Tag Archives: experience

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customer service plan

Customer Service Plan and Other Aging Items

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Start with a plan. That is what many business experts suggest. We go to a conference room, boardroom, or gather for a campfire style chat around the coffee table. Do you have a customer service plan and is it working?

We already know that the best plans are only the best plans when they are properly executed. Organizations strive for buy-in, engagement, and loyalty. It is true for buying in to the plan. It is true when you sign up as an employee. The plan means there is an expectation.

Aging Items

When I buy a car and it breaks I expect the warranty to cover it, or I know it has aged out of the warranty. At this point, the value has changed. The original capabilities are somewhat less. The tires, wheel bearings, and engine life have eroded, at least a little.

The same may be said about our clothing, a vacuum cleaner, or our home. Across time and through use, they deteriorate little by little, bit by bit, and they are never the same as the first day.

Of course, some things we consider an investment. Paint a room, install new carpet, and get a new roof, perhaps a home now has more value.

One of the biggest challenges for us in the workplace, after the plan has been made, after the buy-in has occurred and employees and systems have launched, will it be an investment or a consumable?

Customer Service Plan

Some of the best customer service plans deteriorate across time. Exceptions become rules, what protects the customer shifts to what protects the organization, and the list of what is in the box declines in value.

That bright shiny plan, it grows dull, declines in value, and needs maintenance or a rebuild.

A customer service plan is about its impact on culture. Across time, culture is about tradition and becomes what is expected.

Your customer service plan should be an investment.

– 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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care more

Care More and You Will Spend Less

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Is customer service at an all-time low? Many people suggest that it might be. Does spending less pay off with more? Do the businesses that care more have the biggest advantage of all?

People are wondering what happened to customer service. The well-known restaurant chain, the shopping mall, and the pharmacy, what happened to the customer experience?

Keep Costs Low

Many businesses connect caring with costs. Perhaps not always consciously, but they still do it.

Why train our youngest workers in customer service, they’ll be gone at the end of the season.

It takes an extra full-time employee to monitor the rest rooms, the landscaping, and the outside trash containers.

Only one checkout line is necessary. Customers can wait when we get busy.

Call us back in a couple of hours, we’ll give you and update.

Sorry, we did nothing. We needed more information before we could process your order.

The customer experience is a simple one. Do more, give more, and care more than what is expected.

Measuring the Experience

Sometimes the trick is analyzing what is expected. Expectations are not driven by the front-line supervisor, the storeowner, or the even the marketing committee. While all three may have a hand in it, ultimately the customer decides.

When the high cost franchise restaurant cannot survive while the mom and pop diner consistently is consistently packed, or when the local shopping mall closes, and when the medical office cannot understand why patients are so angry. Perhaps they need to consider how much they really care.

Better yet, start with caring, it may be too late when everyone has already starting leaving.

Care More

It really isn’t that hard to grasp. If the population of those you serve are citing the chronic problems with customer service, your opportunity is to care more, not less.

The best businesses avoid correlating expenses with the bottom line. They correlate expenses with growth which leads to a better bottom line.

When cutting costs to improve cash flow is the only thing you’ll do to improve your position. Your position will lack service. Your culture will be focused on spend less and earn more, instead of care more and spend less.

The biggest advantage is the one waiting on you to make a difference for human interaction. Dollar for dollar customer onboarding, retention, and lifetime value will be more effective when you care more.

It is the only effective way to get more by spending less.

– 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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offload problems

Do You Offload Problems To Your Customers?

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Have you ever walked the path of least resistance? Do you look for the easy route to build product or provide services? Easy is often viewed as advantageous, in the short run at least. That advantage is less cost, but at what price? What happens when you offload problems?

It seems to be the nature of what many people and businesses do. They offload problems. They look for the short cut and the cost savings. The thought is, we will do this because the customer won’t notice or doesn’t really care. By the way, it saves us money or causes a return visit.

Customer Engagement

Our cars get a check engine light, but we have to purchase a code reader to get the code. Why doesn’t it just tell us the code?

You can put your trash in an outside a can, but you have to bring it to the curb for collection. Later you search for the lid around the neighborhood because it has blown off in the wind.

Why are there no baskets or shopping carts deep inside the store? Who is that easy for, convenient for, or designed to help? Of course, we know the answer.

Standards are Set

There are many other ordinary (for today) life scenarios. Why do I have to change the clock in my car, my cell phone does it automatically? Do I really need a frequent shoppers card, when I always pay with my same credit card?

Why do I have to have a login and provide a password for every software application? Better yet, why has my software migrated to a subscription service? When I buy a hammer I don’t have to keep buying it every month.

Offload Problems

I’ll often ask participants in my customer service seminars, “What are you doing that punishes your customer?” When you answer this question and remove the punishment, you will delight your customers. Delighted customers bring you more customers.

