Somebody said we were allowed to think out loud. Pardon the mess.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Imparting People-sense. Being free.

Freddie Daniels

Your front line staff are your brand

At the CIMTech conference recently, one of the speakers said:

If you wanted to learn which was the best TV or Hi-fi to buy, where would you go? My bet is that you wouldn't’t go to Dixons or Currys*. You just won’t get the information you need from the staff there.

He was explaining how much front line staff have been de-skilled of over the past 10 years.

Staff in call centres follow prescribed speeches and look for options on a screen for what to say next. Sales staff in shops are not educated in the products that they sell. Indeed, as a consumer, there are few places where front line staff are more knowledgeable than they were a decade ago.

Yet these are the people who are the public embodiment of the brand.

To me this is a no-brainer – it is near impossible to create a great customer experience without investing in front line staff.

There are 4 things that I think companies should do:

1. Hire people who are interested in the products and services they are being asked to sell
2. Give them the time and information they need to stay on top on the products you offer and of general developments in the market
3. Empower them rather than make them follow pre-determined scripts
4. Make ‘making customers successful’ their mantra

I often hear how difficult it is to differentiate your business. This is a really simple way.

* For those on the other side of the pond, Dixons and Currys are the UK’s largest high street electrical retailers.

Soul Coughing. Customer Service. Sympatico

In the previous posts' comments Aleah asks
So you're suggesting we're all selfish, dancin' drivers? I kinda like the backseat...cushy. But that's why, as Rick says, "Aleah, you always have problems with your orders." I do. I don't command that attention, I guess.
We all do. Have problems, I mean. Prescription always comes with problems if it's not accompanied by a diploma and a license. Short of that, we need experience and the persuasive stories ths come from it. More mumbling...
Some of us are less direct about our expectation or ambitions. 2/3 of what we request is more about who we are, but not what we want from that particular interaction. That dooms our result. Each gesture is a manifestation of what we want and how we regard ourselves as much as it is a simple request. In many of these interactions, "quality" or "thinking" seems extraneous and that makes us crazy as the receivers from these non-thinking people.

Simple answer: we want to be be cool, snappy, useful and therefeore, valued in our communication. We create value by thinking for our clients.

Companies don't talk about the self-centered nature of customer service, therefore they don't understand the dynamics in play. Therefore they lose. They fear unwisely because they haven't taken the time to know their customers' worldview.

Context will set you free.
Songs for the soul of Customer Service

Your words--my words--mean bupkis.

Offering our little suggestions, we're idiots in the minds of folks who deal day-to-day with real people. But music--song--hey, now there's a subversive medium if we ever found one...
Lover, I want to let you know,
I won't take a back seat,
Ain't willing to let go
I won't take a back seat

Don't wanna hear what you want
It's gotta be all my way
And I'll make sure you to stay to see

I'm really a selfish man.
I've gotta get right to it
Lover, tonite, I'm thinkin of me.

Lover, I won't take a back seat, tonite
Lover, I'm gettin on my two feet, tonite

Got some dancin to do
Got some dancin to do
Got some dancin to do

Can't let anyone get to you,
I won't take a back seat
Let me show you what I can do,
I won't take a back seat

Ain't funny to fool with me,
I'll be a bad loser,
get me mad, you're losin me

You tried putting a spell on on me,
cuz I had a strange feeling
You'd better get down to feeling me.

Lover, I won't take a back seat, tonite
Lover, I'm gettin on my two feet, tonite

Got some dancin to do
Got some dancin to do
Got some dancin to do
Borrowed from the much overlooked and underrated "Tubes," in their flirtation with Hollywood, "Xanadu."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

test

blogger

What's a dial tone, Daddy?

Yesterday seemed like old home week. Got emails and calls out of the blue (wonders of Google) from some great people I used to work with who've now gone on to do greater things. "Used to" means last century--1997--the old days of CLECs and phone wars and dime ladies and friends and family. Ahhh, defunct scrappy telcos.... [insert wavy lines]

Click image - 768kb - new window

That was a hard workin cat...



All complaints can be addressed to Bill Harper, Art Director/CD, now of the recently formed Rooftop Communications

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Cadillacs. Credit. Canaries. Coalmines.
Bloomberg: General Motors Corp.'s borrowing costs rose to the highest in almost two years after the world's largest carmaker lost financial support from General Electric Co [Tuesday]...

GM, the world's third-largest corporate borrower with $114.5 billion of bond, on March 16 forecast its biggest quarterly loss since 1992, prompting Standard & Poor's to say it may lower the automaker's credit rating to below investment grade. GE, the world's No. 2 company by market value, yesterday cut short an agreement giving the carmaker's suppliers faster payment.

"The last thing you want to see is a liquidity provider pulling its support,'' Christophe Boulanger, an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in Paris.

GE said it planned to stop funding a program that pays GM's parts suppliers within a few business days, rather than the 45 days GM typically takes to pay them. GE, which administered the program for GM, will stop funding at the end of June instead of providing support until the end of this year, GM spokesman Tom Hill said yesterday...

Fitch Ratings cut the carmakers' ratings to BBB-, one step short of high-risk, or junk, level, following GM's March 16 announcement. Moody's Investors Service also said it may cut GM's Baa2 rating to Baa3, one step short of junk.

Got a phone call a month or so back from our friendly local Chevy/GMC dealer. They wanted to know if I would come in and look at the new models and--Yay!--they'd even let me terminate early the July lease on this, our 3rd 1500-body SUV. (Yeah, I'm a neanderthal with swimmers, gear, trips and animal.) I laughed. Really hard. And said I would see them at the regular lease expiration. For the last time. Finally, it seems, their bonds match the fit and finish of the vehicles. Good luck, Bob Lutz.

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