Compliments and Kind Words Go a Long Way


From the time we can understand the spoken word, we’ve all needed compliments and kind words. They indicate approval, whether said to a baby taking her first steps or to an athlete trying out for an Olympic team. Words of encouragement are great motivators that recognize us and encourage us to do better, to be better.

Recognition is critical to motivation. We all need positive reinforcement for who we are and what we do. Recognition influences self-esteem, and self-esteem influences performance. When we feel good about ourselves it affects what we do and how we do it.

All too often, … Read the rest

Smile — A First Impression Can Change Everything


A genuine smile can change everything — for the customer, your colleagues, and yourself. It’s powerful and critical to providing superior customer service.

Why is a smile so important? Because it fosters a positive attitude and forms a good first impression. It sets the stage for everything that follows, and it costs nothing. A smile invites people in. It says, “I like you. I care about you as a person. I value you. I care about your needs. I’m ready to help.”

A smile helps you build a positive outlook and attitude that is contagious. When you have a positive … Read the rest

Thin the Herd — Terminate Non-Performing Employees


There’s a term ranchers use when they are reducing the size of livestock by removing weak animals from the group. That term is “thinning the herd.” It could also be used in the workforce in relation to terminating non-performing employees, something most organizations don’t do nearly as often as they should.

Retaining employees who perform poorly is expensive both financially and emotionally. It costs a lot of money to repair the damage they do. That includes the time it takes to correct mistakes they’ve made, dealing with a significant number of customer complaints, driving down morale and creating friction as … Read the rest

Empowerment: The Backbone of Great Service


Empowerment is critical to any organization that wants to be a service leader. It is the most difficult skill to teach and get employees to use.

Empowerment means all employees have to make fast decisions on the spot in favor of the customer. The fear is that an employee may give away the store. The single goal of every company should be to have over-happy customers.

In Bolivia, I sent a lot of products via Federal Express to Marwan El Tine, VP of Service Quality Institute Bolivia.

After six weeks, he still did not have the products. I addressed the … Read the rest

Customer Service Heroes


We all need a hero — someone who, by their actions, can inspire us to do better. To be better. The four companies I profile here are reaping the financial benefits of making customer service a top priority.

Costco is a company that is incredible in the service it provides its customers. It offers the highest-quality products and the best prices — including gas at 30 cents per gallon less than standard gas stations. The company provides great service at great speed. Often the lines of customers waiting to check out with their purchases are long but each checkout station … Read the rest

Reviewing Employee Performance


If you are in a managerial position, one of the most important tasks you have is to coach your employees. You must do whatever is necessary to ensure that you have a team made up of players who have the skills, training and motivation to be the best they can be.

An important part of coaching includes reviewing your employees’ performance. In order to do this, you must know what your employees are doing and how well they are performing. We all need benchmarks, personally and professionally. It’s like a road map: You are here — and you want to … Read the rest

Drive Your Business by Empowering Your Employees


Empowerment is a powerful tool that will drive your business. It is also the single most complicated skill to get employees to use. When employees are empowered, they have the authority to make decisions — to bend and break the rules — on the spot to take care of a customer.

Most executives and managers, however, are afraid to empower their employees. They don’t trust employees — and they don’t trust customers. They think employees will “give away the store,” and they think customers will take advantage of employees who are empowered.

Most employees are also afraid of empowerment. They … Read the rest

How to Get Great Customer Service From Service Providers


How can you get great customer service? How can you get an employee to go above and beyond to help you? How can you get an employee to work on your behalf because they like you?

Employees can work miracles for customers who appreciate them and are friendly and respectful. Be one of those customers.

If you want to get great customer service — which is something we all want — I recommend that you take the following steps. And they work whether you are conversing face to face, on the phone, or by email.

Step 1 — Be FriendlyRead the rest

The Four Cs of Handling Irate Customers


Business owners and employees face a special challenge when it comes to dealing with customers who are unhappy with your service, your products, your lack of attention, or a myriad of other things.

How you handle those customers can have a direct impact on your business. If you don’t handle them well, customers will leave you — and take their money with them.

Their patronage — and their money — become even more important when you realize that it will cost you 10 times more to attract new customers than it will to retain current customers. For example, if 50 … Read the rest

Remember and Use a Customer’s Name


Customer service has many elements that allow you to deliver superior customer service. I believe your name is a precious possession, and when a company uses your name, it elevates the customer experience.

People value their names and the capital they bring to any conversation, interaction or relationship. People love to hear their names. More than any other word in any language, their names often sound best to their own ears. It gives them a jolt when recognized by a friend or acquaintance. That recognition almost always generates an immediate, positive reaction that affects the upcoming experience for the better.… Read the rest

Speed Sells


Speed is a critical element of customer service. Unfortunately, business owners and executives often overlook its importance as they plan their strategies to attract and retain customers and increase their sales. Too often they focus on catchy slogans and increased advertising instead of zeroing in on what really matters to their customers.

