Sunday, January 30, 2005

HBR Breakthrough Idea # 14

Harvard Business Review just published a list of 20 breakthrough ideas for 2005.
Number 14: Toward a New Science of Services by Henry W. Chesbrough. And we have to agree with him. Services Sciences needs to be an academic field of study.

(BTW, Blogs are number 10 on the list)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Before our "pay-per-view" presentation, here’s a word from our sponsors.

Jackie Huba has a passionate post in her blog about commercials shown before a movie starts… not on TV, but in theaters. And no TiVo remote will make you skip those!

This is an example on how some things can spoil the overall customer experience, even if they seem innocuous on the drawing board.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Your Best Face has an excerpt of the book Best Face Forward: Why Companies Must Improve Their Service Interfaces With Customers by Jeffrey F. Rayport and Bernard J. Jaworski. (requires free registration)

It is a fresh way to look at interactions with customers, and on how to apply technology to enhance these relationships. The authors also wrote an article based on their book in the December 2004 edition of Harvard Business Review.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Innovating services

How to innovate something as intangible as services?

Fast Company’s weblog gives us eight basic principles, courtesy of Jeneanne M. Rae and Tim Olgilvie from Peer Insight:

  1. Create a clear challenge statement, expressed in terms of a customer need, not a business need, that focuses on the "white space."
  2. Do strong ideation: a well-designed, well-facilitated process that includes participation from many departments and disciplines and sources of edge-thinking.
  3. Emphasize developing concepts that combine multiple elements of innovation (from your business model and IT platform to the channel) to increase the impact and distinctiveness of the idea.
  4. Use techniques and structures that counter-balance the natural forces of criticism and risk-aversion.
  5. Employ a design that is guided by a base behavioral model of the customer's underlying needs.
  6. Communicate high aspirations for the overall customer experience to stretch the design team's thinking.
  7. Use customer-centric analytical tools to measure the customer experience.
  8. Make creative use of tangible artifacts to reinforced a distinctive experience, the way an ADT lawn sign signals that service or the way Mini Cooper's roadside assistance service is signaled by its window signs.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Real meaning of customer care

Imagine walking up and down the cemetery looking for a loved one’s plot. In the rain. With your loved ones. Because the cemetery’s office was closed without letting you know in advance.

It happened to Seth Godin, and he writes about this experience in his well-regarded blog.

Fortunately, the cemetery’s caretaker also cared about Seth and his family:

A minute before we were about to give up, the caretaker came by and asked if we needed help. He recognized the name and took us right over. He cared. It showed. He wasn't doing this because he'd get a bonus. He was doing it because it was the right thing to do.

Really caring about your customers helps much more than following manuals and procedures, or framing catchy slogans or mission statements.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

You’re fired, and super-size it.

Lots of blogs blog about The Apprentice.

What the heck. We’ll do it too.

The task for the third season’s premiere (and product placement du jour) was at Burger King.

The losing team was defeated because only two people were trained in the use of the POS terminal (the machine formerly known as cash register) and therefore some customers got impatient and sales were lost because of the long wait times.

Is your business ready to provide great service if things go much better than expected?

And remember, Luck equals Opportunity plus Preparation.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Here's a Tip

Is there a correlation between the amount of a tip from a restaurant customer and his/her satisfaction with the service?

Not quite, according to research from the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University (free registration required).

Therefore, the amount of tips that a server receives is not a good yardstick to measure his/her service skills, nor a good motivator to exceed customers’ expectations.

Monday, January 17, 2005

No... we are not going to the Blog Business Summit (we’d love to, though)

In case anyone’s wondering, nobody here at Servimétrica is going to the Blog Business Summit in Seattle WA on January 24 and 25, 2005.

Beyond self-service checkout at the store

Ripped from the headlines from the Washington Post: the latest technologies that help retailers to be more productive and more efficient (ok, to put it more bluntly, to reduce costs), being shown at the annual convention of the National Retail Federation. This link for the article (free registration required)

Among the novelties: a cart that downloads shopping lists and warns customers when you pass a shelf that has one of the wanted items, and videoconferencing terminals at the aisles that allow shoppers to contact an outsourced worker -at a remote contact center- when they need help and cannot find someone at the store.

Obviously, some of these technologies are still being tested.

How many more months until the Wal-Mart greeter is a computer terminal with a camera on top?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Nail It

Take a look at The Bottom Line column in the January 2005 issue of the “Working Knowledge” newsletter from the Harvard Business School. Titled “Nail Customer Service”, it discusses the importance of using the right metrics to measure customer service, as “managers at different levels of your customer companies will have fundamentally different definitions of effective customer service”.

