Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
When the nurse asked me how I was doing, I said, "I'm STARVING." I was kidding (kind of). She asked me if I wanted some coffee or a bagel.
Really! Has your doctor ever offered you coffee?
I thought back to the various doctor's offices I've visited over the past few years and can vaguely remember seeing a coffee pot in the corner of one or two waiting areas.
But I had never been offered coffee until today.
It immediately made me think about all the products and services we offer at sparkspace. I realized that we don't really offer most of them, we provide them. Big difference. Providing a product or service is like having a coffee pot in the corner of the waiting room. It's completely passive.
Offering a product is proactive. It says, "Hey, I see you have a need. I'm happy to meet your need and take care of it for you!" Much better service.
We have an operations meeting today. This question will be on the top of my agenda: What can we offer our guests that we currently only provide?
I'm excited to see how things change!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Today was no exception.
I was intrigued by a teambuilding program I saw in a catalog. We typically create all of our team and customer service programs in-house, but I thought this one might fit a particular need we have in the next few weeks.
The toll-free number was answered by a completely forgettable sales guy. Let's call him Chauncey since I can't remember his name.
I told Chauncey the specific program I was interested in. After an uncomfortable pause, he began to explain that the program I was interested in required a "certification training session." As he explained it further, I realized he was talking about a completely different program than I had asked about. So I gave him the title again and he said, "Oh, I must not have heard you correctly the first time."
He then proceeded to tell me about all the OTHER programs that would fit my needs. I had to re-direct him again by asking about the specific program I called about.
He AGAIN launched into his pitch about the certification program. I AGAIN asked about the specific program I was interested in. He AGAIN apologized, "Oh, I'm sorry, I must have pulled up the wrong program."
Prior to my call, I had accessed the web page about this program to find out what I could. The website had provided some good information, but I had other questions.
Apparently, Chauncey had the same idea that I did because he proceeded to read the description of the program word for word off the website. He did make a few lame attempts to make it sound like he was improvising, but since I could read along with his "script," I quickly realized I actually might know more about his program than he did.
I abruptly ended the call, rather disgusted by this spectacularly inept attempt at customer service, sales, or whatever you want to call it. In any case, it illustrates what happens when you're unprepared by a lack of knowledge or when you try to bite off more than you can chew.
Any one of three simple actions could have salvaged this $600 mistake (that's what I was about to spend before I pulled the plug):
1. He could have handed me off to somebody who really understood the program and could talk to me intelligently about it.
2. He could have admitted he didn't know the program that well, but would be happy to look up some information and walk me through it. (In other words, do what he did, but not B.S. me about it.)
3. He could have LISTENED to me from the get-go. In our vocabulary at sparkspace, we call this Shifting...focusing our attention 100% on our customer. I'm still amazed at how many times I had to repeat myself.
Here's the kicker. The name of the program I had called about?
Take me to the teleseminar!
When you get there, you'll need these:
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Romeo will donate .05 for every new person, or animal, that follows him on twitter. He's already raised a bunch of cash and even secured some sponsors! This cat know's what he's doing!
Romeo even made an appearance on WXII Television in Winston Salem! Click on the screenshot above to watch Romeo's TV debut!
If you're on Twitter, follow Romeo and help the cause! His twitter name is @Romeothecat.com. You can also follow the exploits of Romeo and his "staff" at www.romeothecat.com.
I know this has nothing to do with customer service, but it does have everything to do with a fun way to provide service to the planet!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Now available on CD
The economy stinks. Everyone is cutting back and spending less.
BUT, not everyone is suffering. There are always companies that seem to thrive, even when times are tough. And yes, they're making money!
What are those companies doing right???? We've got the answer:
Strong companies focus, focus, and then focus some more on delivering fantastic customer service during the worst of times, the best of times, and every moment in between.
This is the perfect time to take your organization to a whole new level with THE 5 SPARKS OF SUPER SERVICE, a new 1-hour teleseminar recorded on CD and powered by sparkspace, the most exciting retreat center on the planet.
The 5 SPARKS are based on a simple, but powerful model of customer service that everyone in your company can execute -- from the CEO to the front line team member. In this example-packed seminar, we'll show you how to create an endless supply of new customer service "sparks" in your company.
Here's what a recent participant had to say about our 5 SPARKS OF SUPER SERVICE workshop:
sparkspace always delivers the goods. They make outstanding promises about the type of service you will recieve, the usefulness of the information they will share, and the types of people you will meet while using their facility - then they deliver on those promises 10 times out of 10. Truly a spectacular service oriented organization, and one that will continue to earn my business whenever my budget will allow. -- Chuck Clark, COSI
This teleseminar is an easy, cost-effective way to develop yourself and your staff.
What do they need that you may not be offering?
Do they want things faster or slower than before?
Do they want things higher or lower quality than before?
Do they want things more expensive or less expensive right now? (before you say, "they always want things less expensive," think about it. There are times people are willing to pay a premium and times they can't pay as much).
In other words, what are they willing to pay for right now? It might be different that what you're offering...or at a different price point. If you stand your ground too firmly and say, "I'm not going to lower my prices just because they don't want to pay right now," that might be good in principle, and you can stand on your principles while you stand in line at the unemployment office.
