Tag Archives: customer service

Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan

Today’s guest post is an excerpt from the bestselling business book by Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest, “Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan” To celebrate the release of the paperback version, the authors are giving away free gifts with purchase here: www.whosyourgladys.com/paperbacklaunch

This excerpt from chapter 1 is based on interviews with Professional Movers, a world-class moving company located in Walled Lake, Michigan.

Eighty-seven-year-old Gladys has a reputation among her fellow retirement community members. She’s known as a cranky complainer who is impossible to please. But to her surprise, when she called Andrew Androff’s company, Professional Movers, to move her into her new apartment, she was treated with warmth and respect. When her sales rep, Chris, visited her home to quote the job, he noticed her prickly personality and made a conscious decision to focus on her spunk and tenacity. By the end of his visit, Gladys had bonded with Chris and booked the move.

On moving day, there was a mishap. One of the movers accidentally cracked Gladys’s marble tabletop. Andrew knew that she would be furious. Determined to set things right, he prepared himself to let her vent before she could even think about possible solutions. As predicted, Gladys had steam shooting out her ears.

Andrew felt compassion for her while she vented and assured her that his company would have the table repaired, and that if she wasn’t satisfied with the results, he would replace it. Although he continued to reassure her that things would be set right, she was still spitting mad. Gladys wanted to talk to Chris, who had sold her on the company in the first place, and Andrew promised to have Chris call her as soon as he came into the office.

Chris arrived dead tired after a long day filled with meetings with potential new customers. When Andrew told him about Gladys and asked if he’d be willing to call her, Chris responded, ‘‘No way. She’s going to need more than a phone call. I’ll stop by her house on my way home.’’ Chris arrived at Gladys’s house ready to comfort her through her anger and outrage. Then he assured her that he would personally oversee the repair of her table. This calmed her down, and she thanked him for coming over.

Unfortunately, the repair was less than perfect. Andrew knew that he had to set things right, even though doing so would be expensive. He called Gladys and promised that she could meet Chris at the marble store and personally pick out her new marble tabletop. Since Chris knew that Gladys didn’t drive, he called and arranged to pick her up and take her to the store himself.

Gladys is now living at one of metropolitan Detroit’s premier retirement communities with her new marble table. While it cost Andrew and his employee Chris extra time and extra money to make things right, the payoff was outstanding. Gladys tells everyone moving into or out of her assisted living complex that they have to hire Professional Movers if they want to work with the best movers in town. High and persistent praise from such a hard-to-please person attracts attention. As a result, Andrew’s company is now the number one choice of movers for Gladys’s retirement complex. By creating a culture that values compassionate connection with his customers, Andrew has built a referral base that has helped his sales grow by over 40 percent in two years.

This culture of connection has been particularly effective in building a strong business with senior citizens. Seniors often move from their homes to be nearer to their children or to retire to a senior community. Professional Movers has found this population to be a good fit for its particular style of customer service, so it put a great deal of effort into developing the market segment. Everyone at Professional Movers makes a practice of creating a human connection with her clients. The staff members show respect for their clients’ wisdom, experience, and opinions.  They also know how moving affects their clients, both physically and emotionally. It isn’t easy leaving behind the security of their homes, their friendships with neighbors, and the familiarity of their routines. Andrew’s employees are trained to be sensitive to the unique issues of downsizing. They are sensitive to the emotional connection to their precious family heirlooms that senior citizens feel as they leave behind the past. Professional Movers strives to give seniors the sort of service they would receive if their own family were doing the job.

‘‘It’s like we’re their sons,’’ Andrew said with a laugh. ‘‘We get very close with their families. We interview their caregivers and their social workers. It really helps us develop a customized process to address their concerns.’’ This needs-based approach to both customer service and sales has helped the company become the top provider of moving services in metropolitan Detroit’s retirement market.

Enjoy  “Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan” – available at most online booksellers.

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Filed under Business Planning, Guest Blogger, Image & Identity

Carousel of Customer Service

By Gail Z. Martin

We’re big Disney fans in my household, and usually, Disney is synonymous with exceptional customer service.  That’s one of the expectations with a Disney vacation—all of the usual hang-ups and headaches that come with traveling, hotels, etc. just don’t happen when you’re with the Mouse.

We forget that even Disney employees are human, and one of them provided a real case study in customer service on a recent trip.

We were on the Carousel of Progress, a moving theater where the audience’s seats move around a stationary core with an audioanimatronic show.  We had barely gotten started, when a voice came over the loud speaker telling everyone to stay in their seats, that it was not OK to leave the theater.  Now on this ride, there are four audience sections that are divided so they can’t see each other.  No one in our section had moved.  We’d been yelled at, but no one knew why.

The ride stared up again, but a few minutes later, the same voice came one again.  It was uncomfortably loud, and he was telling everyone to get back in their seats and sit down in a voice that was more first-grade teacher than entertainment employee. No one in our section had moved, so we were looking at each other wondering what was going on.  This time, we had to sit through one part of the show twice because apparently, someone somewhere was misbehaving.

This kept happening until it got to the point where the guy on the PA system was totally strung out, shouting at adults to get back in their seats, threatening all kinds of things if everyone didn’t listen.  Now, people in our section (who hadn’t gotten to see any of the show uninterrupted) were getting up to leave.  Kids were crying because the announcements were painfully loud.

What went wrong?  For one thing, the guy on the PA didn’t make it clear up front that this attraction was different from all the other Disney theaters, where the live host actually invites people who have to leave to just quietly find an exit.  Because the audience section moved, having people leave caused a safety problem, but first-time guests wouldn’t know that.

Secondly, the host forgot that we were his guests, not his subjects, or its kids.  Instead of just stopping and offering to let everyone out who wanted out, he tried to force a largely adult group to stay in their seats like children.  He forgot that it was our vacation, and he was there to make it enjoyable.

And third, he lost his cool—big time.  By the end of it, he was shrieking at us over the PA system like a stressed out parent about to go postal.  He’d gone from ordering us to threatening us, to shouting us into submission.  He forgot that he worked for us.  Our admission tickets paid his salary. But he also tried to control something he couldn’t—the actions of other adults—by force.  Had he explained the safety issue, and given people a chance to leave if they wanted to, odds are that the rest of the show would have gone smoothly.  Instead, it became a show no one will ever forget (and from the line of people who gathered afterwards and demanded to see his supervisor, I don’t think he’ll forget it either).

The moral of the story—lead, don’t force, and always remember to serve your customer

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Marketing, Social Media