Leadership Series: Kirt Manecke

Today’s profile is of Kirt Manecke, award-winning author and sales, marketing, fundraising, and business development specialist with over 30 years of experience surprising and delighting customers. He is also the author of “Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service-The Essential 60-Minute Crash Course”.

Leadership Series: Kirt Manecke

Q1. Hi Kirt, thanks for joining me today. What do you believe was the turning point that led you from owning a successful surf shop near Keego Harbor, Michigan to where you are today?

After owning the surf shop, I worked for a New York Times Best-Selling children’s book author handling his sales and PR. I saw how well he was doing financially selling books and decided to write and sell my own books. I felt it would be a powerful way for me to be able to make a difference in the world and help fund causes close to my heart like animal welfare and land conservation.

Q2. Did you ever expect the success of your “Smile” series of books and have they changed your views on what “service” is?

While I was writing them, I thought they’d sell, but I also knew there was a chance I’d be wasting all this time writing books that would not sell. It’s a scary thought. I think that’s true with any product or service that people create. There’s always a risk that a product won’t sell. I’m pleased with sales.

The only thing that has changed about my views on service is that I’m very surprised to learn that it is really difficult to try to help some businesses that have poor service. Some managers and owners are not open to feedback and get very defensive. The ones who are open to feedback are usually the ones with the best customer service who are already delighting customers, and these are usually the people who purchase my books.

I guess it follows that statistic: 80% of companies think they are providing superior customer service, but only 8% of their customers agree.

Q3. What is the best part of your career? (more…)

Stop Scamming Your Staff With an Employee of the Month Award

...it's really nothing more than a show of favoritism, right?

One of today’s typical “employee motivational ploys” is the employee of the month award. What a scam this is – at least it is for most of the business world! Here’s why…

Stop Scamming Your Staff With an Employee of the Month Award

We treat our employees like sheep; herd them in, give them slop to eat and expect the sweat off their brow (or their wool in this case) then we toss them aside when they’re no longer needed.

Add to this substandard working conditions, low wages, out-of-touch management and unrealistic expectations and we wonder why morale is at an all-time low.

Years ago someone had the bright idea to single out an employee each month in recognition of their stellar performance and bestow an award labeled the “Employee of the Month”. Sounds great, I applaud this.

But as time passed and “political correctness” reared its ugly head, the meaning behind this effort has become watered-down to say the least.

Employee of the Month SpongeBob 2In the truest sense of the word, whoever is the best employee for a specific month should win, regardless if he/she has already won the award last month or 2-3 months in a row. If the award is for performance and if the same person is repeatedly the best, he should be awarded each month – just like SpongeBob Squarepants!

But this doesn’t happen. We “must” (more…)

What Happened To The Dining Experience We Used To Receive?

...do you still care about customer service or is it all about the money

Being in the hospitality business for over 20 years, I have seen some of the best and worst at their trade. But the dining experience sure has changed…

dining experience

From the hardworking, studious college kid that was very driven and worked as a waiter 6-days a week to put himself through school; the gravelly-voiced divorced mom of 4 grown kids that needed to pay her bills and get her life back on track; the pretty girl who thought her looks was her ticket to fame and fortune and that being a waiter was only a temporary setback for her; and the overweight nerdy-guy that really couldn’t relate well with his customers, continually came in late and never got a close shave but always found time to play dungeons & dragons.

They all had one thing in common, they wanted to earn as much in tips on each shift as they possibly could! And why not?  That’s why they have a job.

But whatever happened to customer service?  What happened to the dining experience we used to receive?  Where are all the waiters of days gone by?

It seems like all the “nice” restaurants have been replaced by themed restaurants, ones that think the way to decorate a restaurant is to hang countless photos of actors, sports memorabilia, and even small boats on their walls.  Regardless of the atmosphere of the establishment, service has definitely changed over the years.

