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…)

Your Hotel SHOULD Sweat the Little Things

...have you forgotten the attention to detail?

A recent overnight hotel stay proved to me that just because one aspect of a business runs well doesn’t mean that all the others do too.

sweat the little things

Hotel franchisees must follow strict adherence to marketing, branding, RevPar, etc. all with the intent of satisfying the “flag standards” and providing the guests with a focused message of quality and service.

Front desk agents wear company approved uniforms, the lobby is adorned in the designer’s choices of colors and the amenities are designed to attract the intended market segment.

All must be part of a cohesive message. 

But why isn’t this followed in the food and beverage part of the operation?

Today’s limited service or “express-style” properties intend to provide clean, reasonably-priced rooms.  They also provide a free hot breakfast buffet, free WiFi with complimentary daily newspapers and an expanded gym; all with the short-term traveler in mind looking for the next level up in quality.…and they do a great job.

But I have noticed a disturbing trend in one department: the lack of attention to detail with the “free breakfast”.

As mentioned, my recent stay showed that the oversight of the breakfast, in this case it wasn’t free and there was also a buffet dinner offered, lacked the same attention to detail as followed in all other departments.

This failing is not property specific.  I have noticed the same lack of attention to detail at other similar level properties, even those that excel in other areas.

The breakfast offered a reasonable selection of items, especially at the price point given.  This was well done.  But they also failed on many fronts: (more…)

Encouragement = the “Miracle Grow” of Employee Morale

Complaint after complaint is heard about today’s workforce; they are lazy, spend too much time on social media while on-the-job and they have no work ethic.  Employee morale is at an all-time low.

employee morale

True or not, it is a fact of business.  Today’s employees; regardless of their social status, geographic makeup or millennial segmentation, face a vastly different work environment that those of 30-40 years ago.

Industry has mostly done away with pensions, profit sharing, matching 401K’s and many of the business perks we have long been accustomed to like employee outings (team building sessions) and Christmas Parties (I’m sorry, they must now be classified as “Holiday Parties”).

But we still expect our employees to be engaged and to work hard, and they should.  Today’s workers are getting paid more than ever…

As reported by statista.com, “Wages and salaries in the United States have increased over the last three decades. Between 1979 and 2010, the median weekly income of full time wage and salary workers grew from 241 to 747 U.S. dollars.”

So why all the long-faces at work, why are our employees so disengaged and less productive?

As statista.com continues, “These numbers are not adjusted for inflation however, as doing so yields a different result. The median weekly income in 2010 constant dollars only increased from 675 to 747 U.S. dollars in the same period.”

Ok, so with the adjusted numbers there is only a slightly higher increase in wages than mentioned before.  Is that the reason for poor employee morale?

“According to the “State of the American Workplace”, a 2013 Gallup study, seven out of 10 workers in the US say they aren’t fully engaged at work, meaning they aren’t working to their fullest potential. The resulting loss of productivity can cost companies between $450-$500 billion a year.  Plus, according to research by the Dale Carnegie Institute, 80 percent of employees who aren’t happy with their supervisors claim that they’re disengaged and ultimately, less productive”, states http://good.co.

How are we expected to compete in today’s business climate and against the (more…)

Dare to Dream Big: A New Employee Success Guide

Countless studies have shown that the key to a successful employee, one who excels at his/her job, is motivated to perform at his peak and one that will have the best interest of the company at heart, is a properly run and dedicated new employee onboarding and orientation program.

New Employee Success Guide

During my career I have been personally responsible for the development and facilitation of new employee orientation classes, one-on-one training/coaching sessions and evaluation of existing standard operating procedures to ensure peak performance.

Yes, there are the usual topics and development structures that must be enforced along with the company policies, procedures and overall expectations.  But…

Is your new hire orientation class enough to motivate a new employee? Click To Tweet

Probably not.

Then, how do you ever expect to provide the great customer service we always talk about?

The first few days of a new hire are usually a blur; too much to learn and (more…)

It’s The Little Things That Make a Difference – Part 2

In a previous article I wrote about how small, seemingly insignificant comments & actions can make a difference toward creating a positive customer experience.  In that case, it was just a few pleasant words from a new gas station attendant that started my day on an upbeat note.

make a difference

Here’s another example…

Today I went to the eye doctor to pick up new contact lenses. I knew I was due for my yearly examination and hoped I could get a box or two without being tested.  No such luck.

The procedure at this office was to not sell more contacts until a new examination is completed, and frankly, that’s perfectly reasonable.  So we set an appointment for the first day that the doctor and I had available, it was 2 weeks away.  Now what do I do about my lenses?

As I pleaded my case to the office manager about how “the only pair of lenses I have left are the ones I’m wearing now” and how I “really need a few pairs and can’t wait weeks for the next available appointment” she just smiled, nodded and said “I completely understand Mr. DiGioia, let’s see what we can do”.

She excused herself while she walked to a side counter and rummaged through (more…)

35 Reasons Why You’re Not a Good Leader – Part 2

Once again we identify the reasons for failure, reasons why your employees feel isolated and the reasons why you’re not a good leader.  Maybe YOU’RE the weak link in the company’s chain.  I hope not.  Here’s Part 2.

not a good leader

You…

18.  Fail to recognize employee milestones

  • Do you even know the birthdays of your employees, or their work anniversary?

19.  Brag about your accomplishments

  • Your employees don’t care about your past accomplishments or plaques on your walls.  Help them get their own awards and recognition

20. Belittle the accomplishments of others

Every employee is proud of their work. Show them daily gratitude and praise Click To Tweet

21.  Push your agenda above others

  • Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean that your pet projects should come first

22.  Fail to follow up or delay action on employee concerns

  • Are you always too busy to talk to your employees?  Do they “bother” you with their questions?  Maybe the problem is you instead of them

(more…)

35 Reasons Why You’re Not a Good Leader – Part 1

You think you’re a good leader.  You have the position, the title and the power.  You’re the boss.  But your employees don’t work hard for you, they talk behind your back and morale is poor.  You don’t understand why.

Reasons Why You’re Not a Good Leader

Well, here’s why.

You…

1.      Manage from your office

  • You can’t tell how your business is running by just looking at reports while sitting at your desk.  Get out of the office once and a while

2.      Resist change

  • Without trying something new, how will you ever get better?

3.      Delegate more responsibilities then you take on yourself

Real leaders don’t expect others to do their work for them. Click To Tweet
  • They do more than others while still assisting those in need

4.      Manage by intimidation or threat

5.      Take credit for others’ work

  • Great leaders celebrate the good work of others, and not take credit for it

(more…)