As 11 million people who have seen the ‘United Breaks Guitars’ on YouTube can attest, I’ve garnered a reputation for being the ‘poster child’ for how Social Media can be used as an instrument to correct a customer dis-service. The production of the video in 2009 changed my life in innumerable ways, taking me from the volunteer fire department in Halifax, Nova Scotia to the Customer Service speaking circuit globally (I admit, I have pinched myself a lot in the last 18 months!). I’m incredibly grateful for these opportunities and proud of the community of friends and followers this four and a half minute video created. And frankly, thrilled to have been able to use music and my band as a vehicle to tell my story and promote two passions of mine.
Being thrust into the Customer Service market as a ‘voice of the customer in the social media age’ (which is often the way I am introduced at speaking engagements), has also presented some opportunities to recognize people, another passion of mine. When I wrote the song Everyday Heroes to recognize First-Responders http://www.davecarrollmusic.com/911song, I was trying to use my Social Media following and background working in emergency response to recognize the sacrifices these heroes make on a daily basis. Look into the eyes of a First Responder and one thing reaches you, you see that they are real people… just like you and me. I’m so passionate about this that I would often include the song in my presentations about my United story and gratefully, my clients have been accommodating.
It was at Genesys’ G-Force Prague this summer that the Everyday Heroes song met Customer Service Heroes, and I was thrilled to have provided a spark for this very worthy tribute to another kind of hero: the Customer Service hero. Since my wife works as an Escalation Manager for a major telecommunications company, I hear their stories nightly at the dinner table. But also, I encounter them as I travel the speaking circuit, in hotels, restaurants and airports. At car rental counters, credit card companies and travel agencies. I have no regrets about making the “United Breaks Guitars’ video, but I do take issue with the challenge some have made to my acting out a personal vendetta against someone, especially front-line customer service staff – or that I have harmed someone personally in some way as a result. My issue has never been with a particular individual; simply the policies established by companies they represent and have the (sometimes unfortunate) responsibility to enforce. I felt that the Customer Service Heroes program gave me an opportunity to correct whatever misperceptions where out there about my true motivations once and for all — and was honored to be a judge of the program.
Customer Service Heroes in Prague was an American Idol-like take on a contest to find EMEA’s best performing customer service agent. The three finalists could not have been more worthy of the title. Daulet Kunenov, of Telecom Express in Russia, went so above and beyond helping a customer find an express train in a pinch that the customer later named their child after him. Nuria Jimenez Remacho, from Catsa in Spain, spent hours going beyond the call of duty to help a customer address a technical issue with an antenna to get internet service in a remote region of Spain. And Ahmed Shalaby, of Vodafone Egypt (the overall winner) made an incredible effort to re-unite a lost child with their parents during the Egyptian Revolutions last spring. His story brought a standing ovation from the crowd and there were few dry eyes in the crowd when the applause stopped.
No matter what we do, who we are, everyone I have ever met needs and wants to be recognized for what they do. To be told ‘thank you’, to be recognized for the work they do, to feel a sense of pride in their work.
Whether you are leading a Customer Service organization or simply on the receiving end of great customer service, I encourage you to recognize people on the front line delivering service in every way you can. With supervisors, with managers, with executives. By writing letters, sending emails, making phone calls. It’s an easy thing to do, and it has an incredible impact on the morale of customer service staff. There’s no website or machine that can offer you an apology or correct a company’s mistake with a customer. At the end of the day it comes down to front-line people, Customer Service Heroes, who make the difference between a lost customer and a happy one.
Thanks for taking the time to honor them!