Tag Archives: service

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Relentless effort

Relentless Effort is a Part of Service Interactions

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Are you giving relentless effort? Sometimes it feels like a thankless job. Does it make a difference for future outcomes? Yes.

Mindset is powerful and often we need to shift the concept of problems to opportunities. Opportunities can be much more attractive when compared with problems. Mindset starts with a choice.

When it comes to service interactions, you have a choice about how you will accept the outcomes of your efforts.

Say, “Hello.” to a stranger and you may or may not get a response. You took the risk and you accept the possibility of no reaction, or worse, perhaps a negative reaction.

Applying Relentless Effort

Relentless effort is about multiplying this effect across time. A one-time deal isn’t nearly as effective as repetitive daily pursuit.

One stumbling block for relentless effort is having the willingness (it’s a choice) to accept what happens next. When you are committed to your choice, you’ll have the energy, even in the face of adversity, to try again.

You may ask yourself this simple two-part question, “What is the opportunity in front of me and am I willing to pursue it relentlessly?”

Persistence matters, and persistence across time is relentless pursuit.

You have to be willing to accept what happens next, even when the results may not be desirable.

It makes a difference for what you’ll do next, and that, makes a difference for what happens next.

-DEG

Two Resources

I wrote both of these books to help with relentless effort. Get them 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.


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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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customer journey

The Friction of the Customer Journey

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Gaining traction is desirable. Inspire connections, build the brand, and grow revenue and profit. Yet, there may be another force associated with traction, friction. Are you reducing the friction of the customer journey?

Creating a password that is more than nine characters, includes a special symbol, at least one capital, one number, and uses no formal names is friction.

In contrast, securely storing your credit card information for one-click purchases in the future reduces friction and improves traction.

Customer Journey

The customer journey is often created by looking through the lens of the account manager, the content developer, or the artistic contributor. Mostly, they represent traction, no guarantee of a smooth glide.

Taking an airplane flight involves a journey. A ride to the airport, security, baggage check, hurry-up, and then wait. What reduces the friction? Uber, CLEAR, and the Admirals Club.

Security on your handheld device may be valuable, a point of traction. For example, a four-digit pin is nice. Reducing the friction of the journey happens with a fingerprint reader.

Waiting for your boss, the CEO, or the chairperson of the board of directors to ask for engagement may grant you traction. Anticipating requirements in advance and delivering before being asked reduces the friction.

Understanding Friction and Traction

Friction promotes job security for the auditor, the gatekeeper, and the hall monitor. All may be important, but perhaps not to the customer.

Mostly people seek traction. They are searching for ways to create a permanent link, a lasting connection, a vow that’s hard to break.

Traction is security, a sure thing, a requirement to return in the future. Reducing friction creates engagement with less effort required for the customer.

Your customer may tolerate your desire to gain traction. What they’ll appreciate the most is when you reduce the friction of their journey.

-DEG

Originally posted on January 23, 2019, last updated on May 4, 2019.

Reducing the friction of the customer journey is directly connected to your organizational culture. It is why I wrote this book:

Customer service culture

Get it 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.


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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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