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Achiving Quality Customer Care

VIEWS: 348 PAGES: 120

									Basilio B. Joshua

           Winning Rhymes Inc.

                 An approach that always pays

  P.o Box 57742-00200 Nairobi, Tel. 0202385851 / 0721138939/0722774235

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                           Page 1

Customer service is one of the key areas of any business. No successful business
organization can claim to be successful without a successful approach to customer
It‘s in this essence that quality customer service is nowadays not only a task of the entire
team in any organization but also a yardstick to measure performance.

In this world of cut throat competition, it should be noted that one key differentiators of
competitors is the level and quality of customer service that any of the organization is
able to achieve and offer. This is mainly the situation in the service industries where all
the players in any given sector are offering the same products.

Considering that almost all organizations operate with limited resources, it‘s worthy
noting that the cheapest way to attract new customers is the excellence of the customer
care in the organization. This is also that case when it comes to retention of the existing

Customers are dissatisfied if the organizations they seek service or goods from are less
concerned, accommodating, responsive and excelling in terms of exceeding customer
expectations. Dissatisfaction usually brings complains .It‘s the way these complain are
handled that usually makes the difference. Learn to handle them and the success will be

Otherwise there are times when a „NO‟ is the solution.

Basilio Baariu Joshua,
Winning Rhymes Inc.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 2
Who do you serve?

You serve customers, usually thought to be the potential and current users of any
organization‘s output, But customers can and do come in many variations, customers are
those being asked to accept and adopt an idea, information, service or product.
Sometimes they are called clients: sometimes they are called patients. Business owners
and their advisors are also customers to each other. Both have and are customers of their
associates, customers, staff, family, close friends, acquaintances –and these are all
customers to each other. Everyone is asking their customer(s) to accept their idea,
information, proficiency, changes, policies, procedures, services or product in return for
the customer‘s time, effort and/or money.

Another way to put it is that everyone is spending someone else‘s time, effort and/or
money. How efficiently one person helps the other spend it will determine whether or
not their customer believes they are getting good service. Continued good service goes
hand-in –hand with continued good business.

What all customers want is added-value and there are only two ways to give added
value. One, give the customer more than they think they are paying for or, two, do not
charge them as much for what they are getting.

Customers want good value as it pertains to other things but they want added-value
for themselves. Management wants added-value from their management. More
importantly, the firm‘s organization‘s, or practice‘s potential and current customers,
clients and patients want added-value from both management and employees.

Helping people spend their time, effort and/or money efficiently is what good
service is all about and what business is, and always has been, about. Those individuals,
firms, businesses or organizations that carry on this tradition will be the ones that
survive in the 21st Century.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 3
      How Do You Define a Customer?
Can you define the word customer? What does it mean to be a customer for your

Do you consider customers as people who just buy your products or services? Are there
different types of customers? If you cannot answer these questions, then how in the
world can you develop customer loyalty?

Over the years, I have come to define customers as:

"Individuals engaged in transactions for mutual benefit or gain."

In this way, the definition extends beyond paying customers - to people who conduct
transactions that result in some benefit or gain.

Much is written about both external customers (clients) and internal customers
(employees) especially with the 21st century business focus on customer loyalty through
improved customer service. Research continues to reveal that companies with high levels
of loyal customers experience far greater growth both in sales and profits.

Over the years from my corporate to my consulting experiences, I have come to identify
customers whether internal or external as one of these 3 types:

Explorers - These individuals, as clients, buy what you sell, explore to buy more and are
the sources for innovation. Employees who are explorers do their job with focus and then
explore to see how they can help others.
Explorers are loyal and will rave about your business to everyone they meet.

Vacationers - As clients, they patronize your business, but will travel next door if the
price is better. Vacationers as employees will do their work, but can be easily distracted.
They will hardly ever go beyond what they are supposed to do. Whether the vacationers
are clients or employees, their loyalty can be quickly switched to your competition.

Prisoners - Now, these folks truly do not want to be in your business. Possibly, your
business is geographically close to them or you are the only distributor for a specific
product or service. Given a choice, they would not purchase from you even if you gave it
to them for free. And when they do purchase from you they make incredible demands. If
they are employees, prisoners barely do their work and are constantly complaining.
Prisoners have no loyalty and will quickly share their displeasure with 6 to 10 other

Customer Service Coaching Tip: Take action by looking at your customers both
external and internal. Identify any prisoners and determine how you can fire them even
if they are paying customers. Then set goals within your
customer loyalty growth action plan to begin to convert a percentage of your vacationers

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 4
into explorers. Track the results from that action plan. You should realize both an
increase in profitability and a decrease in operating costs.

How does customer service training benefit the organization?
   Recognition by your customers of your organization as being customer driven.

      Focused listening that produces effective follow-up with customers.

      Quick and effective project completion and problem resolution for your

    Increased clarity and conciseness of communications internally and externally.
    Does customer service training benefits the individuals (trainees)?
    Improved relationship skills

      Better listening skills and ability to focus

      Increased productivity.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                               Page 5

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.   Page 6
                What is Customer Care?
This could be explained by the acronym C.A.R.E.

Concerned – it‘s nice to fill that the person helping you is really concerned. We all want
to feel that our needs are important. Things that show you are concerned include: being
interested in helping, giving accurate information, listening carefully and answering
questions truthfully.

Accommodating- when we‘re having problems with product or service, we want
someone to do whatever it takes to get it fixed. Take ownership, respond to business and
human needs and do what it takes.

Recovering- turning a bad situation into a positive experience.
It‘s a very good way to build strong customer relationships?
When you recover, you may find that your customer is even more loyal than before.

Excelling- the best way to please a customer is to go beyond what is needed, to exceed
their expectations. When you are able to solve a customer‘s problem and make feel great
about it, you are providing excellent customer service.

What are the main customer service highlights?
       Knowing and communicating regularly to customers what organization is
          doing to meet their needs
       Understanding the customers business needs.
       Anticipating customer‘s needs before they become a problem.
       Pre-planning to get the most from time, people and priorities.
       Listening fully and with focus.
       Taking ownership of problems.
       Accepting responsibility outside your area.
       Follow-up to ensure completion.
       Prioritizing customer projects both the important as well ….
       Paying positive attention to the little things for your customers.
       Looking for all the ways you can deliver, not reasons you can‘t.
       Taking a ―Can Do‘‘ attitude and follow through with action.
       Being a positive influence and ambassador.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 7
               Quality Customer Service
Customer care calls for bringing the customer‘s voice in-house so that you can design
your products, strategies and policies to meet your customer‘s needs. Proactive customer
care provides a competitive advantage by enabling a company to differentiate itself from
competitors. Many products and services have become like commodities in recent times.
The main reason customers choose one over another is probably because it better meets
their needs in some way, such as ease of use, service, or ability to do what it promises to
 Another reason to adopt customer care is to build market share. Research shows that
you can‘t maintain market share with unique features alone, as your competitors will
imitate you. Sustainable market share growth is achieved through loyal customers and to
let their needs guide all your decisions, goals, policies and strategies.

What makes a company excellent?

A research done on 43 high performing companies to find out what made them so
successful in an increasingly changing environment, where many companies were facing

They reported the findings in the best selling book – ‗In Searching of Excellence‟. They
found that all high performing companies shared a set of basic principles, some of which
emphasized on customers driven service, quality and reliability. Moreover, they exhibit a
strong commitment to customer satisfaction and to stick to the business they know.

Quality customer care is associated with an attitude, a way of thinking, and a philosophy
of doing business emphasizes a strong commitment and sincere dedication to satisfying
customers. It advocates making customer satisfaction the first priority of the company. It
calls for adoption of a customer orientation.

Many companies have developed customer care programs with the aim of satisfying and
delighting their customers. A customer-oriented company will make every effort to
ensure customer satisfaction. Such a company recognizes the importance of
customers and focuses on identifying their needs as a means to achieving
organizational goals. Customer orientation requires the company to define and
measure quality from a customer perspective. It stresses the importance of customers
and emphasizes that activities start and end with them. To quote management guru
Peter Drucker ―the only reason for a business to exist is to serve a customer‖.

Customer oriented thinking requires the company to carefully define customer needs
from the customer‘s perspective, and to track its customers satisfaction level each period
and set improvement goals. Satisfied customers are important as they become
loyal to firm and talk favorably to others about the company, thus providing
free yet highly credible advertising. As the saying goes, ―a satisfied customer is the
best advertisement‖.

Customer‘s orientation emphasizes the need to integrate and coordinate all activities that
will affect customer‘s satisfaction. This means that the various departments and sections
should be coordinated among themselves to ensure quality customer service. Further, all
employees should be aware of how their actions affect customer satisfaction. This calls
for internal marketing, which involves ensuring that employees are properly selected,

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 8
adequately trained and motivated to serve the customer in a caring manner. Those who
serve other employees should recognize them as internal customers.

Who is responsible for customer care?
 Ensuring quality customer care is everybody‘s business. However, it is mostly a top
management responsibility. The Chief executive has the ultimate responsibility of
creating an environment that fosters customer driven service. In a customer-oriented
company, the top management consistently articulates the importance of being a
customer-focused enterprise, and putting the interests, of the customer ahead of all
other claimants on the Company‘s resources.

Certain factors hinder the successful adoption of a customer orientation. There are:
    An incomplete understanding of the concept,
    An inherent conflict between short-term and long term sales and profit goals,
    Too much emphasis on short-term financially oriented measures of management
    Top management owns values concerning the relative importance of customers
       and the company‘s other stakeholders.

   Several years of handwork are needed to turn a product-oriented company into a
   customer-oriented company.

   Still, in the process of converting to a customer-oriented company, a firm may face
   organized resistance from those in other departments who perceive a focus on
   customers as a threat to power in the company. Moreover, even after the
   management is committed to customer care, the problem of slow learning and quick
   forgetting can affect progress.

   Customer orientation is reflected in the quality of service that customer get at all
   levels of the company. Customer care helps to enhance the corporate image,
   customer relations, operational efficiency, competitive advantage and profitability.

   Moreover, it enables organizations to cope with a rapidly changing business
   environment characterized by enlightened and highly demanding customers.

     Internal customer management
   Internal customer management plays an important role in the quality customer care.
   The way a company‗s departments serve staff (internal customers) affect how they
   serve external customers. Further managers‘ impact on customer relations through
   the decisions they make or fail to make.

   In addition, the way they treat employees is the way employees treat customers. Thus
   ‗customer‘s relation mirrors employee‘s relation‘. The employees adopt mentality of
   their superiors. If you adopt humanistic to your internal staff, they take that to the
   community-customers, peers, friends and family. Thus if you to take exceptional care
   of customers, you need to take exceptional care of the caretakers

   Poor customer care happens because most people rarely see customer care as their
   job. Most people see themselves as managers, engineers, accountants,
   receptionists’ secretaries, cashiers, credit officers, departmental
   heads..... and so on., Regardless of job title most people see the customer as ―not
   my job‖. Yet, indifference towards customers which is expressed through poor service

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 9
   always costs the company heavily through wastage of time and materials, repeat
   work, overtime ,poor company image, low staff morale, bad relations with external
   customers, negative ‗word of mouth‘, bad press and low sales.

   Poor customer service happens if:
      Employees are unmotivated or discontented
      Employees are not trained or empowered to solve problems and care for
      Customer requirement are unknown
      There are no measurement standards or goals
      Strategies and systems are designed without thinking the customer

   Quality customer care pays off. Companies that commit to customer driven service
   can achieve dramatic results. They can rebuild company image, enhance customer
   relations, cut costs and improve return on investments

   To achieve, this top management needs to realize that customer driven service is a
   strategic process and advertisements, slogans and slip service will not work. It takes
   changed attitudes, strategies and systems

   Again it is important to remember that training front line customer service personnel
   is not enough. It takes changing unfriendly policies, processes, and systems
   empowering employees to solve customer problems developing a customer friendly
   culture and lots more
   It‘s a big job and cannot be done in a short time or without top level commitment.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 10
Traits You Cannot Teach In Customer
 There are some character traits that cannot be taught in Customer Service.
If we could, we would because it would make the whole world a better place, not just
Customer Service. We can't, therefore we work with people whom we believe to most
exemplify these traits. Here are 5 you cannot teach.

