Category Archives for Customer Service

Donald Kelly, AT&T, Customer Service, Client Success

TSE 1032: Why AT&T Customer Service Caused Me To Switch Providers

Donald Kelly, AT&T, Customer Service, Client SuccessOn today’s episode, I share why sellers must stay focused on their customers, and why AT&T customer service caused me to switch providers.

My phone was disconnected. I couldn’t receive calls from my clients or from my family.

This episode goes beyond sales and is more than just another episode.

People matter

Salespeople sometimes forget that people matter, so let my experience with a disconnected phone serve as a direct reminder about the need for quality customer service.

Too often, large companies don’t seem to care about small individuals.

As such, I feel a moral obligation to use my platform to share this incident so that others may benefit from my experience.

Brand loyalty

I remember back in 6th grade when my mom got me a pager from BellSouth. I felt like the coolest kid on campus. My friends could reach out to me and I could send messages to them; it was all very exciting.

I got my first prepaid cell phone in 7th grade, also from BellSouth. I became an AT&T customer when they acquired BellSouth and I had no complaints.

Eventually, I moved to the Nokia phone with text messages and minutes – and, of course, I chose AT&T.  When I moved away to college, I tried to take AT&T with me but there weren’t a lot of cell towers back then so it couldn’t happen. They released me from my contract and I signed on with Verizon.

Verizon was fine but I was excited when AT&T expanded its coverage and I could use them once again with my new iPhone.

My family and I used AT&T for everything. It was a sad day when we moved and had to switch to Comcast but it was exciting when we were eventually able to switch back once again.

We understand that companies grow, things happen, and changes are made. We didn’t like all of AT&T’s new ideas but we rolled with the punches and kept moving.

A lot of plans have changed in the industry. There is a different structure to leasing phones now, for example. They also offer a prepaid plan where, if you pay off your phone, you have unlimited use for just $45 a month through an automatic bank withdrawal. Sounded good to me!

Text notifications let you know when the amount will be withdrawn from your account so you can prepare.

It was all running smoothly until we noticed some fraudulent activity on our bank card during the holiday season. We decided to cancel the card and apply for a replacement.

You can see where I’m going with this …

No customer loyalty

About two weeks later, AT&T disconnected my phone, so I called them right away.

I certainly accept responsibility for my share of the problem but let me tell you what happened. Because my plan had ‘expired,’ they had cancelled my services –  without notifying me.

Additionally, the prepaid plan that I had enrolled in was offered only as a limited promotion. To obtain the same plan again would cost me $65 a month.

The money was not the issue. The principle certainly was.

The customer service representative told me that because the plan had expired, I could not renew it despite that I had never canceled it. My years of loyalty as an AT&T customer were meaningless.

What was my incentive to stay with a company that did not return the same level of loyalty, or care, toward me?

I didn’t have time to argue. Since I needed my phone for work, I agreed to the higher plan, but only while I courted new companies, namely T-Mobile.

I raised the question on social media and found not only that people seem to love T-Mobile but, at the same time, there have been an increasing number of dropped calls with AT&T service. It is definitely time for a change.

Two-way street

The lesson behind this story: remember that your customers and your clients are people.

Cultures change and some companies get stuck in archaic ways of thinking.

They will move to businesses that give them attention; ones that are more nimble and flexible.

Don’t let your business model be stuck in the past, unwilling to deviate from the old standard.

Are you flexible? Do you bend to help your customers or do you expect them to bend toward you?

This month, as we focus on client success and customer service, I urge you to evaluate the way you treat your clients.

Are you putting the people who pay you first?

“Why AT&T customer service caused me to switch providers” episode resources 

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Donald Kelly, Customer Experience, Sales, Donald Kelly

TSE 1027: 3 Simple Things You Can Do To Offer Exceptional Customer Experiences

Donald Kelly, Customer Experience, Sales, Donald KellyWhen you’re working to stand out from the pack, there are 3 simple things you can do to offer exceptional customer experiences.

In this day and age, it is easier now that ever before to stand out by offering a great experience because so many others, quite frankly, are not.

We can get almost anything we want quickly and easily. That focus on speed, however, eventually causes the quality of the customer experience to decline. Think about it. So many organizations focus on speed in order to beat their competition or to attain the numbers, that they neglect to put their customers first.

While it is certainly possible to have both, it takes effort.

