Tag Archives: culture

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Customer Service Shortcuts

Customer Service Shortcuts and Culture

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It is easy to disregard customer service. Perhaps in many organizations it is quickly brushed over because there is no rocket science and, after all, it takes a lot of energy to do it right. Do you have a culture of customer service shortcuts?

How do you know you have good customer service? How are you measuring the success of your customer service culture?

Said or Done?

Many organizational leaders tell me that they survey their customers. Some suggest that management is carefully watching and monitoring both processes and outcomes. Others claim to be doing it digitally. They monitor social media, review sales data, and analyze lifetime value.

In many ways, all of those produce some form of evidence. Evidence is valuable and meaningful, but it may not be the entire story. Things are likely missing, valuable things that are overlooked, underestimated, or disregarded.

What is the culture of the organization? What are the habits, the traditions, and the values? I’m not just talking about what is said in the boardroom, at the quarterly meeting, or on a digital document otherwise known as the employee handbook.

What is the execution or organizational habits? What are the customer service shortcuts? None of it may be rocket science.

Shortcut Investment or Divestment

Many businesses invest in shortcuts. It is the auto-attendant telephone system, the ring the buzzer for help, or the website contact page. They invest in touch point reduction. It is the listen carefully because our menu options have changed, or it must have went into my spam folder.

Customers don’t hear reasons, they hear excuses. What they feel, is a lack of caring. What your execution is demonstrating, is a shortcut. Every action, or a lack of, has a cost. What can your organization afford?

Customer Service Shortcuts

It isn’t about well-crafted words on a document, it isn’t the glamorous pitch from the C Suite, or it is not necessarily about what is contained in the managers’ report.

It might be a part of all of those, but the biggest part of your culture is execution, the things that become values, traditions, and the brand.

They are easy, fast, and no one seems to notice. When carefully examined they represent what you can get away with, perhaps a different form of what will the market bear.

It is about your culture. There is value to what you say, but what will be remembered the most is what you do and how your customers feel.

Is it time to consider how you’re coming up short?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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building customer service appreciative strategies

Correctly Building Customer Service Culture

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Everyone knows that in the business world there isn’t really any standing still. You are either moving forward or falling behind. In the midst of our service economy, smart organizations are building customer service cultures like they never have before. Are they doing it correctly? Will it last?

Many are familiar with the fictional Iowa corn farmer who repeatedly hears, “If you build it, he will come.” Is your team hearing a voice from beyond? Is this type of thinking true for building customer service culture?

Foundational Stories

Surprising to some, much of the impact and learning moments of our lives are founded in stories. The stories may be factual or fictional but they often solidify learning. The greatest thing about a good story is that it is repeated. It is shared, valued, and trusted. Most important it is told over and over again.

The foundation of your customer service culture needs to be a story worth telling. It should be able to form connections, and move and inspire others. If the story isn’t worth telling the likelihood of repetition will drastically decrease, no matter how hard you push.

Once you have a story, or at least believe that you have a story, you’ll have to assess its value. You can ask yourself or your team, “Is this story something that anyone will care about? Will it move people by causing positive actions and behaviors?”

If no one sees or feels a benefit from the suggested outcomes, no one will care. If no one really cares, there is little chance for a viral experience. Even throwing money at it won’t change things much. End of story.

Symbols Shape Culture

Your story, metaphorically or literally, will condition what happens next. The story may be deeply rooted in values and traditions. It may be illustrated through words, phrases, and symbols.

Surprisingly, it may even be a song. It is hard to imagine the true (and lasting) impact when people sing your song. Coca-Cola did this so well.

Building Customer Service Culture

You’ll have to ask yourself and your team, “What will we do to create lasting impact and keep the story alive?”

Organizations often have a good plan. They may even have a good story, one that has some value in telling. The mistakes they make are not in the design. They are in the build.

Correctly building a customer service culture that matters will require you to show up, support it, live it, and tell it. Not once or twice, not just at the quarterly meeting or annual retreat, but every day.

