Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

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Breath Of A Salesman

February 1, 2016

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One of the first things I learned about fine-tuning my pitch was a little trick called ‘clearing the mechanism’. No matter what I’m in the middle of when an Up (my turn on the sales rotation) comes in to look at *Widgets*, I’m trained to take a step back, clear my head and check my breath before I give a couple or a One-Legger (husband or wife flying solo without their significant other) my undivided and complete attention. Let’s face it: Nobody wants to buy anything from someone who smells like they stumbled into a garlic clove patch for lunch, stuffed an entire can of spinach between their teeth or a salesman with pretzels and coffee breath issuing from their word-hole. I take a moment, focus on the journey we’re about to embark upon together and roll into it.

Paunch is a dead giveaway for a good salesman. I’ve met a few energetic, wiry, skinny types, but on the whole, you can spot a top earner by the love handles spilling over his belt. A guy who’s a top performer is also a guy who’s putting food on the table, eating well, or splurging his Spiffs (cash incentives for upselling) on fancy dinners out. The gut also has a lot to do with avoiding real work. Born salesmen are noticeably absent when manual labor is going down, electing instead to follow up on Leads, Prospect a fresh Up, ride a desk, smoke a cigarette, decide to get lunch or play with their phones. While I don’t own a smart phone, I still know how to play Scrabble, troll *Social Media* and check the weather. Go figure.

I never thought I’d wind up in sales. Some children can tell you by grade school that they want to grow up to be a lawyer, a fireman or a claims adjuster for a multinational corporation. Those kids were boring then and I find them boring now. At last count, I’ve had 38 jobs. Maybe not that many, but I’ve got a desk drawer full of name tags, personal business cards for companies and stores that don’t even exist anymore, lanyards and other assorted company memorabilia that hold no resale value except as mementos of associate positions and career paths that have been derailed, stunted or emergency ejected. If you take a cursory glance at my resume from five years ago, you’d find that I have a strong background in management, customer service and retail. I’m surprisingly happy, fulfilled and neither pressured nor coerced to admit that I’m good at it. We’ve all had jobs that we suck at where we drag our feet in every morning, count the minutes, keep our heads down and do our best to barrel through it. At least I have. This job isn’t that for me.

Salesmen get a bad rap. Most people conjure up a stereotypical used car salesman in their heads: Insincere, cheesy, and sleazy. I am none of those things. While I have a great fondness for cheese (especially ALL the Jacks), it has never rendered me cheesy. When I’m deep into a pitch selling *Widgets*, I try to find the warm, fuzzy place in my heart where Empathy resides. When I’m at the top of my game, it’s because I found that sweet spot. I wear my heart on my sleeve, which is shocking considering that I’m such a sarcastic asshole the other 98% of the time that I’m awake. From what I’ve gathered, all of us save the very best of ourselves for that window of opportunity when we’re making money based on our personality. It’s the nature of the beast.

Developing a pitch is like crafting your own lightsaber or finding your own spirit animal, take your pick. It’s a fine-tuned dress rehearsal tailor-made to the customer you’re dealing with and spun from your best attributes. For me, it’s equal parts empathy, customer service, humor (naturally), informal interview, body language and honing my listening skills. Hearing what people are saying and giving them ample time to talk are easier said than done. We’re conditioned to run our mouths and take what we hear on the surface, so it’s taken some time to be more considerate and to keep my word-hole shut. People love to talk about themselves, so in a lot of scenarios, just letting a couple or a person open up and actually listening when they do will seal the deal.

We all follow a Process where I work. I’m not going to tell you what that process is. There are blood oaths involved, animal sacrifice, full moons…just kidding. I’m just not going to reveal the mystery. My best analogy is that our Process is similar to a classic symphony. We all have to hit on the same notes, but the way that we play them and the inflections we give them are our own. Ego gets in the way once in awhile, and when that happens, I typically start to misfire. Whenever I think that my way is better I start tanking, and it takes a painful reappraisal of what I’m doing wrong to get back to the basics. Admitting that I don’t know everything and that my style or my opinion can sometimes be wrong. This is earth-shattering stuff to accept if you’re an old dog who’s reluctant to new tricks.

We are an impulsive, flashy and cynical lot. My boss collects watches. Another boss plays tennis and skis like there’s an Olympic medal at stake. I collect dress shirts, computers, movies, essentially anything pop culture that isn’t nailed down when my commissions come in. Most of the salesmen I work with treat golfing like it’s a religion. Golfing’s not for me. Like most sports, it takes too much time, there’s too much open exposure to the sun, I’m not a patient man, and as an Irishman, I’m a sore loser. And a sore winner.

I could pen a motivational manual about our cynicism. ‘Buyers are liars’ is a common mantra in sales. People will say whatever they can to get out of a closing scenario and skate out to ‘think things over’, ‘talk to the wife’ or ‘sleep on it’. All of those excuses are bullshit. I’ve learned to look for the real reason behind the Stall and dig for an honest answer. If an Up walks out the door, I’m trained to react emotionally as if they aren’t coming back. Let it go and move on to the next one.

