Category Archives: Customer Service

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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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solving customer problems

Solving Customer Problems Is Something New

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The answer for tomorrow is not always the same answer as it is for today. The goal may be for better to become best. It won’t happen without solving customer problems.

Many people are looking for a return to normal. A return that will not be the normal most people once knew.

Nearly everything will be different now, at least for awhile.

How long until a disruption becomes the new normal?

Most people agreed in 2019 that things were changing. It was the same the year before that, and of course, the year before that.

Change has struck. Uninvited in many cases. Not planned for, accepted, and especially not really understood. The new normal will have differences, at least for some time, and then they’ll be normal again.

The best solution for a career or a business then is to make pathways for what is next. What will the new normal look like?

Solving Customer Problems

Will the careers of 2019 be the same careers in 2020, or in 2021? Will high school graduates have the right skills for a new economy? Will colleges and universities set different curriculum?

What may matter most is the simplicity of understanding what a customer needs and being able to fulfill that need.

It may not be the same as it was just a year ago. In fact, in many cases it won’t be.

Some things will stay similar, or perhaps even identified as the same, yet there will be differences. Opportunities will arise from something new, forgotten, or something with expanded need.

There are many voids right now. The voids are one place that there is opportunity. Where there is opportunity, you’ll also find necessity.

Practice solving problems, creating solutions, and being the resource.

Your customers will appreciate you more.

-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 expectations

When Service Expectations Get Set

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Who decides about the quality of service? Hint: The customer. When do service expectations get set? Hint: Usually long before the product or service is received.

Are you conscious about expectations and outcomes? They matter for service, they matter for workplace change, and they will matter for everything connected to your culture.

Service Expectations

Traveling on Interstate 80 you can go from New Jersey to California. If you take this journey, or only some of it, and you’ll see road signs and billboards. Some of those will be for rest stops, food, and fuel.

If you make a choice to eat at a restaurant franchise, you have an idea of what to expect. You’ll make your decision to enter the establishment with your expectations already set.

If you make a choice to eat at an unknown restaurant, perhaps a mom and pop, upon entering you may not be sure what to expect. You’ll decide on your expectations quickly though, it often starts with the sign along the highway.

This is true for nearly everything about service.

It is why we decide we’ll trust some websites and others not so much. It is how we’ll make decisions about the shoes we buy, the clothes we wear, and the car we’ll drive. The expectations are set long before the sale.

Beyond products and services, it applies to your workplace too.

Connecting Service Internally

Certainly, in the workplace there are internal services. We know we can trust Sally with the project, yet we’re still not sure about James.

We’ll use our senses, our intuition, and our life experiences to decide.

The change handed down from the C-Suite will feel safe or it will feel conflicting. Work teams will decide to embrace it, move it forward, or perhaps slow it down.

It is true for the exit we’ll take from the highway. It is true for the change we need in the workplace.

Service expectations are the best predictor of 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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customer work

Customer Work Matters The Most

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What is your product or service? Is it relationship oriented or based on the materialistic nature of production? Customer work, being in the relationship business, likely matters the most.

It happens with retail banking. Everyone has nearly an identical product. Checking and savings accounts, mortgage or automobile loans, and other aspects of their business are commonly known as the product.

Only, that isn’t their product.

Their product is their service and customer excellence. It is about the relationships being built, strengthened, and maintained. It is about future transactions and retention.

Shifting Marketplace

Once upon a time, nearly everything was purchased at a store. A retail environment where the store front and people mattered. Today, often the closest relationship you form is with a website, FedEx, or UPS.

Largely, Amazon doesn’t make anything it sells. The same goes for eBay or other forms of online retailers. Walmart doesn’t make anything.

You don’t buy your automobile direct from the factory. Largely, the same is true for electronics, clothing, and shoes.

Who is really servicing the customer? Who owns the customer relationship? Is it the manufacturer? If you buy a gallon of milk or a carton of eggs at a retail grocery store, is your relationship with the farmer?

Managing the end-customer relationship may be the hardest part. It is where the markup occurs.

Customer Work

Manufacturing, farming, or other aspects of a product or service creation matter. Without this aspect there is nothing to sell.

Yet, at the same time it is the work of creating, building, and maintaining the customer relationship that closes the sale. Online or traditional retail.

A good product or brand may be considered trustworthy, but the relationship built inspires trust.

Are you mindful of your role in the supply chain?

Everyone has a product. Doing the work of customer management matters the most.

-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 service systems

The Failure of Customer Service Systems

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There are people who believe everything requires a system. Operations, a system, production, a system, and customer service, a system. Do customer service systems fail? You bet.

Executive Decisions

When senior leadership decides:

In a variable services model, all customers must pay a specific price.

We’ll charge our best customers a little more to continue with the service they once received as a standard offering. New or smaller customers still get the old deal.

The organization will bear no burden for merchandise they don’t manufacture. “All we can do is send it back.”

These examples and many more represent the foundation of systems failure.

The organization wants loyalty, retention, and happy customers telling others to join in.

The failures often start with a system.

Customer Service Systems

The system that fixes price for the customer who spends ten dollars, and the customer who spends ten thousand. Fail.

Then there is the system that says our best customers need more attention, our core philosophy operates on a first come, first serve basis, to get your old level of service you need to pay more. Fail.

Of course, there is always the blame game. “We aren’t the manufacturer. You are a victim the same as us.” All we can do is send in a request or send it back and wait. Fail.

High Cost of Systems

Systems can be important. Systems help us navigate and structure what are sometimes complicated situations. When serving your customers, systems can work, or they can be the beginning of the end.

What is the cost of replacing a customer? Does it cost more to get a new customer or to keep an existing customer? Are the front-facing teams appropriately empowered to work beyond the system?

Often a system built to protect the organization is a system built to fail with the customer.

There is an alternative. Identify your best customers. Use a net promoter score, historical data, or let front-line teams make recommendations.

There is a chance the system you’re building will not protect them, it will alienate them.

-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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