Tag Archives: Customer

American Airlines CEO Says Customer Service Isn't the Priority (Have a Guess What Is)
November 25, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Consistently, the airline has become a symbol of too many things that are wrong with air travel.

It’s managed to put itself in a We Don’t Really Care About Passengers corner. 

It seems to find it hard to emerge from that.

In a conversation with employees reported by View From The Wing’s Gary Leff, an American pilot told Parker that there seems to be a reluctance to offer customer service to passengers, even when the flight won’t be leaving on time.

He told the story of a connecting customer who said they’d left their phone and laptop on a flight and no American employee wanted to help. 

They’re all told, you see, that the priority is the so-called D0, the determination to push back on time to the detriment, some might say, of customer service.

You know, those little things like the pre-flight drinks the more exalted customers adore.

Parker offered these extremely honest and revealing words: 

The most important thing to customers is that we deliver on our commitment to leave on time and get them to the destination as they have scheduled.

But isn’t pushing back on time just one aspect of a greater good? That the customer should feel good on your airline and want to come back.

This, it strikes me, has been American’s singular difficulty of late.

I can’t remember whether the flight pushed back on time. I do remember, however, her strained and abject attempts to provide the minimum customer service she could.

The consequence, for me at least, has been to avoid American and choose other airlines. 

Am I alone in reacting this way?

I used to fly American a lot. I used to actively choose it because it flew bigger planes from San Francisco to New York and seemed a good enough airline.

Parker is right that customers want to get to their destination on time. But isn’t it a little like restaurant customers who say they want good food?

If they get cold, disinterested service, I suspect many will happily give up the food for a restaurant that makes them feel good.

A greater difficulty for Parker is that there are airlines that are admired for their customer service and their reliable approach to arriving on time.

Delta, for example, seems to manage this rather well. Despite flying some tatty old planes. 

Perhaps the real problem is that Parker transposes his own beliefs about what should be important into his customers.

He wants the focus to be on-time departure because he believes the airline will make more money that way.

If the planes are always on time, the system rolls along nicely and there are no unexpected costs.

Which reminds me of a T-shirt I used to wear, a long time ago. On it, a woman looks up at her lover and explains: “There’s more to life than snogging, Barry.”

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Messaging For Customer Service: Bozeman Startup Quiq Brings Its Tech To Office Depot, Overstock.com
July 14, 2018 6:49 am|Comments (0)

Things have been looking up for customers of Office Depot since last year, when the commercial-messaging startup, Quiq, came to their rescue. According to Mike Myer, Quiq’s founder and CEO, Office Depot customers no longer have to call or fill out an online inquiry form to find out, say, what a particular location has in stock or the status of an existing order. Today, that customer can send a text and have it answered by a helpful Office Depot employee almost immediately. (The first text reply generally gets to the customer within a minute, and the entire back-and-forth is usually completed in less than ten).

Office Depot (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Skiers in Jackson Hole are in luck as well, says Myer, who spoke to me from Quiq’s offices, located in the improbably booming tech hub of Bozeman, MT. Wondering about snow conditions or tram hours? All that’s needed is to text the resort for an immediate and up-to-the-minute response. For the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Company, whose entire customer base is a certifiably mobile-only whenever they’re on or headed toward the slopes, this makes a lot more sense, Myer tells me, than a desktop- and email-based support approach.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Gondola. (Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Overstock.com has also recently implemented Quiq’s solution and is now providing up-to-the minute order information via text. According to Overstock, the most quantifiable “aha” they’ve enjoyed from the new approach is the open rate: 98% for text messages as opposed to “in the single digits” for email.

Micah Solomon, Forbes.com: Tell me what Quiq is and what makes it special.

Mike Meyer, CEO and Founder, Quiq: Quiq is a company in Bozeman Montana that’s focused on making people’s lives easier. You, me and nearly all the consumers out there lead a digital-first lifestyle, where we are always connected. People love text messaging (SMS, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, Web chat, etc.) because it’s convenient and fits in with the crazy pace of our lives. By bringing text to business communication, Quiq makes it as easy to talk with companies as it is with friends.

No one likes to make phone calls (let alone to customer service!) and waiting for an email response is like waiting for paint to dry. Messaging is also more efficient for companies since one agent can serve multiple customers concurrently, unlike phone calls, and there’s no seemingly endless back and forth with to solve even a single issue, like there can be with email.

Who are some of Quiq’s marquee clients?

Pier 1, Brink’s Home Security, Tailored Brands (Men’s Wearhouse, Joseph A. Bank), Overstock, Office Depot, Tile, Insikt, and about 80 other great companies.

If my readers want to see your technology in action, where can they look?

Here’s an example they can see for themselves. Go to http://officedepot.com on your mobile phone, you’ll see a Text Us link right next to the phone number at the bottom of the page, which is powered by Quiq. If you were to have a question about a product or order with Office Depot, all you have to do is use that link to get assistance.

