Shaping the Culture of a Major, New Ocean Cruise Line

Consultant Darragh McGillicuddy describes his work with TMI on this significant project.

How Can Staff Be Held Accountable Throughout a Change Process

Here we interview Mary Mantia, Director of Human Resources for Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment. She addresses the question of how to maintain accountability during a time of change and stress.

Getting Internal & External Groups to Work Together in a Company

Here we interview Mary Mantia, Director of Human Resources for Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment. She addresses the question of how to avoid detrimental conflicts between groups within a business enterprise.

Cultural Change at the Soul Level in Business

Here we interview Mary Mantia, Director of Human Resources for Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment. She addresses the question of how it is possible to instill cultural change that touches hearts and souls within a business enterprise.

Overcoming Resistance to a Cultural Change Process in Business

Here we interview Mary Mantia, Director of Human Resources for Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment. She addresses the question of how it is possible to overcome resistance to a cultural change process throughout a business enterprise.

Sustaining a Cultural Change and Rebranding Process in Business

Here we interview Mary Mantia, Director of Human Resources for Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment. She addresses the question of how it is possible to sustain a large-scale cultural change process throughout a business enterprise.

How Great Companies Get Even Better with Cynthia Nolan

Cynthia Nolan is senior account director for TMI US. Here she describes her work with a major cruise line, already dominant in their industry, and aspiring for continual improvement.

Television Interview with Cynthia Nolan about “A Complaint is a Gift”

This is the first interview in our new Shifting Gears series, hosted by TACK-TMI COO and psychologist Jeffrey Mishlove.

You’re Selling While You Are Doing Service Recovery

Airport Queue

You’ve got to do to things to stay in business. You have to get customers, and you have to keep them. At times those are separate functions, and sometimes they are one seamless effort. The question is whether your staff see them that way.

Does your sales staff understand there are times they have to solve service problems for customers? And does your service staff understand that every time they solve a service issue for customers they are actually selling to them? It does happen, and when it does, as customers, we walk away, feeling pretty darn good about doing business with that company.

I just saw an article by Dave Kurlan, a sales expert out of Boston. TACK International has a working relationship with him, and I admire his insight and his sales expertise. He makes a lot of sense. His latest blog hits this topic right in the forehead.

Unfortunately, he’s talking about my favorite airline, United.  But never mind. All airlines are capable of bad customer service, and even worse service recovery. And travellers are tired and they love to tell and retell these stories. Some of them are rather entertaining. And bloggers love to blog about them.

The valid point that Dave makes is that United created a travel problem for him and at least one other person in line in front of him, and they had information that would have helped most of the people in the waiting area book their next flights to get where they wanted to go. But United representatives didn’t do that on that late afternoon. She simply told people to come back an hour before their flight was supposed to leave. No one was there, not even when the flight was supposed to take off.

That kind of advice doesn’t leave a nervous traveler feel good about getting where they want to go.

The significant lesson that Dave makes in his blog is that United was selling the whole time they were attempting to recover for their customers. And what they were selling was: Don’t book on United. It’s not a good experience. Our people aren’t helpful. We don’t take responsibility for your travel once we have your money.

And, of course, all the customers were selling, or not selling in this case, United as well as they stood in line or waited by the unattended gate.

Just remember:  Effective selling includes service recovery, and good service recovery includes selling.

What Makes Customers Come Back from the Dead? Great Service Recovery Doesn’t Hurt!

Headphones on a skull

Have you ever seen the chart explaining why people leave businesses? One reason that has always left my head ringing and audiences chuckling is that “customers die.”

Of course, they don’t come back after they’re dead! For that reason being dead is so obvious that it’s probably not worth mentioning. However, when you look at some of the reasons why people return to a place of business, they are equally dismal.

Many people return to a business because it’s the closest game in town. They don’t feel like driving to a competitor, and so you get their business by default. Some are so afraid to try anything new that your familiarity is what keeps them returning. Inertia is a big driver for repeat customers— until something more appealing shows up down the street.

Unfortunately, getting repeat customers for these reasons is not the most controllable way to run a successful business with a substantial number of regulars. These reasons are opportunistic. That is, there isn’t much you can do to influence this type of customer choice. And luck is not the most effective way to build up a base of regulars coming back year after year.

Have you asked your regulars why they come back? I mean really asked them, one to one, instead of having them fill out a feedback form. It’s a simple question, one that engages people in conversation, and pays them a compliment. You’re noticing them, after all, with that question. Most importantly, the answers will give you some valuable information that can be used to strengthen your brand.

And here’s a little trick. When a customer has a complaint because something didn’t go right, thank them for speaking up, sincerely apologize, recover for them, and then ask, “By the way, now that we’re talking, why do you do business with us?.” You could add a few words, such as, “I’m curious. I see you in our store and and we appreciate your business. And now we’ve created a problem for you (or made you wait too long, or whatever happened to this customer), and I want to make sure you come back. So, why do you normally shop with us?” Or, stay with us? Or, buy your gasoline from us?

I’ve informally asked this question of our TMI repeat customers. We get a variety of responses and we’ve noted that most of the responses have an emotional component to them. People say they like us, they trust us, probably in the same way they trust and like you — or they wouldn’t do business with you!

But remember, you’ll probably get better more complete answers when you ask a customer this question after there has been some sort of service failure because it’s an inherently emotional situation.

Just by talking with your customer when there is a service failure, you are already doing service recovery. Your customer will certainly be aware that you noticed them when there was a problem and you took the time and trouble to speak with them. Maybe you even fixed the problem exactly as they wished.

And now you have information you can use with this customer in the future. You can weave it into your next interaction. For example, if your customers tell you that they like doing business with you because they feel connected with your staff, it might be a good idea to see how you can make more of that happen. You’ll never see your business the way your customers see your business. Asking customers why they return after a service problem and service recovery will give you answers that you simply cannot predict. And if they tell you something that can be fixed right then and there, all the better. Immediate service recovery is the best kind of service recovery.

Find out what made them happy at that moment, and they’ll never say, I keep coming back because I’m not dead yet!