1. Enthusiasm. We see it, we feel it and boy, do we wish everyone had it.

Many people don't though. It is often reflected in their faces when a request is made and
reinforced with a sullen "just a moment" that does nothing to help us believe that we are
about to receive a Service which we so desperately hope is better than what Mr. or Ms.
Sullen face has just prefaced us with.

Enthusiasm is infectious, contagious and outright fun. It seems the Enthusiast is
everywhere, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that we have a
fantastic Customer Service experience. It is reflected by the pride they take in doing the
job right, the care they take making sure everything is just so and the delivery of "Is there
anything else I can do for you Mr. or Ms. Customer?"

The Enthusiast is nearly extinct these days. The victim of "Faster, More, Cheaper"
Customer Service.

Are you exemplifying "Faster, More, Cheaper" or are you trying to grow Customer
Service Enthusiasts?

2. Happiness. A feeling of pleasure. I have come to believe that Happiness is
sometimes misused for the word Enlightened.

I know, now you think I am really off my meds. Let me ask you something. Have you ever
met a person who was Happy? I mean really, really Happy? Really, when? Where do you
think "Happy Hour" comes from? My point is that when people feel Happy, it leads to
the ending of Happiness, or a state of Unhappiness. In other words, there is a limit.

I don't think there can be a limit to Enlightenment. Either way you think about it, it is
not something you can teach. You can feel it. You can see it when another person really
has it. You just can't teach someone to be Happy or Enlightened. They have to find it

3. Commitment. The feeling one has when one decides to do something no matter the
cost or the journey. The ability to see it to the end. People who have commitment are not
easily swayed. They keep putting one foot in front of the other, keeping their eye on the
prize, the goal, the end.

Oh, they have trials and tribulations, and when you ask them about it, they shrug and say
things like "That's the way we do it" or "It needed to be done." They have little concern or
care for the thoughts of others who can't see the world through their eyes. They shrug
and say "It's got to get done, and I'm the person to do it." You can't teach that.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 11
4. Belief. The thought that someone feels completely, through and through that
resonates deep inside them and tells them that they are on the right path. They don't
need your beliefs, and are quite content to let you have yours.

Once it is felt between a group of people, it sings to everyone's heart in that group. A
drumbeat that is felt by and played by all. It brings a natural power to a person that is
unquenchable and unwavering. When all else is in doubt it is Belief that carries a person

I have experienced total Belief and a loss of Belief and I can tell you that when there is a
loss of Belief, it literally can crush a soul. It's at these times that a person has to find that
small spark that ignites and starts the fire anew. You can't teach that.

5. Attitude. Among all, I really want to have the ability to teach Attitude. You could
point out to someone what Attitude looks like and say things like "He/She has a great
Attitude, you would do well to be like this" and the person would say "Oh, I see. No
problem. Attitude is adjusted to maximum. Thanks." And it would be.

Or say something like "Study this book, read chapters 3 and 4, answer the questions at
the end of the chapters and you will have the Attitude you need to make it through life."
Right. The world would be a much more interesting place if all of our Attitudes where in
sync and working towards a common goal.

―Imagine," as someone once said. You can't teach Attitude in Customer Service.

If you are trying to teach one of these to your personnel in the hope that they will morph
in Customer Service Professionals, forget it. You have a better chance of seeing Santa
Claus, The Tooth Fairy and The Easter Bunny playing ball on your front lawn one

Concentrate on finding those people who best demonstrate these traits.

Help them grow their own Enthusiasm, Happiness, Commitment, Belief and Attitude.
You will be much happier with the results. (Or Enlightened).

This article is written with the hope that you do something with the thoughts and ideas
presented here. Take action and make a difference.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                 Page 12
                                Whose Business?
Regardless of what business you are in- you are really in business of satisfying
customers. The degree of customer satisfaction you deliver determines the level of long-
term success you will achieve in business. Most people always view the work of customer
service lies on the shoulders of the customer service officers. The truth is that we should
all realize that our sole purpose of operating is to serve customers. Profit motive is
always secondary.

Make Customer Satisfaction Your First Priority.
Don‘t just make sales. Create satisfied customers. In addition to the immediate profit
they provide on the first sale, satisfied customers help you build your business in to other
important ways.
1. They become a reservoir of repeat buyers.
For more business that means repeat buyers for more of the same product or service. For
every business, it means buyers for additional products and services.

They automatically refer more business to you from their friends and business contacts.
This is highly profitable for you because it doesn‘t cost you any time or money to get it.

3. Never promise more than you deliver
Never make any promises you can‘t (or won‘t) keep. Nothing alienates customers faster
than getting something less than they expect from a business transaction. They wont do
business with you again. And they will tell everybody they know about their unhappy
experience-causing you to lose future customers. Tip: Handle customer complaint
quickly and with a positive attitude. Strive to preserve your relationship with more sales
and referrals.

4. Always Give Customers More Than They Expect.
―Over deliver‖ on quality and service. Always exceed your customers‘ expectations. You
will win their long-term loyalty. It also makes it difficult for competitors to steal
customers from you- even if they have lower prices. Customers will not risk an uncertain
experience with a competitor when they know they will expect from you.
Tip: Surprise your customers with an expected value. If you sell products, include an
―unadvertised bonus‖ with every order. If you sell services, get into the habit of doing
something extra for every customer or client without charging for it.

Let Customers Know How Much You Value Then.
Let your Customer know you are always thinking about them.
Communicate with them regularly. For example, create some special deals just for your
existing customers. And announce new products or services to them before you
announce them to the general market.
Tip: Convert your customers into publicity agents. Develop an incentive for them to tell
associates and friends about the value of your products and services. An endorsement
from them is more effective than any amount of advertising-and it is much cheaper.
Fro example, reward them each time they refer someone who becomes a customer. Your
reward can be simple as a credit towards their next order from you.
You are in the business of satisfying customer regardless of what products or services
you provide. The satisfied customers you create will help you build your business by
becoming repeat buyers and by referring new business to you from their friends and

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 13
Achieving Outstanding Customer Service.
As a small business unit owner, (supervisors) you find yourself in the unusual position
of being grateful for customers, but not giving much time to them unless you have to fix o

In the early days of your business every client felt like your best friend and because you
had relatively few of them, you lavished time and energy on each customer.
Twelve months later you rarely think about your customers except to send them demand
letters and confirm their reorders or repeat application for your facilities. You‘re not a
bad person of this! As your business grew so did demands on your limited time and

Does this sound familiar? Your days are spent in a whirl from your first breakfast
meeting to your last networking event. In between you return phone calls, process
orders/applications, deliver you product or service, balance your book and put out fires,
just to start all over again the next day. Your customers are lost in the morass of e-mail
and phone calls and you realize you haven‘t sent a thank you note since last Christmas.

There‘s a way to effectively build and maintain outstanding customer relationships and I
want to share it with you. Following are five ridiculously easy steps you can take this
month in a few hours to build your customer relationships.

   1. Create a reliable customer database system. You can create a system using
      Microsoft Excel, Outlook or even Word. You can purchase an easy-to use
      program. Or one developed specifically for your industry. Be sure to track the
      following information in addition to your customer‘s name, address, phone and
          a. Birthday & Other important dates (company anniversary)
          b. Products the customer is currently enjoying
          c. Date of first purchase from you, and a running tab of additional
          d. Value of the business the customer is giving you.

   2. Use the database on a regular basis.
   A. Set aside one hour each week and update the database. Use this time to add new
      names and information, delete clients that have left your area, and edit any
      information that may have changed.
   B. Send personal notes to clients who have milestones or important dates coming
      up. Spend 20 minutes on Monday morning to review your list for the next two
      weeks, or spend two hours each month to write notes for the upcoming thirty
   C. Send thank-you notes do your clients on regular basis. Put a system in place to
      remind you to send thank-you for your business cards or notes at least 4 times a

   Bonus Tip #1: Keep a stash of your stamped, business stationery in your briefcase.
   After a networking event transfer the names and addresses from the business cards
   you collected to the envelopes. Write the notes there and drop in the closest post-box
   or write a note on the back of the business card related to your conversation and
   stick it in the envelope so that you can complete your notes in one sitting back at the
   office or while you are watching TV.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 14
   3. Create a system using your calendar or electronic device to meet deadline for
       writing, editing sending your newsletter or e-zine. Your e-zine must be
       informative and address the specific needs or concerns your customers. Many
       software and on-line companies exist to streamline this process, allowing you to
       write your letter well in advance of its ‗send‘ date.
   4. Create customer satisfaction system and be sure to train your staff on the
       intricacies of applying them to your customers. Your systems are step-by-step
       guidelines that include each part of every customer interaction, from new
       customer inquiries to product satisfaction follow-up to customer complaints.
       When you provide consistent responses in every interaction, your customers
       believe in you as reliable business that always provides what they expect.
   5. Evaluate your customer base regularly. Give yourself at least two hours each
       quarter to look for changes in your customer‘s buying habits. Have some stopped
       purchasing from you? Have others bought less and less, but you‘ve spent more
       time handling them than anyone else? Have other customers that you thought 24
       hours of the evaluation and you will not be surprised by lost revenue because
       your customers were too disinterested to tell you they were buying from someone
   Bonus Tip #2: Some customers may not be worth the time you are spending. Don‟t
   be afraid to spend less time with a squeaky wheel that produces little revenue. Be
   gracious but firm when you state that you will need to spend more time on the other
   areas of your business in order to consistently provide outstanding service for
   everyone. If the customer demands more than you are able or willing to give, you
   can politely recommend other companies that may suit his needs better. You‟ll be
   amazed at how much time this will free up!

   Finally, remember building customer satisfaction is ultimately Stop wondering about
   the relationship you build with them. Set aside specific ‗what to say in a time‘ each
   month to foster the relationship you will have sales later! Use customers that are
   crazy! (About you).

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                         Page 15
       Customer Service - Or Customer
          Knowing the Difference Can Mean More Profit!
A 5% increase in customer retention can boost bottom line profits from 25% to 125% -
learn how you can profit too..

It was a typical business day, the year was 1995, and I was on the phone to a large
wholesale distribution house in Nairobi. I had been purchasing from these people for
years and knew what to expect. A gruff male voice answered the call:

"Yea...waddya want?"
"Nothing' you've got," I answered as gruffly, "you ain't pretty enough."
"Up yours," he answered with a hearty laugh, "I suppose ya wanta buy
somethin' now?"
 "Yep, here's my order. Try to get it right this time. No more mystery
shipments okay?"
"Hey buddy, waddya 'spect - you're gettin' it wholesale! You want service

I began my professional career as a salesman and moved into sales management,
spending ten years in that field. Then I found myself managing firms and doing the
buying instead of the selling. By that time I had developed a pretty hard shell and was
used to dealing with the big wholesale houses, people who sold business-to-business in
the old fashioned way. Probably more than a few of you remember those days; the crude
give and take and the tough talk were all part of the game.

Obviously we dealt with our own customers, the consumer end of the business, with a
totally different attitude and demeanor. As dealers and service providers, we didn't think
of ourselves as being a "customer" to the wholesaler or manufacturer, and they usually
didn't treat us with kid gloves.

Boy, have things changed! Customer service at the top of the supply chain was once the
poor stepchild of the industry. Suddenly the pumpkin has turned into a coach and that
poor stepchild is riding to the ball dressed in the finest of corporate gowns. Managers are
realizing that with just a few tweaks, those long neglected customer service departments
can be turned into adjunct sales departments. Better yet, they can be turned into
customer care departments.

