It’s About Quality, Not Exceptional Customer Service

What is quality customer service?  How is it different, and better than exceptional service?  If you read my last blog, “Why I Call Exceptional Service, the Necessary Evil” you know already the downside to providing it.  For all of the reasons why exceptional is evil, quality customer service is good.

Quality service is about Big Picture thinking, looking beyond your current level of service and seeing how good it can be.  Exceptional service only looks at the issue that is in their face.

Quality service is about communication.  It’s important for the leadership to let the team know their input and feedback is vital for quality service to work.  Also, staff has to know and trust that communicating their ideas and suggests to leadership will be considered.

Quality service is companywide and it’s an attitude, not a department.  Too many companies think the customer service department is responsible for service and sales is in charge of sales and operations is in charge of operations.  Companies that deliver great service know that everyone within the company is responsible for and capable of creating a customer.

Quality service lives in a positive, productive environment.  When all employees are focused on the same big picture, encouraged to bring ideas to leadership, and receive praise for serving the customer to the best of their ability, employee absenteeism, tardiness and turnover is greatly reduced.

Quality service is affordable for all companies.  Maybe, at the most, you may need to invest in a communication training program for your leaders.  I have a great workshop called “Coaching & Leading Teams” or join my monthly webinars.

Quality service flies under the radar.  While exceptional service are the things, free giveaways, additional services, we do for the customer, quality service is in the offices and cubicals of your company, difficult for our competition to duplicate.

Any interest in my seminars, webinars, or writings on this topic or other customer service related issues, please call or write.

Mark

Mark Isaac

mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

 

Why I call Exceptional Service the ‘Necessary Evil’

I call exceptional service the necessary evil for a few different reasons.  First, it’s necessary, we have to do it, if we don’t, our competition will.  But there are three problems with exceptional service that makes it evil.

First, let me paint a picture.  If I own a auto repair station, and you own an auto repair shop, and you’re my competition, and you hear part of what I give my customers after doing business with me is I wash their car, can you start washing the cars of your customers?  Sure you can.  If I hear you’re filling the gas tanks of your customers before you give the car back, can I start filling gas tanks?  Of course I can.  That’s a big problem with exceptional service; it can be duplicated. 

Now, duplicating our competition is easier than ever, all I have to do is go to your website and look at the services you provide.  If I see something you’re doing that I’m not, all I have to do is copy you.  All you have to do is come to my auto shop and look around, maybe have a car serviced there and you will know what types of services I’m providing.  Then you can decide if you want to duplicate them.

Here’s another problem with exceptional service.  If I’m filling the gas tanks for my customers or if I’m washing the cars before I return them to my customers, can that be expensive?  Of course it can be.  Companies that focus their energy on providing exceptional service to their customers run the risk of violating the ‘slight edge’ of economics. Especially small businesses in these tough economic times, you have to be careful about where your money is going.  Providing exceptional service can be expensive.

Another evil to exceptional service is this.  Let’s say, after getting my car fixed, I come to you and say, “Hey, I just got my car fixed at that dealership and when they were done, they washed my car for me.  Pretty cool, right?”  You may say to me, “Well, they should at the prices they charge.” 

You see, exceptional service suffers from a problem of perception.  What I perceive as exceptional, you may not have the same view.  Just because we proclaim to be practicing exceptional service doesn’t mean our customers will perceive it as exceptional.

We have to practice exceptional service, if we don’t, our competition will.  But this necessary evil can be easily duplicated, can be expensive and a large percentage of our customers may not perceive what we practice as exceptional.

We need to practice exceptional service but, our commitment should be on QUALITY customer service.  And I will share with you what that is in my next writing.

Mark

Mark Isaac

mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

Customer Service Defined

It’s amazing to me how many different definitions there are for customer service.  Because everyone has their own perception of what service is, there are many different definitions of it.

For you to effectively lead your team and coach the service message, you need a working definition of what customer service is.

Here’s one I use in all my workshops; customer service is the sum total experience of us meeting the customers’ intellectual and emotional needs.

Now there are three key parts of this definition.  First, sum total experience; if I call your company and your receptionist seems disengaged and unfriendly, am I formulating an opinion of your level of service?  Sure I am.  If I drive into your parking lot and it’s littered or poorly lit at night.  Am I formulating an opinion of your level of service?  Of course I am.  Customers are continually formulating opinions of us; there is no end line, no touchdown, no goal line, they are always being moved.

Remember there are always places we can improve the service we provide.

How about intellectual needs, what does that mean?  Well, if you buy television set and you get it home only to find out it doesn’t work, what does the store you bought it from have to do for you?  If you said replace it, fix it, or give back your money, you’d be right.  These are the ‘things’ we do for the customer, the things they can touch and see.  These are the intellectual needs. 

But just meeting our intellectual needs isn’t enough is it?  What else does the store have to do for us right now?  If you said say they’re sorry, you’re right again.

Vendors need to meet our emotional needs by saying they’re sorry.  Not only that but, make eye contact, smile, demonstrate empathy.  All of these contribute to our emotional needs.

