municipal

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

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

Don’t Let Local Politicians Drive Customer Service

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

You know it must be bad when local politicians want to draft a resolution that requires that government employees deliver good customer service.

A Maine City Councilor is looking to improve customer service at City Hall by crafting a document that requires that customers “are treated with the utmost courtesy and that all such transactions are handled in a respectful and professional manner.” He’s heard of residents and local business owners not getting prompt, effective service in response to inquiries and in the permitting processes.

While most municipalities have local developers, design professionals, and those who work in the trades who have concerns with permitting and inspection processes, it’s a sad day when politicians feel the need to take up the mantle of customer service champion. Maybe this Councilor truly feels customer service is a major concern, or maybe he is pushing this for some other reason, but the point is that there are ways to improve customer service – and this isn’t at the top of the list.

We’ve worked with local government – in permitting/inspections areas, in particular – for years, and much of what they’ve done to continuously improve customer service focuses on 3 areas:

· Continually Engage the Customer – Have local committees made up of the building community that offer you input into your plans, share feedback on service, and provide support on your initiatives. Augment this with ongoing (at least bi-annual) surveys of the broader constituency.

· Ensure Staff Have the Skills and Mindset They Need – Develop customer service standards – a bare minimum expectation in terms of how staff will engage customers. Provide training on the skills, principles, and philosophies of great customer service. Most permitting/inspections staff are hired because of technical skills, so they need training to ensure they also have great communication and service skills.

· Have a Process Improvement Orientation – So much of what drives satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with permitting and inspection services relates to processes. How quickly can a permit be issued? How easy is it to submit plans for review? How often to inspectors show up at the scheduled time onsite? Ensure your processes and technology are standardized, efficient, and easy to navigate.

Take the need to improve out of the hands of the politicians. Talk to the customer. Train the staff. Continuously improve your processes and systems.

Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/

Listen to our latest podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/


The Single Biggest Key to Retention and Expansion

Posted on in Business Advice, Government, Sports Please leave a comment

You’re the customer. Do you feel that I care about you?

That’s it…that’s the key to retention. Making that person feel that you care about them. There are many ways to do this, but I’m going to go beyond the obvious discussion of eye contact, body language, tone of voice, and the words you use.

This is about strategy. This is about understanding that when the customer makes the decision to go to a competitor, they’re usually driving down the road, they’re doing a search on Google, they’re reaching for the yellow pages (yes, some people still do that), or they’re at their kitchen table. In other words, when they make that decision to leave, they’re often not in front of you.

So this strategy is about relationship building. As an example, I always like to discuss economic development organizations who are trying to keep local employers through their Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) programs. They’re great examples because these organizations have little direct control over the decisions of the local businesses, and those businesses aren’t going into the “BRE Store” 3 times a week, so the BRE professionals must know how to establish relationships with local businesses by going to the local businesses. They must meet with them, or send surveys, or send information of value, or send “marketing/sales/retention-focused” materials, or e-mail and call the business leaders.

This all needs to be part of a 12-month Touch Point Plan – a strategy you efficiently and systematically design and execute each year. Anybody in any business that depends on retention and growth with existing businesses needs a 12-month Touch Point Plan. You have to develop a plan to proactively “Touch” your clients even when they’re not in front of you. You have to take control over keeping the relationship going, keeping yourself top-of-mind, conveying you care.

We’ve taught many executives in professional basketball and professional soccer how to create these plans because their account representatives are having to manage hundreds of relationships and the resulting millions of dollars in lifetime revenue. Likewise, BRE representatives are maintaining relationships with businesses that employ thousands of staff, invest millions of dollars, and provide a significant tax and fee base for the local economy.

How do you create a plan? Well first determine 3 key types of touches:

· Pull – Information you request of them through surveys.

· Value Push – Information you provide that is simply valuable to the recipient and would address their retention drivers.

· Growth Push – Information you provide that would help them to grow their relationship with your organization.

Then build 3-4 of each touch type into a 12-month Touch Point Plan.

The key to retention is simple to identify, but the plan to retain must be created and executed in a strategic manner. So what’s your plan?

Interested in more information about Touch Point Planning? Go to: http://www.cssamerica.com/csstpp.htm

Listen to our latest episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/

Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/


Business Retention & Expansion – The Process That Drives Your Top Line

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

In news articles that come out on a daily basis, business retention and expansion successes are touted. Oftentimes, these articles announce an expansion of a plant, consolidating functions from other locations to the local facility, or moving into a larger local facility.

But for all these good things to happen, they don’t simply occur on their own. Most local municipalities today have (or fund) an economic development organization to help drive these successes. Many of these EDOs have a dedicated Business Retention and Expansion program. We work with several BRE organizations and have identified some of what makes for a great BRE program. Review these keys, and apply them to your business:

· BRE organizations need to be great at quick issue resolution. Can you efficiently link your customers with somebody who can resolve them, or how quickly can you resolve issues yourself?

· The best of BRE Programs view their role as relationship-building. They define and execute 12 month Touch Point Plans to continually pull/push information to local business to learn about them, understand their retention drivers, and look for growth and partnering opportunities.

· BRE organizations need a focus on efficiency. Just like most account representatives in business today, BRE representatives have too many clients to truly know all deeply and personally. They have to prioritize communications, touches, and retention efforts for maximum staff time efficiency and maximum retention and growth of jobs

Learn from the Business Retention and Expansion leaders, and use these keys to continually develop client relationships and grow your community and your business.

Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/