Five Reasons Your Customers Think Your Service is Awful!
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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 that I was making them…well, work!

2.  UNKNOWLEDGEABLE Associates

There were other times when I came upon a vey friendly associate, but one who was ill equipped to answer my question or resolve my concern. As such, a great deal of time was wasted, and although they were as pleasant as Forest Gump, they added no value, just frustration.

3.  UNAVAILABLE Associates

In one major retail chain, I visited three different stores in one day. And in each case I needed to hire the FBI to find a worker who could help me. No one was available to answer a question, checkout my order, or offer assistance. These stores took self-service and self-checkout to a whole new level! Unfortunately, their same-store sales have been declining to a whole new level as well.

4.  UNCONCERNED Associates

For me personally, there’s only one thing worse than not being able to find an associate…..finding one that is unconcerned! Visiting a fast-food client’s airport store, I found myself standing in line with several angry customers. Angry because while we only counted one worker working, we counted four others just standing around (one talking on a smart-phone)! There was no sense of urgency or recognition that the line of customers was ten deep. Soon, we asked for the Manager, only to learn that she was the one who was working!

5.  UNTIMELY Resolution

In the Call-Center world of Tech Support and Customer Service, timely “First Call Resolution” is the goal. Ideally, you want to be able to solve the caller’s issue on the first call, in the least amount of time. Many wireless companies, cable companies and IT organizations struggle mightily in this area. Keeping customers on hold for long periods of time, passing the caller to another department or group, or not being able to communicate effectively can turn a customer to a “former” customer in no time. It’s not enough to resolve the issue, but it needs to be done in a timely fashion with as few handoffs as possible.

In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, the organizations who win are those who take time to not only understand WHAT their customers want, but HOW best to deliver those products and services in a timely, pleasant, helpful manner. Some organizations have made providing excellent customer service, part of their value-add. Others have made the lack of customer service part of their epitaph.

How well does your organization service its’ customers?

3 Questions Great CEOs Ask Frontline 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 I learned that the information collected from her and others was not even being used. It was an example of headquarters collecting data, for sake of collecting it and adding no real value. Needless to say, these useless reports were no longer required, freeing up precious time for the Store Director to run the business.

2. What Tools, Products or Information would allow you to “DO MORE”, “SELL MORE” or provide “BETTER SERVICE?”

Another misnomer is the belief that headquarters always knows what’s best for the field. While this may be partially true, I have found that some of the best value creation ideas come from those associates closest to the customer, the production line, and the community. Maybe it’s the realization that customers are requesting more Gluten-free products that we don’t offer? Perhaps it’s hearing from our customers that our website is too difficult to navigate, thus making online ordering a burden. Whatever the case, great leaders drive innovation and value by listening to the voices of those who have to implement and execute the strategy. Not just listening to those who create the strategy.

3. What’s happening in the business that you think I need to be aware of?

In many companies market intelligence is gathered primarily, by the headquarters Marketing team. They run analytics, do test marketing, check consumer insights and review Neilson data. While are of these are necessary and vital, nothing takes the place of employee engagement. By listening to the concerns, insights and suggestions from field associates, the CEO gets first hand, unfiltered information. This information, when integrated with market analytics, can provide the “intelligence” required to not only make good decisions, but help to create a more complete picture of reality.

CEOs and leaders who aspire to be great, need to take regularly scheduled visits to spend time with those who associates who really are “the company”, those men and women who actually make things happen, and do the work!

businessKeith Wyche
4 Things CEOs Need from Their Human Resources Professionals
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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:

  1. The Company

  2. Change

  3. Culture

  4. 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 and understand the “high-level” Balance Sheet and Income Statement? Are you aware of the financial health of the organization?

HR Analytics: Can you measure the impact of Human Resources leadership, management, actions, policies, and assistance in your organization?  Your selection of measurements should be driven by two factors:

  1. To contribute to the overall success of your organization and the attainment of your organization’s most important goals.
  2. To provide the organization with measures that drive continuous improvement.

To be successful business partners, HR professionals MUST think like business leaders!

CHANGE

Secondly, HR Professionals must be Champions of Change! In the new world economy, an organizations ability to anticipate, acknowledge and adapt to change will separate those companies who survive and thrive, and those who will become extinct, the dinosaurs’ of the 21st Century! Since, the HR department is all about recruiting, training and monitoring employee performance; it has a key role to play in any change management program.

For this to happen, they need to recruit the right people who can think out of the box and can bring a fresh perspective to the table. This is the key element of any successful change management strategy and this is where HR has a stellar role to play. The point here is that HR must be encouraged to look for people who can act as catalysts for change and who can motivate other employees to participate in the change initiative.

CULTURE

A great strategy is no guarantee of long-term business success. Many other factors impact organizational performance. One such factor is corporate culture. In fact, it’s been said, “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”.  Yes strategy is important, but it is the implementation and execution of that strategy that determines success, and without the right culture, strategy is doomed to fail!  For it is “Culture” that helps an organization create a high performance environment that supports business strategy implementation. Because culture is so important to the success of a firm, human resource professionals need to increase their proficiency at impacting culture.  Monitoring it, understanding it, and influencing it!

CONSCIENCE

Of the four areas I’ve suggested HR professionals champion, this one requires the most courage! This is the one that is the least comfortable, the one that requires competency, credibility and compassion! This is the one that demands you have the influence and persuasiveness to have “uneasy” but necessary conversations with those who may outrank you!

To be Champions of Conscience for your organization will test your moral compass, your willingness to speak truth to power, and your commitment to be the voice for those who may not be getting heard! It’s making sure that an organization’s management and workforce looks as diverse as the communities they operate in, the customer/clients they sell to, the vendors/contractors they utilize and the consumers they target with their services and products!

  • It asks questions when candidate slates look unbalanced.
  • It demands answers when salaries look out of line.
  • It requires fairness when Performance Reviews look skewed.
  • It forces creativity when it hears….”we’ve looked, but couldn’t find any” diverse candidates.
  • It challenges the status quo, when others accept, “we’ve always done it this way”

More than ever before, successful CEOs organizations realize that in order to sustain profitable growth, drive innovation, and create value, they must have “the right people, in the right roles, doing the right things, at the right time!" Human Resource professionals are the catalyst to make sure the organization is poised from a Human Capital perspective to deliver the desired results!