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NSA Leaks: The Big Data Two Step for Businesses This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on June 10, 2013.  To see the original post click here. I expect we will be seeing a lot of dancing over the next few...


Coming to an Agency Near You! This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on September 23, 2013.  To see the original post click here. I am often pondering what is next in the world in which we...


Customer Service Week: Here's Your Call Center This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on October 7, 2013.  To see the original post click here. As we begin Customer Service Week I want to thank all those...


Defining the Customer Experience Role This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on October 2, 2013.  To see the original post click here. Customer experience is a term growing in popularity within businesses...


Apple's #Fail When Dealing with @MarthaStewart This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on September 30, 2013.  To see the original post click here. It feels like it was the Tweet heard around the world: "I...


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How Much Are You Willing to Pay for Good Service?

Posted on : 10-01-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service, Marketing, Retailing

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The economy has not been the greatest and it has caused us all to cut back. In some cases buying store brand or buying bulk items to save a few dollars. I have done the same, but a few things caused me to start thinking about cost verses service. There is always a balance for companies and individuals as they determine the best things for those needs.

Certain areas I have alway cut costs. One of those areas to me has always been food shopping. On the higher end, I love shopping at Wegmans for their food selection, bakery, prepared foods and my favorite is their recipes. I have always found I spend more when I go there, but overall I love the experience. To save a few dollars I do like to shop at Giant Foods in PA. I have found they typically have the lowest prices. There is a difference when I shop at each place. I do not expect wow service at Giant (although many times I feel I get it). I do expect that service at Wegmans, and virtually always receive it.

So now you know a little about my shopping habits, I have to tell you about a new supermarket that I went to this week. The supermarket is called Bottom Dollar. As you can judge from the name it is about the lowest price. I knew before going there that selection would not be huge because it is located in a much smaller building than the supermarkets in my area. The location was probably a supermarket that was closed in the early 1990’s or earlier. They advertise brand name products at the lowest possible price. I went there Friday night to pick up a few things, but when I walked in I decided to do a full amount of shopping. I grabbed my cart and entered the store. The first thing I noticed was the small produce section, which was in a refrigerated area. The produce was in boxes and all looked very fresh. There was not a huge selection, but the basics were all there. I grabbed a few things and continued my way around the store. I noticed quickly that the prices were low. They were not the lowest prices I have seen if I compared to sale prices, but much less than regular prices at other places. As an example Pepsi products were $2.88 for a 12 pack. Other places I have seen regular price $3.99 or $4.99 but sale prices as low as $2.50. Lean Cuisines were also similar price. I think they were $2.48 compared to others at $3.99 regular price with sale prices as low as $2. To give you an example of selection, they had maybe 10 different types of Lean Cuisines instead of the large quantity I find at Wegmans or Giant. They did not have a deli or bakery but they did have some of these items that were prepackaged. I was a little disappointed at the lack of deli, since I was planning on buying cheese, and I usually do not like some of the processed cheeses. The lack of bakery actually helped save me money since that to me is usually an add on purchase because ‘it looked good.’ Wegmans bakery always gets me on the add on’s.

Overall I had a full cart load of stuff. Not bad since I was only going for 3 items. I went up to the cashier and started to unload my cart. I immediately noticed the cashier had another cart at the other end of the register. I quickly noticed the cashier was taking all these little items I purchased and placing them in the other cart, just like I was at a warehouse club with very big items. Unfortunately I did not have big items. I had a whole cart load of small items. I also did not bring any of the bags we own from other supermarkets, so I was not sure how I would carry the items into my home. I quickly looked around and found a spot where they had bags for sale. I ran over, grabbed 5 and gave them to the cashier. The cashier immediately rang in the bags and placed them in the cart then proceeded to ring up all the remaining items, piling them on top of the just purchased bags. No effort was made to place any of the items in a bag. This meant at 9:00 PM on a cold night, I was out by my car trying to bag all these little items of food. This took a while and due to the cold it was not done with as much care as I would like. Overall I spent $98, which probably was a savings of $10-$12 compared to other supermarkets. This caused me to think about it and for me I decided it was not worth the saving compared to my time and the better selection. I am sure others will love it and it will be right for their needs. So I know I am willing to pay a premium of 10-15% for better service at a supermarket. Are you willing to pay a premium for service? If so, how much?

