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How You Tell Your Customers (on a daily basis) That Your Brand Sucks

First off, a brand is not a logo.  A brand is about the emotional reaction that your product and/or service causes.  For example, how do you feel when you think:  Apple, Range Rover or Canada Goose? What you thought and felt is the brand – good or bad!  More importantly, ask yourself how do you want people to react to your brand?  What do they think when they hear your name?  So, repeat after me:  a brand is not a logo.   And people who continue to think that a brand is a logo are likely the same people that don’t understand why they are having customer retention issues.  These same people are telling their customers and prospects that their own brand sucks in these three ways:

Image: TaylorMade Solutions

Image: TaylorMade Solutions

1.  Unknown Company Values

If you haven’t really thought about what your company values are, your employees will be left to make them up. Needless to say, consistency might be an issue at best.  Worst case scenario?  Your customers won’t like what they see and bail.

It is not enough to say that you strive for excellence for example, you need to ensure your entire team knows and understands what this means.  What excellence looks like and what it does not.  In December I wrote of an experience with Keurig Canada that demonstrated that they weren’t operating on that premise of  excellence.  Thankfully they were listening on social and called me to rectify the situation.  You can read about that experience here.

2.  Not Responding to Customers

This is no doubt the best way to tell your customers or prospects that they don’t matter.  First and foremost you have to be present in the channels where your customers and prospects are.  So, that means telephone, email and in some cases social media. (I differ from most marketers with respect to social.  I believe you have to be realistic about your business and who your customers are and make an informed decision, but this deserves its own separate blog post.)

Here is the critical piece, however:  be sure that you properly staff these channels and respond.  Seems logical right?  Unfortunately not.  Would you sit next to a ringing phone and not answer it?  Probably not. At least I hope not.  So, why then do some brands ask people to email them and then never respond?  The same goes for social media?  You are sending the wrong message.

Not responding to customers happens all the time.  Not responding to prospects happens all of the time.  These results in lost business.

Here are two recent examples:

  • Robert Burns Day got me thinking about Haggis.  So, I wanted to buy some.  I googled and found Stahly Quality Foods. Great!  However, not so great!  When I tried to order a notice came up for North Americans.  Not to worry, I could reach out to a regional distributor via email.  I sent that email more than two weeks ago and have not received an acknowledgement or answer.  So, I put a message on Stahly Quality Foods Facebook page…and you guessed it…nothing.  In fact the last time they actually posted on their Facebook page was October 2013.  So, exactly why do they have a Facebook page?  Why do they list their distributors with their contact information?  Frankly I have formed an opinion of this brand.  It is not a good one.  I now can’t imagine buying food from them.Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.04.12 AM
  • I was helping a student with his cover letter and resume for a specific job.  The company doing the hiring requests that applicants send their information via email or snail mail.  They are a large company with a full HR department.  They had approximately four jobs listed on their website at the time this student applied.  The issue that he faced is that he could not get anyone to respond to his request to confirm receipt of the email.  He even tried a delivery receipt, but received a notification that their system was set up so that a delivery acknowledgement was not possible.

Many HR departments that do this often claim that because of volume of applications and only successful candidates will be notified of an interview.  I say “B.S” to that.  First and foremost you can have an automatic response that acknowledges receipt of the email.  Secondly, you can set rules to sort applications by job number.  So, saying that you get too many email is really and truly B.S.

What you are doing is setting the tone for candidates.  Some may decide that this is not the type of organization that they want to work for.  This could certainly be the case in markets where there are more jobs than candidates.  Or, you can be setting the tone for how, if successful, they should act towards their colleagues, prospects and customers.  After all, mediocrity begets mediocrity (tweet this).

3.  Lacking of Training and Management

We all need training.  Sometimes it is training rooted in the technology we need for the job, some times it is in safety, working hours, etc.  What many brands forget to train their employees in, is customer interaction.

