5 Surprising Customer Service Experiences ( and what they tell us )

customer-relationship-management-2If you put “Customer Relationship” into Google you will most likely get a diagram like this.

Which doesn’t look like any relationship I’ve ever had.

Another January, more High Street woe , more stories of how customer service is declining.

My belief ? Service is actually improving in the UK. But far too slowly compared to other countries and the best online providers.

Why? Because it too often focuses on transactions rather than building relationships.

And if you focus on transactions, CRM and cross-sell , you slowly become disconnected. You think “inside out”. Like the company. Not the customer.

I’ve recently been on a trip outside the UK and would like to share 5 examples where the service focused on relationship building.

1 – The Customs Official Who Smiled

Anyone who has been to Singapore Airport will understand why it consistently appears in the Top 3 airports in the world. From free wifi , to a sublime check-in experience, to free cinema’s and botanic gardens – it’s as if Disney did airports. My stand out moment? Being presented with a tray of sweets by the Customs Official (!) , greeted by my first name , and wished a pleasant stay. Not the experience I got on returning to Manchester. Singapore Airport provides the same function as everyone else – putting planes into the sky – but they do it differently.

2- The Restaurant That Doesn’t Say No

You are the last customers in a restaurant – it’s well past closing time. You order a final couple of drinks, but they have run out of vodka. You’d be asked to change your drinks order or offered something else, right? At Again and Again they didn’t do this. The owner got on her moped, disappeared for 5 minutes and came back with a new bottle. Leaving two customers she had never met before sitting alone, and trusting that they would be there when she returned.

This tiny six table Thai restaurant is run by a Mother and her daughter. The service can be a bit slow as Mum has to cook everything from scratch and the daughter helps out in between doing her homework. But the service is provided as if you were a guest in their home. Which , funnily enough, you are. They live upstairs. And that’s the trick – by treating every customer as a house guest – you have turned a transaction into a relationship.

3- The Bank That People Love

Whilst I was away I had to phone First Direct. My comment on Twitter speaks for itself:

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First Direct continue to be a worldwide benchmark through their utter obsession with focussing on the relationship they have with you.

I’m amazed that whenever I mention them on social media I always get fellow fans joining in and adding their own experiences.

Fans. Of a bank. Aren’t we meant to hate them?

4- The Hotel That Apologises Before You Complain

A Hotel puts on a beach fireworks display. Fireworks are aimed at the guests rather than the sky. Several guests have their dinner ruined as they dive for cover. An unfortunate incident but no-one was hurt. (And if you were sitting in the right place it was actually pretty funny.)

But the Buri Rasa Koh Phangan then did something amazing. Some businesses would say something stupid. It issued a letter to everyone in the hotel – apologising and refunding one nights stay. For everyone. No argument.

By showing extreme honesty, by compensating customers before they had a chance to complain , it ensures everyone goes home happy and tells this story.

5 – The Bar That Threatens To Kill Rabbits

Imagine you go for a drink and the first thing that happens is the manager introduces herself and lays a pet rabbit before you. She then threatens to barbecue it unless you agree to eat there. This is the slightly unconventional service offered at Jip Shop , who have transformed an ordinary bar into somewhere memorable through humour and just being….weird.

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Jip will tell you that she only manages the shop. The owner is actually a tyrannical cat who refuses to pay the staff decent wages. The rabbit , Dollar , was captured by the cat and employed as a mascot. Dollar is seeking freedom by jumping from table to table to help guests. (I swear no hallucinogens were involved here).

I went in a fair few bars whilst I was away but which one stands out? Lesson for us all – Be memorable.

The death of the High Street is exaggerated – it’s just going through a necessary cycle of renewal. The big brands who forgot about relationships needed to make way for the next generation. Hopefully it will be a generation who understand that the only way to compete with online is through memorable and surprising experiences.

By the way – we went back again to Jip Shop again. Dollar survived:

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Two things you can’t say on Twitter…..

There are two opinions that are definite no-go zones amongst the liberal left twitterati.