Design will be important, but you’ll also have to lead.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Future Career Appreciative Strategies

Your Future Career Depends On You

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All the work that you do requires decisions. You make the choice to go to work, at some level, what you’ll wear, and how you’ll arrive. Certainly, you’ll make the choice about attitude, commitment, and effort. What you do today and tomorrow will impact your future career.

In my business I will occasionally hear stories of, “I can’t” or “we can’t.” Not so long ago I was working with a client in a facilitated training event and someone responded to a question by saying something along the lines of, “We can do this, or we can do that, but we can’t do both.”

Honestly, I was somewhat surprised by the comment since this person was in a room full of peers and some senior management. Then it hit me, this person was reciting a thought embraced the culture. It wasn’t shocking to some. It was a belief.

Limiting Beliefs

My reaction to the comment was that this segment of the discussion was critical and I reconnected with opening comments of the session about how businesses change and succeed.

I took advantage of a comment made a few moments earlier and suggested that being average is easy, becoming better is hard. My intent was to solidify concepts connected with hard work pays off. A period was put on the discussion with, “It won’t be easy, it will be hard, and that is why we call it work.”

Culture is very interesting, because those deeply engaged in their culture don’t really see it any other way. They are limited by the idea that they “can’t.” Although they are trapped in the mind-set, they honestly believe that it is a truth that they won’t change.

Everyday Choice

Every employee who comes to work each day makes a choice. Your future career will depend on the choices you make today.

One mind-set is that you will do just enough to get by. You won’t work too hard or too fast. You’ll occupy space for the required impression of hours on the job and join the ranks of those who speak with pride about the hours spent.

Nebulous Measurement

In this mind-set the measurements and metrics connected with your job are fuzzy and are likely a spillover from the last person who held the same role. Or, now that this job is the combination of two previous jobs you can’t possibly overachieve.

You are often encouraged by others to do the least, or work within the effort of limitations set by everyone else.

Different Choice

You do have another choice. This choice is not directly connected with pay. It certainly is not directly connected by others who want you to move slower, at their pace, or to be patient and put in your time.

Today the most important choice you make about your career is not about on-the-job tradeoffs. It is not about I can do this, or I can do that, but I can’t do both. It is more likely about finding a way to balance both.

Here is the reality, when you don’t, someone else will.

Your Future Career

This is true for organizations and it is true for individuals. In many workplace cultures, this part of story is never told. Across time, the culture of effort and productivity has leveled itself to the output of averages.

When every day is embraced as an opportunity you’ll make the choice to do enough to get by, or you’ll do more than what is required because it may be the last or only chance you’ll get.

This may be the most important decision you’ll make. It will determine the future of your career.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service decisions

How To Make Good Customer Service Decisions

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When you dig under the surface of any corporate policy and procedure designed to satisfy customers you might ask about empowerment. Employees who are empowered to make delicate and difficult transactional decisions have an important role; have you considered how employees make customer service decisions?

Most of the work that we do and likely most of the sales transactions don’t go beyond the decision for a customer to buy and for a vendor to fulfill. Occasionally though, something will go wrong. A client or customer will need something more, something extra, or perhaps there is a flaw or defect.

When we purchase a pack of Post-it notes, we expect them to stick, disposable pens we expect to have ink, and our file folders should fit in the cabinet. Many transactions are simple, straight forward, and require little thought to make things right.

Complex World

It is the complexity of the world we live in that creates additional challenge. Expectations of people vary. So will the decisions that they make.

When there is a problem and we begin a conversation with someone designated to help, we may become progressively curious about his or her level of empowerment. A really angry customer may start the conversation with, “I need to speak with a manager.”

Many organizations feel a bit torn, a bit of tug of war, or wonder how they will walk-the-line.

There becomes a balance, often a set of rules or guidelines designed to steer employees to follow the flow chart. It is straight forward, or so we think. When the customer presents this, you say that.

