Uplifting Service - Blog

Train in Vain: Why is Your Customer Service Training Not Working?

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In an age when a customer’s unhappy experience with a company can go viral mere minutes after it occurred—and when customers regularly take to the Internet to publicize their great and not-so-great experiences—you understand the importance of superior customer service. Of course you do. That’s why you budget hundreds of thousands of dollars for customer service initiatives and put new and old employees through regular training.

They create scripts for call center employees, teach employees how to respond to angry customers, ask them to read detailed customer service manuals, and much more.

So why are the results only average?

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Banking on Service: Seven Ways the Troubled Banking Industry Can Turn Itself Around

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Recent news of JPMorgan Chase’s $2 billion trading disaster provided yet another nail in the coffin of the banking industry’s reputation. For many, the negligence is eye opening, but not because it’s unexpected. It’s simply hard to believe that yet another industry giant allowed greed to stand in the way of sound business practices. Unfortunately, this behavior has become business as usual in the financial services industry.

After all, this is the same industry that contributed heavily to the 2007 financial collapse and then gave out huge bonuses as the government bailed out the biggest culprits. And it’s the same industry in which some companies admitted to betting against their own customers in order to make a buck. By and large the big names in banking have lost any concept of what service really looks like, and that loss has created a culture that just isn’t sustainable.

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A Challenge to Recognize Great Service

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Most companies and service providers are like all the people who just keep walking-living by the rule of “It’s not my problem.” But, there are some special people who step out of their way to place your needs above their own. Yet because it’s so rare and unexpected, we often don’t show them the gratitude they deserve.

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Five Types of Leaders in a Customer Centricity Initiative

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In my last blog post, I described the six most common reasons why customer centricity initiatives often fail. One of these is the lack of commitment demonstrated by senior leaders in the organization.

Here at five types of leaders you see most often, and their level of involvement:

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A Customer-Focused Structure Leads to Success

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A great service culture is always a product of a whole architecture that includes education, service processes and structures that support customer-focused behavior.

Most customer-service improvement efforts fail to provide this type of architecture because their design misses, in particular, the strong impact of structure on behavior. Structure may include reporting relationships or physical structures that best facilitate service process. The designers are wary of changing structures to support service outcomes because such change is emotionally charged, takes a significant amount of effort and requires intense commitment. Yet, few individuals or departments can be effective and shine unless their organizational and physical structures are aligned with their brand’s customer service promise.

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Why is Leadership Support so Elusive?

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I have been in the field of training, leadership, and organizational development for over 20 years. Through all these years, I have heard a one message (and complaint) from practitioners, consultants, authors and gurus: for cultural change to succeed, top leadership must support it. It’s amazing. This message is so consistent. And there is so much evidence to prove it!

Yet the issue persists as a key barrier to successful culture change.

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In Service Revolutions, Size Does Matter. Go Big and Go Fast.

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2011 was an extraordinary year. There were more revolutions around the world, violent and otherwise, than we’ve seen in many years. These dominated local and global news channels, political and business conversations, and the attention of people everywhere. Even Time magazine acknowledged the Protester as the Person of the Year.

Some of these revolutions were due to growing frustration at their countries’ dysfunctional systems, some were more forward looking. Most began as independent affairs, not creations of specific political parties. Many were enabled by easy access to—and the global reach of—technology (social media in particular).

They all had one thing in common – millions of people were committed and involved. These revolutions were not triggered by inspirational leaders with answers to problems – in fact, very few people even knew the solution, the sentiment that mattered was ‘I know what I don’t want’.

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Seven Steps for Actionable Service Resolutions

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Each year we move forward into a wonderful space of creation for the upcoming year. We also have an opportunity to look back at the past year, and then to look forward, to make adjustments to improve the quality of service for our customers, vendors, employees, and community.

Each of us can become a change agent to make a difference. Not only can one person create dramatic change, but one action can. Think about just one thing that would surprise and delight your customers (internal or external customer). Just one thing.

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What is the real value of service education?

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Richard Whiteley’s blog post – ‘Six reasons why ‘customer centricity’ initiatives fail’ – highlights how often initiatives fail due to inadequate education.

He wrote: “While mindset matters, great service needs great skillsets too… Proper training is required”

This stirred up memories of my early experiences working in a retail company.

Most new frontline staff joined the company with a very positive mindset and uplifting attitude – but as they regularly encountered situations they were not prepared for, their enthusiasm started fading.

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Service in Reverse: Building Partnerships as Customers

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The common understanding of service in business today is unidirectional – focused on the service from a provider/supplier to its customer. The pressure and expectation to provide 100% satisfaction is relentless. Getting it right “most of the time” is often considered failure. And clients or patrons let us know when we miss the mark – sometimes with tremendous passion!

But what is our role as customer in this exchange of service for purchase and patronage? If our expectation is zero-defects, what service can we provide as customers to help meet this goal?

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