Jaclyn Dunt: Starting a Business and Gaining Customers through Word of Mouth

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Starting a business is never easy, and establishing your customer service platform can be difficult. Finding the right way to earn your customers trust and grow your business is unique to every startup and I had the opportunity to interview fellow University of Nevada, Reno graduate and one of my closest friends Jaclyn Dunt, about her business she started in November 2014, Free Flow Equine Services.

Image may contain: 1 person, riding on a horse, horse and outdoorHere is a little bit about her journey into starting her own business:

“I first learned about the business while I was competitively riding as a junior and working at a show jumping barn. Molly Wells, the pioneer of the Acuscope industry, frequently treated horses at the barn I worked at and I witnessed firsthand the amazing results. I chose to do my Senior Project in high school on Acuscope Therapy, which entailed over 200 hours of shadowing. I really enjoyed helping the horses and seeing how well the Acuscope worked to keep their bodies performing at such a high level.

After high school, I went to UNR Business School, keeping in mind that I wanted a broad degree that would allow me to continue working as a professional in the horse industry. I chose Business Management with minor in Sociology. I enjoyed attending UNR, especially in the business school where the students are all very close and frequently work together on projects.

After graduating and traveling for a few months, I contacted Molly Wells again and signed up to become a certified therapist. It is an intensive 3 week course, focusing on anatomy and bio mechanics of moment. Working with Molly and another student towards these goals was definitely intense – as was the final exam. When I passed my exam and began my own LLC, I loved the flexibility of the job and the sense of accomplishment I felt at the end of every day.”

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, horse and outdoorBeginning a business is just the first step, so we discussed a little more in detail about how she finds her customers and provides a great experience for them. Here is a little about her take on gaining customers:

“Word of mouth and reputation are crucial. It is important to have customers that refer you to other clients, especially in the Reno area. Also building a company brand name that people recommend and remember has been helpful. There are a few other therapists in the area, so it is important to go above and beyond for your clients in order to promote your brand.”

In order to gain more clients she discussed the importance of referrals and word of mouth as the platform she has used to build her business. She has tried flyers and posters, but it doesn’t compare to her word of mouth reputation. She also networks at events and makes sure to meet with people face to face. Attending horse shows is another way she gains potential customers, because there are many trainers and owners in one place, who are all passionate about the industry.

Image may contain: horse, sky and outdoorFinally, we discussed a little bit about where she is at in her business currently and some of her future goals. At the moment the company is hosted through Facebook and the company website: freeflowequine.com. Her client base consists of 16 customers located in the Northern Nevada and Central/Southern California areas. She recently moved to Santa Barbara, California where she is planning to continue and hopefully expand her customer base.

Check out her Facebook, website, and LinkedIn for more information!

Photo Credit: Jaclyn Dunt

United Airlines Announces 10 Customer Service Changes

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A couple of weeks ago United Airlines was bashed for the way they handled a customer incident. As most have seen or heard, the passenger was forcefully dragged off of the plane, and the video to prove it went viral. Within hours United Airlines was faced with a public relations crisis, which I discussed in detail in a previous blog. Not only does a company have to try to recover from a situation like this, but they need to ensure that they are genuine while doing so.

With United Airlines having a couple of weeks to figure out just how this would impact their business and company culture it was imperative that they addressed the massive failure in customer service. Making a change in culture is many times a top down approach for companies, and in this instance the CEO, Oscar Munoz, along with the company made an official statement of ten action items. These will change some of their customer service practices and procedures and address other issues.


Here are the ten changes to customer service United Airlines announced:

  • Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
  • Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless                   safety or security is at risk.
  • Increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to                         $10,000.
  • Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as                 using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers to their           final destination.
  • Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
  • Provide employees with additional annual training.
  • Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
  • Reduce the amount of overbooking.
  • Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
  • Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a “no questions asked”                   policy on lost luggage.