The bar has been set low today. When we focus on the speed at which we deliver our product or service, or focus only on finding and getting new customers, we neglect the people we already have.  

The bucket analogy

We neglect the people we already have that are easier to sell to … the ones who can give us referrals … the ones we can upsell ….We neglect them and waste our time running back and forth, here and there, instead.

It is the bucket analogy all over again. We work hard to fill our buckets by bringing people in only to have them fall straight out the holes in the bottom. We need to be sure to plug those holes so that our hard work doesn’t drain away.

One of the things we can do to show love and care and respect to our current customers is to woo them, right from the start, with a great experience.

What happens too often is that we knock on doors, blast emails, and get their attention with great marketing messages. We sell them on a dream or a vision, and we deliver our product quickly.

But we neglect to consider our client’s experience.

Exceptional customer experiences

Your client’s name

Dale Carnegie once said that “a person’s name is to him/her, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” It’s true.  We can be in a large crowd but if someone calls our name, we immediately turn around. We want to know who knows us.

Using your client’s name in conversations creates a more personalized experience. It is as simple as “What can I help you with today, Amanda?” I know for sure, that if you are going to call my company or connect with me, I will respond much better if you use my name.

Be sure to address your client the way he prefers to be addressed. For example, does he sign his emails as ‘Dave’ or ‘David’? If you aren’t sure, just ask. The simple task of asking about something that is important to him shows that you care.  

How your clients make money

If you plan to teach them how to save money, or how to bring in more money, you best know how they already do it.

This is why it is important to study how various industries work and operate. If your client is a nursing home, for example, a simple Google search can help you understand if the client makes more money via patient stays or from insurance payments or Medicare payments.

Having a basic understanding makes the conversation so much easier.

Personalized interactions

Send a thank you note at the very end of your conversation, even if it is the first meeting.

“Dave, it was amazing to connect with you last week” or “I look forward to talking to you again soon, Amanda.” It doesn’t have to be elaborate or lengthy. In fact, what you say in the note isn’t as important as the fact that you took the time to send one.

It is great to send an email as well, but a thank you note demonstrates a higher level of care. It gives an added touch.

Additionally, the thank you note will be delivered 3 or 4 days after your conversation. It serves as a nice reminder of the conversation, and it helps you stand out.

You can also personalize your presentations. Use your client’s logo and tagline in every presentation you make for them. It is another added touch that shows you care and that you are willing to take the extra step. It will help you stand out significantly over your competition.

If you can combine these 3 simple things that offer exceptional customer experience with the delivery of amazing speed, you are going to be totally fine. I’m sure of it.

“Exceptional Customer Experiences” episode resources

This episode is brought to you in part by our TSE Certified Sales Training Program, which teaches you to improve your sales skills, find more customers, build stronger value, and close more deals.

The next semester begins in April.

This episode is also brought to you in part by mailtag.io, a Chrome browser extension for Gmail that allows you to track and schedule your emails. It’s super easy, it’s helpful, and I recommend that you try it out.

You’ll receive real-time alerts anyone opens an email or clicks a link.

I hope you enjoyed the show today as much as I did. If so, please consider leaving us a rating on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or wherever you consume this content and share it with someone else who might benefit from our message. It helps others find our message and improves our visibility.

If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss a single episode, and share with your friends!

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Donald Kelly, Service, Roscoe Chicken and Waffle, Customer Service

TSE 647: Selling Is Service & Service Is Selling

Donald Kelly, Service, Roscoe Chicken and Waffle, Customer ServiceNo matter how great your product is but if you are not treating your customers the way they want to be treated, you could be losing more money than you actually realize. I’d like to share with you a bad experience I recently had and hopefully you get insights into what you should do and what you shouldn’t do.

A Bad Experience at Chicken and Waffles

I just attended the Podcast Movement in California. We went to this chicken and waffles restaurant. All of the outside chairs were stacked on top of each other on the table. So we figured we caught them at a bad time. But it’s lunchtime! Shouldn’t it be open? So we went to the front of the store and before we even went to the door to go in, somebody came out to greet us. Now the manager also came out and told us they only took two credit cards and cash at a table after seeing that were a party of seven. I understand when small organizations don’t have a POS system and maybe they’re afraid of the credit card transaction fees. But I go to food trucks and they carry credit card machines and are able t do all this stuff. We didn’t make a big deal out of it and got the food. I realized the manager was just old school and he wanted to do things his way.

