Tag Archives: experience

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Customer service impact

Customer Service Impact And Cultural Change

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Many organizations strive to make a bigger impact with sales and the customer experience by driving cultural change. Is your organization getting the most from its efforts? What are you doing to improve customer service impact?

In the conference room, boardroom, or a pop-up meeting near the water cooler organizational leaders often consider how they’ll create the next rush of revenue. Often the design is based on only a few. What if there was a different approach?

Based On The Few

Organizations put forward a lot of effort on the hiring process. Certainly, this is important and valuable. The lifetime value of the right kind of talent in your organization is hard to measure. Mostly because it is likely a much bigger number than you can quickly realize.

Inside there is often a push for attracting or advancing the right talent to the C Suite.

There is a focus on sales and marketing teams that are properly aligned. Perhaps there are bonuses or commissions in place to drive engagement. In operations, it is often about quality control and perfecting the build and delivery of products and services.

Much of this design is focused on the few. The few who are leading the teams, the few who may be the next picked for advancement, and those who fit the image of organizational success. This focus is important but the activity that this culture builds is based only on those few.

Front Line Reach

What if the approach was different, what if instead of focusing on the top twenty percent of the organization you focused on the growth and development of the other eighty percent? How would sales revenues, profit margins, and customer satisfaction improve?

Imagine instead of leaders connecting with leaders, the entire front line was more connected with customers?

Sure, the influence of leader-to-leader is important, but what if instead of focusing on the goals, revenue, and growth presented by the twenty percent, you made a difference with the eighty percent.

Imagine if the eighty percent improved their emotional intelligence, honed their customer service skills, and the value was placed on front line customer facing engagement? Would this change the numbers?

Customer Service Impact

Certainly, this is not pointing the finger at the eighty percent with a proclamation that they are the only ones who need change. It is a proclamation that the focus for customer service impact will be more powerful from the front line, not grooming the next manager.

When the focus is on the management team, fewer people are touched. If you’re going to make your organization great, leaders will matter, but it is the eighty percent who are closer to the front line who will show the customers what your organization is all about.

Running The Marathon

Consider this, thirty thousand people run in the Boston Marathon each year. Certainly the few at the front are honored and important. Their accomplishments are great. The report of their success will touch many lives.

If they were the only ones running in the event, it would not be nearly as impactful. It’s the reach of the other twenty nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety participants who will ultimately touch more people and more lives in a more personal way.

It’s not about the ten, it is about the thirty thousand.

You can have ten people doing great things, but measuring the true impact of thirty thousand. That is almost hard to imagine.

– 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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Perfect customer service

Delivering Perfect Customer Service

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Is perfect realistic? Can you deliver the perfect product, service, and experience? What is required to deliver perfect customer service?

Beauty may exist in the eye of the beholder and the same is likely true for the customer experience.

Moments of Customer Service

Most of our experiences are the result of moments. The moment you hold the newest smartphone, the moment you look in the mirror wearing the new outfit, or that moment when you test-drive the new car. All of our experiences are about emotions. Some feel perfect, at least for that moment.

Therefore, the customer service that we deliver, the things that delight and inspire customers, they are all about the moment. Those moments are often connected to people, places, circumstances, situations, and timing.

What is perfect right now, in this moment, may be a one-time experience. What is happening now probably isn’t the exact thing that will happen next.

Perfect customer service is situational. It is like leadership, communication, and delegation. What is perfect in this moment, for this person, in this situation won’t hold true for very long.

Circumstances Define Perfection

If you are insisting on delivering perfect customer service every time, you may want to think about the circumstances before planning for the outcomes.

Having an umbrella at the right moment may be perfect, holding an umbrella all the time, perhaps not so much.

Rules, policies and procedures are necessary, but they seldom consider every possible circumstance.

Perfect Customer Service

If you’re looking for perfection, you’re going to have to have truth. The truth is perfection is a moving target. Consequently, rules and policies are guidelines.

Organizational culture will shape the flexibility around the circumstances that will lead to the perfect moment.

What happens the next time, in the next circumstance is only perfect for that moment.

Your culture won’t define the moments, but the outcomes of the moment are defined by your 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 apology

How To Give a Customer Service Apology

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Apologies are often delivered with several different approaches. Apologizing to anyone, especially a valued customer will likely make a difference. Have you thought about the best ways to give a customer service apology?

First, it may be important to consider the wrong way. We should never say things like:

I’m sorry, but you should have arrived sooner.

I’m sorry, but the 3-year warranty expired last week.

I’m sorry, but we have no idea what the batch of product will be like when we order it.

Do you see a theme here? It starts out with, “I’m sorry, but…” Certainly, this is not the way to give any apology. Unfortunately, this is often how they are delivered.

