culture

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

Listening to the Employee’s Voice – 1/27/15 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


The “Voice of the Customer” is an often-heard phrase. We have a sports research program called the “Voice of the Fan.” These are ways of describing that organizations either need to simply listen to their customers, or they need to have a 12-month strategy for tapping into customer feedback and input to continuously improve.

But what about the employee? Do they have a voice, and what is the voice saying? Most companies realize that asking the customer is the best way of obtaining the “Voice of the Customer.” But few realize that asking employees is the second best way of learning the “Voice of the Customer.”

Employees – particularly those on the front line, are the ones engaged with the customers many times daily. Employees hear the complaints, the confusion, and the questions. Employees hear what make customers say “thanks” and what makes customers frustrated. Ask your employees about your customers – it’s the best customer research money you’ll NEVER spend!

Don’t stop there. Apply your “Voice of the Customer” strategy and principles into creating a Service Culture. Your organization hires employees, but does it ask them why they chose your organization and what expectations they have about the employee experience? Your company “onboards” employees, but does it have 1 week, 1 month, and 90 day check-ins with new hires to gauge whether those expectations are being met and how they’re feeling about their job and your organization?

Think about your employee vets. Are the longer-term staff asked about processes and policies that are barriers to the great customer experience? Are veteran employees asked about the current climate, training needs, or potential system changes (BEFORE they’re implemented)? Is there documented information on how proud they are to work for the organization and how engaged they are in the company’s mission and vision?

We love conducting customer research for our clients, but in your effort to provide a great experience for your external customers, don’t forget your internal customers.

Listen to the Voice of the Employee.

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Do More Than What You Say You’ll Do – 1/13/15 TOW

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During a meeting with a client who was trying to work through a culture change, the question was raised about how they could change a culture of broken trust.

WOW! That’s a very direct and not quickly answered question. Many of the answers fall at the feet of organizational leaders – they’re the ones most responsible for creating an environment of trust. But let’s look at the question from a different perspective – the perspective of an individual team.

Many people believe that – to build trust – you must do what you say you’ll do. That way, the client, the co-worker, the peer – they all believe in your actions and begin to trust you.

But there’s a different type of trust, one that’s about more than the task. It’s your being able to trust others enough to open up to them, to share your thoughts, your concerns, your ideas, your critiques, and your feelings. This kind of trust requires you to be willing to communicate what you’re thinking and feeling.

This trust is not as easy as “doing what you’ll say you’ll do.” This is about your being trusting enough in how others will respond, how they’ll respect you and what you share. This is about your willingness to open yourself up for the good of the team.

When trust on a team is lost, yes, team members need to rebuild it by saying they’ll do something, and then doing it. But if your team has deep trust issues due to new members, past conflicts, or some other reason – there need to be intentional efforts on the part of the individuals to share what they think and feel, to start the process of being open and trusting others. Being willing to open up is the first step in engendering trust from others.

Can you take the first step on your team? Tell them “I’m going to share something that I’m uncomfortable sharing, and I’m trusting you will listen and be respectful of me in the process.” Then offer your idea, your concern, your critique, your feeling, or your thought.

Start the process of building back team trust.

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30 Minutes or Free – 1/6/15 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


I once worked as a Domino’s Pizza delivery person. It was a GREAT job during summer as a college kid, in particular. You get to drive around, make pizzas, and if a customer canceled an order – you get to eat free! I had a plastic cup in my house filled with cash from tips – it made me feel wealthy at the time (even if they were just 20-25 $1 bills).

This was a while ago – when bell-bottom pants were in (Were they ever really “in”?), when I knew how to drive stick shift, and when Domino’s had its 30 minute guarantee. The 30 minute guarantee stated that if the pizza arrived more than 30 minutes after it was ordered, you’d get it for free!

At the time, I was working in the first Domino’s store in a small town in North Carolina, and one of my deliveries was to a home in a relatively new neighborhood. I looked at the map hanging on the wall (this was pre-GPS and smart phones), wrote down my directions, and headed out. As I entered the development, I took my first right, my next left, and I was well on the way to getting there just in the nick of time – until it happened. I was on the right street, about a quarter-mile from the house, and all I had to do was drive down this road, take a left, and I was there.

But the road I was on was a dead-end. It hadn’t been completed. There was a fence at the end of the road, about 50 feet of undeveloped land, and then I could see that the road started up again on the other side. I had to improvise, and improvise I did! I found the house! But I was 5 minutes late.

They got 2 pizzas for free, but I received a nice tip. Then I went back to Domino’s, having just delivered the first free pizzas in this store’s history.

I explained what happened to the manager, he said “okay,” he walked over to the map, drew lines to show where the street was a dead-end, and went back to making pizzas. There was no blame.

In life, in customer service, and in the pizza world, sometimes things just happen. Sometimes it’s a bad experience, it’s a delay, or it’s a free pizza. And sometimes, there’s no reason to spread blame. Responsibility is something we should be quick to accept, but blame is something we should be slow to pin on others.

Blame is rarely solution-oriented, it rarely benefits the customer, it rarely fosters goodwill or a healthy culture. Focus on responsibility and lessons learned, and avoid the focus on blame.

Be okay with giving away the occasional free pizza.

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