Speed matters, and there are several reasons for that. We live in an age of technology, which has in many cases greatly reduced the time it takes us to accomplish a task. That brings with it the need for others — particularly companies we do business with — … Read the rest

Nine Steps to a Service Culture


Never has customer service been as critical as it is today. That became apparent during the pandemic when millions of people around the globe relied on businesses that could provide what they needed to survive — personally and professionally — and as quickly as possible.

In order to distinguish you and your business from your competitors it is imperative that you create a service culture that runs throughout your company, from frontline employees to the CEO.

I’ve developed what I describe as the “nine principles of creating a service culture.” A service culture focuses on doing whatever it takes to … Read the rest

Relentless Role Models


I have two rules for companies that want to provide exceptional service.

  • Rule 1: Serve the customer.
  • Rule 2: When in doubt, see rule number 1.

Being relentless means providing exceptional service to your customers. It’s a propulsive, self-directed passion to continue to learn, improve, and exceed expectations in everything you do. It’s a race without a finish line. It’s a reflection of the core principles, beliefs, and attitudes of people within healthy and hugely successful businesses.

I’ll cite three companies that are reaping the benefits of being relentless in serving their customers. Those businesses should serve as role models … Read the rest

Magical Words


We are all aware of the importance of words. They can be healing or inspiring, humorous or hurtful. They can also be motivating and magical.

Two of the most powerful words in the English language are “thank you.” Most of us were taught that phrase when we were toddlers learning to verbally express our thoughts and feelings. It was part of our parents’ programming us to treat people with respect. Unfortunately, for many people, the basic rules of politeness have gotten lost through the years. It’s time to bring those rules back — and to put them into play.

The … Read the rest

How to Motivate and Coach Employees for Success


I talk to lots of people each day, and what I hear about is a lack of love, support, motivation and recognition from their direct manager or supervisor.

Too many people in management positions think the only reason someone works is for money. Many managers believe that the paycheck is why people work and there is no reason to tell anyone thanks for doing a great job. We nitpick things they are doing wrong and fail to recognize and celebrate what they are doing right.

These people I am talking to are ready to leave, want to leave or are … Read the rest

Create Customer Passion by Remembering and Using Your Customer’s Name


Very few companies remember and use customers’ names. Employees rarely, if ever, remember and consistently use the names and remember the faces of the customer they see most often, let alone the customer they see only occasionally.

There is nothing more precious to a customer than their name. It is the highest level of customer service. In a year the typical customer can count on one hand the times an employee will use their name. Most companies and employees don’t care. Few realize the impact it makes on a customer.

This is a stealth approach to keeping customers and stealing … Read the rest

Make It Easy for Someone to Conduct Business With You


Customer service is not very hard, but I think very few firms really try. There are four doors you need to use for effective customer service.

Door One — Physical Location

Your physical location is the most expensive. Your business needs to have hours convenient to the customer. Few firms do. Most banks are open hours and days convenient to the owner of the business. We call this banker’s hours. There are many people that prefer to go to a place of business and see people face to face. If your employees are rude and indifferent, it is the kiss … Read the rest

Service Recovery:
Handling Service Failures


When you foul up (and we all do) you can count on customers contacting you to let you know what you’ve done. If it’s a phone call, you can expect to hear ranting and raving and people saying things that are rude and inappropriate. If they are in your place of business, they will confront you face-to-face and it’s up to you how to defuse the situation and put a smile on that customer’s face.

When things do go wrong, it’s how you recover and delight the customer that truly sets you apart from other companies. Opportunities for service recovery … Read the rest

Seven Steps on How to Survive the COVID-19 Sales Downturn


Customer service in the United States has reached a new low. Frankly, it is getting worse each week. You’d think with all the closed businesses, as a result of the pandemic, that the companies that are struggling would be so much more aware of their customer service.

The problem is almost all CEOs believe they provide great service, and almost everyone thinks it is awful. When top management does not see any problems with their level of customer service, they face a major problem.

My experience in the past is too many employees lie to cover up lousy service. I … Read the rest

Becoming a Brand Your Customers Fall in Love With


Getting your customers to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem involves everything you do — and everything you choose not to do. It communicates the value and character of your brand; even the little things matter.

The message you send when you handle phone conversations, when you send email messages, the way you conduct business in a meeting, the way you handle complaints, the convenience you offer and the relationship you cultivate with your customers — it’s all part the of message you are sending about your brand.

Your brand resides within the … Read the rest

How to Take a Customer From Hell to Heaven in 60 Seconds or Less


Every company makes mistakes that could make them lose customers. I don’t care what business you are in, something will go wrong.

