Archive for the ‘Customer Service Leadership’ Category

I don’t get it. I see this time and time again, and I am always baffled by managers who hire people just because they have a pulse and are willing to do the job. This practice is especially common where the position being filled is a low paying, low status job (retail, customer service, etc).  The problem with not carefully choosing employees is that you will constantly have to replace them. Hiring the wrong people causes turnover, lost customers and a whole host of other problems that cost companies a lot of money.

Considering these front line positions actually drive the business, employers need to be especially careful about who they hire. It makes no sense whatsoever to hire people who are not perfectly suited for the work.  Taking the time to look for the right people may be a little painful, but in the long run it will pay off. You’ll have employees who are passionate and dedicated to the company.

Here’s another pearl of wisdom:  If you regard all people who occupy those front line positions as imbeciles, then you will continually hire imbeciles. If you think they are all a bunch of unreliable flakes, then you will hire unreliable flakes. Do you get it? Look for the people you want, not the people you think you will end up with and don’t settle for less.

If you think no one wants to be a CSR or a retail sales guru, think again. I have met many people over the course of my career who simply love being on the front line. The money isn’t what drives them, it’s the challenge of making a customer happy or selling a bunch of merchandise to a customer who was “only browsing”.  These people are out there so there is really no need to hire someone who is clearly not right for the job.

Here are some people you should never hire for a front line position:

  • People who have no relevant experience but have a long employment history. Registered Nurses or Computer Programmers applying for a receptionist position are not suitable candidates. They will leave as soon as they find something in their field of expertise.
  • People who do not present themselves professionally.  Avoid sloppy dressers, people who smell bad, people who look to be of questionable character, people with poor language skills, and people who have no polish whatsoever.
  • People who say, “I just want a job (any job) so I can pay my bills.” These people have no passion for the business or the work they will do. They will only put in enough effort to get a pay cheque and will probably call in sick every chance they get.
  • People who have a history of leaving jobs after only a few months. That’s a no brainer for some. Don’t fool yourself into believing your company will be the one that this person will stick with. The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour.
  • People you don’t have rapport with. If you can’t build rapport in a job interview you will not build it later. Employees need to fit in with the culture and they need to be able to relate with their co workers and their boss. If you’re not feeling the love in the interview, don’t hire that person no matter what. Your job as a manager will be infinitely easier if you are working with people you can get along with.
  • People who are not naturally pleasant. This runs along the same line as the above point. You can’t teach people how to be pleasant or happy. If you detect that a job candidate has a certain negative edge to him, then don’t hire him.  He won’t suddenly change and become nice to be around.

Employers should develop a profile of the perfect candidate for the job. Taking the time to figure out what type of person is best suited for the position will help you with your search. Knowing what type of people to avoid will help you even further. Committing yourself to hiring only those who fit the profile will pay off, so be patient and keep trying to find the right people.


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A number of months ago I had my kitchen renovated and a couple of weeks into the project, the designer, “went on leave”. I later found out she would certainly not be coming back. The same company lost its receptionist recently and when I called to follow up on a problem I requested be fixed, I was told she “retired”. Sure! Judging from the dealings we had with this company I am pretty sure that is simply a euphemism for, “she quit”. In fact, I’m surprised she lasted as long as she did!

Geeze! It reminds me of a company I used to work for. Whenever someone got fired an obscure email would circulate saying that person was no longer with the company. It always felt a little weird. Now, I know they can’t very well divulge the details of an employee’s departure, but there is always something a little curious/ominous about the use of euphemisms. Who do they think they are fooling, anyway?

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Did you ever notice how some people make it difficult for you to be their customer? They ask you to pay in advance for things that don’t need to be paid for ahead of time. They can’t order exactly what you want the way you want it, so you have to purchase something with unnecessary features. You have to come back on another day because someone important isn’t available to help you. It all sounds weird to me, but you and I know it happens all too often.

There are some simple rules to sales and customer service that need to be kept in mind. Firstly, empower your people to make decisions. Customers get really peeved when the person they are dealing with cannot act in their best interest. It’s not hard to do that. Just set the parameters with your employees and push go. Oh yeah, don’t forget to give them permission to think. That helps a lot!

Secondly, don’t set up road blocks for your customers. People buy when you make it easy for them. Things like flexible payments, free trials, etc all contribute to bringing people closer to buying. Make the process so pleasant and easy they’ll have to say yes.

Thirdly, keep in mind that customers return when you demonstrate you care about their needs and their experience in dealing with your business. Make it as enjoyable as possible. Whatever you do to enhance your customers’ overall experience will attract their future business.

