Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Tone Deaf Executive Leadership Ignores What Customers Value

Once again corporate executive leadership demonstrates how truly tone deaf it really is.  The recent Tweet war between Delta Airlines and Ann Coulter reveals that Delta leadership does not know what their customers value.  Hint for those in leadership roles – It is not the money.

When customer pay for something, they expect what they pay for.  Pretty simple.  In the case of Ms. Coulter she expected to receive additional leg room given she pre-booked and paid for a seat to give her that extra comfort.  Given her financial status, I am sure she would have paid more, but $30 was the going rate.

Tone Deaf Executive Leadership Thinks Only About the Money

Someone in an executive leadership role who offered her the $30 as a refund and then went on to defend the removal of her from her paid and pre-booked seat was beyond tone deaf.  I do not know the reason for her removal outside of the presumed fact she was not creating a problems with her fellow passengers.

Today, social media sites such as Twitter allow individual customers to have the power of the ink without any cost.  Possibly they have forgotten this quote attributed to Mark Twain as well as to Former Congressman Charles Brownson, Indianapolis Republican:

“I never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

When executive leadership or even management believes customer service is all about the dollars and they forget customer loyalty is about how they treat people. To say Delta’s customer service was horrendous is an understatement. 

Being tone deaf now has disrupted customer loyalty. Loyal customers may think twice about the obvious disconnect between what they value and what Delta believes they value.

Sales and Leadership Coaching Tip:

Value is unique to each buyer (customer).

The tone deafness demonstrated by Delta Airlines executive leadership also reveals the total lack of emotional intelligence.  These leaders failed to recognize and understand a paid customer’s emotions, but only recognized their own emotions.  This is why they failed to manage both.

Want to know how your own emotional intelligence?  Schedule a short free call with Leanne by CLICKING HERE.

Share on Facebook

Truly Priceless, The First Customer Service Experience

In relocating from NW Indiana to NW Arizona, we have had to outreach to several businesses.  Once again I realized how truly priceless the first customer service experience really is.



Must Have Internet

My business depends on the Internet.  Having a reputable Internet firm is essential. I did my research and discovered Data-Max Wireless. The frontline person who opened the account and scheduled the service call was incredibly friendly and competent.  Then the service technicians also demonstrated outstanding professionalism from being on time and making recommendations for a better wireless router.

Must Have Working Oven

When we purchased our new home, we knew the built in oven was not working.  Again, doing Internet research product and reviews, I called Attwoods Appliance and scheduled a service call.  The serviceman was on time and again very professional. He only reaffirmed my first customer service experience with the Repair Department at Attwoods.

Unfortunately, the part needed for the 35 year old Tappan built in oven was no longer made.  So based upon our first customer service experience, my husband and I visited the store and ordered not only a replacement oven but a freezer as well. So a $75 service call turned into an over $2,000 sale. This is why the experience is priceless.

Must Have Working Plumbing

One of the challenges in buying a 35 year old home is there will be unforeseen problems.  We had an outside sillcock that would not shut off on a Sunday afternoon.  My husband did a temporary fix and  I called our realtor, Elise Harron of Dirt Road Real Estate for a recommendation. She recommended Truelove Plumbing.

Again, the first customer experience of scheduling the appointment and the subsequent actual service was exceptional.  Having 22 plus years in the plumbing industry, I recognized someone who understood plumbing.  The plumber also reviewed our pump and pressure tank (water storage system) and made some significant recommendations.  We took those to heart and he is coming back to install a new pump and pressure tank along with the necessary cut off value and pressure gauge.

Each of these local small businesses made that first customer service experience delightful and then backed up that experience with competent service personnel.  Unless these firms demonstrate some significant negative behavior, they have earned my customer loyalty and hence my business as long as we live here.

So far we have infused thousands of dollars into the local small business economy.  And these expenditures have all been fostered by that priceless first customer service experience.