Now a funny ending to my supermarket situation. In my rush to fill the bags and load the cars, I must not have loaded the 12 packs of soda in the best way. When I got home and opened the hatch to my Prius, my 2 12-packs of soda fell out of the back of the car bursting on my driveway.

There is always a cost and value debate we always make when we purchase products. I know I prefer Apple computers compared to other brands. The reason is I have always had amazing service when I needed it, and the product I have had from Apple have lasted a long time, compared to similar machines with other operating systems. I still have a Mac that is close to 10 years old and runs as well as it did when I first bought it. During that time I have had a number on non-Apple computers that have not lasted at all. At the same time I know I pay a premium for the computer. It is probably at least 20%, but in my view and for my needs, I am willing to pay for it because I know they will last. I also know that if I do need service, the Apple store team is empowered and very willing to create a great experience. What items are you willing to pay a premium for? What items do you look to save and expect less service?

Sorry, But It’s Not All About Jeff Jarvis

Posted on : 20-07-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Customer Service

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Most of my readers know of Jeff Jarvis but for those that do not, he is author (latest is “What Would Google Do“), journalist, and a Customer evangelist (at least based on his Dell Hell example).  You can learn more about Jeff on Wikipedia.  I tend to agree with Jeff Jarvis on many things, and this will be another point that he and I will agree.  Yesterday on Twitter Jeff shared an experience he was having with his local cable provider (not Comcast!).  He followed it up with a post on his Buzz Machine blog.  During his experience with the cable company call center, a representative responded “I dont see you listed as a VIP.  Now I am not going to say something like companies do not have VIP Customer lists, because most I have ever worked for did.  When I worked for Vanguard investments I was a supervisor in their Voyager service, which was for household with $250,000 to $1 million invested (those levels may have changed today).  Since starting my work helping people in social media, someone inevitably steps in and says “you only helped them because they are an influencer.”  Even within Jeff’s comments Cody Brown stated the following:

“If I did this on my twitter, I dont think I would have gotten any response from Verizon or Comcast.

A big problem with going after corporate customer service with Twitter is that if you dont have the follower count, it often goes no where.

Its nepotism when you get better service because you are friends with the VP but what is it when you get better service for having 20K twitter followers?”

Well Cody, my belief is you are just as much an influencer as Jeff Jarvis, and so is every Customer a company interacts with.  I responded to Jeff, not because he is a VIP  Customer, in fact he is not a Customer of Comcast at all.  I responded because he directed a comment specifically to me, and it is only polite to respond.

Social media is making the world a smaller place and it is also providing a lot more control to Customers.  People are sharing their experiences to their new world within places like Facebook and Twitter.  Customers have always communicated bad experiences to others, but the scale is shifting.  The rule of thumb used to be a Customer with a bad experience will tell 10 others, but as Pete Blackshaw points out in the title of his book “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000,”  the scale is getting much larger for everyone.  This is a new world order and the Customer is gaining the upper hand.

Now think of it from your own perspective, what happens when you have a bad experience?  You tell as many as you can.  How many of us are influenced about a product by reading a review on Amazon.com?  I know I have been.  Today there are many influential websites serving Customers, such as the Consumerist, Planet Feedback, Get Satisfaction and many more.  Any person can influence things like search results or the perception of the brand.  You can even look at your Facebook page as having dramatic influence.  Updating your status goes out to all your friends, then others start to comment on it opening it up the influence to their friends and so on.

This is why, in this new world, companies are going to have to improve the Customer experience through all communication channels.  If they do not, they may not have Jeff Jarvis going on a rampage, but it could be someone as simple as “John Smith.”  The person who brings it to light on the internet may not even be the Customer at all.  Instead “John Smith” may share his story and a friend decides to tell so many others.

I have reviewed numerous software for managing social media and discussions on the web.  A feature I always see is “influencer” ratings or rankings.  I believe any company that focuses on the highest rankings is really going the wrong direction.  They are usually working from a PR or marketing perspective and not really striving to listen or help their Customers.  I am not going to say I have not helped people that would be ranked as “influencers,” because I have.  I strive to help all Customers in the same manner.  If you have not seen the ABC story, check out the video on this link.  One of my favorite stories was when I help Michael Arrington, many said it was because of who he was, but within the comments there were comments like these:

Siobhan said “Actually, they monitor a lot of blogging tools and sites. I have a friend who uses LiveJournal who got an email within about 24 hours of complaining about her Comcast service from a legitimate customer service rep, and they sent a tech out to help within a day. So theyre doing it whether youre Michael Arrington or the average Joe on the street.”

