“Are You Efficient or Effective? Is There a Difference?”

Leaders today must be both efficient and effective to reach company and department goals, to engage employees, to retain more customers and to reduce employee turnover.

Finding someone, anyone who can be both is a rare find, it’s like finding Bigfoot.effective-communication

Most managers, usually excel at one. It may be they are efficient and great at meeting deadlines. But the problem maybe the leader uses a risk or reward style of motivation. If all is going poorly, the threat of working late. If all is going well, pizza Friday. Continue reading


“7 Slight Edges to Creating a Customer Service Culture”

According to a JD Power study, companies that have a culture committed to great customer service will grow at twice the rate of their competition.

April was a milestone for me, I reached my 27th year of being in the training business. I designed and presented my first workshop in April of 1988. Where were you in April of 1988? images

In that time I have worked with companies throughout the US, up and down the Americas, back and forth to Moscow, and to West Africa. What I’ve learned in dealing with these companies is that they are committed to keeping their customers and growing from the inside out. As I worked with these companies I noticed they all did certain things to help them keep their customers, they are little things that make a big difference in the level of service they provide. I called these things “slight edges” and I saw there are seven of them.  Continue reading

“Is Your Level of Customer Service a Hoax?”

Here in the Twin Cities there is a well-established company, that shall remain nameless, that attempts to build buyers’ confidence by offering a money back guarantee. The guarantee Economicsclearly states that, if for any reason, you are not satisfied with your purchase; the company will return your investment. They even have a line that reads, “No ifs, ands, or buts’.” Forget that the statement makes no sense. The company also brags about how they have never had to return any customers’ investment.

Well you knew this had to happen.  An international client felt they didn’t receive the kind of service they had hoped for and asked for a return of their money, and the local company said no.   Continue reading

Be of Service


Here’s a question for you, don’t over think it, it’s not a trick question. What does Harley-Davidson Manufacture? Motorcycles, right? Sure they are in to other things like apparel but, they make motorcycles. OK, here’s another question for you, this one is the trick question. What does Harley-Davidson sell? Now your answers may be more like, the open road, bad-boy image, or an American style. What does a good realtor sell? To some it may be the American Dream, for others it may be an investment.  What does a good travel agent sell?  For you it may be rest and recreation. For me, when I’m talking with my travel agent, I know I’m going someplace to earn money.

The next slight edge is ‘be of service.’ Companies that deliver great customer service, don’t talk about what their products and services are, they talk about what their products and services do for the customer—how they serve. More specifically, they talk about how their product or service will help customers reach their goals or fix their problems or make them feel; how it will serve. Continue reading



Companies that deliver great customer service have faith. What do I mean by faith?  Having faith means, believing in something you have no proof of. We think that smiling, making eye contact, and using the customer’s name will bring them back but, we really don’t know it does. There are very few studies that report a customer saying. “I came back because she smiled.” But, we do these things because we have faith that it will bring them back.

So many times participants leave my workshops with some great ideas to deliver outstanding customer service and separate them from their competition. And of those who practice the slight edge of courage and put their ideas into action, many will drop the idea after a few weeks or months of not seeing the results they had hoped. They lack the faith needed to stick with it, to push on. And when you demonstrate a lack of faith, your employees lose trust that you will ever follow through on anything.

Faith is all about measurements.  It’s easier to keep the faith if we have something to tell us we’re on the right track. 

Let’s say your Big Picture is to live a healthy lifestyle. And to do that you’ve decided to put yourself on a diet and exercise plan to lose ten pounds. What measuring tool would you use to let you know you’re on track? A bathroom scale, right? You start your plan and after a few days you step on the scale and you see you lost 2 pounds—great, you’re the right track. After a few more days you step on the scale to find you lost a few more pounds—better yet! The scale builds faith you will reach your ten pound goal. No scale and you will have to use other, less accurate methods like notches on your belt. Or worse, you won’t have anything to go by. If this happens, you are very likely to stop pursuing your goal. 

Having faith is about measurements; you need to put things into place that demonstrate you are on the right track. If you develop a new customer service performance standard and you don’t have any signposts to help make sure you’re getting the results you want, you are very likely to stop doing it. 

If you ever want to read a really good book someday, read “The Game of Work” by Chuck Coonradt. In his book the author gives you methods of how to measure, or keep score, of how you are doing. The key is to put something, anything, into place to help you keep score.

Many thought leaders recommend this idea of a score board or score card. They work in so many ways. They show your progress, they help you keep the faith, they engage the employee, they provide quick feedback—these are only a few benefits.

The scorekeeping method you use is best if it is

(1) Objective; there is nothing subjective about the bathroom scale. Make sure your signposts are specific.

