Tag Archives: service

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competition

Do You Understand Your Competition?

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Every day we are competing. We’re competing through our business, competing to close the sale, or competing to achieve a promotion or get a new job. Do you understand the competition?

We may or may not know who the competition is with, but do we understand what we’re competing on?

Parameters of Competition

If you are focused on the size of the cake or the presentation of the dessert, how it tastes may be an afterthought.

The most durable laptop computer probably isn’t the most slimmest. The fastest car probably is the biggest or even the most comfortable.

What are the parameters of competition?

Here are a few of the most popular:

  • Service: When we compete on service our focus becomes about the delivery. Time, speed, and satisfaction.
  • Trust: We work hard to illustrate examples of trust. We work to show loyalty, commitment, and perseverance. Promises kept, not broken.
  • Image: While often very subjective our time and energy are spent on what you see.
  • Credentials: The focus of the card punch. Are the educational degrees attained? The certifications valid and current? Are they issued from a reputable source?
  • Price: Value is the afterthought, everything that matters is based first on price. If it is available everywhere at the same spec, price is the only differentiator.

Competing on What?

Understanding your competition is important, but you must first understand what you are competing on.

In the best scenarios you’re competing on what matters most to you. Your passion drives the focus and results. However, what brings you to the forefront of your offering may not be what the customer is buying.

A focus on quality may mean a higher price. An abundance of effort on image may drive questions about what is under the veil. Questions about credentials may signal a lack of trust.

What are you competing on? What matters most to the buyer?

-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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maximizing service

Maximizing Service Means You Will Maximize Profit

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High performing organizations invest a lot. They make investments with people, with products, and most of all through the service they provide. Will maximizing service mean that you will maximize profit?

Organizational culture dictates what happens externally. Organizations that survive on protect and defend instead of give and prosper are noticeably different.

No Budget

Many times I’ve met with mid-level organizational leaders who insist they have no budget and no ability to put the necessary changes in place for improvement.

Surprisingly, if you have the same conversation with someone higher up in the organization hierarchy, the story changes. This is often because mid-level management have been directed to conserve. Protect and defend.

This mindset is about stabilizing and avoiding a decline, which is very different from a mindset of growth.

Culture Differentiation

Is your department or organization maximizing service? What is the mindset?

The fast food restaurant puts a napkin in the bag. When requested the hotel allows a late check-out time. Your on-line purchase arrived with some extra free stuff in the box.

This differs from asking for napkins, no late check-outs, and your shipment arrives in a chintzy brown-kraft envelope.

Protect and defend or give and prosper?

Maximizing Service

Maximizing service means giving more than what is expected. It represents great value. Great value is not always a tangible item, it is often the intangibles that make a difference. The moment of truth, the surprise, and the lasting impression.

Leadership sets the culture. Is it a culture of protect and defend? Keep every dollar, spend nothing, and give nothing. This is an option.

There is another path though. The path that doesn’t feel like the next free napkin will send the organization in a downward spiral of which they’ll never recover.

Culture is a choice. So is the business model.

There is an alienating feeling with protect and defend.

Maximize service. Maximize profit.

-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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customer rules

Customer Rules Should Work, Will They?

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Many businesses adopt customer rules. Sometimes these are designed for safety or other critical concerns. Many times, the customer rules are designed to be convenient for the vendor.

No one needs another customer service horror story, we get plenty of them already. This is the short story to illustrate a point.

Short Story

Recently I had minor surgery on my eye lid. Following the procedure, I was prescribed a prescription drop to use for a few days. The surgery center sent my prescription electronically to a pharmacy about twenty-five miles away.

More than ten minutes later I was released from the center, I had to have a driver, and needed get my drops. Thirty-five to forty minutes later we arrived at the drive through lane at the pharmacy.

The prescription, that only required a label to be placed on the packaging (no pill counting, etc.) was not ready. The employee working the drive through window provided two options, “You can either come inside and wait, or come back later.”

Leaning across the center console of the car I asked, “How long until it is ready?”

The employee said, “If you come inside it will be twenty minutes, if you are coming back through the drive through it will be one hour.”