Every time you take a short cut in design, engineering, cost cutting, or easy for you, you sabotage your customer’s experience.

This is exactly why customer service is about a culture, it is not about a department.

– 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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reaction culture

Reaction Culture In a Service Economy

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Have you ever avoided a conversation, speaking up in a meeting, or taking a call from a customer because you’re anticipating a harsh undesirable reaction? Does your workplace have a reaction culture?

Reaction Culture

In the reaction culture, our plan is to wait for something to break. We wait for the compliant, the problem to arise, or the shipment to be unsatisfactory. The assumption often is, no news is good news.

When a problem occurs we send it to the customer service department, or we call one ourselves when we are the victim. We wait for people to look for us, hunt us, and track us down. Everything else, well, it is just good news, not bad.

Our reaction then, is probably to avoid bad news. Avoid the compliant, avoid the problem, and hope that good enough will be exactly that, good enough.

May be that isn’t the right tactic. Reactionary isn’t the right approach for communication, it doesn’t spell leadership, and it certainly is probably not the best resolve for customer interactions.

Proactive Is Lucrative

It seems to me that proactive is much more lucrative. Customer service should be about a proactive culture of service. It is not a department, and it certainly shouldn’t be only about a transaction gone wrong.

What if the metric was tallied differently, what if it was not about problems fixed but more about problems never occurring?

What if the sign on the wall in the plant was a count of how many days without a reported customer problem? Safety matters, but so does the customer, without them there isn’t a plant at all.

Labeled As Good

When we make customer service about a department it places the weight of everything on a reaction and making things just good enough.

It seems to me that there is a difference between good enough and being enough to be labeled good.

Proactive is a better choice, it is much different from the reaction 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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changing customer service

Are You Changing Customer Service Practices?

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Change is a vital part of organizational development. Organizations that care about being front-runners always have a laundry list of what they will change. The question often becomes, “Do they?” Are you changing customer service practices?

At least several schools of people exist when it comes to change. There is the group who resists and in contrast the group who is eager to push the process forward. Often the largest group is the group of fence sitters, those who are waiting to see how things really take shape before they commit.

Shifting Economy

In the US, our economy has been shifting for decades. It is has been called a digital economy, new age, and many other attention seeking labels.

My belief is that we are operating in a service intensive economy. Even manufacturing operations are commonly introducing more service components to their business.

Early Adopters

Some people will recall when the internet was labeled a fad, a cellular phone was too expensive, and computers weren’t necessary to run your business.

There are the early adopters to technology, the ones leading the charge. They line up for several city blocks sometimes in unfavorable weather conditions just hoping for a chance to get the latest and greatest release.

Software developers push out new releases, upgrades, fixes, and patches. Eager businesses sign up to become beta testers with the advantage of co-development for future releases.

Traditional products and services are sometimes still admired but those who are growing are often providing a new twist. Failure to change, innovate, and adopt technology means that they are watching from behind.

Changing Customer Service

The customer experience and customer service practices have never been more important. Being a front-runner, a beta tester, or an innovation expert is what will propel organizations to the front, or in the absence of change allow them to fall behind.

There certainly is not a guarantee that the next front-runner, technology embracer, or fad will become the one that all others in category will chase.

There is however, a guarantee that a new tradition, a new method, something technological will propel the leaders. It has been true for centuries. That likely isn’t going to change.

– 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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learning customer service

Learning Customer Service Is Important

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There is always a critic about customer service. People say hindsight is twenty-twenty. Is learning customer service important?

Talk to anyone long enough and they’ll share a bad customer service experience. It is easy to analyze the game after it is over.

Customers Matter

It is in the mission statement, the plague on the wall, and clever meme that is on the poster. Organizations always claim that customer service matters.

Show the customer that we care.

Take care of the customer.

Our customers are number one.

Understanding the Critic

The critic does not represent the truth about customer service or the customer experience. What the critic knows, says, or does is not representative of the knowledge of the team.

Knowing how a screwdriver works and being able to use one with precision are two different things.

Delivering exceptional customer service is a skill. When we understand that it is a skill then we also recognize that it can be built, developed, and shaped.

People often quickly scoff at the idea of learning more about customer service because they believe they already know it, and after all, they can point out all the mistakes of others.

The loudest critics may need the most development. Not because they don’t know what it is, but because they aren’t on the field delivering.

Learning Customer Service

Sometimes the learning part is not about what the tool is used for, but it is about how the tool is used. This includes when, where, and the management of circumstances and situations.

There is a difference between screaming from the bleachers, yelling at the television, or commanding it from the C Suite.

Organizational commitment and a culture of the service experience starts with learning but it is only made possible from action on the field. It will take more than knowing what the tool is used for and being a critic when the tool slips.

Learning customer service is always important. It starts inside the organization long before it is delivered outside.

– 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 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.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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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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