What's the difference? A customer care department, for example, might keep track of
each customer's buying habits. They will know how many, and how often, a customer has
purchased a certain item in the past. They will be able to forecast that customer's needs,
email or fax the customer, and let him know that the necessary items are on the way.
After a few such orders the customer will accept this scheduled purchase and shipping as
a service he can't do without.

This visionary customer care department has anticipated the customer's needs and
fulfilled them without his lifting a finger. The chance they will lose his business is a lot
less likely at this point. A traditional service department would have been a reactionary

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 16
force, waiting to respond to a complaint, a shipping problem, or a question. The
customer care department is proactive, generating sales and retaining customers by
being one step ahead of the game. In fact, this department should actually be considered
a branch of the sales force.

What has caused this dramatic change in attitude? Suddenly everyone, from
manufacturers on down, are acting like the retailer has always acted. They are polite,
they are concerned, and they now have the time to talk one-on-one and to be helpful.
Why? Part of the answer can be found in modern, on-line, communications.

The internet has changed business and distribution channels in a rather unexpected
fashion. No, it isn't that people are doing a lot of buying on the net, though some
businesses do very well there, the influence is far more subtle - and more powerful.
Today your customer can look at a product he has purchased from you and punch up the
"name of the manufacturer dot com" to find that manufacturer's web site. Suddenly
channels of distribution are weakened or even obliterated, the world shrinks, and the
smallest end user can communicate easily and directly with the manufacturer.

That end user may not be able to buy directly from the manufacturer, but he can get a
list of distributors who can. Now he may start a bidding war, driving down the price
and your margin along with it, or simply find a distributor he will like dealing with
more than he likes dealing with you.

A decade ago we would have puzzled over the idea that someone would care who they
were dealing with as long as the price was right and the order arrived intact. Now we
don't question this anymore. People are simply expecting more today from business
dealings. They have become more self-aware, some might even say self-absorbed, and
expect to be treated with real respect. A distributor who fails to recognize that his
customer service department is not living up to the expected new standards is going to
pay a price for his ignorance.

Within the last decade, I have watched more and more wholesale firms change how they
treat their customers. More are accepting smaller end users, buyers they would not have
dreamed of selling directly to in the past, and many have banished their minimum order
rules. Now, no order is too small, no customer too insignificant. The big clients of the
past are sometimes going around the distributor, directly to the factory, or bargaining
with competing distributors for the best deals. By taking the small orders and caring for
each and every customer, no matter their volume of purchasing, the wholesaler is
accepting the fact that the pie may not be getting smaller, but it is getting cut into more
and more pieces. You can still get the same amount to eat, but you may have to do it in
smaller bites.

Of course, this is just one of the many changes that have impacted members of the
supply chain over the last decade. But further analysis isn't going to change the reality -
every distributor that wants to remain in business simply has to become more focused on
retaining customer base. Statistics vary, depending on the industry and on how the
figures are derived, but research shows a 5% increase in customer retention can boost
bottom line profits anywhere from 25% to 125%! Similar research indicates that many
businesses find it takes from one to two years to reach a break-even point on a new
customer - and that they are losing from 10% to 60% of their current customer base
during that time period!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 17
Now those are scary numbers. Further market research, however, shows us there may be
a light at the end of this tunnel. Results of surveys indicate that about 70% of all
customers who switch do so because they simply feel the vendor didn't care about them
or their company's needs. It's that simple...and armed with that knowledge we can go
about finding a solution to the problem of customer retention. The numbers show us that
it's worth doing so even if there are changes to be made in the way we do business. Even
if those changes may feel uncomfortable at first and take some training and
reconditioning on the part of the people in the firm.

One of the first steps to take is to bring about recognition, along with a quantitative measure, of
the problem. If your firm has never attempted to measure customer retention, this is a good
time to start. Go back through sales records, over five or six years, and list every customer and
their purchases. From this exercise patterns will emerge. Keep that information and study the
patterns as they change in the coming years. This way you can see whether the customer
retention steps you take are actually the right ones.

Write a report on what has actually happened in the past and share this information with
everyone in the company. Every employee should be made aware of the figures and what
they mean. They can be clearly shown that there is a problem, that the problem affects
everyone, and that customer retention is a new corporate goal. You should aim for a
marked change not only in how everyone deals with customers, but in the attention paid
to quality control, shipping, and after market service.

If you can build enthusiasm for customer care issues, you might find that the people in the firm
will monitor themselves, remanding one another when they slip into old habits. This is an ideal
situation and many companies have done excellent work in attaining, and maintaining, such

Part of the success story, naturally, lies in empowering everyone in the firm with the mission.
Then in rewarding everyone when goals are met. When people feel they are a vital part of a
marketing effort, with a measurable goal, they will perform differently than if they are simply
carrying out a function. They will care more about their jobs, and more about what the
customer thinks of the company, and as a result the customer actually will think better of the

Then that 70% of customers who feel you don't care about them will shrink to 50%, then
30%, and then might even disappear altogether. And those are numbers anyone can
learn to live with.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                   Page 18
                           Are you guilty?
What‘s your definition of customer service? What unprofessional behavior irritates you
the most when, as a consumer, you are interacting with another company?

Sometimes, customer service that is perceived as rude is not intentional and often is the
result of absent-mindedness or carelessness on behalf of an employee. Either way, bad
customer service can translate into lower sales and lost business.

Based on our own Best Achievers surveys, we‘ve compiled 15 customer service NO NOs.
They are listed below, along with Best Achievers, guidelines (in parentheses) on how to
do it right. Believe me, there are plenty more. These are at the top of the list.

If your company‘s customer service managers and front-line employees are guilty of any
of these, it‘s time for some action. Otherwise, you may have an image problem that could
sabotage your effort to produce and market great products.

      Your team members are having a bad day and their foul mood carries over
       in conversations with customers. (Everyone has bad days, but customer
       service employees need to keep theirs to themselves.)
      Your team members hang up on angry customers. (Ironclad rule: Never
       hang up on anyone. When we hang up, we label ourselves as rude.)
      Phone calls or voice mail messages aren‘t returned, despite leaving your
       phone number. (Call customers back as soon as you can, or have calls
       returned on your behalf.)
      Your team members put callers on hold without asking them first, as a
       courtesy. (Ask customers politely if you can put them on hold; very few
       will complain or say "No way!")
      Your team members put callers on a speaker phone without asking them
       first if it‘s OK. (It‘s the nice thing to do, as a courtesy.)
      Your team members eat, drink or chew gum while talking with customers
       on the phone or face-to-face. (A telephone mouthpiece is like a
       microphone; noises can easily be picked up. Employees need to eat their
       meals away from the phone and away from the customer. And save that
       stick of gum for break time.)
      You have call waiting on your business lines and Your team members
       frequently interrupt existing calls to take new calls. (One interruption in a
       call might be excusable; beyond that, you are crossing the "rude"
       threshold. Do your best to be prepared with enough staff for peak calling
      Your team members refuse or forget to use the words "please," "thank
       you," or "you‘re welcome." (Please use these words generously, thank you.)
      Your team members hold side conversations with friends or each other
       while talking to customers. Or they make personal calls on cell phones.
       (Don‘t do either of these.)
      Your team members seem incapable of offering more than one-word
       answers. (One-word answers come across as rude and uncaring.)

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 19
      Your team members do provide more than one-word answers, but a lot of
       the words are grounded in company or industry jargon that many
       customers don‘t understand. (If you sell tech products, for example, don‘t
       casually drop in abbreviations such as APIs, ISVs, SMTP or TCP/IP.)
      Your team members request that customers call them back when the
       employees aren‘t so busy. (Customers should never be told to call back.
       Request the customer‘s number instead.)
      Your team members rush customers, forcing them off the phone or out the
       door at the earliest opportunity. (Rushing threatens customers - take your
      Your team members obnoxiously bellow, "What‘s this in reference to?"
       effectively humbling customers and belittling their requests. (Screening
       techniques can be used with a little more warmth and finesse. If a caller
       has mistakenly come your way, do your best to point him or her in the
       right direction.)
      Your team members freely admit to customers that they hate their jobs.
       (This simply makes the entire company look bad. And don‘t think such a
       moment of candor or lapse in judgment won‘t get back to the boss.)
In defense of customer service workers, customers can be rude too. And customer service
jobs can often be thankless, with little motivation or incentive to do the job right.

But the problem here is that life for customer service employees may not be fair.
Customers can be rude and get away with it. Employees cannot - if they want to help
their companies to succeed and keep their jobs as well.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                        Page 20
        Things Every Customer Service
            Person Needs to Know
There‟s never been a time when great customer service mattered more than it does

The economy is faltering, consumer confidence is down, and the customers who are
buying have scores of choices of where to buy and how to buy. And now, almost every
product and service out there has been ―commoditized‖ so it‘s hard to determine who
actually offers the best value (and so, many people just shop based on price alone.)

If you are looking to remain competitive (and who isn‘t?) it‘s more important than ever
to differentiate your company from all the others. It‘s critical to make sure that your
whole value proposition is clear and is consistently delivered in a way that delights and
even surprises your customers.
This gets done two ways.

The first is through a positive customer focused company culture that values, supports
and nurtures relationships. The second is from the personal commitment and
determination of the people that take care of the customers every day.

When customer facing people choose in every interaction to provide a level of care that is
exquisite, they build big ―emotional bank accounts‖ with customers that keep them
connected to the company (even if they can‘t buy as much today as they did yesterday.)

While customer care is everyone‘s business and should be part of everyone‘s job
description, the customer facing people have the primary responsibility to ―be the
company‖ in the eyes of the customer.

Since it‘s especially critical in these challenging times to take EXQUISITE care of the
customers you already have, here are 7 things every customer service person needs to
know in order to do that kind of an outstanding job. Please make sure you pass this
article along to every person responsible for customer service in your organization. If you
touch the customer, in any way, ever, I am speaking directly to YOU.

1. You chose this job, or it chose you. Either way, it‘s in your best interest and the
best interest of the customer for you to show up and be fully present to the job. Set an
intention every day to be the best you can be at your craft. Make it a point to do a little
learning about how to get better at it every day. You get better the more you practice.
Find joy in doing your job well. Recognize and acknowledge yourself for all the ―wins‖
during your day. (Even if, and especially if your boss doesn‘t notice often enough.)

2. Be proud of what you do. You play an important role in the company‘s success.
I‘m here to remind you that the experiences you provide for the customer could make or
break their relationship with the company. Even if parts of the process are broken, even
if the wait times are long, even if the customer is upset about some aspect of the
company, a great experience with a customer facing person can make up for a whole lot.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 21
You have the opportunity to make deposits in the customer‘s emotional bank account
and keep those customers happy, coming back, and referring friends.

3. You have emotional genius. Being good at customer service requires a great deal
of emotional intelligence. In fact, in your job, EQ is as important – and often more
important – than IQ. Here‘s the neat thing – being in a people oriented position gives
you the unique opportunity to practice and even perfect those EQ skills. That‘s going to
help you in every relationship you have in your life. As you get better at your job, you get
better at your life. That‘s a bonus!

4. The customer is not always right. I know you might have a little card that came
from the corporate office that tells you they are, but I‘m telling you what you already
know to be true. They are not always right. Sometimes they are wrong, sometimes they
are mean, sometimes they lie, sometimes they drive you crazy. But being right or wrong
is not the point. Your job is to be so skillful that even if they are wrong, angry, nasty or
just having a bad day, you have the ability to turn a bad situation into a better one. A
highly skilled customer facing person is a magician, able to transform and diffuse
difficult situations into good ones.

5. You work in the performing arts. Service is not like a manufactured good. It
can‘t be made ahead of time and put on the shelf. It happens in the moment, as needed,
and it‘s all about performance. That makes you the performer. Just like an actor (or a
public speaker or trainer for that matter) there will be days when you just don‘t feel up to
it and you will have to act ―as if‖ you were. Here‘s where your good training comes in.
Rehearsal and visualization work to help you prepare for a great performance every time.
Think of yourself as an improve artist. Ta-da!

