Sainsbury’s has this whole Twitter thing down cold. Earlier this week, popular U.K. blogger October Jones complained that his chicken sandwich from the grocery chain “tastes like it was beaten to death by Hulk Hogan.” The company’s official PR account promptly responded: “Really sorry it wasn’t up to scratch. We will replace Mr. Hogan with Ultimate Warrior on our production line immediately.” (If you’re not a child of 1980s pop culture, you can rediscover both of the poultry pounders here). Completing a nice Twitter tandem, another Sainsbury’s corporate account replied with a phone number for Jones to call and said the company sincerely regrets that “you had to wrestle your way through the sandwich.”
Sainsbury’s is proving quite responsive to all sorts of unconventional customer complaints. Earlier this year it pledged to change the name of its Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread thanks to an online campaign that began with a 3-year-old’s letter.
Source: AdWeek.com, May 29, 2012. Author, David Griner.
What would your reaction be if you were October Jones? Would Sainsbury’s use of humor satisfy you, amuse you or make you even more disgruntled?
How you tried to use non-conventional response types (like humor) to customer complaints? Did they work?
In what ways does this major retailers’ example lead you to evaluate and potentially change the way you interact with your customers on social media platforms?
What’s the most incredible act of customer service you have ever performed for a customer, and did it inspire their undying loyalty? In this story by Peter Shankman, he recounts how after a long travel day he boarded a plane, tired and hungry. As a joke, he tweeted out to Morton’s steakhouse to please have a Porterhouse waiting for him at the airport when he landed. Of course he was not expecting any response, but guess what? At the airport Morton’s was there, waiting for him with a Porterhouse.
Shoe purveyor Zappos is also well-known for its great customer service. When this blogger’s mother was suffering from health issues and related problems with her feet, she had to return some shoes to Zappos and ended up getting into a long conversation with the customer service agent. The customer service person sent a bouquet of flowers to the mother and gave the mother, daughter and sister VIP memberships. The sister vowed to buy every pair of shoes from Zappos from then on.
And there’s the famous example of Southwest Airlines holding a plane flight for a grandfather who was flying to Denver to see his three-year old grandchild who had been beaten to death by his daughter’s live-in boyfriend, and who was scheduled to be taken off life support that night. When the grandfather arrived at the gate twelve minutes late for his flight he was shocked to find the plane still there. The pilot said, “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you.” Cost of delaying flight: who knows and who cares? The knowledge that Southwest did the right thing and the amount of goodwill it created: priceless.
Of course, you don’t have to be a restaurant, retailer or an airline to provide outstanding customer service. Opportunities exist every day in your business.
When was the last time you dealt with an upset customer or noticed that a customer seemed stressed? What did you do? Did you avoid them, get defensive, or did you ask questions so you would understand their concerns, stresses, problems or fears? Then did you go out of your way to provide a service that was above and beyond what was expected?
What is the best customer service experience that you have ever had? Did it inspire your loyalty to that company?
What acts of customer service have you or your co-workers provided that created loyal customers for your dealership?
Real Results: Clever iPad Promotion & New UltraCare PPM Program Helps Hare Chevrolet Crush Aftermarket Service Shop Competition
I have been doing regular blogs about successful promotions in dealerships that come to my attention. In this blog I wanted to let you know about a prepaid maintenance (PPM) plan promotion that was extremely successful at Hare Chevrolet.
Hare Chevrolet has improved customer retention and increased its customer-pay RO count by 12% since instituting a dealer-branded prepaid maintenance program earlier this year. The program, which launched in March and is dealer administered, has produced an average of $171 upsell on every customer pay retail repair order.
The dealership is in a highly competitive market place surrounded by four after-market repair shops. The program has helped the dealership come out on top of its competition by ensuring service customers return to the dealership for future vehicle service needs.
The program, which focuses on selling maintenance plans to existing customers in the service lane, was kicked off in March with a service advisor sales incentive of an Apple iPad if they hit a quota of 22 plans sold. The incentive proved successful with all five service advisors exceeding their quotas resulting in 127 UltraCare plans being retailed to existing service lane customers.
The dealership has continued the success of the incentive program by building in PPM sales as part of the service advisors’ pay plans. Hare Chevrolet now averages 62 plans sold per month, 80% of which are sold out of service and 20% out of F&I. Customers are much more likely to purchase a maintenance plan in service when they don’t have competing F&I products to consider and the loan to value issue is gone.
The dealership sells the plans at a cost basis. Rather than try and make a profit they are using these plans as a great retention technique, which is working well with retention rates increasing about 5% per month. However, an added bonus is that the average customer that visits for a simple oil change ends up spending an additional $171 per RO, so it is incredibly profitable as well.
Based in Noblesville, Indiana, Hare Chevrolet continues to hold the title of the country’s longest-lived family-owned vehicle retailer. Today the Chevrolet dealership sells about 400 cars per month and employs 150 people. Current managers Courtney Cole and Monica Peck, who are the great-great-great granddaughters of original founder Wesley Hare, offer 50 service stalls, and about 1,000 new Chevrolets in its sales lot.
