Archive for category Customer Service
More than 35,000 companies and organizations have pledged to participate in the event. According to the official Telework Week Website, this would save an estimated $2,451,069 and more than 1,600 tons of pollutants from entering the atmosphere. Where these numbers come from is not entirely clear, but it stands to reason that fewer people commuting would help save money and reduce pollution to some extent.
National Telework Week is sponsored by Telework Exchange and Cisco, which makes telepresence and communication products, as well as other tools to facilate remote working.
I would suggest you spend some time understanding what it would take to perform your work outside the office. As I would explain to past staffs, just because a weather day or some unplanned disaster occurred, project deadlines remain the same. If you and your manager, or if you are the manager, haven’t spent enough time creating a work force that is flexible enough to handle the unique demands of performing all department requirements outside of the normal office space, you will find yourself in the awkward situation of losing value to the company.
Disaster Recovery Planning
OK, maybe it’s because my first job in a large IT organization was helping implement the annual remote disaster recovery test plans that I seem to gravitate to this fact. I ask all my clients, if your office burned down this weekend, what you do on Monday. Close shop? Declare bankruptcy? Put everything on hold until you get a new office leased? What about your paper records? How about your leads? How about your contracts in progress? Are you’re files stored off-site, and if so how long would it take to get them back and running at the new location?
These are all questions that should bring a leader or manager to the point of understanding how important teleworking can be to this scenario and their organization.
An important factor in improving your productivity is to design a work environment that helps you accomplish your work faster and smarter then your competition. Well how about all the time you are not in the office? Are you tied to a paper filing system … how could you change that? (Evernote.com) Can your assistant and team members update file and get them to your quickly? (DropBox.com) Can your team, partners, and client see your calendar and plan accordingly? (Google Calendar) Can you conduct training sessions without having to be on-prem at the client’s location? (WebEx) Can you brainstorm with your team, partners, and clients regardless of their geographical location? (MindMeister.com) Can you manage your To-Do list, or better yet, can your assistant manage your list for you? (Remember the Milk).
My guess the most difficult thing to change in your work space is the paper trails you live with. You probably have become so accustomed to getting something in paper, working on it, then passing it on. Reguardless, it is possible to go paperless. It’s worth the time to implement also.
Over the past 10 years I have moved to a paperless process. That is how I had to look at it. I focused on the process, not the piece of paper or some other physical object. Many of the web based applications I mentioned above I use today. It allows me to complete my client requests while knowing that all the items I need are right at my fingertips.
So what have you done to make it possible to telework or telecomute? I’d love to compare notes some time.
[Note: this is an older post but the “Ill Advised Investments” example came up in a recent meeting and brought a smile back to my face so I’m recycling the post. I’ve also added another great quote from Godin as well]
I love the way Seth Godin’s mind works. In a resent post, “How much extra for nice?” brings up the critical point of how much we are willing to pay for better service but reminds companies that creating this environment costs a fraction of what people are willing to pay. The benefits can last longer.
I also read another great thought from Seth Godin as well:
No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.
Hurry, go do that.
Godin in “What are you working on?“
In a recent post, I identified three example of customer service excellence. How much money was budgeted to create this customer service environment? These types of examples have a lasting benefit that far outweighs the cost of implementing them. If companies can recognize this before dismissing these opportunities, the rewards have an exponential effect.
- Hiring the right people
- Having the right people perform jobs they love to do best.
- Continuous improvement of the customer experience at all levels of the company
- Reward excellence and avoid promoting people out of their natural strengths.
Ill Advised Investments
Although I agree with Seth’s premise, as consumers, here are some examples in which we should avoid paying extra to have someone be nice to us!
- $100 to the Police Officer at a traffic stop – will only produce untold number of stories for your grandchildren around the campfire, sometime in the distant future.
- $100 to $10,000 to the triage attendant at the local Emergency Room – will get you absolutely nothing at all except a lighter wallet.
- $100 turned in with your exam – results may vary, but don’t expect them to be positive.
So do you have any beneficial or ill advised investments to share?
I guess I’m stuck on a customer service theme in my head. I seem to be attracted to articles and work that focus on the subject. It could simply be a residual affinity based on my recent experiences with customer service excellence. Nonetheless, recently I read a very interesting article in the Incentives Magazine (digital version at incentivemag.com). In the article MetLife uses peer recognition to promote better customer service.
Peer Review Critical
The article goes into the multi-year process of creating a culture to use recognition as a means to increase customer service. The “Best of the Best” program mentioned is a key to their success. There is an organizational role assigned to these types of programs.
“We really wanted it to be peer recognition in local offices, let local recognition champions create the program. It can’t be top-down.” says Marge Rody, the vice president of customer service operations
The article breaks down the tiers of the “Best of the Best” program:
The first is On the Spot, which Hayes-Brown describes as “your immediate recognition, your pat on the back, thank-you” from a manager or supervisor on a day-to-day basis.
Next is the more structured middle tier, known (perhaps somewhat confusingly) as “informal.” This is a Web-based system with a nomination process based around four corporate objectives. Nominations are vetted by each office’s committee of two to five volunteer recognition champions, generally on a monthly basis, and winners can choose a gift from an online catalog.
