Tag Archives: quality

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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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measuring information quality

Measuring Information Quality and Outcomes

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Are you a good communicator? Are you or the people around you measuring information quality, and if so, how?

There is a tendency to measure information quality by its likability factor.

In other words, if you like what you hear or read, it is good information. If you don’t agree or dislike the information it is bad.

Information should not be judged by its likability.

Quality Judgement

In the workplace people tend to lack comfort in the meeting that puts them on the spot. The meeting that makes them more responsible and accountable, or the one that examines performance.

The information exchange in these cases may be considered good or bad, yet it is often judged by the likability factor. If you like it, it was good, otherwise it was bad.

If your doctor suggests losing some weight, or the dentist has to recommend a root canal. Was this bad information?

Quality should not be a measurement of its content.

Measuring Information Quality

Workplace leaders can and should take special care when delivering information. Especially information that may be unpopular or performance improvement oriented.

Telling people what they want to hear may create a happier moment, yet it is not sustainable.

The best communicators are able to deliver all information, good or bad, with professionalism.

They often do this with honesty, integrity, and with high levels of transparency. Trust becomes a long-term factor for information quality.

If you’re judging the quality of information by the likability factor, you’re going to face a lot of disappointment or the consequences of misleading those around you.

What is worse? Trust will diminish or be non-existent.

Measure information quality by its honesty and integrity. Consider the professionalism involved in both the passion and compassion of the message.

Care about the quality.

-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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workplace pace

Workplace Pace, Getting Things Right Before Fast

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Are you moving at the appropriate workplace pace? Is time part of the metric you’ve grown to love, or love to hate?

Time matters to everyone. It especially matters for the work that you do.

The business needs the metric of time to calculate and anticipate revenue, production, and quality.

Are you doing things fast or are you doing them with the highest quality? Do you measure quality first or speed?

Many people will quickly express quality comes first, yet, in practice if you sacrifice speed for quality the measurement of performance is suggested to decline.

Which way is it?

Time vs Perfection

A pastry chef creates a masterful wedding cake. From the nearby table it looks absolutely perfect. On the back side there is an icing patch, a place where the icing spatula slipped. Hard to see unless the lighting is just right and you look very closely.

The carpenter does amazing work. The house looks perfectly square. If you look closer and measure corner to corner you notice it is off by an inch on one side.

An author grinds out a book. The work is published. Twenty-five thousand words. The perfectionist notices two typo’s and some questionable grammar.

All of these scenarios share something in common. The closer you look the more problems you find.

You may also suggest that given enough time all imperfections may be able to be removed or eliminated.

There is an intersection with quality and time.

Workplace Pace

Everything you do, and especially the things you do well may be up for critique.

There are times when everything needs to be perfect. There is also what we call tolerance. An acceptable balance between perfect and trash.

In your job, whatever you are building, creating, or especially replicating, it is a race against time.

Time matters and there is a deadline because the quest for perfection followed by replication seemingly never stops.

Think more about what you’re able to accomplish within the dimensions of tolerance and time.

That is the pace you’re racing against.

-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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better service

Better Service Is Typically Not Cheaper

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Are you prepared to deliver better service? In your workplace, at your job, for the customer, or because you care?

It sometimes appears that everyone is dumbing things down.

Does it make sense? If it does, for whom?

Doing It Cheaper

Why send a direct mail piece when you can send an email? Why walk into the grocery store when you can order ahead and pick it up at the curb? No need for a face-to-face meeting, let’s stay in our offices or cubicles and meet through technology.

Is less expensive better?

On the flip side, someone is always looking for the expensive car, the high priced bottle of wine, or a pair of shoes with a red sole.

When is better, better, and cheaper, cheaper?

The answer is pretty easy, “Always.”

For your commute to work you may not need the most expensive car. A nice tasting wine may not necessarily come with the highest price tag. And, there is a good chance you can make a great impression around the office without wearing Louboutin.

While all three may be great and make you feel like a million bucks (literally) they are not a requirement.

