What’s Your Signature Response to Problems?

What’s Your Signature Response to Problems? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

One of the ways to create goodwill, positive buzz, and happy customers is to exceed expectations. Responding proactively to problems is, in my opinion, one of the easiest ways to exceed the expectations available.

Problems happen, that’s a fact. You can choose to respond to customer challenges, problems, let downs, screw-ups, and mistakes in one of two ways. You can ignore them and create the kind of friction that drags your trust into the ground or you can respond in such an over-the-top, out of control, nobody does that kind of way that can turn problems into gold mines. If you want to exceed expectations, choose the latter!

For the longest time, Nordstrom had a policy that granted refunds with no receipt, no time limit, no questions asked. A variation of that policy still remains today. This policy is often an example given whenever someone talks about customer service. But it’s really a signature response to a customer problem, and it’s become something that creates incredible word of mouth for them.

Creating what I call your signature response to problem-solving takes a little thought, planning, implementation, and even training, but it can become a very valuable tool for your organization. I’ve mapped out four things you can do to quickly, proactively, and creatively address customer problems with a signature response of your own. 

1. Invite and reward customer feedback

The first step to making problem-solving a core marketing system is to encourage your customers to tell you when something’s not right. This may sound like a simple thing, but there is plenty of research that suggests somewhere near 90% of your customers experiencing an issue will simply go away quietly unhappy.

You should clearly state in all your marketing copy that you welcome feedback and won’t rest until your customer is thrilled. Spell out guarantees, return policies, and make it very obvious how to get in touch with you via phone, mail, live chat, web, or email. You should also build satisfaction surveys, results reviews, and even random phone follow-ups into your standard operating procedures.

Of course, it’s not enough to just ask for feedback and then send it down a black hole; you’ve got to respond.

2. Create a response

In order to get the full impact with this idea, you need to design the manner in which you will automatically respond in order to solve a customer problem. Some of this can and should be handled through clearly spelled out, no strings attached, guarantees, and return policies, but you need to add some flair as well. Adding some creativity in this step is how you turn a response into a signature response. For example, does the CEO show-up with a bouquet of flowers, does the customer immediately receive a month of service free and a dedicated service rep to help guide them through the challenge, do you do whatever it takes to make it right?

The key here is to do something that gets the customer the result they are after but also offers a little ‘wow’ that they can’t help but notice because it was unexpected.

Occasionally, we receive notes from customers who have purchased one of our products but feel it isn’t what they thought it would and want to return it. We cheerfully refund their purchase price, but instead of asking them to return it, we ask that they make it a gift to another business owner. It’s a pretty simple thing on our part, but it really creates a warm response each time we offer it.

3. Act quickly

Speed matters in problem-solving – especially in a technology-filled world that caters to and sustains our desires of instant gratification. You need to act quickly. A fast response time makes customers feel that their concerns are important. In a study by CMO Council, the most important attribute of a good customer experience, according to the customers themselves, is a fast response time.

Zappos is well known for its incredible customer support. They have live chat, email, phone, and social support available 24/7. Customers expect their problems to be solved and fast – it’s another prime example of a signature response they designed for themselves.

4. Empower your team to fix the problem

Another really important piece of the problem-solving puzzle is blame. When you make a mistake, admit it, and move to fix it. When your customer makes a mistake, well, move to fix it. There’s no gain in getting the customer to admit they were wrong, even when they are. One of my favorite business expressions said to my staff in my best dad voice is: Fix the problem, not the blame.

The way to make sure that your signature response to problems is actually delivered as designed is to empower your staff to fix the problem, not the blame!

Let them know that while you have a set of policies designed to make their life simple and your business profitable, they can do what it takes to make the customer happy. Now, if that makes you more than a little nervous that you will be taken advantage of then perhaps you need to refine whom you are attracting as customers. There will always be people who try to take advantage of your willingness to please, but the key lies in setting the proper expectations upfront in all of your marketing messages.

Saving a deal gone bad by reacting in a way that is generally unexpected is how you create positive buzz and customers for life.

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Saks Fifth Avenue’s decision to split off its e-commerce business is ‘completely at odds’ with how people shop, according to a retail analyst

Saks Fifth Avenue

  • Saks Fifth Avenue is splitting its online unit from stores in a “financial play,” GlobalData says.
  • The retailer is raising $500 million, which will value Saks.com at $2 billion.
  • BMO analyst says retailers are on a “constant hunt” to optimize consumers’ online experience.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s decision to separate its online business from its brick-and-mortar stores is more of a financial move than a focus on consumer trends, a Global Data analyst said.  

The luxury retailer is splitting its e-commerce business, Saks.com, from its store sales to raise money and capitalize on the shift to online shopping amid the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing company executives

The move to split the two is a “financial play” that will give the online business a higher value than if it remained part of the brick-and-mortar business, said analyst Neil Saunders, the managing director of retail at GlobalData. The separation “is completely at odds with how consumers shop and how retail is trending – which are shifting towards omnichannel where both store and online work together to drive sales,” he said. 

