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26 08, 2010

Please Release Me, Set Me Free!

By |2017-03-03T12:07:13-05:00August 26th, 2010|Categories: Blog, Customer Satisfaction|1 Comment

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Have you ever tried to get unsubscribed from an e-mail list? I have a site that I’ve been trying to get rid of for one year, and I can’t do it. The best I can do is getting the message to go to my spam box!

How come subscribing is so much easier than unsubscribing? Isn’t customer service giving the customer what they want? Maybe companies don’t check out their own policies or take their own suggestions.

When I get done unsubscribing I really hate them for putting me through all the nonsense.

My friend told me of his experience with Kmart and Sears; I think it’s a good lesson on “unsubscribing warfare.” We pick up the conversation as it gets juicy (my comments in italics).

Dear Mr. Valued Customer, (names have been altered to protect K-mart!) Thank you for contacting kmart.com. (Hmn, I wonder if its so?)

We apologize for the inconvenience of receiving unwanted emails. Please send your full address and we will remove you from the email and call list. (Simple enough, like he hadn’t sent it at least 4 times before?)

We do appreciate your business but understand this frustration. Please have a great week.

> Gloria B.>> >>>
Kmart Customer Care
help@customerservice.kmart.com
1-866-KMART-4U (1-866-562-7848)

My friend’s response:

>>
>
> >Original Message Follows: ————————
>When I insert my email address as you describe, your system will not recognize my address (even though it continues to send emails to that address) so I cannot get your system to forward to me my unknown password.

Are you starting to get a picture….there appears to be no way for ME to end this.

I never signed up for your emails (I didn’t even shop at Kmart & now most certainly won’t).

I don’t know my password to stop them, & apparently, even if I did know the password, your system wouldn’t recognize my email & password, allowing me to stop them. I didn’t ask for this,

I didn’t create this, I don’t want this, I can’t stop this; Kmart created this… (K-mart gone wild! I don’t think its girls gone wild.)

Kmart needs to stop this.

From Kmart:

Original Message —–
From: Kmart Help
To: Valued Customer
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 10:30 AM
Subject: Re: Unsolicited emails (KMM3172974I15977L0KM)
> Dear Customer,Thank you for contacting Kmart.com. (You think?)

We are sorry to hear that you would like to unsubscribe from our marketing list.

To stop receiving e-mail promotions from us please visit our site and click on the “My Profile” link located in the top left of the website. You will then need to follow the steps listed below:

1. Enter your e-mail address and password. 2. Click on “My Information” link located on the left. 3. Scroll down and select “I would like to receive special offers, updates and sale alerts.” under “E-mail Specials” located near the bottom of the page. Make sure the checkmark is removed from the box. 4. Save and return to Overview. Once these steps have been completed your e-mail address will be removed from our mailing list within a few business days. We thank you for your patience. We appreciate your business and again, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this situation may have caused you.

Look for great bargains throughout the store and find Kmart exclusive brands like Martha Stewart Everyday, Thalia Sodi, (Thalia who?) Joe Boxer, Route 66 and Jaclyn Smith.

(Hey, good salesmanship; never miss the opportunity to resell the customer.)

Kmart Customer Care
help@customerservice.kmart.com
1-866-KMART-4U (1-866-562-7848)

From my friend:

>
>Original Message Follows: ————————
>That’s ridiculous. If I have a password I don’t know how I got it or what it is.

On EVERY email you send me I go to “unsubscribe” & do so yet the emails continue to roll in. Why doesn’t that stop the emails?

PLEASE REPLY TO THIS QUESTION! Call or send my password to XXX, It’s obvious my initial email wasn’t completely read as there’s no way I’ll be looking at any “great Bargains” or brand names at Kmart. (No crap)

From Kmart:

—– Original Message —–
From: Kmart Help
To: XXX
Sent: Monday, February 16, 2009 11:46 AM
Subject: Re: Unsolicited emails (KMM3157376I15977L0KM)
Dear XXX

Thank you for contacting kmart.com.

