No.19/ September 19, 2006

 The Corporate Muse


Welcome to our little ezine we call, The Corporate Muse.  This month we tackle bad service experiences; give some observations on a recent seminar and an overview of ebooks.  As always, we welcome suggestions and/or questions. 




Is Your Good Service A Delusion?


They had about a 30% chance of keeping our business, but then they sent in Patricia the Wonder Rep.


(This is a true story, folks. The only thing I've made up is the name, Patricia, which may or may not be her real name.)


I don't want to drag this out into a overly long, she said, she said, so I'll try to keep it to just the highlights.


We rarely write checks and it just recently became necessary to order a checkbook for our business. I searched the Internet and found what I thought to be a reputable business forms company; obediently gave them the pertinent information and waited for my conformation email.


When it appeared I wouldn't receive one, I jotted one off to them, but never heard back. A few days later, I did receive an email stating I needed to fax them with a cancelled check before they could finish processing the order.


Things probably could have ended satisfactorily there had my fax machine and scanner been working. But since both were on the fritz, it would have been a great inconvenience (not to mention an added expense) to comply.


I wrote back and asked for a physical address. They told me I could scan the cancelled check and email the copy to them. Obviously, that wasn't going to work either.


By this time, it had starting to become an irritation. I decided I needed to talk to a real person, but when I telephoned, I got an automated message. The only available option was to leave my name, number and problem and someone would call back within 24 hours.


You guessed it. No one returned my call.


The last straw came when I checked my bank statement later in the week and discovered that, even though they were unable to finalize my order, they had already charged my account ... at $13 more than I'd expected to pay.


I called the next day to cancel and spoke to a sweet woman, who took my information and asked no questions.


When it took more than a few days to receive my refund, I phoned again. And again I got the automated messenger.


Let's say I was a bit cynical by this time. I didn't expect to hear back.


But bright and early the next day, (about 8 a.m. -- and if you were wondering -- yes, I was still in bed) Patricia called.


Not more than a couple of words were out of my mouth before she started interrupting me. The conversation continued in this vein. I'd answer her question and she'd cut me off and tell me why my thinking was all wrong.


My complaint, to start with, was with their customer service department. She informed me it was miscommunication on my end.


"You're saying our customer service is bad and our customer service isn't bad," she screeched in my poor sleepy ear..


It wasn't the only thing I had to gripe about, but we never got farther than that.


Patricia ended the conversation with, "Okay, we'll give you your money back.  Go ahead a pay more somewhere else!"


Here's a little tidbit Patricia doesn't know. I went somewhere else. Paid less and it was hassle free.


What I find very sad about the whole incident is twofold. First, as I said earlier, the company had an opportunity to save my account. Secondly, and more importantly, they believe they offer superior service.


Their guarantee reads, "If you are not completely satisfied with any form or check order at any time, for any reason, we''ll refund the purchase price or replace it FREE!  Regardless of fault."


Apparently, they don't stand by their promise. Or at least, Patricia doesn't.

Most of us have undergone the irony of poor service in the face of a similar pledge.


It's one thing not to care, it's another thing all together to believe you're doing a good job when you're not. 


Neither is good, of course, especially in a world of fierce competition.  Sometimes "positively outrageous service"* is the only thing that sets you apart from the dozens of businesses just like yours.


Just as a bad incident sticks with you, a good one can stand out like a shining star.  Think about the last time you had a positive customer service experience. 


(I know it might take a few minutes, so I'll wait.)


We've all had those delicious moments. She smiled warmly and welcomed your comments. He went out of his way to be sure everything for your special day was absolutely perfect. They offered compensation for your inconvenience. 


How did these kind souls make you feel? Special, right? It's how all of us want to feel, and how, if we believe in following the golden rule, we should strive to make our customers feel.


Surly, apathetic, or even rude "customer care specialists" are everywhere, ruining one person's day at a time.


That means you have an amazing opening to jump ahead of the pack.


Be a beacon of service superiority in the sea of mediocrity. You'll keep your clients smiling and returning again and again!


*(Borrowed -- for illustration purposes -- from a popular restaurant chain.)


  (SKC)   © QuickSilver Copywriters 2006 - Andy & Shawn Catsimanes; http://www.quicksilvercopywriters.com/; mailto: andy_shawn@quicksilvercopywriters.com; Sign up for The Corporate Muse: admin@quicksilvercopywriters.com





In the simplest of terms, networking is connecting.


This past weekend, we attended a seminar. We went to network. And we did. But I noticed a few things I want to share with you:


  1. Networking is a scary deal.  People don't always know where to start. Sure they want to reach out and get to know those who can take their business to the next level, but the desire and the doing are often two different things. The number of people standing alone off to the side was staggering -- especially on the first day.
  2. Some people click instantly.  I've been fortunate to have those magical moments of instant connection. They're rare. But some people naturally draw others and will always be surrounded by a group. And they don't necessarily have to be the "gurus."
  3. The second day is warmer.  I observed a lot of loners on the first day, who by the second day, had surmounted their shyness and were talking up a storm.
  4. Eye contact will bring them to you.  Something as simple as meeting someone's eyes and smiling can break the ice.  This was true in the case of a man who stood three feet from me chewing one of the giant chocolate chip cookies they offered as an afternoon snack. (Yes, I was having one too.) We chatted for a good ten minutes. He was an interesting fellow too. Flew all the way to San Diego from England. I would have missed that opportunity if I hadn't made myself open to it.
  5. You can't determine the outcome.  We went with the best intentions. We had a good idea of what we wanted to accomplish and how we wanted to accomplish it.  But things don't always go as planned. It doesn't mean we failed. In fact, I'd say just the opposite. We met a lot of great people. People we might not have met had things gone the way we'd willed them to go. 

Networking is experiential. It's also an ongoing process. The more you attend and the more you learn in between events, the better your networking will become. The important thing is to keep trying, because making human connections is important to your business and your life.





Have you considered writing an ebook?  Might be a crazy question, but ebook popularity is on the rise.

An ebook is an electronic document, usually in a PDF form. It downloads right onto your computer and can be read on the screen or printed out for more convenience. (For this reason, ebooks rarely run more than 120 pages from the Table of Contents to About The Author.)


People like them because they have instant access to the information they were seeking.


Not every business, product or subject works for an ebook. Information products translate best. eBooks can also be used to explain new items in your product line.


eBooks are very versatile. You can sell them online, generally for more than a print book.  You can give them away as bonuses or as a way to introduce people to your products or services. 


They can help you gain authority. You instantly become a published author once your ebook goes "live." 


Writing an ebook might not be for everyone, but it's a great way to help you gain visibility and credibility, especially if you're just beginning to build a presence on the Web.


Thanks for reading. See you next month!


Andy & Shawn Catsimanes


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