Roy's Blog: July 2018

July 30, 2018

6 common customer service mistakes that will make you sick

Most organizations are trying to use service as a key component of their competitive strategy yet my observation is that few actually deliver what I would call out-of-the-ordinary (mediocre) service.

Quite frankly, service generally is abysmal despite the rhetoric provided by leadership — it’s a dream with no practical way to make it come true.

These mistakes are at the root of the problem that, for most, the words and the music don’t match.

Putting cost before care

The only purpose of ‘customer service’… is to change feelings. – Seth Godin

After the aspiration — “our goal is to deliver service beyond expectations” — fades, reality sets in and the monthly income statement dictated the agenda.
What does the business case look like to deliver service goals? What will it cost to delight our customers, and how do we translate this into additional revenue?
At the end of the day, a proposal to outsource the service call center to a remote location with lower wages (and questionable English language skills) gets approved — the care factor is ignored.

Don’t talk about service excellence when you’re not prepared to invest to deliver it. You can’t creature memorable moments when costs are the primary concern.

Bottom dwellers

Treating the frontline as bottom dwellers

Who in the organization delivers the service brand? It sure the hell isn’t the CEO or the Executive Leadership Team.
The irony is that the people who own the brand are relegated to the bottom of the chart. These are people who are “only” receptionists, service reps, credit reps and sales assistants. People who perform “junior” roles but who breathe life — or not — into the aspirational goal of superlative customer service.
It’s about time organizations honour the people who wear the badge of service every moment of every day.

Focusing on the abuser

Policies and procedures are typically used as mechanisms of control. They control the customer engagement process. They control the criteria for treating customers who have been wronged by the organization.
They are constructed to deal with the person who wants to ”abuse” standard protocol.

The customer who is assumed to be dishonest — “Before I serve you a drink I need your credit card (because others who came before you took off without paying and I assume you will do the same).
Here’s a novel idea: why not create rules and policies to make it easy for people to do business with you rather than punish them for what a minority number of people in the crowd has been known to do in the past?

Not saying “I’m sorry”

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates

Mistakes happen because organizations have two resources that go wrong from time to time — people and technology. As it turns out, however, mistakes that are handled the right way actually build stronger customer loyalty than if the OOPS! never happened at all.
A successful service recovery = fix it fast + do the unexpected. To have an amazing service outcome, the mistake must be quickly remedied — after 24 hours you have lost any possibility of building loyalty — AND a surprise element must be added — something the customer doesn’t expect.

And it begins with the apology. “I’m sorry” opens the gates for a delightful service finale when things get screwed up regardless of whose fault you think it is. Quote company policy at your peril, because people don’t give a damn about your rules and policies.

First time

Getting it right the first time

The essence of service quality teaching is to conform to customer requirements the first time. To avoid mistakes that will require you to redo your work to get it right, thus increasing the costs of supply. Repeat work = higher costs.
So the majority of attention and investment goes into this purpose with little acknowledgement that it MIGHT not get done right the first time. That mistakes might rear their ugly head and present an opportunity to actually come out of it all in a stronger position — read last point again.

Successful organizations plan for screw ups — how do we intend to deal with situations where we DON’T get it right the first time? Don’t fall into the trap of relying on achieving perfection with every customer engagement. Big mistake; it won’t happen.

Meeting expectations

The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways. – Richard Branson

Doing what the customer expects is merely part of the answer to delivering brilliant service. It’s the basic action that must be taken in order to “play the service game” — you’re in the game if you do it but you don’t excel at it if that’s all you do.
Standout organizations try to anticipate what could be provided beyond what is expected; they set their sights at delivering more. They look for opportunities to add something extra to the customer engagement process — a bit of fun, some unique advice, a number to call for help if needed — small things that leave a memorable impression.

Stopping at what people expect defines you as a member of the service herd, indistinguishable from everyone else. Big mistake; limiting move.

