economic development | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Find a Connection Point – Part 2: Situational Connection - 10/4/22


Last week we highlighted key topics to consider when you want to find Personal Connection Points with the customer.  Today, we’ll cover some key questions to ask to uncover information about today’s situation that you can use to establish a rapport with the customer.  This is Part 2 - Read more

Find a Connection Point – Part 1: Personal Connection - 9/27/22


Some people are born almost like a master at communication.  They know how to establish rapport with just about anybody, and they do so in a way that seems so natural and so real.  They can form relationships and be laughing with somebody they met two minutes ago like Read more

Be Proactive without being Pushy - 9/20/22


Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us. But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to Read more

Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t - 9/13/22


I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee - 9/6/22


Empathy is the key quality of somebody who’s great at customer service.  We talk about it often - what it is, how to convey it, what it looks like, and how it makes the customer feel. But along with knowing how to be empathetic, we also need to know how Read more

The Good, the Really Good, and the Ugly of Customer Service - 8/30/22


Here are three helpful customer service stories.  They may not be from your specific industry, but it’s always good to learn from others. The Good… Paula submitted a ticket to the I.T. vendor.  Below the signature line in the reply she received was the following:  Please share your comments or needs Read more

A Great 2-Minute E-mail - 8/23/22


I know.  You probably get e-mails all the time from customers griping about some aspect of your organization or their experience.  You’ve got too much to do and too little time to do it.  I could not begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told by staff Read more

When They Want to Talk to Your Boss - 8/16/22


“I want to talk to your supervisor.” That’s their opening salvo.  Before you can hardly finish your greeting, the customer is asking for your boss.  This is done by a customer who has tried to get an issue resolved, and it hasn’t worked, so they want to go to somebody Read more

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing - 8/9/22


It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer! We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things. We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… - 8/2/22


Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast. In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step - what points to cover and what points to avoid. But 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