6. You have a stressful job, but the amount of stress you take home every day
is up to you. How you view your job is just as important as how you do your job. If you
allow yourself to over dramatize, ‗catastrophize‘, get defensive, and take everything
personally, you‘re in for a tough time. Your body reacts to the perception of danger with
primal instincts to fight or flee – both involving a cascade of stress chemicals that can
damage your body. You have the power to change how you view any situation – including
your job. Find a ―frame‖ that makes it less stressful and more enjoyable.

7. You have the opportunity to make the world a better place every day.
Whether you deal with 10 customers or 200 customers a day, you have the power to
create positive experiences for all of them. When you make your best effort to add
sincere care and appreciation to every interaction, you are infusing it with positive
energy and vibration. When the customer leaves the interaction with you feeling good
they are likely to spread that positive emotion. Emotions are contagious - negative ones
as well as positive ones.

You have the power to spread positivity and make the world a better place. We all know how
important that contribution is these days. Take it seriously and you can make a serious difference
in the lives of your customers and every one they touch. Allow yourself to see the ripples of good
will and well being you are sending out into the world. Spread happiness and appreciation and
you will feel energized and build your own good health. Optimists live seven to nine years longer
than pessimists.

Use this list of ―7 Things‖ to start a lively dialog in your organization. Spread the article
around. Discuss each of the points, add a few of your own, really think about the good
things about being in a customer facing job. Appreciate the power and opportunity that

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                  Page 22
rest in your hands. Make the commitment to be the best you can be. Have fun and do
good work.
Caring is contagious – go ahead, spread it around

  Keep Your Customers Blissed Out &
Why you should aim to have your customers becomes your very own
marketing department.

I recently said good-bye to my mobile phone provider of a dozen years. Throughout the
years I found myself an unsatisfied client more than once.

During my most recent experience, the message from customer service was: "You're
under contract. Nothing we can do. Sucks to be you." As soon as I could, I let the contract
run out and switched to the iPhone and AT&T. (Don't write me about your bad
experiences with AT&T, I'm sure they screw up, too. Having an iPhone outweighs bad
customer service in my mind at this time).

In your client's mind, once they say, "I think I'm going to change/quit working with you,"
they have already made up their mind. That you don't provide good value for the money
they pay you. That you don't provide good (excellent) customer service. That you don't
care. (Or they've run out of money. That's another issue entirely.)

If you currently have clients you like and want to keep, brainstorm more than 20 ways
you can make them Raving Fans. They should be blissed out excited they have the
opportunity to be working with you. They should be your marketing department telling
everyone how fantastic you are and that if they aren't happy with their current provider
of your type of service, they must immediately, if not sooner, switch to you. If they aren't,
you've got room for improvement and theoretically a little time to get it done.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 23
 Creative Customer Service Strategies
Here are some simple practices that you might add to your customer service
Customers are kind of funny. They will rarely tell you how you messed up, they will
simply leave. Poof...gone!
No matter what the size of your firm there are ways to get to the bottom of this problem.

Call them. Talk to them. Mail them. Do your maintenance.

Don't just take the order and run. Remember, it is a lot easier and a whole lot more
profitable to do more business with your existing clients than it is to find new ones. So,
do whatever it takes to make sure those existing clients are happy campers.

Here are a few simple practices that you might consider adding to your customer service
1. A week after a client buys a product or service, follow-up. Ask them what worked, what
didn't. It‘s an interesting fact of business but, sometimes, as long as people get the
chance to tell you what's wrong and you do what it takes to fix it, they may become some
of your most loyal customers.

2. Send postcards, letters, article reprints, notes, whatever, as often as you can. By
staying in touch you create a bond that will serve you well when you launch new ventures
and new product lines.

3. The most powerful yet cheapest research you can get. Talking to your customers about
what works and what doesn't work is the greatest way to find hidden gold mines in your
industry. Understanding very specifically why people choose to buy from you over others
is the secret to marketing. Be on particular lookout for phrases like...that's how we've
always done it or we don't like it but we've just come to live with it.

4. Schedule routine maintenance appointments or calls with your clients.
Often after your clients have been enjoying your product or service they forget how much
value it is bringing them. Find a way to build regular meetings with your clients into your
service. Use the time to educate them on just how much you have done for them. (How
much weight have they lost, how much money have they saved, how much more efficient
are they, how much more business they now have, how much of what ever it is that you
do). They will appreciate the time and it is a great way to introduce new products and ask
for testimonials and referrals.

5. Find out everything you can about your clients.
Don‘t stop at name, rank and serial number. Devise a method for collecting personal
information about your clients. Information about a client‘s spouse, children, hobbies,
schools, community involvement can be a tremendous way to further your relationship
and offer clues for networking and referrals. You don‘t have to be intrusive or nosey to
make this strategy work, sometimes you just have to be observant. Most people wear
their allegiances on their sleeve. Any sales trainer worth a darn will tell you to look for
ways to strike a common bond with a prospect as a selling tool, I find that as a customer
service tool you are simply looking for ways to get a deeper understanding of the needs of
your client as a way to uncover more ways to help them get what they want.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 24
   The Easiest Way to Build Trust with
            Your Customers
Honesty really is the best customer care policy. Find out how you can get
your customers to trust you.

If you didn't offer a particular service, would you say that you did anyway? Would you
say you were open a certain time when you were not? Or that you accepted a particular
type of payment even though you didn't?

 I used to work for a company that did just that. Everyday the owners of this business
were flat out dishonest. Why? Just to get people in the door. But in essence all they
managed to do was waste people's time and upset them. The owner's never had to deal
with the backlash of irate customers. The employees were left to handle the mess. Many
times employees actually had to lie to the owners and say they lied to the customers.
Crazy, right? Not a very healthy environment. And it's one of the reasons I don't work
with them anymore.

It's also one of the biggest mistakes a business can make. If your customers don't trust
you, how can they comfortably refer their friends to you? How can your employees feel
confident about promoting you?

What should you do instead?

Why not try being honest? If you're honest you build trust. Not destroy it. Even if that
means you lose a customer because you can't service them properly. They'll appreciate
you helping them find someone who can. And they'll remember that when someone they
know may need your help. And in an economy like todays, trust is extremely valuable.
Because it allows people to feel good about what you do.

What happens when people feel good about your business?

They promote you of course. And these people are far more credible than anything you
could say about yourself. This is why testimonials are very important on your website.
Testimonials give people a chance to see who you work with. Potential customers try to
put themselves in their shoes. They ask themselves, "Is this person like me? Do they have
the same problem I have?"
This is why it's best to use full names, credentials and pictures if possible. Pictures are
extremely important. Again potential customers are looking to see if they fit in with your

Now you may be thinking, do people really read testimonials?

The answer is yes. If they've got some substance to them. Have you ever read user
reviews on Amazon? But when they're only trite, glowing remarks people develop what I
call, "Testimonial Blindness." Much like the ad blindness many of us have today.

How do you avoid "Testimonial Blindness?"
One way is to allow your testimonials to overcome the obstacles a potential

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 25
customer may have. There was some type of hesitation on the part of your current
customers before they chose to work with you. Ask them what it was. Most likely
someone else will face the same obstacle. If a satisfied customer can put their
mind at ease, you've just made it easier for a potential customer to do business
with you.

But remember it all starts with honesty
And a great service of course. But if your customers don't trust you, they won't be
willing to promote you. It'll be all that harder to get repeat business. And attract
other customers you'll enjoy working with.

Do you have testimonials on your website?

Start collecting them now. And use them strategically to support your copy. You'll
also learn a great deal about your business and how your customers perceive you.
That's never a bad thing!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                     Page 26
Secrets to World-Class Customer Care
 Great customer relationships are fine. But a satisfied customer is no
                          longer enough.

Customers give us the opportunity to apply our talents to serve them. Then, they transfer
money from their bank accounts to ours so that we have the financial leverage to meet
our goals. This simple, everyday economic interdependence is what business success,
professional accountability, and personal prosperity are all about.

In today's competitive world, a satisfied customer is no longer enough. A satisfied
customer is still shopping around until you provide that WOW experience and make that
WOW connection that creates customer loyalty. To do so, you must move beyond mere
customer service to the new world of Customer Astonishment. To astonish is "to strike
with awe and wonder."
Using the 10 Secrets to World- Class Customer Care, you will learn the principles and
methods to make these secrets work for you and your team.
#1: Be Customer Champions! Know what your team stands for and communicate it
through words and actions. Champion your core purpose in direct response to what your
customers want and need the most.
#2: Get Connected. Know the interdependencies represented by your own Chain of
Customers. Make communication linkage a top priority that demonstrates the
importance of all of your customers, internal and external.
#3: Get It Together. Quickly resolve internal conflicts so they do not become apparent
and weaken the customer's confidence in your team. Achieve crystal clear agreement on
team priorities and individual responsibilities.
#4: Know Your Customers. Listen to them. Observe them. Make a commitment to
No Surprises, except on their birthdays. What you promise is what they get and more.
#5: Know the Bear. There is a bear out there, behind you. Faster is not fast enough.
Reliable is not reliable enough. World-Class means you set a standard for the world to
follow. The bear cannot keep up.
#6: Take Ownership. Champion the idea that "I am the one." For each member of
your team, this means "I am the one who first spoke with the customer. And, at the end
of the day, I am the one who will follow through to be sure we met their needs."
#7: Stake Your Reputation. Create your very own Hallmarks of Professional
Excellence. Seize those crucial moments of truth in a way that shows your true
commitment to each customer.
#8: Add Value at Each Step of the Way. Be sure that whatever it is that you do, you
do it with the customer in mind.
#9: Smooth the Way. Always treat the customer as an honored guest. Never place
your convenience above that of the customer. Your professionalism will shine as you do.
#10: Create Options. Never say "No" to the customer. No is often uncreative. Yes is
great, but may be over-commitment. The customer needs options. Create them. Even
partial solutions are better than roadblocks. Be a world-class problem solver!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 27
  Where Legendary Customer Service
It may seem amazing that the solution to achieving legendary customer care
does not lie in some “slogan driven” training program, but rather in a
simple two-step process.

Ask any CEO if he or she is committed to excellent customer service and the answer
typically is, ―Of course we are!‖ But ask why their organization‘s service isn‘t among the
ranks of the Walt Disney Company, the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, or any other
extraordinary service provider and the excuses are tiresome: ―We can‘t pay enough,‖ or
―People don‘t care,‖ or ―Our turnover is high.‖

Now assume for a minute that these excuses are valid (which I am convinced they are
not), and ask a leader, ―What are you doing to alleviate this problem?‖ and witness their
awkward scramble for an answer. If an organization is truly committed to legendary
customer service and their lame excuses were valid, why wouldn‘t they be using all
available resources to solve these problems?

So what is the secret? It may seem amazing that the solution to achieving legendary
customer service does not lie in some ―slogan driven‖ training program, but rather in a
simple two-step process: (1) Hire to the culture of the organization; (2) Provide a multi-
day orientation program that encourages new hires to embrace a new set of values.

Think about it – Disney, the Four Seasons, Nordstrom, and other celebrated service
providers hire from the same employment pool and pay about the same wages. What
these companies do better than others is hire and orientate.

Hire to the culture. World-class service providers require multiple interviews with
potential employees in addition to the one or two human resource interviews. The
purpose of these multiple interviews is to assure that the candidate fits the culture of the
organization. At the Four Seasons, in addition to a diverse mix of employees, each hotel
or resort manager must also interview all potential hires before an offer is made.
Kathleen Taylor, President of the Four Seasons‘ worldwide operations explains: ―It is not
for the GM (General Manager) alone to say, ‗Yes, I like the person‘ or ‗No, I don‘t.‘ It
shows the potential dishwasher that his [or her] job is really important. He may go home
that night and tell his mother or friends, ‗Wow, I met the GM today,‘ and on his first day
at work, he knows the GM, and the GM knows him.‖ Equally important to ensuring that
a candidate fits the culture is consistently demonstrating that everyone's role, no matter
where in the hierarchy, is important to creating magical moments of service.