With very few exceptions, gone are the days where a waiter will ‘de-bone” a fresh-caught fish table side.  And frankly, (more…)

Black Friday Shopping Brings Out The Worst In Us

…no wonder why customer service is so bad – my rant!

We have turned into a group of inconsiderate, rude, thoughtless, disrespectful and egocentric miserable people. The worst traits of one’s personality show when presented with a “great deal” on a TV, toaster oven or pair of sneakers. Surely, Black Friday shopping brings out the worst in us.

Black Friday Shopping Brings Out The Worst In Us

In ever increasing frequency, the news reports covering the past few years’ Black Friday sales have focused on the “great” prices to be had on items me “must” have. These reports are now overshadowed by the lunacy of shoppers from all corners of our great land detailing the fights, scuffles, arguments and mayhem our once-respectful shopping public now partake in.

Black Friday is the only shopping holiday with its very own death count:

10 deaths, 105 injuries since 2006 with an honorable mention to the Texas pair who “beat, strangled and set on fire an assistant store manager to steal thousands of dollars of Black Friday sales” and the California father charged with the vehicular manslaughter of his two daughters, when, after only three hours of sleep in 24 hours, he crammed his four children into the back car seat designed for only three. According to reports: “A seat in the third row was folded down to make room for the family’s purchases.” *

What has caused this? (more…)

Leadership Series: Kate Nasser

...The People Skills Coach™

I’ve had the pleasure to meet many wonderful customer service professionals who are leaders in their respective fields and niches. I was amazed at how warm and welcoming they have been and their willingness to embrace, support and welcome me into their fold. Today, I start my first “Leadership Series” of articles that profiles one of these leaders. Sit back and enjoy some behind-the-scene insight into their world.

Leadership Series: Kate Nasser

We start off with Kate Nasser, founder of CAS, Inc. Kate provides customized training, coaching and people skills workshops and is an award winning blogger and speaker.

Q1. Hi Kate, thanks for being the 1st person profiled for my new leadership series – great to have you aboard! Let’s get started. What interested you in public speaking, training and conducting workshops and how did you get into the industry?

I got into the speaking & training arena when I started my own business. I had been working in computers for many years and saw how my technical colleagues struggled with the customer service aspect of computer support. They didn’t have the people skills to work with the customers and solve their problems. So, my business plan was to teach techies how to talk to other human beings throughout the business. They loved my workshops because I was a techie and could help them learn better people skills.

Q2. What was the turning point that led you from being a high school teacher to The People Skills Coach™?

I was a high school math teacher for only a few months. Despite my love of teaching I knew early on that public school teaching was not my niche. I became a computer programmer, a systems analyst, and then moved into technical end user support.  It was there that I combined my natural customer service skills and my love of working with people. Yet I was still dissatisfied with my life.  I left and started my own business and became The People Skills Coach™.


Do You Need to be Assertive to Provide Great Customer Service?

…here’s 7 ways to get you started

You still haven’t learned how to speak up, huh? Maybe you’re just afraid of confrontation? I know, you don’t want to offend anyone, right? Don’t want to come across as too assertive or even aggressive; what’s the difference anyway?

Do You Need to be Assertive to Provide Great Customer Service

The service you provide has always lacked because of your fear of “taking charge” and not wanting to offend your customers. There was always that little hesitation, that delay, that pause, that prevented you from reaching the level of your peers. You’re tired of always missing out on the recognition bestowed on others.

But why does this happen? Maybe you’re not cut out for this…

Here are some common thoughts about business;

  • You have to be ruthless to get ahead – but that’s not your style
  • You won’t be successful if you let others walk all over you – but you can’t help it, it just happens…

You’re told “be a tiger and go out there – be assertive”. But how?

Customer service employees must walk a fine line between satisfying the needs of their customers and ensuring they uphold the standards and expectations of their company. They are individuals who give of themselves and ensure the customer experience is second to none. They create memories.

