Tag Archives: customer service

Customer Service: Ignoring Me Will Cost You

(Post by Rick Dacri, February 16, 2015)customer service

What is it about people not acknowledging you, attempting to engage or even smiling when you walk into their organization? What does it take to be even a little bit friendly? Can’t they even pick their heads up from whatever they’re doing so I know they’re alive? I can tell you that it is a costly mistake to ignore me.

A disengaged workforce costs employers a bundle.

I am often asked how to motivate their workforce? Well, here are 10 no cost things every manager can do right now to engage their employees and experience immediate improvements in performance, productivity and profits:

  1. Mirror the right behaviors: Set an example. Employees watch how you behave; how you speak to customers; how you dress; and the hours you keep. Be engaging, friendly and professional and they will too.
  2. Talk to them. Listen to them: Have a meaningful conversation with your employees and not just a “hi, how ya doin’?” as you rush by them. Get to know them. Show that you care. Be clear about what you expect of them and understand what they need from you. Value their opinions. Care and they will care.
  3. Provide your employees what they need to do their jobs: This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is not. Quick story: I consulted to a nursing home where nurses would hide latex gloves above the ceiling panels because the administrator, in a cost saving move, rationed gloves. Talk about germ control. If you want to build a house, you need to have a hammer and nails. Incidentally, we stopped the ‘hide the glove game’ fast!
  4. Let employees do their job: Train them; be clear about your expectations; and then send them to do their jobs. Stop micromanaging. Provide them autonomy and let them succeed and yes, make mistakes. Employees want to do their jobs. They can’t hit home runs of you don’t let them bat.
  5. Acknowledge your employees: When they do good work, recognize them. Give them specific praise; be genuine; and not a hollow “nice job.” Employees famously state they know when they’re not performing but rarely hear anything when they are. Change this paradigm.
  6. Grow your employees: Your success as an organization is predicated on having employees with strong skill sets. Continuous development must be ingrained into the fiber of all organizations. If it isn’t, your company will stagnate and fail. You’ve got to water and fertilize your garden.
  7. Talk about the big picture: Imagine having employees who go to work each day, have no idea why they are doing what they do, not know where the organization is headed, what’s important and what’s not, or what’s of value. And then you wonder why your employees are not engaged. Employees need to know the company’s mission, must embrace its values, and understand where they fit in. Take the blinders off your employees.
  8. Focus on quality and customer service: Never compromise or shortcut here. A few bad customer experiences and your reputation is ruined. Customers will flee and your good employees won’t be far behind.
  9. Take care of your employees: Have fun and never tolerate disrespectful behavior. Bullies, harassers and discriminators must go. Fast. You’ll never find happy customers where there are unhappy employees.
  10. Demand excellence: Insist that your employees perform. Continuously raise the bar. Never compromise. Give your employees the tools and knowledge to do their jobs and require they do it. You get what you expect.

This past Christmas, my 28 year old son went shopping for a gift for his mother. He decided to buy her clothing and like most single guys, he was clueless about what to get. He told me that he walked into the women’s department and he must have had that look of “I’m lost” on his face. A clerk approached him and he tried to explain what he wanted. Recognizing he needed help, she jumped into action, shopping the store for him, picking out the perfect gift, and even wrapping it for him. My grateful son dropped a few coins in that store. If that clerk had not been attentive to him, he would likely have left. Now he is a loyal customer. That’s customer service. That’s how an engaged worker performs. It didn’t take much. No heavy lifting. Just a well-trained employee who cared about the customer. And that’s what it is all about.

Other posts you may want to read:

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Simple Formula For Increasing Sales and Profits

images(Posted by Rick Dacri and originally published in the York County Coast Star)

Watching people connect in the workplace will tell you a lot about a company. In over 25 yeas in business, I have found that by observing how people interact, one quickly understands how a company operates, its effectiveness and its level of employee engagement.

