Tag Archives: customer service

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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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conversation starters

Why Conversation Starters Still Matter

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Do you still use conversation starters? Do you have enough interest, time, and determination to own the launch of a discussion? Many people seek the pattern of ease instead of the pattern of meaningful.

It isn’t new, it has been happening for two decades. It is the shift of convenience, the effectiveness of time, and the lower price that is driving change.

What is Traditional?

Most fast food restaurants still have inside dinning. Yet, the drive through is popular.

Many traditional retailers have shipping services while they still maintain some presence with a store front.

People movers in airports are popular, yet some people still walk to either side.

In some circles there is the argument against reading. “Who reads anymore, I just watch a video.”

We don’t have to physically run and hunt to get our food. Yet some people still do both.

In modern society, convenience often stands out when compared with the traditional.

Conversation Starters

Communication is not losing its effectiveness so much as the options for delivery are vastly increasing.

As the societal value of convenience, ease, and the selfishness of control slowly erode traditional systems will conversation starters still matter?

Some people still want to dine in the restaurant, even for fast food. Some still enjoy the experience of shopping in stores instead of using a computing device. Reading still matters to many and some believe it is the most valuable path to increasing intellect.

Conversation starters still matter for the feeling of belonging, security, and what most believe to be important for survival.

Society will change, so will the scope of conversations. It is hard to imagine the shape of tomorrow without starting a conversation.

-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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good deals

Good Deals Should Be For Your Best Customers

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How are you treating your best customers? Are they acknowledged through cleverly branded rewards programs? Are they getting good deals?

How are repeat customers treated as compared with the on-boarding of new customers?

Switch your lease from one car brand to a different car brand and you’ll get a discount.

Sign up for cable or satellite television and we’ll give you a lower bill for 12 months.

Why do some businesses feel the need to punish their best and most loyal customers by offering better deals to brand new customers?

About the Data

Data driven analysis and decisions are certainly valuable. Data driven decisions are also sometimes supported by assumptions.

The existing customer base will continue to spend as much this quarter as they did last quarter.

Our best customers can afford to pay a higher margin.

Our high-volume customers will never notice.

While this may seem silly, almost ridiculous, it is a popular path for many businesses. The quest for growth or the quest to stop the bleeding allow assumption-based leadership decisions to punish the best customers.

Who Cares?

There is at least one other assumption. The assumption that the customer doesn’t care.

Just smile and talk really nice, ask about their children, grandchildren, or pets. Chat it up a bit. It isn’t their money.

Have them use their corporate credit card. Remind them that they get personal points on dollars spent.

We could certainly bring up integrity and ethics, but many believe that is just the way corporate America rolls. It all works, until it doesn’t.

Good Deals

Like many things in life and in society, someone is paying. Free stuff or free deals are sometimes good for one party while a different party is paying.

Are you truly appreciating and rewarding your best customers, or are they being punished?

Who is really paying?

-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 authority

Customer Service Authority, Do You Have It?

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Nearly every business will tell you that they are in business because of the customer. Whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer, people often believe it is true. However, customer service authority may be missing. Have you found this to be true?

Most organizations are built on the premise of growth. They seek the wealth and riches of a thriving customer base and strong reputation. They are building their brand.

Many mission statements include a mention of the customer. The question is, “What happens when the relationship is tested?”

Service Focus

I’ve heard so many stories of customer service strategy. Including stories of a hands-off strategy that insists the more attention you pay to a customer in crisis, the more they’ll ask for, so don’t pay so much attention. Indeed, that is seeing things through a different lens.

What really happens when your brand is tested? Do your CSR’s (customer service representatives) have the authority to manage the crisis?

Customer service is often referred to, or culturally thought of as a department or work group within the organization. In a literal sense, it may be truth, in a cultural sense, it shouldn’t be true.

Things are often great if the system is never tested. People can rave about the quality, craftsmanship, or attention to detail. They can insist that the service is, the best!

What happens when it is tested?

Customer Service Authority

Everything may be fine until tested. Everyone may agree that the organization cares, has their back, and stands behind their product or service. Until they don’t.

The service your organization provides is about cultural attributes, not a department. Your CSR’s represent all that the organization is, and does. Pretending doesn’t work, talk is cheap, and promises are sometimes broken.

The organization that grants high authority to the people who directly serve the customer, especially the customer in crisis, will have better service. If they don’t have the authority, perhaps the culture is missing its mark.