Every customer offering a compliant, presenting a problem, or giving any type of feedback wants to be heard. Above all else, what happens next in the relationship will be conditioned on whether they feel heard. The feeling of being heard is respectful and everyone wants respect.

Customer Service Apology

Delivering an apology has a lot to do with words, but it also has to do with actions and behaviors. Here are three things to consider when delivering a customer service apology:

  • Listen. You have to set aside your own emotions. If you’re feeling angry, in disagreement, or even anxious, your listening skills will be strained. Give undivided attention.
  • Focus. Try to focus on what the customer may be experiencing, be in their shoes. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with how they are presenting it, but you must be considering how to empathize with the situation.
  • Deliver. What you say and how you say it will make a difference. We’re all human and demonstrating compassion is typically helpful. Consider, “we’re sorry,” but certainly don’t deliver the “We’re sorry, but.” Admit mistakes, demonstrate compassion, and show empathy.

Made In Moments

The customer experience is often made in moments. It is made the moment you do something that they will remember. Hopefully it is a delightful surprise, something extra, something more than what they expected. Of course, if there has been a breakdown in service their surprise is likely unwanted.

Research suggests that customers are actually more loyal when they have had an issue or problem and it was resolved to their satisfaction.

When there is a breakdown, it may be the last moment you’ll get. Make the most of it. Make the apology, accept responsibility, and learn from it.

– 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 lessons

Ongoing Customer Service Lessons

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Lifelong learning is a popular concept in many circles. Yet many people quickly disregard the thought of new learning because they believe it is no longer necessary. Are you learning more about customer service? What are your customer service lessons?

People sometimes believe that learning is no longer necessary. It is often the story of the manager, the person with tenure, and sometimes the recent graduate.

The belief may be that the learning is over and what happens next is only about action. Additional training, learning, and even reading only provide a distraction from future accomplishments.

Constant Change

Customer service involves working with people. People and society, values and beliefs, they are always trending, shifting, and repositioning. Products and services fulfill needs and desires which don’t remain the same they constantly change.

The truth is that it is only over for those who stop learning and growing, not for those who consider that there is still more to do. The engineer, doctor, and CPA, they all have continuing education requirements. Not because they haven’t proven their knowledge, but because there is more to learn.

Not One and Done

Many people believe that practicing customer service is simple, easy, and something they’ve already mastered. Stepping closer to reality it might be something that they feel they can easily figure out, so it is a waste of time. It’s the I’ve learned it and I’m finished mentality.

We don’t eat just one meal and we’re set for life. We don’t do one push-up and were physically fit, and just because we can ride a bicycle doesn’t mean we’re ready for a triathlon.

Rocket science might be important but it is not always necessary. Knowing how is much different from practicing how. The best of the best, they insist on more learning, more customer service lessons, and exploring future possibilities.

Customer Service Lessons

Learning comes from the questions you ask, the seminars you attend, and the books that you read. It also comes from bad starts, weak finishes, and failed attempts. It doesn’t stop with what you’ve already learned.

Taking a shower today might be a good idea. It doesn’t mean you won’t need another one tomorrow.

The best don’t develop to then stop. They stop wasting space and time because they’re continuing to develop.

It’s not about what you already know. It is about what you’ll learn and practice next.

– 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 Dance Appreciative Strategies

Customer Service Dance Might Work

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Have you ever asked someone, “Who is the customer?” Your best answer may be, “Everyone!” Is the customer service dance appropriate for your business?

It seems ironic or a good example of karma. If you forget about your customers, they’ll likely forget about you.

Dancing with your customers is not about fast moves, quick diversions, or peddling snake oil.

Just like with real dancing you won’t go far with two left feet. You’ll have to get out there and make something happen. Even if you feel the rhythm but your body just moves weirdly.

Customer Service Dance

The best customer service of all might happen when you allow dancing. The customer service dance might be the ultimate form of feedback. The best of the best in the customer experience. It all happens because you’re doing it together.

Businesses that get this right have customer engagement like few others. They’re inviting customers to participate. Customers try product, test examples, work with prototypes, debug software, and co-create everything that happens. In the end, the customer wins.

This model of customer service doesn’t promise perfect, it promises an on-going effort to improve. Information is free flowing and engagement means loyalty. This valued customer couldn’t possibly do better elsewhere because they’re building it along with you.

When more people join in the experience it doesn’t get worse, it gets even better. No one needs a special invitation and it catches on. It’s a viral experience. It’s a club, a membership, or an entire culture.

Forgotten Customers

Most businesses would tell you that they are doing this, but few actually do. It’s not so much that they lack effort or desire. It’s mostly because they’ve forgotten who the customer is.

They’re either dancing alone or standing on the side watching others have all the fun.

Best Dancers

Who are the best dancers?

Harley Davidson, Dollar Shave Club, and Amazon, your secret is out.

Thanks for the dance.

