Keep Customers Apprised – An easy way to improve the customer experience

Here’s a quick way to make life easier for your customers. Keep them apprised of next steps in their customer journey. Super Shuttle, a nationwide airport shuttle service, put a smile on my face and removed the risk of stress in my life by simply keeping me apprised.

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As I was gathering my things and heading out of the keynote ballroom, my smart phone buzzed. It was a text from Super Shuttle. They texted to give me my vehicle number and a link for me to track my shuttle. I had a very short window of time to get back to the airport for my flight and it was rush hour in Austin. This text with tracking information certainly made life easier for me.

I entered the hotel lobby area and took a seat to wait for the shuttle. Another text arrived. It read, “Your shuttle driver is Yobran and your shuttle number is 539. The expected arrival time of your shuttle is 5:06pm.”  

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Proactively keep your customers apprised. When you do, you’ll put them at ease, build trust and reduce customer stress.

 

 

 

4 Things Every Supervisor Should Be Doing to Address Unacceptable Employee Performance

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I want to talk to you about how to most effectively handle unacceptable employee performance. But before I get to that, let me tell you about a situation with my daughter.

I had to take my daughter’s phone from her yesterday. I don’t like that I had to do that, but I had a responsibility to take her phone. We have a rule in our house. Having a smartphone is a privilege and certain actions can result in a phone being taken away. One of those actions is a grade of a C or lower. My daughter’s Geometry grade dropped to a 76% yesterday. She chose to not turn in not one, but two assignments last week.

From the day we bought her phone, my daughter has always known that anything less than a B will result in loss of phone privileges. My daughter can see her grades daily online, as can her father and I. The expectations are set and clear. She has every possible opportunity to keep her phone, simply by maintaining excellent grades.

Online Chat Customer Experience Myra Golden

So, I don’t have to feel guilty about taking her phone away. There’s no benefit to her for me to go soft and let her slide. For what would I be teaching her if I let her slide? I’d be teaching her that she can slack and get away with it. She’d learn that my word is not solid. The focus and determination in academics I’m trying to instill in her would be harder for me to teach. So, the consequences stick and it is indeed for her best.

As a supervisor or manager, can you easily set expectations and deliver consequences?

If you are a parent, you likely can easily set expectations for your child, issue consequences and not feel guilty about it. You know what you’re doing is best for your child. But, can you behave the same way at work?

Can you follow through on consequences, knowing employees were clear on your expectations? Can you discipline your employees without feeling guilty?

My daughter knows I’m not made at her. Because I have always been clear on expectations and because I always follow through with consequences when expectations are not met, my daughter knows the discipline is not personal. She knows she made the choices that led her to the consequence of loss of phone privileges.

When you set crystal clear expectations for your employees and you ensure that they fully understand those expectations, it’s easier for your employees to accept any consequences their choices may bring.

Here are 4 Things Every Supervisor Should Be Doing to Address Unacceptable Employee Performance

So, you’re here so we can talk about how to most effectively handle unacceptable employee performance. Here are 4 Things Every Supervisor Should Be Doing to Address Unacceptable Employee Performance.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations makes it easier for employees to meet those expectations. Set clear expectations and check with your employee to make sure they understand them. Here’s an example of a manager setting clear expectations for supervisors.

“I need you to monitor 5 random calls per agent per week. At the end of the week I want you to sit down with each agent to discuss the call and your rating of the call.”

And here’s another example for clear expectations for supervisors:

“All emails must be responded to within 6 business hours without exception. If your team is experiencing an overload, work with another team for support of your backlog.”

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2. Get Agreement From Employees On Expectations

I fly a lot and on every single flight I observe a flight attendant going to the passengers seated in the exit rows and saying something similar to this.

“Are you aware that you are seated in an exit row?” She or he always waits for a verbal “yes.” “In the event of loss of cabin pressure or an emergency, are you willing to assist?” Again, she waits for a verbal “yes.”

Getting agreement on performance expectations is literally this simple. State your expectations and get a verbal confirmation from your employee that they understand and agree with the expectations. If they don’t agree or understand something, it is up to them to ask questions and to seek clarification.

 

3. Explain Consequences of Not Meeting Expectations

The thing that makes removing my daughter’s phone privileges easy, and it happens regularly, is that she knew upfront what the consequences would be. Make sure your employees know the consequences up front.

