the official announcement is that I have finally received a full refund for a faulty printer – this came from a well-known international brand and I must say that if it wasn’t for my persistence, I am sure I would not have the refund at all. What did the company lose? £130 and all of my future business.

Scenario 2 – yesterday a local shop delivered a large sack of dog food to me (they offer free local delivery) and actually turned up with the wrong flavour.  Not a major problem, but they took it away and this morning I received a phone call with an apology – there had been a mix up at their end and they would re-deliver the correct item the next day. What did this company gain? £30 worth of my business this time and the potential for nearly £2,000 over the next few years (based on 1 sack of food every 2 months, for the next 12 years, plus more dog related items).

With the first scenario I have been left with a bitter taste in my mouth, I have left that company with an attitude that I will not ever buy a product from them again and probably tell a hundred other people about my experience.

Scenario 2 – I am extremely happy to deal with them in the future, they admitted their error, apologised and resolved it – no questions asked, and I will also tell lots of people about them.

A few of my favourite quotes.

“It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.” Will Rogers
“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” Henry Ford
“You should think of your customers as partners, or better still, family.” Victor Kiam

I am striving not just to be satisfied with service but DELIGHTED and this is the service I offer to my clients, if you are not delighted and only satisfied then I am not doing my job properly.

Thanks for reading

Angela MacAusland

www.ampmpa.co.uk

Trying to be a good customer – when there is bad service

July 12, 2011

One of the things I strive for everyday is to give and receive great customer service.  As a service provider, I want to not just satisfy my customers, I want to wow them! Why is it then this is too much to ask for some of the companies I deal with.

One of the absolute worst experiences I have had recently is with a large, international company who are – lets say – not ‘known’ for printers being their main product range, cameras are more their thing. The levels of customer service I personally have received have been a shade better than appalling. And every time I interact with the company I point out that I would have gone out of business years ago if I treated my customers like that. Makes no difference though.  Still get the same level of ‘service’.

And today yet again I am ‘under-wowed’ with one company who phoned me to sell me a cheaper telephone package.  The usual banter went on between myself and the sales rep on the phone, mainly because I was practicing being a good customer.

At the end of the call the caller – who called me in the first place, not only asked for my name and company name, but then asked me for my telephone number.  I laughed and said ‘you called me, do you not know it?’  the caller apologised and shuffled around a bit, then I asked ‘what was the name of your company again?’ ‘ABCD Ltd (not the real name)’ was the reply, ‘What does ABCD Ltd stand for?’ I asked ‘Umm, I don’t know‘ the caller replied.  Followed by 5 minutes of apologies, I am new here, sorry once again, really sorry etc.

I always have in the back of my mind the following……REPUTATION – takes a lifetime to build and a moment to smash.

 

 

 

Have you spotted a real bargain??

July 12, 2011

A few months ago I reported on my experiences with Groupon and since that posting I am pleased to say that I have purchased the following:-

  • A 6 week unlimited gym membership for £18 – Liked it so much I am planning on signing up. Not only saved a huge amount on gym fees but they wavered the joining fee also.
  • A 3 course pub meal for 2 people for £18 also – Very enjoyable lunch with hubby & dog, after a 5km walk, probably ate too much, but definitely a saving and something we would normally do anyway.
  • 3 one hour driving lessons for my son for £19 – not used these yet, but again a real bargain, as we were planning on getting some lessons for him anyway.
Deals I wish I bought on Groupon:-
  • Paint-balling for 2 people – I paid £30 for this in December last year, saw the same deal for £3.50 recently
  • Bird of prey experience – I paid £55 for this back in April, saw a similar deal for £20 last week
So my advice for keeping your feet on the ground, and making sure you don’t over spend is:-
  1. Only buy it if you were going to buy it anyway (as a gift, treat etc)
  2. Check out the ‘going price’ for something on offer by checking local competition, if its over-priced to start with – avoid. For example is £70 really the going rate for cupcake decorating classes?
  3. Check the fine print, is there a use-by date, are there restrictions on time you can use?
  4. Do you really need all the added extras in the package (manicure, pedicure, back massage, facial, waxing etc)
  5. Use your coupons up, don’t stash them and keep them for a rainy day, most have expiry dates and you will waste your cash
  6. If you are unsure about anything, you can always contact the company directly, I did this to check if a hotel had availability in August on a 2 night offer and they were already fully booked
  7. And finally, if in doubt, don’t buy it.
I hope this comes across as a rounded review of my personal experiences.  Of course there are lots of other deal sites popping up daily.  I have used a few of them such as Quidco, VoucherCloud, Living Social etc, but Groupon in my mind seems to be the easiest to access and has a great range of deals that are attractive if you want to eat out/experience something different/purchase beauty treatments/treat yourself.
Enjoy…….

What is it with Groupon?

May 11, 2011

I like to keep up to date with technology and social media – its part of what I do. But I also am very careful to only recommend something if I am personally 100% happy and if I genuinely think I can help you save Time and Money.

So when I started seeing Groupon popping up everywhere – I thought I would dig deeper and find out what the fuss was all about.

‘With Groupon you discover great new locations in your city for unbeatable prices’

You can either sign up to the newsletter, check out the website www.groupon.co.uk or  download an App for your smartphone and find out what deals are on offer in your city (or another city if you like). Offers include money off restaurants, spas, gyms, hotels etc, and the deals are genuine!

The only downside (if there is one) is that the offer will only take place if a minimum number of people buy the deal, and all deals have a limited number of spaces available.  So if you see something you want – buy it – if you wait too long the deal may have already ended or filled up.

Once you have bought the deal (by this stage you need a Groupon account) you get an email confirmation, and the next day your voucher is available to download, print and use.

So how does it work at the other end? – click here for a short video – it explains it all quite simply – basically Groupon advertises the deal, the supplier gets paid, Groupon takes a % cut and the supplier of the deal gets new customers.

And one last thing, if you recommend Groupon deals to others – and they buy the deal – then you get £6 credited to your Groupon account to spend on another deal.

I hope this post gives you the confidence to go ahead and try something – I did and later I will be visiting the gym with my friends to use my voucher.

Let me know angela@ampmpa.co.uk if you tried Groupon and what your experience was like.


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