Word Of the Week #51: Service

April 22, 2009 by · Comments Off on Word Of the Week #51: Service 

Service: an act done for the benefit of another.

Are you in the service business? I say yes. We all serve someone. Whether it is our customers, guests, members, family or friends. We do things for the benefit of others.

I often ask my audiences, “What does great service look like, sound like, and feel like to you?” The reason I ask that question, is because we all receive information visually, auditorially and kinesthetically. That is, through seeing, hearing and touching, and one is always more predominant than the other two.

Great service means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. How would you describe it? How do you know when you have great service?

Well, I was so surprised when the response from one of my audience members was, “Great service looks like a smile, sounds like a giggle, and feels like home.”

Well, I couldn’t have said it better! And I love serving people! I do it because I enjoy it, not because I have to. That is the same philosophy I had when I was waiting tables, tending bar, hostessing, bussing, cooking or doing dishes. I was there to make everyone feel good about spending their money!

Do you receive enjoyment when you do things for the benefit of others? Do people appreciate it when you think of them and do kind things for them? How does it make you feel when people do things that are of benefit to you?

Reader Responses

“Wow – This is a great one…. I always say I have received excellent service when they make me feel like I am their only Customer and there are no other distractions….” — Lee Sowers

“As always, your WOW makes my day! Thanks Susan!!” –Donna Kendrena

Taking Ownership: Paul, the Cable Guy

April 15, 2009 by · Comments Off on Taking Ownership: Paul, the Cable Guy 

This is a copy of the letter I sent to Bill Geppert, CEO, Cox Communications on April 15, 2009.

I’ve been a Cox customer for the past 20 years because that is the only option I had for high-speed internet and cable TV. Since 2006, every DVR we had has never recorded an entire season without breaking and needing to be replaced. This means that all recordings are gone and unable to be viewed, which pretty much makes it a waste of money if we can’t watch the programs when we want to.

When it happened again in November 2008, I was told by Cox that if I was recording in HD it took up a huge amount of my hard drive. I assumed that was the problem. Wrong! In February, 2009, making sure we were not recording in HD, we returned from a three week vacation and once again found that the DVR was not recording correctly. The timer showed only partial recordings. I was livid!

And what makes it worse is that my husband had purchased a TIVO in December. When I called COX they explained that if I unbundled my package it would cost more money. Then I discovered on top of buying the TIVO box, we had to pay for getting their service. (A $700.00 investment.) We sent the TIVO back.

I have spent more frustrating time with Cox on the phone and on hold than anyone would believe. I did everything I could to stop using Cox. I tried to get an AT&T bundled package but it is not available in my area. I called Dish Network. If I could have switched to anybody, I would have in a heartbeat!

Cox scheduled a technician to replace our DVR. When I opened the door the first words out of my mouth were, “My husband said he pitied the poor person who was going to have to deal with me today.” To which the technician replied, “I am Paul and my job is to fix the problem and make you happy.” Yeah, right! Well he was so intent to show me that he really meant it, after he installed another new DVR he gave me his cell phone number and said, “If you have a problem, you call me directly, ANYTIME.”

Then the following week my HD froze and it couldn’t be rebooted by the office. (The week before it could be.) I called Paul. He came within two hours and told me, “These DVR’s are computers and they need to be rebooted just like your computer in your office. You have to unplug them every so often.” Now how come customer service didn’t tell me that over the phone?

Then the next week I received a coupon from Cox for a free Pay-Per-View movie for being such a good customer. Oh sure enough we couldn’t access the service. (More time spent on the phone trying to make it work.) So the next morning, I called Paul and he was over within the hour. That’s when he started the “diagnostics” to find out what the problem was. He said, “There is something going on here and I am determined to find out what it is and fix it and make you happy.” To which I replied, “I am so sorry I sent the TIVO back. At this point I don’t care how much it costs. I just want a reliable product.” He said, “No you don’t want TIVO, you just want what you have to work. My job is to make that happen.”

He ran a cable directly from the Cox box to the TV across the living floor and it worked. So it was the wiring not the DVR box. First mystery solved! So we called the company that installed all the wiring and cable and set up a time for them to come. Paul said, “I know what to tell them to do, I just can’t do it.”

