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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Douglle$$ Lawn Care Story

My last two entries have been prompted by complaints. Now I want to tell a positive Customer Service story.

Last week I once again served as Substitute Host on the Abdul in the Monring radio show on 1430 AM. A call came in from a lady named Denise Mertes. This call came in right after a caller named Ann had asked for a POSITIVE customer service story. Denise called in with a doozy!

She wanted to tell me about a fellow named Doug Pagach who started doing lawn mowing for Denise's 80- year old mother Charmaine some months ago. Doug is the sole proprietor of a side business he calls "Dougle$$ Lawn Care" (503-3441 if you want GREAT service for less money!) Charmaine had hired Doug to cut her grass but over the months Doug, a born handyman, has become "a true blessing" to Denise and her mom.

To quote Denise, "He's repaired her shed; he's planted (and continues to water) her flowers; he's trimmed her shrubs; he's shoveled snow." But it hasn't stopped there. Doug's become a true friend to Charmaine, so much so that, having learned of Charmaine's love of home grown tomatoes, he dropped several off when he last visited.

I was so impressed with this "home grown" service that I called Doug to confirm the story and find out what makes him tick. It was worth the time.

A 1991 Ben Davis graduate and the holder of an Associate's degree from Vinceens U, Doug is (SURPRISE!) a former employee of O'Malia Food Markets. "I worked for Pat O'Riley (then Assistant Manager at O'Malia's West 10th)in '87 and '88," Doug said proudly He also credits his 92 year old grandfather for "practically raising me and teaching me even before O'Malia's to do it right the first time and every time."

Doug's fulltime job is as a pool installer for Perma Pools, a twelve year career. He just started the landscaping and general fix-it gig "when the economy went south" a couple of years ago. He described it this way. "There's still enough pool work for about three days a week in the summer. I generally do that Monday through Wednesday and then do the lawn cutting and landscaping late in the week so my clients can enjoy the beauty of their yards on the weekend!"

I was so impressed with Doug, who went on to tell me how much he's learned from his many visits with Charmaine and how funny and positive she is. I encourage you to call him for your lawn, handyman or pool needs. I guarantee hel'll take care of you! After all, he's an "O'Malia Food Market Alum"!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Recently I served as guest host for a local talk show, Abdul in the Morning, on 1430 AM WXNT here in Indianapolis. I interviewed Bill Nicholls, Vice President of Ritz Charles Catering, one of my Customer Service Training clients and a highly respected company here in Central Indiana. We talked about customer service, how Ritz Charles manages it so well, and of course we took calls from listeners.

One turned out to be from my sister-in-law, though she disguised her name and I didn't know it was she until later. She wanted to share her recent experience at her neighborhood BLOCKBUSTER store, where she goes regularly.

She had wanted to watch ROOTS in its entirety. The way it was set up, she decided to pick up one DVD at a time. After she'd watched the second DVD, she returned it and asked why it seemed a section had been skipped. The answer surprised her (and she rents DVD's there quite often, with two young kids). She was told that episode II was on the back of the first DVD. Of course, she asked if she could have the first DVD back so she could "catch up" without paying, since no one at the store had told her to turn the DVD over and there was nothing on the jacket to that effect. The employee's answer was, "NOT MY BAD!"

About this time, her son Jonathan approached with excitement over a "Rent one/ get one free" offer. He pointed to the display with the sign attached. The SAME employee said, "Sorry, that offer ended yesterday!" and told someone to remove the sign. No apology. No empathy. Nothing.

Remember. I'm on the air with her. I suggest she go right back and talk to the Store Manager. Her response: "HE IS THE STORE MANAGER!"

What do you do when you've gone to the highest person on site and gotten such an incredibly bad response to TWO problems you the customer did not create? I suggested she find an 800 number or go the the company's website. We all know that's a lot of trouble.

Did BLOCKBUSTER hire the wrong employee AND make him a manager? Is their training poor? Did they not empower him? Who knows? But if I were my sister-in-law, I'd find the next closest video store and bid "FAREWELL" to the neighborhood BLOCKBUSTER!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

CItibank Customer Service Fiasco

Here'a a scenario that was originally sent to me a couple of years ago. I've shown it to over 5000 people and it occurred to me that this blog is a good way to show it to even more. I have two people role play it in my Customer Service Training programs and keynote speeches. It's a classic example of what can happen when an organization fails to hire the right people, train people properly, get people to "buy in" to a culture of service (or fails to have such a culture), fails to empower people, or is gulity of some combination of all the above. It gets a lot of laughs but it's deadly serious as well. Enjoy!

