Tag Archives: Customer Service

That’s not my department.

Responsibility; ownership; accountability; these themes sound weighty, and they are; being responsible, accountable, with an ‘owner’s mindset’ is tough to achieve.

A few weeks ago I witnessed firsthand an employee lacking the drive or interest in being responsible and accountable when I was ready with an open wallet to buy his store’s products.

It was Sunday afternoon and the family and I were finishing some ‘before school’ shopping. The store wasn’t insanely crowded, so I believed that I could get some help if I needed it from one of the store clerks.

When a customer arrives at your storefront, act as if you want them there.

When a customer arrives at your storefront, act as if you want them there.

After meandering through the store in search of running shorts, I was at the end of my rope; I needed some help. A few minutes passed before I was able to locate an associate, sporting a bright blue shirt. The clock read 1pm, but he appeared as if he had just awakened from a nap.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said, hopeful that I’d soon find some shorts.

“Can you help me find the running shorts?”

“Uh. Hmm. Not sure. That’s not my department,” a pimple-faced clerk announced.

He pointed towards the back wall of the gargantuan store and reluctantly shared: “I think it is “kinda” that way. I would just walk over there and find someone wearing a blue shirt.”

I faked a thank you (what was I thanking him for exactly?), mumbled something under my breath and walked away. I must have displayed a troubling, confused, bewildered look as I glanced at my wife.

Eventually, I found a few pairs of nice running shorts, but let’s rewind and see how the sales associates could have played this one better.

  1. Take ownership: Walk me over and introduce me to a sales associate who knows the department a little better. Pointing in a vague direction isn’t leadership.
  2. Be a servant leader: Instruct me to wait where I am for a few minutes while the clueless associate finds someone to help me.
  3. Apologize: This person had to know he could have done better, but his lack of an apology had me convinced that this wasn’t the case.

Responsibility, accountability and ownership aren’t just pie in the sky, ethereal concepts. When present, these themes empower employees and shoppers, creating memorable transactions that will make a difference.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

eBook: How Do Brands Win Business

Friends, Product marketers, business owners, customer service reps, product managers, marketers:

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to publish a book. I am thrilled to announce: I did it!!

Here’s my first of what will hopefully be many e-books and books.

The journey is just beginning.

The journey is just beginning. Let’s get there together.

This book is titled: How Do Brands Win Business

In this book, you’ll learn what brands such as Subway, Walt Disney, Hertz, Cirque Du Soleil, CBS did and didn’t do to connect with their customers.

I’ve collected some of my stories and lessons in hopes that you can do more of the good things and fewer of the less desirable things that push us further from our goals.

Enjoy this book and help spread the word.

Note: The book can be yours for only $2.99. That’s less than the price of your extra caffeinated treat this morning.

Until next time,

Dan Naden
Naden’s Corner
How Do Brands Win Business’ – eBook

I wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world.

On a typical day, you’ll encounter a wide variety of people, performing many different roles.

  • Susan, the perky red-haired Starbucks barista prepares your mocha latte just the way you like it.
  • Joe, a distracted Jiffy Lube ‘mechanic’ changes your oil in the amount of time it takes to check your e-mail.
  • Grassy Greens, your lawn care company, trims your lawn to a point where it just might be the envy of the neighborhood.

These services are too often ignored or taken for granted.

I need to reflect more and be gracious to the people who serve me on a daily basis. We could consider that these services are not ‘our right’, but more of a privilege worthy of sincere appreciation.

Some of these jobs may not be glamorous, yet this does not diminish their importance.

During a recent busy travel stretch, where airports blended together like one big revolving door, I overheard an older gentleman direct the following impulsive comment to an airport shuttle bus worker:

Everyone's role has value. What can you do to show appreciation?

Everyone’s role has value. What can you do to show appreciation?

“I wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world.”

If you were on the receiving end of this comment, how would this make you feel? Diminished? Disenfranchised? Irrelevant? Is all of the above a choice?

Perhaps this gentleman wanted to share a genuine comment about this person’s selfless job. Nothing embodies servant leadership more than lifting and pulling bags off and on a shuttle bus while cranked, harried travelers wonder: “Why is this taking so long?” and “I am going to miss my flight if this guy doesn’t hurry.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t come across this way. When the shuttle bus driver digested this insensitive comment, he froze, unable to muster a response. No doubt his day felt a little less meaningful after this episode. How much better would both of you feel if you added a genuine, friendly comment?