The split is designed by HBC, the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, to raise money, Saunders told Insider. Insight Partners is taking a minority stake in Saks.com and investing $500 million, valuing the unit at $2 billion, the Journal reported, noting that the money will be put toward improving shipping, returns, and customer service

“The plus side of separation is that it may allow the online teams to accelerate growth and innovate more than if they were part of a larger business,” Saunders said. In theory, the online and store operations will act as sister companies, he added. 

Insight said it’s thrilled to be the 150-year-old retailer’s strategic partner. “Our team brings decades of data, industry benchmarks and best practices, and operating expertise to help Saks build a world class ecommerce experience for brands and consumers alike,” an Insight spokesperson told Insider in an email. “Today is day one, and we are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and scaling up Saks.com.”

Saks Fifth Avenue were not immediately available to comment for the story. 

Saunders noted that other retailers, like Target, Walmart, and Nordstrom, are doing just the opposite by integrating online and offline operations “as much as possible.”

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to focus more on e-commerce with many businesses now looking to revamp their online presence.

The pandemic was a chance for big retailers that were struggling to pivot to “get off of the forward conveyor belt” and figure out how they wanted their businesses to be structured, said Simeon Siegel, a senior analyst at BMO Capital Markets. Though there will always be a place for stores, e-commerce has seen an acceleration because of the pandemic, he said.

“It’s fair to assume the industry is going to be on a constant hunt to best optimize the e-commerce experience, to best utilize data, to best reach their consumer, and I don’t think that’s going to stop,” he said. 

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Nordstrom Rack’s Clear the Rack sale is here – save up to 75% on Levi’s, Ugg, and more

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom Rack‘s selection of products usually consists of past-season and overstocked items from its parent store, Nordstrom – and because of that, the prices are always discounted.

Now, during the Nordstrom Rack “Clear the Rack” clearance sale, prices are even lower. Until February 15, you can save an extra 25% on already reduced styles including clothes, shoes, and accessories for the entire family, plus home goods, beauty, and tech. In total, you can save up to 75%.

Many of your favorite brands are included in the sale, like Nike, Cole Haan, Madewell, Levi’s, and Kenneth Cole Reaction. With deals this good, you can expect items to sell out before the end of the sale – so if you see something you like, you may want to buy it sooner than later.

 Shop the Nordstrom Rack “Clear the Rack” clearance sale now.

We rounded up 10 of our favorite picks from the sale below.

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6 stores that offer free holiday shipping with no order minimum – including Nordstrom and Target

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How to spot fake products on Amazon
Free shipping with no minimum order requirement is a big perk for the holiday season, and many retailers offer it just for the occasion.

Free shipping is one of the best perks an online store can offer. It always feels good to save a few extra bucks, and it decreases the pressure to fill your cart with unnecessary items to reach an order minimum. Many stores already offer free shipping all year long, but they tend to be startups with more specialized wares. 

Just for the holidays, however, a few stores where you can shop for pretty much anything are relaxing their shipping policies and giving you free shipping on your order with no order minimum required, though oftentimes you’ll need to be a member of their subscription services. 

These are the stores offering free shipping for the holiday season:

1. Amazon

Just as it does for the rest of the year, Amazon offers free shipping for Amazon Prime members during the holiday season. If you aren’t a member, the minimum order requirement to get free shipping is $25. The vast selection of hundreds of millions of products from the retailer makes it easy to pick up a cheap stocking stuffer alongside a thoughtful gift for your in-laws

2. Target

Though it’s not limited to the holiday season, Target offers free shipping to REDcard holders year-round, no minimum order required. Otherwise, you’ll need to hit a $35 order threshold to get free 2-day shipping.

Target is a good place to snag a Christmas tree to arrive before the day of or find gifts for everyone in your life who could possibly need gifting.

3. Macy’s

Macy’s offers free shipping without minimum order during the holiday season, as well as every other season, provided you use a Macy’s Credit card. A one-stop-shop for gifts for every member of the family, Macy’s is the place to go for apparel for everyone in the family, along with home appliances big and small.

4. Nordstrom

Nordstrom also offers free shipping during the pivotal holiday shopping season – actually, it does so the rest of the year, too, but we think it’s worth emphasizing as you search for luxe gifts for your designer-inclined friend and limited-time collaborations you can’t find anywhere else. It won’t be as fast as Amazon or Target, which both have two-day policies for most items, but at least it’s still free. 

5. Walmart

Walmart’s new service, Walmart Plus, offers its members free unlimited delivery as early as the same day, no minimum order required. As of December 4, Walmart Plus has eliminated its $35 shipping minimum for Walmart.com.

If you have yet to try the service out, it’s free to sign up for a 15-day trial – it’s also good timing if you’d like to take advantage of the free shipping before December 25.

6. Zappos

Zappos offers free shipping to shoppers year-round, with no minimums or exclusions. The retailer’s vast catalog offers apparel for the whole family, perfect for the gift-giving season. Zappos does note, however, that shipping times may be delayed, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on your shipping arrival estimate if you have a deadline to make.

Looking for gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Reviews’ holiday gift guides for 2020 here.

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