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Mean People Suck

Photo by bayhayalet/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by bayhayalet/iStock / Getty Images

Why they feel like they have the right to not only ruin their day but to ruin someone else's day is beyond me. And for what reason? Often times I think mean people look for a reason to be mean, spread their poison, and to infect others. You can find them almost everywhere you go, disrespecting their server for less than 5-star service, even at a local diner. They are the customer in front of you at Starbucks complaining about getting their Soy Chai Latte with not enough cinnamon on top (First World problems). You might even run into them at the airport, yelling at the gate attendant because a lightning strike has delayed their flight, apparently thinking the airline employee has a direct line to the heavens. We've stood next to, queued up behind and even sat with mean people. They are embarrassing, unempathetic and unsympathetic. They have no filter and they absolutely have no couth. 

There is a way to get what you want when the expected size 10 service fits into size 3 shoes. It’s called, being NICE!

You may be in the camp of, "I pay for it, so I have the right to complain about it." If you reside in that camp, I do not disagree about your need for better service, but I disagree with your methods of trying to get it. There is a way to get what you want when the expected size 10 service fits into size 3 shoes.  Being mean, obnoxious or disrespectful should not be in your bag of tricks. Leave them in your interrogator's toolbox .

How do you handle great, mediocre or poor service and what value do you provide back to the provider of said service regardless of their grade?

There is a difference between communicating and mind-reading. People across the buying table from you cannot possibly read your mind. Simple transactions like putting gas in your car require very little effort; you swipe your card and you expect gas to come out of the pump. But more complex transactions require you open your mouth and ask questions. Better yet, discuss your expectations. While service providers should know generally what your expectations are, they cannot read your mind. Before you pop a cork, vent your steam into constructive conversation. The company you are working with wants you to be happy. Give them a chance to fix the problem and exceed your expectations in round 2.

There is a difference between communicating and mind-reading.

Share positive experiences with the company, but also share your remarks with the world. It's important to catch people in the act of doing something right; when you do, share your positive story with the company that provided the great service. A handwritten note, email or phone call will do the trick quite nicely. Social media makes it so easy to complain about poor service, but the same can be said about great service. Share your positive comments on social as well.

Be quick to praise a company directly for a job well done. Don't be quite as quick to start blasting off the negative press in a public forum if service is less than perfect. While the squeaky wheel does get the oil, the squeak doesn't have to be formed with thick rust. Allow moderate or poor service to be corrected. A company that has a track record of great service can still have a bad day or a poor experience. Watch how they handle the mistake, you might be pleasantly surprised with the results, given the chance.

Know the difference between cost and value, cheap and inexpensive.

Help resolve problems by being solution focused, not "you owe me" focused. Nothing is perfect and we all need help to resolve problems. Take a moment and look at what went wrong and what you might be able to do to help resolve a problem when poor service or a poorly made product finds you. When you are dissatisfied, be open to discussing the issues you face with the company that let you down. When you work hand in hand to help resolve your problem, you are potentially also resolving the problem for future customers as well.

Know the difference between cost and value, cheap and inexpensive. We live in a world where you get what you pay for. Before spending your hard earned cash, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware), understand what you are buying, in both dollars and value.  If you are buying hamburger meat, don't expect filet to be served.

We live in a service world, sometimes service is the only thing that differentiates one company from another. Your money speaks, if unhappy and dissatisfied take your cash somewhere else,  no need to be mean about it. But as you leave, provide your feedback in a constructive, useful way. As you would expect from another human being, be empathetic and nice and leave it to the poor service provider the choice of how they handle your remarks. I can guarantee if they keep up the failing grades and poor service, they will un-WOW themselves out of business.




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How to spot a liar in one word

I guess my mom says it more eloquently. "He isn't lying, he handles the truth recklessly."  Statistically, we are exposed to over five thousand marketing messages a day. How do we know who to trust? Marketers entice us with offers too hard to resist, results too good to be true and guarantees that are impossible to fulfill. Yet, somehow we believe them, the evidence of our belief is in the billions of dollars we spend every year on their products; we want to believe them. A pill to cure this, a product to cause that. What we do know is this, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. 