One of my favorite lines out of all the training sessions, webinars and philosophical tracts I’ve attended, watched and read is this: Life is interesting, so be interested. I couldn’t agree more. The people I meet and talk to come from all different walks of life. They all have their own families, stories, hopes, dreams and aspirations. Like I said, when I’m deep into a pitch and really nailing it, it’s when I’m diving into who people are and what makes them tick. Following up on what they’ve told me and finding out more. And it always helps to pop an Altoid after we’ve all had fried blooming onions. You may not know this, but they’re curiously strong.

Second prize is a set of steak knives,

Tom Waters

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You’re Doing It Wrong: My Three Month Experience With Logitech Customer Service

December 26, 2014
"The #1-selling case for iPad" according to Logitech's packaging.  It's safe to say that there are one or two design flaws.

“The #1-selling case for iPad” according to Logitech’s packaging. It’s safe to say that there are one or two design flaws.

Before I get started, let me qualify myself. I’ve worked in customer service (in one form or another) since I was sixteen years old. Whether it was on the front lines during Christmas in retail, being the first line of defense for a home security company, managing a locally owned movie theater and just about everything in between that you could think of, I have a pretty good grasp of what good service is and how that trickles down from a corporate or privately held company philosophy. The golden rule remains that you should treat other people the way that you’d like to be treated. Some insist that the customer is always right. That’s not a belief I subscribe to, but within reason, you should try to take care of the customer’s needs.

That being said, my three month ordeal with Logitech is (without a doubt) the worst experience I have ever had with any company in my entire life. I am appalled at the leaps, hurdles and bureaucratic bullshit that I had to endure to fulfill a replacement for a product that was well within warranty. After what I went through, I would never recommend them as a company to anyone. Quite to the contrary, I will most likely go out of my way to tell people NOT to do business with them or support their products. Here’s what happened. Up until three months ago, I loved Logitech. They make a lot of electronic accessories and I was familiar with their headsets and game controllers from my time as a manager for Electronics Boutique. Their accessories were always a bit more expensive than their competitors, but they were also better designed, sleeker and longer lasting than their counterparts. They gained a reputation for having responsive, durable accessories with inspired design.

Over the summer I bought an iPad Air. When looking around for a keyboard/carrying case combo, I naturally selected Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Folio ($99). It’s a compact case that was advertised (on the packaging) as the “#1Selling Case for the iPad”. This may have more to do with the prominent marketing and merchandising of their product in Apple stores than the quality and durability of the product itself. The case functions with magnets on the bottom (near the keyboard) and a pair of plastic bordered clips at the top rather than the all-inclusive left and right mesh-gripping sides that I’ve seen on similar products.

Shortly after I bought the case my iPad fell out onto the floor. I was walking with the iPad in the upright position, so one could argue that it was my fault. I wasn’t running, I wasn’t jerking the case up and down while moving, I was just walking with the case in order to keep busy during a commercial break on the show I was watching. Luckily, the iPad wasn’t damaged. I wasn’t as lucky the second time. The next time it happened (about a month later), the iPad fell down a concrete set of steps and cracked irreparably across the screen in multiple places. It appears as if the two tiny plastic border clips at the top weren’t as tight in their grip on the iPad as they were when I bought the product. Thankfully, I purchased Apple Care with the iPad, and was able to replace it for a $50 fee. As for the case, I noticed a hairline fracture on the border clip at the top right. AT NO TIME did the Folio case fall to the ground. I had to apply some Gorilla Glue to the crack, which made the entire case combo look ridiculous.  A week later I set the iPad on a counter with the case closed and my new iPad slipped and fell onto the floor. The right border clip had cracked and fallen off completely. This is just poor structural design.

On or around October 15th of this year I filed a warranty claim through Logitech’s website. I included my entire original receipt information, warranty information, serial number and manufacturer number as requested. The generated response by a Lani V. informed me that the company would get a hold of me within seven to ten business days. They didn’t. I followed up with the company and sent an email on October 26th including pictures of the damage. By November 5th, I still hadn’t heard from anybody via phone or email, so I re-sent my previous email. Twice. I sent a new email referencing my case number on November 9th explaining the entire experience and asking for a new case as well as some sort of reimbursement for the damage directly caused as a result of using their case. No one from Logitech called or responded to my email.

By November 19th, I called Logitech at their non-1-800 number, waited on hold for twenty minutes and spoke to a Daryl L., who didn’t leave his name in the body of the email he sent me. Much like my original email over a month earlier, Daryl L. told me that the case was covered under a two year warranty and that I would be receiving my replacement. He had me re-send my original email (which I had already sent multiple times). We got disconnected. A few days later on November 22nd (when I had time to dial long distance and sit on hold for awhile), I called Logitech again to make sure that my replacement was sent out. I’m not sure who I spoke to that particular time as I have no notation in my emails and they never offered their name on the phone or email. In my experience, if a customer service representative won’t offer you their name it’s either because they’re doing something they’re not supposed to do or because they don’t want to get in trouble. The email I sent out THAT day was another trio of pictures displaying the structural flaws of the case along with all of my warranty information (serial #, manufacturer’s #, etc.) all over again.