Which of these do we forget to do most often?  Are you thinking emotional needs?  You’re correct again.  Why do you think we fall down on addressing the customers’ emotional needs?  Could it be we’re not trained to say sorry?  Could it also be a sign that most people think replacing the TV is enough?  Also, especially in the US, we think by saying sorry, we’re accepting blame.  As if the thought process is, “I didn’t break it, why should I say sorry?”

Remember the three components of customer service; it’s a sum total experience, we must meet the customer intellectual needs by doing the things to make the customer happy and we must meet their emotional needs by saying sorry and making eye contact.

In a few days I’ll write about how exceptional customer service is the necessary evil.

“EFFORT & the Role of Leadership”

I’m excited to announce on October 6, at 2:30 pm central time, I will be conducting a live, 90 minute webinar on time management for leaders.  It’s called “EFFORT & the Role of Leadership, Insights and Applications” and my goal is for you to find out where your time goes, how you can determine what the tasks are only you can do and how to increase the effectiveness of your staff.. 

 The fee is $97.00 and I don’t care how many people you have sitting in on the training.  This is a great value.

 To register, just send me an email, my contact info is below.

 No matter what our demand of time is, the supply will never go up.  There’s no price you can pay for it, it’s completely perishable and it cannot be stored.  Yesterday’s time is gone forever and will never be back.  Time is always is short supply.

 Who is it for?

Any current and future manager and supervisor faced with the challenge of managing their time and the time of their staff. 

 Effort and the Role of Leadership is a…

Time Management workshop:

  • Determine how to spend time on the activities that bring the best service to the customer.
  • Determine the tasks that only you can do.

Communications workshop:

  • Learn the MBA, a tool for communication success.
  • How to help the frontline worker take ownership of their responsibilities.

 Why is it so successful? 

 “EFFORT & the Role of Leadership” is the best time-management program designed specifically for leaders.  Dealing with interruptions, managing meetings, raising the effectiveness of your staff and identifying the “Big Stones that only you can do are just a few of the strategies discussed.  Some other key topics are the Maturity Ladder, Tyranny of the Urgent, and the Mutual Benefits Agreement, plus much more. 

 High praise indeed! 

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed your presentation.  I considered it a “throw away” item for the day, but it ended up being the highlight.  I learned quite a bit and I have already used some of the insights you provided.  I would definitely recommend your presentation to anyone!  -Law Office of Robert O. Kazary

  “Excellent material that makes us think.  The workshop made me aware of how to approach my team members.” – State Bank (Texas)

 

MARK ISAAC

 Mark Isaac has been a training professional for twenty three years. He specializes in time management, customer service, management and leadership communication. He travels extensively working companies to increase customer retention and to create a strategy to engage your staff. He has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota.  He is the owner of Gorman Business Consultants. Mark has completed over 30 marathons.

 Mark Isaac Owner/Facilitator/Author Gorman Business Consultants 612-308-3065 mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com www. gormanbusinessconsultants.com

 

 

 

Using the Mutual Benefits Agreement

A manager needs a method of effective communication, a process they can use in any situation.  Salespeople use a logical, repeatable process to try and gain a sale.  Managers and supervisors need their staff to ‘buy’ into the vision of the company leadership, so why not have a logical, repeatable process to ensure success? 

This is what I like to call, “Mutual Benefits Agreement” or MBA.    It’s an agreement between you and the members of your team.  Done properly, you will fully engage your staff because it will cover all of the benefits of an engaged employee listed above. 

Mutual Benefits Agreement (MBA)

  • State the desired outcome; what gets done and when, keep it simple and to the point. 
  • Give guidelines; paint a big picture of what the outcome will look like.
  • Give them the tools; give them the ‘things’ they will need to reach the desired results.  List yourself as a resource and ask them what they think they will need.
  • Timetable; hold them accountable by checking in with them.
  • Consequences; what will be the good or bad reaction to either achieving or missing the desired outcome.

A few rules to keep in mind about the MBA are; use it in any situation, follow the steps in order, always list you as a resource, and remember to ask them what they need to get the job done.

Is it time management or personal management?

“EFFORT & the Role of Leadership”

Time is our scarcest resource, and unless it’s managed, nothing else can be managed.  Someone may say that, to be effective, you must manage your time.  But is that really true?  Is it time management or personal management you need to excel at? 

Personal Management issues are universal, and as a person in a leadership position, your skills have to be a cut above if you want your performance to be recognized and rewarded.  Mastering the skills of effective personal management that benefit you and your company means you have the edge when dealing with your staff, important clients, vendors, team members, even in today’s business climate. 

I would like to extend a personal invitation to you and your associates to attend my two-day seminar, “EFFORT & the Role of Leadership” open to the public. 

Date: October 5-6, 2011
Time: 08:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. each day

Where: Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Site to be determined)

The investment is $649.00, which will be returned to you with your higher level of effectiveness.  Please write if you would like more information. mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

The ‘7 Slight Edges’ at Work

I am struck by the commitment by companies to provide the best possible service for their customers and also, to provide a working environment to engage employees.

