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CXperts Wanted: #1 In a Series

Customer experience, or “CX” in industry parlance, is the real-world outgrowth of UX, User Experience. While this seems ironic, if not absolutely bass-ackward, the big players in the consumer space figured that if online user experiences were so important, maybe offline user experiences might matter, too.

For decades big business has been paying lip service to customer service. (United Airlines, anyone?) Companies legendary for their customer service, like Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines and Ritz Carlton, were in short supply. That’s why these superstars turn up again and again whenever customer loyalty and customer service are discussed.

Now research has quantified the benefits of improving customer service. In their book Outside In, Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning of Forrester Research document the dawning understanding on the part of Fortune 500 companies that there really is a competitive advantage and when you deliver superior customer service.

This is why, when I enter Wells Fargo Bank today, I feel like I’m entering the set of a musical entitled The Happiest Bank in the World. I am greeted with smiles and hellos, walking through a veritable gauntlet of friendly, well-groomed folks. Even the security guy brought my dog some water on our last visit. When I visit the branch, which is increasingly seldom, I look for my business banking specialist Gustavo so I can say hello. It’s a little bewildering, how happy they all are–after all, it’s a bank–but it has done wonders for my perception of the Wells Fargo brand.

I co-founded one of the country’s first day spas, Preston Wynne, and operated it for thirty years. I recently hung up my spa spurs, but what got me up in the morning for those 360 months was the opportunity and challenge of creating customer delight.

For every minute of that company’s existence, it has been about delivering memorable and satisfying “CX.” (Not even I can resist the allure of this bite size acronym.)

Our mission statement was short and sweet: “Do everything in our power to enable our guests to feel absolutely wonderful, whether they’re calling us on the phone or visiting us for the day.”

Easier said than done, we know. Even with 50 employees, infusing that idea into everyone’s behavior every minute of every day was a work in progress. It is something akin to a spiritual practice–the work is never actually done. We fail in new ways constantly, learn from that, and refine our approach, including customer service protocols, over and over.

Great CX begins with great people. Our strategy was to hire people with personality attributes that not only enabled them to create a superior CX but literally compelled them to do it, as described in the customer service best-seller Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan,where we were profiled along with service legends like Thai airlines.

The most important characteristics:

  • empathy
  • positive outlook (glass half full)
  • resilience
  • sense of humor
  • good self esteem

How do you figure out if the person who’s applying for a job with your company possesses these traits?

  • Interview the holy heck out of them (and ask the right sort of questions)
  • Expose them to lots of different people in your organization and get their take
  • Have them do a paid audition for a few days
  • Check references. Good people have fans who are willing to sing their praises.
  • “Hire slow and fire fast,” recognizing that if it’s not a honeymoon to begin with, it never, ever gets better.

One shortcut to finding the right customer care specialists is to use a social-style categories, such as DISC or Myers-Briggs. We made use of a system that classifies people as either relationship-driven or results-driven. (Guess who gives better customer service?) Then those subsets are broken down as risk-takers (who don’t really care what others think of them) and those who are risk averse (who fear rejection.)

The best social style for customer care is the Amiable style (relationship driven/risk averse.) Next best is Expressive (relationship driven/risk-taking) though they’re better salespeople and tend to make more mistakes when using systems or following protocols. Someone who’s halfway between the two is ideal. Too much fear of rejection can turn an employee into a puddle when facing an angry customer.

Next blog: Three ingredients of world class CX

NEXT LIVE WEBINAR: Mastering Complaint Resolution and Service Recovery

Join us  for this live employee training session, co-presented by Lisa Starr and Peggy Wynne Borgman. We include time for your questions at the end of the presentation.

  • Are you confident in your employees’ ability to resolve guest complaints?
  • Do they know how to handle the inevitable issues that arise in a busy spa operation?
  • Are you certain that guests leave your spa satisfied?
  • When was the last time they received training in complaint resolution?

A great reputation has always been the best way to market a spa. But the internet has made superior customer service a crucial survival skill.

Web search is one of your top marketing modalities, and negative reviews can cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Our employee training webinar, “Moments of Truth: Mastering Complaint Resolution and Service Recovery” can give you a chance to economically and quickly get your team up to speed.

Don’t let another month pass without inoculating your front line team against mediocre customer service, and common errors.

“The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled,” said the founder of Neiman Marcus. This webinar is designed to enable your front desk team to manage the inevitable mistakes and mishaps of a busy spa operation, while strengthening customer relationships and improving customer service. The adrenaline-charged moment when an upset customer complains is a make-or-break event for your business. Make sure your team doesn’t hide their heads in the sand–ensure that they will ride to the rescue of your reputation!
Dowload for unlimited use within your business.