And today Paul showed up with his supervisor on his lunch hour and worked with the wiring guys to figure out how to fix the problem. They spent two hours going over all the connections and discovered the problem and fixed it.

An hour later I received a call from Paul asking, “Is everything OK? Is everything working?” To which I replied, “So far, so good.”

I have to tell you, I never had a cable guy, let alone anyone else, care so much about making me happy. You would think his name was Paul Cox, not Paul Villarreal, and it was his company. Now if that is not a perfect example of an employee taking ownership, I don’t what is.

Are You Properly Loving And Kissing Your Customers?

March 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on Are You Properly Loving And Kissing Your Customers? 

When was the last time something stopped you in your tracks? The cover of Fast Company magazine stopped me. The graphics looked like those on a box of Tide detergent, with the red and yellow circles. The cover text read, “YOU, The Brand Called You. You Can’t Move Up If You Don’t Stand Out.” I thought, “This is so true”.

I’ve read that the average person is bombarded with 3,000 advertising impressions a day. Whatever the number, in order for you to move up, you have to stand out from those 2,999 other impressions. You, and most importantly everyone that works for you, need to stand out, so that you are the one impression your customer remembers. You become “top of mind.” I believe that for your business to stand out, and move up, your focus has to be SERVICE. When I speak on “4 Walls Marketing,” I don’t talk about how to get people to your business. I address everything that happens once you get customers within your “4 walls”, and that’s all related to service.

Before we talk about service, are you covering the two basics? (1) A quality product (2) at a fair price. (If you’re competing on price alone, you can stop reading now). If you have the basics, great! But, so does your competition. That just keeps you in the pack. You’ve got to do more to be in the lead. Service is truly the competitive edge today. I recently read an article that said one shouldn’t exceed customer expectations, one should just give satisfactory service. I say, “baloney!’ When you are a customer, do you want satisfactory service. I don’t remember satisfactory service, do you? I remember great service.

Great service is when I feel the love and kisses. (You can’t be kissing your customers, literally, unless of course, you know them really well). But the customer needs to feel the kisses, feel the love. They know you care, really care and really value them. It’s that kind of service that will make you stand out and become “top of mind.” Do your customers feel your love? When’s the last time your service stopped your customers in their tracks? The key to standing out is making sure that everyone that works for you knows the importance of “loving and kissing” the customers.

How To Love and Kiss Your Customers

March 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on How To Love and Kiss Your Customers 

What is really good service? Ask five different people and you’ll get five different answers. Attentiveness? YES! The ability to give your full and undivided attention to each and every one of your customers. Anticipation? Yes! The ability to anticipate what the customer wants before they ask for it. Making you feel important, special, welcome and “at home?” YES!!

What is really great service? It’s whatever makes the customer feel really good!

Because great service means so many different things to so many different people, I felt the need to express it simply. I call it my “M versus E theory” — Motion versus Emotion. Most people are “just going through the motions” everyday…..”Can I help you?” “Thank you for coming.” “Have a nice day.” “Cash or charge?” They’re not rude, they’re not completely indifferent (well, some of them are). They’re like little robots.

But every now and then you feel an emotional connection. And I truly believe that is what great service is all about. When I talk about outsmarting, outselling and outservicing the competition, the biggest key is connecting with your customers. When you give them love and kisses, they know you really care about them, and really value them. When this happens, your customers will feel good about spending their money, and will continue to come back and spend more money, as well as telling everyone else about you!

When was the last time you felt really valued and cared for as a customer? I asked that question at a recent presentation I gave, and the participant said that she spent twice as much money as she had planned, because she had an emotional connection with the salesperson. Loving and kissing your customers is about just being “totally present.” You cannot afford to “just go through the motions,” you need to create emotional connections with all your customers!

Testimonials: Food Service

March 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on Testimonials: Food Service 

“I attended your seminars at the Florida Restaurant Show, in fact, your seminars were the reason I attended the show. I’m an old guy that thinks my employees need to change to be like me, but know they will not. I really enjoyed your presentations. It was worth the trip.”
—J. Don Allen

“My employees heard and were positively impacted by your presentations at the Pizza Expo.”
—Fred Schafer

“I walked into your presentation at the CRA Show on Saturday (very) late. I wish I had been able to be there earlier… What I heard was of high value and very well presented.”
—Ken Whiting
Whiting’s Foods, Inc.

