Tag Archives: loyalty

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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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employees stay

When Employees Stay, There Is a Reason

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Employee turnover is costly. Every organization knows this. Certainly, some attrition is normal. When employees stay, what is their reason?

Temporary Stay

You may go to the bus stop, the grocery store, or your favorite restaurant, you never intend to stay. The same is true for college, the hair salon, and a vacation spot.

Some appear more opportunistic than others. The vacation spot may have a certain attraction, yet it is unrealistic for most people to stay.

Back at the workplace, your job, or the organization that you work for may be viewed as temporary. You’ll attend for a while, but the time is limited.

Average years before a promotion, a career change, or a new and different employer seem attractively short sighted. Some organizations suggest they hire with this in mind. Be a stepping stone, get what you can while you can and move on.

Employees Stay

The gas station, the convenience store, or the hotel, as an operation, they seek no visits with the intent to stay. They are built that way. Visit, do your business, and be gone. No loitering.

It seems counterintuitive that of all the investment organizations make in capital equipment they often come up short with the investment in human capital.

Employees who stay in their workplace will stay for a reason. One of the biggest reasons is that the organization is built that way. The organization has the value and engagement that employees who enter, seek. Yes, pay will matter, and so will continuous opportunity.

Two things about greener grass. You only see it when you are looking and if not an illusion, the grass has better care.

-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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leadership ego

The High Cost of Leadership Ego

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Ego has many faces. Sometimes it is blunt and obvious, other times it is disguised as a workplace objective.

Sometimes it goes unrecognized. Simple acts that derail workplace engagement, disable loyalty, and disregard simple respect. Is leadership ego getting in the way?

Leadership Ego

Here are some leadership actions that should speak louder than words:

  • Hiring low or under skilled employees. Apparent because there is no succession planning within the organization. Employees are tools.
  • Never getting your hands dirty. (It’s a metaphor.)
  • A new organizational leader bringing in talent from a previous employer. Often to illustrate that everyone wanted out and will gladly follow for a new (better) opportunity.
  • Introductions that include, “He works for me.”
  • Rules only apply if you get caught. Especially true for harassment, diversity, and ethics.

Some employees only want paychecks. Yet, humans are surprisingly motivated by purpose. Yes, a paycheck can be a purpose, but likely it is not the organizational purpose.

Ego Derails Respect

People are problem solvers. They want to fix, repair, and accomplish. They also have a universal truth, they want respect. Respect may be defined differently by everyone, but without respect they’re only working for a paycheck.

Perhaps nothing derails loyalty more. Show your employees that you don’t respect them and they won’t care about you or the organization. Their underground rule will be, “Every person for themselves.”

Leadership is not about authority. Yes, authority matters and can be helpful. No, authority is not what makes you a leader.

Employee turnover, lawsuits, and disengaged employees cost organizations millions each year. In addition, stuck organizations or those with very limited frames often cannot get out of their own way. Look to leadership and culture as a potential problematic area.

What costs more, good leadership or bad?

-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 trusted

Is Your Service Trusted? Is There Loyalty?

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Regardless of the sector your business or organization represents, is your service trusted? What would the outsiders say? Organizations have a chance, at least one, to earn trust.

Trust is an interesting part of how organizations and individuals achieve success. Trust is likely part of your competitive advantage, or else it isn’t.

Presence of Trust

When trust is lacking productivity decreases, efficiencies decline, loyalty is out the window, and your brand reputation suffers. Trust is often taken for granted or else not taken seriously.

Many people believe that trust is about truth and lies. Sure, that is perhaps part of it. So are deficiencies in accountability, response times, and decision making.

Consistency should come to mind when you consider trust. When people know what to expect and when they are a lot more likely to trust. It is the surprises that create a breakdown.

When I order a hamburger and fries in the drive-through, I’m placing a certain amount of trust that is what I’ll get in the bag. I’m also expected a napkin or two.

When I attempt to make a call on my cell phone. I’m expecting cellular service is available.

The product I ordered online should be what’s inside the brown box delivered to my porch. I’m also expecting an email message to tell me it is there.

Service Trusted

When I make a conscious choice to engage with an organization, I have an expectation of trust.

That expectation is often connected to a person. The person who takes my call, responds to my email, or fulfills my order. It may also be the person who orders raw materials, makes my product, and inspects the quality.

