I grieve for customer service under the guise of virtuality.
Call us on the phone. Text us your opinion. Tweet your photos. Follow us on Facebook.
When you want to speak to somebody to establish rapport, connection, demand attention, file a complaint, you are talking to a machine or not even a machine, nobody.
Nobody knows what’s the process once the form has been filled, the phone call is made, or anything for that matter that is called reaching out. You wait for your lucky stars if they are even going to get back to you.
The bigger the company, the bigger the bureaucracy and bureaucracies kill innovation and creativity. It creates pockets of fiefdom within organizations where lower-level staff or personnel are not empowered to delight and please the customer. All problems and issues get pushed to the middle management where the action is synonymous to wait out and see.
I went into a job fair recently to talk to companies and organizations that are hiring and get their pulse on their industries. I asked one lady for her card, and she said, I didn’t bring any, just go to the website. Well, lady, you are not there on the website. The website has a bunch of information that is not going to give me access to someone like you that I met in person, talked about the company, and made that vital connection.
The purpose of the job fair is to get to know your prospective hires, attract the best talent, and get them to know your company. Hiding behind the website is inane, and it shows how either you loathe what you do, or your company wants to be more secretive than FBI or CIA.
Honestly, I don’t think I want to work for your that company.
A newly-minted CEO has a problem of changing practices within the organization. How do you do ensure the changes stick, what messages to say, what needs to be embedded, who needs to model these changes? As part of the management, these are the steps you can take.
1. Practice what you preach. You want things to be changed in the organization. It has to be communicated from the top and be modeled from the top. If people see otherwise, it is just lip service.
2. Model the changes in real-time. Don’t put that in a plan, procedure, policy, or manual, only to be left in a 3-ring binder somewhere. Changes in practices should be implemented on a regular, consistent basis, over time, ensuring clear alignment, focus, and synergy by all stakeholders.
3. Let the best employee model it! I say that, let their peers start to model those changes that the management seek. Employees learn from each other, and the best/or the most influential get to showcase that changes are their friends, not their enemies.
4. What’s in it for me? Do you need to change how people talk to their customers? How the organization plan for the future? How you do want to implement the services? The management has to showcase that with these changes, the organization will hit its targets, and targets being met means profitability and sustainability in the long run. A profitable and sustainable organization takes care of its employees and employees reciprocate the gesture.
5. The changes you want to see should manifest in their performance. Everyone’s performance needs to be evaluated by the outcomes you want to see. Without the measurement, who cares whether it gets done or not! And the CEOs and the management team’s performance needs to get evaluated too. No sacred cows.
These steps will ensure that changes stick and become the norm, not the aberration. You can’t change things over time, but you can start replacing old habits with good habits. It is the same with organizational entities.
A lot of organizations want to “wing” it all the time. Okay, for the first few years, it seems like the need to produce or demonstrate action is very important, but disorganized action leaves much to be desired. The disorganization becomes the bane of the organization. When things plateaued, then the conversation becomes “how can we make it better?”
There is a lot of romanticism regarding being ‘grounded up’ but what does it mean:
- Being participatory and democratic
- Being consultative and egalitarian
- Being able to pluck the low hanging fruit
- Being able to be flexible and nimble
- Being able to wing it!
While these are grand and noble things to pursue, they can be used as avoidance measures to accomplish the following, for example:
-Stretch the organization systems to focus on strategic rather than popular;
-Plan for long-term than short-term, including delaying short-term pleasures and gains for long-term stability and growth;
-Increase the commitment of Board, staff, or Steering Committee to aspire for the systems-wide thinking and deliberate attempt to take a stab on things, not just to wander from one initiative to another;
-Increase uncertainty but decrease the level of politics that is blocking any meaningful organizational change to happen;
-destabilize conservative views, offer new thinking, and increase executive leadership from that of being an administrative manager to a leader;
Innovation rarely occurs in the everyday problem-solving. Putting out fires increases your level of adrenalin but rarely gets you to your ultimate destination. Strategic focus is more needed when the times are tough, the money is low, friends have left, and there is a room for mistakes.