There’s a lot of excitement (and apprehension) about AI and chatbots. Your solution takes a different tack. Is this a philosophical choice on your part, a practical one, or both? Tell me your thoughts here. 

The hype curve for AI and chatbots is nearing the apex. But I wouldn’t say that these technologies are much help by themselves to true customer service at the moment. Most consumers (me included) can’t point to a satisfying interaction they’ve had with a chatbot that has solved a true, actual customer service issue. Getting the weather from Alexa is perfectly suited for a chatbot. Checking payment status or getting account info is harder, but within chatbot capabilities. Getting an actual customer service issue that requires troubleshooting resolved is orders of magnitude harder.

Quiq is in a great place at a great time because our success isn’t dependent upon how fast AI research is able to solve the chatbot problem. There is a ton of ROI and customer satisfaction to be gained from just adding messaging into existing contact centers with human agents serving customers via text messaging.

This doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to AI and chatbots, when properly deployed  I think where they excite me most is in the realm of “bot fusion”: the fusion of chatbots and human agents. A lot of people think about chatbots as first handling the conversation and then passing it to a human if the bot can’t handle it. But we think that agents and bots can work together. There may be a specific dialog that a bot can handle during a conversation between the agent and customer. For instance, identity verification or return address confirmation. If the bot gets confused in its task, it can tap the agent for help. The fusion is the seamless transition of the conversation back and forth between the human agent and their bot assistant without the customer’s awareness.

What role will telephone and email support have in the contact center of the future?

In the future, I believe the majority of interactions in the contact center will be messaging, rather than phone or email. Frankly, I don’t see a need for email to continue to be offered for much longer as a channel in the contact center, since it is so prone to laggy, circular conversations. The phone will still have a place but only in a minority of interactions, and even these will likely start with messaging. Why will the phone still have value? Because there are, and will continue to be, situations in which the consumer wants to be solely focused on troubleshooting a problem. In these cases, speaking is likely to continue to be more efficient than typing. But, the voice conversation will be multimedia, meaning that the agent and customer will be able to text back and forth and view images and video at the same time that they’re on the phone call.

Any advice  you can share for other entrepreneurs?   

The biggest challenge for entrepreneurs is finding and hiring the right people who can stand side-by-side to build a business from the ground up. It isn’t easy work. My advice for entrepreneurs is 1) find a great market opportunity, 2) hire amazing people, and 3) set the direction. Then, get out of the way and let the magic happen!

What about working with investors and partners?

When working with investors and partners, you need to make sure you keep your focus. While investors and partners are important, they’re not building your product and they are not the ones buying it, so be sure to allocate focus to them in the appropriate proportion.

What is the competitive landscape for Quiq?

We think about our competitive landscape in three broad buckets: 1) legacy chat vendors, 2) CRM vendors with a messaging option, and 3) social vendors adding messaging. Quiq is the first messaging platform built from scratch for asynchronous messaging, as opposed to adding messaging onto their synchronous systems.

[Author’s Note: LivePerson’s messaging solution, LiveEngage, was also built from the ground up for asynchronous communications, to the best of my knowledge. Read about LiveEngage in my previous article.]

Our goal isn’t to displace existing CRM or customer support systems.  Quiq integrates seamlessly with Salesforce, Zendesk, Oracle and internal systems.  So, we’re only competing against other messaging solutions, not the incumbent systems.

Live Content: Keynote Speaker Micah Solomon on Customer Service, Customer Experience, Company CultureMicah Solomon

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UberEATS Driver Fatally Shoots Customer in Atlanta, Police Say
February 19, 2018 6:18 pm|Comments (0)

Atlanta police say a driver for UberEATS, the ride-hailing company’s food delivery service, shot and killed a customer in the city’s posh Buckhead neighborhood late Saturday night.

The victim was identified by a local NBC affiliate as 30-year-old Ryan Thornton, a recent Morehouse College graduate. According to NBC’s report, Thornton and the UberEATS driver exchanged words after the delivery was made. The driver then allegedly shot Thornton several times and fled in a white Volkswagen vehicle.

Thornton was taken to a local hospital, where he later died from his wounds. The alleged shooter was still on the run from police early this morning.

An Uber spokesperson said the company was “shocked and saddened” by the event, and are cooperating with Atlanta police in the investigation.

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One Buckhead resident told the television station that he would be more cautious about using Uber services after the shooting. Uber drivers have been implicated in violence in the past, and the company’s approach to screening its drivers has been criticized for some of its legal and public relations problems.

The most damaging case was likely that of an Indian passenger who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014. In court documents, the passenger alleged that Uber executives wrongfully obtained her medical records with apparent plans to discredit her. The driver was sentenced to life in prison, and Uber settled the civil suit brought by the victim late last year.