Share on Facebook

Lies Do Not Inspire Customer Loyalty

When will customer service people from wait staff to store clerks to everyone else in between realize lies do not inspire customer service loyalty. No lies do exactly the opposite. Lies build distrust and turn existing loyal customers into finding other solution providers.

customer-loyaltyRecently we had breakfast at a national chain that features home cooking.  When the waitress took my order, I asked for extra syrup. The waitress replied “Absolutely.”  Another waitress brought our breakfast and again I had to ask for extra syrups. This waitress replied “No problem.”

Our waitress stopped by when I was halfway through my meal and I mentioned the extra syrup. She replied “Of course.” Finally when I was finished with my breakfast, she brought the extra syrup.

Then told my husband and myself the reason for the delay was she was attending a mandatory staff meeting.  She apologized when I told her to forget the syrup as I was finished with my meal.  Again, she apologized and mentioned the mandatory meeting a second time. As a sales and management consultant, my first thought was “Talk about stupid management having a meeting during a prime time” and my second thought was “Hmm I wonder if the waitress lied to cover her own bad customer service?”

At checkout I was asked “How was the food?”  I replied the food was great, but the customer service not so much so.  The clerk asked me what happened and I responded.

She then asked me to tell the manager directly which I did.  The manager was nice enough not to charge us for the pancakes and said the meeting was not a mandatory staff meeting.  In other words, the waitress lied.  Requesting an item 3 times is not the fault of management, but the fault of the wait staff. And yes there was plenty of wait staff as this was the usual busy Saturday morning

Customer loyalty especially for service industries such as restaurants, grocery stores, etc. where there is low profit margin is essential in today’s highly competitive B2C marketplace. Losing one customer can equate to hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the customer.

Very few people will fess up and acknowledge when they are at fault. This is human nature. Yet to lie to customer is not the answer for ongoing customer loyalty that is built upon expectations based upon past customer experiences.

Share on Facebook

Always Remember Customer Service Is SALES!

How many times do those in B2B or even B2C industries fail to understand customer service is sales.  A new report just released by Astound Commerce through secret shoppers recognized seven retailers who excel in customer service through:

customer service

  • Must have website
  • Visibility
  • Overall customer service
  • Speed of delivery
  • Efficiency of checkout

One of the top seven performers was The Home Depot. I know from personal experience this firm understands how serving the customers within the store will increase sales.  Here in Valparaiso IN, the store has hired certified and licensed electricians, plumbers and carpenters to assist customers with their questions. Even though my husband is an engineer, he has been advised by these professional tradesmen of better ways to do home improvement as well as some of the new products.

For example, toilets for years had a wax ring that attached to the bottom of the toilet and closet flange.  Over time the wax dries out and cracks.  Several years ago through the plumber at Home Depot, my husband learned of a neoprene boot that is attached to the bottom of the toilet and then fits past the closet flange.  The end result is a far better seal and one that does not not replacement.  The cost of a wax ring under $5.00 versus the cost of the neoprene boot around $15.00.  Husband spent $30 instead of $10 has he replaced not just one wax ring, but two.

Today I read Home Depot’s quarterly earning were ahead of expectations. Much of this was due to improved housing market and I also believe much was due to increase sales by loyal customers.

All SMBs have a 7-step-sales-process-advsys Within these 7 steps are third phases:

  • Marketing
  • Selling
  • Keeping

The third and final phase of keeping is one where both salespeople and customer service people work to keep those loyal customers.

Yes customer service is sales and if as a SMB owner or sales professional you forget this simple fact, you may be exposing yourself decreasing sales, declining profits and increasing stress.

Share on Facebook

The Obvious Leadership Lie of Your Call Is Important To Us

How many of us have been on hold and heard this statement “Your call is important to us?” This statement is probably the number one leadership lie in this country. If our call was really important, we would not have to be bounced from one automated message to another, wait 15 minutes or more and then told to call back because the call center is experiencing a heavy call volume.