When we think about it, it all comes down to the decisions that we trust employees to make. That is empowerment.

Certainly not every employee is ready to make the most difficult choices. Consideration to advance problems to a higher level will probably always be part of the process.

The best scenario is minimizing problems in the first place. Those too are often based on the decisions that employees make.

Customer Service Decisions

Most people can follow the flow chart. They can be trained to understand start and end blocks, input and output, and processes. Still, at some point they’ll encounter a decision.

Training is important, but training beyond policy will come from training that forms an understanding of the culture.

Not every decision can be made at the front line, but the easy ones can. What makes a decision easier? Certainly ones with smaller risk, but understanding policy should have equal importance with developing the understanding of the philosophy and the culture.

That is how people make good customer service decisions.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Motivation moments

Motivation Moments, Fear, and Desire

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Motivation is really interesting. People sometimes argue about motivation, what works, and what doesn’t. I often suggest that in the workplace people can be motivated through fear or inspiration. Of course, we should be compelled to motivate through inspiration. Have you thought about motivation moments?

Fear or Desire

Consider some of these of moments:

  • The biggest order you’ve ever received
  • Watching a co-worker being escorted off the property
  • A colleague being promoted
  • The CEO being fired
  • Announcement of hiring 10% more staff
  • A new computer system
  • It’s Friday, or Monday
  • A birthday party for Susan, but not for Jack
  • Anger about receiving too many phone calls
  • A calendar appointment for a four hour meeting
  • Your annual review is today
  • You just received your annual bonus
  • The company has been sold
  • People in business suits hanging around that you don’t recognize
  • You job description was changed

Motivation in the workplace has much to do with the organizational culture and climate. It is the actions and behaviors of the group that produce the results. We may ask the question, “What is our focus?” Recognizing that what we focus on is what we get.

Movement is important, so is momentum. Your workplace should be filled with action. What may be most important is understanding the triggers for action. Fear drives change, but so does the hope, faith, and belief in positive change because it is admirable or desirable.

Motivation Moments

People may hurry across the train tracks because there is a something they are excited about on the other side. They may also move fast to get across the tracks when they see a train coming, not thinking or caring about what is on the other side.

Organizational leaders should think carefully about how they motivation moments. The message sent becomes part of the culture. Perception is reality, and fear as well as the desire for positive gain are both motivators.

Keep in mind that fear may cause action, but people sometimes discover what is on the other side is not desirable.

What motivation moments have you spotted recently?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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happy customer service appreciative strategies

Happy Customer Service, Are You Sure?

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It is easy to stumble upon some interesting things when working with many different business sectors and people. Sometimes exactly what is believed to make them unique is really just a different flavor of the same thing. Does your brand or organization deliver happy customer service?

Same Thing Different Flavor

What is the different flavor? Every business feels they are unique, and in many ways, they are, but many are doing something very similar to their competition and they don’t even realize it.

One thing that I find with nearly every business is that they believe they are doing OK with customer service. Many believe that customer service is a department, and that the employees in that group have it all covered.

It makes me wonder, is sales a department? What about shipping and receiving, and let’s not forget accounting. The single biggest problem with most organizations is that when they grow big enough to have departments everything changes.

Sales may be a piece of the organization, just like shipping, accounting, or information technology. There may also be a help desk, technical support, manufacturing, assembly, quality control, and human resources. They are all departments.

Here is the most fundamental challenge that all of these departments face, they forget that they are all in it together. Internally there is often tension, political currents, and game playing. They try to put on the face of happy customer service, but are they successful?

No Words Just Expressions

Here is a different question, have you ever walked into a room or had someone approach you and the first thing that they say is, “What’s wrong?” No words were spoken yet, these are the first? Do you think about why? Perhaps it is because they read something on your face, an expression or a look.

There may be times that we are purposely trying to send a signal about our mood, but often we are not consciously aware. We are getting through our day. We might be thinking, worrying, or feeling stressed.