We appreciate your recent correspondence. We welcomed the opportunity to email you our many in-store and online specials. (OMG)

We are sorry to hear that you would like to unsubscribe from our marketing list. To stop receiving e-mail promotions from us please visit our site and click on the “My Profile” link located in the top left of the website. You will then need to follow the steps listed below:

1. Enter your e-mail address and password.
2. Click on “My Information” link located on the left.
3. Scroll down and select “I would like to receive special offers, updates and sale alerts.” under “E-mail Specials” located near the bottom of the page. Make sure the checkmark is removed from the box.
4. Save and return to Overview.
Once these steps have been completed your e-mail address will be removed from our mailing list within a few business days. We thank you for your patience. We appreciate your business and again, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this situation may have caused you.

Look for great bargains throughout the store and find Kmart exclusive brands like Martha Stewart Everyday, Thalia Sodi, (Thalia who?) Joe Boxer, Route 66 and Jaclyn Smith.

Angie D.
Kmart Customer Care
help@customerservice.kmart.com
1-866-KMART-4U (1-866-562-7848)

Ok, so, if the customer doesn’t get it the first time, send them the same message under another name. And don’t forget to try and sell them….again!

So my friend responds:

Original Message Follows: ————————
 I want a person in a position of authority to call me at XXX (And who might that be?)I have currently been “unsubscribing” to your unsolicited emails for several weeks each time I receive one. In addition, I’ve emailed this address & requested to be removed from your email list a minimum of two times. I have already resolved NEVER to make another purchase from Kmart, Sears or any associated stores.

I will now start a verbal & electronic campaign with everyone I know to boycott your stores. Upon receiving the next email from Kmart I will locate the proper governing body & complain to the government of your harassment. (Now it’s gone global, maybe it’s the wrong country?)

Apparently Kmart is so inept your E system doesn’t automatically delete my email automatically with my request & the personnel either are overworked, incompetent or uninterested.

Go for it XX!

I believe XX is currently alive and well after receiving a call from the President of Kmart who personally unsubscribed XX!

Please feel free to forward this off to anyone having a problem unsubscribing or needs a good laugh!

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20 05, 2010

Can You Make Money With Customer Service?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:14-05:00May 20th, 2010|Categories: Customer Satisfaction|Tags: , |0 Comments

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Ben_and_jerrys Customer service often gets lost in a business; lost in the everyday of doing business. Businesses get lackadaisical, often forgetting their core business or how they got into business. Basically they forget their customers.

Can you remember when the service attendant pumped the gas for you? New Jersey is one of the states where you can’t pump your own gas so you can actually have the opportunity to experience this customer service from years gone by.

If you’re planning on "heating up that bottom line" you are doing to walk in the customer’s shoes. Identifying with the customer, their distress and taking them seriously. The more distressed the customer the more difficult to keep the customer. Businesses spend more time and money getting new customers than they do training their salespeople. The more difficult the economy, the more likely businesses are to recruit new customers rather than pay attention to their existing customers. Existing customers are the life blood of any business. Excellent word of mouth is spoken gently, bad word of mouth is screamed.

Tonight I went to Ben and Jerry’s for yogurt but before I bought I asked if we could look up the calories. He didn’t roll his eyes or act annoyed he just said, do you have a particular flavor in mind? I said no, I just want to know about the calories and I don’t want to look too hard. He laughed and said they actually aren’t that high. He went on to explain about the serving size and the number of calories in each serving. I found that the frozen yogurt was pretty low, 170 calories. Again I was amazed. The more he talked the more I liked him, the more I liked him the more I wanted to buy. Isn’t this how customer service improves the bottom line?

