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Loving "Love Your Customers"

John O’Hurley with violin from Love Your Customers

We just received a review from Training Media Review on our new John O’Hurley program, "Love Your Customers" and "Love Your Difficult Customers." It’s a thoughtful review - and could be helpful! The review ends with this recommendation:

Love Your Customers and Love Your Difficult Customers are good investments for a customer service basics program. They cover the classic customer service principles humorously, yet straightforwardly. It is fortunate for customer service managers and training directors that both are high-quality programs. Be sure to add them to your list of academy award nominees. You will definitely "feel the love" of customer service dedication in these selections.

You can read the entire review at Training Media Review’s Website.

Posted under Customer Service, John O’Hurley, Product Reviews and Articles by Stewart on Apr 04, 2008 | Comments: 1 | Post a comment»

Customer Service Experiences - Good and Bad

Before I tell you this story, I have to confess, that I don’t know much about wall-to-wall carpet. But despite this shortcoming, I need to purchase new wall-to-wall carpet for my home. Since I have to replace all the carpet in my condo, I consider this a big sale (at least it is big for me)! So I set out to purchase some new carpeting and had two totally different customer service experiences - and I think they provide good lessons about customer service. Here’s what happened:

The first place I tried is a trendy carpet company in Boston called Landry and Arkari. They have all kinds of fancy carpets. I went there because my sister told me that they often have special sales. I walked into their store one Saturday about two weeks ago. There were several people working in the store and one other customer (I think the other customer was an interior decorator). I walked over to the carpet rack (clearly clueless) and started poking around. After a while a sales rep came up to me (the same sales rep was also helping the decorator). She asked one or two questions and then pointed to a few racks of samples and said, "The wool carpets are here and the sale carpets are over there." I didn’t get any advice, assistance, or help on pricing.

Now, I really needed some advice because I don’t even know where to begin. Carpet selection can be overwhelming! What kind of carpet? Wool or synthetic --- pattern or plain??? But the sales rep wasn’t interested in helping me. It was clear she was interested in helping the decorator. She didn’t want to answer my (clearly very basic) questions. So, after about 20 minutes of poking around (and waiting for help) I left the store with no better idea of what I wanted or how to proceed.

Fortunately, I had the name of another carpet company, Harry’s Carpet One in Quincy Mass. This store was a referral from some friends who had purchased their wall-to-wall carpet there last year and I even had the name of their sales rep. I walked in this store last Saturday... and wow! What a difference! Phil, the sales rep was incredibly helpful. He explained the different kinds of carpet to me, the difference between wool and synthetic, and the difference between different brands. He offered to send me samples and was patient with my questions. I left the store with a good idea of what I wanted, what everything cost, and how to proceed. I was a very happy customer!

My friends had the same experience at Harry’s when they purchased their carpet last year. They even told me that when a seam started to appear in one of their rooms last month, the people from Harry’s came right over to fix the problem. That customer service follow-up closed the deal for me... Harry’s really cares about its customers.

So needless to say I’ll be buying my carpet from Harry’s. I know they deliver great service, and I know they are interested in me as a customer.

So what are the lessons from this story:

  1. Every customer counts - even if they are just a "walk in".
  2. If you have lots of sales reps in the store, maybe they should approach a customer.
  3. Ask the customer questions and give them advice. Be patient.
  4. Good customer service leads to referrals. My friends had a good experience at Harry’s and told me and probably many others about their positive experience so I went there and will buy my carpet from them too!

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts by Stewart on Mar 27, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Interesting Site on HR Issues

I just stumbled onto a very cool site for our industry. It is Actually, I have known about this site (I use it to find out about urban myths), but I didn’t realize what a wealth of information was contained in it on a whole variety of HR topics from leadership to customer service.

Just poking around quickly, I saw an interesting article about the power of laughter.

I also uncovered a lot of interesting information on customer service.

I have bookmarked this site as a resource, and thought you may want to as well!

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Training Ideas by Stewart on Mar 21, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Top Ten Training Programs for 2007

Our customers and distributors often ask us which programs are our bestsellers. I think this can be useful because it shows how organizations are setting their training priorities. Here is the list of our top 10 for 2007:

1) Fish! This program (which was released in 1998) provides viewers with a visit to Pikes Place Fish Market in Seattle. It shows how anyone (even people who handle and sell fish) can have fun at work, deliver great service, and motivate themselves (and others) to higher levels of achievement. This program has been a worldwide bestseller for over a decade. Recently, the producer also released the complete training seminar version called "Fish! Culture," and the leadership training program, "LeaderFISH!"

