EMPOWERMENT — Your Most Valuable Tool!

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More and more companies are waking up to the fact that giving employees more power and responsibility can bring huge benefits for both the company and its workers.

Employee empowerment may be the most underutilized tool in all of customer service. Give employees the authority to take action. No one should have to go “higher up” to get permission to help a customer. Empower everyone to break the rules thus allowing employees to have input and control over their work.

President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read “The Buck Stops Here.” Actually that should be the … Read the rest

Standing Still Can Kill Your Business

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The Importance of Ongoing Training!

I find this statistic unbelievable — The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics found that companies with fewer than 100 employees gave only 12 minutes of manager training every six months. Organizations with 100‑500 employees provided just six minutes.

The following statistic is even more proof that ongoing training is essential for employee development and the growth of a company — a long-term research project commissioned by Middlesex University for Work Based Learning found that from a 4,300 workers sample, 74 percent felt that they weren’t achieving their full potential at work due to lack of … Read the rest

Harnessing the Talent of the Future

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We live in a very dynamic world. What we know now will not be good enough for the future and selecting people to move us forward and who are open to learning is what we need to focus on.

In my book, Moving Up, I tell readers it’s about your life — it’s about succeeding. It’s about taking chances, dreaming big, being proactive and being ready when the opportunity presents itself.

Steve Jobs stated that young people need to: “Think about what it is that you really want. Go ahead and put in the time and energy to learn … Read the rest

The Importance of Continuous Training

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I was looking for a word that describes the passion that I have and how to relate to companies what I believe about “customer service.” It’s what I firmly believe is necessary to operate in the world today. The word is “overt” or done or shown publicly and not secretly. I have been dealing with customer service in an overt manner for 46 years. It has been the focus of my entire adult life. Here’s what I have discovered and continue to share with companies.

It’s ALL About Training

Why do I believe in investing in continuous employee training and … Read the rest

Take a “Vow to Wow”

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I am in the process of updating one of my books and I came across a heading that I had written in for Costco: “Vow to Wow.” Since day one Costco has had an unwavering commitment to doing the right thing for their members, employees, suppliers, and the community. Their strategy is to make sure its customers come back. Its merchandisers are meticulous about their choices of product for their customers and have set detailed standards on everything from the size of cashews to the thread count of bed sheets.

That unbeatable value proposition on quality products and customer service … Read the rest

“It May Not Be Your Fault, But It Is Your Problem”

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Companies may not be able to prevent all problems but they can learn to recover from them. A good recovery can turn angry, frustrated customers into loyal ones. It can, in fact, create more goodwill than if things had gone smoothly in the first place.

Opportunities for service recovery are numerous. If you are close to the customer and discover a problem, it’s your chance to go beyond the call of duty and win a customer for life.

Service Recovery

The surest way to recover from service mishaps is for workers on the front line to identify and solve the … Read the rest

Your Best Bet for Success…Hire the Right People

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All of your locations are up and running. You’ve done all you could do to advertise and get a jump on your competition. So now, the only thing you have left to do is the hiring. Plus you must retain good employees.

Success includes retaining good employees. Turnover creates inefficiencies that cost companies major dollars every year, so it’s important to pay employees for the efficiencies they create and for staying with the company. Success is hiring and retaining good employees and — training them.

Treasure Your Best Employees

In 1994, Cary Albert and his wife Jacquelyn began Schlotzsky’s. At … Read the rest

Empowerment Is Bending the Rules

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Empowerment means every employee has to make fast decisions in favor of the customer. It’s important that we are honest and sincere in our efforts to service our customers. The only way we can do that is by empowering employees to satisfy the customer quickly and to their satisfaction.

Most employees are rule and process driven. They worship rules. Almost all employees assume they will be immediately fired if they make a decision in favor of the customer, when in fact, most decisions require no money and about 80 percent will cost under $50. They have to bend the rules.… Read the rest

Taking the Sting Out of Criticism

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Giving positive feedback is always easy, but what about those times when an employee is not performing and you need to offer constructive criticism or negative feedback?

That can be a different story, especially for those who do not like confrontation. Managers need to be careful when dishing out negative feedback, and need to make sure that it is done constructively. It is important to tread carefully in order not to demoralize the employee. Most importantly when having to dish out negative feedback, it is important to always try to also acknowledge any positives the employee may have achieved first.… Read the rest

Customer Service Hell is Spelled — IVR!

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You have just entered Customer Service Hell. It’s the phone call looped through a frustrating automated system known as IVR (Interactive Voice Response) — you know, the one where you “Press 1 to continue in English” and “Listen closely to our list of options, as they may have changed.” Or, “Please call back during our normal working hours.”