This is so priceless, and so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.
A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then added late fees & interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00, now it'ssomewhere around $60.00.
A family member placed a call to Citibank:
Family Member: "I'm calling to tell you that she died in January.
Citibank: "The account was never closed and the late fees & charges still apply."
Family Member: "Maybe you should turn it over to collections."
Citibank: "Since it is two months past due, it already has been."
Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?"
Citibank: "Either report her account to the frauds division or report her to the credit bureau; maybe both!"
Family Member: "Do you think God will be mad at her?"
Citibank: "Excuse me?"
Family Member: "Did you just get what I was telling you . . . the part about her being dead?"
Citibank: "Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor"
Supervisor gets on the phone.
Family Member: "I'm calling to tell you, she died in January."
Citibank: "The account was never closed and the late fees & charges still apply."
Family Member: "You mean you want to collect from her estate?"
Citibank: (Stammer) "Are you her lawyer?"
Family Member: "No, I'm her great nephew." (Lawyer info given)
Citibank: "Could you fax us a certificate of death?"
: "Sure." (the fax number is given)
After they get the fax ...
Citibank: "Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more I can do to help."
Family Member: "Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don't think she will care."
Citibank: "Well, the late fees & charges do still apply."
Family Member: "Would you like her new billing address?"
Citibank: "That might help."
Family Member: "Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69."
Citibank: "Sir, that's a cemetery!"Family Member: "What do you do with dead people on your planet?"

What fun it is dealing with "customer service"

Friday, January 22, 2010

MAYBE Sears DOES care??

Several months ago, I blogged about my discontent with Sears (and Nordic Track). Well, the power of social media has eventually led Sears to contact me about by dissatisfaction with its service.

You may remember that my wife and I were poorly served by Sears concerning the delivery and installation of a Nordic Track treadmill I had purchased at Sears. To fully review, check the Sears blog of October 14, 2009. As far as I was concerned at that time, I was done dealing with Sears and, by publishing the story, I'd "gotten even" with them for their apparent lack of caring about a pair of longtime cusotmers.

That was until the day before yesterday. About ten days ago, I received a call from a gentleman named Robert, representing Sears, who left a cell message and asked me to call him back at an 800 number to discuss our situation. After about 5 voice mails between the two of us, he finally reached me on Wednesday, the 20th. By the way, Bob was calling from Austin, Texas and I live in Indianapolis.

Neither of us had a copy of the actual blog available (I was in my car), so I repeated my entire story as best I could. He did a terrific job of listening. He offered a very sincere apology and, understanding that the situaion was beyond solving, also offered me a gift certificate or a discount, and promised to see what he could do to help Sears solve the problem on behalf of its millions of customers.

He also tellingly admitted to me that he'd heard similar stories many times. His exact words: "You're not the first with this kind of complaint!"

He told me I'd get a call in about 10 days to verify that I'd received the gift certificate I accepted. He also emphasized that he understood the certificate does not make up for the irritation and inconvenience my wife and I suffered.

In short, he did everything he could at the time. And I feel better towards Sears thanks to his efforts. I emphasized that I doubted Sears would ever get as "customer friendly" as it used to be but that I appreciated any efforts he could put forth towards that end.

Finally, he gave me an e-mail address (not sure if it's double secret or not) and asked me to use it any time I felt the need.

Sears is just one of thousands of companies that have policies and prcedures that make it easier for them and tougher for their customers. But I'll give them credit for finally showing SOMEBODY cares. THANKS, ROBERT!

What Did My Clients Say?

Very worthwhile…highly recommended to anyone who values customers.” -Julian Peebles, Ruth Lilly Health Education Center

“Thanks again for the wonderful presentation. It was exciting that our employees were fired up and began to think forward and place themselves mentally into some of the situations they may encounter at Victory Field.” -Randy Lewandowski, Assistant General Manager Indianapolis Indians

“…the overall attitude of our management team is much more positive…and the team is much more aggressive in tending to clients ‘and guests’ needs.” -Chuck Lazarra, President, Ritz Charles

“Danny is an excellent presenter who understands the benefit of high quality customer service. He relayed heartfelt stories that translated to our business and reinforced the impact that each of us has on customer service and its effect on our success.” -Doug Ruggles, Corporate Training Director, F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co., Inc.

“Your talk was very insightful and right on point. It also was entertaining and a lot of fun. The points you made were simple but highly effective. Your expertise in the area of customer service was obvious.” -Chad Wilke, Senior Event Coordinator, Indiana Convention and Visitors’ Bureau

“Danny is a delight—so full of energy—you feel inspired after spending just a few minutes with him. And there were several great pearls that I walked away with.” -Pam Bales, Consultant, Benefit Associates

“We have worked with many consultants over the years, but none more energetic than Danny. He worked diligently with us beforehand to model the program to our specific needs… From the President to the newest supervisor, we are all excited to begin implementing what we learned tomorrow morning! …..” -Rick Roberts, Vice President, Engledow Group

“I am also conducting the first Team Leader Training Class tomorrow. With a little help from the Danny O Experience I think it will be a hit! Thanks for being such a great motivator!” -Michelle Nichols, Corporate Trainer, Ossip Optometry

"I know some of you have brought in speakers in the past to inspire your staff. As you probably know, I’m difficult to impress. Well, Danny impressed me. For one thing, he’s one of you and not just another speaker. He made me wish I was working back in the stores. And for you wholesalers, he’s would be a great motivator for speaking to your independents. He got huge applause from the WGA retailers. I definitely see you having some quick payback having him speak." -Dave Livingston, DJL Research, LLC