I am not entirely sure why we have removed the human experience from the business world.  The obvious why is automated messages are a way for the organization to save money.  Possibly some have been led to believe this type of automated message is what their customers want?  Yet listen to most customers and the super majority complain about those automated messages.

What I do know is “your call is important to us” is probably the greatest and most obvious leadership lie being faced by businesses today.  If executive leadership really cared about its customers, it would not have made customer service interactions so much more difficult.

Let’s set the record straight, here and now.  Leadership does not care about its customers. No what leadership really cares about is the bottom line, its shareholders and probably their own paychecks.

Isn’t it refreshing when we call any business and immediately get a real human being on the phone who we can understand? Of course sometimes we receive the voice mail message about the person being unavailable and most in business understand those situations.  Then when we receive the returned call from the other person, we are inwardly happy we do not have to go through the cumbersome, customer service automated message routine.

The human connection is the foundation of any business because people buy from people not robots with automated messages.  Maybe it is time to bring back the human connection in business and end this obvious leadership lie of “your call is important to us?”

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.



Share on Facebook

Maybe It’s Time to Notice the Nuances in the Sales Process

Lately I have been watching the statistics on this blog and noticed those postings that directly mention increase sales, sales growth or any topic with the word “sales” receive far more traffic than the postings about leadership, workplace culture, customer service, strategic planning, organizational development, etc.  What these traffic numbers tell me is people are seeking how to increase sales, how to achieve sustainable sales growth and yet maybe ignoring all the other nuances within the sales process.



To ensure we are on the same page, nuances are defined as subtle differences. 

The sales process begins with that first encounter be it direct with a handshake or indirect by someone reading your content, viewing your LinkedIn profile or having your name come up in a business to business sales conversation. If you are good or fortunate, you may eventually speak to that sales prospect and earn (close) a sale.

Yet there are many nuances within the sales process that can substantially add or subtract from the overall sales experience. These nuances in many instances are outside of the salesperson’s relationship with the customer and still may dramatically impact the overall sales relationship.

Download this FREE & simple 3 Phase,  7-Step-Sales-Process-ADVSYS

For example, the salesperson actively works to find new accounts.  He or she receives a first time rush  order, but a new account must be established before delivery of the rush order.  Accounting makes opening an account a nightmare and the sales prospect receives a nuance regarding the workplace culture.  The salesperson is friendly more than helpful, but the support staff appears to have a different mentality.

Then there is how the order is delivered.  Is it timely?  Are the delivery people friendly and helpful? All of these experiences can potentially become small nuances within the overall sales process and sales experience.

For mid-size to small businesses, there are many nuances within the sales process.  These often overlooked small things can become BIG things to the customer.  Nuances include:

  • Over executive and sales leadership
  • Ease of doing business
  • Consistency and quality
  • Communication
  • Operations from invoicing to customer service

Customers and salespeople want seamless and consistent behaviors that strengthen the relationship. Nuances can be potentially harmful to those engaged in relationship selling. Each nuance especially if viewed negatively can be another notch in the belt for not doing more business in the future. So as you look to increase sales, it may also make sense to identify any nuances and decrease them as well.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

Share on Facebook

The Economic Collision of Customer Service and Social Media

customer-serviceThe customer has evolved from being King or Queen to being an Internet socially connected King or Queen.  No longer must he or she hang on for minutes to speak to your customer service department. Today, social media has expanded communication and has created a very loud and significant economic collision with customer service.

Sprout Social Index recently released some customer service research that suggests seven out of eight messages on social media are ignored within the first 72 hours.  Add this research to other research that suggests bad customer service costs US businesses $41 billion annually (New Voice Media) and one can almost hear this economic collision.

This past week I reached out to a local small business through a website that advertised handyman services.  I then received an automated message from this small business about being contacted by this firm’s office person and asking if there was anything else the firm could do.  First I was never contacted by the office person and second the email I sent has remained unanswered for well past 72 hours.