Agenda:
• Why your team must treat complaints as an opportunity
• 96% of your guests won’t complain; how to treat the 4% who do
• Using complaint resolution to improve relationships
• How online review sites have magnified the power of unhappy guests, and what to do about it
• Managing the “fight or flight” response when confronted by an upset customer
• The five steps to masterful complaint resolution
• Cultivating awareness: the ounce of preventation
• How to ask questions that get real answers from your guests
• Making it easy to complain
• How and when to apologize
• Helping the guest realize you’re “on their side”
• Avoiding the common mistakes of complaint resolution, including explaining, blame and scapegoating
• How to effectively manage a “venting” guest
• Techniques to improve your listening skills
• How to tell the difference between an upset and an abusive customer–and what to do about it
• Restoring a guest’s faith
• Making amends without giving away the store
• What most clients really want from “amends”
• The hidden danger in giving refunds too quickly
• What to do when your offer of amends is rejected by an upset guest
• How to prevent problems from recurring

To register, simply visit our Webex Training Center and click on the “upcoming” tab.

Note: You can use any computer with internet access to attend, but make sure the computer you select has speakers for our audio portion.

Can’t attend the live sesion? We have an on-demand version of this webinar. Visit the link above, and click on “Recorded Sessions” in the menu on the left side of the page. Follow the instructions to purchase the webinar download.

Moments of Truth: Mastering Complaint Resolution and Service Recovery

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR
About 60 minutes
$99 (unlimited use)

  • Are you confident in your employees’ ability to resolve guest complaints?
  • Do they know how to handle the inevitable issues that arise in a busy spa operation?
  • Are you certain that guests leave your spa satisfied?
  • When was the last time they received training in complaint resolution?

A great reputation has always been the best way to market a spa. But the internet has made superior customer service a crucial survival skill.

Web search is one of your top marketing modalities, and negative reviews can cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Our employee training webinar, “Moments of Truth: Mastering Complaint Resolution and Service Recovery” can give you a chance to economically and quickly get your team up to speed.

Don’t let another month pass without inoculating your front line team against mediocre customer service, and common errors.

“The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled,” said the founder of Neiman Marcus. This webinar is designed to enable your front desk team to manage the inevitable mistakes and mishaps of a busy spa operation, while strengthening customer relationships and improving customer service. The adrenaline-charged moment when an upset customer complains is a make-or-break event for your business. Make sure your team doesn’t hide their heads in the sand–ensure that they will ride to the rescue of your reputation!
Dowload for unlimited use within your business.

Agenda:
• Why your team must treat complaints as an opportunity
• 96% of your guests won’t complain; how to treat the 4% who do
• Using complaint resolution to improve relationships
• How online review sites have magnified the power of unhappy guests, and what to do about it
• Managing the “fight or flight” response when confronted by an upset customer
• The five steps to masterful complaint resolution
• Cultivating awareness: the ounce of preventation
• How to ask questions that get real answers from your guests
• Making it easy to complain
• How and when to apologize
• Helping the guest realize you’re “on their side”
• Avoiding the common mistakes of complaint resolution, including explaining, blame and scapegoating
• How to effectively manage a “venting” guest
• Techniques to improve your listening skills
• How to tell the difference between an upset and an abusive customer–and what to do about it
• Restoring a guest’s faith
• Making amends without giving away the store
• What most clients really want from “amends”
• The hidden danger in giving refunds too quickly
• What to do when your offer of amends is rejected by an upset guest
• How to prevent problems from recurring

Visit our Webex Training Center and click on “Recorded Sessions” in the menu on the left side of the page. Follow the instructions to purchase the webinar download.

Spa Employees From Hell!

We posted this short, funny, customer service video on YouTube, showing common sales and service “horrors” that happen in spas and salons everywhere, ruining chances of retaining guests, rescheduling, and retailing. Each vignette illustrates a fatal flaw–some obvious, some more subtle–and all of them re-enactments of real spa employee behavior I’ve personally experienced. It’s a great clip to show at a spa staff meeting, and certain to get people talking.

When you’re ready for the horror to end, you’ll find each of these scenes, along with vignettes showing the proper way to “replay” each, on our 80 minute employee training DVD, Selvice: Seven Steps to Abundant Sales and Stellar Customer ServiceOn our site, there’s an introduction sequence and a short example of the DVD’s “before and after” curriculum.

Thanks to BoomCycle Online Marketing for their stellar video editing on “Tales from the Spa.”