2) Morris Massey’s programs remain top sellers for us year in and year out. The bestseller of all is his latest release "What You Are is Where You Were When... Again!" Funny. Irreverent. Provocative. Thought-provoking. Morris Massey is all of these and more. For over 30 years, he has explained how different generations think and how these generations can work together successfully.

3) Tom Peters remains a top seller. Our best selling programs include the classic bestseller, "In Search of Excellence" and Tom’s latest program "Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age." For over 25 years, Tom Peters has been inspiring people to achieve higher levels of excellence in customer service, leadership, and innovation.

4) The Lance Armstrong Series including "Who Says We Can’t Do It? Lance Armstrong’s Journey." I think one of the reasons this program has been a bestseller is the wonderful interview with Lance’s oncology nurse, LaTrice Haney. It is very moving and motivational.

5) John Kotter’s new release "Succeeding in a Changing World" has done really well. Harvard Business School professor and best-selling author John Kotter presents examples of organizations that have changed successfully and organizations that have failed when faced with change. He also provides an overview of his eight-step process for success. This program was voted one of the top training programs of the year by Training Media Review!

6) Muppet Meeting Films. Join Kermit, Grump, Leo, Sam Eagle, and other members of the Muppet ensemble as they add pizzazz to your meetings. These humorous meeting videos are lots of fun and have been perennial bestsellers!

7) The Bob Farrell programs "Give ’em The Pickle" and "What’s Your Pickle." Bob Farrell uses personal anecdotes to tell a powerful message on customer service. His messages are enduring - and they are also fun to hear and watch.

8) "Life is good... and Work Can Be Too!" This program has done well because it shows how the employees of the apparel company "Life is good" bring enthusiasm and passion to their work.

9) "Love Your Customers" with John O’Hurley. While we have only sold this for a few months, this new release has sold very well. The DVD has two separate training programs. The first, "Love your Customers," provides a blueprint for delivering great customer service. The second, "Love Your Difficult Customers," provides a step-by-step approach for working with customers who are angry or upset. Throughout, you will laugh as John O’Hurley delivers his message in a funny and engaging manner.

10) The Customer Service Training Series (including "It’s Show Time," "Six Steps to Greatness," and "Service Heroes"). This series - led by a profile of Stew Leonard’s Dairy has been one of our top sellers for years. The programs provide concrete examples of great customer service in action!

Posted under Corporate, Best Sellers, Lists, Customer Service, John O’Hurley, John Kotter, Tom Peters, Fish Philosophy by Stewart on Mar 03, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Business Week's Customer Service Champions...

I recently read an article in Business Week about "champions" in customer service. I always enjoy these articles because they provide great insights into customer service innovators and leaders. I also think that you can pick up cool ideas from these organizations. (Click here to read a listing of Business Week’s top 50 customer service champions.)

One particular item in the list of champions caught my attention. It was about True Value Hardware (number 25 on the list). The article said, "Because half of its customers are women, this hardware retailer is remodeling many of its stores to be more female-friendly. Among the changes: moving gardening items to the front of the store and offering a wider selection of paint and bath fixtures. Average transaction size has increased by double digits in the remodeled stores." This reminded me of what Tom Peters has said over and over again - that women are the competitive advantage for businesses in the new millennium.

Tom has been speaking about this for over a decade and, unfortunately, most business leaders have largely ignored his message. Of course, there does seem to be a few exceptions - and True Value is one of them. When you look at Tom’s writings, you’ll see this message comes up a lot. Tom will often mention a note he received in 2000 from Shelley Rae Norbeck. In the note, she said, "I make 1/3rd more money than my husband does. I have as much financial 'pull' in the relationship as he does. I’d say this is also true of most of my women friends. Someone should wake up, smell the coffee and kiss our asses long enough to sell us something! We have money to spend and nobody wants it!" Tom can be particularly funny when he speaks about this often ignored marketing opportunity!

We’ve also had the opportunity to visit (and film profiles) of several other "champions" that were mentioned in the Business Week article. For example, USAA (#1 on the list), Whole Foods Market (#33 ), and Southwest Airlines (#17) are all featured in our program The Excellence Files. It is interesting because these companies have remained leaders for over a decade. Their secret? In a word, it is people. All these companies invest a great deal of time and energy hiring great people. They constantly develop, motivate and train their employees. The result? Outstanding Customer Service! If you’d like to see our profile of USAA, click here.

Posted under Customer Service, Tom Peters by Stewart on Feb 27, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment» X

Fresh, delicious, crisp...

Yes, we do still include a popcorn package with each DVD purchase. It’s our way of saying "thank you" for being our customer!