I am working with a client to gain adherence to the attendance policy in a call center. The attendance policy was already quite clear. The problem is, the consequences were not consistently applied. So, I coached a supervisor on how to establish consequences for attendance problems. I suggested the supervisor say to a particular problem employee:

“This shift is from 3:00pm – 11:00pm. I need someone who will be here no later than 2:55pm to start the shift daily and I hope that person is you. If you are not able to immediately begin getting to work on time, discipline will follow and it may include termination.”

4. Follow-through on Consequences

The key to employee discipline is follow-through. If you are inconsistent, you send a message to employees that they can push the limits – and some will do just that.

 

The Bottom Line

When you establish clear expectations, get employee agreement on expectations, and you ensure consequences are revealed up front, you can address unacceptable performance assertively and without feeling guilt. It’s up to you. Good luck.

You might also like:

4 Pain Points of Coaching Employees and How to Handle Them

5 Things QVC Does Best in the Customer Experience

I am delivering my Way of Harmony keynote at a conference tomorrow. Rehearsals are complete, I had a fantastic dinner with my client, I just Faced-Timed my husband and kids and now it’s time to prepare my attire for the event.

I almost always deliver keynotes in a little black dress (My closet is literally full of little black dresses of varying simple styles for my keynotes). I got a(nother) pair of new shoes recently and I am in love with these shoes. I got the shoes from QVC.com.

I intend to slay

I know, right? These shoes came from QVC. I’ve worn these shoes one other time and they are comfortable and stylish with the surprise gold heel. Taking out my shoes in preparation for tomorrow’s keynote got me thinking about the QVC customer experience.

Full disclosure. I’m a frequent QVC shopper. And I’m not alone. QVC is the world’s largest online retailer, generating $8.8b in annual revenue in 2014. Not only am I QVC customer, I’m a fan. I’m a fan of their fantastic and profitable customer experience. Speaking from my experience as a long-time customer of QVC, I’d like to talk to you about 5 things you can learn about the customer experience from QVC.

My intent with this discussion is to inspire you, my friend, to take a look at your own customer experience and look for ways you can adopt and adapt ideas I’ll share to your own customer experience so you can make your experience fantastic…and profitable.

  1. Easy

That was easy

QVC has mastered easy, particularly when it comes to returns. QVC customers have 30 days to return or exchange any item. All orders arrive with a pre-paid shipping label. The return policy is no questions asked. The easy, no-questions-asked return policy allows customers to shop with complete confidence and complete ease.

2. Accessible

QVC is brilliant when it comes to creating a customer experience that meets their many demographics of customers. The company offers fast, live-person customer service over the telephone 24/7, which is very appealing to Baby Boomer and Veteran generation customers. Placing orders on the company’s website and smartphone app work very well for Millennial and Generation X customers.

3. Enjoyable

Many of the QVC hosts engage and interact with customers over social media. This engagement allows customers to feel more connected with hosts and it enhances the overall customer experience.

4. Emotion

QVC, which stands for quality, value and convenience, truly delivers their namesake. Customers get high-quality merchandise, from diamonds to shoes to gourmet food. Many products feature exceptional value pricing plus interest-fee installment payments – value. Shopping from home or on the go by phone, web or app is certainly convenient.

Delivering a customer experience of quality, value and convenience leaves customers feeling impressed with themselves; feeling like they’ve made smart choices. When a company can effectively introduce emotion into the customer experience, they have mastered the customer experience.

5. Friendly

I once chatted with a QVC Customer Service Representative about the status of a product return. I simply wanted to confirm that my return was received, but I walked away from the chat session with a Beyond WOW reaction. The WOW started with this message from the Representative:

“Ms Golden, I’m so sorry the Canon Vixia HV30 MiniDV HD Camcorder hasn’t been processed as of yet.  I know you’re anxious to have this completed.  The return processing time can take up to 17 days from the date an order is returned to QVC.  I hope your item is processed soon.”

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This chat experience was personalized, friendly and fast. I was beyond impressed.

Your Take-away

Make your customer experience easy, accessible, enjoyable and find ways to leave customers feeling impressed with themselves. When you do, you’ll be well on track to consistently delivering fantastic customer experiences. Good luck!

What It’s Like to Attend a Myra Golden Keynote –> DFW Airport Women’s Conference (WIN) 2016

I loved speaking at the 2016 DFW Airport Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) Conference. We had more than 600 beautiful, talented and driven women in attendance. I truly enjoyed working with the executives at DFW Airport to design this special keynote to focus on taking the customer experience to the next level.

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After my keynote, the ladies blessed me with hugs, invitations to be in selfies, conversations, smiles and promises to stay in touch. I felt so welcome, so apart of this network of strong professional women.