Front Desk Training Webinar: Checkout that Maximizes Rescheduling and Retail

Monday, August 9

9 a.m. Pacific/Noon Eastern

About 70 minutes; a live encore presentation

$99

Your biggest moment of truth in a spa or salon takes place, not in a treatment room or at an employee’s station, but when a client is checking out. This is the moment you must ascertain whether a guest is satisfied, when your guest is invited to reschedule, and when they are invited to make home care purchases. Your challenge? To do all this while checking out guests as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Because your reschedule/retention rate is the most critical metric in business success, this “moment” must consistently ensure the best possible outcome. Being friendly and efficient is important, but it’s only the beginning.

Join us for this webinar, the third in our series for front desk employees and their managers. Presenters Lisa M. Starr and Peggy Wynne Borgman of Wynne business, veteran spa consultants and educators, pack the hour of instruction full of use-it-tomorrow, down to earth content. Jessica Zike of Coyle Hospitality Group, the premier mystery shopping company for the hospitality industry, will kick off the session by providing eye opening real-world performance data from their Mystery Shoppers, as well as anecdotes about front-desk experiences that missed the mark.

Participants will learn:

– The importance of the front desk team in building the business
– The hidden opportunities of checkout
– Who is supposed to do what? Understanding roles and responsibilities in this transitional zone
– Recognizing the guest at checkout; what to do when you don’t know their name
– Creating a smooth “handoff” from a service provider to the front desk
– Creating a smooth transition from the locker room to the front desk
– How to effectively gauge guest satisfaction at checkout
– The most inspiring home care recommendation strategies
– What to do when you’re asked a question you can’t answer!
– How to respond to “objections” such as “I already have something like this at home”
– Building the sale with “bumps”
– The recipe for persuasive invitations to return
– What to say when the guest says, “I need to check my calendar”
– The most neglected step in the checkout process

The webinar includes an hour long presentation and concludes with a Q & A session.

$99

Visit our Webex site to register and click on the “upcoming” tab.

Can’t make it live? Download an archived version of this webinar. On our Webex Training Center, click “Recorded Sessions” in the menu on the left of the screen. You’ll be prompted with instructions for purchasing the webinar. Once downloaded, you can use your webinar perpetually.

The Spa Director’s Management Intensive: summer session August 22-25, 2010

August 22-25, 2010, San Francisco Bay Area

If you own, manage, or plan to invest in a spa, this program is a must!

Co-taught by Peggy Wynne Borgman and Lisa M. Starr of Wynne Business Spa Consulting

Read more

You can’t win an argument with a customer

Holly Stiel, the great hospitality customer service guru, says it perfectly: “Being Right is the booby prize.”

Last week, an article in the Wall Street Journal described Proctor & Gamble’s burgeoning PR disaster involving a new disposable diaper that may be causing rashes. They’re printing the liquid-absorbing gel onto the surface of the diaper instead of putting it inside several layers. It makes the diapers thinner. P & G insists it was the most-tested new disposable diaper ever. Great! They avidly courted 50 influential Mommy Bloggers before the launch.  But after all that, 7,000 Facebook-wielding Mommy Bloggers (and counting) have stormed the barricades, demanding the return of the previous version.

But P & G is mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more!  (I can just hear them hollering in the board room, “I thought you said we got ALL the Mommy Bloggers!”) The company that wrote the book on branding and brand management is not in the driver’s seat any more. It is a profound illustration of just how much business has changed in the last few years. You almost feel sorry for the poor saps, as they draw their line in the sand and stare down the jostling mob just across the moat.

So. How do you think this is going to play out? Do you think those Bommy Moggers are going to listen to the voice of P & G reason?

British Petroleum has been even more ham-fisted in its handling of the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. A company that makes billions in profit should be able to afford better PR coaching and crisis management.

But I have to admit, I feel exactly the way any embattled business leader does when I read a snarky Yelp review. (Thank goodness I don’t have to do that live, on a web cam.) The urge to prove that you’re right (or at least, not wrong) is overpowering. This is when we count to three hundred and try to remember Habit #5 of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I remember Steven Covey describing this behavior as “being willing to have your mind changed.” Instead of promoting your point of view, or waiting your turn to speak, you actually listen. And those of us who have customers know, you apologize. In this litigious world, it’s hard for businesspeople to forget about liability and the potential legal consequences of saying, “You know what? You’re absolutely right. We screwed up. And we’re sorry.” But you have to.

The simple fact is, if the customer thinks you screwed up, you did. Perception is reality. The question becomes not how you’re going to convince them otherwise, but how you’re going to rescue the relationship. Doing the Right Thing when you’re pretty sure you didn’t do anything Wrong is hard. Customers are wrong all the time; however, the social contract we entered into when we opened the doors to our spa clearly states that they’re Always Right.

(Admit it, when you’re the customer, you’re always right. Aren’t you?)

