Monthly Archives: December 2012

Silent Killers in Customer Service

11 Dec
by Bridget DiCello

In the past, business was done on a handshake.  People’s reputation and word of mouth was critically important.  Since then, the population has increased to the point where we don’t know all our neighbors and definitely don’t know all the people in our town.  However, social media has brought us back together in an incredibly powerful way and reputation and word of mouth is more powerful and viral than ever in the past.

Do you ensure that your customers have the best possible experience?  Not just that they don’t have a negative experience.  If we have a bad experience, we will talk about it forever.  Just think about it.  Don’t we all have those stories that we love to tell others about our bad experiences as a customer?  The nine month experience I had with the Audi dealership in New Orleans to get a new grill plate, such terrible customer service that I drove over 80 miles to Baton Rouge for routine service in the future?  I’m sure you have one of those stories.

I’m not sure why we love to share dramatic stories of hardship, conflict and disappointment, but there is something viral about them.  We can challenge humanity to share positive stories and good news, but the fact is for our businesses, we must prevent those dramatic stories of disappointment.

The kicker is that those terrible experiences can hurt us significantly, but the silent killers are the customers we fail to make happy and their indifference turns into a powerful driver for them to go elsewhere.  People may forget what you say and do, but they don’t quickly forget how you make them feel.  Do you connect with your customer enough to forge a relationship?  This nuance is missed by most people because as long as the person buys, appears happy and doesn’t complain, they don’t worry.

How do you know if you’ve really connected?  Here are just a few indications:

  1. The customer opens up and talks freely.  They are comfortable and can voice concerns.
  2. Their concerns have been resolved to their satisfaction, not just where they say, “okay, that’s fine.”
  3. They ask you for help or assistance in another area, because they trust you.
  4. They’ve become relaxed with you, even if they are not a relaxed person.

Once you connect, you work to build the relationship.  You are keenly aware they have concerns before they voice them.  You take possible concerns and turn them into opportunities to serve them better.  The customer never walks away with a mediocre experience and certainly not a negative one they’re going to share with all their friends.

Can you connect?

Failure-Triggered Enthusiasm

05 Dec
by Bridget DiCello

“Success is about moving through failure, not avoiding it.”

As you end the calendar year, whether it’s the end of a fiscal year or fiscal quarter for you, it is a good time to take a look at what you have achieved both personally and professionally, where you’ve fallen short and what’s next. There is much wisdom to be gained from the areas where you feel you’ve failed.  And if you can move quickly from who caused the failure to how or what to do differently, there is much enthusiasm that can be created by what you didn’t get to this year, what you can and will do next year, and what challenge is not going to get the best of you!

Failure can be defined as:

  • Results are not what you expected or hoped for.
  • Nonperformance of something due, required, or expected.
  • Subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency.
  • Deterioration or decay, especially of vigor, strength.

 “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” – Woody Allen

Results are not what you expected or hoped for.

When you identified the results you expected, were they realistic?

Was a plan for implementation created?

Were the right people in place?

What progress did you make? Where have you taken some “practice shots” and gotten better?

Were you able to move through some mid-year failures and tweak your plan?

“Failure is when you don’t learn from a mistake, and continue to repeat that mistake. Life is full of practice shots.”

Nonperformance of something due, required, or expected.

Did you focus on doing what you planned to do?

Were accountability measures in place?

Did regular communication enable people to work together to accomplish the plan?

Did you celebrate success too early and fail to follow-up to ensure continued success?

Success is never final; failure is never fatal” – John Wooden

Subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency.

Were the people capable of doing the work?

Did you prepare you and your team sufficiently to do something new, different or innovative?

Did you clearly understand the quality standards expected by your stakeholders?

 “A stumble may prevent a fall.” – Proverb

Deterioration or decay, especially of vigor, strength.

Were you excited about the plan?

Was it just brief excitement, or did you have the full buy-in of the team?

Did something internal or external change that prevented you from executing the plan and you never changed?

Is your culture one of blaming others instead of troubleshooting stumbles?

Did you give up?

A man may fall many times, but he won’t be a failure until he says that someone pushed him.” – Elmer G. Letterman

I can do that better next year!

Start by making a list of your successes and celebrating those. Then, make the list of what you didn’t accomplish, pinpoint what you learned, identify why those goals were important to you in the first place, and test if they are still important (even if they are difficult). Then, let the failures push you forward!

Enthusiasm is an incredible driver of success, and is much more than excitement. It is the inner drive to make a difference, to accomplish great things, to contribute to a vision, and to do what you value and you see as important. Too often we simply follow others’ goals, accept what others say is important and accept the mediocrity that is acceptable to many people.

What is important to YOU? What energizes you? What do you love about your job? How did you feel when you started your job? Who do you need to stop blaming for your unwillingness to think big, and start acknowledging that enthusiasm that would bubble up if you didn’t let the world knock you down?