Even Michael added a comment “based on twitter messages Im receiving, they are monitoring services in general, not specific influencers. http://twitter.com/angelcitybl…../784144918

Since the Michael Arrington story, I am sure many others will recognize that my team and I strive to assist everyone to the best of our ability.  Some will say that service is not the same through other communications channels with my company, but I will let everyone know that we are working hard to change that.  In fact the cool part about our efforts is we can learn so much that can then be utilized in other communications channels.  It took us time to get to the level we are at, and it will take time to show these improvements.  I look forward to getting to that point.

I think all of this is why Forrester’s Dr. Natalie Petouhoff wrote a post that I will be discussing later this week about Customer Service leading the way for companies in social media.  Check it out.

I will end this note with a tweet I sent to Jeff Jarvis last night:

Facebook Shifting Power to the Consumer?

Posted on : 28-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Customer Service, Social Media

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We have been watching the groundswell of Customers in social media, but a current beta for Facebook will completely change the game.  According to Facebook’s statistics there are over 200 million users, with many rumors topping that number well above 300 million.   Compare this to the rumors regarding the size of Twitter which is about 30 million or more.   We have all watched recent enhancements to Facebook that have more Twitterfied the experience.  Now they are adding the capability to share status with everyone, and potentially this information will be searchable.  But what does this all mean, and why are they doing it?

Rumors last fall were that Facebook was making a bid to buy Twitter, but talks never really took off.  Whether the rumor was true or not, there is no doubt that Facebook saw value in what Twitter has to offer.  We have seen many examples where news has taken off via Twitter.  Most recently the uprisings in Iran were broadcast live via Twitter directly from Iran.  This way of communicating is really making the world a smaller place.  We also watched recently has news of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett passing away.  Even fake news has the ability to spread like wildfire, such as the incorrect rumor of Jeff Goldblum dying.  Every piece of news over the past year or so really started via Twitter.  I am sure the same as true in Facebook, but because there was no central resource of this data, no one would know unless you were friends with those talking.  The top 10 Twitter search was a true game changer.

For those that want to get the most out of Twitter, search makes it really easy.  By entering a few key words you can quickly locate new friends that are talking about things of interest.  Facebook has search but it is limited to thing like people’s bio, groups or specific pages.  Not easy to connect with someone that may be talking about a unique musical interest or something like that.  So to me Facebook was always about existing friends.  Twitter has always been about meeting new friends.

So how is this shifting the power to the Consumer?  Today most people online have a megaphone, but the reach may be just within their reach of friends.  It is easier to spread your thoughts on any businesses that you deal with, but it is limited within Facebook.  By changing the status to be available for everyone, this will now provide a megaphone to speak to 100’s of millions of people at any given time.  How will a company respond?  It is time to think about that now.   Advertising on Facebook has not always had the best reach, especially since people tend not to click on the ads.  Ones that have been successful are typically very unique and very hit or miss.  One of my favorites was the Burger King Whopper giveaway.  But now business will have to find a way to harness the power of the Consumer voice, respond to it and create the right experience.  Of course all of this starts with creating the right experience for products and serviced offered to the Customer (and non-Customers for that matter), otherwise this potential groundswell can be much larger than anything we have seen before.  Also people will talk about a product or service, even if not seeking help through ordinary channels.  This will make it where companies will be forced into the conversation.  The one thing we know is in this Google world, information, right or wrong will always be available through Google.

Ready or not, here comes your Customer!

Personal Connections Are Always Important…

Posted on : 20-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Personal

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I wanted to share a recent exchange with a Customer we will refer to as Bob.  Today he sent a number of emails to my team with feedback centered around the web design of one of our websites.  I read the emails while I was at my aunt’s funeral.  They were colorful, but showed the passion this Customer has on the topic.  Although web design is not something I see changing immediately, the feedback was valuable.  Based on the specific content of the emails I chose to respond directly.  After his third email I responded with:

“I do want to thank you for all the feedback. We would be happy to share it.”

Customer’s response was:

“And I, in turn, want to thank you for your condesending attitude, which I too, will be very happy to share.  Oddly, you don’t seem to be such shit head on your blog.  Condescending, yes, but less of an asshole.”

