The Great Leader Right Under Your Nose

...Never take your existing employees for granted

The schoolyard created natural leaders. They were the ones that chose the teams. They were the first ones at bat, their friends sided with their opinions and they led the way with their rebellious streak. You can spot them a mile away.

Great Leader Right Under Your Nose

In business it’s not always that easy to find a leader.

Sure, we always hear about Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, et al. We easily recognize these titans of business and how their leadership has guided their companies to prosperity.

But what about the great leader right under your nose?

To fill that vacant leadership/management position we search through resume after resume for the perfect applicant. We try hard to entice the high performers from our competition.  We contact headhunters and willingly spend top dollar to find the best available candidate.

Then, when that newly hired superstar disappoints, we wonder why…

“He was the best candidate that we interviewed by far! I wonder what went wrong”.  “It turns out he really isn’t a good fit for our culture”.  “He’s taking too long to adapt to our ways of doing things, I don’t think he’s going to work out”.

Today's immediate society creates falsehoods of a quick fix. Click To Tweet (more…)

Customer Experience: Everything Matters

Guest post by Roy Atkinson

Host of the popular weekly #CustServ chat on Twitter, Roy Atkinson shares some customer experience wisdom as today’s guest blogger. Thanks Roy!

When it comes to customer experience, everything matters. The way a website looks and works, the way a brand’s service people talk with and treat customers, and certainly the way purchased goods and services are delivered.

Customer Experience

Recently, I was a first-time attendee at an event held at a large ski and golf resort, and despite having a terrific time with my fellow attendees, there were details that detracted from a smooth experience.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll call the resort “Tuesday Lake.” There are two sizable hotels at the resort, several miles apart. One, I’ll call the Pinnacle Grand, and the other I’ll call The Merlin.  My reservation described my room as a Grand Merlin Standard.

So, which hotel was I supposed to go to—the one called Grand, or the one called Merlin?  It was a small, confusing detail that could have been easily fixed if the resort had thought about it; it was evident that they hadn’t.

Once I arrived at The Merlin (having guessed correctly), I waited far longer at the front desk than I should have, while not one but two clerks conversed with a guest they knew personally.  Eventually I got checked in, but the clerk failed to (more…)

Has Common Decency Finally Become Obsolete?

…You deserve nothing less from your customers

I never wanted others to think I was a jerk.  Being an average kid, I spent my share of time in the company of other jerks.  I hated how they acted and many of the things they said.  I was NOT going to be like them!

common decency

Then my 20’s came and it was full steam ahead into the dating years.  Can’t be a jerk then either.  Be a jerk, no girl.  Not a jerk, yes, a girl…

Then I grew up…

As some point in our lives we realize that we need to grow up and be an adult.  Of course we never have to lose our playfulness or child-like wonder and curiosity.  But society expects much from us and we must deliver.

Then, as Malcolm Gladwell states in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, we spend the next 10,000 hours to master a skill so we may be the best in our industry.  Our career is full steam ahead.

We’ve waited for this moment, this exact time, and place, so we may show what we have learned and who we are. Then it happens…

You come across an unreasonable and inconsiderate customer hell-bent on (more…)

Why Mom Was Right About Anticipatory Service

But have no fear, you can learn it too!

Ever have a customer come into your business and later ask you about where they can find something at a neighboring business? Do you say “I don’t know, I’m not from around here?”  Not exactly anticipatory service, huh?

Anticipatory Service

Here’s the scenario:

While waiting in line at a major department store, I overheard the woman in front of me mention that it was her wedding anniversary next week.  She wanted to know where the nearest greeting card store was and asked the cashier.

The cashier’s response was “I don’t know, I’m not from around here”.  And to make matters worse, the cashier didn’t even follow up. She just put her head back down and continued to ring in the purchases!

Exasperated, the customer turned to me and said “do you believe this”?

Since I wasn’t “from around here” either I wasn’t able to help this woman but couldn’t leave it there.  I turned around and asked the next customer behind me if he knew where the closest greeting card store was.

“Sure, of course I know” and proceeded to give us clear, and easy-to-follow directions to the store.

I can understand that the average employee doesn’t make a mental note of the surrounding businesses with the expectations that knowledge will be needed by a customer sometime in the future.  But isn’t that what anticipatory service is all about?

The overall experience is preserved by the countless ways we enrich the customer interaction. Click To Tweet

Remember, the people that (more…)

5 Proven Ways Women Are Better At Customer Service

...let’s look at the facts

I know this may cost me my “man card” but there is no way a man can compete with a woman when it comes to providing great customer service, period!

Women Are Better At Customer Service Than Men

We’ve all read books about how to provide great customer service.  They always seem to focus on the specific skills needed to be successful.  Listening, patience, empathy, problem resolution and telephone skills are just a few.

Let’s look at the facts of why women are better at customer service than men…

Listening

When my wife tells me a story she adds details that no guy in his right mind cares about.  But, no matter how convoluted it may seem, or what parts of the story I don’t care about, when the same story is told to another woman it makes perfect sense!  They listen with spellbound attention.

My wife can go on and on with all the specificity of a big-city lawyer when explaining the most basic of situations.  I don’t know how she does it!

