Tag Archives: rules

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customer rules

Customer Rules Should Work, Will They?

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Many businesses adopt customer rules. Sometimes these are designed for safety or other critical concerns. Many times, the customer rules are designed to be convenient for the vendor.

No one needs another customer service horror story, we get plenty of them already. This is the short story to illustrate a point.

Short Story

Recently I had minor surgery on my eye lid. Following the procedure, I was prescribed a prescription drop to use for a few days. The surgery center sent my prescription electronically to a pharmacy about twenty-five miles away.

More than ten minutes later I was released from the center, I had to have a driver, and needed get my drops. Thirty-five to forty minutes later we arrived at the drive through lane at the pharmacy.

The prescription, that only required a label to be placed on the packaging (no pill counting, etc.) was not ready. The employee working the drive through window provided two options, “You can either come inside and wait, or come back later.”

Leaning across the center console of the car I asked, “How long until it is ready?”

The employee said, “If you come inside it will be twenty minutes, if you are coming back through the drive through it will be one hour.”

I laughed, and she walked away from the window.

I’m not released to drive, not really in a great position to enter the store, and my driver has other commitments. All of that aside, who is this customer rule benefiting?

Customer Rules

Businesses do silly things every day. Rules, guidelines, and ways of doing business that are designed to benefit someone, but it is a stretch to see the benefit to the customer.

Customer rules should work, but do they? Unfortunately, many rules actually punish the customer.

What are your rules?

-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 RespectNavigating 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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Employees that care

Employees That Care Change The Customer Experience

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Rules, policies, and procedures are often in place to ensure the customer experience is delivered consistent with the brand promise. Have you considered that having employees that care is really what changes the customer experience?

Organizations can set policy and have rules, but often the values and beliefs of the employee will be the biggest factor for outcomes. Demonstrating caring starts with the employees believing that the organization they work for values both the employees and customers.

Bounds of Rules and Policies

Employees will make decisions both within the bounds of rules and policies and outside of those parameters too. What they decide will really depend on what they value. Culture, driven by leadership often shapes value perceptions.

A gallon of milk has a drip, but put it on the shelf anyway. I hope that someone grabs it soon.

There is an empty coach seat on the unfilled airplane but the three biggest people on the plane are required to sit in the same row.

The roofer drops some nails in your yard, but oh well, perhaps no one will notice.

At the automobile repair shop, the mechanic steps in grease, gets it on your floor mats, but ignores what he sees because it isn’t his problem.

Food for table four sits and grows cold since the waiter is more preoccupied with his friends seated at table eight.

Chances are great that all of these circumstances, as well as thousands of others are against the rules. They break the fundamental policies, procedures, and what the organization leadership claims as the brand promise.

Caring Starts Inside

Caring starts on the inside. It starts with the organization philosophy that is carried out every day. Not the rule in written in the manual, the one that the employee feels based on the cultural environment.

The dairy department manager is measured in part by loss due to spoilage or out of date merchandise.

Airline personnel aren’t sure that comfort is one of their problems. Security is what really matters. Stay in your ticketed seat. Passengers should be more weight conscious.

The boss wants the roofer on the next job, they already lost a day because of rain. Picking up a few nails is a waste of time.

Grease, what grease? I work in grease every day and I can’t afford that car. Deal with it, it didn’t come from my boot.

Why do people eat burgers and fries anyway? They should be vegans. Who cares if their food sits. Reminiscing about high school is much more fun.

Employees That Care

Chances are great that rules, policies, and procedures won’t matter that much. It is the integrity and ethics of the employees that will make the difference. They’ll decide. They likely make those decisions hundreds of times per day.

However, they aren’t the only ones to blame. Guiding their choices are the behaviors of the leadership agenda.

Time is money and waste is problematic are two leadership punishments that employees divert to the customer. They’ve learned it from the inside and they’re sharing it on the outside.

Do you want to change the customer experience? Employees that care are important. Leadership measurement should consider metrics of caring. Caring is never cheap, but not caring is the most expensive of all.

– 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 about your customer

Care About Your Customer Or Else

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Many of our customer service successes or problems are the result of caring, or not. It seems simple to most. Which is precisely why so many take customer service behaviors for granted. Do you care about your customer?

I’m missing a shirt from my dry cleaning drop off.

Sorry, we accidentally gave it to another customer. He will bring it back soon.

Do you mean soon, as in an hour, or soon as in days?

We don’t know, soon. He usually comes in on Saturday.

I needed that shirt for a trip. I’m headed out of town.

Sorry.

Lack of Caring

Why do fast food drive through lines leave the bag open when there is warm food inside? Why does the garage move your car seat or mirrors and then leave them in that position?