Finally, there’s the “formal” level, an annual selection of a few names from every business unit (up to five from the largest office) will be sent to Brennan’s corporate recognition committee, which will choose 33 winners—one percent of the 3,300 employees—to be recognized at the corporate level and travel to a ceremony hosted by the company’s president. This award is handed out by the recognition champions committee, overseen by the recognition chairperson. All of those nominated by their local recognition champions are honored, whether they are selected or not, Hayes-Brown says.
Your Action Plan
Let’s face it, it’s easy to find fault. You can search for customer service examples on the internet and you will find the majority are people venting on their recent bad experiences. With the exception of helping the PR and HR departments of these companies ‘locate opportunities for improvement’, nothing really comes of it.
Here are some things you can do:
- Create an ‘instant recognition’ program – doesn’t have to be elaborate, maybe simply creating a goal that you hand out a ‘At-a-Boy’ each day to someone
- Plan recognition into events – set aside time in your schedule or project plan to actually think about or review the past few days and determine who could be recognized.
- Formal Incentive Goal: Create a budget that would include a gift/prize/incentive for someone who reaches a level of customer service. Maye incorporating the above two mentioned items as milestones to quantify the person’s level.
This is something that could easily be implemented in your family, work, church, or team. I hope this post has helped you. If you have any other ideas or comments, I would love to hear them.
Leo Jakobson (September 2008). MetLife Rethinks Recognition. Incentive, 20-24
My family took the typical last summer vacation before the beginning of school sports seasons and school. My wife planned a surprise two day trip that , which in theory, would keep our four boys, 14 year olds to 5 years old, entertained and exhausted. The location was Gurnee Illinois and the Six Flags Great America theme park with an overnight stay at KeyLime Cove, a new indoor water resort.
On this trip, three examples of customer service excellence surfaced.
Excellent Customer Service Example #1
Let me set the stage. It’s 9:45PM and the KeyLime Cove water park closes at 10PM. The tube slide lifeguard, a 6 foot something lean athletic looking young man, has been given the all clear that no other patrons will be coming down the tubes and he can begin his duties of stacking the double and single inner tubes that have just traversed hundreds of water park miles today. But first, he must deal with a small object, a third his size, our 5 year old son, Justin. The noise in the cavernous indoor water park is deafening and causes even people sitting next to each other to speak rather loudly so as to overcome the constant white noise of splashing and falling water.
Our Justin walked over and began a conversation with this end-of-day lifeguard. This young man spent 5 minutes (mind you that’s like 1 hour in adult time) face to face, sometimes only two inches apart, never losing eye contact, always smiling, asking for the occasional high-five when he thought it was appropriate. The young lifeguard probably couldn’t understand or hear the young boys declarations of how this day was just simply awesome and 5-year-old’s attempt to share it with someone. Somehow this young man knew (and maybe has seen this played out several times at KeyLime Cove) the significance of this little person’s desire to share, so he patiently waited while the little man continued expanding on his wonderful day.
We finally took pity on the young worker and asked Justin to return to our sides. I gave the young man a thumbs up and smiled. He also smiled and nodded his head, understanding fully that this was just as much of his job as making sure the patrons were safe while having fun.
Excellent Customer Service Example #2
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service. We’ve all read this sign. It’s a typical health code requirement in all restaurants. In this case the “No Service” portion was replace with “Exceed your Customer’s Expectations” by the restaurant manager.
The above mentioned Justin had broken his cheap flip-flops during the day’s adventure. Our car was parked about a mile away from the front entrance of KeyLime Cove. I’m tired and I thought that since this was a water park that they would let us slide (no water park pun intended) on the rule. NOPE! They explained that we would have to come back with the correct attire. Something on our son’s face caused the manager to jump into action. She said we should go sit down and she would check if they had any extra flip-flops. EXTRAS?????? Well, I guess it was a water park.
A few minutes later, the manager returned after visiting the upstairs gift shop and placed on my son’s feet a new pair. We offered to pay but she refused, She explained that she noticed how disappointed my son was that we might not be able to eat at her establishment, so she couldn’t allow that to happen.
At the end of the long day, we still had one special event planned. Our traditional “Un-Birthday” celebration. This is simply a necessity because our families can not attend all the birthday parties of all the different families, so when we do get together, we celebrate one “Un-Birthday” to make up for it.
My sister-in-law brought a sheet of brownies and we wanted to eat it at the restaurant. You can image the typical response from most eateries. Not at this one. The same above mentioned restaurant manager focusing on customer satisfaction jumped in again and took the sheet over to the ice cream parlor area of the restaurant and had it decorated. Not just adding a word or two, but on the borders, and added fruit as well to give it some color. This was really over the top and just capped the end of this two day adventure with a sense of true customer service excellence.
In fact, on the 3 hour ride home, I began to form my thoughts for this post. This small family vacation trip, and the customer service examples forever etched in my mind. And I declared to my wife, “We will be going back there again!”
- How’s your social customer service? (socialfish.org)
- Customer Service Help (fullgamutworkshop.wordpress.com)
- Are customer service agents too rude? (eptica.wordpress.com)
- The Good and Bad of Customer Service (tinamwoodin.wordpress.com)
- Why Customer Service is So Important for Freelancers (businessns.tumblr.com)