5 ways Juan at my local @Walgreens gives me an outstanding customer experience?

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Just down the street from my house is a Walgreens. For those of you who don’t know, Walgreens is a place to pick up your prescriptions but also a place for small items you forgot at the grocery store.  From aspirin to cards to glow in the dark necklaces, you can find just about anything. However, this is not just a typical Walgreens store, this is a place where a model of great customer experience lives.  His name is Juan. You would not know this to look at him. Juan is an older gentleman, he speaks fluent Spanish in addition to his excellent English. Over the years Juan and I have made small conversations.  I would ask about his grandkids and he would ask about my kids.  He always has a smile and greets me when I come through the door.  What made me write this article about him, you ask? Simple, one day while checking out my conglomerate of items, Juan said “You know, your son was in here with his buddies the other day and bought an energy drink.  Those drinks can be harmful, do you want him to drink those?” Understanding his concern I said, “He only gets one a week, so if you see him get more, you let me know. Thanks Juan!”  Juan knows he can’t prevent my son from buying the drinks because he works at Walgreens, but he was kind enough to let me know what my teenager was up to so I could intervene with some parenting if needed.  It’s this extra level of compassion that inspired me to write about him.  I started to think about what Juan does that sets him apart from other workers and other stores. Why do I always use this local Wallgreens instead of the CVS around the block or the 7-11 across the street?  What is it that Juan does to exemplify the customer experience? It comes down to these 5 essential ways:

  1. Be familiar: Juan knows my name and my family member’s names.  It was not instantaneous familiarity.  He saw my name and used it, looking me in the eye to confirm that he was pronouncing it correctly.  I nodded yes and saw his name on his name tag and said his name.  Later, I came in with my kids, he asked their names in a pleasant way “Who is this big fella here?” Always smiling, very cordial. Important point though, when he knew our names, he didn’t forget. 
  2. Be inquisitive: Juan would never let the check out transaction be a boring one.  He always asked something different.  “What are you all doing today?” “How’s everything?” “Hows that tall boy of yours?” “Where’s your daughter, I haven’t seen her lately?” I wasn’t offended by these questions and was happy he asked.
  3. Be humorous: The checkout would never leave without a joke about something. One day I was with my son and as I was putting items on the counter, Juan looked at my teenager square in the eye and said  “Are you buying these for your mom?” Now, Juan knows my son does’t have a job and couldn’t pay for it. But my son would smile at him shyly and we would all laugh. I would reply “Juan, he may have to work in the back, do you have a job for him?”  Juan’s eyes would light up and he would say “Oh yeeesss!”  My teenager at this point would would grin and try to grab the bag of stuff to get out the door.  It’s all in good fun  but my son is now thinking that he might have to work to pay for stuff right?
  4. Be consistent: Now every time I go to Wallgreens, I am hoping Juan is there to do our usual joke. It’s a little silly but this is what we usually do. When I rush into the store, if he sees me first, he will say to me  “Merry Christmas, Brenda!”  (keep in mind, it’s the middle of July) and I laugh and greet him with “Happy New Year, Juan!”  It’s our joke and I feel special. We may use other holiday type greetings but I always think of one that he’s not using. It’s a fun exchange. Juan is also consistently smiling and talking to everyone like he knows them as friends. It’s expected behavior from him with everyone, not just me.
  5. Be sincere:  Even if Juan is having a rough day, he will tell me.  The other day he said in response to my “How are you doing today Juan?” with “Oh, I am tired today, my allergies are acting up.” All I have to do is nod my head in understanding and we move on to the smiles and wish each other well. I know he is sincere because I know he is human.

Customer service, success or experience, whatever you want to call it, is really about a creating a community that cares about it’s patrons.  You can get to know your customers well enough to go the extra mile and make an impression which creates a loyal community.  Who do you know in your community store that does this for you?  How can your business implement these to give your customers the best experience?

What can #Businesses and #Customer SuccessManagers learn from #Italian #Glass Makers?

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Similar to Italian Glass makers, Customer Service started with only the profit in mind and not the customer.  By this I mean that Italian glass makers were originally creating staples that people would by in order to keep the glass business profitable.  Then fires from the Kilns where glass was formed were causing houses in the town to burn down. The glassmakers were moved to an island so they would not be a hazard to the rest of the community. This isolated them. With this isolation, the Italian glass industry was easier to control and influence when it was in one particular place. For a while there was tremendous control over who went to the island to learn glassmaking and who left. In fact, if you left the island you could not work as a glassmaker somewhere else. However, because of this isolation, there was a tremendous cross-fertilization of ideas which led to the leading role of Venetian glass within Europe. Today, beautiful pieces of art are created by multi generation glass makers. For fun, watch a Virtuoso glass making artist in action Murano Glass Video

To understand how the customer experience evolved in the United States,  let’s take a brief look at the history of how customers connected with businesses in it’s earliest forms:

