Archive for the ‘Service’ Category

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Keep Your Promises

Monday, May 19th, 2014

There is a guiding principle that is recited time and again—even in the relevant trade literature—when the topic is satisfying your customers: “Say p.m., deliver a.m.” Promise afternoon delivery, but get it there in the morning. Or: Deliver more (or better) than you promised.

That proposition is nonsense.

It’s not a matter of delivering earlier, since that can be just as inconvenient as delivering too late. It’s also not about promising less than you are capable of. Likewise, it’s not about rendering free services that possibly—in most cases—won’t be valued. The crux of the matter is to agree with the customer on a date, to make him a promise, and then to keep it.

Then if you still have a small surprise ready, something that keeps you in the mind of you customer (which must, however, be used in moderation), all well and good. But the following still basically applies:

“Say p.m., deliver p.m.”

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

How Well Do Your Employees Represent Your Company?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

As I write this, I am sitting in the waiting room of a well-known vehicle-service company for maintenance and a general inspection to be conducted – time enough to write a couple of technical articles and, once again, to form an impression of a company’s culture.

The following scenes played out:

  1. My initial conversation with the employee who accepts vehicles for service is interrupted several times by the incessant-ringing of his telephone. A pinnacle is reached when the phone rings and he mumbles, “An important customer. Excuse me, please.” Then he disappears into his office. I am astonished. At least he’s friendly.
  2. The receptionist, wishing to ease my wait, indicates that I can help myself to water that’s available or to coffee from the coffee machine. Coffee costs 50 cents. But my wallet is in the car, so the receptionist lends me 50 cents so that I don’t have to dash across the courtyard.
  3. It’s raining buckets, a real deluge. An employee gets a telephone call informing him that the basement of his house is flooded. He would like to go home, which a colleague makes possible by taking over his work for the day.
  4. An employee comes into the waiting room and shouts loudly to his colleague that for the umpteenth time, something’s gone wrong and that he’s fed up with working like this. The customer (me) is astonished.
  5. Another employee curses for all to hear. “The service advisor is so dumb and lame,” because “the service advisor” apparently didn’t provide all the information that the employee needs to process the order. I am astonished anew.

How do your employees talk to your customers? How do your employees behave toward one another? How are internal emails phrased? Do they appreciate each other or treat each other disrespectfully? Do they speak with each other or do they talk over each other? Take a close look at your company and deal with such misbehavior squarely and without delay.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

“Beverages are Reserved for Guests of the Hotel”

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Germany isn’t the only country that has service-free zones. You can also find yourself totally without service some places in Austria. As I checked in at the Salzburg airport for my return flight to Düsseldorf (ecologically correct, with a layover in Frankfurt), I asked where the Lufthansa lounge might be. The response: “There is no lounge in the airport.” Not bad.

Things were no better in the lobby of the Salzburg Airport-Hotel, where I had backtracked to do a little work – simply impossible in the jam-packed airport. Here at the end of a short walkway, I discovered at the reception desk that, actually, only hotel guests were permitted to wait in the lobby. After being granted an exception, I asked whether it might be possible to have a bottle of water. That turned out to be a step too far: “Beverages are reserved for guests of the hotel.”

My expression must have spoken volumes, so that the receptionist felt obliged to explain that she had to prepare the guests’ bills and besides, it’s standard practice to reserve beverages for guests. I replied that I had not experienced such a thing anywhere else in the world. Then I asked whether I could just buy a water, drink it, and disappear. The receptionist returned to her work, and I remained thirsty. Outside, meanwhile, the heavens had opened up, the thunderstorm blocking my way back to the overflowing airport. So, tolerated in the lobby, I had time to write this blog post, among other things

But still.

I had no choice: Because of the rain, I ordered a taxi for the short, one-kilometer distance to the airport. The cabby said: “Gladly,” he as he heard the destination. The fare? Five-Euros (including access fee). He drove me there without grumbling or complaining. I’ve also had a much different experience. The driver reckoned that, with a job in the service industry, short trips would be all-in-a-day’s-work for him. That he received a most generous tip goes without saying. If only this were taught in school.


© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Focus on the customer: Four Seasons Hong Kong

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

During our stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong on the occasion of our annual meeting of the Million Dollar Club, a network of international consultants, a woman from our group asked for hot water and ginger. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no fresh ginger available. Upon further inquiry into the beverage, the woman received an apologetic answer: It would take a few minutes longer. Someone had been sent to the market to buy fresh ginger. Shortly thereafter, the woman got her drink. Please note: It was about 8:00 o’clock in the evening.
Two lessons:
1. Focus on the customer. The customer is to be taken seriously.
2. The decision was made on the front line; no manager was involved. The responsibility for making such decisions on their own was assigned to the employees.
I call that commendable. And please don’t come back at me with: “A high-class hotel like that should always have ginger on hand.” Please don’t.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Singapore Airlines: Two More Points

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Those who know me know also that I am a brand ambassador of Singapore Airlines. Not only that I didn’t have any negative experience so far, with more than thirty intercontinental flights. I exclusively had positive experiences so far. Here are two more points the airline made on our recent first class trip to and from Asia:

1. Stopover in Singapore: One hour.

On our flight back from Hong Kong via Singapore to Frankfurt we had a one hour stopover in Singapore. I was sceptical about this short stopover already at the time of the booking, but SIA told me, it wouldn’t be an issue, they would take care of us. I kept being sceptical, having made all these experiences in Europe, but they were the experts. In fact: It wasn’t an issue at all. We landed almost on time in Singapore, were the first passengers to leave the aircraft, took the skytrain to terminal 3, arrived there, were guided by Singapore staff that directed us to the gate and – voilà – found ourselves sitting in the next aircraft.

Our luggage? Here’s the tag the luggage got: “T3”, “Hot”, “Priority”, “First.” Of course the luggage was expecting us in Frankfurt on time. Respect.


2. If someone wants to know how Singapore Airlines treat their best customers, get a personal invitation to the private room at Singapore’s First Class Lounge in Changhi. Silence, a private butler, wonderful.

This is what I call customer service and this is what leads to customer retention. Period.

(c) 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Managementberatung GmbH, Dortmund, London, New York.

How do you talk to your customers?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Many a business criticizes its customers for not understanding its problems. I have some news for them: Customers don’t need to understand your problems. You must understand your customers and communicate with them clearly and effectively. Laborious explanations about why things didn’t happen as agreed are as boring as they are unnecessary. A customer is interested in an outcome, that a promise is kept. By the way, a distinguishing feature of a brand: keeping its promises.
Moreover, long-winded explanations of deficiencies, or telling little white lies, or even shifting “blame” to your customers (see my column on this point “It’s Not My Fault and Here’s Why I’m Right” on this blog) are only one part of the problem. Opaque communications extend far beyond those between individuals – on the Internet, for example.
“Error 404 – Page not found” is one of the more common error messages. Attempting to follow a link on the Lufthansa home page recently, I received the following: “Error 400: EJPSD0020E: The URL cookie for the WAS request was not found. Either cookies are not activated in your browser, or the servlet must be called directly.” Perfectly clear, right? All of that as a single line in an otherwise empty browser window. That was it.
How do you ensure that you speak appropriately to your customers?

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.