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000. –  Jeff Bezos

The cost of a service mistake is HUGE yet the rhetoric in many organizations continues with insufficient action to make any significant difference.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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12 simple reasons to kill the old sales model
What is the one thing customers should never hear?
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  • Posted 7.30.18 at 04:13 am by Roy Osing
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July 26, 2018

This is what the future of eCommerce holds — guest post

It’s amazing to think that Amazon is almost a quarter of a century old. But what’s even more amazing is that there are now around 2 to 3 million eCommerce stores open for business. And this isn’t even counting China. That’s a lot, but the good news is that if you can stay ahead of the curve, you can thrive.

The fact is that customers worldwide have gone gaga for online shopping. At the same time, technology has changed enormously over the past few years. Together, customers and technology are driving eCommerce in a new direction. This is great in one sense - but only if you follow this new direction.

New direction

What does this direction look like and how can you keep up? Let’s take a look at the future of eCommerce simplified.

Omni-channel shopping will dominate

More and more of us are shopping online than ever before, but the truth of the matter is that brick and mortar retail isn’t dying out. eCommerce is growing, but as Forbes points out, it still makes up just 10% of retail.

The retail climate has changed, but what we’re seeing are customers who want the best of both worlds. They want to browse online and even buy online; but they also want to order online and pick up in store.

They also want to be able to walk into physical stores and jump on their mobile devices to compare prices with other stores there and then.

In other words, they want an omni-channel shopping experience. Customers now have no problem with using numerous devices to achieve an end goal.
When their favorite brands are able to provide a seamless omnichannel experience, their loyalty towards that brand grows. As Steven P Dennis expertly writes, “the more customers become omnichannel in their behavior, the better a brand’s economics become.”

Voice search will become popular

Voice search is growing in popularity and eCommerce store owners will need to adapt. Most people across most age demographics haven’t tried voice search yet - but are interested. Moreover, 40% of millennials have started using voice search.

For eCommerce store owners, this means a rethinking of their content marketing strategy so that they remain visible on Google. Most voice searches are questions. For example, instead of querying “black leather jacket for a man”, a user might ask “where can I find a cheap leather jacket for a guy near me?”

According to SEOClarity, eCommerce store owners will need to start thinking about how best to incorporate trigger words into their content, such as “best”, “what” and “how”.

eCommerce store owners will also need to add more natural language to their content, and they’ll need to answer more questions related to particular topics with in-depth answers, so that Google might rank them on position zero.

Voice search

Branding — such as logos — will become more prominent

There are around 3 million eCommerce stores in existence, but 8 out of 10 of them will fail. One of the reasons for this is the dominance of Amazon.

Another key reason is that a lot of eCommerce companies don’t have a recognizable brand. Lots of them sell on Amazon but nowhere else, and this prevents them from building a relationship with their customers.
In 2018, millennials are dominating the economy and they want to be immersed in a proper marketing campaign. The best way eCommerce stores can do this is by building brands that customers recognize, and which they see their own values recognized in.

There are many aspects to building a brand, from colors to fonts to web design to tone of voice to logos. None of it has to cost a company much money. For example, Shopify have a logo maker that allows even novice designers to create awesome logos in a matter of minutes.

New markets will open

When we think of eCommerce, it’s easy to focus on the big hitters, like America and China. But as Business Insider points out, the likes of Latin America, Southeast Asia and India are emerging eCommerce markets that retailers have already started targeting.

Meanwhile, LatAm has written a whole piece about the “red hot potential” of Chile as an eCommerce market, while countries like Indonesia are showing huge potential. The Indonesian government is more open to foreign investment than ever, and its number of internet users is rocketing. Brazil is another market to watch in the years to come.

eCommerce stores will have to be different

With so many stores offering the exact same product to the consumer, there will soon come a time when the winners will break away from the pack … while the losers will be left counting their losses and closing their doors because they weren’t creative or smart enough to be different.

If you sell the exact same product as a competitor, what’s going to set you apart? Why would customers come to you and stay loyal? Here are some ideas:

1) Define your unique selling propositionwhat makes your product or business unique? What approach or angle do you have that no one else has?
Maybe you sell chocolate bars that are entirely produced in-house, for example, or maybe your company is super green-focused.