Hiring to the culture of your organization assumes you can define your organization‘s
dream (or vision), values and behaviors (Codes of Conduct, as defined in our best-selling
book, The Disney Way). If your culture needs defining, it would be wise to work on those
critical elements before embarking upon the hiring process.

Over the years I have heard many executives argue, ―Why be so concerned with hiring
the right person? Anyone can learn these entry-level jobs, and if a new hire doesn‘t work
out, there are three people waiting in line.‖ The solution to their short-sighted mentality
eludes them. They probably would agree that the most valuable asset of any organization

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 28
is the customer. So wouldn‘t they want to trust their most valuable asset to the most
competent, capable and skilled person available, not just the ―next in line?‖ It leaves me

JoAnn Wagner, President and CEO of the SOS Staffing Family of Companies, explains
how ‗Hiring for Fit‘ is vital to effective customer service and overall success. ―Superior
customer service begins with uniting the right talent with the right opportunity, which
starts long before a candidate‘s first day on the job. Interviewing, testing and screening
of a candidate‘s experience and background compared with a company‘s culture are all
factors that must be carefully weighed. Once a culture match has been made, a
comprehensive orientation program is the final crucial piece.‖

So, if caring for your customer is not reason enough for finding the right employee, isn‘t
increasing your competitive advantage? Both the Hay Group and Workforce
Management magazine have calculated the cost of replacing an $8.50/hour employee at
$10,000 to $12,000. Disney, the Four Seasons, and fellow world-class service providers
experience 3-5 times lower turnover than their competition.

I also hear the argument, ―Our HR department is too small or does not have time to find
the ‗right‘ people.‖ One solution to this problem is to form a strategic alliance with a
staffing services firm. Susan Aherns, Regional Manager for Adams & Associates in
Washington explains: ―Companies who form a true partnership with a staffing firm will
add arrows to their quiver that they would not have otherwise. The right firm can
function as an integral part of a company‘s HR department, saving it valuable time and
money. In the end, businesses often save more by utilizing a staffing firm to find the best

The Commonwealth Alliance Program (CAP) reports that businesses now attribute 25%
of all revenues to strategic alliances. Karen Lustman, District Manager for Orange
County direct hire firm Devon & Devon, elaborates: ―Hiring in today‘s competitive
climate is much more than finding a body. Strong strategic alliances result in win-win
solutions. When a hiring firm understands the company‘s mission and culture, they send
only best-fit candidates.‖

If you have hired an individual who has passed the ―culture fit‖ test with flying colors, it‘s
now your responsibility to immerse him or her into your culture. This must happen
before they begin their operational or staff responsibilities.
Orientation. Orientation programs in most organizations would have to increase by a
factor of ten to reach the level of pathetic. Most involve new hires in tedious activities
ranging from completing forms to reviewing policies. Then, the ―welcomed‖ newcomer
gets thrown into the hustle of getting the job done. Even in companies with well-defined
cultures, the success rate of these new hires is less than stellar.

If new hires end up being fired or resigning within the first six months on the job, they
are almost always branded as failures. I‘ll bet you‘ve heard the feedback: ―he never really
bought into our level of service,‖ or ―she never really understood our values.‖ An all too
often believed myth is that values can be explained or even dictated.

Nothing could be further from the truth. One cannot mandate a new set of values to
anyone; the only way for values to be effective is for individuals to embrace and
internalize the values. Luckily, we can turn to a tremendously successful role model for
this lesson in action. . . Isadore Sharp, CEO and founder of Four Seasons. ―Issy‖ told me,

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 29
―They (values) are only words on paper, the words have significance only if behaved; the
behaviors are significant only if believed.‖ Legendary customer service does not come
from a policy manual; it comes from the heart.

So, how do you get new hires to embrace a new set of values? Answer: Build a multi-day
orientation process. Anything less than two days is not enough. People need time to
understand how the new values contribute to the success of the organization and why
their current set of values will not work. For decades I have been involved in leading
organizations to structure cultural orientation programs so that individuals and teams
can internalize the vision, the values and the culture of an organization.

I challenge you to spend your time establishing the right hiring process and the right
orientation process, not in just getting the ―right‖ people.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 30
   Resolutions for Amazing Customer
Now is a wonderful time to learn from our experiences, then start over and
do better..

It's like shaking the Etch A Sketch and being rewarded with a blank canvas to create
another work of art. But in this case, the work of art is our business. Use this opportunity
to plan how you will improve your business in 2009.

One of the ways to improve your business is to improve customer service. Ina recent
report, Accenture found that more customers than ever are abandoning companies
because of bad service. Now is the time to create (or
beef up) your customer service improvement plans. And to help you, here are five
Amazing Service Resolutions to get you started.

Discover what your customers want

Too many companies think they know what their customers want. But they don't.
Because they never ask them. Or if they ask they don't really listen. Or they start asking
and listening but they stop, because people get busy and others things take priority. The
result is we're often flying blind with no real idea of why our customers actually choose
us over another company.

This is death for a company in the new economy. The most important thing you can do to
have a healthy company is to ask your customers what they want. Why do they do
business with you? What do they expect? How do they want to be treated? What do you
do for them no one else does? What would (gasp) make them leave?

Ask these questions and more. Make this a habit and never stop.

Create easy ways for your customers to offer feedback.

Even though you reach out to your customers not all customers will respond. It's okay,
they're busy and it's not a priority right now. But at some point it will be a priority.

So be ready for this. Make it easy and convenient for your customers to reach out to you.
Let them reach you when, where and how they want to. Develop as many ways as you can
to open the lines of communication with
them. You'll know it's working when those channels start overflowing with customer

Have fun

Companies that enjoy tremendous customer loyalty offer their customers something they
can't get anywhere else: FUN. They provide them an unexpected, positive experience.
They have fun with them. The employees enjoy their work and each other and their
customers. It's not that they goof off or waste time. They don't. But they find ways to
bring fun and joy into their work and they bring their customers along for the ride.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 31
Be flexible

With most things there is no one right answer. There is almost always more than one way
to accomplish something. But we don't always admit it. Remember, our goal is to help
our customers get what they want. So we need to be creative. We need to think beyond
the first solution that comes to mind.

Being flexible also means being willing to try new things and go the extra mile for
customers. It means being a problem solver rather than an order taker. Customers know
the difference.

Get everyone involved

There is strength in numbers. The more people you have engaged in solving problems,
the more solutions you'll have. The more people you get involved in creating and
addressing opportunities, the more success you'll have.

We are entering what will likely be the most challenging economy most of us have ever
experienced. Successful companies will need to make the best use of all their resources.
And your best resources are your people. They deal with countless customer issues,
challenges and situations every day. They know your company better than anyone. So tap
into this goldmine of information and put it to use.

Take time this year to learn from the past 12 months and look forward to the next 12.
Create a vision for next year. What will your customer service look like? How will it be
better? And how will that benefit your company? Then write down some real new years
resolutions that you will make happen. Do that and you can make next year an amazing

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 32
        Providing Professional Internal
              Customer Service
   Learn how internal customer service is a crucial element for any

Employees must focused on delivering timely, effective, quality products and services to
employees in other departments, otherwise, service to external customers can suffer. The
latter impacts the organization‘s reputation and bottom line, which ultimately affects the
organization‘s ability to hire, train, and provide income and benefits to its employees.

If you ask most employees and their supervisors if they believe they deliver effective
internal customer service, they will likely say ―Yes‖ but then qualify their answer with
―But we can do better.‖

They are probably right in both cases. Most employees make an effort to be professional,
project a positive image and to address the needs and wants of their internal customers.
The challenge is that their organization‘s systems, policies and procedures often stand in
their way. Let me explain.

In many organizations, people are hired into various internal positions (e.g. human
resources, marketing, sales, facilities, cafeteria, accounting, or security) but are not
trained in effective customer service skills. In fact, the phrase customer service is likely
not used in the context of providing products and services to others in the organization.

New employees often go through orientation training and then have a peer assigned to
show them the ropes, give a tour of the building and explain job responsibilities;
however, this often occurs in a low key or informal manner. There is often no consistency
in the training of new employees. There may be a checklist used of things that someone
has to cover with the new employee, but no focused training on products, services
organizational values, and other important information.

Many new hire training programs do not use a scripted lesson plan or a formalized
training session to emphasize internal customer service. As a result, employees do not
learn the impact of their actions related to organizational success. New employees often
receive the opinions of their peers and learn shortcuts to policies and procedures. They
are then placed in front of their customers without the proper tools to represent
themselves, their department and the organization effectively from a service perspective.

Another shortcoming is that there is no incentive or reward for employees to provide
quality service in many organizations. If an employee comes to work, does what they are
told and does not have any performance issues, they get a good performance evaluation
and likely a modest salary increase. Internal customer satisfaction is typically not
measured and workers are not held accountable for their success rates in that area.
Unless a customer complains or compliments an employee, their supervisor typically
assumes that everything is being done well and provides positive feedback on their
performance review.

Tagged onto this issue is the fact that most supervisors receive no training on how to

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 33
effectively coach and counsel their employees so there is little opportunity for ongoing
dialogue, feedback and mentoring throughout any given performance period. In short,
the organization does not have systems to monitor how service is being delivered.
Instead, people are rewarded and promoted based on tasks that they accomplish rather
than the overall quality of job that they perform and the level of service that they deliver.

So what is the answer? Quite simply, a thorough review of policies, procedures and
systems currently in place related to employee performance in the area of internal
customer service should take place. This includes doing a needs assessment by asking for
customer feedback on a regular basis related to how service might be improved. In
addition, working to create an
environment in which internal service is a key initiative should become a priority.

All of this could start by forming an interdepartmental team made up of representatives
from all departments and a representative from human resources and the training
department. These people could brainstorm what currently works and what needs to
improve related to internal service.
Customer satisfaction feedback could be gathered through a written survey coupled with
focus groups of 8-10 customers and hosted by human resources and/or an external
customer service consultant.

In order to determine service levels being provided by employees, a 360-degree
performance appraisal system in which performance feedback is obtained from the
employee, their supervisor, peers and customers could be used. Based on the results,
supervisors could reward or coach as appropriate.

Many other strategies can help improve the quality of an organization‘s internal service.
You can start by examining the ones I have mentioned and use them as a basis for more

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 34

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.   Page 35
          Ten Commandments of great
               customer service.
Customer service is an integral part of our job and should not be seen as an extension of
it. A company‘s most vital asset is its customers. Without them, we would not and could
not exist in business. ‗When you satisfy your customers, they not only help us grow by
continuing to do business with you, but recommend you to friends and associates
The practice of customer service should be as present on the show floor as it is any other
sales environment

The Ten Commandments of Customer Service

1. Know who is boss.
You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what
it your customers want. By you truly listening to your customers, they let you know what
they want and how you can provide good service. Never forget that the customer pays
our salary and makes your job possible

2. Be a good listener
Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what
the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and
most importantly, how they feel. Beware of making assumptions, thinking you intuitively
know what the customer wants .Do you know what three things are most important to
your customer? Effective listening and undivided attention are particularly important on
the front office /banking floor where there is a great danger of preoccupation, looking
around to see to whom else we could be selling to

3. Identify and anticipate needs
Customers don‘t buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to
problems, most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know
your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs.

4. Make customers feel important and appreciated
Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but
be sincere. People value sincerely. It creates good feeling and trust. Think about ways to
generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and
know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a
chance. On the banking/ show floor be sure that your body language conveys sincerity.
Your words and action should be congruent.

5. Help customers understand your systems.
Your organization may have the world‘s best systems for getting things done, but if
customers don‘t understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take
time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions. Be careful
that your systems don’t reduce/replace the human element of your

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 36
6. Appreciate the power of “Yes”.
Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long as it is
reasonable) tell them that you can do it as long as it‘s within the policies of the
organization. Figure out how afterwards. Look for ways to make doing business with you
easy. Always do what you say you are going to do. Remember to up date the customer on
progress of their request.