Wow!  I really don’t get paid enough for this!  I was actually shocked  because this was certainly not the intent!  In addition, I never thought of myself as either condescending or an asshole.  I was stunned!  Okay, in retrospect, maybe I have been one of those when I received poor service.  You can decide which one.

There is no doubt that emails can easily be misinterpreted.  With the exception of SCREAMING emails, there is no way to clearly convey tone or emotion in print.  In today’s blackberry world, we are all emailing and texting as quickly as possible, aren’t we?  To avoid further miscommunication, there was only one thing to do.  I picked up the phone to speak with this Customer.

We had a productive conversation.  We discussed many aspects of the Customer experience, and how web design has an impact on this.  I explained my thoughts on sharing feedback and the manner companies respond to that feedback.  Occasionally decisions will be made that Customers will never like.  To me it then comes down to the way it is presented and discussed.  Bob’s feedback was regarding online ads.  There is always a delicate balance regarding revenue and impact to the Customer.  I explained that I was not sure the ads would go away, but what he was pointing to was more in design.  Hopefully as design is updated, something can be changed to make it less of a pinch point.  This is something that will take time.

At the start of the conversation he confessed that he was less angry with me and was developing a connection through reading this blog.  Specifically he connected to a story I related in a post “Frank, Where Are You.”  The story was about Lily pouring bleach all over my clothes.  I told him he should check out the Desitin story in the post “So is it Time to be Frank.”  In service the best interactions always have a personal touch.  I cannot tell you how often I hear, “How can you put yourself out there in social media?”  Many even say that they would use a different name.  People tend to be afraid of their Customers.  If you are afraid of Customer, how can you ever connect with them?  I have had strange things happen, including someone that bought my domain name as a “gift.”  He pointed it to the original Gia website, but since then he changed it to point to negative website about the company I work for.  Even with something like that, I still try to connect with Customers.  If my feeling ever changes, it will be time to look for a new career path.  That to me is what service is all about.

The Future of Customer Service

Posted on : 18-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service

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I have talked about it before, but Customer Service across all businesses has been changing, whether it is known externally or internally.  First and foremost the Customer has changed.  I always credit this to the popularity of Amazon reviews, Ebay ratings, and Google in general.  Beyond that the typical Customer Service workforce is changing, they are now filled with the Gen Y, Millennial Generation or whatever the name is today.  This is a group that prefers a more flattened approach.  They want to share their feedback, and they will provide it to whoever will listen, no matter the title of the person.  They are not out to impress, but they will drive their point home.

So what does this all mean for businesses?  The approach for everyone needs to change.  Lets start off with the Gen Y group, they want to be a integral part of the decision making process, they want to fully understand the reasons why decisions are made and they want to be able to provide clear feedback regarding how the business is being run.  Internally it is important to provide tools to allow team members to be able to take this bottom up approach.  Engage them in decisions and take the time to teach them why certain decisions are made.  They are eager to learn, and they will be even more dedicated to the company when they feel involved.  In my observations, I have noticed the baby boomer generation to be more accepting of leaders decisions.  I remember at my prior employer, when I started you would always hear “it is what it is.”  You are not going to change it, so accept it.  Well that was never my style!  Anyway, the Gen X’ers, of which I am a part of, will question things but usually in the end support the decision and move on.  That has never been my style, but for all groups I am generalizing, and I know there are people with other styles.  For companies to better run, and have a cohesive team, it will be important to better explain and involve all levels.  The other thing to realize is if you do not, Gen Y is very resourceful, and will find ways to move the needle in their favor.  I have seen many stories of this, so this will definitely be an important aspect to managing.  They will communicate with friends (“rally the troops”) or even engage the topic in public via social media.  But the good news is, they are really striving to do what they think is right for the company, and, actually in many cases, the Customer.  I have been in Customer Service management for many years and I have seen this many times.  Have you ever had a call and thought the representative was not up to par, maybe even down right rude?  Many times this is not because of the agent, but because they disagree with the policy and they are sending a message to the company through you.  Trust me, in my prior company I managed quality assurance, and I did it by evaluating the company as well as the representatives.  You learn a lot when you start to dig into what is occurring.