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This is an event and a company that I’ll always hold dear. Thank you ladies of DFW. You truly blessed me.

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We both look shiny and I think it’s from the lighting….or maybe we were glowing from such a great day.

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Myra Golden Keynote DFW Airport

Reaction from a DFW WIN Attendee

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In rehearsal for this week’s keynote

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In rehearsal for this week’s Women’s Conference for the women of DFW Airport. They are going to LOVE this keynote!

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And I am loving this hotel. The Hyatt Regency DFW had these healthy and sweet treats waiting for me when I arrived. This is just what I need!

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What a nice touch to include a glass and complimentary bottled water.

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What It Means to Be Out of Harmony with Customers. A Lesson From Carl’s Jr.

 

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No, this is not a Carl’s Jr. veggie burger. Not even close. This is what a Veggie Burger Should Look Like.

My family decided on Carl’s Jr. for lunch. Fast food was the last thing I wanted, but I wanted to go with the flow with my kids. I quickly pulled up the Carl’s Jr menu on my iPhone and to my surprise and delight they have a veggie burger (I’m a vegetarian who eats vegan 99% of the time).

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On the website the Carl’s Jr. veggie burger looks delicious and they describe it this way:

Veg It.® – Guacamole Thickburger®

Feast on guacamole, Pepper Jack cheese and fresh fixings, all on a toasted sesame seed bun. The meat goes, but the flavor stays.

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This is perfect for me. I’ll simply hold the cheese and enjoy this flavorful veggie burger.

I’m the first to order. I order the Veg It, and please hold the cheese. The lady behind the counter says, “We don’t have any veggie burgers of any kind.” I tell her about the Veg It burger from the website. Again, she says they don’t have veggie burgers.

Ok, so I ask if they can make a veggie burger based on what I read on the website. I explain that the Carl’s Jr. Veg It has guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion and comes on a sesame seed bun. She sighs, looks like I am personally putting her out and takes my order. I’m delighted that I could at least request what I wanted and after my kids order, we take a seat and wait for our food.

To my chagrin, this is what I got. I open a burger container to see two large leaves of iceberg lettuce, a single tomato slice, and red onions that are less than fresh. On the side there is a plastic cup with guacamole. No bun is included, mind you.

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This is what they are calling the veggie burger. Wow. Um, wow. My neighbor’s rabbit would be disappointed in this meal. I was speechless. Actually, curse words ran through my mind. Were they really serious? I should have taken a picture of this thrown together mess. Instead, I closed up the carton and pushed it away.

I deliver a keynote I call “The Way of Harmony.” It’s about aligning an organization’s processes, people and products (or service) with the needs of customers.  When an organization is in harmony, the customer gets a delightful and memorable experience. When it’s out of harmony, customers are left disappointed and are at risk for defection and spreading negative word-of-mouth advertising.

Carl’s Jr. was out of harmony. The website listed a veggie burger, described it in a way that pleased my palate and even showed an image of a lush guacamole burger on the website. Yet, the store in Italy, Texas either had no idea that the company advertised the Veg It burger or didn’t care to make the burger.

Being out of harmony creates a frustrating negative experience for customers. It gets customers talking to their friends and family about the let down. It motivates people to tweet rants. It reduces the chances of customers coming back. Certainly, I’ll never return, not even for my kids.

Here’s a tip for any business that has a website, and that should be EVERY business. Make sure your actual product and service offerings are in harmony with what you advertise. When your advertisement is out of alignment with your actual offerings and experience, you confuse customers and send them running….to the competition.

How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Coaching Employees

Espresso for Writing

 

I’m sitting in my office sipping bold Ethiopian espresso, my favorite, and doing a run-through for this week’s big training event. The big event? We’re calling it:

“How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Coaching Employees.”

If you’re a Member of my Full Access program or you registered for this event, your handouts were sent to you last night, so be sure to check your email for the packet.

It’s a fact. Most managers don’t give employees the constructive feedback they need in order to develop and grow. Some managers shy away from conflict. Perhaps they hope the problem will correct itself.

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Many fear getting a difficult to handle response from the employee. We never want to admit it, but some managers want to be “friends” with their employees and this “friendship” keeps them from the giving the constructive feedback their employees need. And then there are those who just wait until the annual performance review to lay it all on the employee.

Why are managers so ineffective when it comes to giving constructive feedback?

