Meet Jane Blog
Smart Words--Smart Advice

5 No-nonsense Ways to Keep Jane Happy

Tuesday's Fit by Five

1. Train your customer service reps. No, I mean, really train them. Teach them how to deal with irate customers with a smile. The first step in training good customer service reps is in recognizing their value. Don't force that old Dick and Jane idea that the customer is always right on them. You and I know that the customer is NOT always right! Customer service reps who are able to let the customer THINK she is right, even when she's not, are in control and can carefully diffuse a difficult situation. I was once a customer service rep--well, sort of. The thing is, there was one client who was routinely obnoxious, for such small issues, things we were happy to remedy right away, that the other reps started shaking in their shoes whenever he would call. When he was routed to me, I just took a deep breath and said, "I can understand why that would annoy you, Mr. So and So. Let's think this through and figure out how to fix the problem. Does that sound all right with you?" It did. He calmed down, and as time went on, I was the only rep he would speak to. Lucky me.

2. Since Jane is less likely than Dick to tolerate bad service, I refer you to re:inventioninc blog where Kirsten talks about this issue, do some research to find out what your customers are saying about you on the web. Back in those ancient days of the 20th century, Jane had only the telephone, snail mail, and word of mouth, to pass on bad news or complaints. Today, she has the Internet. She has email and discussion boards and ---Blogs!!! Yes, indeed. Blogs are a good place to check for information on what people are saying about you and your company. Last week's Great Minds in Marketing newsletter had quite a nice article on the subject of "How to Measure (and control) Consumer Buzz Online." I advise you to sign up for the newsletter and learn more about controlling consumer buzz online.

3. As a follow-up to #2, here are some places you should visit regularly to see what Jane, and Sally, and Dick are saying about you:

---discussion boards
---sites that invite consumer ratings
---social networking sites
---the bulletin boards of your competitors!!!

4. Follow up every sale with a thank you note, either by email (permission based only) or by snail mail. Invite Jane to join your loyalty program. You DO have a loyalty program, don't you? In a June report at Internet Retailer this comment said it all, "The key to making the program work is the web." The report focused on True Value Hardware, noting that "card carrying loyalty customers have a 70% higher average ticket than the typical customer."

5. Give Jane the option of calling instead of clicking. Yes, this sounds counter-intuitive to shopping online, but a large number of women like to window shop online, then go to the store for the actual merchandise. At Reveries, Cool News, New York Times reporter Bob Tedeschi noted that not all small to medium size businesses have a website (to which I say, Shame on YOU!) but, search advertising is helping them gather customers off the net by returning a toll-free number to call, instead of a website, when prospects search on specific terms. Is this the next level of online advertising? What do you think?

Jane thinks it's worth checking out. She's very comfortable with the phone and as she becomes more comfortable with the Internet, marrying the two technologies will help make her life easy, convenient, and worthwhile. When you make Jane's life easier, you make her happy. The happier she is, the more shopping she does. daffodil

What's not to like about that?


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Yvonne DiVita

Great stuff, Ann. Sounds like you know your customer service. I'm a firm believer in supporting one's employees, and the customer service reps deserve a lot of tender loving care. Understanding that c/s is an investment is right on. I hope I never forget it. Thanks for adding valuable insight to this post.

Ann Kostopanagiotou

Yvonne, these five tips for appealing to women seem right on! There is a good definition by ACA Group which sums up very nicely what excellent customer service is: "Excellent customer service is the ability of an organization to constantly and consistently exceed the customer's expectations."

If that's the case, then I would add one more to the list. It's imperative to get to know your customers personally, and recognize their individual needs. Personalization means being proactive in providing a customized experience. Online, this may be that her e-mail newsletters focus exclusively on her preferences. Whole Foods does this very well with their eFlavors newsletter. And offline, for good, frequent customers - it might mean that the sales associate remembers to call her when her favorite new line arrives in-store. At the call center level, CSRs can be trained to call customers by their first name, be upbeat, positive and of course, link up via some great CRM technology that refers to that customers' last purchase, and allows for recommendations on complimenting products.

As far as calling vs. clicking - not sure if it is the new level of online advertising, but agree it certainly is excellent customer service to provide the option. This in effect is providing a multi-channel experience- and whether the contact is online, via phone, live or by snail mail, consistency of service is critical. The investment a company makes in training staff to provide quality customer service across channels shouldn't be viewed as a cost, but rather as the investment that ensures that customers will keep coming back and that a company will continue getting paid.

Above all, making certain that what you are offering is really something that your customer can value is a sure road to success. Thanks for the terrific insights!

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