One of the perks of being a management consultant is the opportunity to visit literally hundreds of different organizations. I always try to arrive at scheduled appointments early. The condition of the facility, the initial greeting by the receptionist, and the interplay of employees provide me a wealth of information about the organization’s culture. Am I greeted with a smile or am I another intrusion? Are employees talking with one another, engaged and animated or disinterested and frustrated? Is the “feel” of the organization warm or cold?

You can get that same read in a restaurant. My wife and I frequent the many fine area establishments. We both watch for how we are treated by the host and our server. The chef can make a fabulous meal, but it is the host and server that make the experience—and they will determine whether or not we return. We expect a smile; a cheerful and helpful attitude; quick and knowledgeable responses to questions and requests; and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make our experience positive. When that happens we return – frequently. And we also tell our friends.  Engaged workers engage their customers and engaged customers buy.

Gallop recently released their annual poll on employee engagement (2013 State of the American Workplace Report) and the results are not good. Only 30% of the approximately 100 million people in America who hold full time jobs are inspired and engaged at work; 20% are actively disengaged; and half are not engaged at all. In other words, 7 in 10 workers are either simply showing up or are actively sabotaging their companies. It gets worse. Only 41% of employees feel they know what their company stands for and what makes it different from the competition. And of these workers, “Millennials”, those born between 1980 and 1994, are likely to quit their jobs in the next 12 months if the economy continues to improve. Finally, service workers, those employees with the most direct contact with the customer, are the least engaged of all workers. Imagine – customer service reps, bank tellers, sales clerks, wait staff, call center reps – those individuals who have the greatest daily customer contact, those employees upon whom employers depend to take care of the customer; the very face of the organization, are the least engaged. Remember, disengaged workers directly impact the company’s bottom line. The CEO may set the goals and direction of the business, but it is these workers who determine whether it reaches them or not.

The news is not all bad. While the national statistics are damning, organizations are not condemned to follow. Great organizations have engaged workers, but they must first have engaged managers and supervisors. Studies show that without them, a committed workforce is nearly impossible.

Great managers create engaged workers and when that occurs, organizations enjoy significantly higher productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, less turnover and absenteeism, and even fewer on-the-job accidents. Gallop even found that organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees to every actively disengaged employee experienced 147% higher earnings per share compared to their competition. You can take that to the bank, literally.

The best organizations are lead by and with strong managers who demand excellence from their staff. These managers set high standards and mirror it in their own behavior. Successful organizations hold their managers accountable for their department and staff’s performance. Every employee, manager and non-manager must buy into the company’s philosophy or they must go. The evidence is clear. When all employees are willing to do whatever is takes to make the company successful; embrace the direction of the firm; and value their customers, then success follows. And it all hinges on good management. It is that simple.

The formula for success is not complicated. It may take hard work to achieve and investment in their people, but the benefits are huge.

Customers know. Whether they’re shopping at the local store, purchasing a car, ordering dinner or calling customer service, they quickly realize the level of engagement by the employee with whom they interact. That singular exchange will often determine whether they buy or not and whether they’ll ever return to buy again. Organizations will likely have engaged customers when they have strong management and engaged workers, and engaged workers means higher sales and greater profits.

Other posts you may want to read (click to read):

  1. Where Has Company Loyalty Gone?
  2. Costly Turnover Can be Controlled
  3. Employees Providing Great Customer Service?

If you want to know more about how I can help you, click here: Dacri & Associates, LLC

 

 

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Filed under Compliance, Productivity

ObamaCare Good For Business

imagesPosted By Rick Dacri, June 12, 2013

Many of the pundits are warning that companies will be laying off workers or reducing work hours to skirt the regulations that require them to provide health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. One company has said “nonsense” and is actually allowing part-time employees to increase their hours so that they can become eligible for the insurance, thus increasing the number of employees who will be receiving health insurance at their company. The Cumberland Gulf Group (Cumberland Farms Convenience Stores) believes that by taking care of their employees, they will see improvements in employee engagement, retention and customer service, all resulting in increased sales and profits. Rather than focusing on short-term savings by eliminating health insurance, they’re betting on their employees and the long-term health of their company by adding employees to the insurance rolls.