I laughed, and she walked away from the window.

I’m not released to drive, not really in a great position to enter the store, and my driver has other commitments. All of that aside, who is this customer rule benefiting?

Customer Rules

Businesses do silly things every day. Rules, guidelines, and ways of doing business that are designed to benefit someone, but it is a stretch to see the benefit to the customer.

Customer rules should work, but do they? Unfortunately, many rules actually punish the customer.

What are your rules?

-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 RespectNavigating 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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customer punishment

Customer Punishment and Finding a Better Way

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Customer service and the customer experience, two things that many organizations claim they do right. After all, it is likely an integral part of the mission statement. What about customer punishment, is that on the agenda?

Customer View

Things often appear different when we see them through a different lens. What many organizations do to satisfy metrics are not always so favorable for the customer.

Software has become an interesting game. Once upon a time you bought a software program. Accounting, CRM, or graphic design tools, you bought them like you may buy a hammer at a hardware store.

A hammer, once purchased, is good to use forever, or until you break it or wear it out which the average person will theoretically never do. Your software purchase was once similar, use it for life, or until hardware or operating system improvements made it unworkable.

Today it is different, they want you to lease the software. The price isn’t better, it is usually more, and by the way, you must pay every month or every year. Imagine buying the hammer every month or year.

I know the software companies won’t agree, and claim that is how they stay in business, but is this a favorable customer experience?

Get More, Needed or Not

Cable television is another one in what is becoming a long list of those who knowingly issue customer punishment. You get exactly one hundred and eighty channels, but you watch about five.

How long will the customers tolerate this punishment? Who does this work for, the customer, or the vendor? The vendor may argue the price would be much higher to do it differently, until someone finds a way.

Subscription services or products have an interesting model for profit, are they customer friendly? They probably can be, but are they?

Customer Punishment

What are you doing that punishes the customer? Do you care enough to change the customer experience?

If the box is crushed do you deliver it anyway?

When the wait times are long but customers are willing to wait do you try to fix it?

Do you tell the customer to call back in an hour, or do you call them in fifty-five minutes or less with either a solution or update?

Have you asked yourself, “What is convenient, easy, or cost effective for your organization that is unfriendly to the customer experience?”

What are you doing that benefits your organization because it is tolerated by your customers? Are those things a form of customer punishment?

How long until someone (a competitor) finds a better way?

-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 RespectNavigating 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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forgiving customers

Forgiving Customers and The Big Disconnect

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Your best customers are loyal and forgiving. At least that is what most organizations want to believe. Do you have forgiving customers? Could that be where things start to go wrong?

Many of the best customers expect that mistakes can happen. What they really want is an effective plan for how the mistake is handled. Certainly, a coupon or excusing a few dollars from the bill helps, but is that what they really want?

Emotional Connection

It is common for business leaders to suggest that you must remove the emotion from critical decisions. Yet at the same time it is really emotion that drives many of our choices.

Ask a busy CEO how they decided or how they knew a plan would work and they may suggest that they had a gut feeling. Is there emotion involved in a gut feeling?

When we want the team to be enthusiastic, engaging, and to care about making a difference is that based on emotion? Logic is important for guiding direction and so is consistency in how we decide.

For the customer they often want to know that you care. They decide, based on emotion, whether they feel that you care or that you don’t. Some customers may suggest a coupon for the next visit sounds closer to marketing than it does to caring.

A customer who is seeking a dollar off, a coupon, or extra rewards points really isn’t emotionally connected to the business, they are emotionally connected to their money. Not a bad thing, but there is a noteworthy difference about where the emotion lies.

Forgiving Customers

Forgiving customers understand mistakes will happen, what they really want is to know that you care. Those emotionally connected to money may want you to give up some of yours, those emotionally connected to do what is right need to know you understand.

Each transaction may be different and so is each customer. Catch all forms of forgiveness will not always build customer loyalty. In some cases, it may create the biggest disconnect of all.