You’re next to one of the biggest convention centers in the state of California. You’re right down the street from Disneyland. So the market is pretty huge. You probably get a lot of parties come in with more than one or two individuals. He should have realized it was probably time to upgrade to a process where they could take care of large parties. But the way he said is was the worst part. It was more of like he got annoyed we bothered him and so he didn’t want to serve us. We were so close to walking away but we were so hungry we got the food anyway. Imagine if we didn’t have cash. Most people didn’t have at that group and some of us did. So we were only able to do those two credit cards and the rest of us used cash. It worked out in this scenario. But imagine if we didn’t. We would have just walked away and that would have been $100 for him.

Are You Pushing Your Customers Away?

Just imagine how many people does this establishment push away before they even come inside of the restaurant? A lot of money is not going through the door. They’re probably saving money but they don’t realize how much they’re losing. They’re not giving the customers to come in and spend more money. They could have made double the amount of money they’re making but they didn’t give that opportunity for people to come inside. Pay whatever the credit card transaction fee is because you’re increasing the opportunities of gaining more loyal customers and people coming back to you over and over again.

Next, we had to fall in line to pay. And the manager once more told us to make sure we had cash. How frustrating that was. Worse, it took forever to pay because there was only one person taking the payment. They had an old school calculator. On top of this, we wanted to break up a $20 so we can give the people in our group change. One of my friends asked if we can get some change. The cashier said no and that we had to go back to our server.

My rating: Service sucked!

The food was great. The service was horrible. The attitude needed to go. We’re giving money. You have to be grateful for us. I’m not trying to be entitled. But make sure you treat us well.

Insights from this experience:

  1. Observe empathy.

This concept comes back to empathy. You need to think about your customers. The golden rule is to treat others the way you like to be treated. The platinum rule is to treat others the way they would like to be treated. The way customers like to be treated is for you to personalize it towards them. Speak to their needs.

  1. Work smarter, not harder.

Don’t just be there and use a calculator to calculate a cash. Give people an easy way to do business with you. Because we think about ourselves, we make it difficult for others to do business with us.

  1. Keep the customer in the loop.

Especially for long term sales cycles, give customers the updates. Let them know what’s next. Keep them informed. It’s a simple thing you can do to express your appreciation.

  1. Don’t see them as a number.

See your customer as someone you can build a strong relationship with and be loyal to. Don’t just connect with an individual to make money. Make real connections with those people.

Selling is Service, Serving is Selling

So here’s a YouTube video going around and they made an awful commercial. But if that’s the goal they’re trying to get, it worked. It went viral now!

Watch this video. Sure it’s crappy a video. But the message got across. Selling is service and service is selling.  The concept is that when you give great customer service, you’re actually selling. And people will buy from you when you give them a great experience.

 

I also recommend that you read the book The Experience Economy and learn about how you can give great experience to your customers.

Episode Resources:

The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore

Podcast Movement

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Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast, Customer Retention

TSE 589: Sales From The Street-“Remember Their Name”

Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast, Customer RetentionHave you ever experiencing talking within someone and 5-10 minutes down the conversation, you actually don’t remember their name? Imagine this scenario with your client, asking what’s their name at the end of the presentation. How would this make them feel?

Today, I’m going to share some strategies to make that personal connection to make them want to come back to you and buy from you over and over again.

Remembering People’s Names

This is one challenge I have had or I’m still facing sometimes especially those I have just met. A quick backstory…

I went to our local dry-cleaner and then we moved but I still go back to the same place. Why? Because of Angelo, the owner of the shop, makes his customers feel special. He is so old, maybe in his 80’s. I’ve never had any conversation with him but he remembers my name.

So instead of making me look at him as just a dry-cleaner, he made me look at him as my dry-cleaner. This guy remembered my name after not coming to him for so long. And that made me feel important.

It’s a Focus Issue

If you relate this to sales, sometimes you get on the phone with people and you see their name on the list and then a few minutes after the conversation, you no longer remember the person’s name so you’d have to go back to look at the sheets or online or your CRM trying to figure out who you’re talking to.

It’s not about you having a bad memory but this comes down to a focus issue. We tend to not focus on the individual and a lot of times as a sales professional, we see the person as a dollar figure. So we don’t think about the individual behind it.

