Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

TOP 10 CUSTOMER SERVICE LESSONS

September 14, 2015

In our busy lives, we touch so many products and services, we are bound to call, email, or chat with those businesses (perhaps your business) for help with directions, questions, and problems we are having. Over the past several months, I’ve had more than my share of interactions with customer service departments. Here are the 10 most important lessons I learned:

  1. Don’t Leave Customers On Hold – If the government knows this, why don’t we? When your customer service lines, live chat, or even in-person CS desk starts to stack up, offer customers the option for a callback. It really makes all the difference. Even the IRS does this!
  2. Ask For A Callback Number – Great way to get permission to follow-up, can be used to identify the customer in the future, and of course gives you a way to call the customer back if you get disconnected. If you haven’t already, you should read this by Seth Godin, his first big hit… http://www.amazon.com/Permission-Marketing-Turning-Strangers-Customers/dp/0684856360.
  3. Ask How To Pronounce The Customers Name (and what they prefer to be called) – Calling someone by his or her name makes a big difference.
  4. Listen Carefully To Your Customer’s Questions and Concerns – Although many customer issues can be very similar, every customer is unique, and so are their concerns. It isn’t enough to say; “I understand” from a script. Sure there are tricks like repeating back what the customer said, but without authenticity, it feels hollow. Disney rocks it here!
  5. If Transferring To Another Representative, Stay On The Line Until That Connection Is Made – My bank (Wells Fargo) does a great job with this. It makes the customer feel safe and shows you care.
  6. Don’t Script Everything For Your Reps – A simple example, delivering a rehearsed apology without real knowledge of what you are sorry about is worse than not saying you’re sorry at all.
  7. Train, Don’t Just Script – Go to the Genius Bar in an Apple retail store and you will see and feel what good training will do. Knowledge of a product or service is everything. Spend the money to train your staff properly.
  8. Follow-up – So easy to do, yet so few of us do it. Make sure you have resolved your customer’s question or concern. It can be as simple as an email. Less than a minute. Asus makes the best routers, their customer service is amazing, and they followed-up to make sure everything was straight.
  9. Keep Your Promise – If you say you will call on a specific day, do that. If you promise to have your customer’s issue resolved by Friday, make sure that happens.
  10. Don’t Reward Only New Customers – I’m an AT&T and DirecTV customer, and have been for many years (been through several name changes with AT&T…remember Cingular, AT&T Mobility). AT&T is running a promotion with DirecTV but the small writing in their TV ad says “DirecTV new customers only”. Rewarding loyal customers will get you far.

When is the last time you went through your own customer service process? If you haven’t lately, do it now! You may be shocked at what you find, and remember, the customer service team should be a big marketing advantage for you. Want to create a message for your customers to spread? Solve a problem for them. Exceed their expectations. The money will come.

 

 

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HOLIDAY SALES

December 6, 2011

For most in retail, the fourth quarter makes or breaks your business.  In concerts and events, it is usually the third quarter.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing everything possible to drive holiday sales.  No ideas…just look at what others do.  Apple is a good place to start. 

This holiday season Apple is…

a)  Advertising their product lines aggressively…especially the iPad 2

b)  Sale pricing many of their products.

c)  “Express Lanes” have been setup in many of their retail locations where guests who know exactly what they want can receive faster service. 

d)  You can purchase online and pick-up in-store (this is available throughout the year). 

e)  Communicating directly with potential consumers through email, social, etc. 

Don’t let sales continue to slide.  Remember when there were music retailers?  The fourth quarter was big for them.  I always asked for albums or gift certificates for Christmas, didn’t you?  How about offering gift certificates for your business?  Apple is winning here too.  You could probably even partner with them.

Leaving For Aspen – Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 4:20pm, I’m flying with many friends from LA to Aspen for the Aspen Live Conference 2011.  If you weren’t able to make it this year, please check back for news, reports and insights. 

 

SHOPPING AS EVENTS

November 27, 2011

News reports say 2011’s holiday shopping season opened with the biggest weekend in history. The factors include deep discounting (mostly loss leaders to get consumer traffic) and longer store hours.  The biggest driver for this weekend’s sales, the retailers made shopping an event.

It felt, at least to my kids, that if they didn’t participate in Black Friday, they were missing something. So the 14-year old was out by 3:30am and the 12-year old waited to 6:00am.  Both would do it again.  Did you have a Black Friday sale for your events?

Cyber Monday is tomorrow.  Ticketmaster is participating…so are many ticketing and music sites…are you?