But the smart companies know how to recover a customer and turn them into loyal customers for life.

However, less than two percent of companies use service recovery techniques. That’s really bad. All companies make mistakes. All companies have things go wrong. Many companies and most employees run for cover instead of solving the problem.

The problems are only getting worse thanks to social media. If customers aren’t happy, they’ll post the problem on Twitter and Facebook. They’ll … Read the rest

Navigating the Difficult Times


“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” — Thomas Edison

Life in the dynamic and unpredictable business world means that sometimes things will not go according to plan. When a business, country or world is in crisis, it is easy to become trapped beneath a mountain of problems but, in order to succeed, individuals must be motivated and be able to sustain performance during a crisis and times of stress.

Many people respond to a crisis by being overwhelmed by stress, which turns to fear. It … Read the rest

Being Proactive — Internally Customer‑Driven


Is everyone in your organization customer driven and high performing? Is everyone working on all eight cylinders and providing the most positive experience possible? Every organization and every employee is in customer service. From the boardroom to the warehouse, there is no exception — customer service is everyone’s job.

For many businesses, their approach to customer service is to respond to the problems as they arise. This reactive method might satisfy the customer, but it won’t surprise or delight them. Instead, imagine if you could solve problems before customers had to call you. Or even better, if you could address … Read the rest

Treat Customers Like Life‑Long Partners


Over the years I have had some real “wow” experiences with businesses — people and employees that have treated me like a VIP every single time I have come in contact with them. Sad to say, the opposite is also true.

It seems that every time I have a great experience, there are numerous bad ones that make me wonder why some companies are still in business. Why anyone would ever consider going back to make another purchase. No courtesy, no warmth, no one cares, no speed, no follow-up, and no respect.

My book, Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service, … Read the rest

Reasons Why Employee Training Fails


Most of the money and time companies spend on training is wasted. That’s because the majority of companies use outdated training ideas and boring training methods.

Training that is poorly presented goes in one ear and out the other. It’s no wonder employees don’t change their attitudes or behaviors after they attend a badly presented training session.

After working in the training field for more than 40 years on six continents, I’ve identified 12 reasons why group training fails.

1. Large groups: You can’t have a good group discussion if 100 people are in the room. Try to limit training Read the rest

The Magic in Service Recovery


It’s simple and not many companies practice the magic of service recovery.

The magic in service recovery occurs when a frontline employee solves a customer’s problem and does so in 60 seconds or less. Acting quickly, taking responsibility, making an empowered decision, and compensating the customer will result in customer loyalty that will increase your sales and profits and help to ensure your success in an increasingly competitive world.

In today’s fast-paced world we are needing service recovery almost everywhere we go from the grocery store, to our banks (everyone has had a problem here), to our cable (very frustrating), … Read the rest

Leading and Making a Difference


“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” — Ronald Reagan

Being a leader in customer service (working hard to serve others), generating excitement, innovation, and a focus on continuous improvement, like I teach, creates a culture that’s hard to build otherwise.

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, born in Brooklyn, New York to a single mother, was raised by his aunt and uncle in Chicago. After his aunt died, Ellison dropped out of college and moved to California to work odd jobs for … Read the rest

Empowerment Is Power in Customer Service


Empowerment means every employee has to make fast decisions in favor of the customer at every single encounter.

Mistakes are inevitable and it’s important to recognize and accept this fact of life. The only way we can do that is by empowering employees to satisfy the customer quickly and to their satisfaction.

Empowerment Is the Backbone of Customer Service

I have stated in my books and in my seminars that it’s impossible to be a service leader, to be customer centric and focus on a service strategy without empowering employees. My definition of empowerment is giving employees the authority to … Read the rest

Paying Attention to Service Pays Off


The newsletter “Quality Assurance Report” states that only when a company knows exactly what kind of service its customers expect, delivers on those expectations 100 percent of the time, at a price that customers are willing to pay, while still getting an acceptable return, can the company claim to excel in customer service.

Northwest Delta Dental excels in the customer experience and enjoys an impressive annual profit. They’ve known for years that customer service doesn’t cost — it pays!

Each year I interview Northeast Delta Dental. They are the region’s most trusted name in dental insurance for companies of all … Read the rest

Bad Service Nullifies Advertising


The American Management Association found that successful companies spend about 20 percent more money on personnel, including on personnel training, than unsuccessful companies do. The finding held true for companies of all sizes in every industry.

All your company’s promotion, advertising, marketing and goodwill can be ruined by one rude or indifferent employee. Money spent on advertising is largely wasted when customers show up or call in response to it and are turned off by employees with a lack of manners, long waits on the phone, or lack of knowledge of the product to name a few.

Richard Israel, retailing … Read the rest