economic development | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

The Proven Value in What You Do - 4/9/24


Forbes wrote an article last year based on a compilation of the results of research on customer service and the customer experience; it was titled:  100 Customer Experience Stats For 2023. In reading the article, you’ll note that many of these key research findings are about you – the value Read more

A Tale of Two Texts - 4/2/24


Having to get allergy shots once a week is never fun, and for Janet, it became an even bigger frustration. She had the shots typically scheduled on Tuesday around 10:30 in the morning, figuring she would avoid the morning rush as well as the lunch rush by going mid-morning.  However, Read more

The Secret Sauce for Great Customer Service - 3/26/24


I was working with the League Office for a major American sport several years back, and one of the executives asked me to describe our Secret Sauce that helped our clients improve the fan experience and customer retention.  I gave him a sense of what makes us unique and Read more

The Miracle of an Apology - 3/19/24


Unfortunate but true story… The manager basically lost his mind.  He terminated his employee on the spot.  She had told the customer that there was going to be a delay in the shipment.  The employee called up the customer ahead of time to let the customer know what was about Read more

It’s Not About the 5-Minute Wait - 3/12/24


Robert went into his supervisor’s office to update her on a situation at the payment desk.  Robert said that a customer was about fourth or fifth in line, waiting to be served, and the customer was complaining loudly about the wait.  He was there to make a property tax Read more

Lessons from the Greats - 3/5/24


I was recently facilitating a workshop on the customer experience, and I made the point that it’s usually beneficial to look at your personal life for great experiences; identify what really resonates with you in a positive way in order to uncover ideas to improve your own customer service. So, Read more

The Empathy Roadmap - 2/27/24


For some people, empathy comes naturally.  There’s an innate desire to learn about the other person and to sincerely convey that sense of interest and caring.  But for many of us, sometimes it helps to have a communication plan.  It helps to know what to do in order to Read more

“You’re the Boss” - 2/20/24


Terrence is excellent at what he does.  From a technical standpoint, he knows how to keep the facility clean.  He’s the lead custodian, and he knows that keeping things straight does not necessarily mean keeping things sanitary.  He knows what chemicals to use and not to use, how to Read more

Customer Understanding Leads to Relationship Growth - 2/13/24


We’ve worked with educational organizations at all grade levels over the years.  One special and unique characteristic about the staff who work in these organizations is that there’s a clear intent to know about the students as individuals, to focus on them rather than purely focusing on what’s delivered Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently - 2/6/24


When I’m watching television, listening to the radio, or listening to a podcast, it’s always interesting when the topic moves to the question:  How can you be a success?  The speakers often discuss the process of becoming a success with the assumption that people believe success is defined by Read more

BRE a Matchmaker for Your Customers

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

If your customer is a business, remember that that business wants customers. But just as importantly, that business wants high quality employees to serve those customers. This is a key that any Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) executive knows – if you want to keep your local businesses, their local life blood is often their employees.

The article NKY Boost promotes employee retention notes how the local BRE personnel worked with a large food processing firm to improve the transportation options for staff to get to/from work. But later on in the article, a broader and equally important point is made – Sales are growing, “but it doesn’t do much good if the employers – manufacturers, in particular – can’t find qualified people to hire. More than 40 percent of companies told Tri-ED they face recruiting issues, and 57 percent said they have workforce training needs.”

I’ve heard these stories and related statistics from other BRE professionals as well, so it begs several questions:

  • How are you identifying employee needs and job openings at your local businesses?
  • How are you identifying high-demand skill sets at your local businesses?
  • How are you identifying people with those skills in your community?

And maybe – most importantly – What are you doing to be a matchmaker between local employers and prospective employees?

Is there a jobs clearinghouse, a web portal for exchange of job listings and resumes, or training partners in community colleges and elsewhere tailoring programs to meet those high-demand skill sets?

Your businesses need high performing employees to ensure efficiency, quality, customer service, and growth.

Make sure you’re being a matchmaker.

Interested in a site just for BRE professionals? Check out http://brebuzz.com/ 


Compete for Businesses by Making Them Competitive

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

In the article Lakeshore and Crossroads chambers collaborate on economic development, it’s stated that “The LCEA’s short-term objectives of the business retention and expansion surveys are: 1) to demonstrate community support for local businesses by conducting personal interviews, and 2) to assist with any immediate business concerns. Long-term objectives include: 1) build capacity to sustain business growth, 2) increase competitiveness of local businesses, and 3) establish and implement a strategic plan for economic development.”

To interpret these objectives, in the short-term get to know your businesses well, get them to know you, and help them resolve problems. Be the group that breaks down barriers to local success. In the long-term, there has to be a little of a “build it and they will come” mentality, where there has to be community capacity of people and facilities for expansion. At the same time, local communities need to help local companies be competitive. And that’s where we dig deeper…

What can you control? What can you impact that makes your businesses more competitive?

Keep in mind that Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) executives can’t personally make their local businesses’ equipment, man their call center, or work on their assembly lines. When companies try to be more competitive, they want to manage costs, improve productivity, reduce throughput time, improve the work environment for their employees (since they compete for personnel), become more nimble when expansion opportunities arise, and be able to more easily work with suppliers. So how can your BRE program impact your businesses?

  • Manage costs? Think about taxes and fees, roads and infrastructure, technology needs.
  • Improve productivity? Consider workforce training resources, job postings, etc.
  • Reduce throughput time? Streamline permitting functions or – again – look at the infrastructure.
  • Improve the work environment? Improve the quality of life in the community, schools, parks, etc. Share best practices from other employers.
  • Become more nimble? Identify facilities that are currently vacant or are soon-to-be, and create strategies to match them to employer needs quickly.
  • More easily work with suppliers? Identify needs for suppliers, and develop a local business environment (and local businesses) that can provide those needed materials, products, and services.

To keep local businesses, you have to compete for those businesses. Compete for businesses by making them competitive.

Interested in gaining intelligence on your local businesses? Check out http://brebuzz.com/


Mind (and Mine) Your Own Business

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

When an Iowa City economic development group won an award for how it takes care of its current customers (i.e., local businesses), it noted that its Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) program’s name is “Minding Our Own Businesses” – great name!

In the article ICAD recognized for business retention and expansion efforts, the BRE program noted how it targets about 90 businesses per year, but the interesting point is that “65 to 70 of [the businesses] consistently provide data for its annual existing industry report.” That means that about 70-80% of local companies are providing information/intelligence that will help Iowa City to best retain them and grow with them. That’s a significant level of involvement from what are essentially the City’s customers.

So think about your BRE business or your company’s customers. If you target certain customers for retention, don’t just view them as a group you should “Mind” (i.e., take care of and build relationships with), but also look at them as customers from whom you should “Mine” data. Customers are your greatest suppliers of the information you need to retain and sell to them, so developing relationships, targeting what information to obtain, and having simple but effective methods of gathering intelligence (either through surveys or even more passive means) are all vital to retention.

Don’t just view retention and growth efforts as initiatives that involve providing great one-on-one customer service. While that’s a part of it, realize that having an intelligence-building research strategy is vital to any retention and growth strategy.

Mine your own businesses.

Check out our BRE Survey Approach: http://cssamerica.com/cssbresurvey.htm

See what CSS can do to build your existing industry intelligence through BRE News Research: http://cssamerica.com/cssbrenews.htm