The Hatch Baby Rest example

A good friend gifted us a white noise machine called “Hatch Baby Rest” after we had our second baby. It was a timely gift and one we’ve been very grateful for. For the uninitiated, a white noise machine generates ambient noise to ensure kids are less disturbed during their naps/sleep. This device also doubles up as a night light.

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve noticed a small issue with the manual controls on the Rest. However, since we can still control it via the app, we’ve managed just fine. There wasn’t time or bandwidth to troubleshoot further.

Then, we saw this unprompted email from the Hatch Baby team this morning.

Hey there,

Nap time, bed time, and night time can be some of the most crucial (and trying!) times with kids. We get it – we totally know how important your sleep routine is – so we wanted to check in about your Hatch Baby Rest.

When your Hatch Baby Rest app connects to Rest, it runs a quick diagnostics check to make sure everything is working correctly. When running this routine check on your Rest named “Hatch Rest”, we were alerted to a problem with the sound on your device.

You may not have even noticed it – but we’d like to send you a free replacement. It’s so important to us that your family’s sleep routine stays on track. Please enter your shipping information on the form below and we will send a replacement Rest ASAP.

You can keep your current Rest and continue using it, if you’d like. If the sound does have a problem, the night light function will continue to work properly. Please accept our sincere apologies; we want your Rest to work perfectly every time you use it.

We’re also sending a big thank you for being a Hatch Baby customer. Our goal – always – is to make life easier for parents. We love to hear your feedback and are constantly trying to improve. If you have any suggestions along the way, let us know!

If you’ve already received this email or believe you have received it in error, please disregard!

The power of great customer service is that it creates experiences that live on for a long time. Thank you, Hatch Baby team, for setting an inspiring example.

When companies become corporations

When do organizations and companies become big corporations? I think there are a few tell tale signs –

  1. You stop feeling treated as a customer and begin to feel yourself treated as a number. For example, you need to pass the annoying robot voice or 4 numbers test before you speak to a person. That’s when you know they have “scaled.”

2. Customer services loses the power to say or do something that isn’t in the manual.

3. You get a 30 page legal document for your terms and conditions.

4. You get corporate speak instead of a real apology.

5. You don’t feel you can trust them to help you or care. This tends to be the surest sign.

Of course, the big corporation is just something we feel. Nothing may have really changed in the company’s exterior messaging.

But, as customers, we know when it happens.

Customer retention

For most subscription services, customer retention is the holy grail. Retaining a customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one. In addition, retention increases your chances of getting referrals. It is, mostly, a no brainer.

So, how do we actually go about retaining customers? While there are multiple levers, there are two that likely drive most returns. One of them is the obvious one – make sure the product or service is valuable. If there is a lot of value relative to what we are paying, we will stay.

And, the second key lever is customer service. If you have outstanding customer service, you do two things at once. First, through customer service interactions, you constantly surface additional value that we are probably not aware of. Second, you make sure we never leave in a fit of anger or frustration.

Now, the fact here is that value matters more than customer service in most cases. Comcast charged me an extra $10 on my bill for 4 straight months. I called their customer service 5 times in the process and was told, every time, that the problem was solved (until it eventually was). However, they do deliver a solid internet connection. And, besides, given their near monopoly where I’m at, they become more valuable. But, am I a loyal Comcast customer? Absolutely not.

On the other hand, the chances that you will get me to switch from either American Express, Audible or In Motion Hosting is very very low. They check the “deliver value” box comfortably. But, they outdo themselves in their customer service. In Motion Hosting, my hosting provider, is exemplary in this regard. I know they are an email away. I am sure they will be helpful. And, I also know that they’ll do so with cheer. They have made sure I will never leave.

The human analogy for a fantastic customer retention strategy is to think of competence and attitude. It helps a ton to be competent. In many cases, even if you have a bad attitude, if you are only among five other sought after rocket scientists on the planet, you will do just fine. However, layer in a great attitude and you will be indispensable.

Happy to assist

I’ve regularly been hearing “I will be more than happy to assist you” said multiple times on a call to customer service across multiple companies.

The only problem? In many of these instances, they weren’t actually all that helpful. In a couple of instances, I got wrong information. In another couple, they didn’t tell me upfront that they wouldn’t be able to solve my problems. And, all of this took a lot of time.

Here’s an idea – instead of training everyone to say “I will be more than happy to assist you,” why don’t we just build help centers to focus entirely on solving the problem instead? Saying “happy to assist” three times doesn’t make the problem any better. And, my hypothesis is that needing to remember these lines often makes them forget the real issue.

Perhaps a better way to think about training would be to follow functional steps instead of specific phrases. The steps I’d follow would be a mix of questions and actions-
1. Have I understood the customer’s problem? (Repeat it to them if necessary)
2. Can I fix the problem on this call or will they have to go elsewhere? (If so, let them know now with an apology)
3. How long will it take me to fix it? (Let them know)
4. Fix it.
5. Do 1-4 with a smile no matter how irate or annoying the customer is.
6. Give the person sitting next to me a high five for a job well done.

This isn’t just a problem with corporations. It is tempting to fill our silences with customers with meaningless words and empty promises. So much better that we focus on solving problems and earning a well deserved reputation for getting the job done.