Steve Curtin

A line in the sand

In 168 BC the Greek ruler, Antiochus led an attack on Egypt. Before reaching Alexandria, his path was blocked by a Roman envoy who delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus or consider themselves...

Being capable is not enough

I was recently asked, “What is the biggest customer service challenge facing companies today?” My response was that it’s the same challenge companies faced last year, the year before that, and even 28 years ago: inconsistency of customer service quality and the customer experience. The...

A rock-solid approach to being memorable

In the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, the authors propose Six Principles of Sticky Ideas that contribute to a message being remembered as opposed to overlooked, disregarded, or forgotten. Those principles are: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories. I...

What’s in a name?

Last month I worked with a multinational retailer whose internal customer satisfaction survey analysis revealed some interesting findings: when they can recall an employee by name, customers’ overall satisfaction is 20 percent higher (from 69 percent to 89 percent) and their likelihood to return...

Customer feedback: a gift that keeps on giving

A study by Maritz Research and Evolve24 revealed that of 1,298 Twitter complaints, only 29 percent were replied to by the companies in question. Yesterday, during a phone interview, I was asked, “Why do you think company representatives choose to ignore feedback from customers...

Chance encounters by design

I recently worked for a multinational retailer whose internal customer satisfaction survey analysis revealed some interesting findings: When they encounter an employee on the sales floor, customers have an overall better experience as evidenced by their reported 18 percent increases in both Overall Satisfaction...

The problem with perfection

Customer satisfaction surveys are carefully constructed by instructional designers who labor over details such as the exact wording, number, and sequence of questions, and the rating scale used. This is done with the intent to produce a survey that yields reliable feedback that leadership...

Do your best customers feel welcomed?

My family and I will travel to Breckenridge next month over spring break. As we do every year, we’ll be staying at our favorite lodge at the base of the mountain. When making the reservation back in January, I requested a slope-side view with...

Going above and beyond is a choice

For many years, I’ve gone on record saying that the reason you and I, as customers, consistently receive predictably poor customer service is because exceptional customer service is voluntary; employees don’t have to deliver it, and most don’t. It’s true. While there are things that...

Casual indifference

There is a phenomenon in the services industry (some might say, an affliction) that I’ll refer to as ‘casual indifference.’ Its occurrence is not rare. Casual indifference by uninspired employees toward the needs and expectations of customers is rampant. Casual indifference is demonstrated by retail...

It’s 2015. Do you know where your customers are?

It occurred to me while reading through a list of 15 Customer Service Trends for 2015 assembled by Richard Shapiro, president of The Center For Client Retention, that nine of the 15 trends are related to omnichannel: a seamless approach to a consumer’s experience...

Incorporate essence into function

An observation: While employees consistently execute the mandatory job functions (duties/tasks) for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate the voluntary job essence (service behaviors) for which there is little or no additional cost to the employer. Why do you suppose that is? Possibly it’s...

You must water the plants

Several years ago, after presenting multiple half-day training classes over four days, I was disappointed to hear my client say on the way to the airport, “Well, now I can check that off my list.” True to her word, all of the follow-up activities...

Accept your customers, warts and all

November has been a hard month for me healthwise. Every October, I dutifully schedule a flu shot. Most years, that’s sufficient and I’m generally flu, sore throat, and cold free throughout the winter months. This year, beginning the week of October 20, I developed a...

Service so subtle

Too often, exceptional customer service is associated with breathless, over-the-top actions by employees that capture headlines such as Ritz-Carlton’s Joshie the Giraffe, Morton’s Steakhouse airport delivery, or Frontier Airlines’ pizza delivery. While these illustrations are memorable and inspiring (not to mention, a lot of...

The best customer service book of all time

In 1989 Stephen R. Covey’s perennial book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was published. It must have resonated, having sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages throughout the world. Over the past decade or so, when I’m asked for business book...

Walk a mile (or just stand and wait) in your customer’s moccasins

Whoever is responsible for the Chicago O’Hare International Airport TSA clearance should be forced to endure the gauntlet himself. This may be the only way for him to fully appreciate the utter frustration, chaos, and absurdity that I (and thousands of others) experienced on...

Set the tone for exceptional customer service!

For years, researchers have studied disconnects between sender and receiver in electronic communications. It’s challenging to convey emotion and tone, for instance, via email or chat without the benefit of cues such as facial expressions, hand gestures, or vocal tone. One study examined overconfidence over...

J.W. Marriott’s approach to serving customers

When asked about his approach to work during an interview, the late J.W. Marriott, Sr. said, “There aren’t these two opposites, work and play, one bad and the other good. It’s having a vision of the way things ought to be, and then making...

When it comes to social customer service, most companies are hacks

Henry David Thoreau observed: “For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.” I thought about how this quote applies to many companies’ social media strategy. These companies are breathlessly “hacking at the leaves” of customer acquisition with...

New Posts