7. Know how to apologize
When something goes wrong, apologize. It‘s easy and customers like it. The customer
may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems
immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers
to complain. Value their complaint. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to
improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel

8. Give more than expected.
Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to
elevate yourself above the competition. Consider the following two commandments.

9. Get regular feedback.
Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several
ways in which to you can find out what customers think and feel about your services.

      Listen carefully to what they say.
      Check back regularly to see how things are going.
      Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.

10. Treat employees well.
Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank
them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with
respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation stems
from the top. Treating customers and employees well is equally important. The bank
scores highly in this area. Working for the welfare of staff.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 37
               LEGENDARY SERVICE.
Improving the quality of your customer service requires commitment and consistent
effort from everyone, creating a product or service that is unique in the eyes of the
customer is becoming increasingly difficult in today‘s competitive environment.
Therefore, more companies are relying on service to achieve competitive advantages.
Outstanding service companies share some basic similarities, but they also customize
systems, structures, management styles and employment practices so suit their strategic
goals. These 10 fundamentals will help create a culture of continuous service
improvement. Companies must define success for everyone in the organization as
continually improving everything-everyday. Nothing less will do.
    1. Make a commitment to service.
    The return on investment for companies that impress their customers with value
added service can be staggering. These returns are not the result of providing excellent
service but of customers perceiving that a company delivers service that is unique.
Achieving quality service takes a serious commitment from every employee in the
organization to remove the‗s‘ word (satisfy) from service goals and instead work to
exceed customers‘ expectation to the point that customers are willing to tell others.
    2. Develop a proactive recovery strategy
The quickest way to improve your services reputation is to improve your recovery
process. Customers are impressed by companies that make an empathetic, hassle free
effort to recover when customers perceive that they received less service than they
expected. These efforts dramatically communicate to customers that the company cares,
that it is sensitive to the customer‘s business and that it will stand behind its product or
service no matter what. An effective recovery strategy requires going all out to find
disgruntled customers.
    3. Ensure Continuous Improvement
Effective service improvement is a cumulative effective of a thousands more
improvement made daily at every level in the organization. It often requires changing the
culture from one that accepts the status quo to one that is excited about change and
continuous improvement.
Innovating service practices and redefining service delivery must be everyone‘s job –
start small and demand improvement from everyone.
Define success as continually improving in all areas, including service, first-time quality,
cost reduction, productivity and development of human resources.
    4. Listen to customers
Listening is the foundation of all good relationships and a prerequisite to business
success, but surprisingly few companies systematically listen to customers, suppliers,
employees and competitors. The radical service improvements needed in this decade will
require better customer information systems. The more we know about a customer‘s
business, the easier we can form strategic partnerships. Because service professionals
spend so much time with customers, they must be primary source for developing and
updating the system.
5. Facilitate change
 Service problems are leadership problems, often resulting from management‘s
unwillingness to change structures, reduce the number of inflexible policies and
procedures, set higher service goals for themselves and their work groups and spend
more time on customer-related issues. Service improvement efforts fail more from
ineffective management practices than from lack of front-line effort. Yes, the front-line

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 38
people are often unwilling or unable to take risks necessary their changed role and
enthusiastically deliver service that exceeds customer expectations. But this happens
because leaders fail to ensure that:
             Desired service outcomes are well defined;
             The service delivery process is clearly communicated and perceived to be
             Guiding principles and core values are established;
             Everyone understands their role in the show.
6. Define the playing field
Front-line employees must understand the rules of play and how to win before they can
successfully customize services for the customer. There must be a clear defined direction
(a goal-line that indicates how to score) and predefined parameters (the ―rules‖ or
boundaries) that outline the limits of responsibility and decision making. In the past,
outlining boundaries has been accomplished primarily by correcting mistakes.
Unfortunately, this does not communicate what is desirable, only what is out of bounds.
When employees are not secure, they focus on avoiding problems and mistakes and not
on creativity and customization. This uncertainty often results in such responses as ―I‘d
like to help you it‘s not my job,‖ ―I just work here‖ or ―It‘s just our policy.‖ These
responses are the consequence of a risk service culture created by uncertain boundaries
and inconsistent goals.
     Provide autonomy
Creative, dedicated, enthusiastic service professionals who routinely make business
decisions and improvise when necessary are the foundation of excellent service. Yet
many companies ignore the benefits of engaging the talents of their work force. Too often
they ask front-line employees to park their brains at the front door and blindly obey
predetermined policies and procedures. Serious service improvement involves people
meaningfully in every aspect of service delivery, including service planning, innovation
and process improvement. It means replacing many ―rules‖ with judgment, allowing for
greater flexibility in front-line decision-making within well defined parameters. It
requires more trust between leaders, employees and their opinions, a greater sharing of
information and unprecedented commitment to continuous education. The heroes in a
customer-focused culture must be highly trained, enthusiastic front-line service
professionals who make hundreds of decision daily to deliver a customized product
faster than ever before.
     Measure performance.
    Managers must educate everyone to routinely measure all of the responsibility crucial
to success; Cost-reduction measures should be balanced with measures of service,
quality and leadership, employees flexibility and continuous improvement. The most
valid measures of service quality are the subjective opinions for customers. Only
customers can evaluate service in light of their unique expectations. Consequently,
responsibility for measuring and demonstrating continuous services improvement
should be focused closer to the service professional. Only when service teams are actively
involved in every fact of enthusiasm needed to radically enhance service delivery.
     Hold everyone accountable.
When we ask, ―Who is responsible for service improvement in your organization?‖ We
are usually given the names of several people whose responsibilities cross many
functional areas. When a service problem surfaces, these people point out the root cause
of the problem exist with another group. This ―fragmented accountability‖ is no
accountability at all, Until a single person is accountable for service improvement and
until serious consequences are set for failing to achieve service goals, continuous service
improvement is unlikely.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 39
Lack of individual accountability allows leaders to avoid focusing on ineffective
managerial practices, such as adhering to time-wasting routines, attending endless
meetings, failing to set goals that test their talents and failing to change ineffective
reporting and promotional structures. If all employees were held personally accountable
for influencing the perception of the customer, customer service would be perceived as a
part of the strategic plan instead of a ―slogan‖ or theme program.
     Celebrate success.
Every organization must develop a culture of celebrated discontent a simultaneous
feeling of accomplishment and a desire to improve. Too often, though, organizations
create an almost schizophrenic ―either/or‖ mentality, celebrate one minute and be
emphatically discontent the next. People find these environments confusing and
uncomfortable. Organizations must celebrate often, making the celebrations sincere and
spontaneous. Those who consistently demonstrate improvement must become the

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                         Page 40

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.   Page 41
                  Building Relationships
                 Create rapport from the first contact.
Quick, what‘s the typical greeting used most often by 60% of retail outlets stores? You‘re
if you guessed ―Can I help you?‖ The visitors usually response ―No thanks just looking‖
The problem is the walk-in customer is never ―just looking‖. They came into the premises
because at some level they perceived a need. This greeting only reminds visitors that
they‘re not here to buy. It‘s a lousy selling strategy.

The way you and your front line/office employees greet walk-in customers has a huge
impact on your bottom line. Here are some tips to ensure that you your employees greet
customers in a way that makes them want to buy and keep coming back.

    Show that you recognize them.
If you deal with customers, the two most important words are not, please or thank you,
but are your customers first and last names. Take the restaurant you patronize in
Nairobi, for example. As you walk in with your friends, the attendant shouts, ―Jeff you‘re
back! Welcome!‖ He smiles at the rest of your party and says, ―I see you‘ve brought some
friends, excellent! We‘ll clear one of our best tables for you!‖ At this point you don‘t care
what the food taste like; this guy gets your business.

If you don‘t remember the customer‘s name, you need to at least let them know that you
recognize them and are happy to see them. So an effective greeting will be, ―Well, Hello!
It‘s nice to see you again.‖ Customer return to secure, friendly environments. Show that
you recognize them, and they will want to come back.

     Ask if they have been in before
One of the best money making greetings is, ―Hi, have been here before?‖ Michael Gerber,
author of the best seller, The Myth, says his clients who have switch of from, ―Can I
help you?‖ To this greeting have seen increase by 16%. While Gerber claims to have no
idea why this works so well, I think it‘s because this greetings reminds the customers that
that they‘ve have been at your business before, so it is a familiar place. Familiar means
safe. Safe means trust. And trust means buy.
If saying , ‗Hi, have ever been here before?‘ can increase sales by 16%, then it is certainly
worth a test.‖
With greetings the employee can also add, ―Welcome back, we appreciate your coming to
see us again.‖ That provides that all-important recognition. They can ask the customer
about what they bought on their last visit or what kind of service they needed and how
they like it. That provides the opportunity to provide positive reinforcement and/or clear
up any concerns.
If this is the visitor‘s first visit, then the employee has a great excuse to show them
around, identify needs and point out specials. At any rate, if saying, ―Hi, have you been
here before?‖ can increase sales by16%, then it is certainly worth a the weather

    Ask about the weather
 Weather is an often-used topic, but fairly disarming, and gets customer talking about
something where they can be the expert. The critical step that‘s often missed is you need
to respond to customer‘s comments. That shows that you are listening – not just
techniquing them. Once you‘ve addressed their comments, you can transition from
weather to identifying your needs. Example, ―Well. At least you‘re in from out of the
wind now. What brings you in aside from the cold weather?‖

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 42
   Compliment appropriately.

 Be careful with this one. If you do it wrong, you should not be construed as being a
 phony or else you will lose the most important thing you need to seal- trust. So don‘t
 offer a compliment such as, ―You look good today.‖ Instead make sure your
 complement is relevant and specific. If you work in clothing store you might say, ―That
 scarf is terrific, its autumn colors are perfect with your coloring.‖ In case of a business
 loan customers, ―from my previous visit I saw your business was doing well, how is the
 going now?‖

   Use a conversation piece.
 Interesting work, a talking parrot, or anything you place near your entrance that draws
 comment is great. It gets the customer talking, questioning and interested. A pricing
 board at the banks entrance gets the customer talking but may always make them start
 on the negative; putting our front office staff often on the defensive.

   Timing is everything
 More important that what you say is the fact that the visitor is acknowledged-not
 necessary served –the moment they enter. One study revealed that 68% of customers
 who leave do so because they feel like no one cares that they are there. Picture entering
 an establishment waiting to be served. Then use your watch to count off 30 seconds.
 You realize that even half a minute is too long to wait.
 Consider this case of a bakery owner; ensured a fast greeting if the employees were
 working in the back room by installing a doorbell that rings as the visitor enters. They
 call out, ―Hi there, I‘ll be right out!‖ and they keep the business. Simple and smart.

   The Six Worst Greetings
    A stare- like employees are watching to see if you‘re going to steal something.
    The daze – they pretend they are so busy they can‘t see you.
    (As you enter a restaurant) ‗Just one?‖
    ‗Can I help you‖
    ―Next‖
    A canned phony sounding speech.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 43
   Critical Customer Information You
           Can't Afford to Miss
If you think customer relationship management is just a piece of software,
you're dead wrong.

Customer relationship management is about understanding your customers. It's about
really knowing them as individuals, knowing what they mean to your business, and most
of all, knowing what you need to do to keep their business. Ideally, you need a profile for
each of your customers. Most customers will gladly give you the information you need
especially if there is a small incentive. Offer them a coupon, a special discount, a gift
certificate or even movie passes. What do you need to include in the profile? Other than
personal information, data you track can be as detailed or as simple as you can manage.
The key point is to use a process or system. Here are some basic categories of things you
want to know for sure:

Customer Value - How much do they spend with you in a month or a year?
Top 10 or 20 Percent - Who are the top 10 or 20 percent of your most valuable
customers? These are your "gold" customers. Know who they are and treat them

Why They Choose You - Why do they keep doing business with you? If you're not sure
about what you're doing right, how will you know what to keep doing? Ask them!