But what about the memories of those entrusted to provide the actual service?

We must feel good about the service we provide AND we must feel good about ourselves. That’s not possible if we fear being assertive, straightforward, frank, clear-cut or any other descriptive word you wish to use.

We need to have the mindset of (more…)

These 6 Employee Engagement Ideas Will Make You Wonder Why You Took So Long To Start

…what are the indicators that a team or group is NOT engaged?

Poor employee morale, theft of product, loss of revenue, dissatisfied customers, lower production, accidents/injuries, and negative messages about the company on social media…does this sound like your company?

Employee Engagement Ideas

In a recent study by Dale Carnegie Training and MSW they found that…

  • $11 Billion is lost annually due to employee turnover
  • 71% of employees are not fully engaged
  • 26% of employees are actively disengaged

Pretty startling statistics, right?

What causes an employee to disengage?

Based on my experience, these are the most frequent reasons I have seen that lead to employee disengagement: (more…)

Improve Management Communication With These 5 Easy Steps

Being a manager is easy; so says many hourly employees. “They get to sit in their offices and boss us around”. “They get the big bucks for doing nothing”. “What does he know about my job?” Seems like you need to improve your management communication skills.

Improve Management Communication

I disagree with these statements except the last one. Many in management believe they know better than the “line” employees that actually do the job each day. Just because one has risen to the ranks of management doesn’t mean they are competent in each discipline that make up their areas of responsibility.

So how does a one effectively manage a team of employees when he/she doesn’t fully understand the nuances of each position? Is it more than just delegation of tasks or a complete strategy to improve overall communication? I say it’s the latter.

Here are 5 strategies managers should use to enhance and improve their communication skills. (more…)

Did He Really Say Have a Sparkling Day?

...I thought I was hearing things.

Deep inside my sleep-induced stupor I heard a faint “ding” every once and awhile, then the murmur of a man. A slight heave left or right and the clang of metal finally woke me. Then the ding came again.

Have a Sparkling Day

This time I opened my eyes. Nothing was unusual, just a few people walking down the aisle of the Amtrak train I was on during a recent trip to Boston. As they headed for the exit doors the conductor came over the loud speaker and thanked the “customers”, NOT riders, for joining him on the trip today.

The usual canned banter from most employees when tasked with making announcements was replaced with a friendly, comforting and surprisingly welcoming change from what I’ve been accustomed to hearing.

He informed us of the name of the stop along with the one coming up next followed by the weather. He ended with a most unusual phrase; (more…)

16 Ways to Stop the Lawrence O’Donnell Effect

By now most of us have seen the viral video of MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell become totally unhinged because of some studio noise and talking in his ear piece while hosting his TV show live on air. As soon as his “spot” was over and the camera shifted to another video clip or commercial O’Donnell became increasingly angry to the point of lunacy and berated his staff for their failure to fix the issue. It’s called the Lawrence O’Donnell Effect.

Stop the Lawrence O’Donnell Effect

You can view his complete meltdown on YouTube but be aware, his language is profane and not suitable for many people.

Now, this post is not to compound Mr. O’Donnell’s troubles but I do have one question for him:

How can he, or anyone else, expect his/her employees to enjoy working for someone who cannot control his emotions and scolds his staff in the manner he did?

What about employee morale? What about creating a positive work environment? What about treating your employees fairly and professionally? I guess O’Donnell never got that memo…

Here Are 16 Sure-Fire Ways to Create a Work Environment Where Employees Are Happy And Willingly Produce The Results Any Company Desires

1.    Provide Your Employees The Tools To Do Their Job

Seems so simple but so many fail on this basic premise.

2.    Give Them The Day Off

Remember that your employees need family time, time off to tend to personal needs and may not wish to work day and night as management may. Priorities vary greatly from person to person.

3.    Have Realistic Employee Expectations

Not all are driven or have a burning desire to climb the corporate ladder or to be a leader. Provide (more…)