Why is there a different feeling on Monday or Friday? Why is there energy in the room, or none? Everyone is reading everyone else’s face. It is what we do. Consciously or subconsciously, we are assessing our environment. We are hard wired to do this.

Happy Customer Service

Just like we may often take for granted the expression on our face, organizations often do the same. More importantly, everyone looking on is trying to read your face. Watching and looking, they are perhaps wondering, is that organization happy. They may not talk about it or discuss but they are reading it.

You are all in it together. It is not about a department. It is about your culture.

What messages are your customers reading? What is written on your face?

Happy customer service?  (…or sales, shipping, receiving, technical support, manufacturing, QC, or HR…)

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service is unique appreciative

Why Customer Service Is Unique

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Do you know customer service? Many people believe that they have it mastered, that it is simple, and often that one size fits all. Have you considered why customer service is unique?

People make decisions every day, the business owner, the C Suite executive, the director, manager, or supervisor, even the front line employee. People, employees, those who represent the organization are making decisions about the customer.

Decisions Affect Outcomes

Decisions are made in the boardroom, on the plant floor, in the cubicle farm, at the coffee pot, and often while being face to face with the customer.

The decisions that you or anyone in the organization make will change how business is done. Decisions are made based on the organization culture. The values and beliefs that are carried forward form an understanding. Spoken, written, or symbolized it is in the behaviors of the team.

Have you considered how culture impacts the decisions made about the customer? How is your culture conditioning decisions? Consider this:

  • Products are sometimes made before you know the customer.
  • A customer always has the right of refusal of the offer.
  • Customized work can be costly if the customer doesn’t like what you deliver.
  • For customized or client based work you typically must find the customer first.
  • The order you’ve taken is a promise. The promise is to deliver what the customer believes they are about to receive.

Customer Service Is Unique

One size doesn’t fit all. One approach is not always the best. How your business positions the culture of customer service will have everything to do with the decisions employees make.

You can build a great product, fulfill orders, and work towards building a brand worthy of great admiration and respect. You can do it in more than one way.

When customer service is based on rules, policies, and procedures it is not a culture of customer service, it is a position of us against them.

Us against them may be a signal. A signal that you’ve forgotten about how your customer is unique, a signal of the beginning of the end.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Why a Trusted Customer Service Culture Matters

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I don’t know what it is, I just don’t trust him or her. You’ve probably said it, or you’ve heard someone say it. Trust is a vital element of customer service. Does a trusted customer service culture matter?

We quickly can recognize that a culture develops from values, beliefs, and traditions. In sales or customer service trust may have a direct link to symbols, imagines, and brand. Trust may sometimes be hard to define but we know it when we feel it.

Fine Print

Most people don’t read the fine print. They seldom read every part of a product label. They don’t read the pamphlet that comes with the prescription, or the terms and conditions contained within the drop down box on their recent online bill pay.

Most likely it is not because they don’t care, it is more likely that they have already decided to trust what they are getting themselves into.

Trust isn’t about the fine print. It is more likely about word of mouth, what they have observed from others, or from watching a television commercial or YouTube video. Of course, then you must realize that they have decided to trust those sources too.

Inside the Organization

Your customer service culture starts within the organization. It is often based on a concept that many would suggest is primordial. What we see, feel, and hear establishes our trust.

Trust comes from the observation when they don’t believe anyone is watching. It may come from the power of numbers, the perception of acceptance, or when the risk of chance feels small. Deep inside we connect because of trust.

Even today it may be essential for life, it makes groups more powerful, and we know that by working together we can accomplish more. It’s a tribe mentality, follow the crowd, if many are doing it, it must be okay, safe, and something good.

Trusted Customer Service

Through marketing and advertising your organization can accomplish a lot, but the feeling that your organization delivers starts within the culture. Sure people see the marketing and advertising but they also put a lot of weight in their own observations and draw conclusions based on what they feel.