How do you know if your customer service is the best, you don’t but you can become the company your customer can’t live without? Train your employees first and advertise later. There’s no reason to capture customers if you can’t keep them. Define ways to keep your customers and then advertise to get them. Cherish your customers before they buy and show your customers the kind of service they can expect.

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14 05, 2010

Is Complete Disclosure A Good Thing?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:14-05:00May 14th, 2010|Categories: Customer Satisfaction|Tags: , , |0 Comments

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Quiet I recently found out it was better to eat the French fries at McDonalds for 230 calories and 11 grams of fat than eat a chicken crisp sandwich for 360 calories with 28 grams of fat. Who would have guessed?

Is this a good thing?

As a consumer isn’t it better to have all the information and make your own decision than have someone make it for you?

Does the vendor lose? I chose the French fries because I’m hungry and they taste wonderful and are ½ the price of the chicken crisp sandwich. By the way, I feel good on both counts. But McDonald’s loses because I spend less money.

Maybe they really don’t lose; before I was just ‘not informed’. Buyer beware, eat at your own risk! Now I feel like I’ve been duped. Actually I doubt the people that worked at McDonalds were worried about the calories, they were more worried about their jobs.
I wonder if the owners thought about it, what do you think? I bet they’re not happy about the calorie counts.

What types of warrantees do you have that you don’t discuss with your customers? As a flooring inspector customers often tell me, "nobody told me that."  I often wonder, did the salesperson really omit that the carpet should be vacuumed, cleaned, seams aren’t invisible or the carpet will shed? Were they afraid if they told the customer they wouldn’t buy? How about their flooring warrantees? Is it still only one year when many of the responsible retailers give lifetime warrantees. Warren Buffet wrote a letter to the shareholders and explained that he had lost millions by acting slowly on closing the trading arm of Gen Re, Berkshire Hathaway's wholly owned subsidiary. I doubt if Warren will be fired for his honesty since he controls a majority state of Berkshire Hathaway.
Why not tell the customers and deal with the customers concerns before the job is done and the customers are really upset? As customers we are responsible for what we buy but isn’t the salesperson obliged to help us with our concerns or bring up issues that are unfamiliar to us?

A great salesperson let’s customers know their options and gives the good news and the bad news so the customer can choose what’s best for them. We need less help if we buy a newspaper than a sofa although it would be nice to know that the ink from some newspapers comes off on your hands and clothing. I think the next time I buy a newspaper and the ink gets all over my face and hands I will go back and demand a refund.

How about this problem. I purchased a suede jacket in the airport at The Spirit of the Red Horse. If you’ve been there you know they have great looking and expensive clothes. The inside of my jacket said, ‘dry clean only’ so when it got dirty I took it to the dry cleaners. My local cleaner refused to clean it because of the ‘bead work.’ So the next time I went to New York City I brought the jacket and asked the same question. Guess what, after three dry cleaners I realized it wasn’t getting cleaned. No one wanted the liability. Should I have known? I think so. Would I have bought it, I don’t know. I would have thought at least twice before deciding. I finally called the store, and after several managers one finally said send it in, no problem we’ll clean it for you. It has been 4 months, no jacket and no word. I faxed them a letter last week requesting my money, a new jacket or the clean old one. I received a call and was told the manager was on vacation. You know the end of this tale, they can’t clean the jacket.

What would the tag have said? Maybe "Buy at your own risk — you figure out how to clean it we can’t." I guess as consumers we should read the fine print and if there isn’t any we should make it up.

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11 05, 2010

Businesses Working Together in a Most Unusual Way

By |2017-03-03T12:07:14-05:00May 11th, 2010|Categories: Reaching the Consumer|Tags: , |1 Comment

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Referral rewards picture I just returned from a trip to Orlando, FL and worked with several different groups of people. Business owner Randy Stinson of Stinson Carpets invited me as a speaker for the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and to meet with a group of flooring retailers to discuss business concerns. Stinson Carpets, a leader in the flooring industry, was given the honor of Mohawk ColorCenter Dealer of the year for the Florida Region. Randy Stinson, CFE of Stinson Carpets,  is community minded and a team player. He hosted the discussion group at his store and invited other regional Color Center Dealers as well as the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce. In addition Stinson’s has the privilege to host the Chick-fil-A Leadercast here in the area on May 7 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  The Leadercast is about experiencing authentic leadership, learning from the world’s best leaders, awakening your passion to influence and aspiring to impact lives.  