-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 RespectNavigating 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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customer service plan

Customer Service Plan and Other Aging Items

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Start with a plan. That is what many business experts suggest. We go to a conference room, boardroom, or gather for a campfire style chat around the coffee table. Do you have a customer service plan and is it working?

We already know that the best plans are only the best plans when they are properly executed. Organizations strive for buy-in, engagement, and loyalty. It is true for buying in to the plan. It is true when you sign up as an employee. The plan means there is an expectation.

Aging Items

When I buy a car and it breaks I expect the warranty to cover it, or I know it has aged out of the warranty. At this point, the value has changed. The original capabilities are somewhat less. The tires, wheel bearings, and engine life have eroded, at least a little.

The same may be said about our clothing, a vacuum cleaner, or our home. Across time and through use, they deteriorate little by little, bit by bit, and they are never the same as the first day.

Of course, some things we consider an investment. Paint a room, install new carpet, and get a new roof, perhaps a home now has more value.

One of the biggest challenges for us in the workplace, after the plan has been made, after the buy-in has occurred and employees and systems have launched, will it be an investment or a consumable?

Customer Service Plan

Some of the best customer service plans deteriorate across time. Exceptions become rules, what protects the customer shifts to what protects the organization, and the list of what is in the box declines in value.

That bright shiny plan, it grows dull, declines in value, and needs maintenance or a rebuild.

A customer service plan is about its impact on culture. Across time, culture is about tradition and becomes what is expected.

Your customer service plan should be an investment.

– 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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care more

Care More and You Will Spend Less

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Is customer service at an all-time low? Many people suggest that it might be. Does spending less pay off with more? Do the businesses that care more have the biggest advantage of all?

People are wondering what happened to customer service. The well-known restaurant chain, the shopping mall, and the pharmacy, what happened to the customer experience?

Keep Costs Low

Many businesses connect caring with costs. Perhaps not always consciously, but they still do it.

Why train our youngest workers in customer service, they’ll be gone at the end of the season.

It takes an extra full-time employee to monitor the rest rooms, the landscaping, and the outside trash containers.

Only one checkout line is necessary. Customers can wait when we get busy.

Call us back in a couple of hours, we’ll give you and update.

Sorry, we did nothing. We needed more information before we could process your order.

The customer experience is a simple one. Do more, give more, and care more than what is expected.

Measuring the Experience

Sometimes the trick is analyzing what is expected. Expectations are not driven by the front-line supervisor, the storeowner, or the even the marketing committee. While all three may have a hand in it, ultimately the customer decides.

When the high cost franchise restaurant cannot survive while the mom and pop diner consistently is consistently packed, or when the local shopping mall closes, and when the medical office cannot understand why patients are so angry. Perhaps they need to consider how much they really care.

Better yet, start with caring, it may be too late when everyone has already starting leaving.

Care More

It really isn’t that hard to grasp. If the population of those you serve are citing the chronic problems with customer service, your opportunity is to care more, not less.

The best businesses avoid correlating expenses with the bottom line. They correlate expenses with growth which leads to a better bottom line.

When cutting costs to improve cash flow is the only thing you’ll do to improve your position. Your position will lack service. Your culture will be focused on spend less and earn more, instead of care more and spend less.

The biggest advantage is the one waiting on you to make a difference for human interaction. Dollar for dollar customer onboarding, retention, and lifetime value will be more effective when you care more.

It is the only effective way to get more by spending less.

– 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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training customers

Are You Training Customers or Is It My Imagination?

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Marketers, account managers, and brands all have something in common. They want to achieve more sales, build the brand, and make the most of their high value customers. Are you training customers? Do you realize what you are teaching them?

Our professional business interactions are driven largely by emotion. As people we act and react to joy, pain, and adversity. Many business people will suggest that everyone should remove the emotion, but the act of trying removing emotion is driven by emotion.

Businesses and organizations everywhere are conditioning their clients and customers for future interactions. As people of emotion and habit, we learn to adapt to situations. What we learn leads us to make decisions and choices that our connected with our past experiences.

Training Customers

Our restaurant is closed on Monday.  Later the restaurant wonders why business is off. Monday is a business day and people want lunch. The people don’t remember what day, they just know that they are not always open.