Opinions that , if you were to express them openly , could see you banished to the most remote, uninhabited and hostile parts of the social media planet.(Linkedin…..or even worse, Google+)

What are they?

1 – Saying you think the NHS is a bit wasteful really and maybe reform isn’t a totally bad idea

And

2 – Saying that despite the economy being tough –  you think that there are jobs out there

Well , I feel like starting the week with a bang. So I’m going to say that , I , Paul Taylor , believe that there are jobs out there.

OK – before you press “unfollow” let me explain:

  • There are millions of jobs that have yet to be invented. I’m not going to expand that point here. You can read my previous blog on this. In fact if anyone knows a window cleaner who also cleans the house/irons clothes/and cuts hair please pass on my details.I’m recruiting.
  • There are jobs – but often people don’t feel they have any skills , or feel terrified at the prospect of even applying.
  • There are jobs – but people get fed up of applying when they get zero feedback and never hear anything about their application.
  • And even in the area’s where jobs are very few -there are loads of volunteering and training opportunities that provide people with confidence , and improve their skills.

Very very few people don’t want to work – just sometimes it looks like it’s too much of a challenge. It feels like they will never make it.

Today see’s the launch of a new project that I am proud to be part of.

Connect , as we call it , opens it doors today as a private beta site. It’s a Social Network for Jobs, Skills and Opportunities. A virtual marketplace for the user to share their skills and develop their confidence , and get access to priority work opportunities. And it will also offer loads of volunteering positions, and give access to innovators who might just help people develop the next big idea. The jobs of the future.

We want it to be a supportive community which is about hope rather than despair. It’s about helping everyone be the very best they can be.

Initially all new Bromford tenants and their families will be given access to Connect. Additionally they can access a Skills Coach, whose job it is to inspire them to do the things that they thought they couldn’t. Whether its getting online for the first time , or preparing for an interview – we are hoping we can remove some of the many barriers that people face as they enter or return to work.

We’ll be letting you know how its going here and on the Connect Blog.

If you haven’t unfollowed me, of course.

The UK doesn’t trust young people – New Blog

When I was on holiday I sent the following  couple of tweets:

“Talking guy from neighbouring maharashtra. Trad fishing family now working in #mobile. State is as populous as Mexico and India’s richest”

 “Massive number of #geny and enterprising – doing 2,3,4 different jobs. We better stop doom and gloom in UK or these guys will eat us alive”
I’ve been in the UK less than a week and I’m already sooooo bored with the political bickering about how we solve this problem.
Lets be clear – No politician or political party will get us out of this.
The best quote I’ve heard came on the Andrew Marr show – not from Nick Clegg – but from Jeremy Irons who said (and I’m paraphrasing)  “We need to look to the creativity from young people  to reach a solution , not look to those who created the mess in the first place”
We have a problem that’s cultural not political – we don’t trust young people. We think that someone who is 40+ in a suit is qualified to advise them on how they should live their lives and the jobs they be should be doing. Rather than freeing them up to develop and exploit the idea’s that they have.
We live in a world where young people genuinely know more about the mobile economy – the new world – than their elders . And they could be doing jobs that don’t even exist yet.
Here’s four young(ish) people I have come across in the past week:
  • Someone who works selling mobile SIM cards. His employer has agreed he takes time off to do an additional (unpaid) job as a Lifeguard as he has spotted tourists moaning about SMS charges when texting home. So he sells them domestic SIM cards so they can text cheaply whilst away. He’s a Lifeguard who sells mobiles.
  • A young man who makes clothes and has a small shop next to a restaurant. He waits and helps out in the restaurant for free . But he uses the opportunity to advertise his shop to every customer. And the restaurant owner pays him in meals and stops other people advertising to his customers to ensure maximum cross selling. His is a Waiter who makes and sells clothing.
  • A young mother who has been told that because of her child it is “highly unlikely” anyone would want to employ her. She has A level results that put mine to shame.
  • A guy with a treatable back problem who has been told he “will never work again” and should give up looking. He just cleared his 30th birthday.
The first two examples are from India. The second two from Great Britain.
One country has  faith its next generation and is on the way up. The other is …. Well , we will see….
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