A local airline is putting FAITH in their Training Specialists to learn and then conduct my coaching program for managers.  A telecom company puts EFFORT into giving their managers and supervisors the soft skills as well as the technical skills.  A fast food chain practices ECONOMICS by testing my training process with few leaders, now are ready to commit dozens more.  A health care provider sees the BIG PICTURE and develops relationships with other local businesses.  A small hospital has the COURAGE to bring me in to facilitate workshops for their entire staff.  The director of the IT department for a large bank saw how his departments can BE OF SERVICE to their internal customer.  And all the participants were asking, “How can I separate my company from our competition with quality customer service?” and other AFFIRMING QUESTIONS. 

Don’t forget about my upcoming “Effective Communication for Leaders” webinar Tuesday, September 13th @ 2:30 central time.  It’s only $97 for your entire leadership team.  Can’t make the scheduled time?  For the same fee, purchase the recording. For any questions, mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

 

Upcoming Webinars & Workshops

On September 13th I will be conducting my “Effective Communication for Leaders” webinar from 3:00 pm until 4:30 Central Time Zone.  You will see me with a power point presentation.  Plus, I will send you a handout to follow along.  The fee is $97.00 per connection; this webinar will be $197.00 after the first of the year.  If you can not make the scheduled time, for the same price, you can purchase the recording after I edit it.  Follow this YouTube link to learn more.

http://www.youtube.com/user/7slightedges#p/a/u/1/-4s6Zm5enIE

Also, on September 13th, I will be conducting my “A Caring Experience” webinar for health care professionals.  the time for this session is 12:00 until 1:30 central time zone.  This is the same training session I have done for Washington HCA, Illinois HCA, Ohio Hospitals Association and dozens of health care facilities across the country.  Pricing is the same as above and you can still purchase the recording once it’s edited.

To go with this, on October 5th and 6th, I will be conducting my “A Caring Experience for Leaders” live workshop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  During the 2 days you will learn what the ‘7 Slight Edges’ are and how they provide a caring experiences for patients and residents.  Then you will learn ‘real-world’ applications, so you can take what you’ve learned and apply it in your unique environment.  You will also learn how to coach and communicate these insights to your staff.  The fee for the two days is $799.00, which includes lunch, beverages, materials and I can help you with discounted pricing for hotels.

Follow this link to learn a little more, http://www.youtube.com/user/7slightedges#p/a/u/0/frL7YnwaX84

Please contact me if you have questions.

Mark, mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com 612-308-3065

 

Making & Keeping Our Promises

Anyone can make a promise but, it takes a special person to keep a promise.  Here are three types of promises you should avoid making. 

The first is one I call, over promising.  You probably know one of the ways we over promise; that’s where we make an unrealistic expectation.  “I’ll write that report today, I promise.”  “I can deliver that package across town in 15 minutes, I promise.”  It’s setting a mark you can only reach if all the stars align for you. 

But there is another kind of over promise I want to mention.  When I was a kid, I went to catholic grade school, and way back then we were taught by the nuns.  And if you ever broke a promise to the nuns you were in a lot of trouble.  You see, back then the word promise meant something.  Now we give it away like candy.  Let the word mean something, don’t make a promise unless you mean it and you are in control of it.

The second type of promise we easily break is promises we make for others.  “Mary will call you as soon as she gets in.”  Years ago a staff member at Cass Medical Center in Harrisonville Missouri, told the story of when the doctor told the patient that he needed to see him again.  The patients asked if he could come in Friday at 2:00.  The doctor said sure you can come in Friday at 2:00, just go see the scheduler.  The scheduler then told the patient that the center was busy and it would be impossible for him to get the date and time he wanted.  What do you think the patient said?  “But the Doctor promised!”  Avoid making promises for others.

The third type of promise we break is the promise we make to ourselves.  I call it the New Year’s Eve effect; everyone going to work out more on New Year’s Eve, everyone is going to read more on New Year’s Eve.  Some even go as far to buy one of those elliptical machines January.  I love that; in January it’s an elliptical machine, in April it’s a coat rack. 

Thank you

Mark

Mark Isaac

mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

612-308-3065

“The Best Cash Comes From Customers”

The best cash comes from customers.  Not loans, not lines of credit, and not stimulus packages, but customers.  Companies that deliver great customer service know this already, they practice the “Slight Edge” of Economics.

Economics is the skill, and it is a skill because you can master it, of earning more money than you spend.  Some companies are good at one or the other but, the successful company is good at doing both.

To reduce spending you should run a cost reduction campaign throughout your company.  Tell your staff that for one month you want them to look at their work areas and uncover areas to cut costs.  Tell them if they hit a goal of $250.00 each in realistic cost reductions you will buy them pizza for lunch or some other reward for them.  Make a game out of it, tell them no idea will be rejected without being fully evaluated, encourage participation from everyone. 

That is one side of the coin, to spend less, the other side is to earn more money.  Not make more money, earn more money.  The only people who make money are counterfeiters and employees at the mint, the rest of us have to earn money.  You will have to earn it, and the most effective way to earn it is to raise your productivity and the productivity of you staff.

Gallup.com sights that the engaged employee produce nine times more than their moderate or disengaged co-worker.  And when these engaged employees were polled about what made them engaged, they gave credit to their manager/supervisor.