The latest in technology has allowed the dealership to keep in front of the pack in a fiercely competitive market, while also maintaining loyal customers.
What employee incentives do you use to promote upselling?
What techniques have you used to differentiate your store from your competition?
Companies that provide employees with generous benefits, including contributing more to retirement funds and absorbing health insurance hikes, are often financially healthier because of it.
A study released Wednesday found employers that offered substantial programs focused on the long-term financial health of their workers saw a host of business dividends as a result, everything from lower turnover to better customer service.
Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed 58 of the 100 companies named to “The Principal 10 Best” list over the past decade and also conducted interviews with executives from 20 employers included on the list. Three quarters of those polled reported that benefits contributed to employee retention and 72 percent said they impacted employee loyalty.
The survey was commissioned by the Principal Financial Group, although companies studied did not necessarily use Principal services.
Despite the tough economy in recent years, firms in the study said they had maintained or increased their benefits packages, including raising retirement contributions in some cases. While some did have their employees pay more for health insurance benefits, the majority ate the increased costs.
Virtually all the firms agreed that they have a “strong sense of responsibility when it comes to providing benefits that protect the financial well-being” of employees and their families. When asked to identify the most significant thing they are doing to impact employees’ financial security, nine out of ten respondents mentioned retirement programs and cited generous employer contributions.
The majority of companies surveyed also provided one-on-one financial help for employees for retirement planning and have added wellness programs.
As a result of the generous benefits, the employers surveyed said they saw a host of benefits, including:
The question of whether these employers are more likely to have lucrative benefits because they’re successful, or they’re successful because they provide such perks, wasn’t answered by the study, said Luke Vandermillen, senior vice president of retirement and investor services with the Principal Financial Group. However, he said there is “a paternalistic feeling that cuts across these companies.”
The Harvard study shows great benefits are “not only good for employees, but good for those companies that provide well-rounded broad and deep benefit programs,” he said.
Source: Life Inc. on Today, May 9, 2012. Author, Eve Tahmincioglu.
Have you seen a correlation between employee loyalty and customer loyalty?
How solid is your employee benefit package?
What can you change in the way you positively impact your employees’ lives that could benefit your company as a whole?
With the viral advent of social media into the business and marketing worlds, many companies are asking, “Is social media marketing something my business needs to use?” A recent blog post on Hay There Social Media, a social media consulting business, provides insight on why social media is effective for both businesses and individuals.
Team Member Deanna Rose uses DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) Rewards as an example of how large businesses are attracting more customers – and potential customers – to their products and services by reaching out on social media. “Every Tuesday, DSW gives away 25 free pairs of shoes to their loyal Facebook followers. The requirements for this ‘Free Shoesday’ giveaway? Entrants must like the DSW Facebook page, be a DSW Rewards member (which is free to join), and be one of the first 25 people to email the correct answer to a random question posed on the DSW Facebook page at noon. That’s it.” The results speak for themselves, as DSW attributes much of its success in a down economy to customer loyalty and the DSW Rewards program.
But this isn’t a benefit only limited to major retailers. Rose writes that, “regardless of the size of business you have, if you’re not actively participating in social media, then you’re not hanging out with your customers as much as you can.” This leads to countless missed opportunities for businesses to connect with their current customers and to prospect new ones because, Rose continues, “your customers want to hang out with you. It’s the cool – and smart – thing to do.”
Rose then provides specific reasons for why social media works for businesses and their customers:
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS (FOR THE INDIVIDUAL):
It’s easy - and instant. People check up on their friends and happen to see that you’re unveiling a new product, having a sale or sharing a photo. Or maybe you’re having some sort of contest or posing an interesting question. Which brings us to the next point:
It’s fun. The thrill of hanging out where everyone has the same chance to engage and provide feedback is enjoyable, and being the first to see a special news is exciting. And it keeps the customer around. Why? Because:
It’s personal. To be interactive directly with a brand makes customers feel like they matter, that their opinion - and their dollar - counts. It builds a bond.
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS (FOR THE BUSINESS):
It’s direct. Really, how much more direct marketing can you get – to have potential customers voluntarily sign up to receive all the info you want to give them? Yes, please!
It keeps customers participating. Current and potential customers “like” the page for an initial contest or promo and then keep their eye out for your company’s updates of new offerings, sales and anything else your company posts about. When you keep them actively seeking you out, that means they’re thinking of you. Which means:
It gets customers talking – about you. They’re talking about your company to their family and friends, who will likely go follow your social media profiles. And when customers talk about you, they usually buy from you, too.
Rose concludes that “if you’re not promoting your business via social media, then you’re not getting as much exposure as you can. When your company is engaging on social media platforms, everyone is making sure that they are connected to you. They’re reading your post updates and thinking of you… a lot.”
If you’re just getting started in the social media marketing world, take a look at the Twitter or Facebook sites for major businesses – both locally and nationally. What trends do you notice? What seems to work best? How can you apply these practices as you launch your own marketing efforts through various social media platforms?