Additionally this study revealed that four out of 10 messages required an immediate response from the business.  Better customer service is a motivation for switching brands or businesses for 40% of customers as reported by Zendesk.

From all the data, social media is not only another marketing channel, it has become an economic customer service channel. Failure to recognize the importance of this evolution will cost small business sales leads as well as customer loyalty.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

Share on Facebook

Eating Workplace Culture One Bite at a Time- Part 05

Numbers are pesky things for many in executive leadership and management even with salespeople. Without analyzing basic data, the workplace culture may be engaged in ineffective behaviors or may even have insight in how to improve business operations.

workplace-cultureTechnology allows a better mechanism to gather and analyze information.  However the executive leadership team must invest the time to analyze the data because as of yet we have not achieved the analyzing skills of Data.

For example, in sales one often ignored piece of data is inactive customer accounts.  As noted in the customer service research statistics, obtaining a new customer costs 6 to 7 times more than retaining an existing customer.

Business productivity is the direct result of workplace culture. 

When employees make recommendations to improve business operations or processes and their recommendations are ignored, this does not strengthen the attitudes, expectations or experiences of the employees.

Most employees want to “feel” they are part of the organization.  This feeling of being “in on things” is essential to the human experience.  No one wants to feel like they are an outsider especially when they work 8 hours a day.

How do your employees feel about being “in on things?”

The market is continually changing; probably at a faster pace than ever before.  Uniformed workplace culture can bring disaster to any business.  This lack of knowledge may begin within the inability to share the top 3 goals of the organization as developed through the strategic planning process to the relationship with management.

Do you employees receive timely information specific to their productivity results relative to the entire organization?

In the past information collection and data analysis were rarely shared because it was considered proprietary information.  The workplace culture was just expected to do their jobs.  Unfortunately some mid-size to small businesses still retain this philosophy and this may contribute to disengaged employees.

Imagine for a moment you are playing a game of darts and expected to hit the bulls eye or as close as possible. After you shoot, you cannot see if you hit the bulls eye.

  • How would you feel if asked to repeat and repeat throwing the darts without knowing the results?
  • Would you be somewhat frustrated?
  • Would your throwing efforts diminish?

This is how your workplace culture feels when they are kept in the dark.  Specific numbers do not have to be given, but percentages such as “5% increase in productivity with a 1% decrease in defective goods” can be shared.

Business productivity is all about numbers generated from the efforts of the employees.  By investing the time to learn how well executive leadership and management is sharing that information may not only close the disengaged employees gap but actually increase the bottom line.

Please feel free to check out this holistic cultural assessment tool that allows even the smallest firms to start identifying the barriers to effective execution of current business growth strategies including business information and analysis.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn



Share on Facebook

Eating Workplace Culture One Bite at a Time – Part 04

We have all heard the customer is king or queen.  Yet if we look at customer service research, the workplace culture may not believe in the implied royalty within the customers or clients being served. Poor customer service is a reflection of the workplace culture.



Just a quick search for customer service statistics revealed 99,400,000 Google hits and here are just a few of the newer highlights:

  • $41 billion cost to US businesses for poor customer service
  • 68% of all complaints handled by phone; only 3% through social media\
  • Loyal customers on average worth 10 times as much as their first purchase


  • 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service
  • 95% of customers share bad experiences with others

Here are some other often cited customer service statistics:

  •  Accenture – 66% of customers switch companies due to poor customer service
  • American Express – 58% of customers are willing to spend more on companies that provide excellent customer service
  •  Bain & Co – To acquire a new customer costs 6 to 7 times more than to retain an existing one
  • Lee Resource – For every customer complaint there are 26 others unhappy customers who have remained silent
  • White House Office of Consumer Affairs – A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience while 13% of dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people

By now the evidence is overwhelming customer service and market focus are essential to building a mid-size to small business that goes beyond just surviving to one that is thriving.

The workplace culture reflects the customer service experience and in many instances also reflects what the executive leadership and management team choose not to see or do not see.