The customer who complains is the canary in your coal mine–only 10% of customers actually do. So the next time a mishap tempts you to even explain (explaining is an insidious form of not-agreeing, i.e. arguing) listen to what the customer is saying. Chances are very good you’ll learn something valuable.

The Front Desk Must Die!

Spas are working harder than ever to be innovative in their designs, but there’s one convention that just won’t seem to die: the monolithic front desk. Once upon a time, we had big fat computer monitors and hulking CPUs to hide in those enormous desks. So why, in this age of flat screens and cloud computing, are we still confronted with these intimidating beasts when we enter a “state of the art” spa?

Front desks create a barrier between guest and client. In restauranteur Danny Meyer’s parlance, it’s hard to convince a guest you’re “on their side” when you literally are not. Check-in, a simple enough transaction, can be accomplished with about two keystrokes–and for that matter, on a handheld. Why use up valuable square footage that you could use for retail merchandising? Because architects and interior designers think we want these things.

Instead, guests could be welcomed by a friendly host who is visible from head to toe, whose full-frontal greeting will feel much more sincere. He or she checks guests in with his or her handheld, or at a simple podium. (Seeing staff engulfed by giant desks reminds me of those little old ladies you see piloting massive cars.) Perhaps we could even stop calling our spa concierges “front desk staff.” (It’s a bit like calling massage therapists “massage table staff,” isn’t it?)

In the new spas Wynne Business designs, we include a comfortable “checkout lounge” that encourages lingering, with tables where home care recommendations can be reviewed over a cup of tea and some conversation with a Home Care Advisor. This salesflow strategy separates the departing spa-mellowed guest from the frantic incoming one, who often induces the departing guest to unconsciously “giddyup.” Not good for retail or rescheduling. Even when there isn’t room for a checkout lounge, we include in the design a “checkout bar” with stools. “If you perch, you purchase,” we like to say.

The front desk is one part of the spa business that has never undergone a serious rethink, which is very strange. Yes, we store things in those massive desks, we conceal trash cans and we hide our Starbucks cups (heaven forbid.) But our front desks carry tremendous symbolism. They are the physical manifestation of the intimidation that so many guests still feel when they enter a spa. I have no idea why they are so often front and center, like some sort of altar. Talk about scary.

They also function as a sort of fort, from which your staff defends the spa from the clients. Visit a new spa and try to get a spa concierge out from behind their desk. It’s like prying off a barnacle. Behind a desk, it’s easy to look busy as long as you’re not leaning on it, chin in hands. Imagine what happens when there is no longer a desk to hide behind. Shelves get dusted, products are straightened, guests are interacted with, refreshments proffered, doors are opened.

So why not do away with them altogether? Handhelds make it possible for the “point of sale” to be anywhere the client is–another way to encourage more natural interaction with staff, better customer care, more spontaneity, and oh yes, larger purchases.

As we look for new ways to draw the ellusive Millenials into our spas, rethinking the front desk may be a very good place to start.

Moments of Truth: Guest Checkout that Maximizes Retail and Retention

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR
About 70 minutes
$99 (unlimited use)

Your biggest moment of truth in a spa or salon takes place, not in a treatment room or at an employee’s station, but when a client is checking out. This is the moment you must ascertain whether a guest is satisfied, when your guest is invited to reschedule, and when they are invited to make home care purchases. Your challenge? To do all this while checking out guests as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Because your reschedule/retention rate is the most critical metric in business success, this “moment” must consistently ensure the best possible outcome. Being friendly and efficient is important, but it’s only the beginning.

Join us for this webinar, the third in our series for front desk employees and their managers. Presenters Lisa M. Starr and Peggy Wynne Borgman of Wynne business, veteran spa consultants and educators, pack the hour of instruction full of use-it-tomorrow, down to earth content. Jessica Zike of Coyle Hospitality Group, the premier mystery shopping company for the hospitality industry, will kick off the session by providing eye opening real-world performance data from their Mystery Shoppers, as well as anecdotes about front-desk experiences that missed the mark.

Participants will learn:

– The importance of the front desk team in building the business
– The hidden opportunities of checkout
– Who is supposed to do what? Understanding roles and responsibilities in this transitional zone
– Recognizing the guest at checkout; what to do when you don’t know their name
– Creating a smooth “handoff” from a service provider to the front desk
– Creating a smooth transition from the locker room to the front desk
– How to effectively gauge guest satisfaction at checkout
– The most inspiring home care recommendation strategies
– What to do when you’re asked a question you can’t answer!
– How to respond to “objections” such as “I already have something like this at home”
– Building the sale with “bumps”
– The recipe for persuasive invitations to return
– What to say when the guest says, “I need to check my calendar”
– The most neglected step in the checkout process

The webinar includes an hour long presentation and concludes with a Q & A session.

$99