So I’ve come up with strategies to make sure you remember individual’s names:

  1. Focus on the individual.

One primary reason we can’t remember names is that we are not focusing. We are easily distracted so we don’t have that long attention span. Put your phone down. Focus on what they’re saying.

  1. Listen.

Because we’re too distracted and we’re focusing on something else, we don’t listen.

  1. Make some connection.

Maybe the person looks like someone else you know and makes that connection. Or is there something else that you can associate with that individual? Like a place or a name, you can remember from middle school. Whatever that is, find that commonality.

  1. Motivation

What is your motive behind knowing this individual’s name? What if you were asked to memorize someone’s name and just that? Well, you might say you can’t remember it. But what if you were asked to remember someone’s name and you’d be given $10,000 for it? Then your motive would totally change, right? You’re going to remember. You’re going to focus. You’re going to write it down in your mind. All because you want to get that $10,000. So what’s the motive behind you meeting with someone?

  1. Repeat the person’s name.

When they introduce their name to you, say their name too and this helps you memorize their name. Then you can also repeat the person’s name during the conversation.

Today’s Major Takeaway:

Focus on the present. Focus on the individual. Turn off the phone. Repeat the individual’s name and associate with something. Remembering somebody’s name shows them that you respect them and you appreciate them. And that goes a long way.

Episode Resources:

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Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast

TSE 587: How Many Customers Do You Have?

Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist PodcastOne of the things I commonly come across with many salespeople and entrepreneurs is that they want the sale without necessarily doing the work. Many entrepreneurs have the ability to produce a product or service they can deliver but the challenge is getting customers to say yes or getting people to buy from them. One of the most important data for any organization is your customers. You’ve got to know your people.

Create Inside Sales

Long gone is the approach of just coasting and living off whatever sales would come in. You need to make an offensive approach and start making calls. Recognize who your customers are. You need to know their names and what products they’re buying from you. How can you get them into an automated purchase? This means making them purchase on an ongoing basis. What can you do to make it into an auto-renewal program?

Pick Up the Phone

This is not rocket science. It’s as simple as picking up the phone. Once you start making these phone calls and talking with these buyers, they learn a little bit more about why they do things and why they have these habits, and why some of them were not interested in doing the auto-refill program.

Delegate Tasks

While many people are scared of picking up that phone, some are also so busy running the business that they don’t have time to help their business to grow. They’re juggling tons of different tasks. If you don’t need to do something, pass it on to somebody else. If somebody can do it better than you can, don’t waste your time doing it. Hire a virtual assistant. Find someone that can do it better and quicker than you. It’s going to cost you, sure. But in the end, you’re gaining a lot more because now you can focus on doing activities that are going to generate more revenues.

Follow Up

Are you a business card hoarder where you collect business cards from all these events you go to? That’s alright if you’re making calls. Don’t just keep them in your drawer. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Stop that head trash and telling all those lies to yourself that they’re going to get offended or angry. Start getting on the phone and things will get a little easier.

Make that Personal Connection

Send emails to your prospects and start understanding their needs and challenges. Speak to your existing customers so there is that personal connection. It’s so much more difficult to walk away from a business like that as a customer.

Your Call-to-Action:

Make five phone calls a day. This equates to 25 calls in a week if you’re doing a 5-day work week. Imagine the opportunities that can come from that. You can send emails, but there’s something about them hearing your voice since it becomes more real to them. They’re going to appreciate you took the time to talk to them. There’s a special thing about that.

Get on the phone and don’t be afraid of following up. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get hold of them or they’re not interested. It’s all the better if you get those so you realize that it’s not going to be the end of the world and you keep moving forward.

Today’s Major Takeaway:

Make time to get on the phone and talk to your customers. Have an understanding of how many customers you have, how much money they’re bringing in, what they buy from you, why they buy those things from you, and how you can help them continue to be there for them and how they can help you to generate more money by bringing in more referrals.

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Episode Resources:

TSE Hustler’s League

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Mark Ripley, Insightly, Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast

TSE 526: How to Build a Sales Team that Contributes to Long-Term Customer Success

Mark Ripley, Insightly, Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast Sometimes we tend to overlook the impact of treating our customers right when in fact it’s one of the most critical things to having long-term customer success. Your customers should not merely be transactional.

