I started drinking coffee a couple of years ago. I’ve always loved and admired the Starbucks brand, so I started visiting a location near my office here and there, and then more regularly as my coffee addiction grew.
As I became a more regular customer, the Starbucks employees started recognizing me and began to know my drink order. Eventually, I didn’t have to order at all – the staff would see me walk in and start making my drink before I even reached the register.
One day, a barista made my drink incorrectly. When I mentioned it, another employee who I know well said, “That’s Jason, you know!? People are acting crazy around here today!” She then remade my drink herself.
While this one incident wasn’t a dramatic event – more of a little service victory – it reinforced for me that customer service is at its best when it’s personal. That employee recognizing me and taking responsibility for another employee’s mistake made a big impact.
What I took away from this experience:
- The best service is personal. This clearly is harder in businesses with high client volume and transactional customers like retail, but it can be done. Knowing even little things about your clients will improve your service level.
- The best service professionals cover for their teammates. I see this every day in my own team – top performers help the client in front of them, even if it’s not their mistake, their assigned account or their responsibility.
- Little experiences can have a big impact. Sometimes we underestimate what a small positive experience, personalization or win can mean for a customer. These do add up – service is branding.
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.
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:
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,
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.
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,