It’s simple really. Managers never learned exactly how to assertively address unacceptable performance. And let’s face it; giving constructive feedback about a person’s performance can be a little intimidating.

Join me for a 60-minute discussion on Wednesday, February 10th at 1:05pm ET where I’ll share:

  • 4 Pain points of coaching agents and how to handle them.
  • The Manager-Tested-and-Proven 6-Step Strategy for Addressing Unacceptable Employee Performance that Myra has taught managers in Fortune 100 companies, contact centers, government agencies, school systems, a spa and a plumbing company.
  • How to avoid sounding critical and nitpicky, yet still get your point across.
  • 3 Keys for coaching underperforming employees.
  • Special take-away packet: A powerful 9-step coaching strategy for coaching calls in contact centers. +++ Get a sneak peak at Zappos monitoring form.
  • How to get employees to take ownership for performance improvement using a super-simple 4-step Coaching Through Questioning technique.
  • 3 Techniques everyone who coaches contact center agents should be using.
  • Myra’s KFD principle for how to fully prepare for constructive feedback discussions with employees. Using this principle, you’ll be prepared and confident!
  • A 2-minute exercise that you can do at your desk that will instantly boost your confidence by boosting your testosterone levels (this works for women too) and lower your cortisol (stress hormone). Do this quick exercise right before having high-stakes conversations and you’ll have the confidence of Olivia Pope.

Sneak Peak at what we’ll cover in “How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Coaching Employees.”

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After our discussion I will give you:

  • Full webinar digital recording
  • Unlimited viewing within your organization with no expiration
  • Rights to download and save webinar video
  • Rights to incorporate webinar within your Learning Management System (LMS)

How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Coaching Agents

February 10th, 1:05pm – 2:05pm ET     $299 per organization

Register now

Keeping the Customer Experience Fresh Through Responsiveness (How Hello Fresh delighted me by keeping me apprised)

 

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On Sunday I had to reach out to my grocery delivery service for help. I sent an email and almost immediately I received an automatic reply. The reply was simple, just letting me know that my email had been received.

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Hi there,

Thanks so much for getting in touch! 

We have received your email and will respond shortly.

While you wait, take a look at our FAQ’s at http://www.hellofresh.com/faq/, in case your answer lies there.

Lastly, if you need to make meal choice, update your payment details, cancel or pause your account, please login https://www.hellofresh.com/customer/account/login/.

Talk to you soon,

The Friendly Freshers

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I appreciate getting an immediate response to my query, even when I know this is an automated computer generated response. It lets me know my email successfully reached the company. It puts me at ease.

When I’ve contacted this company over email in the past, the response from a service rep is pretty fast, usually within 1-2 hours. But nearly 24 hours had passed and I hadn’t heard back from the company. It was Martin Luther King Day and I thought perhaps they were short-staffed with people taking the day off. My kids were out of school and my husband and I had also taken the day off. But, to my delight, exactly 24 hours after my initial email, I got a second automated email from the company.

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Hello, Myra,

We’re sorry we haven’t gotten back to you yet. We have received your message and will respond to you very shortly. Thank you for bearing with us.

If you have anything else to add, please just reply here http://hellofreshusa.zendesk.com/hc/requests/854899 and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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I loved this second email, so much so, that I took time out of my holiday weekend to sit down and talk to you about it.

Hello Fresh normally replies to emails within 1-2 hours. But this time they didn’t, but they proactively updated me. This little update, timed perfectly at 24 hours after my initial communication, assured me that my email did not get lost and that they were on top of things. This update kept me from losing confidence in the company and it took away any need for me to reach out again by email or telephone. It protected me from becoming upset or even worse; it protected me from defecting.

Keeping customers apprised via automated emails is brilliant. It puts customers at ease, helps customers feel confident that the company is working on the problem, and it keeps customers from feeling they need to reach out to the company a second time.

The customer experience needs to reduce customer effort, keep customers apprised and it’s a treat when the experience can delight customers. Hello Fresh did each of these things by simply having an automated response built in to launch 24 hours after my initial email.

When you don’t immediately acknowledge a customer a customer’s inquiry, they may wonder if their communication even reached you and this may prompt follow-up communication that cost you time and money. Failing to acknowledge customer inquiries and not providing updates can result in losing customer confidence and trust.

What You Can Do

Review one aspect of your customer experience and explore how you can reduce customer effort and keep customers apprised. If you’re feeling really creative, consider how you might add surprise or delight to this aspect of the customer experience.