Do you remember McDonald’s Gift Certificates?  They were the ultimate stocking stuffer and my brother and I looked forward to having “Santa” deliver them every year.  Do you have gift certificates?  Apple does with the iTunes Gift Card and they have created the new ultimate stocking stuffer…except it’s available all year…at the grocery check-out, 7-Eleven, and Wal-Mart.  Why is a computer company continuing to lead the way in music innovation?

Watching football, Fox just ran a commercial for the Lexus “Season To Save Event”.  Do you have a Season To Save Event…or is your brand too precious for sales?

We must become relevant to consumers again.  It isn’t as complicated as we pretend it is.  There are very few shows that sell-out…recorded music that sells millions (CD’s or downloads)…or merchandise that retailers can’t keep on the shelves.  This can change.

Watch what others do and copy them.  It is at least a start. 

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Jim

BURGER KING ADS

April 21, 2010

It is hard to write if you have nothing to say.  That’s why it has been so long since the last LiveWorks Newsletter. 

Today I was again reminded of creative and memorable advertising that we could easily create in Live and Branded Live Entertainment but somehow seem to always fall short.  Well if imitation really is the greatest form of flattery, why not just steal others ideas?

“It’s not that original but it’s super affordable…” is the line at the end of the new Burger King TV commercial for its sausage breakfast sandwich that’s a dead ringer for McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin.  In fact, the ad shows Bk’s character, “The King” breaking into McDonald’s headquarters and stealing the secret recipe for the mega-brand’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg.  Funny, smart, daring.

Will these spots end up selling more breakfast sandwiches for Burger King?  I’m betting yes.  Why, because the marketing message is extremely clear and simple.  We have exactly what they have, for less.  Most fast food consumers are also aware that Burger King’s are usually not as busy as McDonald’s restaurants so if the drive-thru looks crowded @ Mickie D’s, you just go down a few restaurants on fast food row to BK and try their new sausage sandwich. 

Now cut to one of our spots.  Are we selling American Express, the acts new record, Coors Light, one of three pre-sales, or tickets to the show?  Hopefully, none of the above.  If you aren’t creating an experience for your consumers, you will continue to get beat by companies out entertaining the entertainment business.  My friend Mike from Yes Dear Entertainment sent me an article stating that Apple is thinking about entering the ticketing business.  Hopefully they will create an iPod type device or some kind of tech gadget that holds paperless tickets, photos you can take and email to your friends of you at the show and other entertainment apps…just to continue to show us how to do our jobs and improve the guest experience. 

Just look at products like Flip Video.  This is the future and we are somehow missing it.  There are young people ready to change our business and we aren’t embracing them.   Entrepreneurs like Alex White from Next Big SoundBrent Smith from WME was talking with me about him today…about what his company is compiling and how that data is a gold mine for predicting future consumer spending, etc.  Plug in!

I’m more hopeful than ever that we can make a difference.  Of course it starts with a product…but for our shows out this spring and summer, let’s makes sure we spread the right message.  It is about the experience our guests will have if they come to our shows!  It isn’t the new single no one has heard, the sponsor no one cares about, or the promoter of the show… how long you’ve been in business, or anything else.  What’s the show, and how is your guest going to have a great time.  That’s your message!  Go spread the word!

Look forward to hearing from all of you as usual!  It is great to see our subscription list grow so much even when I’m not writing.

Thank you for reading and writing back!

Jim

MOVING FORWARD

March 2, 2009

Many of you have emailed regarding the positive spin I tried to put on the TicketMaster / Live Nation merger in the newsletter a few weeks ago  https://liveworksnews.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=274.  If the notes I received were actually from SEC regulators, the deal would never happen.  But of course they aren’t.  The hearings on Capital Hill are a near formality in my humble opinion.  The two companies would have never announced the deal if their lawyers didn’t think the merger would pass the “sniff test” both hear and in the EU.  Might they have to sell-off a few businesses to make everyone happy, sure…but this deal is happening and will close, so we might as well move forward.  You know that Irving and Rapino are….Tim and Randy at AEG too. 

It is interesting the way others view our business.  For instance, pick-up the March 2009 issue of Fast Company.  In it are “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies”.  As you would expect, the usual suspects are there; Apple, Google, Amazon, Zappos, Disney, Warner Music Group, CAA…wait, WARNER MUSIC GROUP and CAA!!!!  And not just WMG and CAA, both AEG and Live Nation are listed as “Companies to Watch”.  Are we all missing something?  Are we too busy playing armchair quarterbacks to see that the time of innovation is passing us by? 

Truth is there are a lot of good things we can talk about.  WMG now has a merchandising company that makes a profit not only for them, but for their artists too.  CAA teamed clients Will Ferrell and Tony Hawk with Sequoia Capital to create web brands FunnyorDie.com and ShredorDie.com.  AEG continues to invest in our business by building state-of-the-art facilities and Live Nation is about to pull-off one hell of a merger (too bad it probably won’t do anything for my stock). 

