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Knowledgence’s new Google+ page

Please check out Knowledgence’s new Google+ page! We’d love to connect with you there

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Knowledgence is grateful for our part in your lives, and we wish you, your colleagues and your familes the very best!

Have a safe and festive Independence Day

Have a safe and festive Independence Day weekend , everyone! from Lisa & Chuck @ Knowledgence

Knowledgence is pleased to announce that

Knowledgence is pleased to announce that Chuck Dennis has been named to the Board of Directors of SOCAP New England.

Yeah! What She Said!

I was pleased to read BL Ochman's post called "Dear Corporations: Nothing Else Matters if Your Customer Service Sucks." 

Among her salient points is this: "Yet day after day, poorly paid employees, who are not empowered to make
even their own simple decisions, handle the most important thing any
company has – customers. It's really time for that policy to change."

It has always seemed to me that a business would want its most enthusiastic, articulate, and knowledgeable people on the front line with customers. Yes, they would have to pay more in salaries, but I am positive that the increase in revenue and repeat business would more than make up for it, and pay for itself many times over.

As it is, customers seem to have an across-the-board disdain for customer service personnel, and the feeling seems to be mutual.  If you have any doubts, run a search on "customer service" on Twitter and read some of the comments people make about their vendors, and what the service reps say about their customers.

Much of this negativity falls away if businesses decide that quality interactions with customers is worth paying enough to make this kind of job attractive to the best and brightest within a company.  And I think that EVERY business should make it a point to have ALL management do a stint on the phones or on the front lines, as to not lose touch with the customers OR the people they pay to serve them.

  — Chuck Dennis

Service So Good it Changed the Game

Readers of this space know that we are, to say the least, passionate about customer service.  REAL customer service, not the pre-defined, pre-packaged, beware-of-the-fine-print kind of customer service.  For that reason, certain businesses have warm spots in our hearts.  Zappos is one of those businesses. 

I will freely admit that I have never purchased anything from Zappos.  But I have read and heard and seen so much about them.  And I think I love them.  Two things always stand out: outstanding customer service, and a wacky, fun work environment.  I don't think these two things are unrelated.

AdAge recently published an article called Is Customer Service a Media Channel? Ask Zappos.  In the article, author Pete Blackshaw states

"Zappos is a game changer, and it found value — and ferocious
word-of-mouth and brand advocacy — in a place most of us leave for
dead and certainly don't consider even close to being a media channel:
customer service. They took this "cost center" input and turned it into
an unassailable asset, fortified by the founder-CEO's sometimes
"cult-like" (arguably irrational, by the typical marketing book)
obsession with serving the consumer at all costs."

The game-changing aspect that Blackshaw points to is Zappos' challenging the long-standing tradition of viewing "customer service" as a cost center, a necessary evil where calls can be quickly dispatched to barely-trained entry-level employees who would rather be doing anything else in the world.

By providing a fun and engaging work environment, Zappos has attracted a certain level of enthusiastic employees.  Their enthusiasm is barely containable when they interact with customers, and the customers are energized by the experience. 

Zappos is not the most inexpensive shoe seller in the world, not by a long shot.  You don't go there looking for bargains.  And they are an online-only shop.  They sell shoes, for heaven's sake!  Something that my mother used to have me try on dozens of pairs of, in order to fine the one pair that felt right, and didn't look totally dorky.  And Zappos is raking in the bucks.  Why?

Because their service is legendary.  And they are leveraging it, and not by actively marketing it.  They let their customers do that for them. 

Now we see that another pillar of service,, has purchased Zappos for a billion bucks.  This is interesting.  Amazon has been a real pioneer in self-service… their philosophy is that a great customer experience does not require human interaction if the systems are set up correctly and functioning properly.  I find it difficult to challenge their premise, as I have never had a negative experience with Amazon.  Based on past purchases and recent viewing, they helpfully yet unobtrusively suggest other items of interest.  But they just laid out a big chunk of change for a company known for brilliant service on the other side of the dial – the human interactive service.

It is no great shock that Amazon has bought a shoe store; they've dipped into a lot of product lines since their bookstore days.  But could this expenditure portend an evolution in Amazon's automated service delivery?  It's like a team with great pitching just acquired a bunch of the top hitters in the league.  This could get interesting, very quickly.

   — Chuck Dennis

Customer-Created Solutions

Have you seen ClearRX™, the new prescription packaging system from Target? In keeping with it’s value proposition, Design for All.  I love products that are simple, have well defined utility, and are all about ME, the customer. It is an excellent example of the intersection of Marketing, Sales and Service.  Why?  Well – for one, it was designed by a person who was trying to solve a real up-close and personal problem. Her grandmother took the wrong prescription bottle out of the medicine chest and took medicine that was not for her. Given that many prescription bottles look alike (small type on label, amber bottle) – this is easy for anyone to do. I’ve squinted at prescription bottles myself – since I don’t always wear my glasses into the loo! 

Here’s the smart Marketing part:  Being able to meet and hear the story from the mouth of the creator, Debra Adler, as well as her mentor, Milton Glazer. On the Target website, there is a great Flash presentation of a medicine chest.  Peel off the warning labels on the regular prescription bottle to hear a simple and real description of the problem.  Click on the ClearRX bottle for an explanation of the solution. Click on See What’s New for the story. Either way – you get to meet the designer and learn about her thought process about a VERY real customer. 

Here’s the smart Sales part:  A easy, clear view of the product, with the 4 key benefits built into the 3-D view of the product.  Seeing is believing.  Smart sales "shows," not "tells."

Here’s the smart Service part:  An easy link to switch your prescriptions or order new ones, including a Target Pharmacy finder that you don’t have to hunt for. How smart to preempt the customer question: "How do I get my current prescriptions filled with this new system?" 

And finally, there’s something else that really interests me.  This system was a grad school project for Debra Adler.  She got an A.  And a manufacturer.  And a retailer.  I love it that Target shares that with us.

    — Lisa Dennis

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