Employees know for example by their interactions with executive leadership and management if the customers are getting the runaround.

For many mid-size to small businesses, there is no process in place to track customer complaints and given that the majority of customers do not complain, possibly other metrics are needed.

The values of the workplace culture are also present within the customer service experience.

Employees know if the organization is committed to its customers.

When good behavior is recognized and rewarded by executive leadership to management, employees take notice.  This recognition will have a positive impact on workplace culture.

Finally, the customer loyalty net promoter score of how likely to recommend this company is just as critical for employees. If your employees will not recommend your business, then the workplace culture is probably more negative than your executive leadership and management team realizes.

Please feel free to check out this holistic cultural assessment tool that allows even the smallest firms to start identifying the barriers to effective execution of current business growth strategies including customer service and market focus.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

Share on Facebook

Branding Goes Way Beyond Logos

Overt the weekend I read another post, this one in a LinkedIn discussion group, about branding and visual images, a.k.a. logos.  The author, a marketing and graphic small business owner, was attempting to make a strong case for having a visual image that would propel your small business ahead of the flow. Yes having a well recognized logo is important. However, the branding of your small business goes way beyond any graphic image.


Several years ago over lunch, Gus Olympidis, CEO and founder of Family Express shared with me his definition of brand:

“Your brand is your promise.”

His definition is short and sweet and truly renders down Seth Godin’s definition:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer. ”

Famly Express brand goes beyond the square donuts.  Their brand is their promise of “Our family serving yours.” Each store is friendly and there is an ongoing effort in how to make that experience even better for their customers.  This convenience store now offers not only “free air,” but “free cash” (ATMs with no fees).

Fancy, dancy logos or other graphics do not make a brand.  No what makes a brand is the behaviors of everyone in your organization.  They will remember a good experience.  Then they will connect that good to exceptional experience to your visual image be it a square donut or exceptional customer service.

Earlier this month I took my first trip on Amtrak in many years before it became Amtrak.  Not having a lot of confidence in government run entities, I was beyond surprised by the quality of the customer service.  Amtrak’s brand is truly living Olympidis’s word of “Your brand is your promise.” Every encounter from the telephone reservations to the food in the dining car to the awaiting areas in the stations was extremely good to even outstanding.

The question you must ask yourself is not do people recognize your visual image, but rather how do they feel when they hear the name of your company or even yourself?  For you and your behaviors are your brand, your promise or promises to your customers.  Yes, today branding goes way beyond logos.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

Share on Facebook
RSS Subscribe!
Coaching Tip

People buy results or rather people buy the feelings the results deliver.

What’s Happening?

Internal Results interviews
Leanne Hoagland-Smith
. Some of her answers may surprise you.

Check out this podcast on value creation between David Brock and Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Listen to Leanne Hoagland-Smith at Sales Scenario podcasts

Another list of top sales bloggers

Pre-order this great book How to Get a Meeting with Anyone. You may recognize a familiar name.

Top 100 Most Innovative Sales Bloggers Honored this blog is included in this impressive list.

Best Sales Blogger Award for 2014 Third place awarded to Leanne Hoagland-Smith.

NWI SBDC awarded Small Business Journalist of 2014 to Leanne Hoagland-Smith. Awards.

Expand Your Business Horizons
Sign up to receive monthly newsletter devoted to small businesses and busy sales professionals Beyond the Black
Be the Red Jacket
Seeking an easy and practical book on marketing, selling and sales? Read the reviews at Amazon and then order your hard copy or eBook.
Sustainability Expert
The Institute for Sustainability
Ezine Expert
Blogroll – Leadership, OD
Contact Coach Lee

Leanne Hoagland-Smith
219.759.5601 Main Office CDT
219.508.2859 Mobile CDT

Office located near Chicago, IL Main Website

Sales Corner

Tracking by The Sales Corner
Blog Rankings
Business Blogs - Blog Rankings
Blog Top Sites
RSS Search
Blog Log