Better Service

There is a difference when you get to the bottom though. The cheapest of the cheapest feels, well, cheap.

We wonder why there is so much frustration with the tech support hotline. We wonder why the burger just doesn’t taste like a burger. For the business, they wonder why no quality candidates will apply for their job opportunities.

The answer is simple.

Some things are good enough and some things are better.

The lowest price is probably the wrong option.

The cheapest will always be the cheapest.

Every time.

-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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finished

Are You Finished or Just Out of Time?

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Many people accomplish a lot during their workday. For the project, new product development, or the marketing campaign, is the work finished or are you simply running out of time?

Procrastinating students do it, they wait too long to start and they must turn in their work on time. It may be true for your workout, doing your hair, or brushing your teeth. There is a deadline, and then everything stops.

I believe it was the famous American football coach, Vince Lombardi, who said, “We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.”

It happens for the blog post, the graduate dissertation, and the cabinet maker. One axis of measurement for the product always seems to be connected to time. When time is up, it is finished.

If we are almost out of time, the quality or level of innovation may suffer.

Standards or Efficiency?

Consider that your standards are your standards, and how you measure quality is conditioned by time.

It happens in manufacturing and it happens in healthcare. Time is always working against quality and is inclusive for the measurement of efficiency.

People claim, “We need more time.”

The response in one form or another often is, “Time is money.”

What is the most useful metric? What axis of measurement are you using?

Are You Finished?

The best work always seems to happen when the builder claims the work is finished. An alternate claim is, “I ran out of time, and so, I’m finished.” When this happens, something suffered.

For your next project, brainstorming session, or the report you are about to turn in to your boss, ask yourself how it would be different if you removed the axis of time.

Will it change the finished work? Should it?

-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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workplace speed

Workplace Speed, Advantage or Disadvantage?

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Are there consequences to workplace speed?

Hurry to finish that project. Skip lunch and work late, it must be finished by tomorrow morning. Don’t read the directions, it is a waste of time.

It seems that everyone knows time is money. Additionally, most would quickly suggest that productivity and efficiency are key indicators for success.

Is speed always an advantage?

It probably always boils down to one question, “What are you giving up?”

Workplace Speed

Most pros have a con, most cons a pro. Speed may not always be the most valuable factor in your workplace contribution.

Here are five examples:

1. Finish the project in the final hours.

Pro: Less waste if the project becomes unnecessary. Allows changes up to the final minute.

Con: Procrastination may lead to inferior work. Not enough time was allocated. Mistakes made by being hurried.

2. No talking, just work.

Pro: Assumed productivity increases. Working means movement, movement means results.

Con: Failed or ineffective communication creates rejected work or rework.

3. Email is a waste of time; a quick scan will suffice.

Pro: The box is checked. Email is read and return email actions are up-to-date. Time saved by scanning.

Con: Scanning creates miscommunication. Critical or vital information is missed or assumptions are made.

4. Don’t ask any questions just get started.

Pro: No time wasted reviewing details that may not be relevant for the work at hand.

Con: Misunderstandings create a bad customer experience. Incomplete or inaccurate work creates additional waste.

5. Faster workers finish slower workers assignments.

Pro: It is teamwork. This is a team. Everyone contributes what they can.

Con: Demotivating to those who put in more effort. Slower workers use this as a crutch for everyday behavior.

Have you recognized the advantages and disadvantages of workplace speed?

Perhaps patience should be a core team value.

-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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workplace resilience

When Workplace Resilience Turns to Brilliance

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What does being resilient mean? It is a question I often ask in leadership seminars. It is a thought starter, something to get people thinking. Do you have workplace resilience?

Resilience may be described as the ability to bounce back quickly. We may suggest that a Nerf ball has resilient properties. Baby Boomers may think of Timex watch TV commercials, and someone may suggest that the character of Rocky Balboa from the Rocky film series was resilient.

Leadership Means Resilience

Being resilient is an important leadership quality. Whether you are a team lead, front-line supervisor, or a Senior Vice President, workplace resilience matters.