Calling for Help

While automated phone attendants sound great for the business that’s set one up, it’s not ideal for a customer that just wants to speak to someone about a question, concern, scheduling of an appointment, or simply to learn about … Read the rest

Using Others’ Talents to Accomplish Your Vision

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Team-building is a delicate and time-consuming process. Anyone can put together a group of talented people, but it takes a dedicated team leader to bring everyone together effectively. One of the most important considerations you must make is whether or not an applicant fits into your company’s culture. The right person will build upon what you’ve created, but the wrong person can bring it all down very quickly — and culture can take an awfully long time to rebuild.

Learn to Conduct the Orchestra

In the following series of lines from Aaron Sorkin’s already famous screenplay, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak … Read the rest

Disruptive Service Today Is Tomorrow’s Competitive Advantage

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With all the new technologies bombarding us every day, it’s become more difficult to decipher a steady path for not only companies but individuals to see what’s ahead. How do we guide employees through this new technology and look for the competitive advantage? How do we create a platform for excelling at different levels in companies to ensure success and endure the growing pains we all have to go through to get to the next step? How do we compete?

As our understanding of the makeup of humans increases, so does our ability to create opportunities to improve our performance … Read the rest

Why Customer Satisfaction Surveys Backfire

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Do you really think customers want to fill out a customer satisfaction survey? How many times have you riffled through a survey just to get the freebie that comes with it? Well, guess what? Most people are probably doing the same thing and all the information they thought was so important is now — invalid. A complete waste of time and money.

In the United States every organization is following-the-leader with customer satisfaction surveys. The latest fad is to initiate surveys with your customers with every transaction 100 percent of the time. Very few customers fill out the survey and … Read the rest

How to Switch Off an Irate Customer

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Despite the obnoxious behavior, loud shouting, screeching voices, clenching fists, pointing fingers, red faces and all, most irate customers have a sad message. Most likely they are trying to tell you that they are feeling hurt, ignored, disrespected, unappreciated and unloved.

It’s easy to get flustered or upset when you’re confronted with an angry customer; and, if you don’t know how to respond, you can easily make the situation worse. However, when you respond calmly and with empathy, you can stay in control, and you can defuse the situation in a professional, courteous way. It’s important to know how to … Read the rest

The Importance of the Name Game

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What’s the sweetest sound that you can hear? According to recent research studying brain activation, the answer is… “Your Name.” A person’s name is a precious possession. Remembering a name represents a simple, but powerful customer care skill that people notice and appreciate.

Everyone loves hearing their own name! Remembering and recognizing your customers’ names and using their names goes a long way to convincing them that you and your organization care. Your customers give you multiple chances every day to remember a name, recognize a face, and recall a previous transaction, all to show them that their satisfaction is … Read the rest

The Need for Speed

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“Customers want high quality at low prices and they want it now.” — Bill Gates

When it comes to customer service, we all want to “get out” quickly and get back to our lives. Generally speaking, just about the only time customers are going to contact you is when they need help, so speed counts in getting them where they’d like to be.

Customers Value Speed … Amazon! “…if you wanna do more of something, make the friction less. If you wanna do less of something, make the friction more.” — Jeff Bezos

Amazon has such an immense number of … Read the rest

Building Rapport With Customers

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I enjoy meeting people and helping people, not for what it can get me but for what I can learn about others. I try to always be authentically me and represent my business honestly and build genuine relationships with my customers. When I stick to this strategy, the financial rewards flow.

  • Be more interested in your customers and you will build rapport. Your focus should be on finding something in common. Make friends first. Your goal is to make customers feel that you are someone they can trust. Someone they can believe. Someone they can do business with.
  • Learn to
  • Read the rest

Know How to Rock the Boat

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My definition of “Rocking the Boat” is to do things differently to the point of causing society to take note of a change in direction. It’s believing in yourself and jumping into the sea of opportunity.

In my book, Moving Up I said, “I’m tired of watching life pass by the millions of talented employees and future business owners who — for whatever reason — don’t connect their passion with their success. Life happens to all of us and it can be overwhelming and depressing and make our dreams and aspirations seem small — don’t you believe it for a … Read the rest

When the Going Gets Tough

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Life in the dynamic and unpredictable business world means that sometimes things will not go according to plan. When a business 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.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

A lot of people believe that the true leadership capacity of … Read the rest

Learning the Hard Way

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One of the keys to being successful is to prepare for unexpected events.

