Category Archives: Customer Service

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serving everyone

Serving Everyone May Take Away Value

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Does your business pride itself on serving everyone? Does the quest for more numbers flatten your value, or grow it?

Most businesses or organizations have a specific market. A segment, a group, a commonality that allows them to provide value to a piece of the pie, but not the whole pie.

Yet, it is often commonplace that people work really hard to accommodate the needs of everyone.

This has a price. The price is often that in the attempt to serve everyone they aren’t really great at serving anyone.

One user on the network, is just another user. Another product on display in Amazon’s website, just another potential source of revenue.

This may be true at the hospital, just another patient. It’s often true at the Pizza shop, the grocery store, and with your electric service provider.

Many of these service offerings don’t really make a big investment in you. They make and investment in the numbers. Yes, you may be one of them, but that’s it, just a number.

Serving Everyone

Some of the best service providers are building it with you which is not exactly the same as building it for you. Building it for you often scales to building for the number. It is the effect of the enterprise and the economies of scale.

Emerging software companies often start by building it with you. They are interested in your needs, the features you love, and the bugs that you discover.

The successful program starts to shift as the economy of the enterprise grows. They start building it for you. It is the attraction of the product, the marketing hype, and for the end-user, it’s a quest to remain part of the group.

Once they fought for you, now they fight to use you as a number in their game.

It is a similar concept for getting something for free. Sign up for the free webinar, the chance to win, or the no-cost obligation. If you aren’t paying you are not the customer, you are part of the marketing team. The goal is more numbers.

High value comes from those who are building it with you. The stakes are different and so are the outcomes.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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leveling up

Leveling Up Is What You Really Want

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Do you see lazy effort among your colleagues? Have businesses you once favored declined in quality or offerings? Leveling up may be what most people are looking for, yet it is often different from what is received.

I love the pizza shop around the corner but every pizza they make seems really different. Some are great, others not so much.

Do you like our logo? We paid the best graphic design firm in the city big bucks yet it feels like something a four-year-old might whip up.

We went to the most prominent kitchen remodeler in the area. Look at our countertops, they aren’t even level.

Does the customer service you experience ever shift to the lowest possible delivery? Does it feel like you’re receiving the quality of work that is just barely enough to get by without a complaint?

It happens to the restaurant, the car repair shop, and even the local hardware store. Some remain in business for decades or more, and others seem more like a flash in the pan.

There is a fine balance between constructive feedback and critical criticism. The recipient always gets to decide what to ignore and what to change. When you are convinced that the feedback you receive doesn’t matter, it may be time to reassess the direction you are heading.

Leveling Up

The moment an employee or the entire business decides things are absolutely perfect and that they shouldn’t change a thing is likely the same moment that things start to decline.

When corrective actions, different tastes, quality, quantity, and colorful options stop. The business hasn’t only stalled, it’s now in decline.

It is relevant for your job or career.

It is relevant for your favorite restaurant across town.

Even at the barbershop, the fitness center, and the book store. The business of leveling up is the difference-maker.

Coasting means you’re moving, but for how long?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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customer requirements

Customer Requirements Are About Knowledge

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Are you meeting customer requirements? How do you know?

Perhaps the first step in analyzing whether the requirement has been met is to be certain you understand who the customer is. Not all customers are external, and not all customers are the end-user or consumer.

When you ask someone quickly about a customer, they often connect with the idea of retail shopping. The simple concept is, a person walks in, inquires or purchases goods, and at some point, leaves the store.

There are many assessments of customer touchpoints. Everything from websites to telephone calls to the receipt of goods shipped.

Customer service is a broad subject to say the least.

Are you meeting the requirements?

Customer Requirements

In the workplace, people are often suggesting that they did their best work. They tried hard, worked extra, and now take pride in the finished product.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they met or exceeded customer expectations.

Building a good product or delivering exceptional service is always judged by the customer, not the builder.

Yet, every day the builder attempts to communicate the delightfulness of their goods or services.

It is challenging for the builder. They really have to know and understand the customer. This is exactly why many businesses are built around users of products or services in an attempt to make it better than the current best offering available.

Build a better car, a better television streaming experience, a better cell phone, a computing device, or even a better dish washer.

It may be challenging to build a better shovel, a better garden rake, or even a better ceramic coffee mug. Commodity products are often defined by the service associated with the sale.

Quality intersects with value.

It all begins with understanding the customer requirements.

Does every employee of your organization understand the customer requirements?

This is always the best place to start getting better.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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customers leave

When Customers Leave and Nobody Asks Why

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What happens when customers leave? Does anyone notice, or only when it is far too late?

People sometimes call it growing pains. The pain an organization experiences as they’ve shifted from a very small operation to a much larger one.

It happens to restaurants. The fantastic mom and pop add on to their existing operation or buys an additional location to set up shop.

The concept is, more is better. More room, more customers, and more financial reward.

Often these measures crash and burn.

