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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

THE RETENTION FACTOR: Whale Watching and Customer Service

The Retention Factor with Rosanne D’Ausilio, Ph.D.

I recently went whale watching off the North Coast of the Dominican Republic and was impressed with the guides on the boat, and how they demonstrated excellent customer service. Why was I impressed? There are 5 reasons.

1) You must have patience and remember that you have more knowledge of your product or service than the customer and be patient with them. When going whale watching, you must be patient, waiting for the whales to (hopefully) show up.

2) You must take your customers on the journey with you. Have you ever had the experience of calling customer service and after having explained your issue, were given your order number or account number, and then dead silence? You may even say, “Hello, is anyone there?” In fact the person was there but never said a word. Perhaps they were looking up your account, perhaps their computer was slow. But they haven’t told you anything. They haven’t taken you on the journey. A simple, “Bear with me, our system is very slow today.” Or “I am bringing up your account now, it’ll take just a moment.”

As we left shore for whale watching, we had a lecture for almost an hour on the history of whales, the various kinds, whether or not they were on the endangered species list, etc. Photos were sent around what we were hearing and learning. The presentation was in English and translated into French and German, and took about an hour. That’s how long the boat took to get us to the area where the whales come each year to spawn between January and March. Imagine if we had to sit still on hard plastic benches for one hour not knowing if we’d even see whales. There was no guarantee. The journey would have seemed quite long without the presentation. As it was time passed quickly. Questions were encouraged and intelligently answered.

3) Involve your customers in the interaction. While there are moments of silence, engage them in conversation. Create a “you and me and here’s the issue” construct rather than "you vs. me," an adversarial construct. In whale watching, the guide had us participate in the watching. Those of us on the right side of the boat were responsible for looking at what would be 3 pm on a clock. Opposite to us were 9 am sighters and so on.

4) Move customers through to a positive interaction and close. Ask if there is anything you can help them with, and if so, begin the process again. If not, thank them for contacting you. In whale watching, once we saw whales, we began the process again. Actually the guide timed how long before the whale surfaced again and then alerted us when it was the next time for them to show themselves, and approximately where she thought that would be, and we were all at the ready.

5) Delight the customer. To delight the customer one needs to:

a. Inform

b. Educate

c. Establish professionalism

d. Answer questions intelligently

e. Take ownership of the interaction

They did all of that. I learned more about humpback whales in that short trip than I had ever known before. She delighted this customer!

This trip certainly gave me—and I hope you--something to think about.

Let me know your comments, opinions, or please ask any questions.

ROSANNE D'AUSILIO, Ph.D., an industrial psychologist, consultant, master trainer, best selling author, executive coach, customer service expert, and President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management. Over the last 25 years, she has provided needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live customer service skills trainings as well as executive/leadership coaching. Also offered is agent and facilitator university certification through Purdue University’s Center for Customer Driven Quality.

Known as "the practical champion of the human," she's authored the best sellers, Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub, 4th ed, Customer Service and the Human Experience, Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack Your Personal Deck (includes a 32-card deck of cards)—motivational and inspirational readings, How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips , How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: ANOTHER 101 Insider Tips (, and The Expert’s Guide to Customer Service ( as well as her popular complimentary "tips" newsletter on How To Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch! at Rosanne is also a Certified Call Center Benchmarking Auditor through Purdue University's Center for Customer Driven Quality. This certification training focuses on the access and use of key performance data to help better understand benchmarking results so as to advise on practical solutions for improvement.

For 10 years prior to starting her own organization, Rosanne had responsibility for marketing, budgeting, promoting and ultimately producing domestic and international computerized trade shows in the US, London, Belgium, and Frankfurt. She inaugurated, created, trained and directed a telemarketing on-site staff and was one of the first 150 people to attain CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) certification.

She is a columnist for, Ask the Expert at, and The National Networker. She represents the human element on the Advisory Board of an Italian software company, authors numerous articles for industry newsletters, and is a much sought after dynamic, vibrant, internationally prominent keynote speaker.

For more information, please visi
Rosanne's TNNW Bio.


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