“Your unique presentation style and expertise offered invaluable insight that captured the audience’s attention.”
—Jaimie M. Ponzillo, Membership Services
New York State Food Merchants Association, Inc.

“Her ideas and enthusiasm created a level of participation that went way beyond my expectations.”
—Jim McClaskey, President
Hughes Markets

“Your presentation at the Deli Council was extremely motivating and we know the information we absorbed will help our sales in the future!”
—Dave Young
Wedemeyer Bakery

“Your participation was instrumental in making this our most successful conference!”
—Feltenstein, President
The Neighborhood Marketing Institute

“Your contributions made a significant impact on the overall success of our conference.”
—Sheila Crowley, Director, Member Services
Healthcare Food Service Management (HFM)

“The success of your presentations was obvious by the many positive comments received and the resounding responses we heard through the walls, in the hall, in person and on paper.”
—Carolyn Shouse Mills, Meeting Planner
Pizza Expo, Las Vegas

“Your insights provided us with many ‘tools’ and ideas we can use to exceed our customers’ expectations. Again, thank you for your time and making this learning experience fun, fun, fun.”
—Nancy Levendowski, Director, Foundation Dining Services
Cal Poly Pomona

“The message of providing good service, setting it as our highest priority and passing it along to each person in our organization who greets the public is one we may never lose sight of – and you reminded us with style, enthusiasm and FUN! As people said goodbye at the end of the conference, they all thanked me for finding you – you’ve made me a hero. ”
—Peggy L. Hobin, Manager of Training and Development
Lawry’s Restaurants, INC.

“Susan Clarke’s uplifting presentation was dynamic. As a planner, it’s very satisfying to know when a speaker says they will personalize the presentation that the homework is done thoroughly. Susan went above and beyond!”
—Michelle Conley, Meeting and Convention Director
Subway, Franchise World Headquarters, Inc.

“Your personal presence and presentation itself created an enthusiasm that was contagious and long-lasting among the franchisees, you clearly delivered the message in an exemplary and entertaining way.”
—Lance B. Benton, President
Buck’s Pizza

“I must say that my company staff members in attendance came away from your program with a new spirit of enthusiasm. You show a passion for the subject that is contagious!”
—Michael Rhodes, Orange County Chapter President
California Restaurant Association

“You gave the group practical information, presented in a fun and dynamic way…every one enjoyed your light hearted approach and all the good bubbles.”
—Sue Boehler, Franchise Field Consultant
Cousins Subs

“Your contributions made a significant impact on the overall success of our conference.”
—Sheila Crowley, Director, Member Services
Healthcare Food Service Management (HFM)

“Your presentations were all I hoped they would be: fast paced, encouraging, informative, and fun! Since your seminar, many of our key people have adopted a new refreshing approach to their jobs.”
—Martin McGuire
McGuire Management Group

“Everyone who attended has taken your words to heart and they are working to put them into practice and keep their PMA bags filled!”
—Rudy Spano, Dining Services Director
University of San Diego

“It is truly an honor working with such a professional and an expert in the field. Your seminar on service excellence was very well received. Thanks for making the trade show such a great success.”
—Carol Salomon Lo Verso, Director of Education
California Restaurant Association

“Your wonderful book is exactly like your informative and motivational seminar at the Western Restaurant Association Show. It is becoming a great tool in our business.”
—Kay Cannon, Marketing
TABLE CHECK, Seating Management System

“We have been using your training videos for the past year or so and I feel that this is an important tool for all of our employees, old and new to witness. This video is both fun and educational and gives us the opportunity to sit down and discuss our restaurant and our industry openly with our staff.”
—Todd R. Buchanan, Proprietor
Turners Mill Inn

“The Leadership Challenge was a huge motivator for our management team. The most common thing I heard was…’Why did it take me _ years to listen to what others were saying!!!’ I believe as a result of the ideas you shared we are less defensive and certainly more tolerant of others communication styles.”
—Candy Martinez, Cash Operations Manager, Dining Services
Cal Poly Pomona Foundation

“Susan was great. I would bring my entire staff to a Regional Scoopers Seminar run by Susan. She told the truth and was practical.”
—Sandy Hormel
Ben and Jerry’s