Watching the Store

It is true for many operations in many sectors, from manufacturing to banking, and from a landscaping contractor to the automobile repair shop.

When the business is small, those in charge notice everything that is happening. From the first customer to the one most recently served. If something goes wrong, responsible persons can fix it.

As the business grows, people are added, levels get deeper, and the resources are present but are likely underutilized.

There is a shift in focus.

When Customers Leave

The priorities shift. They shift from the job of satisfying the customer, to the job of satisfying the boss.

There are meetings to attend, policies to make, and metrics to measure.

Proving what is happening, or not, becomes a backroom deal. The front-line is happening, but only the front-line is aware of what is truly working and what is coming up short.

What is likely worse is that the quest for information often rewards good news over the bad. Bad news isn’t appreciated and the tough feedback is rejected. Messengers are punished and good news bearers receive more appreciation.

The metric of new customers, orders taken, and revenue gained is only part of the picture.

Become the customer and measure the experience.

Lose sight of your customers and they’ll lose sight of you.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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better things

Better Things Are Still The Backbone Of Service

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Are you doing better things? Better things for the customer or better for the staff? Is it a balancing act?

Better service always sells.

When the customer is in doubt, they’ll remember how they were treated the last time or perhaps, how they were treated by a competitor.

When it is time to recommend a brand or answer a question asked, customers will remember what they felt about the service or how well the product worked when put to the test.

Where is your focus?

Better Things

When you want increase the compensation of the team, is there a direct effect on the customer?

Must there be a price increase? Is that how the budget is adjusted?

Should there be a new territory for sales, a new market segment, or repeat customers joyfully recommending your products or services? Should it be all of these?

Perhaps.

Yet, what is the focus?

Some companies place their number one priority on making things better for the customer. Other companies place their priorities on making things better for themselves.

Who wins this game?

Certainly, it probably requires some of both, but one of those will also likely take care of the other. Except, the reverse isn’t also true.

A focus on the customer will result in more opportunities, customers, and sales. As a result, you can take better care of the company.

A focus on the company first will probably result in short-changing the customer and ultimately making the selling and satisfaction process more difficult.

Better things happen with better service.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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blank check

A Blank Check Is Not Customer Service or Trust

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Would you sign a blank check and hand it to your vendor? You might, depending on the relationship, yet, how do you really feel about that?

Trust is an important aspect of any relationship. It is important personally and professionally.

Does it matter to you?

Does Trust Apply?

In the workplace, we trust that the work once distributed will get finished. We trust that the quality will be present and that the deliverables will be timely.

How would you react if the employee said, “I’ll do the work, but there is no certainty of the final cost for my services, write a blank check and I’ll fill it out when I’m finished?”

Does this change the dynamic? Is trust a two-way street? Should the employee trust that he or she will be paid?

If you’ve encountered this does it leave you with a warm-fuzzy feeling?

Something seems a bit off to me.

Backward Thinking?

I once had a potential client suggest that I pay them.

Yes, it’s true. A role reversal kind of move.

They would allow me to come to their facility to provide training services and they would invite some of their top connections. The offer was based on the idea that they would round-up a bunch of other potential clients (just for me) and it would be a great opportunity to secure future business.

“It will only cost you a small amount.” she expressed.

Yes, sadly, this conversation really happened.

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to go to a local electronics store and grab a big-screen television. At the checkout, I could state, “I’ll take this television and it will only cost you $1,000.00, for me to take it.”

Blank Check

Every business relationship needs to understand the dynamics of customer service.

For every touchpoint, every transaction, and every opportunity there should be an expectation of trust.

Trust often takes time to build.

Instructing your potential customers to write you a blank check seems kind of silly.

Doesn’t it?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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caring gracefully

Caring Gracefully Is In Short Supply

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Caring gracefully may be exactly what your organization is missing. Are you stuck between offerings and volume? Are the big box stores or eCommerce sites rattling your cage?

How will you compete?

The best way to get more is to bring it all to scale. Scaling your product and services is the best way to get bigger and often, yes, get better.

Where will you invest? Time, money, or people? Perhaps all of those?

Scaling not Failing

The small mom and pop restaurant will often fail when they try to expand. The small repair shop struggles to compete with the franchised option. And your product on shelves in Walmart, Best Buy, or available from Amazon may attain a different scale when compared with the small retail shop or static webpage.

The difference may come from the investment that many leaders overlook. The investment is in driving purpose which drives caring.

Many organizations and businesses insist that they are family-oriented. They insist that working in one of their shops, warehouses, or production facilities is just like being part of a big family.

Is it true?

Caring Gracefully

Talk is cheap and true caring comes with a price.

The price is the sacrifice that people make when they care more.

It starts with a well-defined purpose. Achieving the metric matters but it isn’t achieved in dollars and cents. It’s achieved when people care enough to push more, push harder, and pull it off.

A deeper level of caring means everyone understands why quality inspection seeks perfection and not just to be good enough. It’s why packaging matters and the brand is built from a reputation not the size of the facility or number of locations.