  • 1800 – Reach the seller – by horse – walk
  • 1876 – Telephone invention! You could directly talk to the person you bought the product from and get direct information.
  • 1894 – Women ran a switch board to connect you
  • 1920 – Rotary phone helped you to dial the number and connect yourself
  • 1960 – First call centers were invented
  • 1967 – Toll Free number invented – no more collect calls – no more operators
  • 1970 = IVR – an automated operator of sorts so you could press the right option and get to the right person without human assistance
  • 1989- Outsourcing call centers – India
  • 1991 – Invention of the internet – service at your command (mostly)
  • 1996 – Email and Live Chat

It has been predicted by many sources that by 2020, Customer Experience will overtake price and product and the key brand differentiators. This brings us important factors to consider when understanding Customer Success in a business:

We are in the age of MultiChannel Customer Experience through the customer’s personal computer which is now their phones or wearable devices

Mobile may be the first customer experience with the increased use of mobile data and speeds reaching 5G, driven by social media, enhanced use of a plethora of apps, instant messaging, and chats – mobile has become the ‘go-to’ medium for all customer communications.

IoT and “Big Data’s” role is momentous

We have so much data now that companies are not sure what to do with it or how to analyze all of it.  There are also competing opinions within companies about the what the data means.  There will have to be major shift to consolidate and prioritize this data in order for companies to move forward and give an effective performance for the customer.

Self Service & Artificial Intelligence are Key Players 

Your customers don’t want to get in touch with a contact center every time they hit a roadblock of face an issue. Therefore, they are most likely to switch to easy self-service options, and that is precisely why we are observing an upsurge in ‘in-app’ support and features. It will be imperative to get anyone working for a company prepared for what the customer is calling about and have the valid data from the customer in hand.

Customization of Location Based Services

Now there is the ability to track and migrate a customer engagement across all channels of communication.  This tracking will be able to help businesses understand where customer’s go, but will it be a true sense of what the customer wants?

Value and Respect Customer’s Time

77% of consumers say that the number one most important thing companies can do to provide good customer service is to value and respect their time. This should be at the heart of your strategy when designing an Multi Channel approach for a quality Customer Experience

According to Aaron Smith, Apps have become the first part of the communication supply chain However, platforms like Twitter represent the “one-to-many” channels of service, where consumers can see the issue and get involved with it,”. “One of the ways to bring it back to the “one-to-one” approach is through apps,” According to Aaron Jacobs, while apps have proven to be a worthwhile approach, many brands have internal silos that embed the customer service inside the app, meaning that customer service teams don’t have much say in their evolution or development. “Secondly, consumers rarely download company apps unless they can practically live inside them, the examples being social media, lifestyle, and travel brands that can penetrate the majority of phones,” said Jacobs, closed the point with his hypothesis: “If you could offer a stellar customer service experience inside an app and offer an added benefits to the customer for using it, then it becomes worth downloading.”

One great example of a multichannel approach done well is the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. This is simple easy to understand and customers can choose what way they want to contact the Airlines if they can’t find the answer for themselves:

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In the the United States, customer service was originally provided as a cost to the company and it was a need of the consumer.  As faster and more communication devices were created, businesses felt the need to control communication and monitor it closely. Businesses wanted to isolate their Customer Service and Customer Experience channels. Some businesses still try to control the communication and service needs of their customer’s today.  They want to protect their brand. However, if businesses want to succeed, they must know how to create customer experience as an art form.  It needs to be unique, colorful, and inviting. Customer’s sympathy and patience is limited. The complexity of options to a customer produces constant change and anxiety for the customer.  Customers can no longer be thought of as a group with the individual needs being ignored. Businesses will have to give an experience the customer wants live in and look at everyday. Is your Customer Service and Customer Experience at the stage of sophistication? Is it an art form?







CSMs: 3 ways to beat your competitors by uncovering your customer value!


As a Customer Success Manager and previous business owner for 10 years, there is a consistent challenge of making sure your customers see your company’s value.  Today consumers are able to research quickly, pick and choose their product or services and this retaining customer value through Social Media is what I am studying about at the Northwestern University.

In Mark Schaefer’s article: The 30 Possible Ways You Can Create Customer Value, he lists an amazing 30 methods your company can use to establish value.  He reviews how many of these values you should you actually have.  In his research, the most successful companies provide more than one value to their customers.

In another article by Eric Devaney: The 3 Customer Success Metrics You Should Be Using, he reiterates how important it is to measure your churn, expansion revenue, and customer satisfaction to derive how much value your customers are getting from your product.

Drawing on these two articles and my experience with Customer Success and business ownership, I have listed three actions that companies should use to retain their value to their customers:

  • Establish benchmarks for customer value:  It’s not only important to review the data but you should also create benchmarks to measure against
  • Solve problems: Problem solving naturally leads to customer happiness which is the emotional component you want the customer to have about your business. Realizing a business can’t solve all problems, it’s essential to have this as a priority.
  • Drive value through virality. Word of mouth comes in many forms these days but it is still the number one way customers will see your value. They trust their peers to give them honest feedback.

Starting today, take action to determine the value you have for your customers to ensure stability and growth and most of all happy customers.
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My name is Brenda Hanley and I have over 13 years experience in running a successful business and over 5 years in Customer Experience. I am currently pursuing certification  in Social Marketing Specialization with Northwestern University in Coursera.  You can reach out to me on Twitter @hanleybrenda.