But I guess, it's not common sense.
Let me know what you think.
You need an energizer or icebreaker in meetings.
It cuts the precious time for substantive issues that are needed to be discussed in the meeting. Who has a lot of time to sit down in meetings that take quite a long time to get to the real issues?
Mothers know best.
Not really. At a certain point, mothers gradually relinquish that role of a know-it-all and respect the independence of their children.
Volunteer first before you can get a job in the organization.
Not true. If you want to volunteer, fine, but keep your expectations real. Sometimes, it is not going to happen in a million years.
Opportunity comes knocking once.
Not true. Opportunity is ever present in many things. Our challenge is to enhance our ability to see opportunities disguised as something else.
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Not true. People spent thousands of dollars on book covers alone. We judge things by the cover/appearance.
Early bird gets the worm.
It doesn’t follow. Some early birds get eaten because they are too early for the event.
Not anymore. The society and its expectations about reward and recognition fall on those able to become a real asset to the organization, not just those who have been loyal but utterly useless.
There are many clichés about many things. Take time to analyze that they are not truths but sometimes meant to be excuses not to improve the situation.
I was working one day when the phone rang. It was an unexpected phone call from someone I met in the course of my networking in the community.
Truly, of all people, those that you have connected will be the ones who will take the time to connect back with you. It is the stuff of humans.
It is great to receive those calls, saying hi, asking for an expert opinion, getting to know you as a person, not just a brain to pick, and being honest about their limits and constraints.
Being transparent, honest, and responsive are very important traits in any sector, industry, professional, and life, in general.
You cannot bring out something to the world and prosper from it unless there are real people that are supporting and believing in your project/work. It takes symbiosis to become a real asset to your network- the giving and receiving should be balanced.
If you are always on the receiving end of mercy, charity, and forgiveness, then, don’t ask why friends do not call or suddenly disappear, customers don’t return for purchases or donors stopped giving or volunteering their time.
Even non-profits should invest in maintaining their relationships with donors! Not to do that is suicidal.
The real connection comes from mutual respect, recognition, and responsiveness. A lot of people go through the motions being unresponsive (and inconsiderate!) to the situations, conditions, and predicaments of people, organizations, and groups.
Clerks that forget to change right;
Customer service personnel that forgets to call back;
Government employees that forget to put the document inside the envelope for mailing! (This is a true story!) ;
Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and others in the medical profession that forget to ask the right questions to patients;
And many more examples.
Take time to nurture those personal connections. If they are genuine, it will stand the test of time. If it doesn’t, consider that some connections are brief, interest-based, and not meant to be that long.
Learn from connections that get you into trouble, and you will know how to value the authentic ones.
There are many ways that the customer is not always right.
They do not know what they want regarding a new product, if that product has not been out in the market yet, don’t know its functionality or how their lives can be made easier. Your FGD can’t salvage that.
They can be unruly, excessively demanding, and unfair towards service crews such as bellboys, servers, hotel clerks and cleaners, and telephone operators or customer service reps and other lower-level personnel who always, almost get the bad end of things.
They can be verbally and physically aggressive and hostile for no apparent reason and had to be dismissed either by security guards or marshals. That is game-over!
They can tell you they don’t like your products, services, offerings for whatever reason because they don’t need your product that much to look closer and spend some time investing in its usefulness. You don’t need this type of customers. Other customers want your product, services, and offerings because they deeply know that it can solve their problems. Learn how to smell which customers are serious versus who are just looking around.
They can give you insights as to what innovation you can do based on their experience of your products, but at the end of the day, it is your responsibility as the owner of the business to smell if it is the right opportunity for you.
Lastly, you can fire problematic clients and customers. You don’t want their business more than you don’t want troublesome vendors, suppliers, and other personalities that you don’t have to deal with because there are those that will gladly do business with you and take the effort to nurture the relationship.
Just because they can pay doesn’t mean that they are right for your venture as much as just because they are your neighbors doesn't mean you want to invite them for dinner and hang out with your family.
What do you think are the ways that customers aren't always right? Tell me your thoughts.