economic development | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

A Story of Willie and Aubrey - 2/8/22


The gift shop was a great experience!  Aubrey had bought items online from the shop for years, but she had never stepped foot in the store itself.  However, when travel plans took her on a trip to new surroundings, she took time out of her day to go to Read more

It Matters Who You Know - 2/1/22


The season ticket account holder has an issue, but he’s not too concerned about it:  I’m going to call my guy, and he’ll take care of it. The patient is confused about their bill.  The family member says: I know someone who can help. The husband discovers a problem in the Read more

Put an End to 1-Star Ratings - 1/25/22


If you ever had service performed on your car, I would not doubt it if you received the immediate e-mail asking for that 5-star rating. They want the big ratings because that makes them look good, and to get the big average rating you have to avoid the 1-Star Read more

Signs of Service Recovery Situations - 1/18/22


As we continue the slow trend of more and more customer interactions becoming in-person again, we need to remember those signs that we’re about to enter one of THOSE conversations.  It can typically take only 5-10 seconds to realize this is going to be a high-risk situation with the Read more

In Survey Development, Think in Reverse - 1/11/22


We often meet with clients interested in conducting a survey, and when we discuss the project, many clients come with questions in-hand.  They are interested, curious, even excited sometimes about the possibility of tapping into the voice of the customer! And when we review their questions and start to see Read more

Foster Positive Feelings - 1/4/22


I bet a lot of you all are like me - when you’re asked to share your feelings, it’s not always something that feels comfortable.  It obviously depends on the situation and who’s asking you to share your feelings.  So, many of us might hesitate in sharing our feelings. However, Read more

How to Make the Situation Right - 12/28/21


The manager in the field office felt that - when problems arose with customers - the company didn’t do an especially good job of responding effectively.  He felt like this was hurting customer renewals of annual service agreements.  The company developed many customer service and retention initiatives with little Read more

2021 Holiday Poem - 12/21/21


Breathe and rest and relax and rejuvenate. Close the eyes, and fill the lungs. Take a break, and be with friends. This is a time to begin. Renaissance is called a rebirth. Birth can bring new life. Life gives opportunity for living. Living gives opportunity for joy. We have so many outside factors, So many things that tug Read more

“I’m Sorry” Doesn’t Mean “I’m Guilty” - 12/14/21


Individuals and organizations mess up; that’s part of life… They told me that they were going to be at my home at a certain time; they were REALLY late.  The customer service representative said they would get a message to a co-worker, and the co-worker would call me back; I Read more

Apply Selfless Service - 12/7/21


Andrea had worked in human resources for years, and the company decided that it wanted to hire employees who were more customer service-oriented, regardless of the position.  After making that decision, they added some creative questions to the interview process. One of the most interesting questions that Andrea had to 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