Another month passed. I was amazed that I still hadn’t received my replacement and had long since purchased a Belkin Folio case for $20 less with better functionality, a longer charge cord and a better grip on the iPad itself. Out of determination and sheer curiosity at just how long Logitech was going to draw this fiasco out, I called Logitech again at their non-1-800 number and spoke to someone else who didn’t offer their name. This was last week, December 17th. When I asked why it was taking so long to reach my home, the male customer servicer rep blamed it on UPS. In my almost forty years on this planet as a manager for a video game retailer, a shipping and receiving employee for big box stores and as someone who’s ordered plenty of things online that ship via UPS, I have NEVER known UPS to take one month to ship anything to anyone anywhere for any reason. It sounded like a complete cop-out and there is zero doubt in my mind that this customer service rep was trying to shift the blame away from Logitech and onto anyone else. I finally received my replacement Folio keyboard on Christmas Eve this week, over three months after filing the initial claim through Logitech’s website.

This isn’t a case of one person dropping the ball. As a result of this experience, it’s my firm belief that there is a major systemic failure at the core of Logitech’s customer service philosophy. From a lack of response emails to a lack of any accountability by any of the three or four reps I spoke with on the phone to a daisy chain of procedural warranty filing and photograph sending to actually blaming another company, anybody else for their total failure to live up to their product, their warranties or their customers, I am left with the impression that 1) Logitech makes a shoddy product that breaks the tablets said product is designed to protect, 2) Logitech really doesn’t give a shit about their customers after they buy their products and 3) Logitech will go out of their way to avoid accepting responsibility for their products at every single level of their customer service department from their website straight on through to their live customer service department. The three months that I spent with Logitech were without exception the WORST customer experience I have ever had with any company in retail or out of it. I am flabbergasted that they have any brand name reputation at all if this is the way that they treat most customers when they have an issue. Please don’t support the company, their products or their way of doing business.

Sincerely,

Tom Waters

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Completely Clueless: Duff’s Wings On Dick Road Couldn’t Buy A Clue With A Free Gift Card & A Hundred Bucks

September 9, 2011

Back around November of 2009, Duff’s Wings opened a new location on Dick Rd. in Cheektowaga.  I’d never had their wings but (as an aficionado), people had been telling me about them for years.  You probably know by now how passionate I am about chicken wings.  For the last twenty years my buddy Ron and I have been getting a double of wings every Sunday like clockwork, so when they opened up in Cheektowaga, we decided to try them out.  We fell in love with the sauce and the size of the wings were fantastic.  We ordered them every single Sunday like clockwork.

Flash forward to around June of 2010.  President Obama chose the Dick Rd. location to try out what Buffalo had to offer and the ‘Hottie with a smoking body’ news story was born.  After that, Ron and I never got an accurate order.  For seven straight months beforehand we ordered a double of wings (ten flats with Suicide, ten drums Hot) and they never got it wrong.  After the Obama visit, they couldn’t seem to get anything right.  Both of us adhere to routine, so we kept ordering for another month or so.  Then we gave up.

Every couple of months I get a hankering for their Suicide Sauce and fool myself into thinking that they’ve righted the ship.  They haven’t.  I ordered a double of wings this evening and asked for mostly flats Suicide Hot and Saucy.  I got home and found a single of wings Hot and a single of wings Suicide and they were all Extra Crispy.  Unbelievable.

Most popular franchises are at least consistently mediocre and that’s why they keep branching out.  Duff’s Wings can’t even pull that off.  Duff’s has gotten 100% of my orders wrong since mid-2010.  Not even one order has been correct.  As a bar reviewer for the Buffalo News since 2007, I’ve been conditioned to support local and avoid chains.  Here’s another experience to reinforce it.

Duff’s on Dick Road needs either new management or a staff that knows how to clean out their ears with Q-Tips before they take a phone order.  I’m done with that location, I’m done with their wings and I’m done with the entire franchise.  You’ve fucked up your last order with me.  In the short run, that doesn’t matter since they continue to fill the restaurant with tourists eager to walk in the footsteps of our current president.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that restaurant trends change, and some day people will just stop showing up.  That’s when you learn to depend on your regulars, and if you don’t take care of your regulars, you might as well close your doors.

I look forward to the day that Duff’s closes their doors in Cheektowaga.  They haven’t lifted a finger to go above or beyond and they haven’t even approached the bare minimum of competence where I’m concerned.  In a city full of places that cook chicken wings well along with restaurants that make things the same way every time and actually write an order down and cook it correctly every single time, they’re playing Russian Roulette with the company’s profits.

Buying my wings everywhere else from now on,

Tom Waters

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