Words mean things. Let’s be careful about how we communicate with strangers. Not knowing people doesn’t give us the right to step all over them with malicious words.

Yours in civility….

Until next time,

Dan Naden

I wanted to do business and I got ignored

I recently had some small business owners visit my home to give me an estimate for some yard work. As expected, some were keepers, while others weren’t a good fit.

Within a few days, we started receiving proposals.

I quickly responded with “Thanks for the proposal; I’ll let you know if I have questions after I’ve had some time to review.” A few weeks passed from these initial visits. My wife and I discussed options, plans, next steps.

My yard may look like this one day, but it's been slow going to find a suitor.

My yard may look like this one day, but it’s been slow going to find a suitor.

The 3 proposals that I received were good, not great. They left a few questions that were perfect for a follow up call, or, at the very least an email thread.

Amazingly, it has been nearly 2 weeks since these initial visits, and not one small business owner has followed up with me.

I expected a:

“What did you think of the proposal?”

“Did you have any questions?”

“Can we schedule a time to start the work?”

My hope for these business owners is that they are so floored with business that they don’t have time to respond. Maybe these owners have 50 proposals in flight all at once. This sounds like a good, and avoidable, problem to have. Unfortunately though, as a potential customer, I do expect a response.

If you are bursting at the seams with business, hire someone to follow up with prospects.

I can only imagine what percentage of a small business owner’s business happens through referral. When you refer someone, it is based on ‘out of this world’ commitment to winning your business, overdelivering on your need, making you thrilled that you made the right choice when selecting a vendor.

I want American small business to thrive, yet I am discouraged by a recent experience of feeling ignored, unwelcomed. Let’s hope this is an anomaly; a small blip on the trail of unrelenting focus on the customer for small business owners everyone.

Meanwhile, my yard sits; waiting for an eager and willing small business owner to transform into a garden paradise.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Coffee Bean: Customer Focused every day

I have high expectations for new businesses.

I have an expectation when entering a new store that I’ll be treated like royalty. I want that business to do everything they can to show me that I am a valued customer.

Frequently, this lofty ideal is crushed, leaving me departing the venue dejected, despondent; a new business’ worst nightmare.

I’ll tell my friends about my miserable experience, enlightening them about all that went wrong.

Coffee Bean's not just serving coffee, but memories.

Coffee Bean’s not just serving coffee, but memories.

On a sunny Monday morning in Austin, Texas, a shining, triumphant new business star was born. Nothing went wrong.

A new Coffee Bean Tea & Leaf store opened in our neighborhood, and my wife and I were eager to give the store a try.

Opening the door for my wife, we were serenaded with welcomes from the staff: “Hello, how are you today? Welcome, it is great to see you.”
We may have come in strangers, but we felt welcomed within an instant.

What store makes this a common practice? In most in-store experiences, it’s tough to get eye contact with an employee. This interaction, though, was authentic, engaging, breathtaking, refreshing.

After ordering our drinks, we relaxed in soft, cushiony chairs; the sunlight threw long shadows across the spotless floor.

Nearby, a young woman looked frustrated at her laptop. Within seconds, a Coffee Bean employee appeared: “Are you having trouble connecting to the WIFI? Let me help you.” The woman’s scowl disappeared; a fresh, surprised smile grew across her face.

Was this really happening? Employees that appeared happy to work there, and happy to please – there is hope for customers.

Our drinks arrived quickly. My wife couldn’t stop commenting on the flavor in her Latte. My coffee tasted fresh, not burnt. A few minutes passed, and a friendly employee asked: “Would you like a glass of ice water?”

If this is the new standard for service, I am a believer. Don’t just give me what I expect; blow me away with kindness; go out of the way to show you care.

Sadly, the day was too nice to stay at the Coffee Bean. The calendar said January, but the weather shouted April. As we left, the manager stopped by our chairs, thanked us for coming, picked up our glasses, and gave a hug to a young woman with her children.

“It’s great to see you again. Thanks for coming back,” he told the young woman.

“It’s great to be here. What a nice day it is today, “ the woman responded.

Another customer dazzled by attention, care, diligence, friendliness.

Give Coffee Bean a try. I hope your experience is a pleasant one. If it’s anything like our recent experience, you’ll come back for more.

Idea for Coffee Bean: Not sure of the return on investment for those loyalty clubs, but how about starting a Coffee Bean rewards club called the Beaners? Personally, I don’t need a program such as this to come back again, but it could help the skeptics.

Check Coffee Bean on Twitter: @TheCoffeeBean

Until next time,

Dan Naden