Image result for customer serviceIt is great to hear the changes that the company is making in the aftermath of the incident. Especially changes that empower the employees to make decisions in the moment to help prevent a situation like this from happening. They are also providing higher compensatory incentives, increasing the cap to $10,000, to incentivize voluntary denied boarding. I guarantee if they would have offered that amount during this incident someone would have taken the offer.

United Airlines may not have initially handled the situation well, or made proper statements right after the incident. However, after looking through these changes they are committed to making you can tell that the company took some time to really analyze and change the culture and the level of service they provide their customers. I think this is a great starting point for the company to fix their reputation.

After seeing these ten changes to their company policies, would you feel more inclined to travel with United Airlines again? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: United, Customer Service

Cheerios: Saving the Bees and Gaining Customer Loyalty

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With the ever changing atmosphere the customer service industry has to offer, companies not only need to provide a great experience, but a creative and sustainable one was well. Companies getting involved in outreach projects that help different causes are a great way to engage and delight the customer. Gaining the consumers loyalty is part of proving that the brand is not only out to make a profit, but also make a difference in our society.

About a month or so ago, I saw post on Facebook about Cheerios. The post talked about saving bees and how anyone can help this cause. I was intrigued so I clicked on the article and was directed to their site where you could sign up and receive and packet of seeds to be planted in order to help the bee population. I just received my packet of seeds in the mail and was delighted that they backed their commitment.

The #BringBacktheBees campaign has been a huge success and they not only reached their goal of giving away 100 million seeds, but ended up donating 1.5 billion! Now that is a successful campaign. With the huge accomplishment they have now run out of seed packets to be given away, but reaching a donation in the billions is no small feat. They were able to exceed their goal and deliver on their promise to consumers who were signed up to receive a seed packet.

Not only is Cheerios proving to be a sustainable brand throughout the years, but now they are proving even more so how they care about the environment and allowing others to help as well. This is part of the future of customer service, because consumers want to know that they are purchasing from a brand that cares about more than just making a profit.

Cheerios provides some details on why we need the bees:

  • 1 in 3 bites of food we eat is made possible by bees and other pollinators
  • 44% of bee colonies in the U.S. collapsed in 2016
  • More than two thirds of the world’s crop species rely on pollinators

Partnering with Veseys they provide tips on how to plant:

  • Plant in the spring, post-frost
  • Choose a non-windy day
  • Wildflowers flourish in moist soil
  • Weed, weed, weed
  • Mow high in the fall and leave seed-rich clippings

I am no pro at gardening in any way, but their tips will make it much easier for me to plant the seeds that I received. Cheerios provided me with one small way that I can help out. Do you feel as though you are more loyal to companies that help to protect the environment? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: Cheerios

Panda Express: Do Free Samples Increase Customer Satisfaction?

Panda ExpressIn order for a company to stay competitive in today’s environment they need to get creative in the ways that they provide customer service. Increasing customer satisfaction is getting more competitive the more innovative companies are getting, and the higher a customer’s expectations are. Customers do not only expect to be greeted with a friendly employee, but also expect to be wowed in some way by your company. I mean a friendly employee is definitely a solid start for a company, but in order to really make the experience exceptional a company needs to go above and beyond.

Image result for panda express five flavor shrimpThis past week I visited Panda Express to grab dinner, and I got to thinking, do their free samples really increase the consumers overall satisfaction? I know that Panda Express is not the only company to offer free samples, they are one of many companies following this practice. I know that many consumers are delighted at the opportunity to technically “try before they buy,” but what about the customers who have no intent of purchasing a certain entrée, but are more than willing to take a sample of the product. This may not seem like a big deal, but a trend I have noticed is that the sample is usually a shrimp entrée, that Panda Express has an extra charge for if selected.