In any position where you lead, which by the way doesn’t necessarily imply that you have direct reports, all eyes are on you. What you say, what you do, and your attitude matter. People are watching.

Leading means forward motion, holding things together, and energizing the team.

Things are going to go wrong, missteps will occur, undesirable situations will arise. Are you going to bounce back quickly or become stuck? Are you going to dramatize the situation or move on?

You can aim to achieve the highest levels of six-sigma. You can even plan to make everything perfect. Working towards doing it right is never a bad idea.

What happens when things go wrong?

Workplace Resilience

Finding balance should perhaps be an organizational value. All of the effort towards perfection may not prepare people for resilience. Persistence matters, but persistence arguably may not happen if you are not resilient.

Too much focus on perfection may not prepare you for resilience. Too much focus on resilience may not propel you towards perfection.

Understanding that your work is likely always a work in progress tends to balance the scale. Even after the standards have been set, the tolerances calculated, and the metric is ready for measurement, something may fall.

Ensuring you are resilient is not a waste of time. It is brilliant.

-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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response time

Response Time Expectations and How to Manage Them

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Perception is reality. At least that is what we are often told. It is true, what people expect or perceive is what they measure against. Internally and externally, response time expectations condition satisfaction. Are you managing them or are they managing you?

Perceptions of Response

What are your expectations for response time? It is often a critical measurement. People evaluate and judge your acceptance or not by response time.

When will the wait staff realize I need a refill of my iced tea?

How many rings until someone answers the telephone?

How long do I wait while on hold?

When I send an email how long until I get a response?

How quickly can emergency responders get to my area?

This webpage takes forever to load.

Where is my pizza?

How long until the medicine starts to work?

When will the eBay seller ship?

What time will dinner be ready?

There is an important question to ask about all of these scenarios, “What are your expectations?”

Response Time

We can go through a McDonald’s drive through lane quickly, especially once our order has been placed. The pizza delivery guy is only minutes away after the pizza leaves the oven. The on-line merchandise order is typically less than two days away, and shipping is advertised as free.

Patience may be important for the recipient but it is still based entirely on expectations. Those expectations often develop from past experiences. Fortunately, or unfortunately, those past experiences are working for or against your perceived level of service.

Today expectations are shorter, faster, or quicker than ever before. We can get a loan for very little cost, very fast. Our pizza can be hot and ready, just stop in the store. Our burger is fewer than ninety seconds away, and researching to find answers to our questions are at our fingertips in under a minute.

Managing Expectations

How does the service provider manage expectations? Typically, information will help manage expectations. It may be the notification on the technical support line of the number we represent in the queue. The same is true for the help chat.

The pizza shop will often tell us the wait time when placing an order by phone and we expect the medicine to work in just minutes.

It still remains a two-way street. Push the employee, vendor, or service provider too hard, and you’ll likely find errors or rework is necessary. While you often measure with response time, perhaps patience is another metric to consider. It is the push and pull of quality and problem resolution.

Expected Wait Time

People wait for hours in line to get the new iPhone. They tailgate at the big game for more than triple the time the game is actually played.

Not so long ago a mail order businesses (today’s dot com) once shipped in 30 days, or a call from a friend or relative only happened when they had access to a landline telephone.

When we expect an immediate response we may have to remind ourselves about our expectations. We may have to consider our patience, which often allows for better quality. A fix it once correctly is better than a fix it wrong or part of the way for two or three tries.

Information is Key

Keep communicating. Respond to email, text messages, or telephone calls. Provide updates, status reports, and historical data.

Expectations are guided by perception, perception becomes reality, it is all based on past experiences and information. When in doubt, practice patience, it matters.

Do you want to be a step ahead of the competition? Find ways to do your best work faster, it is 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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customer service voice

What Is Your Customer Service Voice?

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Most of us have one, a voice that offers our opinions, expresses our values, and sets our desired expectations. Your voice may be more impactful than you realize. What is your customer service voice?