Similar ideas exist for healthcare, the pharmacy, and my bank account balance.

Trust is expected everywhere. Loyalty is achieved when it is delivered. That’s service trusted.

-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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loosen up

Should Your Workplace Loosen Up a Little?

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What is better, tight or loose? So much energy is put into the concept of getting closer, tighter, or squeezing. Should your workplace loosen up a little?

Running a tight ship may be desirable but does it always make sense?

Tight Ship

Sales teams want to get closer to the client. Closer to understanding the customer needs and building closer, tighter relationships.

In manufacturing the push is on for closer tolerances, perfecting the output, and creating less space for errors or poor quality. Make it perfect, never deviate.

Savvy procurement teams may suggest squeezing the vendor. Forcing a sharpened pencil for the deal, extending terms, and decreasing shipping costs and time.

Accounts receivable teams may squeeze the other way. Perhaps attempting to force customers to pay faster, narrow the terms, and be less forgiving for late or missing payments.

Everyday workplaces try to squeeze out a little more work, do more with less, and get tighter. In many situations, the squeeze is on.

Is this what we need more of? Is closer, tighter, and with a squeeze always the best rule of thumb?

The logic seems solid, but is there something different? A different logic, a different way to perceive what needs to happen next?

Loosen Up

In some cases, getting a little bit loose, giving some slack, and allowing a little more time may be more productive.

When there is room to try something new, we may discover something new. That means innovation.

When we give someone slack, we may find more commitment, understanding, and gratitude.

Giving the customer some slack may create more loyalty. The vendor may decide you are more valuable. Trust improves, respect grows, and relationships matter more.

Pressure makes things closer, tighter, and creates the feeling of squeeze. Most people want to get out of tight spaces.

Maybe loosen up a little.

-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 satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction May Start With a Promise

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An easy question to ask but a harder one to answer is what promotes customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is based on an expectation, a perception, and a feeling during or after an interaction. What is your promise?

The Promise

Brands have promises. Cadillac, BMW, or Jaguar may have a brand promise. So does Hyundai and Kia.

A dinner out at an Outback Steakhouse carries a different expectation from McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s.

An employee earning $90k annually has additional expectations when compared with the employee who earns $35k.

Similar expectations exist for a cup of coffee, a bottle of wine, or pair of shoes. Price sets precedence for the expectations and it elevates the factor of risk for customer satisfaction.

The lower the price, the lower the brand promise, theoretically making it easier to satisfy.

Are more people satisfied with a low-price experience as compared with a high price experience?

It would be hard to guess with so many factors conditioning any potential outcome. However, most would agree that a big price with poor outcomes is remembered long after the experience is over.

A low price with a bad experience is easier to forget. We may think, “I didn’t get much, but I didn’t expect it either.”

What is your commitment? Are you making big promises? Are you commanding a higher price?

Customer Satisfaction

It seems that is easier to give less, do less, and provide less because the expectations are lower. On the flip side of that, if we are always providing less is our customer satisfaction truly high or are we short changing the customer experience?

Does a $75 per hour employee work harder than a $14 per hour employee? Theoretically no, both should be 100% effort for one hour of work, but the expected value of the $75 per hour employee is much more.

What are you doing about customer satisfaction? Taking big risks with big promises, or just delivering the easy stuff.

It’s a choice and a mindset. It’s your brand promise and it starts with culture.

-DEG

Our actions, behaviors, and outcomes are driven by culture. So is customer satisfaction. It is why I wrote this book:

customer satisfaction

Buy now on Amazon

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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workplace emotions

Are Workplace Emotions Productive or Destructive?

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Workplace emotions are often regarded as inappropriate. Are emotions important for success or are they a distraction?

Perhaps most important is to remember that we are talking about people here. Living, food consuming, and carbon dioxide producing, people.

Engagement and culture are driven by emotion. Emotions are part of people, they come with the package.

Productive or Destructive?

If you’ve been told to remove the emotion be aware of how you’ll manage your future interactions. If you’re telling people to remove the emotion consider revising your approach.

Certainly, there are times to consider setting aside some of the emotion. Business decisions do sometimes need to be made with setting aside some of the emotional connection. Economic hardship, downsizing, or even organizational survival may come to mind. This is reality and a truth.

Sometimes counterintuitive is that one of the most destructive actions related to culture is removing the emotion.