The Bottom Line

 

The outcome of an automated customer apprising strategy is customers who are updated and less likely to have to follow up to check in, and your organization will build customer confidence and trust through proactive communication.

Myra Golden is a customer experience keynote speaker and trainer who travels North America looking for great stories to share, and new ways to help her clients deliver the best possible customer experience.

4 Pain Points of Coaching Employees and How to Handle Them

 

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As I sit down to write this, I have an unsightly burn on my right hand. Before my keynote tomorrow morning, I’ll have to find the nearest drugstore and buy a discrete looking Band-Aid to cover the sore. Perhaps the front desk of this lovely bed and breakfast has Band-Aids. I’ll check there first. But not before I talk to you about hot stoves and pain points to coaching your employees.

My children and husband love my homemade bread, so before business trips I try to make a fresh loaf and leave it for them to enjoy. In addition to my basic white bread, I made a dessert bread for my daughter, Key Lime Bread.

It was my first time making this dessert bread. I did the toothpick test to make sure it was cooked nicely all the way through. When I removed the toothpick from the bread, I bumped my hand on the top of the inside of the hot oven. It immediately stung. I stood in front of the open oven, toothpick in hand, for a couple of seconds wondering how I could have been so careless.

Two days later in a bed and breakfast in Ohio, I have an ugly sore on my right hand. I talk with my hands, so this a problem on the big stage. I’ll definitely get a Band-Aid for tomorrow.

I was careless and I got burned. The oven is impersonal. It didn’t care that I was baking bread as a loving gesture for my family. I touched the hot surface, so I got burned. The sting of the burn was immediate. If I went back and touched the inside of a hot oven again, say in two weeks, I’d still get burned. I knew the oven was hot, so, the heat was foreseeable. If you touch the inside of my oven while it’s hot, you, too, will get burned.

Giving feedback and addressing unacceptable performance with employees should be like an oven throwing off heat. The feedback should be immediate, impersonal and consistent. Consequences for not making corrections after receiving feedback should be foreseeable.

old stove

 

It’s what Douglas McGregor, management consultant, calls the Hot Stove Rule.

Feedback to employees should follow the Hot Stove Rule.

 When we fail to follow the hot stove rule, we make coaching harder for ourselves; we’re unfair to our employees; we may put our companies at risk for litigation.

1. Immediate – Unacceptable employee performance or attitude needs to be addressed immediately. Not after things have built up overtime, not on the annual review; immediately. I felt the burn immediately. Your employees need, and deserve, immediate feedback on their performance.

2. Foreseeable – I knew my oven was hot. I simply got careless and allowed my bare hand to come in contact with the metal surface. The potential for injury was foreseeable. I turned the oven on, I let it preheat, I felt the heat. Any disciplinary action you take on an employee; verbal warning, written warning, probation, etc., must be foreseeable. Your expectations must be clear. Consequences for failure to meet expectations must also be clear. Constructive feedback and discipline should never be a shock to your employees.

3. Consistent – If I go into my kitchen next week and touch the oven while it’s hot, I will get burned. Again. The oven is consistent in delivering its consequences. Feedback, coaching and discipline are to be consistent if they are to be effective in ushering in change. You can’t ignore a variance today and then stand firm against the same infraction 6 months from now. You must consistently address unacceptable performance and poor attitudes. You must consistently offer support, coaching and counsel.

4. Impersonal – I touched the inside surface of a 375 degree oven. That is why I got burned. It was not personal. The sting and ugly sore are the consequences I must endure because I touched a hot oven. The burn had nothing to do with my years of experience in the kitchen, or lack thereof, professional title, or how the oven felt about me. It was impersonal. Your feedback and discipline must be impersonal too. Consistently give the same level of feedback, coaching and discipline to any employee who fails to meet expectations.

The bed and breakfast does not have Band-Aids, but there is Target 3 miles away. I can cover my mistake with a bandage. But it’s not that easy for you. You have a professional and ethical responsibility to coach your employees fairly and to give them every possible opportunity to deliver their best performance. You do this by ensuring that your coaching and discipline is immediate, foreseeable, consistent and impersonal.

 

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We Need to Talk About How You Coach Your Employees

Live Webinar with Myra Golden

This new program contains a step-by-step approach to coaching agents to deliver the best customer interactions

And right now, you can get a special $50 discount when you use code COACHBETTER2016, but only if you hurry.  Go to:

http://myragolden.com/webinar_WeNeed2Talk.php

You’ll gain a new sense of confidence, satisfaction and pride in your quality assurance efforts and lower your stress level.

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