Have you ever gone into a store and saw a number of employees clustered together laughing and carrying on?  There are many things that could be going in here.  The first thought might be, wow, this is a great place to work. These people are happy.  This is great.  However, as you are in the store longer you see that these same employees continue to stay together and are completely oblivious to the customers around them.  They don’t see the customers who need help.  They deliberately avoid eye contact.  This is often systematic of a lack of training and management.  It can be a very easy fix.  Train your employees on the importance of the customer. Ensure that your managers are always focused on the customer and lead by example.  There is nothing wrong with a team huddle and good camaraderie.  Actually it is great.  It only becomes an issue when your comrades don’t focus on the customer and the customer walks out.

The Fix

These are three ways that you and your employees tell your customers, on a daily basis, that your brand sucks.  Thankfully there are easy fixes:

  • communicate your values to all employees
  • consistently enforce your brand values and acknowledge your employees when they live the brand values
  • make brand training a regular operational practice
  • ensure that your customers are prospects are at the forefront of your communications and expectations
  • communicate your expectations
  • test your employees – secret shoppers help identify issues for improvement
  • remember to focus on issues and not individuals – praise publicly and coach privately

What would you add to the list? Want more information or help? Feel free to connect with us.

Good Customer Service Includes Having The Guts to Admit You Messed Up

It takes a lot for me to write a blog post discussing how a company messed up.  I don’t like doing it really.  Why?  All companies make mistakes.  After all, they are run by human beings and we all make mistakes from time to time. As a result, we should use mistakes to learn what to do to change future behaviour.  Having the chance to learn is the only reason that I write blog posts that highlight poor performance.  Earlier this week I wrote about my experience  with Keurig Canada.  I actually wrote the blog a month earlier, but sat on it.  I wanted to give them a chance to rally and fix the issues.  Eventually I decided to update it and post it.  To Keurig Canada’s credit, they called me.  It takes a lot of guts to admit that you messed up, but they did.  As a result, I want to give credit where credit is due and provide an update as a lesson learned piece.  Here are tips that you can take away from the Keurig Canada experience:

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1.  Be Active Listeners in Social Media

Reputation remains a top concern for Boards of Directors  and quite frankly it is keeping many members awake at night.   So, it shouldn’t be surprising that social media is at the crux of the matter.  You can choose to employ the Ostrich Effect, or you can be an active listener in social.

Keurig monitors its social channels and as a result when I mentioned them on Twitter, they not only saw my blog post, they read it.  They also checked me out on LinkedIn.  I am sure that they also looked at the fact that I have more than 4500 followers on Twitter.  In other words, I have an audience and some level of influence.

2.  Take Action and Move Conversations Off Social

Businesses that care about reputation need to do exactly what Keurig did.  They also need to   use social media monitoring tools that pick up on any company mention and not just direct mentions.  When you have the right tools you can act quicker.  Responding to customer service issues early on, is important.  The sooner you do it the better the relationship.

I have to admit that when I was answering the call and I saw the area code I wondered if it might be Keurig Canada calling.  It was.  I was pleasantly surprised and pleased that they would have a Customer Service Manager call me.  She was good actually and very professional.

3.  Acknowledge Issues

In this case the company is going through a lot of changes and growing pains.  The good news is that the Customer Service Manager acknowledged each and every issue that I raised in my blog post and outlined that they are taking corrective steps.  I find it encouraging that each issue was acknowledged.  I am sure we have all had experiences when a bad customer experience was only made worse when the person or persons representing the company denied that anything unsavoury happened.

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4.  Live the Brand

The Customer Service Manager that called me was, as I mentioned very professional.  She understands the Keurig brand, that was clear.  While not everyone thinks about being on brand and following the brand voice and values, I do. I can’t help it.  I am a Marketing Practitioner so I value and recognize when companies do this well.  Kudos to this Customer Service Manager!

5.  Follow Through

The proof is always in the pudding  though, isn’t it?  During the conversation, some issues that I had, were addressed and acted upon as promised.  This is encouraging of course.  Change also takes time and I know that they understand and have identified all of the issues that they currently have.  Based on this information, I have chosen to again use the online purchasing option through Kuerig Canada.  I will continue to monitor the progress that they make with each purchase.