Let me be clear what I’m talking about. This is not about the person weeping about the death of the window plant. He or she may need some additional help.

This is also not about acting out the latest SNL skit in the breakroom. Humor can be helpful in some cases, however, it is also very volatile. Humor, or the use of humor is a different discussion.

Workplace Emotions

What is important about workplace emotions?

Customer’s make decisions based on emotion. Employee’s make decisions based on emotion. Your culture is driven by emotion.

Psychologically when someone shuns another person in the workplace about emotion, the next time they are feeling something, they may disconnect. This includes passion, inspiration, or even kindness.

They’ll disconnect with the thought, disconnect with the moment, and disconnect with the flow.

Is engagement problematic? What about loyalty? Are you measuring employee or customer retention?

Suggesting on the removal of emotion may be one of the most destructive actions you can take. Do you want a team, a brand, and loyal customers? You’re going to need emotion.

-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.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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connection economy

Connection Economy and the Implications of Scarcity

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Labeling our economic conditions sets the stage for how we’ll choose to communicate, sell, and serve. Many refer to our most recent economic climate as a service economy and others, as a connection economy.

From my experiences I see relevance for both labels, and honestly, the two have a few similarities.

Both should spark deeper thinking about how you will service your customer. They should invite deeper thought about what problems customers and clients will pay you to solve and how you’ll build relationships.

When Scarcity Is Rare

Many individuals and businesses use the principle of scarcity to drive sales. Even your career may incorporate some of this philosophy.

The best question may be, “In a connection economy is there less room for strategies based around scarcity?” Perhaps it is one of the best reasons to think differently about your sales and services approach.

Scarcity may exist in consultative sales, the value of experts, and hot new trends. Does the connection economy suggest additional considerations?

Nearly everything that you could once only seek to buy in a small radius around where you live, has changed. Now products (or services) once considered rare are available across a much larger platform. Not new, but sometimes forgotten.

What matters more? The answer is easy, your connections.

Connection Economy

Connections matter because they have reliability and authenticity built into them. They discount the concept of the pressure sell, the do it or die, or the one-sided win.

In service and in sales, it is harder today to get forgiveness. Much easier is the path to move on.

Some suggest loyalty is gone. Yet with so many choices loyalty secures a position as scarce. The value of connections matters more, not less.

Loyalty means promises made, are kept. If you’re going to sell on scarcity make it about the value of your relationship.

Intuitive commerce exists in connections.

-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.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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loyal customers

Who Are Your Loyal Customers?

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The importance of both internal and external customers should never be taken for granted. Often people quickly connect with the atmosphere of working with external customers but miss the emotional connection internally. Who are the loyal customers and how do we know?

Internal Customer Loyalty

Every organization has a responsibility internally. People are serving other people, other departments, and in one way or another, the sales or production effort. There are customer connections. Internal service is so important because the internal culture is always reflected, in one way or another, in the external brand.

Loyalty in an organization is often measured through the employee turnover metric. Those who stay are loyal. Those who stay have a good internal customer relationship.

Seems logical, except that many believe that they are not staying by choice, they believe they stay because it is a requirement. Requirements to earn a living, feed a family, pay bills, and survive.

External Customer Loyalty

External customers may have a different agenda. It may be easier for them to exit a relationship. There may be many competitive choices and options. In some cases, but certainly not all, they may not feel so trapped. They feel more freedom to choose.

When their automobile is not reliable, they may choose a different brand. If their athletic footwear is uncomfortable or short lived, next time they’ll try a different brand.

It is true for nearly any consumer purchase. Business-to-business is sometimes a little messier, but still doable.

Loyal Customers

So what are the indicators of loyal customers? Certainly sticking around and repetitive purchases are a good indicator. Lifetime value is an important measurement or metric. What else may be important?

Have you considered that a customer who offers feedback, even the feedback that sounds critical or like a criticism is sign of customer loyalty? Maybe you haven’t thought of it this way, but with so many choices, why bother with feedback?

People who have choices, but choose to stay are loyal for some reason. Offering feedback, even feedback that is critical may be a sign that they want to stay, but they also want to help strengthen the reasons why they stay.

Often people with nothing to say, really don’t care, they don’t mind, they’ll just go.

Feedback or criticism is often viewed as a customer about to exit. Instead, it may be a good customer who wants to stay and help you build it.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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