“Your presentations are consistently rated as one of the highlights of the entire meeting.”
—Susan Elliot, Retail Operations, Meeting and Special Event Coordinator
Ben and Jerry’s

“Debbie Fields is a tough act to follow! The bottom line is that Susan knocked all our socks off! She was the perfect complement of energy, motivation and insight.”
—Keith M. Gerson, Senior Vice President, Franchising & Licensing
Mrs. Fields Cookies

“Your enthusiasm and personal motivation was an inspiration for all who attended your sessions. We billed you as Dynamic and you certainly came through.”
—Dave Mckay, Director of Dining Services, Eastern Washington University
The National Association of College & University Food Services

“Thank you so much for conducting your ‘Four Walls Marketing’ Seminar at FRA’s International Foodservice Expo in Orlando. The comments from the participants were outstanding”
—Dan Murphy, Director of Membership and Education
Florida Restaurant Association

“Thank you so much for the incredibly inspirational words you delivered at our Unit Marketing Director’s Conference. The time you spent in preparation for the conference was apparent to all, as you connected so well with each of the participants on a personal level.”
—Sandy Whittle, Marketing Education Facilitator
Chick-fil-A Inc.”

Your presentation was informative and interesting and an important part of our educational programming.”
—Doni J. DeNucci, Executive Director
Iowa Hospitality Association

“Your marketing expertise was a key factor in the overall success of the program”
—Tom Feltenstein, Chairman
Neighborhood Marketing Institute

“The responses to the show overall and to the education has been phenomenal. You helped make our show a success!”
—Janet Kidd, Director of Education and Meetings
California Restaurant Association

“After your programs, I had many of our people coming up to me and thanking me for ‘letting them attend’. Some of their comments were: “She was natural and very much a “real” person.” “She knows the same frustrations we face every day because she lived it.” “I couldn’t wait for my shift to start so I could try out her ideas”
—Peter Sarris, President
T Bones Great American Eatery

“Your entertaining delivery and especially the personalized approach you took with Schlotzsky’s Deli was well-articulated and fun. It is amazing what changes occure when members of our system have the first-hand insight of an expert in customer service.”
—Laura Bernstein, Director of Public Relations
Schlotzsky’s Deli

“Once again, you were highly rated by our franchisees and managers. You have a magnetic personality and a strong message”
—Michelle Conley, Meeting and Convention Director
Subway, Franchise World Headquarters, Inc.

“She makes it very clear what positive attitudes can do for a unit and emphasizes leading by example.”
—Randy Hart, Vice President, Human Resources
Ryan’s Family Steak Houses, Inc.

“We were pleased with the size of the audience who came to hear you. You have our appreciation for a terrific job under less than perfect circumstances.”
—Gene Vosberg, FMP, Executive vice president
Washington Restaurant Association

“We wanted a speaker who was familiar with Subway and could relate this knowledge to our group with an upbeat manner. Your information on service was right on target and we thoroughly enjoyed how you got the audience involved with your ‘energy bubbles’ ”
—Sarah N. Hicks, Chairman, NC Educational Committee
Subway, NC Food Council

“Your message was a simple one, yet it addressed the issues that confront all of us in the hospitality industry head on, which is ‘you simply have to take care of our people, who in turn take care of your Guests.”
—Tom Griffith, Senior Director-Human Resources
Restaurants Unlimited, INC.

“Your Presentation was strong and you certainly set the tone to reinforce my presentation of our strategy and direction for the year.”
—James F. Simonson, President-Restaurant Division
Restaurants Unlimited

“Thank you for inspiring our management team to have more fun and help them realize that the ultimate responsibility as to the success of each shift lies in their hands.”
—Billy Downs, President
Mongolian Barbeque

“Your message was very dynamic and motivational and truly captured the audience.”
—Jason A. Anderson, Coordinator of Personnel
Concordia College, NACUFS

“As we’ve come to expect from you, your seminar was truly motivational, informative, full of practical tips, and fun.”
—Sandy Lien, Director of Education
Upper Midwest Hospitality, Inc.

“We appreciated your time, energy and sincerity with our group. Your ‘Regional Road Trips’ with Subway sent a lot of people back to their stores with good, useful ideas.”
—Michelle Conley, Meeting and Convention Director
Subway, Franchise World Headquarters Inc.