By the way, did you know that “people will tolerate a much longer wait if they can see themselves in a mirror”?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Complaint Department. Please Take a Number

Complaint Department. Please Take a Number. (from Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Don't like my service? Send a text message to 34007

From the globetrotters at a South African company called 34007 that offers consumers the opportunity to send their complaints -or just plain comments- about service providers via text messaging, a.k.a. sms using mobile phones. As you may already figured it out, the number to send the text message to is 34007, hence the company name.
34007 acts as an information middleman between the consumer and the business, obviously respecting the privacy of the former. Some more details from
Innovatively, every consumer who uses 34007 gets their own web page on, enabling them to view messages sent to and replies received from suppliers. Suppliers in turn get access to their own web site to view consumer's ratings, feedback, set their own message responses, or determine the benefits they want to hand out each and every time customers interact with them.

Look for similar services coming soon in other countries near you.
And much better and more productive than sending a text message to vote for the next "idol".

Monday, January 10, 2005

You got to know how to hold 'em...

Seinfeld's “Alternate Side” episode (from the third season) has the perfect come back for those car rental agents that somehow don’t have the vehicles that were previously reserved by customers. This is a "copy/paste" from

Rental car agent: Next please.
Elaine: Well, go, go.
Agent: Can I help you? Name please?
Jerry: Seinfeld. I made a reservation for a mid-size, and she's a small. I'm kidding around, of course.
Agent: I'm sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.
Jerry: I don't understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the reservation.
Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to *hold* the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.
Agent: Let me, uh, speak with my supervisor.
(The agent goes into an office with a window in the door so she can be seen speaking with someone.)
Jerry: Uh, here we go. The supervisor. You know what she's saying over there?
Elaine: What?
Jerry: Hey Marge, you see those two people over there? They think I'm talking to you, so you pretend like you're talking to me, okay now you start talking.
Elaine: Oh, you mean like this? So it looks like I'm saying something but I'm not really saying anything at all?
Jerry: Now you say something else and they won't yell at me 'cause they thought I was checking with you.
Elaine: Okay, that's it. I think that's enough, see you later.
(The agent returns.)
Agent: I'm sorry, my supervisor says there's nothing we can do.
Jerry: Yeah, it looked as if you were in a real conversation over there.

Having the TV on as background “music” does help…

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Nothing more than feelings?

So customers are cold and rational, right?
From the Stupid Crimes & Misdemeanors files from, we bring you the case of a disgruntled Verizon Wireless customer who trashed one of their stores at a mall in Fargo, ND.

This is a quite extreme example of how our actions as service providers can affect our customers at an emotional level. At the time we design or improve the experience that we want to provide our customers through our service, we should see beyond the rational and also consider the emotions and feelings that we want to convey.
And this is nothing new. Advertising pros have been doing this for years.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Show Unprofitable Customers the Door

This comes from Seth Godin’s blog. An Aussie dentist implements drastic measures to be more profitable: show “bad” customers the door. Now he works half the time as before, but makes more Australian Dollars.

Best Buy also tries to do the same, but in a different way.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Mobile Dissatisfaction

Research done by McKinsey and Co. using data from the Better Business Bureau, shows the main causes of customer complaints against mobile (cellular) telephone service providers in the U.S. (Free registration required):

  • Billing and related issues, e.g. statement errors.
  • Carrier’s response to problems at contact centers, such as repeated failure to correct a problem, and contradictory messages from different contact points (even different service representatives at the same Call Center)
  • “Miscommunication” regarding the terms of the contract between customer and carrier.

The authors recommend that all the involved departments in the phone company -customer service, IT, marketing, and retailing- should be synchronized so the customer receives consistent information at all the “touchpoints”, and to concentrate efforts on billing and call-center operations.

How many different stories is your customer hearing from all the contact points along his/her life cycle?

(Can you hear me now...?)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

And CRM means...?

Quite a while ago, the term “CRM” entered the corporate lexicon, particularly in the Sales and Customer Support departments of large corporations.

CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. According to CRM magazine’s destinationCRM .com website, CRM is “is a company-wide business strategy designed to reduce costs and increase profitability by solidifying customer loyalty”. Siebel, one of the best-known providers of CRM software, defines CRM asan integrated approach to identifying, acquiring, and retaining customers”.

However, the term CRM still is positioned as the software and/or computer systems that make this possible in organizations, just as the term “Supply Chain Management” is sometimes equated with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software.

Now… Has CRM delivered results to companies that have implemented it? We think so.

And as a result, are customers more satisfied with their service providers? Has CRM enhanced the customer experience? Well…we wish we could say "yes" to both questions.