Why does Randy work so hard in the community, especially when business is so challenging? 

"I’ve always been a team player," says Randy. "I believe in my community and in bringing events that benefit all of us. With the world changing so quickly it’s important to stay with and ahead of the trends. Customers are the lifeblood of all of our companies and they deserve the best of what we have to offer."

Business is better, but business is different. The new home market is quiet, remodeling is picking up and residential customers are shopping. Things should be all good, right? Well there are some other things. These other things are called social media; specifically Facebook.
If you need to find information on a carriage, do you Google or Facebook? It seems that Facebook is starting to rival Google for information. Consider that you’re looking for information on a baby carriage. If you put baby carriage in Google you will get over 3 million citations. When you get all done, will you know what type of baby carriage you need; will you trust what you read? Let’s put “I need a baby carriage” and "what should I buy"  in your Facebook search and what will come up? Probably answers from 15 friends on what they’ve bought and what works. You can’t buy these referrals.

How important are referrals? They are the lifeblood of any business. By the time a business is 5 years old, 85% of their new customers will come from referrals. Every business needs to find a place for customers to share their experiences. Apparently recommendations from friends on Facebook are rivaling the Google search. Is carrying more weight than the Google search. It makes sense to me; I would rather hear what my friend has to say about the baby carriage than all the citations from Google. It’s personal and my friends have no vested interest in what I purchase.

It’s obvious what this means. You had better get up to speed if you’re looking for customers. Customers posting to your “like" (or fan) page will be providing information to “possible customers.” Think of how this can snowball and provide you with new customers.
We talk about word of mouth, with Facebook and Twitter you have the advantage of listening to conversations. You also have the opportunity to influence conversations with customer testimonials.

This brings me back to these meetings in Orlando. One of the big topics was social media, why it’s important and how it fits. Barbara Abramson, one of the group members,   not only knows how to use social media, I think she’s one of the most “in the know” flooring people I’ve met. Barbara and her husband Ira own Sanford Carpet, which they took over from Ira’s parents. Barbara has brought innovation and energy to the sales floor while Ira handles the installation. During our meeting Barbara was helping make videos, taking photos, tweeting and celebrating her birthday on Facebook. For the next meeting Barbara agreed to get everyone up to speed in social media if they wanted to meet again. Another outcome of the meeting was the development of the Central Florida Color Center Leadership Council. Despite the time necessary to effectively run their own businesses here is a group that’s devoted to each other’s success. They don’t see themselves as competitors, they see themselves as partners.

The next meeting is set and Barbara is going to get everyone up to speed in social media. This is serious folks, everyone has to bring their laptops and their Facebook and Twitter accounts and be ready to work.

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19 04, 2010

How Many Holes Are In Your Bucket?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:14-05:00April 19th, 2010|Categories: Customer Satisfaction|Tags: |0 Comments

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Retain-custs-510 "Even the best business is like a leaky bucket," according to Daniel G Alcorn, Strategic Business Owner and creator of ShowAppreciation.net, a company geared to helping business owners improve their marketing effectiveness through customer retention strategies. Instead of trying to stop the loss of existing customers, businesses spend their time trying to recruit new ones.

Last week Dan invited me to attend Business Referral Networking Group, BRNG, as a guest and listen to his presentation on appreciation marketing. The group which was started and owned by entrepreneur Bonnie Ausfeld works on the premise that members need to educate each other on their services rather than trying to sell them services. This is what makes this group so unique. Through these presentations members are able to learn new skills, promote their business and get to know each other quickly, which builds a sense of trust. “Trust," says Bonnie, "is the basis for any good networking group. How can you refer anyone unless you feel good about that person and trust their expertise.”