If the people on the inside don’t believe, it is a much harder sell on the outside.

So what do you think? Does your culture deliver on trust?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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empowered customer service custserv

Empowered Customer Service Culture?

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Managing the customer experience doesn’t work well when the restrictions are high. Often organizations claiming to focus on customer service really only have a plan for the small problems. Big problems must move up the often-unavailable organization hierarchy. Do you have an empowered customer service culture?

What limitations does your organization set? What does the front line team understand? Is the purpose clear?

Rules and Policies

It doesn’t take long to have a well-intended rule create more of a problem rather than a solution. The longer the organization has been in business or the more transactions that have occurred you’ll often find more rules. Rules are limitations, limitations that may cause the loss of a customer.

“I can’t return your merchandise for cash. I can only give you in store credit for items that aren’t marked down or shown with a 30% off tag.”

“That bolt, washer, and nut are covered under warranty. I can’t just give you another one. We’ll have to send it back to the manufacturer.”

“Sorry about your fender bender, especially on a brand new car. Certainly, we will cover it with your insurance policy but you’ll have to install used parts. It’s in your policy that way.”

Empowered Customer Service

Does your organization believe in customer service empowerment? What are the rules, policies, and procedures?

Policy on customer service actions are often set to protect the margin of the sale, the sale to your valued customer. Are your executive team rules or a lack of empowerment creating too much red tape? Are you sabotaging the customer experience?

Certainly the business has to protect its bottom line but at what cost? Small businesses (big ones too) lose customers every day because of poor or misunderstood front line decisions.

Your front line is a touch point. Any touch point with a customer represents all that your business is, and all that it does.

Protect the Customer

You’ll always need to protect the business, but you’ll also need to look out for your customers.

Train the front line well. Empower them to make reasonable adjustments, allow flexibility, and have someone immediately available to manage transactions beyond reasonable parameters. Keep in mind that internal organization dynamics set external tone.

You’ve attracted the customer and made the sale. When your brand promise is tested, be sure that it works. It may begin or end with an empowered customer service culture.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service network dennis gilbert

Your Customer Service Network and World of Mouth

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Word of mouth has often been connected with sales, marketing, and reputation. Driven by technology today many consider word of mouth to have become world of mouth. Have you considered the impact to your customer service network?

We have a powerful force among us. Everyone who has a computer, a smartphone, and who engages with others using these tools has the potential to influence more people faster than ever before. Sometimes misunderstood, sometimes taken for granted, world of mouth can change everything.

World of Mouth

Like many things responsible for business success, the concept sounds easy and inviting, in practice it takes effort, patience, and persistence.

What is the most powerful force working for or against your business or organization today? It might be world of mouth. Many successful businesses recognize that today a component of what builds their business is media.

Like it, love it, or make a choice to leave it, the network you’re building will have a lot to do with results. The face of retail is changing, the manufacturers are more engaged than ever, and distribution is faster and now more personal. It is all happening very fast, or not.

Customer Service Network

Your customer service network, the people who interact with you, use your products and services, can make a significant difference. They create a culture based on values, beliefs, all of which are built to become a tradition.

In most cases, participation in the network is voluntary. People sign up because they want to. It makes it that much more powerful.

Culture is how we live. It is what a group of likeminded people create. It consists of values and beliefs. Even within the group sometimes, conflict sparks additional innovation to shape and guide the collective culture. How we network and with whom drive all of this. It is a voluntary cultural movement.

Changing Lives

Networking changes lives, shifts opinions, and sells more product and services than perhaps ever before. This benefits the savvy, the tech, and the early adopters.

This network drives nearly every successful endeavor today. It is how things sell and guides what becomes popular.

The service you deliver will spread through the network. It will spark growth, create followers, and build more traditions. Ignored or unmanaged it could leave you with smoldering ashes.

Either way your customer service network is a world of mouth. It is both opportunity and advantage, unless it works against you.

It’s all up to you.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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