Be different

2) Leverage product quality —make your the product the very best of this type and then leverage it. For example, make sure the quality of your product is the first thing customers are aware of when they visit your website.
Shout it from the rooftops that your products are guaranteed to last longer than your rivals.
The Casper Mattress is a great example of this. Here’s their tagline: “Why lie awake on a mattress for 10 minutes when you can try one for 100 days?”

3) Nail your branding — the harder you work on your branding to express your value proposition, the more it will resonate with the right people and the more you will stand out in a competitive marketplace.

4) Implement a loyalty program — as customers become ever more selective about who they shop with, you need to start thinking about how you can give something back.
Loyalty programs that are different than others work because they reward customers for shopping with you and generate positive feelings for your store and brand.


The future of eCommerce is bright but it is changing. This means that store owners need to stay abreast of the latest trends so that they don’t get left behind.

Follow the customer, be different, work on your brand, implement voice search and keep an eye on emerging markets.

Michelle Deery creates copy and content at Heroic Search in Tulsa. She specializes in writing about eCommerce and content marketing. Her advice has been featured by Crazy Egg and Entrepreneur. See what she is up to on Twitter @MichWriting

  • Posted 7.26.18 at 04:51 am by Roy Osing
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July 23, 2018

12 simple reasons to kill the old sales model

Adapt or die —we have seen this consequence play out for centuries.

Now it’s time for sales to pay attention.

Old school traditional sales has outlived its usefulness.

It no longer works.

If sales is to maintain relevance in today’s world, a transformation of the way it is practiced is required.

Not just incremental change, but a complete approach.

Blowing up the old model; building a new discipline.

Blow up

This is why it’s such a big deal:

1. The drivers of customer demand have changed. What motivates a person to buy today has changed dramatically. New buying behaviour requires different sales methods.

People have unlimited choice

2. People have almost unlimited choice today from a variety of suppliers that grows daily. Fierce competition steps up the challenge to attract and keep customers.

Selling the sales relationship is the new mantra.

3. “Me” personal markets are replacing “many” mass markets. People want their personal desires taken care of; they are turned off by the assumption that they are like the crowd in any way.

Crowd-based messaging is returning less as a communications investment.

4. Customers wield the power now; organizations no longer can dictate to the market what they get.

Customers are fickle

5. Customers are able to switch suppliers with ease. Barriers that once existed are disappearing as switching costs approach zero. Fickle customers use this opportunity to hop from one organization to another much more frequently than in the past.

The sales focus should be on creating barriers to customer exit.

Barrier to exit

6. Sales is less of an island in the organization. It is only one element an organization has to deliver as part of its value proposition. The sales identity is rapidly blending with marketing and customer service to respond to the holistic needs of a customer.

Sales itself is morphing to the service arena.

Organizational ideals matter

7. The nature of customer engagement has morphed from transactions-based to more of an idealistic alignment.

People are more and more doing business with organizations that demonstrate the same values (social responsibilities, environmental-friendliness, philanthropic intent and so on) that they believe in.

8. Experiences are trumping products and services. Material goods don’t create long-term happiness; experiences do.

Flogging products is moving to the back seat behind creating memories.

9. Customer loyalty has to be earned at every touch point be it personal contact, an organization’s web site, communications media and social media.

All customer interfaces must work together seamlessly and synergistically and must carry the same message and engage the customer in the same way.

Why should I buy from you is unclear

10. Communications clutter is making it very difficult for customers to decide whom to do business with. Every supplier looks the same and gives no compelling reason why they should be selected over their competition.

Most messages talk about price; any value reference is aspirational and vague. The need for sales to practice their art like no one else is critical.

11. Pushing general advertising messages to the masses is no longer an effective investment.

Targeted personalized sales communication to individuals is required to ensure customers get the precise value they want.

12. Acquiring new high value customers is now a function of fans talking an organization up to their friends and associates.

The sales referral is now a critical success factor.