Now on to the Customer.  From what I have seen the Customer is tired of companies telling them what they like or dislike.  Amazon reviews (I know there were others prior, but it really took off from there in the US) started shifting that power.  Today if a product is bad, a Customer is going to try to tell as many people as possible.  This can be done through Amazon, but now with the popularity of places like Facebook and Twitter there are now many places to do it.  Companies have to recognize this and make sure their products are at the levels they would want to represent the brand.  Now, more important then ever, service will be leading the way.  Companies have depersonalized interactions through self-service.  There will also be a shift to personalize service again.  Measurements will shift, and in many places already have, from handle time to first contact resolution and Customer satisfaction.

Beyond all this Customers are going to demand more support in ways not noticed before.  How many people have called their internet service provider and the trouble was reported to be the router.  Well from experience I can say it may be, but companies are going to have to find ways to help with all aspects.  This is not easily done, but what I foresee is working with the entire web community to build help that is used with Customers on calls, and for someone surfing the internet looking for help.  I am in the process of designing a way this could be done across many spaces.  Customers will be a part of the answers and they will have the opportunity to help others.  This is not new, but really has been limited to help forums.  But in the future this will be part of the help through all communication channels.

I also think Customers will have a greater say in the service they received.  We have already seen this through all the surveys companies are doing, but I think involvement will go from teaching representatives, to talking with senior leaders.  A lot of the future involves a theme I have always said is the most important part of management: “Listening.”  The funny thing is when I interviewed for a management role at a former employer, Vanguard, I provided that as my response.  The feedback I was given was management was much more than that.  The funny thing is I used the same response for a different management role at Vanguard a few months later and I was hired.  To this day I still believe it is the most important aspect.  Many people around you, including Customers and staff members know so much more.  It pays to listen.

Converging Worlds

Posted on : 17-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Social Media

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It seems to me that the word converging is used to describe so much that is happening right now.  At Comcast we have used it to describe the combining the way people use products like phone, internet and TV.  But in general we hear it throughout business, especially when we hear about mergers or new partnerships.  We also hear about it in politics, global news and within social media.

A little over a year ago I told a large group of PR people that the best thing about me is that I was not one of them.  This was not done in a negative way, but used to point out that people within social media do not like to have spin or the corporate line.  They prefer dialogue.  Of course I was wrong, and I have grown a lot since that time.  I have learned that we are in a converging world.  PR and Customer Service have a lot in common.  Ultimately good service is good PR.

Last night I received a phone call from a head hunter (probably not a politically correct term, should probably say executive recruiter or something like that).  That was not the first time, but what was interesting was the position was a leader in marketing for a major company.  I am sure I know many people that would be good for the role, but what really shocked me was how I have accomplished many of the goals in a very short time.  How can that be?  I have never been in marketing.  As I say all the time “I am a simple Customer Service guy.”  I guess nothing is simple in today’s world.  Things are changing including the approach to marketing and the shift to conversational marketing.  This is the first time that I could really touch it in a quantifiable way.  My eyes continue to be opened wider each day.

In this online world, it is about dialogue, not dictating the conversation.  It is not about spin but listening and asking questions.  These are both common in good Customer Service experiences.  Worlds are converging everywhere and the real winner is the Customer.

Even the Best at Service…

Posted on : 13-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service

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Those that have read my blog know my passion for excellent Customer Service.  Most companies strive to provide good Customer Service but it does not always go as intended.  This can be due to so many factors, including: policy, personnel, systems or believe it or not, the perception of the person calling.  I have 2 major pet peeves when I call a company I deal with:  overdoing security on the account and selling when not appropriate.

In the past I have mentioned companies I really look up to regarding service, like USAA and Vanguard Investments.  I used to work for Vanguard, so I have heard calls that were not up to par, but we would coach the person immediately.  My most recent calls to USAA have not been at the level I have been used to.  As an example I logged into my accounts on Friday and I noticed pending charges that were not mine.  I wanted to call immediately so they could take the necessary action.  It was 7:30 in the morning, and I really needed to be out the door, but this would only take a few minutes so I called.  I went through the phone system entering my member ID and pin number.  I then get through to the agent.  She asks me to verify name, address, credit limit, credit card number number on back of the card, and something else, but to be honest I lost track.  She also asks me to set up a password, which I do.  I explain that the authorization that were pending and the card is compromised.  I am asked something like “are you sure you are not in Argentina.”   The attempted transactions were at Cheap Tickets and a hotel in Argentina.  Since I worked in the credit card industry I knew Cheap Tickets was a way to test credit card number validity used by many unscrupulous individuals because they do not check all aspects, such as the CID number.  She verifies with me that I have the card, of course this is silly since she can check the transactions and see they are probably not swiped.  At this point she begins the process then says she will need to transfer me.  Before transferring me she begins to “sell” me on using the mobile web.  Well at least she did not try to sell me on using the website since she knows that is what prompted the call.  My issue with this is my reason for calling was not even fully cared for yet.  Also if they tracked such things, they would know I have used the mobile website too.  In fact my feedback for that is way too many clicks to get to information, but hey that is for a different time.