For me I shut down, only hear the words I want to hear (which are every 4th one or so). My line to her is always, (more…)

7 Ways You Force Your Employees to Quit

...you created an atmosphere where no one can be successful or appreciated.

The boss is never wrong.  His/her decisions are right and for all the obvious reasons; he knows better, he has the experience and he was put in charge because he’s the best qualified person the company has.  Come on now, you know that’s B.S.!

Ways You Force Your Employees to Quit - Steve DiGioia

More great employees were “forced” to quit because of the failure of leadership than for any other reason.

What I mean by “forced to quit” is that they were put in a position where their efforts were in vain.  Their belief was that quitting is better than staying at a job/company where they have no future.  At least not if they wish to be an integral part of the business.

Sure, if they wanted to stay in their entry level position where little is expected of them, they may ultimately retire from the firm.  But since they have ambition and strive to be better, they joined the ranks of management.  They hope and expect their service and knowledge will help grow the company.

Boy, were they wrong. (more…)

Why Customer Service Courage is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

...because when you prepare well calmness will take over.

It takes much to be successful in the customer service industry. Today’s shoppers are a hardened bunch.  More than ever before they are knowledgeable, deliberate in their price negotiations and not afraid to uphold their expectations.

Customer Service Courage

Do you have customer service courage?  

It takes courage to speak with an upset customer hell bent on seeking out the manager to vent their frustrations on.

How do you succeed when faced with a disillusioned customer that will not shy away from stating their displeasure?

“You did this”, “You promised that” or my personal favorite “I’m paying a lot of money and don’t want to be nickel & dimed for…”  Ever been on the receiving end of statements like these?

One of the most difficult aspects of customer service is keeping your cool while those around you lose theirs.

Told that an upset customer demands to speak with you sends the hairs on your neck straight up. “What do I do?” “What happened?” “What do I say?” “Who screwed-up this time?” “What am I going to tell them?” These are the thoughts that rattle through our minds as we take the walk of shame towards the customer.

It takes courage to be on the front lines of any business. Click To Tweet (more…)

For “My Protection”, But Where’s The Customer Service?

...your apologies only go so far

While driving home late one night from work I stopped into a Wendy’s Restaurant for a quick meal.  I hand over my credit card for payment; it’s denied.  What, how can that be?

for "my protection"

A few minutes later my wife calls me to say that she just got a call from the credit card company, the bank, saying they want to speak to me about the card.

As I walk in my house door, I can’t wait to call the card company up to find out what happened.

“Mr. DiGioia, my apologies but it seems your card has been compromised and, for your protection, we will immediately cancel the card and issue another one”, the telephone rep states.

“Oh, alright, thanks” I say.  Now here’s the kicker…

“We will issue a replacement card right away but it will take 7-10 days to be received”, the rep continues.

7-10 days?  How can that be?

In today’s economy, with all our capabilities and (more…)

Here’s Why My Cat Can Never be a Customer Service Leader

A touch of independence mixed with patience, possessing a definite superiority complex and territorial.  These are some characteristics associated with the common house cat.  But what if we in the customer service industry held these same traits dear to our heart?

customer service leader

My cat is not responsible for anyone other than herself.  She wakes when she wants, at least not until she hears me rustle in the kitchen, and seems to not have a care in the world.  But we have employees that answer to us. They look to us for direction and we must coach and council those that fail to abide by established norms.

Once we are independent of others our team will fail because of lack of leadership and poor cooperation with fellow coworkers.

We can’t sit in our big comfy chair so sovereign in our beliefs that we hold no expectation to assist others.

Cats aren’t team players.

Another cat trait is acting as if (more…)

Because We Were Willing to Build a Business Back Then

...the almighty dollar was not the driving force for every transaction

I remember the local hardware store when I was a kid.  It was owned by a wonderful man that would go out of his way to assist you with finding anything in the store as well as provide you with general fix-it knowledge.  He understood how to build a business.

Build a Business

Apparently he was also a jack-of-all-trades and was more than happy to offer his advice on how to fix almost anything.  And he always had the exact part you needed.

On the floor in front of his long counter was a series of bushel baskets with hundreds, no thousands, of nails & screws, each sorted in their own basket by size and by kind.  Drywall nails, you got it.  Finishing nails, they’re here too.  Galvanized, steel, roofing and box nails, anything you can possibly need.

You only need three 10d nails, no problem.  Just reach into the appropriately labeled basket and remove three and pass them to the owner.  He quickly slips them into a small brown bag and hands them over the counter to you…without charging you anything.  He knew that these three nails given for free would not cost him much and the reward of a grateful customer was well worth it.  This is how business was done years ago.

In today’s version of the story, if you want just three nails you must either purchase an entire box of 250 or a small pack of four to six, depending on the store.  If you want to buy seven, you will need to buy two packages.  This may not seem like a big deal but look into your junk drawer or tool box.  How many leftover nails and screws of assorted sizes do you still have that will probably never be used?

Do we really need this?  Of course not.  What we really need is the way things used to be.

Store owners used to understand the value of creating a relationship with their customers. Click To Tweet

That relationship was so valued that you only went to “Sam” for all your hardware needs.  He would help you.  He looked out for your best interests.  And, if Sam wasn’t available, his employee was there and he was trained by Sam to take care of the customers in the same manner.

Now, speaking about nails in a hardware store is not my focus, it’s only (more…)