New sales muscle is required to address these new realities.

Are you re-inventing your sales machine?


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
What is the one thing customers should never hear?
Marketers: why bundling sucks like a dry martini
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  • Posted 7.23.18 at 04:33 am by Roy Osing
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July 16, 2018

What is the one thing that customers should never hear?

What’s the secret to a brilliant customer service strategy?


It’s not just about what you aspire to be.
Yes it’s critical that you have a service strategy that clearly differentiates your organization from others. It must address not only the element of service that your customers treat as their top priority, but also the one that your organization uniquely provides. If what you do in a service sense mirrors what your closest competitor does, you really don’t provide a compelling incentive for people to choose you over others.


It’s not just about cool technology employed to facilitate customer transactions. Employing the latest technology to maximize the efficiency of your service operations is essential — as long as it doesn’t detract from the experience your customers have when they do business with you.
And as long as its sole reason for implementing the technology is NOT to drive service costs down, as this end game will surely negatively impact service quality. Technology applied to enhance the customer experience AND improve the use of internal resources must be the desired outcome.

Awards and Recognition

It’s not just about the awards you win for “providing the best customer service”. This recognition is often provided by so-called experts in the customer service business who claim to have their fingers on the pulse of customers and who conduct surveys to determine the leaders in the service area.
Because they apply their own criteria on what superlative customer satisfaction looks like, your organization could be praised for achieving high marks in an element of service your specific customers don’t value as their highest priority — your award is therefore meaningless to your business.


Serving Leadership

It’s not just about serving leadership that places the emphasis on helping service employees do their job. Serving leaders are critical to developing a successful culture based on delivering mind blowing customer experiences.
A critical component of this culture is a leadership philosophy based on helping and enabling people do their jobs — removing the roadblocks and “grunge” that get in their way.
Serving leaders are a critical ingredient to service culture, but more is required to sustain it in a highly changing and competitive world.


A brilliant customer service strategy IS about what is said and not said during the customer engagement process; the Moment of truth when the customer and company are connected for the purpose of satisfying what the customer wants and desires.
The organization’s service strategy comes alive in that Moment, whether it’s a real time conversation with an employee, a web page view, an advertising message or an audio response from your call answer device.

In that Moment, your service strategy is no longer a strategic intent; no longer a piece of paper with words expressed on it. It’s an experience that either renders your intent alive or dead; the truth or a lie — your strategy in that moment degenerates into reality.


Words can hurt, anger and amaze

Many words characterize the Moment; words that either leave the customer feeling heard, honoured and cared for or feeing berated, belittled and angry.

This is where most organizations fail. They don’t treat words used in the Moment as a critical element of their strategy that needs as much or even more attention than the service end game intent.
It’s one thing to say “When a mistake is made, recovery will be our #1 priority” and quite another to have service personnel equipped with the right words to manage the recovery Moment when the customer has been screwed over by their organization.

If the wrong words are chosen, the recovery element of your service strategy dies — and your customer trots off to one of your competitors. If the right words are chosen (with the promised action of course) the customer is surprised, delighted and more loyal than if the OOPS! never occurred in the first place.

Service training must include what to say and what not to say, starting with the latter because the trash words must be expunged and replaced with the words that will support and enable your service end game.

”You should”

Start with “You should”; the one single phrase with so much implied meaning that it can singlehandedly scupper a Moment.
“You should”:
— follow the instructions (you dummy)
— upgrade your software (can’t you read?)
— call the billing department (and don’t bother me)
— have reported the problem when you were covered by your warranty (don’t expect any help now)
— be more understanding (leave me alone!)
— have known our policy (WE control YOU remember?)
— make your choice (can’t you make up your mind?)

You should

“You should” explicitly says that your behaviour should be governed by my expectations of you, NOT by your reality.

How can that ever lead to amazing customer service and Moments that leave the customer breathless?

It can’t.

Mind your words.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
Marketers: why bundling sucks like a dry martini
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  • Posted 7.16.18 at 04:39 am by Roy Osing
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