These are all important components of customer service.  There are of course more and I would love to hear what you think about.

3 Ways to P!$$ Off Your Customers – Keurig Canada Customer Service #Failure

Customer service is not something that you expect some of the time.  Customers expect good customer service all  of the time – period – full stop.  Great customer service is what sets a brand apart from its competitors.  Unfortunately, some companies are failing at customer service – both traditional AND social.  Even more unfortunate is the specific epic #failure of Keurig Canada.  Here three things we can learn from this bad experience.

The Issue

For the first time I opted to buy my coffee online direct from Keurig Canada.  This is not a complicated process.  Create an account, select the coffee you want, check out and pay for it.  Check, check, check and check.  All was well up to and including the confirmation email receipt.  This email stated that I would receive another email when shipped.  Days passed, no email.  A week passed, no email.  More days passed, no email.  I checked on line.  What did I find out?  My payment was taken, but yet there was no status on my shipment.  In fact under delivery date, it said: “N/A”.  I made my original order on November 30th.  After approximately two weeks, I called.  In total I called three times.  Each time I waited on the line for close to an hour and still could not reach a human.  An option was given to leave a message.  I left a message with my name and telephone number and asking about delivery.  No one returned my call.  I emailed Customer Service as well.  No one ever responded.  I resorted to social media and did get a response and a call from the main location in the US.  Unfortunately they were unable to help.  They couldn’t see my order because I was in Canada.  They were fantastic.  In fact, I want to stress that when dealing with Keurig in the United States, their brand representatives are among the best.  I love dealing with them.  Cross the border and well, that is a different story.  Dealing with Keurig in Canada is painful at best and enough to make you rethink your coffee machine purchase.  Keurig Canada’s customer service is a failure.

So, how can your business excel at customer service – both traditional and social?  Here are 3 lessons learned from Keurig Canada’s epic #fail:

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1.  Understand the Brand You Represent

It is incumbent on all organizations to ensure that all employees, and particularly customer-facing employees, know and understand your brand – the brand values, voice and how to actually live the brand.  If you are going to outsource parts of your operation, this is even more important.  It only takes one person to hurt your brand and reputation.

Keurig Canada failed to understand the brand.  Their website states the following:  “Keurig” is derived from the Dutch word for excellence, which is our standard for everything, from our patented brewing technology to our gourmet brands of beverages and our customer service.”  

Keurig Canada if you believe that not returning phone calls and/or email which you specifically point your customers to as a communication channel is “being excellent,” I beg to differ.  This is NOT excellence.  Failing to keep your customer informed is a fail.

 2. Staff Your Customer Channels

There is no question that certain times of the year more busy than others.  The business cycle should not come as a surprise.  Staff for it.  Keurig in the US was able to answer and respond to calls.  Their population base is larger.  They have more customers.  They were staffed appropriately.  Jump on a plane and get schooled by the Keurig experts at your head office.  Please!

 3.  Rethink Your Processes and Actually Make Changes

Clearly there was an issue and Keurig Canada realized it.  I received notification that there was an issue with unusually high volumes and therefore they were offering a free box to make up for it.  Good on them, sorta!   This is an opportunity for a second chance.  Unfortunately, they have failed yet again.  Not only did they require that you make a minimum purchase, it has now been a week since my last order.  Guess what?  For days there was no information.  My delivery date said:  N/A.  I checked today and my order apparently shipped yesterday. I have not received the verification email that they promise.  So, the question is:  has it really shipped?  I could call or email, but based on my previous experience, I will pass.

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What’s Your Experience?

These three items are three easy fixes.  If you value your customers, establish processes to avoid these missteps.  The next step is mine.  Will I continue to be a Keurig user?  Or, will I sell my machine and go another route?  I am not certain just yet, but I can tell you that I am seriously evaluating next steps.

So, what is your customer service experience with Keurig?  Would you choose another coffee system?  I would love to hear your thoughts.