Today’s guest is Mark Ripley and shares with us great insights into building that long-term customer success. Mark runs sales for Insightly, which builds CRM tools for small to medium-sized businesses. Insightly was recently named #1 CRM for small businesses by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Mark:

Why you need to have a long-term view of client success:

  • The customer has become the bigger king because it’s now easier for them to switch to other brands.
  • Building that customer loyalty to your company and the value you bring is critical.

Common problems with customer success:

  1. Communication between sales and customer support.

Put a lot of energy upfront into building that process. Customers should never know the difference that they’re already going from sales to CS so they will have a wonderful experience all the way through.

Strategies to smoothly hand-off your customer from sales to CS:

  1. For the velocity play.
  • Figure out what information is really critical for CS to have to ensure wonderful customer experience.
  • Narrow it down to the key core things that’s realistic for sales to put into the CRM system and what’s really mission-critical for the CS person to have.
  • Warm hand-off. There should be a minimum of email introduction from the sales rep to the CS rep.
  1. For larger deals with more complex needs.

Pre-sale: Think about bringing CS in pre-sale. You want to bring a CS leader or manager to come in and walk them through that to give them a high degree of confidence. Then ask your customers what success looks like for them. This assures them that you have a legit process.

Post-sale: Every 90 days, the CS person and the sales rep will reconnect and get together on the phone to figure out and track things. This is also a great way to unveil up-sell opportunities.

The Red Carpet Treatment

Give your customer the red carpet treatment throughout the sales process. Keep making them feel amazing.

The Concept of Perceived Value

People’s perception of you can go a long way. So you have to be able to create that perception to your prospects in a way that they want to do business with you and that you care about them. Create whatever you like in terms of that perceived value.

How to help your sales team have a long-term vision of client success:

  1. Create a “tiger” team focused on improving customer experience.

Their whole mission is to find solutions to constantly improve the customer experience so it gets better and better over time.

  1. Set up a great sales structure that gives inherent motivation for the sales rep.

At Insightly, when an account executive signs a new customer, they get to keep the customer so if they buy again in the future, they come back to that account executive.

  1. Leverage relationships.

Build a relationship. Build trust. Understand your customer and leverage that so the customer continues to have an even more amazing experience.

Balancing new business and current customers:

  1. Have very clear role definitions.

Build those role definitions based on what your goals are.

  1. Set roles that are very specific to different functions.
  2. Communication.
  • Have a CRM that allows a very consistent way to communicate so the communication transfers between the two parties in a seamless, effective way.
  • Set expectations. 95% of problems or challenges can be traced all the way back to misaligned expectations due to lack of communication.

Mark’s Major Takeaway:

Focus on people first. Hire the right people. Set the roles the right way and make sure they’re in a place where they can continually grow. Set those up and empower them and that’s the key to building long-term growth-oriented teams.

Episode Resources:

Connect with Mark Ripley through email at mark@insightly.com.

Insightly

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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Customer Service, New Customers, Buyers, Procurementa

TSE 427: Sell The Way They Buy!

Customer Service, New Customers, Buyers, Procurementa There’s something I want to propose to you, sell the way that your clients like to buy. It’s a simple but often overlooked principle by many businesses.

Many companies focus on the sales, marketing, and figures which should be the case, but they they tend to have forgotten another major ingredient – Is this the way the customer is going to buy the product? Do they buy in a 3-step process? Or do they have a 6-step process?

So here are a few things for you to understand, and really, hopefully, you take these by heart.

People are still people.

The things you do online should be directly correlated to who you are in person. People you find online are still people. So you can’t just suddenly tell them to buy a product in three steps when they actually have a different process for that which could consist of 5 steps or 6 steps.

Find out who makes the purchases.

Most large companies have a procurement department that is in charge of the final purchase. Sure, you may have sold it to a decision-maker and they’ve already signed off. But you still have to understand that they might have some procurement process that you need to go through.

Additionally, government organizations have a very different and quite longer procurement process so you have to be aware of that.

So make friends with the procurement department and find out what their process is.

Consider the company size.

When working with small organizations, they may be making purchases more in recurring revenues rather than a large lump sum.

Today’s major takeaway:

Sit down and write out a process of how your customers buy. Reach out to their departments and find out what they need to do, what documents are needed, etc. Don’t get stuck in contract hell. Learn all the details. Think like the client. And have their best interest in mind.

Episode Resources:

TSE Episode 083: How to Avoid Contract Hell

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