The time for innovation is now.  Just think about how many companies were started during the Great Depression.  Banks are going to be put under more pressure to give out business loans.  Have an idea, it is time to Move Forward!

Talk with you soon…

Jim

CUSTOMER SERVICE CHAMPS

February 24, 2009

First, did you all catch the Senate hearings today on the Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger?  It was weird seeing people you have known well for 20-years testifying on Capital Hill.  Thought Irving was…well Irving and handled himself well.  Seth Hurwitz did a really good job.  Well spoken, facts at the top of his head, he represented the independent promoters well.  Although most senators present seemed to be negative towards the merger, it will probably still pass scrutiny, so everyone keep moving forward. 

My friend Scott Perry who writes The New Music Tipsheet http://www.newmusictipsheet.com/ sent a note about the March 2nd issue of Business Week.  The cover has SPECIAL REPORT printed on the top.  The topic, “Extreme Customer Service, In A Tough Year, 25 Companies That Get It Right”.  So what can we learn from these companies?  Just looking through the list will probably give you some ideas.  I’ve added some fun facts from the Business Week article to help.

  1. Amazon –“Some 30 % of sales come from outside retailers who sell goods on Amazon.”  Although there is more to that paragraph, you can take a lot just from that one sentence. 
  2. USAA Insurance –“Financial services firm for military families handled 150,000 catastrophe claims in 2008, double its average, as events such as Hurricane Ike destroyed customers’ homes and autos.  Still, USAA retained 96% of customers”
  3. Jaguar – “…Jaguar’s field teams for customer service were recently ranked best in the auto industry by the Nation Automobile Dealers Assn.”
  4. Lexus “…awards cash each year – as much as $50,000 – to dealers who have the best new service ideas.”
  5. The Ritz-Carlton – “To lure corporate event planners worried about high-end confabs amid the recession, Ritz will donate 10% of corporate meeting fees to charity.”
  6. Publix Super Markets – “To ensure customers always find what they come looking for, upscale Florida-based grocer Publix adopted an “automated replenishment” system in 2008 for fresh items.  Scanners indicate when inventory levels are low, and software automatically orders replacements.”
  7. Zappos.com – “With no monitoring of call times and no scripts, call centers have so much power it’s critical to make sure they’re a cultural fit.  To do that, CEO Tony Hsieh offers new customer service agents $2000 to leave the company after an initial training period if the new hires don’t think they mesh with Zappos’ zany culture.”
  8. Hewlett-Packard – “In 2008, Hewlett-Packard opened eight new customer service centers worldwide, including two in the U.S.”
  9. T. Rowe Price – To meet the customer service questions that flooded the company following the start of the financial crisis, “the company tapped 300 employees who formerly worked the phones to help meet call demand.”
  10. Ace Hardware – “…rolled out new technology that analyzes past shopping patterns to tell store managers what time of day is quietest for tasks like shelving products and cleaning rest rooms.”
  11. Key Bank – “In the past year, the bank unveiled new online tools that give entrepreneurs many of the cash-management services long reserved for large companies…”
  12. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts – “…is outsourcing laundry to third parties at some properties and combining some hotel management roles to help save labor costs.”
  13. Norstrom – “Nordsrom’s famous return policy lets customers return any item at any store…”
  14. Cadillac – “Despite General Motors’ cash crunch, Cadillac has not scalled back on guaranteeing loaner cars to customers while their cars are in the shop.”
  15. Amica Insurance – “…CEO Bob DiMuccio says what sets the company apart is decades of investment in the staff, which has a turnover rate of less than 7%.”
  16. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – “…management pay and promotion are directly related to a store’s service performance.”
  17. American Express – New compensation model for call center agents…”offer them incentives tied to satisfaction scores and the flexibility to trade shifts.”
  18. Trader Joe’s Supermarket – “Some 99% of employees work in the stores, and even CEO Dan Bane doesn’t have an assistant.”
  19. Jetblue Airways – “…Jetblue created the industry’s first Customer Bill of Right – which includes providing compensation for passengers affected by problems caused by the carrier.”
  20. Apple – “Last year the company posted the largest one-year increase ever in the University of Michigan’s closely watched American Customer Satisfaction Index.”  Can you say Genius Bar?
  21. Charles Schwab – “A push to reduce the number of steps it takes to open new accounts has helped to shorten some call times, freeing up reps to answer calls faster.”
  22. BMW – “Now BMW ties rewards to how well dealers look after dissatisfied customers.”
  23. True Value – The company is expanding its online survey capabilities.
  24. L.L. Bean – “A simplified software system for entering orders has greatly reduced the training time for new hires.” 
  25. JW Marriott – “… tried to improve service by cross-training employees such as administrative assistants, who have been taught to serve food at banquets.  That keeps service leves high without having to hire more staff.”