The Cumberland Gulf Group has made employee satisfaction a corporate priority and knows that expanding benefit coverage to more of their employees is one way to achieve this. They realize that customer satisfaction requires happy, engaged employees.

Cumberland is taking the big picture approach. It’s a smart move; it’s strategic; and it makes good business sense. Employees are not going to stick around a company that neither invests in them nor provides them affordable health insurance.

What do you think of Cumberland’s decision?  Comment below.

 Other posts you might want to read:

If you want to know more about Dacri & Associates and how we can help you, click here: Dacri & Associates

 

 

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Filed under Compliance, Leadership

Is Your Company Customer Centric?

(This article was originally published in the York County Coast Star, September 2012)

By Rick Dacri, Dacri & Associates

 Amazon.com’s founder and CEO recently published the company’s mission statement in an open letter to all their customers. In it, Amazon proclaimed that their “vision is to be the Earth’s most customer centric company.” That’s quite a proclamation and based on the list of customer service awards they have received, they may well be it.

Their mission got me thinking: what does it take to demonstrate that you are customer centric? It’s easy to say and frankly many companies often make this claim (who would ever say they were not?), but most fall short. The bravado from the C-Suite often doesn’t filter down to the manager or worker that deals directly with the customer. But that said, I began to think of the times I experienced great service—not just the kind you’d expect when you’re dropping your hard earned cash down at the register, but service that was so memorable that it converted me into a loyal, long term customer. So here are my top 3:

 

  1. House of Doherty: As a young 27 year old about to start my first professional job, I needed a new suit. Someone told me to try Doherty’s, a small men’s shop catering to the who’s who of business people in this community. With a bit of intimidation, my wife and I entered the shop and were wowed from the start as they made us feel like we were the most important customers they had. They could have ignored us, as we were obviously not on par with the rest of their top shelf clients. But, they didn’t. We were treated like gold. They provided me superb tailored apparel, expert advice on professional fashion, an inventory of all my purchases, outstanding service, and real friendship. I remained a loyal customer for over two decades until the owner passed and the shop closed. I have never found another shop like it.
  2. Ritz Carlton Hotels: When you stay at the Ritz you expect fine service—but nothing prepared my wife and I for this. As we entered the hotel we were greeted by name (how did they know who we were?), given a cold drink, and escorted to the front desk. We were given a great room with a terrific view, but it had one problem. The A/C from a nearby building was a bit loud, disturbing our vacation tranquility. Hesitant to complain, I mentioned it to the clerk, who jumped into action mode finding us a better room, but it wasn’t what we wanted. Undeterred, she found us a second room, but again, it wasn’t right. Unfortunately, there were no other rooms available—we thought. Unbeknownst to us, the manager was informed and he promptly righted the situation. He sent someone to find us at the pool and offered us a magnificent suite with breath-taking views. It was perfect. And to top it off, on our last day as we prepared to leave, we found in our room a plate of candy with a message of drizzled chocolate saying “We’ll Miss You!” along with a hand written note from the pool staff. That’s putting on the Ritz.
  3. Prime Motors: I just bought a new car (lucky me!). It was a hard decision deciding between two cars in two different dealerships. When I ultimately made the decision, I called the dealer. Rather than tell me to come in to fill out the paperwork before picking up the car, he delivered the car to my home that very evening and then spent nearly two hours reviewing the features with me and programming the navigational system. I was impressed and will buy from him again.

Great customer service brings significant bottom line results. Customer loyalty is critical to business success and with it comes repeat business. People talk about their positive experiences (and sometimes write articles) and that’s an essential element in building a consummate reputation and brand buzz. And ecstatic customers make referrals, the backbone of any growing business. If you’re not getting referrals, your business is in trouble.