I am transferred (and I should say it was quick and so was getting to the original agent, no queue!) to the fraud department.  He begins the conversation with verifying security on the account.  I immediately asked if he knew this was done already.  He explains that he has to make sure it is me because people sometime try to manipulate the system.  I respond that USAA has gone down in their focus on the Customer.  He then asks me for the password on the account.  I immediately laugh and explain that was just placed on the account with the other representative.  Of course this causes him to ask all the other information too.  He then also asks to verify the work phone number.  Of course I have no clue which number is there, so I rattle off old work numbers and cell numbers and offer to log into the website to look.  Believe it or not, I actually understand the reason for security, especially when canceling a credit card number, which can create havoc.  At the same time it is important to look at risk factors.  I am not asking them to mail the new card to a different address and I am reporting common fraud transactions.

Oh well, I guess every company can have bad interactions at some point.

Time for Reflection

Posted on : 02-05-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Comcast, Customer Service

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The past few days I have taken a true vacation from work and it feels good!  Not that I do not miss my team or being engaged, but we all do need a rest at times.  Since we began the digital care initiative at Comcast I have worked 7 days a week and all hours of each day.  But now we are at a time where this effort, and the ability of my team is now shining.  I am so proud of each of them.  Through these efforts we have been in numerous media publications, such as:

NY Time – Griping Online? Comcast Hears and Talks Back

ABC News – Still on Hold? Twitter Can Rescue You From Customer Service Line Waits

Business Week – Comcast’s Twitter Man

I realized a few weeks ago that we have really changed the entire Customer Service industry.  It is amazing.  I have received emails and had calls with many companies as they work to replicate what we have done.  But what is it we really accomplished?  Based on feedback from our followers on Twitter we have really made Customer Service more personal again.  Customer Service started to shift to a “self service” model in the `1990’s.  This was great for companies to reduce costs but it did take away from the personal connection that happened when you knew the person you were meeting with, or the personal conversation on the phone.  Around the same time companies shifted to measuring things like handle time, schedule adherence and other numbers that did not reflect the intent of service.

Today best in class companies are measuring things like Customer Satisfaction and first contact resolution.  This is what service is about.  Handle time is good for broader measurement for planning purposes but it is not appropriate at the agent level.  It brings the wrong focus by the agent.

What else have we learned?  Customers, just like most Customer Service agents, are craving real time, unedited information.  If something is wrong they really want to know what it is, what is being done and when it will be back.  We are working to create that environment at Comcast.

A year ago I was presenting to many people from our communications team.  I made the mistake to say that part of the success was that I was not one of them.  But really in this new world order, marketing, public relations and Customer Service are really becoming one.  It is all about talking with, but not at, Customers.  So yes, I admit, I was wrong (but please do not tell my wife!).  This has been a learning process that you have to learn from every interaction, whether it is to many or more one on one.

We have done so much in a short period of time, but I can not help but think what is next?  At Comcast Rick Germano and his team have been working very hard to improve the Customer experience.  The senior leadership staff revamped the corporate credo to ensure everyone was working on the goal of creating the right experience.  It is not something that will happen overnight, but will happen.  I am proud of what we accomplished up until now but I look forward to achieving all our goals.

But beyond Comcast, how can we further improve the Customer Service industry?  What are the next big tasks to tackle? Where do you see Customer Service industry going?

Now it is time to get ready to go to @ComcastBill‘s wedding!

Stuff Happens – It is About How You Handle It

Posted on : 07-01-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service

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For me everything is about Customer Service.  I believe creating the right Customer experience will pay dividends for years to come for any company.  I also believe that in the coming years Customer Service will be what differentiates companies.  I always like to recognize excellent service.  We receive it all the time when we order a product and it comes as expected.  This is excellent.  But any company, big or small will have a time where a mistake happens.  It is not about the mistake, it is just a question of how it is dealt with.