Having been involved in many networking groups I found Bonnie’s premise to be quite unusual and rewarding. You mean I don’t have to listen to boring sales presentations for an hour?

No stranger to business, Dan cited some statistics about the business climate and how businesses are reacting. In tough economics business are likely to cut back many services in an attempt to get their costs in line. Often the cost cutting also means not keeping in contact with previous customers.

The “leaky bucket theory” basically looks at a business as a bucket with liquid customers coming into the bucket through promotional or acquisition marketing. This fills up the bucket and translates into what businesses call market share. Unfortunately, according to Alcorn, the average company loses 10% of its customers through the leaky holes in the bucket. If a business were to ‘stop up these holes’, Alcorn says, research confirms businesses would improve margins and profitability. Paying attention to why customers defect also sheds light on the problem. According to a study by Reicheld and Sasser for the Harvard Business, the review cites that 68% of customers leave because of ‘perceived indifference,’ another 14% is dissatisfaction and 9% for competitive reasons. That means that 91% of customer defection can be impacted by the business if they choose to stay in touch with their sold customers. My experience with conducting customer defection surveys is that 9 times out of 10, unhappy customers will tell the salesperson that their reasons for not buying is a price issue. When these customers are surveyed, they are willing to give up the real reason which is often the store didn’t pay enough attention to me.

When it comes to marketing, where do businesses spend their money? A business divides its advertising and marketing dollars between promotional dollars (to entice new customers) and appreciation marketing to minimize defection. Despite the statistics, 60-70% of the possibility of success rate with existing customers and 5-20% for enticing new customers, most businesses spend as much as 80% of their marketing resources on obtaining new customers. According to Michael Lowenstein in his article, “Model Modelers in Predictive Churn”, Search CRM, June 2002, 62% of customer defections can be modified if discovered in advance. Often times businesses rely on ‘reports from unhappy customers’ as an indicator of business health, the U.S. Department of Consumer Affairs reports that 96% of unhappy customers never contact the business, they just go away unhappy.

The key is staying in touch with your customers. But Instead of ‘throwing some against the wall and hoping it will stick’, a business should know their targeted customer and spend time staying in touch.

Should a business spend time trying to retain their customers or let their 20 or 30 years of referrals do it all for them? The big question, are customers that don’t complain really satisfied? That brings us back to the last statistic that 96% never complain, they just go away unhappy.

Statistics tell us that 80% of a company’s new business will come from referrals but what about the customer that is unhappy? What is this customer saying about your business? Can bad business overshadow your referrals? With a defection rate of about 20% yearly it’s easy to see how a business can sell themselves out of business. In my book, Red Hot Customer Service I talk about how retention strategies can keep any business in the black.

What can a business do to stop the leaks in the bucket? The first step is to pay attention to your existing customers and track the results. This simple step can be the difference in life or death of your company.

If you want to know more about appreciation marketing and want a free consultation on how appreciation marketing might help your business, contact Dan and tell him "any friend of Lis’s is a friend of mine!"

Next week, more on retention strategies.

What are you doing to retain customers? Give us your comments.

Resources:

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6 04, 2010

Become Different and Irresistable

By |2017-03-03T12:07:14-05:00April 6th, 2010|Categories: Building a Brand, Competitive Advantage|Tags: , , |0 Comments

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Here's my latest blog post over at Talk 1300 called "Become Different and Irresistable".

I’ve been reading how high-growth companies, even in bad times, spend little time thinking about staying with their competitors. Instead, they make their competitors irrelevant. How? By continuously trying different things that will delight their customers, code name: customer service.

High growth companies—irrespective of their industry—all described what has been called the “logic of value innovation.” Firstly, don