– 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 four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! 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 Culture not a Department

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Chances are good your mission statement has something reflecting the importance of the customer. Does your business have a customer service culture or a department?

Customer service culture

Well intending businesses everywhere believe that they are customer focused, are they? Let’s face it, we probably hear about a few customer service problems each week. Family, friends, social media, people talk about break downs in the customer experience.

When your job is directly connected transaction by transaction to maintaining the customer experience you probably hear more than just a few. Is your organization customer focused? Does it have a customer centric approach?

Not a Department

“I have a problem.”  You need to connect with customer service.

“I want to exchange this shirt I received as a gift.”  You’ll need to take it to the back corner of the store. Follow the signs for customer service.

“I opened the box and what I ordered is broken.” Let me transfer you to customer service.

Big Not Better

Many businesses grow just big enough to forget about the customer. It’s true, when the business is young and small it is cared for, but when it starts to mature it is sometimes left to fend for itself.

People rightfully believe that leadership starts at the top. Leadership like customer service is not a department. Both are about culture.

Success of the business is important and often requires layers of leadership as it grows. However, if the leadership team begins to spend more time behind the double doors of the C-Suite and less time on continuously building a customer service culture something might will get lost.

Customer Service Culture

Organizational culture is mostly about the values and beliefs of people, the team, and a group. Its concepts are collective and hopefully inspirational.

The people and systems that give an organization life are based on what they feel and see. Your customers have expectations, they are also based on what they feel and see. It’s not what you say, it’s what they experience.

One problem with the business that grows bigger but not better is that it loses its focus on the customer. Leaders stop talking to the front line. They stop spending their time working directly with the people who develop or deliver. Worst of all, they lose track of the customer.

Their feedback systems are all wrong. Their scope of focus is based on digits and dividends. Often they are trying to please the wrong people.

Build it to Last

Make customer service about a lasting culture. Stay connected to where things started.

Don’t put customer service in a box. It isn’t a department.

It’s a culture.

– DEG

RELATED: See the seminar on this topic!

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 four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Does Experience Make You A Better Negotiator?

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When I was in my early 20’s I remember going into a television store (long before on-line shopping or super stores) and trying to strike a bargain with the store owner for a brand new floor model television set. My experience and negotiation skills were terrible and I left the store without the set and insulted the owner in the process. Young and perhaps a little foolish, I didn’t know the first thing about negotiation, only that I wanted to pay less than the ticket price.

Smiling confident businessman

Negotiation is a vital skill for anyone in the workforce. Of course we can easily see a direct correlation to sales positions, or perhaps salary negotiation, but beyond that we may not realize how often we actually negotiate. We might negotiate for the timing of a meeting. We might negotiate for a level of service we provide internally or externally. We might even negotiate for time off work or for the date of our next vacation. As people in the workforce we negotiate often. 

Many would likely agree that experience is an important factor for performance and often experience is a critical discussion point with workplace generational challenges. The generations that have been in the workforce the longest preferring to cite experience as one of the most important factors for performance while the more recent generations often prefer to focus more on knowledge or technical skills. When we consider our effectiveness as a negotiator based on our experiences, things can sometimes become a little misleading. 

Experience and Negotiation

Experiences that result in learning are where we find the most value. Negotiating can certainly help us to sharpen many skills. We can improve our communication, how to read body language, and even how to research for critical negotiation factors like discovering more about price or value. Bringing experience and negotiation together really exists in the feedback we exchange or in the future opportunities that we’ve learned to create as part of the process. Negotiation is sometimes mistaken for creating a win/lose position, one where we win and the other party loses. This is not effective negotiation; effective negotiation (for most circumstances) is about creating a win/win. This point alone illustrates that learning or focusing on the wrong tactical approach can result in more experience, but more experience of the wrong kind.

The bottom line on experience and negotiation is that experience can certainly improve our confidence, but experience does not always make us a better negotiator. Measuring the effectiveness of any negotiation should consider feedback from those involved in the process, results as compared to the negotiation goal, and where applicable, the atmosphere created for future opportunities.

Are you an experienced negotiator? Has experience improved your skills?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, 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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Internal customer service

Is Internal Customer Service More Important?

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I believe that we learn the basics of customer service at a very young age. Before we are teenagers we probably know something about friendliness, kindness, and the power of a smile. We may not realize the linkages of our life experiences to business performance, but the fundamentals of customer service are often present. What about internal customer service?

workforce customer service

All grown up and active in the workforce we are often reminded of the need for enhancing these fundamental skills and in our job roles is where it really starts to count. We can recite cliché phrases such as “The customer is always right” or “Customer service is our core value,” and we quickly learn that anticipating customers’ needs before they ask is when we are performing really, really well.