Last November, two women filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in the U.S., alleging that its failure to screen drivers has led to thousands of incidents of sexual harassment and even rape of female passengers. In one example, an Uber driver was arrested for the rape of a passenger last December, also in Atlanta. Just days later, an Uber driver in Lebanon confessed to murdering a British Embassy staffer there.

Under former CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber fought hard against certain driver-screening rules. In one case, Uber shut down its operations in Austin, Texas in 2016 after spending millions of dollars to defeat a background-check rule there, and failing. It returned to the city after state legislators overturned the local ordinance. Safety concerns were also among the reasons London has barred Uber from operating there.

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Malaysia's CIMB says backup tapes containing banking customer data lost
November 13, 2017 12:01 pm|Comments (0)

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings Bhd on Monday said some magnetic tapes containing backup customer data were lost during routine operations, adding that there has been no evidence so far that any data has been compromised.

The tapes do not contain any authentication data such as pin numbers, passwords or credit card security numbers, the country’s second biggest lender said in a statement.

“Several magnetic tapes containing back-up data were physically lost in transit during routine operations. Some of these tapes contain customer information of CIMB Bank and its subsidiaries,” it said.

“Following a thorough and ongoing assessment, there is currently no evidence that any of this information has been compromised.”

The bank said it was working with relevant authorities and taking steps to protect customers. It did not say when the tapes were lost.

CIMB said it has heightened security measures following the loss of the tapes, including temporarily suspending some services via its call center.

In a separate statement, Malaysia’s central bank said it has been assured by CIMB that “necessary precautionary measures and mitigation actions have been taken to manage any possible negative impact arising from the loss of the tapes.”

Earlier this month, Malaysia said it was investigating an alleged attempt to sell data of more than 46 million mobile phone subscribers online, in what appeared to be one of the largest leaks of customer data in Asia.

Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi, editing by David Evans

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Every Fast-Growing Company Knows This…. The Customer Must Come First
September 30, 2017 10:35 pm|Comments (0)

How many times have you walked into a restaurant with plenty of free tables, only to have wait while a waiter busily cleared the dishes left behind by departed diners from another table? How many times have you gone up to a check-out counter ready to make a purchase and stood unhelped by a salesperson who was engrossed in reshelving inventory that others had not chosen to take home? How many times have you watched someone field a personal phone call instead of reaching out to a customer in her midst? Undoubtedly, the answer is countless. Why? Because many business owners have either never understood or somehow forgotten, the importance of putting the customer first. I have found that keeping this one idea–that of framing everything my company does in terms of the customer’s needs–at the heart of my business strategy has netted growth at every stage of my business. Here are some simple ways I do so.

Ask employees to handle customers before inventory. Regardless of how messy your shelves may look, how many tables are left uncleared, or how many items need to be restocked, all of those issues will be there long after your customer is gone. Help your customer first, and put every other task behind him in line. You don’t want to let your customer walk out the door empty-handed because you’re engaged in something other than seeing to his needs. You have his attention for as long as he is willing to give it to you, and that depends entirely on how important, valuable, and significant you make him feel.

Instruct staff that, when on the clock, their personal lives take a backseat to the customer’s experience. People seem to blur the lines of personal and professional more and more every day, and when they get caught up in their own interests, they forget everything else around them. Ask employees to put away their phones, table intra-staff conflicts, and silence any unnecessary chatter when customers are within eyesight and earshot. A customer should never be made to feel like a burden, an interruption, or downright uncomfortable when he is visiting your company and considering buying something.

Prioritize a customer who is ready to purchase over everything else. Deciding to purchase is a very emotional experience. It’s when a customer feels most vulnerable because he is about to hand over his money and he wants to know he is giving it to a company that deserves it. Take him in hand quickly, so he feels reassured that he is making the right decision. Whether this means accompanying him to the point of purchase, showing you are ready to take his order immediately, or just asking if he needs help, the important thing is to be alert, attentive, and accommodating.

Customers are precious. They walk through our doors fleetingly, unless we are prepared for their arrival, forthcoming with our help, and devoted to their needs. It is only by peaking their interest, earning their support, and winning their business that we can grow.

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How Digital Disrupts Operations And Business Processes, As Well As Customer Experience
March 29, 2017 9:34 am|Comments (0)

This piece explores the manner in which digitalization–the use of analytics, big data, the Internet of Things, cloud, and mobile–gives enterprises new opportunities to propel their business. At the same time, “digital” transforms operations processes, business processes, and customer experience.


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Salesforce Helps Customer Communities Flex Their Muscles
June 23, 2016 9:25 pm|Comments (0)

Salesforce Helps Customer Communities Flex Their Muscles

Salesforce claims customer experience trumps product and price when buyers make decisions.

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