I'm not saying that you should lower your prices. But you should definitely consider alternatives and options about how you can help your customers during this tough time. Everybody is freaking out. If you are the one company that is thinking about new and different solutions to your customer's problems, guess who they'll be turning to now and in the future? Yep, it's you, buddy.
We thought we'd share two things we're doing at sparkspace to serve our guests even better during this tough time. Maybe it will inspire you to think of some new ways to serve your customers, too.
And who knows, you might even need these services!
We've Lowered The Rental Fee for our Board Room
Instead of our standard $65 per person rental fee (with a $250 minimum), we have lowered the rental fee for our Board Room to a flat $200 for full-day use of the room for up to 6 people. We're running this price through April.
Yes, we're hoping this generates some more rentals for us, but honestly, it's not going to make us rich. Really, we're just hoping it provides a much needed service at an affordable price for our guests who otherwise wouldn't be able to visit us right now.
Something to point out: we are not slashing prices across the board. That would cheapen our product and cause us long-term damage. What we're doing is modifying ONE of our products to provide a much needed service. When that is no longer "needed," we'll re-visit our pricing strategy for that room. For now, though, it's a really good deal!
We've Added Video Conferencing
As we've been exploring ideas to serve our guests better, we've developed the belief that more companies are going to need video conferencing as a way to cut down on travel costs, improve communication, and maintain better connections between offices by at least being able to see each other face to face (even if it's on a TV screen).
We've teamed up with webex to offer reliable, high-quality video conferencing at an affordable price. We provide everything you need on our end to send high quality video anywhere in the world. There is nothing needed on the other end of the video conference except a computer with a web cam, a conference phone, and a very quick software download.
The cool part about our video conferencing is that we can project the video on a big screen so it's life-sized!
We're Offering More Affordable Workshops
We've always believed that giving stuff away for free (or very inexpensively) creates a tremendous amount of energy. That's why we're offering more public workshops and teleseminars. The first two we announced filled up in less than a day. That told us people are starving for ideas, inspiration, connection, and hope. Fortunately for us, that's the kind of stuff we love to provide. And the energy it creates is good for all of us.
In short, we should all be thinking of ways to add value and provide what our customers want and need right now. When the economy cranks back up and everyone has mountains of money again, I'm sure we can figure out some ways to help them spend all that cash. :)
For now, let go of any pride and fear that may be keeping you from re-thinking how you serve your customer. Focus on who you serve and pile on the value. This tough time won't last forever, but the loyalty you can build during this time will far outlast the current downturn.
Click here & make us a winner: http://blackberryforsmallbusiness.com/Nominate/viewFinalists.aspx
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Last summer a 12 year old lost his bike at the Minneapolis Library. It was stolen. This was traumatic for him because the bike was his independence. It was his ticket to the library which was his happy place.
The security guards at the library had gotten to know and like this kid. He brightened their day whenever he came in. Of course, they felt awful when his bike was stolen. All of a sudden his happy place was no more. His world had been turned upside down.
The next day, something amazing happened. The guards dug into their own pockets and bought their favorite library customer a new bike.
Once again, this kid could come and go to the library as he pleased. The library was his happy place once more.
This simple act of generosity made a world of difference to this 12 year old boy. It brought him back to where he was before his bike was stolen. It made him happy again.
The guards didn't have to do this. But they did so because they cared about their customer, their friend. They wanted him to have a good experience at their library. They wanted him to be happy.
What if everyone treated their customers like this? How would our world be different if every employee of every company cared this much about their customers (and they showed it)?
How would your business be different if this sort of 'out of the box' thinking was the norm? How loyal would your customers be if they knew you cared that much about them? And what impact would that have on your bottom line?
If a library can do this, could your business? What's the first step in making it happen?"
Kevin Stirtz is the Amazing Service Guy, a speaker and trainer who helps companies increase revenue and profits by delivering Amazing Service. Stirtz has been quoted in such major media as BusinessWeek, the Boston Globe, Smart Money and the Chicago Sun Times. Get a free copy of his Amazing Service Toolkit at http://amazingserviceguy.com
Monday, February 2, 2009
Date: Tuesday, February 17th
Cost: FREE (registration required)
What do you do when the economy is down, people are spending less money, and you're not exactly sure when it's all going to change?
If you're smart, you crank up your customer service!
This is the perfect time to take your customer service to a whole new level with THE 5 SPARKS OF SERVICE, a new 2-hour seminar powered by sparkspace, the most exciting retreat center on the planet.
The 5 SPARKS are based on a simple, but powerful model of customer service that everyone in your company can execute. In this seminar, we'll share our S-E-R-V-E model with you and show you how to use it to create new customer service sparks in your company.
This seminar is the foundation of our revolutionary 100SPARKS! customer service project. We guarantee you'll walk away with a notebook full of ideas and inspiration that will change the way you view your customers, your team, and your business.
We only have 50 seats available in this seminar. We will be offering it again soon, but this is the only time we will be offering it for free all year.
Registration is first-come, first serve. We would like to accommodate all of the companies that wish to attend, so we ask that you register no more than 2 members of your team for this event.
This event is open to the public. If you'd like to book a private version of this seminar for your team or company, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.