People who work together for a common cause, who are smart, value learning, and want to do the job right are far more likely to achieve more than the competing organization that cares less.

The small shop or the multimillion-dollar franchise. The retail store or the eCommerce site. Caring gracefully matters.

Buying state-of-the-art equipment is one price to pay. It will never be enough to beat a team that invests in purpose and caring first.

It’s often hard to find.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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service value

Service Value Is Always Determined By The Customer

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What is your product or service worth? Service value is not easily defined by the provider, no matter how hard you try.

When you live in a urban area and someone offers you a free lawnmower, or a goat, it probably is not of much value. The same may be true for gasoline engine powered hedge trimmers, a weed whacker, or a rototiller.

None of it really matters, it may be deemed not useful or of very little value.

The same may be true about two plane tickets to Montana via the Dawson Community Airport.

It is true about certain foods, books, or other resources. If there is no connection, there really is no value.

Free sauerkraut and hot dogs do not interest me. Yet, it may interest someone.

A twenty-year-old car in great condition may not seem to be worth much, but replacing it is expensive.

This concept is critically important as you face the challenge of serving your customers. What you offer isn’t always what is viewed as attractive or valuable.

Service Value

The trick for anything or everything depends on its perceived value.

Who would have ever thought that there would be a toilet paper crisis?

American Pickers look for rusty gold. Many people see nothing but junk.

The real opportunity is for the business to see everything through the lens of the customer and not through the lens of the innovator. Sometimes, yes, it could be appropriate for both. Yet, more often it is weighted in favor of the customer view.

An invention with no use is really just a floppy disk.

Or perhaps, a boiled egg squarer.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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brand experience impacts

Brand Experience Impacts and the Unexpected

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At the car wash, the grocery market, and the restaurant you have an experience. What are customers feeling from your brand experience impacts? Are you sure about every touch point?

The valet at the 5-star hotel, the guy sweeping up cigarette butts in the parking lot, and the janitor plunging the clog in the bathroom.

An incredible waitress, a kind flight attendant, and the nurse at the doctor’s office.

A fast-food voice on the intercom, the hardware store clerk, and shipping verification from an eBay purchase.

All of these things, no matter how big or how small they may seem, are part of a brand experience.

Unexpected Experience

Many people believe that your brand sits entirely on the hands of the graphic artist, the photographer, or a clever press release.

Indeed, all of these things matter. They matter a great deal. Yet, often, your brand is about unexpected touch points.

Businesses want to train their sales team, the customer service team, and managers. These are not the only people or places where your brand is exposed.

Where is your brand exposed?

Everywhere.

Brand Experience Impacts

What is the weakest link in your business? It may be a touch point where your brand is exposed.

What employee teams are not customer facing? Who is in the backroom, the warehouse, or on the R&D team? They’re still building your brand.

Who answers the phone, responds to social media, or sends email messages? To the customer, in each of those moments, that is what they know as your business. Not the CEO, not the beauty of your website, and certainly not the marketing speak in your mission statement.

The impacts of your brand are loud and clear.

They’re often developing from human interaction.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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customer hustle

Customer Hustle, Is That What Sells?

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Energy is contagious and often inspiring. Business minded people often like the idea of fast-paced, work-hard, play-hard, and win. Is it all about the customer hustle?

The act of hustling generally has a stigma of negativity. It may be perceived as trickery, deception, or even fraud. Largely though, in business circles, it represents a feeling of move fast, solve problems, and achieve goals.

Why is there so much focus on the customer hustle?

Time is a precious resource and when people know what they want, they want it now.

They don’t want to place an order for a car and have it delivered in six or eight weeks. When they want an ice cream treat, they expect to find it, quickly and conveniently. It’s true for getting a pizza and it’s true for an order from Amazon.

Customer Hustle

When a business fulfills a customer need or desire, it wins. It is expected to be replicated, modeled, and the competition works hard to exceed the previous best experience.

The moment anyone clicks anything on-line it starts a reaction. Search engines favor it over others, the word spreads, and action happens.

Speed seems to matter most. Timely means immediate.

The unfortunate other side of the customer hustle is that it is a short-run game.

Short-Run or Long-Run?

Short-run works okay for McDonald’s drive through, or the local pizza shop, but not so well in long-run products or services.

A dentist should be thorough, accurate, and complete, no exceptions. It’s a long-run game.

An expensive automobile or home, same thing, it’s a long-run game.

Yet it is often about the war of clicks. Fueled and offered to the public via a friendly search engine algorithm.

Does the long-run game still sell?

What’s Selling?

People talk about home appliances and suggest that they aren’t built like they once were. The same is often true for heavy equipment, electronics, or a garden tool .

The pressure and force connected with the customer hustle has driven a mind-set of fast and now, instead of good and lasting.

What is connected with the work that you do?

Is it built to last, or built for right now?

We don’t seem to find both.

It’s often a hustle.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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