Keiths Executive Blog

If you’ve ever purchased a product or service in your life, you undoubtedly have experienced bad customer service. From rude workers, annoying wait times on hold, and everything in between, nothing is more frustrating than a horrible customer service encounter. While I could name names (but I won’t), certain companies and even industries are “notorious” for how badly they treat their customers. And it seems no matter how many times they appear on the list of “Companies With the Worst Customer Service,” very little seems to change. Recently, I had the opportunity to consult with several such companies in an effort to help them get at the root cause for their poor service. They had a sincere desire to improve their customer’s experience, but wanted more intelligence around “what makes our customer service get rated so poorly?”  By conducting store visits, ordering online, and calling their Customer Support Hotlines, I immediately honed in on some common themes. 1.  UNFRIENDLY Associates: In several interactions it was clear to me that the person I was engaging with (in person, on-line or over the phone) did NOT want to be bothered. It wasn’t that they were overtly obnoxious, just that they seemed annoyed…
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 17:12

3 Questions Great CEOs Ask Front-line Associates

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As a corner office executive, one of the best things you can do is get out of your big, fancy office and spend time with the people who actually “do the work!” Quite often as a leader, your calendar is filled with internal meetings and conference calls. Much of the information you receive is filtered, so rarely are you hearing the full truth. And, quite possibly your organization is not benefitting from innovative ideas because some companies operate under the mantra, “if it wasn’t created by headquarters, its no good.” In order to get the most out of spending time with frontline associates I fid that great leaders and CEOS ask three important questions: 1. What are we making you do that adds little to no value to the business? Most leaders would be amazed at the number of requests, reports and activities associates are asked to do, that provide little to no value to the organization, and in fact, wastes the associates time.  One day as President of a large grocery chain, I spent the day with a Store Director. I was bewildered at the amount of reports that she was being asked to complete. After some quick research…
In my mind, the most important asset in any organization is its Human Capital. It’s people! And no other Function/Dept. within an organization touches people more than the Human Resource function. I like to think of HR as the “Champions of Human Capital!”  In working with dozens of CEOs, they believe that within their organization, HR professionals are to be the champions of four key areas: The Company Change Culture Conscience THE COMPANY Historically, the Human Resource function has been pigeonholed and limited in focus. Former titles included “Personnel Dept.”, “Benefits Office” and “Payroll.” It’s only in the past decade or so that CEOs and organizations have really come to appreciate the significant role human resource professionals play in the success of the organization. Going forward HR professionals MUST have a total grasp on the overall “business” of the company! Market Position: Where does our organization fit within the Industry? What is our unique value proposition? How do we create customer and shareholder value? Environmental Scanning: What are the external influences impacting the company’s success? Economic Factors, Competitive Trends, Technological Changes, Political Issues, Social Issues, Demographic Trends? Financials: Do you know how your organization makes its MONEY? Can you dissect…
Quite often when organizations are undergoing change, there is a tendency to solicit the ideas and opinions of those with the most experience. There is a confidence and a comfort we feel in gaining insight and direction from those who have spent years or even decades in a given industry, company or organization. On the surface this makes a great deal of sense. However, is it possible that relying too heavily on those with "experience" can actually hinder or derail your transformation efforts? The truth about experience is, it is most effective if the environment in which you operate hasn't substantially changed! However, if new technologies are introduced, new distribution channels developed, or non-traditional competitors enter the marketplace, the value of previous experience is diminished. In fact, in the book, "Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions" (Harvard Business Press) the authors argue that one of the leading factors as to why smart leaders make bad decisions is relying on "Misleading Experiences." Misleading experiences are those memories of past actions that seem to be comparable and/or relevant to the current situation, but which can subconsciously cause us to overlook and/or undervalue differentiating factors. When leading change and transformation it…
Previously I shared that for any transformation effort to be effective, you must first have an appreciation that all changed efforts start with understanding human nature (see “Managing Change Starts with Understanding Human Nature”); and, prior to undertaking any strategic change or transformation effort, organizations should undertake a Readiness Assessment to gauge if they are really ready for change (see “Is Your Organization Really Ready to Change?”). As part of this assessment, four key questions must be asked, answered and addressed: 1. Do Leaders at every level have a common vision of the change to come? For any change initiative to have even the slightest chance to succeed, leaders at every level of the organization need to be 100% clear and aligned on two critical factors: - Is there a common understanding of the change to come from an organizational perspective? - Is everyone clear on their role in leading the change, AND, the interdependencies’ and impact their individual role has to the overall success of the organization? During any change or transformation effort there can only be ONE vision of what the future state will be! There is only room for one version of the truth, one message that…
After careful analysis and consideration, your organization has determined that in order to “take it to the next level”, there needs to be a change in strategy. The leadership team has done their SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). They’ve uncovered a “Blue Ocean” that will deliver exponential growth, and have used Six Sigma methodology to optimize operational processes.  Lastly, the Board of Directors has endorsed the new strategy and the organization is poised to implement the new Transformation (more sophisticated sounding than “Change”) initiative! Or is the organization really ready for change? In full transparency, I’ve been there. I’ve led change and transformation initiatives for over thirty years in industries as diverse as Grocery Retail, Business Process Outsourcing and Wireless Technology. With the best of intentions and the security blanket of outside consultants, Gant charts and market intelligence, I’ve witnessed how even the best laid plans can still end up with less than optimal results! And in every case, one critical question was never fully explored: “Is the organization Ready for change”? By “Ready” I am not referring to being properly staffed, fully funded or properly organized for the change. Rather, prior to embarking on the change or…
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