Image result for panda express storeThese are known as “premium entrees” and will always cost a little extra if chosen. This may not seem like a big deal, however I have noticed a trend throughout the times that I have chosen to eat at Panda Express; customers sample the shrimp, but don’t buy. There have been multiple times I have been behind customers who would like to sample the shrimp, and do not even seem to consider the purchase, because they clearly already knew what they wanted, which was a non-premium entrée. I questioned whether offering these free samples really helped the company, or does it diminish their supply, which is why they have to charge extra in the first place. If for example a quarter of the product is given away for free by sampling, this could hurt the company’s overall profit, and just drive up the extra charge for these premium entrees.

Image result for Free samplesI am not saying that sampling is bad, in many ways it is a positive for a company. Consumers have a better experience overall, and are less likely to return an entire purchase because they were not satisfied. In this way sampling is great! Because an entire entrée being tossed because of a customer not liking the product is avoided by them sampling the item before purchase. Sampling also allows customers to try a new item they may not have purchased initially, which I believe is the true reason for this practice. If a customer is hesitant on the shrimp for example, but after the sample they choose the entrée, then Panda Express made the sale. So as you can tell there are definitely pros and cons to sampling.

How do you feel about being offered a free sample by a company? Does that make you more or less likely to purchase from them again? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: Panda Express, Shrimp, Store, Samples

Customer Service Tip: Slow Down, Listen and Incorporate Fun

Image result for slow down and listen to your customersThe Social Age has changed the landscape for customer service in many industries. With the addition of technology and social media, sometimes people think the faster they go the better the results. Yes, timely feedback to a customer is extremely important. However, there are times that in order to truly help out the customer you need to slow down and just listen to what they are telling you.

Many times customers just want to know that an employee is genuinely trying to help them, instead of rushing and blowing them off. I know from experience that sometimes with the many demands an employee faces within a day “slowing down” is the last thing on their minds. However, to maintain a customer focused experience that many companies want, slowing down is one of the keys to achieving this.

Following up on one of my previous blogs about sincerity, I will again look at the article by Help Scout, “How To Talk To Your Customers.” They give great tips on customer service and communication and one of their last tips is about delighting the customer. This goes hand in hand with slowing down and listening, which will lead to a positive customer experience.

Here are some of their tips for achieving this result:

  • Ask questions to get to the bottom of what they’re really trying to accomplish
  • Boost happiness with GIFs, exclamation points, and emoji
  • Fix problems that aren’t your fault
  • Build relationships by picking up on personal details
  • Give thanks in the real world

Image result for emojiI think one of the greatest tools companies can use today is the addition of fun elements in their responses. Especially with the dominance of social media platforms, this is easily achievable. Many people now are already familiar with GIFs and emoji’s, and adding those in your response can lighten the mood. Obviously you need to understand your customer’s complaint and respond accordingly, but for some of the lighter issues or questions using fun elements in your response can brighten a customer’s day.

Wendy'sMany companies are able to be reached with help accounts over Twitter. Some companies have even opened accounts for their brand characters themselves, who will respond and interact with customers, many times using GIFs and emoji’s. Wendy’s has gained some popularity on Twitter, known for some witty remarks and interactions with customers, and with 1.72 million followers they are doing something right.

Do you appreciate if an employee slows down what they are doing to listen to you when you have a question? What if you received a GIF or emoji with a response to your question? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: Slow Down, Emoji, Wendy’s Logo

Starbucks: Delighting Customers with the “Unicorn Frappuccino”

Starbucks is an industry leading brand with their hot, cold, and blended beverage choices. Along with their expanding food options, there is no question as to why you can find a Starbucks location no matter your destination. Not only does the brand offer tangible goods for their customers, but also the intangible reputation the brand has created over the years with their prominent logo.

Thriving off of their customers and their wishes it was no surprise that Starbucks has now jumped on the “Unicorn” trend with their all new Unicorn Frappuccino Blended Crème drink available for a limited time only at participating locations. Released today, the drink has already taken social media by storm. The Social Age provides customers with a quick and easy way to promote any new item that hits the market. Starbucks has won the battle of the Social Age with this whimsical drink.

