Tag Archives: customer service

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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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typical workplace behaviors

Typical Workplace Behaviors Tell Us About Culture

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McDonald’s has a typical hamburger. Not a great deal different from Burger King, Wendy’s, or Carl’s Jr. Similar things tell us about what is typical. Are there typical workplace behaviors?

You bet.

In some communities the typical workplace behavior is far different from others. Pay scales may be different, opportunities are different, and the talent pool, well, it’s different.

In all cases we identify what is typical. We look at the norms, the behaviors and the values and beliefs. Once spotted, we label them, typical.

Typical for Culture?

Many organizational cultures talk about competition, efficiency, and quality. Some embrace sports teams, political currents, or even religious pathways. It may not be typical, but it is typical for those organizations.

Setting aside any legal aspects, the people are at free-will to determine what culture looks like. Management always has expectations, are they good role models?

Certainly, there are always outliers. There are the extremes. Extreme complacency, revolt, or even fast-trackers. Yet, the masses seem to make up the true definition.

Hard chargers often don’t like average. Those on the victim side of the scale don’t really high-performers. Every culture has a definition though.

How would you define yours?

Typical Workplace Behaviors

When you know who your organization really is, then it is much easier to define the customer. It is better for focus, commitment, and overcoming adversity.

Being on the same page, and, all in it together, takes on a more intense meaning in practice.

You should ask yourself, “What am I role modeling?”

Your brand depends on it.

So do your customers.

-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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glamorous resiliency

Glamorous Resiliency Keeps Everyone Going

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A picture is worth a thousand words, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Having glamorous resiliency is important, especially when the chips are down.

What is your posture when navigating the rough waters?

The U.S. economy churns largely due to small businesses. It’s often hard to define a small business. Many believe it is those businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

When you try to find a concise definition, it is challenging. It may depend on the sector, it may depend on the size of the sector, and usually it is based on the number of employees and total revenue.

Small businesses represent the U.S. economic engine.

There is beauty in small business.

Glamorous Resiliency

Often there are fewer rules, politics and cliques are less intense or non-existent. Opportunities for fluid approaches, innovation, and employee flexibility are often greater.

Many small businesses run as they see fit. If it doesn’t fit, then they shift.

They are all fulfilling the needs of the customer.

This makes customer relationships better. They have stronger interactions, more meaningful conversations, and often the help is there exactly when the customer needs it the most.

Small businesses may sometimes be described as disadvantaged. They are known to be harder to scale, less resilient in the face of adversity, and less attractive for on-boarding the best talent.

In reality, this is exactly what makes them more attractive.

In life or in business, recognizing that your disadvantages may actually be your competitive edge, brings an entirely new range of opportunities.

Be glamorous.

Be resilient.

-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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takeover message

Takeover Message and The Service You Receive

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Have you ever been part of, or the victim of the takeover message? This is the message you see on the hand written cardboard sign at the store that is about to have a new owner.

I’ve seen plenty of these signs.

Bear with us while we clean up our mess.

Now under new ownership.

New management means a new attitude. Coming soon!

The same may be true for the new boss, the new employee, or the recently reconstructed team.

Why do people feel that this message is so important?

Sending the Signal

In simple terms, they want to notify onlookers that things are changing and whatever happened before will be a better experience now.

Yet every time we make an attempt to change, give it another try, or correct a wrong doing, we’re really doing the same thing. Of course, if the previous owner, boss, or employee teams resisted change, perhaps nothing is new.

When we start a conversation with an old friend we may ask, “What’s new?”

We make the assumption that the normal is complacency, the status quo, and the same old stuff.

Should we have a takeover message?

Takeover Message Failed

Recently, I walked into a small privately owned business to buy dog food. The store is not in a convenient location but I like the store and my dog eats a special brand.

The shelves were completely empty. Employees were present, but that was about it. Some hand written signs indicated they are in the process of selling the business. I saw the same signs two months ago.

Nothing says poor management or poor taste, like the message of, “New management coming soon.” Both old and new management are losing in this endeavor.

Every day we have a chance to make a difference. The takeover message is really just a stall, and it could easily become a stop.

As always, your actions and behaviors will speak louder than your words.

Make the changes. Make today better than yesterday. Isn’t that what everyone expects?

-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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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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