Here is the short list of what I took from the top 25.  Some are the same old themes you always hear from me… I’m sorry, but it’s what I see above.

  • Use technology to serve customers, employees and save money
  • Hire the right people
  • Train your employees properly
  • Provide generous compensation packages for employees tied to customer satisfaction, not just sales
  • Have a philanthropic side that matches your customers’ concerns
  • Don’t keep customers holding!  Have a person answer the phone, not a machine
  • Treat your customers like gold…because these days they are worth a lot more

Talk with you soon…

Jim

Customer Service Please…

November 4, 2008

Have you been to one of your events as a consumer, guest, fan, or whatever you call your customers lately?  Or someone else’s event?  No parking pass, no connections, no backstage catering.  If you haven’t, please do it today.  You will see that we can all do a lot better on “Customer Service”. 

With the plethora of entertainment options the “live” business competes with in consumer’s homes alone, we better be doing everything possible to retain the customers we have and build on that.  It starts and ends with the customer experience and now more than ever, every touch point counts.  Here are some suggestions (in no particular order) to help with your customer service. 

1) Look at the whole of your business.  Is customer service built into your culture?  Good place to start.

2) Have a great website to direct your customers and employees.  Update information on your site often.

3) Work with customers you already have and speak directly to them.  Ask for feedback and then act on it.

4) Be “authentic” in everything you do.  Go the extra step…and then another one.

5) Mimic what others do.  Look at those who you believe have stellar customer service and try and follow their best practices (e.g. Disney, Nordstrom, etc).  See if you can get a hold of their Customer Service or Employee manuals.  You can also try outside training.  Here’s one I can recommend.  http://www.disneyinstitute.com/custom.cfm

6) Speaking of manuals, have a manual for doing everything…even answering the phone.  OK maybe not a whole manual on answering the phone, but it should be in a manual somewhere.

7) And speaking of answering the phones, be “Welcoming”.  Look at every place your customer touches your brand and vice-versa and make sure there is a smile attached.  This welcome could be your entrance, website, phone operators, parking lot attendants (talk about front-lines…you really need to go talk to your parking people as they need training), box office, even the ticket to the event itself, which can now be paperless. 

8) Be hands-on.  You can’t learn anything sitting in an office reading reports.  Get out there and talk with your customers.  Any of you in the concert business that were around when Bill Graham was a promoter always saw him wandering around, talking with the audience.  Getting feedback.  Sometimes throwing people out of shows and sometimes sneaking them in without a ticket.  Bill actually built a community and made “Bill Graham Presents” mean something to fans. 

9) Let guests know about any problems or changes right away.  The customer likes to be in control as we all do.  Think about that time you were sitting in that 767 on the tar mac for hours and the pilots weren’t telling you what was going on.  The real stress was not knowing.  Let them know. 

10) CAN WE PLEASE CHANGE OUR MERCHANDISE SELLING EXPERIENCE AT OUR SHOWS AND EVENTS???  Please go to an Apple or Lego store.  Take in the whole experience.  Note the word experience, not t-shirts and colored lights on a board with handwritten prices attached.  All part of customer service. 

11) Security and customer service should go hand-in-hand.  Visit a new airport terminal and see how they are being built.  Take that into consideration when planing your next venue or show environment.  Don’t use the TSA training manual, of course. 

12) Keep it really simple if possible.  Fans of In-N-Out Burger out here in the west go there because it is such a simple menu and promise (burgers, fries, and shakes, all fresh).  You should be able to make your customer service that simple.

13) Pick the right people and train them properly.  You might want to think about picking the right customers too.  For instance, when you tour the amphitheaters and ask the staff what shows they hate working the most, they usually say “Jimmy Buffett, because everybody thinks they are a somebody…and they are really drunk.”  Sometimes you may want that customer, sometimes not.

14) Empower your front-line employees.  Ritz-Carlton gives desk clerks, attendants, bell staff, etc, up to $2000 to fix a customer complaint (not sure where I heard that but need to give credit to someone).  What happens at your venue when a customer isn’t happy with their hot dog?  Have you spoken with the staff at your concession stands lately?

15) Re-think everything.  There is no reason “entrance ques” need to look the same in every venue.  Why not put more shows on-sale on Tuesdays (plane fares are cheaper on Tuesdays and Thursdays which means fewer people are traveling…there has to be something to that)?  Do you have a customer service director at your talent agency (might be a good idea to take care of the “bottom 1/3 of your roster)? 

As always, would love your feedback.

Talk to you soon…

Jim