“Your presentation certainly exceeded all expectations and was very well accepted by our attendees. Great job.”
—Christina Chmura, Director Trade Show Marketing
Massachusetts Restaurant Association

“You provided us with a lot of valuable information that I hope all of our members will begin to put to practice.”
—Rosemary S. Panno, President
International Association of Hospitality Accountants, Mid-Jersey Chapter

“Not only was Clarke’s presentation informative but it was fun. If you have the opportunity to hire Susan Clarke at your show or conference, jump at it. She is the best.”
—Joseph Declan Moran, Editor of Pizza and Pasta Magazine
Pizza and Pasta

“Our guests and attendees comments have been very positive and encouraging. We even saw a few exhibitors attending your program.”
—Steve Montayne, Show Chairman
Michigan Restaurant Association

“I had heard so many wonderful things about you and had the chance to see for myself how true they are!”
—Janet Harrison, Director of Education
California Restaurant Association

“Our Subway Franchisees and managers again found your presentation valuable and helpful to their business. It seems you give them so many ideas to implement.”
—Michelle Conley, Meeting and Convention Director
Franchise world headquarters Inc.

“The feedback we received from the attendees was very positive and the attendees that we spoke with wholly enjoyed your presentation.”
—Virginia Curry, Expo Coordinator
New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality

“Your presentations were right on target and received many favorable comments. You were again motivating for me and for all in attendance.”
—Tom Feltenstein
Tom Feltenstein Enterprises

“You’ve begun to develop a faithful following and your message is always enthusiastically delivered, up-to-date, and ful of practical ideas.”
—Sandy Lien, Director of Education
Upper Midwest Hospitality, Inc.

“I finished your book the very same night, .and feel so positive, and not a positive thing that fades but a feeling I can work with and use!
—Julie Goff, Lounge Manager
Best Western Marshall Inn

“My managers are more enthused than they have been for some time.”
—Al Hess
Rigel Corporation DBA Kentucky Fried Chicken

“I enjoyed your weave of personal and professional anecdotes supporting your topic.”
—Nancy Green Faus, Manager of Marketing and Brand Development
Target Stores

“We have a bit of a stiff group but you got them all laughing and having fun, just like we are supposed to be having fun at work and in life!”
—Georgia Kazimier, President, Sacramento Chapter
California Restaurant Association

“I loved how you drove those ‘Rule’s of Thumb’ and key points home, yet laced the presentation with humor personality and fun. Everyone’s buzzing with excitement about their work.”
—Samuel E. Kibler, Director of Human Resources
Hallrich Incorporated, Pizza Hut

“You have been recognized as being rated in the top of the class!”
—Michelle Conley, Meeting and Convention Director
Subway, Franchise World Headquarters, Inc.

“Those who were in attendance praised both the information and the style in which it was delivered..”
—Julie Lanthier, Membership Services Representative
San Diego Restaurant Association

“I’d like to personally express my sincere appreciation for all your hard work and extra effort in the Spring Marketing War Conference. We couldn’t have done it without you!”
—Tom Feltenstein
Neighborhood Marketing Institute

“I would like to compliment you on the content, delivery, and message of your service seminar. “Keep up the great work and the spreading of the message.”
—Keith Keogh, CEC, AAC, President
World Association of Cooks Societies

“Your participation was a pleasure for both our members and our guests. Thanks again for all your professional, excellent contributions!”
—Gene Vosberg, Executive Director
Restaurant Association of the State of Washington

“You were absolutely fantastic… the feedback from the audience has been tremendous.”
—Colleen McShane, Executive Director
Illinois Restaurant Association

“To say I appreciate your help in acting as a “guest lecture” is an understatement. The students are always challenged by your class, and feedback is consistently positive. Thank you!!!!!!”
—Tucker W. Main
Instructor, University of San Francisco

“Your enthusiasm and zest for the industry – as well as your solid knowledge of the industry – is obvious.”
—Sandy Lien, Director of Education
Upper Midwest Hospitality, Inc

“The two hours that you were on stage flew by and it was quite apparent, from the crowd’s response, that everyone remained not only attentive but intrigued throughout your presentation.”
—Deanna S. Erickson, Director of Marketing
Tastee- Freez International, INC.