(2) Self-administered; ask your staff what measuring method they would like to use on themselves. You will be helping the staff take ownership of the idea by valuing their input.

(3) Dynamic; use two or three methods of measuring. Allow the employee to compare current performance with past performance. 

Here’s another aspect on faith. People who lack faith, live in their history. They are always looking back on things. They say things like, “This is the way our industry is.” Or, “This is the way we have always done it.” Or, “I could never run a marathon, earn a million dollars, own a business.” These people are living in their history, they see life as it’s always been.

But people who have faith live in their imagination. They look at how good things can be. They don’t look backwards at what are limiting patterns, they look forward to unlimited possibilities. They have faith that this new idea or new initiative or new goal will not only work but be filled with rewards.

This is not dreamland, this is about living in your imagination and seeing how great things will be, taking that first leap that and putting your idea into motion and then having a scorecard to measure your progress and help keep your faith.

Keeping the faith is all about measurements and living in your imagination. Don’t let good ideas die on the vine. Have the courage to take action on your idea. Think about how good things will be. Use signposts to make sure you’re on the right path. Give feedback to nurture the actions and help the staff take ownership of the idea. 

Don’t become frustrated if you don’t get immediate results. Remember, unsuccessful people take forever to make a decision, and then change their minds quickly. Successful people make decisions quickly and are slow to change their mind. 


Act with Courage

Do you realize that most of us will live our entire lives never knowing whether or not we are a coward? When was the last time you acted with courage? And I don’t mean a bungee cord or tandem parachute jump–life is not supposed to be a pursuit of catastrophe. I mean the kind of courage that requires a commitment, not a momentary beat down of a fear. I mean real courage like running your first marathon or making a commitment to being debt-free or writing a blog two or three times a week?

The reason we don’t act with courage is because failure feels ten times as bad as success feels good. Cowards are self-centered people, they are concerned with how they will look if they fail. They are concerned about what other people will say about them if they fail. Courageous people have no regards for self. They know and understand, if they fail they will learn from the experience. They will ask themselves, “What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What can I do better or different the next time?” They know and understand that failure doesn’t mean stop, it means get up and try again. Courageous people can accept failure–they can’t accept not trying.

Ask me about my 60-minute webinar recording, “7 Slight Edges to Keeping Your Customers”

$77.00—no usage limit.


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. You need to build your courage muscle–you need to start out small. Go for a walk every day. Ask your boss for that raise. Ask that man or woman you’re interested in out for a date. Start building little ‘wins’ and then you can turn up the courage level. Quit smoking, turn off the TV and spend time with your spouse, say no to going out with your friends and put the money your save into your savings account. Then you’re ready to take the next step towards a greater level of courage. Quit your job and pursue your dream job or start your own business. Start training to complete your first marathon. Take those blogs you have been writing and turn them into a book.

Courage requires us to feel uncomfortable. Courage requires us to get past ourselves. Courage requires personal change.

It’s time to start acting with courage—you’ve put it off long enough–you deserve to act with courage. It’s time to sacrifice who you are for who you want to be.


“Amplify Your Faith”

One of the ‘7 Slight Edges’ is faith.  I’ve written in the past that an important part of faith and helping you to keep faith, is measurement.  We have to set a target of great service and use units of measurements to help us know we are on track—this helps us keep the faith. 

Now I want to cover another aspect of faith.  Here is a common situation I’ve seen many times over my 26 years of experience—companies will tell me they want to be ‘known’ for delivering the best in customer service. They want to have the ‘reputation’ for providing great service. They want to be ‘top of mind’ in customer service. But then it seems that these companies will then hide away the fact that want to deliver great service.  They may put it in their mission statement, include it in their marketing pieces and even invest in a training program but that’s about it.

Companies that deliver great service amplify their faith—they shout service out loud so all their customers hear it. We need to amplify our faith—we need to have posters and signage in our hallways and in our lobbies that declare our commitment to service. Wherever our customers gather there needs to be reminders of the level service we want to provide.  We need to amplify our faith–put our love of service on all of our marketing materials.  Have a declaration to service be included in our email signatures. We need to amplify our faith—we need rugs in high traffic areas of our offices with a service message written in them.  Our uniforms, name badges, hats need to shout out our service message.  We need to amplify our faith—themes for company cookouts, holiday parties and Friday pizzas need to center on service. We can never let an opportunity to announce our faith in service to pass us by. 

Companies that deliver great customer service have faith.  Companies that live the ‘7 slight edges’ amplify their faith.