-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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busy workplace dynamics

The Culture of Busy Workplace Dynamics

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You need to speak with your boss, but she is busy. You need to check on budget amounts with the Controller, but he is too busy with month end processing. How will you navigate busy workplace dynamics?

It is common, we’re working as a team and sometimes we need answers. The answer may require a phone call, an email, or a trip down the hall, but the person you need is unavailable.

Too Busy

Your boss, the Accounting Manager, or the H.R. Director, may inappropriately develop an avoidance mindset.

They’ve been interrupted every five minutes for years. The interruptions feel petty, slight, or that people just aren’t using their brains. So, avoidance ensues.

On the other hand, they may suggest, “I get it you need me, but…”, approach signals your need is less important than the need they are currently working on. In some cases, it feels disrespectful.

You’ve held your question for hours, days, or even weeks. You’ve been patient, sent a friendly email reminder, you’ve tried early and tried late. Still availability is not in season.

It is possible that employees lose hours of productive time waiting on a response. It may be a lack of empowerment or it may be a lack of knowledge, skills, or abilities. Sometimes it is a lack of accessible information.

Busy Workplace Dynamics

One way or another your culture of service develops internally and is then demonstrated with the external customer. Executives, bosses, or department leaders all have a hand in developing organizational culture.

They also have a responsibility for the productivity, response times, and service that their workplace teams provide.

Many label our economy as a Service Economy. In a service economy, every sector needs to illustrate exceptional service standards.

Service effectiveness is not just for retail or restaurants. It is true for manufacturing, healthcare, tech sectors, education, and yes, even government.

Showing that you care starts internally, it is a cultural attribute of your organization. Busy workplace dynamics are not an excuse.

If you believe enough in service excellence to say that you care. If you expect exceptional service for external customers. Then remember that caring is illustrated.

Show us.

-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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best customers

Best Customers Are Not Every Customer

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It is common, a new rule, something to prevent or curve off potential losses. Unfortunately, many businesses think about customer service as a department, a place that is the caretaker of rules. Be careful what you do to your best customers.

Every Customer

A good friend of mine is avid Harley Davidson guy. He dumps all his pocket change on playing with his Harley Davidson motorcycles. He is known at several dealerships and regularly drops a couple of hundred bucks on a visit.

Recently, he decided to order some new parts. The person at the parts counter explained that he needed to prepay. He never prepaid before.

The parts counter person advised, “It’s a new rule, all customers must prepay for non-stock items.”

He responded back, “Come on, you know I’m good for it.”

The counter person suggested that he didn’t make the rules, but that it applies to everyone.

My friend prepaid, he has the money. The problem is, he felt disrespected, he felt like there is mistrust, and the shop just weakened a previously very strong relationship.

Best Customers

I use a lot of printing services in my business.

My black and white copy business primarily goes to one vendor. It has been that way for many years. I send them a file via email, they know me by name and normally they have a good idea of the specs for my print job.

Recently, I had a job requirement that wasn’t normal, there was also a pending holiday. I wasn’t sure of their business hours or when the job would be finished. In addition to my normal email, I telephoned ahead for clarity.

When I arrived to pick up my finished order, I noticed a new sign. The sign read something like, “All print orders must be prepaid, no exceptions.” Yet, back on the shelf, clearly labeled with my name, my print job was complete and ready to go.

I felt respected. My order mattered. I was important to them and my years of being a good customer made a difference.

I’m not an average customer at the print shop, neither is my buddy at the Harley shop.

Remember your best customers, they are not every customer.

-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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marketing promises

Are You Living Up To Marketing Promises?

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People grow tired of being fooled. It is easier to not respond than to interact with someone determined to alter your desired direction. Advertisements make marketing promises and that creates expectation.

When we call for technical or customer support, we expect to get it. Instead, we sometimes get a sales pitch.

If the resume or performance evaluation reads, “Exceeds expectations,” it sets the tone for everything that happens next.

When the mission statement suggests that the organization is successful because the employee teams care, we expect to feel the proof.

Expectations are Created

Are the marketing teams creating expectations that can’t be met? What about when Betty is having a bad day? What if Travis decides it is just good enough? Not good, but good enough, and then ships?

At the high-priced hotel, the luxury resort, or a five-star restaurant, we don’t care that much about the condition of the staff’s job. We have our own set of expectations. Exceed them, or we’ll tell everyone with a photo and a hashtag.