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Let’s face it. We live in a world of rapid communication and that communication can make or break your business. Potential employees can surf the internet to find out what employees think of the companies they work for or have worked for in the past. Potential customers can view customer service complaints on millions of websites to see what experiences others have had with your company. A simple Google search could reveal a ton of information about your business that may not be favourable at all.

In spite of all of this, I am continually mystified by the reluctance of many companies to actively try to engage their employees and their customers. How can they not accept the reality that the world has changed and that corporations are no longer as powerful as they used to be? The days of being able to hide your problems from the public are long over and it simply doesn’t pay to live in denial!

An engaged workforce will at least triple your current bottom line results so it is well worth your while to invest in leadership and employee development programs and to concentrate on building an engaged corporate culture. Failing to do so means your business results will only be about 29% of what they could be. That is because on average, only 29% of employees are engaged and they are carrying the results of your entire company. The remaining 71% of your employees are dragging you down and since this condition is reversible, it makes good business sense to work on increasing employee engagement!

I understand that soft skills training is often seen as being a nice thing to do, if you can afford it, but the fact is a good training professional will be able to tie training to solid business results. It really is not fluff and if your employees are like those in most companies, you truly cannot afford to let developing your employees become a low priority.

I have seen what’s out there and I know why we training professionals get a bad rap. It’s because there was a time when less than competent people thought they could cash in on the gravy train when companies had money to spend. They produced nothing, held no one accountable, took away a cheque and drove off in their Beemers. Meanwhile everyone who participated in the sessions went back to their old habits and nothing really changed for the business.

Sadly, those guys are still out there and they still get business from those who have a poor point of reference. They look super slick and act like they’ve got the world by the tail, but they are not true professionals. Look for training that is focussed on achieving results and comes with a guarantee. In my opinion, anyone in my profession who is not willing to stand by their work isn’t worth hiring.

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Empowerment isn’t about letting your employees run amuck. It is about giving people the tools and the trust they need to make decisions that are helpful to the business. It is also about allowing them to use their creativity to find answers and take your business to new heights.

To empower your people you must first make sure everyone has lots of information. Share everything. You cannot expect great results when people don’t have a complete understanding of the business, so share the good, the bad and the ugly. Besides, withholding information creates mistrust, and no team can function effectively where there is an absence of trust.

If you want to learn more about how to empower yor employees, check out my book, Engaged for Growth. It’s a small book, but it’s packed with powerful information!

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One of the biggest problems companies face today is the problem of business execution. Many a great idea has fallen flat on the boardroom floor because no one could get past the discussion phase. It’s a common problem that personally drives me crazy. Organizations need to get out of their own way in order to make things happen!

One of my personal strengths is my ability to initiate and organize change. In fact, I have a system that gives companies which want to evolve an effective way to facilitate change. By using this system, leaders can  figure out which steps need to be taken, who needs to be involved, what exactly needs to happen and when things need to happen.

Systems are only worthwhile, however, if they are used regularly. Having great systems in place throughout your organization will allow you to be more successful and organized. Chaotic organizations will never do as well as those which consistently apply effective systems. One terrific advantage of using my system is that it allows companies to develop their own unique systems and refine them as the business evolves. It also allows them to incorporate their values into any changes that take place, and I’m a big fan of that!

Curious? Ask me about this. 905 593-2778

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In my last post I mentioned that many sales and marketing professionals consider that we are all in sales. I was reminded of a session I did once where I showed pictures of different people and asked what impressions they left. One was a picture of a guy with his hand extended in greeting (in fact, you’ll see that picture in an earlier post about on-boarding. Click here to view). One person in the group cringed and commented that he looked like a sales guy, saying she hated sales people. My response was to ask why she hated sales people and I informed her of the following:

Sales people drive the economy. Without sales people there would be no business, no jobs, and no homes to buy; not even a cardboard box to live in. Since boxes have to be manufactured and supplies need to be purchased in order to manufacture them, it would be impossible to make anything other than a lean-to to live in. Even then, you’d have to fashion a knife out of stone and basically live like a caveman.  Who wants that? I’ll take my nice home in the suburbs, my furnace and central air conditioning, thank you very much (all of which were purchased from some very nice people).

The next time you find yourself thnking that sales people are sleazy, please stop and make a distinction between professional sales people (who have integrity at their core) and the others who are really in the minority. A sleaze is a sleaze in my opinion, some are unfortunately in sales, but some are in other professions as well. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush. Hug a sales person today!

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