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Exceptional Service Maybe Hurting Your Business

If a customer has to expend extra energy to have their issue resolved, they are less likely to be loyal. However, if the customer doesn’t have to put too much effort into resolving their issue, they are more likely to be loyal. This according to a 2010 published article in Harvard Business Review titled, “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.” 

But, if you have been following me for the past fifteen years–whether through my blogs, newsletters, seminars or webinars–you know I’ve said this already. And I didn’t need to survey 75,000 customers like HBR did. 

I have long said that exceptional customer service is ‘necessary evil’–we have to do it, if we don’t our competition will. But there are three problems with exceptional service that makes it an evil. 

First, exceptional service is easily duplicated by the competition. If I’m your competitor and I hear about or witness a service you are providing, that I’m not, can I copy you? Sure I can. And now copying our competition is easier than ever, all I have to do is go to your website and surf around. And, an unexpected problem from being duplicated is that we are constantly raising our own bar. What are the services you are providing that your competition can easily duplicate? 

 Second, exceptional customer service can be expensive. Too many times companies feel they have to ‘giveaway’ products or services to make the customer whole. In truth, if we handle the issue quickly the customer will return with future business for us. We must remember to address the intellectual needs of the customer by fixing the problem and then their emotional needs by saying we’re sorry.

Third, exceptional service has a perception problem. I may perceive the service you provided for me as excellent but someone else may disagree. Or maybe I define great service as a knowledgeable service provider.  But you think great service is a clean environment. If you focus your energies on one and not the other, someone is going to be disappointed. Try as we may, we can’t ‘reach’ everyone. We are always going to have critics, so why spend time and money on something that has a high percentage of missing the target?

Quality customer service is the avenue to follow when considering where to put your energy to keep the customers you have. If you would like to know the difference, send me an email for a gift of my 25 minute webinar recording giving you the details.


7 Slight Edges to Keeping Your Customers

The “7 Slight Edges” the seemingly little things that make a big difference in the level of service you provide.  These are from my 25 years of experience working with companies that are great at keeping their customers.

Big Picture Thinking; Companies that deliver great service know ‘why’ they deliver great service.  They know and understand what’s in it for them, for the customer, and for their employees.  Companies that see the Big Picture demonstrate a long term thinking process.

Courage; Companies that deliver great service have courage.  They take action on their ideas to deliver great service.  They aren’t afraid to try new and different things to show customers they are important to them.  Sometimes there are barriers that keep us from going forward and many times these barriers are self-imposed.

Faith; Delivering great service means having faith.  Faith is belief in something we have no proof of.  We may think that standing up and shaking our customers’ hand will bring them back but, we really don’t have proof they come back because of that greeting.  But, companies that deliver great service know that it does, they have faith.

Effort; To deliver great service, companies must make delivering great service the center of daily operations.  It’s the first thing on their mind, not the second thing.  Companies that excel in delivering great service make it their top priority.

Economics; Economics is the skill of earning more money than you spend.  It’s difficult to deliver great service if your focus is on, not the customer but, the upcoming lease payment you’re going to have trouble making.

Ask Affirming Questions; Affirming questions look for the solution, they typically start out, “How can I..?”  Or, “What can I…?”  Companies that deliver poor service and they are faced with an upset customer, ask questions like, “What’s the problem?”  Or, “What’s wrong?”  These non-affirming questions don’t look for solutions.  We need to ask affirming questions, questions that demonstrate that we’re here to help, to look for solutions.  People who deliver great service to the customer don’t ask the upset customer, “What’s the problem?” they ask “How can I help?”

Be of Service; What does Harley Davidson make?  Motorcycles, right?  What does Harley Davidson sell?  If you said things like, the open road, a ‘made in America’ image, or a bad boy style, you would be right again.  Companies that excel in delivering great service don’t talk about what their products and services are, they talk about what they do, how they serve.

Faith & Customer Service

ImageDelivering great service means having faith.  What do I mean by faith? Faith is belief in something we have no proof of.  We may think that standing up and shaking our customers’ hand will bring the customer back but, we really don’t have proof they come back because of that greeting.  But, companies that deliver great service knows that it does, they have faith.  Companies that lack faith take a long time to may key decisions and then will change their minds quickly when they don’t see immediate results.  Companies with faith will move forward quickly with ideas and change their minds slowly.  Faith is about measurements; you have to put up units of measurements to know you are moving towards your big picture.  If your big picture is to live a healthy life style, and you have the courage to get on a diet and exercise plan to lose 10 pounds, what will you buy at the store to help you know you’re on track, probably a bathroom scale, right?  The scale helps you keep the faith.  If you paint a vivid big picture of what service should be and you have the courage to take action on it, then you need to make sure you put up sign posts, measurements that shows you’re on track.