Where They Came From - How did they find you? If you know where they came from
you can go back for more customers just like them.

Who They Brought With Them - What new business have they brought you? Who
have they referred you to? Referrals are like automatic deposits in your bank account.
Find out who is making the deposits.

How You Thanked Them – If you don't currently use a simple system to thank your
customers, start now! Customers who feel appreciated are easier to retain, and better yet
they will reciprocate with referrals.

Deal Breakers - This is the most overlooked bit of critical data. If you've lost customers
or just haven't seen them in a while (and it happens to all of us), find out what's going on.
Most customers will welcome the opportunity to tell you, especially if something went
wrong. What you don't know can hurt you!

Now, compile the information, keep it up to date, review it regularly, and use it to
manage your customer relationships. A simple spreadsheet, database may work just fine
for a smaller business. The objective is to collect enough information and data that you
can use to understand how they are important to your business. It's the same concept
retailers and buying clubs use in issuing customer cards. They use the information to
track customer value, buying habits, etc.

If you're serious about competing in today's business climate, it's time to start
strategically managing your customer relationships. After all, your relationships with
your customers are your business.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 44
    Customer Engagement Vs Employee
It is necessary in this economic climate to develop stronger relationships
that create a long-term backbone for the company.

During the nineties, consumer confidence and spending were so strong that consulting
firms were often hired without an in-depth credential check and the assurance that their
corporate culture aligned with the hiring organizations'. Furthermore, profits were so
high at that time that many companies settled for satisfied customers, rather than truly
engaged customers. Things have changed.

Now, with consumers spending less and competitors slashing prices, organizations are
more prudent with the choices they make when selecting professional services firms.
They are beginning to understand it is more important than ever to create sustaining
relationships with employees and customers. Because of this professional service firms
need to incorporate these measures to ensure business success.

View on Relationships

Customer retention/loyalty consistently ranks high in compiled lists of CEOs' top
concerns. Furthermore, our research on engagement has proven that a company's
financial health is directly tied to how well they engage employees and customers.

In this economy it's especially important for organizations to build stronger relationships
to retain current customers. To do so, they must work to engage both employees and
customers. Professional service firms that understand that long-term profitability
depends on exceptional customer service leading to fully engaged customers will have
greater success.

View on Employees

Excellent customer service begins with engaged employees. When customer-facing
employees are passionate about providing unparalleled service, customers are more
likely to enjoy their interaction with your company. Engaged employees positively
impact your company's productivity as they win over fully engaged customers.

How should engaged employees be defined? First and foremost, they should be
characterized by their loyalty. Engaged employees will stay with their current employer
because they are passionate about their job. They feel appreciated at work, and they're
sure management values their opinions. Engaged employees will also put extra effort
into their work. If asked about their job, they will recommend the company they work

It is extremely important to engage the employees who are delivering the customer
experience. When these employees are engaged, their passion and genuine dedication to
their work win over and create engaged customers. And engaged customers are willing to
buy more and recommend your business to others. Employee engagement is pivotal
across industries, but is especially crucial in service industries, including banking, hotels,

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 45
retail, and dining. In these environments, employees interact with customers on a daily
basis and shape customers' perceptions and attitudes.

Employee engagement analysis is most often conducted in business environments with
high "best practices" expectations, multi-level reporting of consumer concerns, and in-
place mechanisms for employee feedback. Your employees are a rich source of ideas on
how to improve your company's procedures, since they are on the front lines of customer

View on Customers

Engaged customers have a lot in common with the engaged employees that they interact
with regularly. At a basic level, customer engagement measures the emotional
connection between a consumer and a company or brand. We define engaged customers
according to the following characteristics:

- Retention: Given the choice, Engaged Customers would choose to do business again
with a specific company.

- Effort: Engaged Customers go out of their way to do business with their favorite

- Advocacy: Engaged Customers recommend their favorite companies to friends.

- Passion: Engaged Customers love doing business with their favorite companies.

Customers with these characteristics bring higher ROI and profits. Companies with high
levels of customer engagement outperform the average for their industry, as our Most
Engaged Customer Study shows.

Creating Engaged Employees and Customers

In addition to capturing employee feedback discussed above, organizations should also
be proactive in gathering customer feedback. A customer-centric culture begins with
obtaining transaction-based feedback. There are an array of techniques for gathering
feedback, including surveys, BlogTrak, which tracks both negative and positive posts
from consumers, and one-on-one customer service follow-ups.

Customer feedback will help your organization make appropriate changes, but it will also
have an immediate impact on two things: Helps you win back customers who have had
negative experiences as quickly as possible.
Enables you to identify and recognize extraordinary employees who have gone "above
and beyond" expectations to wow the customer.

Businesses need more than simple data to improve their employee relationships and
grow customer loyalty. It is necessary in this economic climate to gather information you
can take action on to develop relationships that create a stronger, long-term backbone
for the company.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 46
                        Establishing Trust
 How to Build Relationships and Make Them Work for You
"You don't have to like your banker; you just have to trust him". I read this quote of
Honore Balzac in an article on the web and thought it would be perfect to start an article
on trust. Trust is the key to building relationships even today. Balzac, a French writer,
was born in 1799. Some things don't change!

Watching Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Citibank and Bank of America, it is
hard to trust banks and the financial industry as a whole today. And that feeling of
distrust pervades the business environment today and affects the relationships you are
trying to build when you network.

The dictionary defines trust as "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or
truth of someone or something". In his book, "Endless Referrals", Bob Berg says that
people do business with people they "know, like and trust."

So if the people you network with are not sure about trusting you, what can you do to
earn their trust?

Establishing trust is at the heart of relationship building and that is what networking is
all about. Here are three important steps to help you build trusting relationships.

The first step in building the relationship is to listen to the other person. It is imperative
that you clearly understanding his/her needs. As simple as this sounds, it is often
difficult for people to be quiet long enough for the other person to say what he/she has to

The second step in building a positive relationship with someone is to adjust your
communication style to that person's style. People tend to trust people who are more like
themselves so it is important to adapt your style to theirs.

If you are speaking with someone who is very goal oriented and competitive the person
won't waste time with small talk. He/she will want to get straight to business. People
with this style are in a hurry and won't like it if you slow them down. Networking with
them will be very different than networking with someone who is a people person and
loves to talk.

Finally it is most important that you deliver on your promises. Once you are clear on the
person's needs and make a promise to deliver something, be sure to fulfill that
commitment on time every time. Follow the lead of Howard Schultz, chairman of
Starbucks who says in his book "Pour Your Heart Into It": "Every step of the way, I made
a point to under promise and over deliver. In the long run, that's the only way to ensure
security in any job."

In the current environment gaining the trust of people can be more difficult. In spite of
the current cynicism you can still build your network through steady consistent
networking and adhering to these three steps: listen carefully, notice and adjust to the
other person's communication style and deliver on your promises.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 47
       RECOVERY &

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.   Page 48
                   Raising the profile of customer service:

For years it has been known that customer‘s retention was a cheaper option to
acquisition. Early research suggested it cost ten times more to acquire a new customer
but today it ranges from two to 20 times depending on the industry. It therefore makes
sound economic sense to raise the profile of Customer Service and to use this guidelines
to and resource the dual roles of service recovery and customer feedback as positive
contributors to future organizational performance.
Customers Service is under resourced and under valued
Most organizations (both commercial and not-for profit) of any size have a designated
Customer Service department. It may be called something else (such as complaints,
customer service, help-desk or consumer affairs) but it purpose is to deal with customers
who have questions about or problems with their organization‘s products or services.
Unfortunately Customers Service departments are often under resourced and under
valued incorporate hierarchy. They are perceived as a necessary evil of modern
commercial life rather than an opportunity to get closer to customers; an un welcome
cost centre to be contained rather than adding value to corporate performance.
In particular, the joint values of customer feedback and service recovery are rarely
appreciated and understood. Customer Service remains a reactive department keeping
problems out of the way of senior management but rarely contributing positively to
organizational performance. This is quite strange, particularly at a time when the focus
of many organizations is on Customer Relationship Management.
CRM rarely addressed existing customers‟ needs
CRM is about getting closer to customers in order to understand and meet their needs
more effectively. Unfortunately in many cases an admirable business strategy has ended
up an effective software solution. Typically CRM applications assist the sales process or
contribute to marketing data rather than address existing customers‘ needs.
Finding out about what matters to existing customers is often left to the Market Research
department. Such research, probably valuable in terms of understanding future product
requirements and profiling potential customers, is not necessarily geared to understand
the issues influencing and the current needs of existing customers. It is also not
uncommon for a positive spin to be put on such research in terms of customer
satisfaction rather than identifying problems.
Customers Service adds significant value representing the Voice of the
This is where the Customer Service department can add significant value. Listening to
customers who have experienced problems and are committed enough to contact the
organization provides the concentrated feedback that traditional market research cannot
reach. It alone has regular contact with customers who have experienced problems or
have issues to rise. It knows the issues causing most concern and is best placed to
represent the Voice of the Customer in future business decisions.
But fortunately this voice is rarely heard. There can be a number of reasons for this:
     Service recovery teams are working flat out to resolve immediate problems and
        have no time to be proactive with reporting.
     They do not have the data collection, analytical and reporting tools to deliver
        such feedback.
     Any data collected may only represent a small percentage of the customers who
        have issues and therefore is not considered important.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                         Page 49
        Customer Service positioned too low down the organization for anyone to hear
         the messages it tries to send.
     Management may not believe them even if a message gets through.
This lack of visibility is partly the responsibility of senior management undervaluing the
payback from Customer Service but also that of the Customer Service Manager who is
guilty of not promoting the potential value of effective service recovery and customer
The following eight guidelines provide a framework for raising the profile of Customer
Service and promoting the value of its dual objectives of service recovery and customer
Position Customer Service as a profit centre
Firstly, before even considering the pay back from Customer Service there is a
requirement to have accurate financial data in the first place.
This may demand considerably more attention to financial information than previously.
Although cost centers often have limited budgets they do not experience the same
financial planning and reporting requirements of larger departments.
Therefore the first condition for being treated as a profit centre is to act like one and take
ownership and control of departmental finances. IT is obviously important to maximize
performance in terms of productivity and to justify a return on investment.
To identify the ROI of service recovery and customer feedback the calculation will have
to include information such as the value of potential customers at risk retained, the
impact of both negative and positive word-of-mouth and the financial return from
product and process improvements attribute to customer feedback.
The following benefits can be achieved from effective Customer Service:
     Resolving issues likely to undermine future loyalty promptly and efficiently.
     Retaining customers at risk.
     Increasing corporate goodwill.
     Identifying and rectifying product and service deficiencies.
     Identifying customers, wants, needs and expectations.
     Contributing ―Voice of the Customer‖ knowledge to future product and service
     Representing the ―Voice of the Customer‖ in strategic business decisions.

Top Management must be committed.
Unless Customer Service has the support of top management it is hardly likely to obtain
the buy-in from other departments. It is therefore vital to convince the CEO of the value
Customer Service brings to the business and then to blatantly use that support to build
internal commitment.
Top management are always happier with numbers than with ideology. Take time to
document a business case that justifies the investment in Customer Service resources in
terms of future retention and loyalty and organizational improvement.
Keep the CEO fully briefed with topical, concise and actionable voice of the customer
feedback that provides an insight into customer perceptions and their impact on future
business performance.
It starts at the front-line
A centralized customer service department is no replacement for front line service
recovery. Indeed it is often only the very determined customers who find their way there
anyway. Resolving issues at the first point of contact will achieve higher levels of sati
faction and loyalty.
But the Customer Service department still has an important role in achieving this. It
must provide the professional support to make this happen. Firstly it needs to ensure

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 50
that all front-line staff has the basic customer contact handling skills needed, that they
are empowered to resolve most common issues and know responses to common
situations. They also need to have access to Consumer Service for advice and guidance on
specific issues and, ultimately, as an escalation route.

The Customer Service team therefore provides support to the front-line and act as
experts when needed.