With its debut I had to try the drink out for myself to see what all the hype was about. I was definitely not disappointed. The drink lived up to its promotional image with swirls of purple, pink, and blue. Topped off with whipped cream and sour powder, the flavors change as you drink it. Starting off mainly sweet, the sour starts to kick in once the flavors melt together. Transforming the experience of what I would consider a typical Frappuccino blended beverage.

No caffeine allows this drink to be marketed to consumers of all ages, and be promoted at any time of day for their unicorn loving customers. You can also customize the drink based off of your personal food preferences. Here are your options:

  • Size: Tall (12 oz.), Grande (16 oz.), Venti (24 oz.)
  • Milk: Almond, Coconut, Nonfat, Whole, 2%, Soy
  • With or without whipped cream

Here is a breakdown of what is actually in this magical drink:

  • Ice
  • Milk
  • Crème Frappuccino Syrup
  • Whipped Cream
  • Mango Syrup
  • Blue Drizzle
  • Pink Powder
  • Sour Blue Powder

This drink has proved that companies will listen, when customers want to experience new and interesting foods, like this Unicorn Frappuccino. Taking the internet by storm, I am excited to see what other companies decide to maximize on the unicorn trend. Not only are customers excited, but this is also brining in profits and increasing customer loyalty for the industry leader. How will Starbucks top this internet breaking beverage? I guess we will have to wait see what they will come out with this summer.

Want to try one of these magical drinks for yourself? Check to see if a local Starbucks is participating with this featured drink! But don’t wait too long, this drink is only offered for a limited time while supplies last.

Photo Credit: Starbucks

Customer Service Tip: Being Sincere in Your Response

Image result for sincere customer serviceMy previous blog touched on the topic of How to Treat Your Customer. This is such an important topic that I decided to expand and discuss the issue many companies face which is; difficult customer questions, situations, and complaints. How a company responds to these might make or break the customer’s loyalty to the brand and their overall experience. The Social Age has provided so many benefits for both companies and consumers, however this has also increased the timeliness in which a customer expects a genuine response to their problem.

I will again be looking at the amazing article by Help Scout, “How To Talk to Your Customers.” They provide a great framework for answering many customer service question any employee may have specifically with customer engagement and answers. They broke it down into three separate communication sections and in this post I will be focusing on their second topic of “Mastering Difficult Conversations.”

“Whether you end up with a satisfied customer or an unhappy one might come down to how you phrase your response. (Help Scout)”

Here are some of my favorite points they make for this topic:Image result for sincere customer service

  • Apologize sincerely
  • Don’t linger on the apology
  • Be direct
  • Admit when you’re in the wrong
  • Get personal
  • Admit what you don’t know
  • Focus on the end, not the means
  • Make your customers feel heard
  • Don’t tolerate outright abuse

These are just a few of the amazing tips and explanations that Help Scout gives in their article. I think the first point of apologizing sincerely is one of the greatest tools a company can use. Customers’ are people and they want to be treated as such, they do not want to hear the generic corporate headquarters generated response. They want to feel that they are being sympathized with in the situation that they are facing at the moment. One of the best things an employee can be trained to do is be as sincere as possible when dealing with customer, while also maintaining professionalism.

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All levels of employees within a company need to be sincere in their apologies, especially if the customer was treated poorly. In my previous blog about the United Airlines customer service crisis this past week I talked about apologies. Even at the CEO level sometimes the apology can seem insincere, which will affect a company negatively. With the ease of access to social media platforms, insincerity will be spread like wild fire if customers are not happy with the response a company is giving. Which is why I believe that when dealing with any difficult situation one of the biggest keys is to remain sincere, no matter what level of the organization you are in.

 

Did you feel as though the employee was sincere the last time you had an issue or complaint with the company? Did you receive timely feedback? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: Sincere, Quote, Quote 2