No Rocket Science

In seminars I suggest that there isn’t any rocket science associated with customer service, but there is always plenty to learn. It’s more than just flashing a smile, being polite, and trying your hardest to meet or exceed expectations. I’m not surprised when participants quickly embrace all the fundamentals allowing us to dive deeper into skills related to examining needs and creating those lasting, unforgotten impressions. What does sometimes surprise me is that many people in the workforce don’t understand the need for internal customer service.

internal or external service

What do you think is more important: internal or external customer service?

Internal Customer Service

Internal customer service in its simplest terms is the practice of creating an exceptional customer-service experience–only instead of focusing on the external customer, we are doing it internally with peers, teams, supervisors, direct reports, and essentially everyone. Someone we’ve worked around for several months or several years doesn’t become someone who we should fail to serve, or disrespect, or in some way devalue or ignore. In fact, he or she may just represent the opposite. It seems easy to get onboard (wrongfully so) with the attitude that someone in another department, work group, or different corporate location really doesn’t matter all that much to our personal success; after all, we pride ourselves on putting our (external) customers first.

Communication customer service

Communication or miscommunication is often blamed as the root cause for sabotaging the external customer experience, and, of course, there is plenty of evidence lending support to that conclusion. However, one question worthy of finding an answer to is how the actions or behaviors associated with internal customer service influence the external experience.

Most Critical

Internal customer service is critical for

  • creating a “do as we do,” not a “do was we say” culture;
  • discovering problems first before they go external;
  • ensuring that respect and appreciation are core values;
  • building foundations for energizing positive experiences; and
  • uniting the team and creating a focus on the customer experience.

Perhaps the first step for any organization is to identify what internal customers means to its success. While there is likely a general workflow and specific positions or workgroups that are designated for internal support, sadly many employees fail to realize what internal customer service really means. Once the entire team understands and is committed to an exceptional internal service experience, the external experience will have the foundational support necessary to drive exceptional results.

World of importance

In a world of narrow profit margins, competing technologies, and a service economy, your most important product may be your ability to create a positive, lasting, never-to-be-forgotten customer experience.

Is internal customer service more important? I think it definitely comes first.

– DEG

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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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More Experience–A Generational Dilemma?

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People who have been on the job longer have more experience. At least traditionally that has long been a popular mindset. Working for five years is better than five months, working for ten years is better than five years, and working for thirty is twice as much as fifteen.

044404688-architects-work

There is an Abraham Lincoln quote, “And in the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Millennials and generation 9/11 (Gen Z, iGen) are stereotyped with having values associated with immediate gratification, needing minute-by-minute feedback, and expecting a participation trophy. Traditionals and boomers are stereotyped with resistance to change, nose to the grindstone, and as being highly disciplined; perhaps as viewed by some, to the point of being a fault.

But those are all just viewpoints, as recognized by the observer.

Life is about experiences and it may not be so much about how long, but more about how often. So it seems to me that experience isn’t about stereotypes, it isn’t about age, and it is certainly not about your generation.

Experience comes from having more. (Yes, more experiences!)

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Are Millennials Entitled?

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One of the most prevalent stereotypes about more recent workplace generations is that they believe they have a sense of entitlement. Could this be true, or is it just a meaningless stereotype? Many argue that millennials and generation Z (Gen 9/11) are products of the participation trophy era. A societal trend which started in the mid to late 1980’s and grew in popularity during the 1990’s and beyond.

Group Planning Work

Examining this more closely let’s consider values for entitlement across all five workplace generations:

Traditionals (Born 1930-1945) – Generally believe that entitlement comes from seniority. The longer you’ve been in the workplace, job role, or employee classification, the more entitled you become. This is where they see their true value and expertise, in longevity.

Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964) – Experience matters to baby boomers and when it comes to entitlement they want to side with experience. Many boomers believe knowledge is important but experience is king. Arguably, it may be what they have the most of.

Gen X (Born 1965-1976) – Somewhat stuck in the middle, the generation X population will likely link entitlement to merit. While they don’t possess the most workplace experience and at the same time are not the most recently educated, they tend to occupy the middle and we can label this as merit. Through merit, they are entitled.

Millennials (Born 1977-1994) – Recognizing that they may lack some of the experience of the more seasoned workforce, millennials will likely view entitlement values as being measured by their contribution. If they can contribute and make a difference they should be entitled to as much as any earlier generation.

Gen 9/11 or Gen Z (Born after 1994) – One important quality this most recent generation will bring to the table is knowledge. Keep in mind that earlier generations do not view knowledge and experience as the same, and generation Z will view their contribution as coming from knowledge (likely technology). Solve a problem with technology (saving both time and money) and you are entitled.

What values are driving your sense of entitlement? Societal values are constantly shifting and this is in part what forms different generational frameworks. Could it be that entitlement really depends on what generation is making an observation on another different generation? Do you feel entitled?

Reading this post has earned you a participation trophy.

No, not really.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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