Internal and External

Keep in mind that customer service is both an internal and external part of your organizational culture. What is said, discussed, and believed is a big part of what sets expectations and creates outcomes.

Ship it anyway, the customer won’t notice.

I can’t find their telephone number on their website.

They completely rearranged the supermarket again, now I can’t find anything.

Your voice may be more powerful than you realize. What people say, even to themselves sets the expectations for future outcomes.

Power of Voice

When we believe the customer won’t notice, we’ll allow our work to have less quality. Believing that they won’t notice also signals that they don’t care. The belief becomes that they will continue to buy out of need, buy based only on price, or buy because they are sloppy or not frugal.

Certainly, the idea of fewer customer service oriented calls conceptually saves money. It removes the human cost. Similar to the auto attendant signaling us to “press or say one for sales, two for…” so that we are directed to the correct department.

The real problem may be that people are calling only after the website or help chat has left them with unanswered questions or additional frustration. Better yet is the system that demands your customer number, order number, or telephone, only to get a live person and have to repeat it all again.

When technology drives better service, when the investment is expensive enough to make it better, not cheaper, typically service will improve. Unfortunately, many efforts to remove the human factor are an immediate attempt to cut costs, not improve service.

The supermarket may measure profit and margins by what shoppers select and where they can find it. Single piece candy bars aren’t in the back corner of the store, that is where the milk, meat, and seafood is located.

The store may not care about the amount of energy required for your shopping experience, but they certainly want you see all the high margin items you can conveniently buy from them. In contrast, the e-commerce store allows sort, filter, and easy reorder, plus it arrives at your door.

Customer Service Voice

What we say, what we discuss, and most importantly what we tell ourselves and others will condition our expectations. This is our customer service voice.

When we believe that cheap is all that matters, that is probably exactly what we’ll get.

Perhaps our customer service voice should change. It may require more talk about what we buy being connected with what it is worth, not just connected with what it costs.

These are the businesses that are focused on doing what matters, not what is cheap.

They are out there. Their employees and customers both have the same voice.

– 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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Good service

Good Service Done Right, Can You Find It?

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It seems that there are universal truths about many things in life. Are there universal truths about customer service? Can we still get good service done right?

Many believe that it is a very interesting time for small businesses, franchise holders, and non-profit organizations. Likely, there are no limits on size, shape, or even sector. It could be your small town dentist office, a large-scale telecommunications provider, or the 1940’s railcar dinner.

Today, as frustrations mount with poor service, the desire for good service increases. Repetitive breakdowns cause people to seek something better. Rejection may lead to obsession, and stories of poor service lead to a new quest to find the exceptions.

Universal Truths

What are some of the universal truths about good service? What are organizations doing to deliver?

They are:

  1. Timely
  2. Responsive
  3. Caring
  4. Kind
  5. Honest
  6. Trustworthy
  7. Valued
  8. Considerate
  9. Forthcoming
  10. Well-managed
  11. Respected
  12. Active
  13. Participative
  14. Decisive
  15. Resourceful

Perhaps this represents just a handful of the qualities that make things go more right, instead of wrong.

Wrong Things First

It is easy for organizations to focus on the wrong things first. By choice, they often focus on self-protection, cheapest to spec and good enough to close the sale.

These choices often become values and traditions. The traditions the organization holds on the inside. Their dirty laundry and the things they stuff in the closet.

They aren’t broadcast or made public, at least not in the written form. Customers quickly figure it out though, and they are just as quick to tell others or jump to a social media channel to spread the word.

Unfortunately, it is the evolution, the life cycle and a self-created destiny.

Good Service

For the organization that wants to change, the one that wants to grow its base, build a new reputation, and deliver good service, it often becomes about a process of unlearning.

Unlearning the bad habits, unlearning the self-protection factors that restrict quality and removing of the mindset of building or delivering to the cheapest spec wins.

Why is all of this important? It is important because there is a difference between done and done right.

– 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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