Amazon proclaims they will be the Earth’s most customer centric company. Yet all companies have the ability to achieve similar distinctions regardless of their size. Passion, a commitment to serve the customer and the desire to not just meet, but exceed their expectations is what makes the difference. Do that and you could be the Earth’s best.

What are you doing for your customers? Write in and maybe we can feature you in an upcoming article.

Rick Dacri is a workforce expert, management consultant, and author of the book Uncomplicating Management: Focus On Your Stars & Your Company Will Soar.” Since 1995 his firm, Dacri & Associates has helped organizations improve individual and organizational performance. He can be reached at rick@dacri.com and http://www.dacri.com.

 

Readers are encouraged to send comments, questions and ideas for future articles to Rick Dacri at rick@dacri.com.

 

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Filed under Leadership, new book

Mission Statements Define Who You Are

“Our vision is to be the Earth’s most customer centric company.”

Everyone who visited Amazon.com last week read this in an open letter to customers written by CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos.  Quoting Amazon’s mission statement, Bezos continues with a promise “to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they may want to buy.”

Amazon’s mission statement is clear and bold. They seek to be the best-not the best online retail site in America or even North America, but the world-“Earth’s most customer centric company.” No one, no customer or employee can question this company’s focus and position. They set the bar high and they have backed their words up through performance. Bezos’ letter lists a number of customer service awards they have received this year. It is impressive. Continue reading

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15 Quick Questions To Assess Your Company

 The success of your organization and your success as a manager depends upon having a workforce that is committed to your organization and a management staff that knows how to supervise people.  Only then can you meet organizational goals. This self-assessment will provide you a quick evaluation of your organization and workforce and will highlight your areas of strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Are you always able to recruit good people?
  2. Are you retaining your best employees?
  3. Do your injured employees return to work quickly from work related injuries?
  4. Are able to retain your best customers?
  5. Each year, are regularly getting new customers?
  6. Are your customers regularly providing good feedback on your services or products?
  7. Do your employees know what is expected of them?
  8. Do you have confidence that your supervisors are managing effectively?
  9. Do your employees feel a connection to the goals of the organization?
  10. Do your supervisors regularly recognize & praise their employees when they do good work?
  11. Do your employees know they have job security if they are performing?
  12. Is your company hitting its financial goals? Sales goals?
  13. Are you confident that your employees are doing the right things when dealing with customers?
  14. Do you trust your employees and do they trust you?
  15. Are things better this year than last year?

 If you answered at least 14 questions affirmatively, you’re in great shape. 12 or 13 and things are generally OK. Put together a plan to address problem areas before you begin to lose employees and customers. You can’t afford to slip here. If you answered 10-11 affirmatively, then you’ve got a lot of work to do.  Get going. Without a rapid turnaround, you face serious problems. And if you answered 9 or less affirmatively, get help fast. You’ve got problems with your employees and customers that are costing you a bundle. A rapid turnaround is necessary before you lose control or worse.

 This self-assessment was developed by Dacri & Associates. Read more about it in Dacri’s book Uncomplicating Management.

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Filed under Employee Relations, Leadership, Management

Is Your Workplace Toxic? Seven Red Flags to Watch

 Toxic jobs do not all look alike. However, like a bad relationship, all will destroy your self-esteem, bring you down, and make your life miserable. Some red flags to watch for when trying to determine if your place of employ is toxic:

  1. Customers and employees are second to everything else
  2. Employees and customers are always complaining
  3. Employees bail out faster than management can hire replacements
  4. You’re always fighting fires, never catching up, and you’re always finding yourself behind the eight ball
  5. Management is inconsistent in the way they manage or they don’t manage at all
  6. Supervisors are poorly trained and arbitrary in their styles
  7. Employees are not treated with any respect or decency

Employers who run toxic organizations often blame their customers, vendors and employees for their woeful ways. If even one of these red flags appears in your workplace, it is time to make some changes.

 This blog was excerpted from my book Uncomplicating Management.

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Filed under Employee Relations, Management, new book