The obvious ones -- Lose 16 pounds of belly fat in 14 days! The not so obvious ones -- Save 10% on your insurance in 15 minutes. We've been coaxed and prodded, persuaded and cajoled, seduced and flattered into thinking we can be thinner, healthier, richer, stronger, faster, better, happier, safer and more wanted if we simply use their product. I don't know about you, but it's hard to tell who is shooting straight and who is pushing the needle on the lie-o-meter. 

Marketing is storytelling. The truth is elusive. No one knows the truth about anything.
— Seth Godin

Seth Godin on marketing, "Marketing is storytelling." Godin on truth in marketing, "The truth is elusive. No one knows the truth about anything." I one time had a boss that used to say, "It's tough to live a straight life in a crooked world." The comment made me feel like I HAD to bend the truth in order to get ahead, close a deal and succeed at anything in life.

What it comes down to is this (and here is your one word); what's your intention? Are you focused more on yourself or your customer? There is a fine line between attention getting and misleading. And if you are the one making the offer, what happens next is completely up to you. Professional marketers understand there is power in their words and they take the user experience and results into account. Their intention is to be truthful yet creative. They may be great storytellers but they care about their market, because they don't see them as a market. They see their market as people, human beings, individuals using their products and services. They also care about their company and their reputation. Liars only see dollar signs, signed contracts and closed deals. If their products and services also benefit their market, that's just a bonus. 

Don’t focus on the sale, focus on the person.
— Shep Hyken

If your intention is to help others by solving their problems, you're a professional. Focus on what is important, helping your customer. While meeting goals, deadlines and quotas are all critical elements in business, make sure you have your priorities in line as well.  Align your intentions with exceeding customer expectations, adding value to your relationships, solving problems and being a better you. 

So when you see products claiming to cure the common cold, reduce wrinkles overnight, boost your bottom line by 80%, or reduce your bottom by 20 pounds in 20 days, you may want to steer clear of the sales pitch that comes next, they may not have the best of intentions. Make it your goal to keep your focus on what it takes to earn the business while keeping the best of intentions in mind. Your customers will be happy, and so will you.

Continue the Nice Guy learning and check out The Nice Guys on Business podcast

Continue the Nice Guy learning and check out The Nice Guys on Business podcast

See why NICE is the new way to do business (well, it's new to so many meanies out there)

See why NICE is the new way to do business (well, it's new to so many meanies out there)






Famous Movie Quotes That Have No Place in Customer Service


Famous Movie Quotes That Have No Place in Customer Service

When the players are all in place and the cameras are rolling, movie stars must follow the director's lead and interpret the deeper meaning to each line they read.  Interpret the tone wrong and they will fall flat, but utter the words properly and they may find themselves immortalized for eternity. 

In business, especially when working to provide exemplary service, those in a position to make or break the customer experience, need to closely guard each and every word out of their mouths. Take a look at the scripted lines below and see why they have no place in customer service today.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!
— Rhett Butler, Gone With The Wind

One of the biggest problems I find when speaking to organizations everywhere I go is that there is usually a small percentage of people that simply don't care about the customer's point of view. The white paper (5 Biggest Mistakes Made in Business) linked here, outlines as the "grand daddy of all mistakes," failure to care. Customers can sense when you do not care about them. It hurts your business when you do not care what the customer thinks, since they have the option of spending their money somewhere else and if you do not care, they will run from you.

Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!
— Oliver Hardy, Sons of the Desert

Mistakes are bound to happen, it's what happens next that really counts. If you make another mistake you will possibly lose your customer due to errors made. Make many errors and you stand a good chance of going out of business. Although no one is perfect, work hard to learn from your mistakes, take corrective action and stay in the game. If you make an error with your customer, come clean, take responsibility and make it clear to your customer you are sorry.

I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.
— Don Corleone, The Godfather

Don't be so sure that you have the exact offer that will make your customer happy. Remember, unless you are totally seeing it from your customer's perspective, there is a chance your customer may not agree with your terms. Be open-minded and prepared to work out another solution or present another proposal if the offer you make does not resolve the concerns your customer has.

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.
— Johnny Castle, Dirty Dancing

Don't ever back your customer into a corner. Presenting ultimatums or giving your customer no "out" may have them running for the doors at the first opportunity to leave you. Present plenty of options to your customer and if those don't fit the bill, be ready to present more. If you feel as though you only have one option for your customer and it doesn't seem to fit very well, be prepared to take your company out of the running. Not everyone is the perfect customer for you.