Last week my wife ordered a package from an Amazon store called 16th Avenue Pharmacy.  I love that name because it reminds me of the small pharmacy we use called Harris Pharmacy in Doylestown, PA.  Anyway my wife ordered the item and it was delivered today.  When she opened the package it was not the correct item.  Well stuff happens.  She told me she was going to send an email about the mix up.  This is where you really begin to judge the service provided by any company.  It is also something smaller companies tend to excel at.


Within minutes of sending the email, the phone rang.  She missed it because she was talking to me.  Then her cell phone rang, which was missed.  So she went to check the caller ID to call back, but when she did, an email popped up saying “I am so sorry about this mispick!!! You will have the bird house tomorrow!!   Thank you and sorry!”  This is my favorite style of email, not a form letter (I can do a whole blog post on emails written in letter style), but a sincere message that truly conveys an apology.  But what made this more special was the speed in the response and I also like that they tried to call over the phone first for the personal touch.


We have all experienced “mispicks” (my new favorite term) and the way it has been handled can vary a great deal.  I have been questioned regarding the product received.  I have also been told to return an item before the correct one will be issued.  There was none of that.  In fact Carolyn wrote back to find out how to deal with it.  Mark, the president of the company, responded “Don’t even worry about it keep it on me!'” This is what service is about.  Not about the mistakes that happen, but how you handle them.  Kudos to Mark and 16th Avenue Pharmacy!


Have you had a situation where a company handled a mistake well and it impressed you?

Redefining What People Think of Customer Service – Engagement

Posted on : 09-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Social Media

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Engaging in Social Media is not redefining Customer Service, but rather what people think of Customer Service. To start lets look at what Customer Service really is. In an effort to do this I started by Googling the term “Customer Service Definitions.” Many of the definitions I found made me laugh. I am starting to see why Customer Service is lacking throughout the country. It is interesting that many of them were missing key components or focusing on sales, the company or other ancillary business aspect. To me it is simple. It is the manner that you build long term relationships with your Customers. This is done through every interaction a Customer has with your company, including use of the products, interactions with your systems (such as your website), reviewing marketing material or talking to anyone representing your company in any forum (phone, in person (even at a party), email, chat, etc). Even when the Customer is writing the check or using their banks online bill pay service, this is Customer Service.

What I found most interesting is many of the definitions seem to focus on complaints, people interactions or sales. This is missing the boat. If you purchase from Amazon, one of the main Customer Service points is when the shipment arrives at your door. If it is damaged or late, you will consider it to be a poor service experience. But if it the shipping time exceeds your expectations you will be wowed.

This is why I am a firm believer that everyone in any organization is part of the Customer Service function. Do you feel that you are part of Customer Service? Or do you look down on people that work in this function? If you do it is time for you to adjust that attitude.

Now this brings me to the topic of the post. I have seen a lot of press and blog posts about the efforts of my team on the web. I have always been surprised by this because I do not see what I am doing as that special. If you review how I defined Customer Service, you will notice that I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to talk with Customers. I also believe that it is important to be where they are when possible. The internet provides that ability.

To me if I hear someone talking about the company I work for I always offer to help. I have done this at parties, on the street, and one time in a Verizon Wireless store. I never have done it in a negative way. I would just say let me assist, here is my business card. My business card has my email, office phone and my cell phone clearly listed on it. It is very simple. “Let me know if I can help.”

So now we look at engagement in social media spaces. In many cases I write simple messages, “Can I help” or “Thank you.” I do not use the time to sell which many marketers have tried to do. Yet these simple acknowledgements have led to many sales. The key is to be genuine and willing to sincerely listen and help. I never press, I simply provide the opportunity for someone to obtain assistance. For me if I saw someone who wanted or needed help anywhere, I would be happy to assist. As many of you know I have been known to do this many hours of the day, but that is because if I see someone that needs help, and if I can, I will.

So our online activity has caused a little buzz at times, but it is never redefined my definition of Customer Service. What occurred is some people never thought of social media and Customer Service so it appeared new to them. It redefined their thought on Customer Service. That to me is exciting and it is part of the overall shift I think we are seeing in the way people and companies view Customers Service. The definition is becoming more clear. What do you think?