How to do social service – my Verizon experience

I recently was locked out of my Verizon FIOS account. Any time I tried to log in, I ended up in my Verizon Wireless account instead (I am a client of both). I naturally took to Twitter to see if I could get help, and the results were impressive. Inspired by my colleague’s recent post on the connection between service and brand, I wanted to share how well Verizon handled my situation.

I started by following @VerizonSupport, and posted a tweet documenting my situation. I didn’t expect a quick response, but got one fast:

As Verizon recommended, I later started a conversation with a support rep via Twitter direct message. Again, I didn’t expect an immediate reply, but the exchange happened so quickly that it almost seemed like live chat. Every time I checked my direct messages, I had a response from a Verizon rep.

Verizon DM

Unfortunately, the problem couldn’t be solved via Twitter alone, but the Verizon rep had a solution – to kick off a secure live chat so I could share more sensitive information like my username and pin number. There, Reginald reset my password, confirmed I could log in successfully, then… tried an upsell!

Verizon Chat

Now, this was a bold move. You could question whether it was totally necessary. You could ask whether it was truly in the spirit of helping me. But I was receptive to it because the process had gone so well. The outstanding service not only solved my problem, but gave me such a positive brand perception that I was ready to buy. Also, knowing that Reginald likely is paid or bonused on these upsells, I really wanted to reward his great service.

What I liked about this experience:

  1. Service is speed. I like how quickly Verizon responded to all of my inquiries. There never was a note that I would get a response in 24-48 hours. I always got a response quickly. If anything, I was the one who was slow to respond to a tweet or chat message. Note that they had at least two reps staffing the @VerizonSupport Twitter account but the flow was seamless.
  2. Verizon respected my way of communicating. I kicked off the response on Twitter, and at no point did the reps ask me to call a 1-800 number. I love this and can’t say enough how important this is to me. It shows a real commitment to social service – the Twitter account is not just a fake front end for phone service. When they asked me to move to live chat, it was for security reasons (or so they convinced me), so I was receptive. It also was easy – I just clicked a link and went from tweeting with JXJ, MLM and CJH to chatting with Reginald.
  3. I felt better off than before. This is critical in any service reaction – do I feel like I came out ahead when I was done? This is heavy perception, because Verizon just upsold me (which they had been trying to do with direct mail, e-mail and TV pop-ups unsuccessfully), right? But for me, my problem was solved, I got faster FIOS for $5 per month and a free router. I felt better than when I started.

What I learned from this experience:

  1. Service can deliver revenue. I know this from my own teams, but experiencing it myself is always enlightening. When Reginald went for the upsell, I recognized it as such but I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I do the same when Enterprise provides great service at the airport. When this works, it’s a natural payoff of the service interaction. When it doesn’t, it can crash hard. A sales pitch works better when done inside a positive service experience.
  2. Verizon is staffed for true social service. They had multiple reps handling the Twitter account, knew how to seamlessly push me to live chat, and never asked me questions about my account that suggested ineptitude or lack of training. They also never tried to push me to the phone team.
  3. In-app resolution is so important. When I was chatting with Reginald, if he would have told me to check my e-mail for a password reset link, I likely would have bailed (and he would have never gotten to the upsell). Instead, he reset my password for me and waited while I confirmed it worked. The more you can help the client in the current interaction you have, the more likely you are to solve the problem and deliver a positive experience.
Posted in Social service, Verizon

On being nice

Fred Wilson recently posted a piece called Be Nice or Leave.  When I read it, I was getting ready to present to a room of Indeed’s biggest clients.  But I was so inspired that I quickly wrote a note to my team.  When I read it again today, I wanted to share it.

Team:

I have been away from you for a while, presenting to clients down here in Austin, and spending way too much time on planes. This morning (US time), I read this blog post and smiled:

http://avc.com/2014/06/be-nice-or-leave/

We are nice in Client Services at Indeed. Nice to our salespeople who demand a lot, nice to our clients who need so much from us, and nice to one another. I see this again and again in your client and peer feedback. Every new hire class tells me how nice everyone is, and how welcomed they feel at Indeed. And it made me think that being nice is a big reason for our success.

It also made me think that anyone can provide service, but service + nice is a sweet spot where we excel. And it’s a big reason I prefer being with you all to being on a plane.

Thanks for being nice and have a great weekend,

Jason

Posted in Service levels

Starbucks brand promise

I recently saw (and captured) this Starbucks ad in Time magazine.  I really like how the “barista promise” – a consumer brand promise – is one of service.  It so easily extends to the Starbucks employer brand.  It says, not only will you get great service if you buy coffee at Starbucks, but we’re also a great place to work if you’re inspired by providing that kind of service.  You can either experience the apron or wear it – the ad works both ways.

Starbucks Apron

Posted in Employer branding, Starbucks

Being inspired by service

I thought a great way to start my new blog would be to share a piece I wrote to my team recently.  I hope you enjoy it.

We all have service experiences every day. At the convenience store, the bank, restaurants, online shopping, almost every commerce experience has some element of service. When I have a positive service experience, I always stop to think about how it made me feel and why it was such a good experience. I encourage you to do the same. And they don’t have to all be dramatic events – sometimes it’s the smallest things that make a big impact.

A recent example I had was at a local audio-video store where I bought some new equipment for the Stamford office. I am not an AV guru, so I asked for help and Arturo talked to me about the different types of microphones and audio interfaces I could use. It was a good experience and I noted that his patience and willingness to take time to speak with a non-expert made me feel good. A few days after the purchase, I was surprised by an e-mail from Arturo:

“This is Arturo from Guitar Center just checking in to see how you’re enjoying your Scarlett 18i8. If you have any questions feel free to message me back. Have a great day.”

Simple, right? I love surprise as a part of service. When clients have a positive experience that they don’t expect, it makes it much more memorable. A question for you – how can we include surprise more at Indeed?

A company I am watching closely in the service space is Amazon. Often, Amazon is considered a low-service or no-service business because they make it so easy to buy things online. But I love the standards that Amazon is setting for service – some examples:

  • I once downloaded the wrong song via the Amazon MP3 store. I wrote in to let them know, and they immediately provided me with a credit. No questions, no “proof” required. Needless to say, I was delighted by this experience and will never forget it.
  • It’s been reported that Amazon’s Mayday support product, which allows a service rep to help Kindle Fire users by appearing on-screen, was delivering 9-second response times. This was right after it launched and during the holidays. I am always blown away by how Amazon scales its products, even in service.
  • This story on 60 Minutes got a lot of attention because of the delivery drones that Jeff Bezos revealed, and the stir it caused in the FAA in the US. But what I took away from the story is that Bezos is obsessed with the client experience. I admire that obsession.

I really enjoy thinking about my own service experiences and why they were so impactful. Give it a try yourself. Too often, I feel like people dwell on negative service experiences. While they can teach us a lot about how to get better, I would much rather be inspired by the good ones.

Thanks as always,

Jason

Posted in Service levels

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