Does the sign at the hospital really mean emergency care, or does it mean you don’t need an appointment? When I visit the barber shop, I don’t need an appointment, I wait my turn. Is that an emergency? What are the marketing promises?

Marketing Promises

The truth of it is that every person and every organization run on emotion and human interaction. Sure bots are emerging, but because they lack the caring emotion, it may only mean more frustration.

A promise is a promise.

The technical support team solves my technical problem without trying to sell me anything. The parcel carrier puts the package on the porch, beneath the roof, especially when it is raining. A five-star restaurant has exceptional staff, and if they are having a bad day, I would never know it.

Why? Because you promised.

-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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trendy customer service

The High Price of Trendy Customer Service

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Ask about a good customer service experience and people may cite Zappos, Amazon, or Disney. Are following the trends of others the best path? Are you caught up in trendy customer service?

It seems to make sense. In life, much of what we do we learn by watching, listening, and getting hands on. Then we replicate, we mimic, and we follow the model.

Learn to tie your shoe, make a toasted cheese sandwich, or change a flat tire. We often watch, listen, and replicate.

Creating the best customer service experience may be a bit different.

Trends Are Not Unique

When we mimic, follow the model, or do what the competition is doing, the best we can hope for is to become number two.

Here is the real catch though, if every online shoe store or every theme park replicates, exactly, the best service models then the opportunity for a unique experience is less. Everything is the same or similar. It isn’t memorable.

McDonald’s or Burger King, Wendy’s or Carl’s Jr., they spend millions chasing each other and yet trying to be different.

The manufacturer that produces a pen, a silicon chip, or a plastic water bottle, may produce hundreds of thousands, all exactly the same. Good quality, a sign of trust, value, and building a brand.

When everyone is exactly the same, the lowest price wins.

Trendy Customer Service

The question more people should ask is not about how to replicate, but how to create a unique experience that makes your product or service memorable, unforgotten, cutting edge, talked about, and chased. An experience that others may find so attractive that they want to follow.

Following the leaders puts you behind. Becoming the leader advances you forward.

Certainly, we can learn from other models. Certainly, we should understand what the competition is doing. Replicating their model will always only be a path of following.

Trendy doesn’t differentiate, it’s similar.

It’s a price too high to pay.

-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.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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C-Suite Learning

C-Suite Learning Will Mean Customer Satisfaction

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The smallest companies sometimes thrive. Not because they are the cheapest but because they are still learning. What about those in the C-Suite, are they still learning?

C-Suite learning may make the difference for customer satisfaction, growth, or stagnation.

Why pick on the leaders?

Leaders are responsible. Responsible for leading the culture of the organization. The smallest companies make it because the CEO is close enough to the customer to make the difference.

As organizations grow the leadership style starts to shift. The culture drives attention to the numbers and numbers are measured against numbers.

The castle is built and there is either a moat or a wall surrounding it. Sometimes both.

Metrics and measurement separate the connection between the product and the customer. The responsibility shifts to the front line.

The front line is stranded and stalled. They wait for the next meeting, the next decision, or the pivot that scraps it all.

Meanwhile the customer chooses a different path.

The company screams, “There is no customer loyalty!”

C-Suite Learning

C-Suite learning can make the difference. Yes, it is about the conference, the professional development, and the concept that leaders are readers. Don’t forget that it is also about connection.

When the C-Suite continues the connection with the customer the culture built will be inviting the customer to join. Remember, this is exactly why the small business succeeds. Front-line (and CEO) learning, passion, and connection.

Too often as the organization grows, it slows. It grows just big enough so that the chaos and disconnect fight back. The business finds itself positioned somewhere between stuck and stalled.

C-Suite learning often stops. The walls and moats shelter decision makers from the front line. Risk is measured differently. Insight becomes more about the numbers gap and less about customer satisfaction.

In the early days, customer satisfaction came first. It mattered more. Decisions were made by the influence of direct engagement. Learning made things grow.

Now a lack of learning makes things stop.

Learning how to make the numbers matters, but management by the numbers alone puts you inside the castle.

-DEG

Make a difference for your culture. Continue building an exceptional culture of service. It is why I wrote this important resource: 

#CustServ Customer Service Culture

Get it Now on Amazon

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.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

Originally posted on October 5, 2018, last updated on December 23, 2018.


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