government

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Let Your Goal Determine Your Question - 2/2/21


In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer. During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing Read more

Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK - 1/26/21


Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.” But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Read more

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

Turn the Basic into the Remarkable – 9/26/17

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When asked about my experience at an event, sometimes I’ll use the phrase “I can’t think of anything remarkable.” I came, I experienced, and I left. There was nothing worth remarking about relating to the experience.

Where experiences become remarkable is the place where something happened beyond the basic, beyond expectations.

The football game wasn’t remarkable (9-6 field goal battle – yawn), but let me tell you about the “rock star parking” I got! Dave, my account manager, hooked me up with this VIP parking.

The clinical care I received was good, but there was this one tech named Sandy who was so funny! I’ve never had so much fun getting my blood drawn!

I had an electrical inspector with the County come to my house, and he was great! Mark was not only quick, but he told me several things about how the electricity flows within the house and new technology trends coming out – learning about all that stuff was cool!

In every example above, the “product” (the game, the clinical care, the inspection) were delivered and were okay. But it was how they were delivered, the personalized aspect of the delivery, the special steps taken, the speed, the education associated with the product that make it worthy of a remark – what made it remarkable.

Maybe you’re in a job where you deliver the same information or product all day long. However, that doesn’t mean the experience that your customer has should be unremarkable.

Consider ways to go beyond expectations. It could be associated with a resource or benefit that you could share with the customer. It could be with how you engage, establish rapport, and converse with the customer. It could relate to what education you impart on the customer.

Whatever it is – find a way to deliver an experience that makes the most basic product a pleasure to receive.

Turn the Basic into the Remarkable.

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Avoid Hearing Only Complaints – 2/7/17

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I was meeting with a client’s leadership team recently, and we had some interesting conversations about how to measure customer satisfaction. While most in the room wanted to measure with – well…measures – one of the executives preferred to rely on subjective information – was she receiving complaints? Was she hearing from “Raving Fans” of her departments?

The problem that many in the room had to the subjective approach was this – her department was an internal service department. In other words, her department served employees, not the consumer. How many employees are going to go out of their way to rave about Human Resources? To pick up the phone and call the IT department to say “you guys are great!” To write a personal note to Finance singing their praises? The answer – not many. Few unsolicited praises come, but often unsolicited complaints can arise.

The group decided there needed to be a mix of the objective and subjective feedback. It was clear how to get to the objective feedback through surveys, but how do they get the subjective?

The answer is in the approach. When one relies on the “Unsolicited” feedback, you’ll tend to subject yourself to hearing mostly negatives, particularly if you’re an internal service department or an organization with some sort of regulatory function (like many local governments).

To get the subjective customer input, solicit. In the one-on-one contacts, ask “How was your experience in working with us today?” or “Did we address your need?” or “Did this visit meet your expectation?”

More strategically – as an organization – determine how to systematically get that subjective feedback. Hold routine customer focus groups. Have an advisory council of top customers. Have “coffee with our director” sessions. Hold the occasional customer Town Hall. Make rounds with customers for 1-on-1 meetings on a routine cycle.

Find ways to solicit the subjective feedback.

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Great Customer Service is the Opposite of Election Politics – 10/11/16

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Is anyone tired of the U.S. elections already, even though they haven’t taken place yet?

At the national level and also at the local level, politics seems to be driven by an endless series of slogans, trite sayings, and jargon. They include brief words, phrases, or labels trying to get us to love one candidate or detest the other.

Candidates paint with broad brushes when describing ideologies, ethnicities, and characteristics of their opponent or those whose vote they want to impact.

Great Customer Service is different. In many ways, it’s the opposite. Great Customer Service is about the 1-on-1, not the categorization of the masses.

Great Customer Service requires that I must view you as an individual, a unique person with your own gifts and talents, your own issues and priorities. I cannot take you for granted based on how you look or what you say. I cannot judge you or your situation based on the question at hand or the manner in which you present yourself.

I can’t rely on the superficial. To be empathetic, to truly help, I need to be willing to go deeper. I need to care enough about you and your needs to ask questions, to listen, to allow you to paint the picture of the uniqueness of your situation.

I can’t force you into a group; I must allow you to create an impression of the unique you.

When trying to help someone, don’t let the superficial or their first impression result in your prejudging them – whether that judgement be good, bad, or indifferent.

To be great at customer service in those 1-on-1 moments of truth, strive to view the other person as one who is unique.

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