The root cause of any or all of the problems is the same. They don’t care about how it makes it you feel or how it affects what happens next for you.

Sometimes it is about chance. The customer called saying he had a shirt that was not his. The thought is, oh darn; bring it back when you can please. More thinking, the customer has nine other clean shirts, this one doesn’t matter. Hope he doesn’t come in before the shirt gets back.

Sometimes it is about protection. The bag is likely open because the last thing they do is look inside, being sure they haven’t made an error. The thought is, keep the bag open so we can spot check and the customer can too.

Sometimes it is about convenience. The seat and mirrors were obnoxious in that position they are better now. The thought, how can someone drive with those positions, I can’t.

Care About Your Customer

Rules, policies, procedures, or even ignorance to the outcomes are often to blame for a lack of caring. Not caring feels wrong in a world that measures the service experience by advancing the needle on the gauge related to how good the customer feels.

What is worse than the customer not feeling good? The customer will tell others how it made them feel.

When you decide to make a difference, you will stop saying that you care about your customer and start showing them.

– 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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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 Rules

Customer Service Rules and Misunderstood Costs

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It happens all the time. Something affects profits or progress and the organization makes a new rule. Does it make sense to make customer service rules from one bad example?

Nearly every business will tell you that they value the customer. They cite examples of how hard they work for delivering an exceptional customer experience. Do they live up to doing what they say?

Certainly every organization needs to protect themselves from fraud, deceit, or profit erosion. They need customer service rules but at what cost?

Customer Service Rules

In the early 1980’s I worked in a retail drug store. I stocked shelves, unloaded trucks, swept the floors, and sometimes worked at the checkout register. At the time this retail drug store chain was doing very well, with many stores and lots of valued customers.

Somewhere along the way, some smart folks in district or regional management came up with a new rule. The new rule was that every purchase had to go in a bag and the receipt had to be stapled to that bag. No excuses, no exceptions.

What a disaster.

Rules in Action

One day as I nervously worked the checkout register while the regional manager looked over my shoulder I allowed a repeat customer to take their pack of cigarettes and a candy bar (after paying) and leave the store with receipt in hand. No bag and certainly no receipt stapled to it. Immediately I was summoned to come to the back of the pharmacy. I was scolded and sent back to the register.

What management didn’t realize is that for whatever reason they invented their rule, it was hurting their customers.

We had repeat customers come in every day to make a purchase. Purchasing everything from a candy bar, to cigarettes (big in those days), to a magazine or newspaper. They never returned anything or made a large purchase. They loved the store and they didn’t really need a bag.

These loyal customers loved it right up until the moment management started hurting their experience.

More than a Job

I was probably only 17 or 18 years old, but I knew better. I saw what was happening, it was ridiculous.

Regional management never seemed to get it. The local managers did but they were under strict guidelines from regional and corporate management.

It was supposed to be a job, but really it was the start of my education.

I miss those days.

You know—happy customers and all.

– 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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Leadership Habit 36: Show and Tell

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Role models represent the do as I do approach. What is your leadership behavior? Do you show as much as you tell? Show and tell is leadership habit number 36.

leadership habit

It’s not uncommon that the best leader in an organization during times of calm is not necessarily the best leader for the same organization during the storm. Yes, it can be done, and often it is, but the skill set might be different.

If you’re watching, leadership is transparent. The leader often believes that the organization (followers) will adopt a pattern of behavior based on what is said. This is the tell part.

Show and Tell

Unfortunately, most people who are paying attention believe more deeply about what they are shown. Show and tell favors the show part, every time.

Consider that you are told:

It is the best handling car.

The restaurant has the best dinner in town.

The workout routine will burn more calories and keep you looking fit in less than 10 minutes per day.

Is it believable? It might be when the car is shown on a closed course raceway exiting a turn. When the picture of the dinner platter on the menu dropped off at the office looks fantastic. And, when the professional athlete featured in the commercial has the abs you’ve been hoping for.

It’s always made more compelling with the show part.

The trouble that many people in a leadership role get themselves into is that they want to only do the tell part. Worse, they often don’t like to live by their own rules of the game. What is your leadership habit?

Leadership Habit

Every leader needs to be aware of style during times of calm as compared with times of storm. Nearly every business is cyclical in some manner. Every up cycle might have an occasional down. Every positive turn might occasionally result in a wrong turn.

The leader is the person who illustrates how to get to the next correct turn and who positions the team for the next climb. They lead the way by showing, not just by telling.

It is often more evident during difficult times, that is when the team is looking for an example. On a normal day everyone is busy doing their part. On a bad day they stop what they are doing and watch for examples on how to do it right.

In addition to the proper execution of show and tell, the leader lives by their rules.

The tell part is only compelling with the show.

– 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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