To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people!
— Wanda, A Fish Called Wanda

Using sarcasm with a customer is not a good idea, especially when your relationship is fresh. When writing emails, text messages or using social channels watch your tone and reread each exchange before hitting the SEND button. Also, getting in an argument with a customer is never a good idea, even when you win, you lose. Not all people are going to get along. If you are not a good match for your customer, maybe there is someone else in your company that is; watch what you say, how you say it and know to whom you are saying it.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
— Jennifer Cavilleri, Love Story

When you are wrong, say you're sorry, even if you do not think it is important to say it. Those words, "I'm sorry," if said in a genuine and caring way will prove to your customer that you really care about their business. Follow through with action and correct your error as best you can, as quickly as possible. Don't forget to follow up with the customer to confirm you fixed the problem and corrected yourself and that your customer is satisfied.

I do love a great movie quote and I am constantly looking for inspiration to help get me to the next level in business. We've taken movie quotes to a whole different place in this blog, and we do the same with our podcast (The Nice Guys on Business). At the beginning and end of each of our 120+ episodes we have our voiceover guy Steve O'Brien read a famous quote. Can you figure out what movie they came from?


Where have all the humans gone?

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Where have all the humans gone?

Recent experiences with my credit card company, a local hardware store and a home delivery food service company have me pondering the simple question, where have all the humans gone?

"Please listen carefully, as our menu options have changed." More than menu options have changed in today's automation age; relationships are falling by the wayside and the customer journey is being detoured as companies hide behind the guise of increased efficiency, more specific analytics, better customer service, improved productivity and big dollar savings as reasons.

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
— Sam Walton

There has been a paradigm shift in the way organizations big and small deal with incoming customer traffic. Phone automation including interactive voice response (IVR) has taken over. The improper overuse of phone automation is pushing clients to competition, damaging a company's reputation and frustrating customers. If a little is good, a lot must be much better. NOT! Reception has been replaced by an 800-number, a voice activated robot and a touch tone keypad. When poorly implemented, the customer experience suffers, along with any positive vibes we had about the company. Failing service grades equate to lost business. We will spend our money somewhere else.

Don't get me wrong, when it comes to technology, I am all in, but if you want to really frustrate me, try wasting my time and I will take my business to the competition faster than you can say, "Please hold, your call will be answered shortly."

Is it just me or does it seem like no one wants to talk anymore? Call me old school, but when I pick up the phone to call a company, I'd love to have an opportunity to quickly, if not immediately, speak to a human being. Business has gotten wise to guys like me, so they have replaced the "Operator" button (0) with the, "Please listen carefully..." auto-response. They claim to appreciate my business, at least that's what they tell me 12 times as I am waiting on hold because they are experiencing call volume higher than normal. With all the analytics companies have access to, shouldn't they know when to expect "higher than normal" call volume and staff accordingly? And while I appreciate that they are working with other important customers just like me, I am thinking these other customers must have the inside skinny on how to reach a human being faster than I do.

Is our business really as important to them as the robotic voice claims? In theory I am sure it is, but in practice I think not. At a time when exposure to a customer should be at it's highest, companies are doing their best to avoid human contact. And while they think we might appreciate the automated instructions on how to access frequently asked questions on their website, we would have done that already if we thought we could find the answer quickly. Finding the solution to the problem online is even more challenging than finding the 800-number to call to reach a human being.

As a result of hammering, stammering and manipulating my way through automation, unlocking the secret passage, making it to the bonus round and actually speaking to a person, why is my reward sometimes a stiff, ill-prepared, script reading, mumbling representative with their headset microphone adjusted too close to their mouth? Attention C-level execs, business owners, customer service managers and people in a position of authority, if you are going to make me climb to the top of the phone tree, at least make the reward of speaking to a real person a satisfying victory. Invest in training your front line, your business depends upon it.

Maybe one day there will be touchtone keys for empathy, compassion, rapport and appreciation. In the meantime I will continue hitting the "0" button, waiting for a human to pick up the phone. I hear Tuesdays and Thursdays before 7AM are days they experience their lightest call volume, at least that's what their robot tells me.

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