Every weekend we have a sale. Why go there on Tuesday, just wait to see what happens on the weekend. Otherwise, you’ll pay too much.

We will email you sixteen times before the sale ends.  No need to act now. I will be notified repeatedly. Maybe something else comes along and I don’t act at all. I also don’t trust or understand the deadline.

When I call, I can get a better rate. (Hotels) Don’t use the online registration system, they charge more there. Continue calling a staff that is untrained and unavailable since the hotel strategy is to move reservations to the online system.

You: I want to cancel my subscription. Vendor: Wait, I can give you a better deal. Punish the auto-renew or higher lifetime value customers. Who cares, they are not planning to cancel.

Punishment

Do you believe your business or organization has a customer centric focus? Do you have a culture of service? How are you training customers?

Are you training them the right way or punishing them to fit your agenda?

– 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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service culture noise

Service Culture Noise, It Does Not Sound Like Spam

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Spam annoys everyone. Most of us wonder why anyone would spam as a business strategy. If you’re striving to build brand and make some noise, try service culture noise, not the sound of spam.

Certainly, definitions of spam vary. Some believe spam is anything they don’t want shoved in front of them. Email, social posts, even traditional USPS mail is sometimes being labeled spam.

Others believe it is the repetitive nature of unwanted electronic communication, mostly email. Some marketers urge you to spam as a strategy. Hit your email list hard and often. Just keep emailing and emailing, it will eventually result in a purchase.

Spam Concepts

The concept of spam is simple, perhaps that is the exact reason why it is a bad idea. The concept is that you are going for volume.

If one email a week is a good idea, then five a week must be five times better. Certainly, there is some value to people seeing your offer more than once, but it is not a simple linear ratio.

Still businesses and even individuals do this. Time and time again. More is better, more increases my odds, and more guarantees some results. Let’s make some noise and really get noticed.

There is little doubt that a bigger list, with more potential customers, more potential opportunities has value. It may be called prospecting. Hitting the same potential contact too often is called spam.

Service Culture Noise

Service culture noise does not include spam. Services cultures are more about quality interactions. They show interest, caring, and represent more value. The service culture is an investment in time, resources, and requires more effort. This is exactly why it stands out.

Spam is like the lottery, you probably are not going to win.

On the other hand, a service culture, one that includes patience, illustrates caring, shows up, and makes it a little bit more personal has a different kind of noise. It isn’t about volume. It is about harmony.

– 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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offload problems

Do You Offload Problems To Your Customers?

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Have you ever walked the path of least resistance? Do you look for the easy route to build product or provide services? Easy is often viewed as advantageous, in the short run at least. That advantage is less cost, but at what price? What happens when you offload problems?

It seems to be the nature of what many people and businesses do. They offload problems. They look for the short cut and the cost savings. The thought is, we will do this because the customer won’t notice or doesn’t really care. By the way, it saves us money or causes a return visit.

Customer Engagement

Our cars get a check engine light, but we have to purchase a code reader to get the code. Why doesn’t it just tell us the code?

You can put your trash in an outside a can, but you have to bring it to the curb for collection. Later you search for the lid around the neighborhood because it has blown off in the wind.

Why are there no baskets or shopping carts deep inside the store? Who is that easy for, convenient for, or designed to help? Of course, we know the answer.

Standards are Set

There are many other ordinary (for today) life scenarios. Why do I have to change the clock in my car, my cell phone does it automatically? Do I really need a frequent shoppers card, when I always pay with my same credit card?

Why do I have to have a login and provide a password for every software application? Better yet, why has my software migrated to a subscription service? When I buy a hammer I don’t have to keep buying it every month.

Offload Problems

I’ll often ask participants in my customer service seminars, “What are you doing that punishes your customer?” When you answer this question and remove the punishment, you will delight your customers. Delighted customers bring you more customers.

Every time you take a short cut in design, engineering, cost cutting, or easy for you, you sabotage your customer’s experience.

This is exactly why customer service is about a culture, it is not about a department.

– 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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