As a business owner I have to keep an eye on a lot of things. Whether it’s in America or overseas, tasks can slip through my fingers before I realize what happened. I pride myself as the consummate “multi-tasker.” I try to keep things under control and catch myself falling into the micromanaging trap every once in a while. But, there are always circumstances that pop up in business and a small crisis that can topple even the most cautious and trusting executive. I learned that the … Read the rest

Coaching for Success =
More Profit

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In organizations, people place too much emphasis on money as the only form of employee recognition.

While salary, bonuses, and benefits are critical within your employee recognition and reward system — after all, most of us do work for money — think more broadly about your opportunities to provide employee recognition. Consider the fact that low-wage employees often quit because they feel unappreciated and unwanted. Recognition in any field gives people feelings of self-worth that they could never get from just making a dollar.

Walt Disney’s service strategy was:

“… I want Disney to be one of the most admired Read the rest

How Do They Do It — Year After Year?

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It’s amazing to see the contrasts of successful companies that dot our history to the newer companies of recent history up to today. I was astounded at the marketing genius of people like Richard W. Sears, who started his company in 1886. At that time there were only 38 states and 65 percent of the population lived in rural areas. He started selling a mis-shipment of — watches. He hired Alvah Roebuck as a watchmaker and later he bought into the business, hence Sears, Roebuck and Company. Guess what they offered in 1891: Free delivery and parcel post. They offered

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The Importance of the
“Little Things”

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“Little things” can be the difference between major success and failure for a company. The reason is that people react emotionally because of the attention paid to minor details. We all know that when the smile spreads across our customer’s face, they will be back.

Experience the magic that’s associated with doing the little things — Most people think it’s the big things that make a big difference but in reality it’s the result of a lot of little things being done before that. It’s easy to look over the little things and that’s probably why so few people do … Read the rest

Move Lost Customers Into the Profit Zone

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Everyone says the customer is important; only a few savvy companies invest the time, effort and financial resources to do what needs to be done to build a more loyal customer base. Executing a loyalty strategy takes a true understanding of what it takes to create the kinds of experiences the customer will come back for, and tell their friends about.

Companies usually lose from 15 percent to 20 percent of their customers annually. They leave for many reasons. Some move, some die, some go out of business and some are seduced by the competition. The majority of customers leave … Read the rest

Focus, Focus, Focus

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After 40 years focused solely on customer service I continue to devote my time and energy to helping businesses create a service culture. I have written hundreds of articles and seven bestselling books that are focused on customer service plus I just released Coaching for Success, my 22nd customer service program.

The point I try to get across to everyone is — you are in the service business. Most companies think they’re in manufacturing and retail. It’s a paradigm switch. Amazon is successful because it understands it’s a customer service company that just happens to be the largest internet-based retailer … Read the rest

Service Recovery Handling the Screw‑Up

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When you screw 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 diffuse 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

Effective Leadership vs. Management

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“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.
When you become a leader it’s all about growing others.”

— Jack Welch

Everyone who has a job has a boss/manager, but does everyone have a leader? You never hear people complain about leaders, but every day someone somewhere complains about their boss or manager. First, leadership is action, not position. Just because someone is in a role of control does not mean the person is a leader. The best leaders are typically poor managers and the best managers are typically poor leaders. All managers have to do some … Read the rest

The Power of Word of Mouth

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Give ’em Something to Talk About

Just having a satisfied customer and giving them service that is simply good enough will not get anyone talking. You’ve got to go above and beyond the call of duty if you want your customers to talk about you.

Word of mouth is instrumental in driving your company’s success. Verbal buzz about your business or product passed from one reliable person to the next is still the most cost-effective way to build a loyal following, expand your business, and reach new customers. How does it start? Give them an amazing customer experience and encourage … Read the rest

Bending the Rules

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There are rules for a reason: they work for most people most of the time. Often scientific evidence backs them up. But as with almost any other endeavor in society that doesn’t involve criminal activity, rules can sometime be broken — or at least bent — without the world coming to an end.

This is especially true in business. Company owners and top executives give a lot of thought to winning and keeping customers — and they spend a lot of time and money on things like PR, leadership training, social media campaigns, etc., etc. But, the real front lines … Read the rest

Deal With an Irate Customer, Don’t Lose Them

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Facing off with a screaming, unreasonable, irrational customer represents the ultimate test of any employee’s service skills. It can take you to your breaking point if you’re not careful. Staying grounded and above the fray requires you to find inner strength, and persevere beyond the initial difficulties.

Dealing with irate customers is one of the most pressure-packed experiences you will ever encounter on any job. During every confrontation it is important to remember:

  • Every customer is a different person with a unique set of circumstances and personality traits.
  • Irate customer encounters can emerge out of nowhere — the key is
  • Read the rest