Make it easy and pleasant for customers to contact.
The objective is to ensure that as many customers as possible who have an issue contact
the organization about it rather than take their business elsewhere and tell others about
their negative experience must be a pleasant one.
The following guidelines provide a framework for a customer contact charter that
encourages such contacts
     Customers should know how to contact-information should be widely promoted
        on product packaging and documentation, advertisements and marketing
     They should be able to choose whatever contact medium best suits them-letter,
        telephone, fax, e-mail or face-to-face.
     Contacting should be easy, at the customer‘s convenience and negligible cost in
        both time and money-not necessarily a free-phone but definitely not a five
        minute wait for the call to be answered.
     Their contact should be received by knowledgeable, polite and empowered
        individuals who are obviously interested in understanding and meeting
        customers‘ needs.
     Any problem should be rectified with the minimum of fuss and delay.
     Issues raised should not keep reoccurring-the organization learns from its
     Information requested should be readily available, easily understood and free of
     Customers should leave feeling that their contact was valued and their comments
        appreciated believing that the organization wants to do business with them.

There must be effective resolution process.
Any investment in Customer Service will be wasted unless both Customer Service
department and the front-line achieve high levels of contact satisfaction. Sadly numerous
research studies over recent years have reported that satisfaction levels with service
recovery remains disappointingly low.
Contacts need to be monitored and performance evaluated to ensure that majority of
customers feel that their issue has been satisfactorily resolved. If this has not been
possible they should, at least, be satisfied with the way the contact was handled.
The achievement of this objective requires the position of an effective contact
management process. This would include sufficient trained and experienced staff backed
up by effective business processes, technology and information systems.

Contacts need to be adequately recorded and reported.
Voice of the Customer feedback relies on an effective process for logging, analyzing and
reporting on customers‘ contacts. This must include the cost effective capture of front-
line contacts.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 51
Although there are a number of very effective proprietary solutions available (e.g.
Swallow, Respond and Blue Flag) many organizations still lack the capability to
effectively log, analyze and report on their contacts.

Data must then be analyzed and reported to the rest of the organization. Consider the
following recommendations for effective Voice of the Customer reporting:
     Timely reports-at least monthly reporting.
     Actionable findings-identify solutions as well as issues.
     Tailored to need-adapt reporting to suit the audience, top-line for the board,
       specific detail to relevant departments.
     Provide an economic imperative to act-identify the financial impact of issues.
     Concentrate on what is important-phone in key issues.
     Effective presentation-attractive reporting using charts and verbatim comments
       create interest and enhance quantitative data.
     Participative reporting-regular face-to face meetings with data users to deliver
       results allow findings to be questioned and discussed and encourages two-way
     Dedicated Knowledge Manager-appoint an individual to take responsibility for
       data analysis and reporting and to liaise with data users.
Develop a relationship and communication channel with internal clients for Voice of the
Customer feedback
Customer feedback should be understood throughout the organization. The views of
customers and the issues undermining their satisfaction and loyalty have impact on most
departments including marketing, sales, product development, quality, operations,
finance and production.

The role of Customer Service and the benefits it contributes to organizational
performance should be understood and valued. It is therefore critical that other
departments within the business are fully aware of and appreciate the value of Voice of
the Customer feedback.
This can be achieved by:
     The prompt identification and reporting of issues undermining customer
       satisfaction and future loyalty.
     Provision of assistance in developing solution that resolve such issues promptly
       and efficiently.
     Consultation with other departments to identify exactly what customers‘
       information they want.
     Regular reporting targeted to their specific needs.
     Regular face-to-face meetings to review question and discuss customer feedback.
     Provision of an expert Voice of the Customer representative who can be consulted
       on all business decision impacting on customers (most of them)

Use the Customer Service channel for soliciting proactive feedback
In addition to reporting reactive feedback from customers contact, an additional
opportunity is available to utilize such contacts for soliciting proactive feedback. When
the reason for the customer‘s initial contact has been resolved he/she can be asked for
their comments on any particular issue of concern to the organization.
Using basic on-line research tools, up-to-the-minute data on customers‘ views,
perceptions and suggestions can be recorded and reported almost immediately.
This provides significant added value to the organization at virtually no cost-only a slight
extension contact time.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 52
                CUSTOMER COMPLAIN
Your Most Unhappy Customers Are Your Greatest Source of Learning.

A customer who complains to you should be valued-many of your dissatisfied customers
will take their business elsewhere and give you an opportunity to respond. Bill Gates has
stated that: ―Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning‖.

―I really care for you and I want to stay together”, “Do you really want to end this
relationship?”, “Why don‟t you speak to me?”, “Why do you find it so hard to say
sorry?” , “Why can‟t you acknowledge my hurt?”, “Why don‟t you care?”

Comments from a marriage counseling session? No. But they are comments of customers
who are feeling unloved, who want a relationship to blossom but a problem has been
allowed to grow and grow until the relationship breaks down with no chance of
reconciliation. It‘s such a letdown when you tell someone you trust about a problem but
they do nothing or little other uttering a few, vaguely interested reassurances to help
resolves the problem. None of us are perfect and most of us are accepting of the odd
mistakes but we do expect to engage in a dialogue to make sure that something is done to
put thing s right and prevent the problem from happening again.

But how do you treat these loyal customers who want an ongoing relationship with you?
Do you make it easy for them to talk to you?

Up to two-thirds of dissatisfied customers do complain to the provider of the purchased
product or service but many remained unheard. Why? Because available channels are
too limited and restrictive businesses too often require the complaining customer to go a
great deal of effort to have any concerns properly heard-making them spend time writing
and posting a complaint and get little opportunity to discuss the problem experienced
with someone who grasps ownership of the complaint and directs the process in
achieving resolution.

Sometimes, communication within a relationship breaks down and some external help to
get the relationship back on track. We may rely on the support of friends and family or
we may get professional support through counseling and mediation. We can do the same
in complaint handlers to mediate and help both parties to find a solution that gets them
communicating again and allows the rebuilding of the relationship.
But sometimes, the solution is separation and we have to recognize that sometimes we
must let go of a customer. But we need to do so in a way that is understanding and
clearly communicated.
Do you measure the customer feedback experience-do you understand the expectations
of the complaining customer and how often do you match those expectations?
Do you reassure your customers by letting them know how you develop and change for
the better by listening to their comments?

Key Learning Points
Many businesses still look on complaints as those customers who are difficult and
impossible to satisfy but business that value the complaining customer build loyalty,
increase customer retention and build a good reputation in the marketplace.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 53
A Warwick Business School study found that consumers considered an
effective complaint management process to be the key differentiator in 43%
of the UK business with good reputations.

If you want to build long and loving relationships with your customers then:
     Always be open to discussing problems with your customers.
     Listen and emphasize-consider the reasons behind the dissatisfaction and hurt.
     Be personal and caring –don‘t brush them aside with automated, standard
     Say sorry and acknowledge the problem-even if you believe you are not in the
     Show your affection when you‘re in the wrong-but don‘t overdo it!
     Give customers and complaint handlers access to someone who ca n comes in to
        mediate when a solution cannot be found but a continued relationship is still
     Take time to think about your actions and look at ways to improve the way you do
        thing in future.


Despite the headline, complaint management is serious business. Organizations spend
huge budgets on compensation, without really learning why their customers have cause
to complain, or, more importantly, how their front line teams are best equipped for this
most influential of loyalty effecting contacts.
―It is how satisfied you keep your customers, its how many satisfied customers you
Never a truer word has ever been said about the world of complaints and complaints
handling. Every research from a variety of sources, reminds us that if we don‘t equip our
customer contact staff with the basic skills in effective complaint handling, we leave
ourselves open to those nomadic customers who look mind set approaches to complain
resolution. The following observations are common in almost all organizations
      Complaints functions are still seen as cost centers (and not the business
         development potential they should be)
      Most players use the same, or similar, software management solutions (that, in
         my mind, de-humanize the emotions behind the original customer concern)
      This combination leads to a bland, boring, repetitive approach (to the very
         occasions that cry out for an individual, empathetic handling to drive a truly
         influential complaints memory.

Where the principles of Service Memory Management really make a difference is
when these accepted rules are turned on their heads, looked at from the disgruntled
customers perspective and peppered with a liberal sprinkling of ‗serious fun‘.
You will recognize the basis of most of these. Indeed they probably feature in the
majority of the popular ‗How to‘ complaint handling books and journals. May even be
present in your own in-house systems today.

The difference comes in real, personal application. The 10 customer-facing
recommendations now look like this and are as at home in the corner shop as they are in
multiple touch point functions.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 54
    1. Stay calm relaxed and say Sorry quickly. (Many customers expect a ‗fight‟.
        Surprise them with your personal apology and your passive demeanor to
        diffuse the situation.
    2. Really Listen and demonstrate initial understanding, taking notes so the
        customer can see (or hear) you doing it. (An instant first impression of care).
    3. Empathize don‘t sympathize (Real understanding is what‘s needed, not a quick
        ‗Sorry about that.‘).
    4. Check understanding early, summarize regularly and clarify your own thoughts
        (to provide further evidence of interest).
    5. Be careful with your resolution promises. Do what you say you‘ll do-but quicker
        (Research dictates the old adage ‗under promise, over deliver‘ is more valued in
        complaint situations)
    6. Take full responsibility for your customer‘s problem. (You need it be trusted.
        Blaming someone else is easy but out of the question).
    7. Wherever possible, tell your customer that YOU will research and resolve their
        problem, if you can‘t resolve it there and then. ( If your customer does leave you
        to resolve matters they need to know they are getting a personal service from
    8. If compensation is called for, be creative. (Cash compensation runs the risk of
        putting your own value on the relationship you enjoy. found out some personal
        details about your customer and send a thoughtful gift. have fun trying to find
        the perfect gift to present your apology and make your customer smile.)
    9. Always follow up. (The norm tends to be a standard letter or „how was it for
        you?‟ call. what is really required is a contact of genuine interest that also tells
        the customer what impact their complaints has had on the organization a
        process change. Achieve that and just wait for the plaudits.)
    10. Learn from your mistakes by engaging everyone regularly. (Don‟t just say to your
        team „what went wrong today? instead ask „how did we make our customers
        feel? then excite your customers by asking them to an advocates forum. surprise
        them all by publicly displaying the results.
Ask with all breakthrough strategies, perseverance, monitored adherence and due
diligence to detail are the guidelines for success.
At the same time, allowing your teams the latitude to enjoy experimenting with the
principles is what is currently paying dividends.
Enjoy and transform.

The quest for 100% customer satisfaction is like the quest for most forms of perfection-a
little unrealistic. Problems often happen because the environment in which your
business operates changes with the changing wants and needs of customers, market
regulation and so on.
Any business should put process in place to identify customer satisfaction, put problems
right, deliver quality services and products and build better business relationships. The
best will invest in effective complaint handling processes recognizing the return in terms
of fully understanding the needs of customers, increased customer loyalty and retention,
positive word of mouth advertising and free notification of potential service problems,
product failures or non-compliance with regulations and complaints.
Attitudes to complaining in a business environment.

The National Complaints Culture Survey 2000 (carried in the UK,) gathered the
opinions of consumers and a variety of businesses. The survey found that 44% of people
will now complain all or most of the time when they encounter a problem with a service

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 55
or purchased goods. Incidence of complaining in a business to business environment is
greater than consumer complaints. An average of only 25-30% of business customers
said they complain to the front-line-but 75% of business to business customers complain
to a front-line member of staff. Often, a complaint to the front-line goes unrecorded-
important information about a product or service is lost.
The number of complaints can also be affected by the perceived loss. A high loss can
result in 75% of customers complaining and a loss can reduce the figure to 5% or less.
Customer sometimes want written confirmation of action taken but 73% of people would
like some personal contact by phone or face to quickly resolve the problem.

You should note that the National Complaints Survey 2000 found 58% of employees
expressed dissatisfaction with the level of empowerment given to them to resolve a
complaint. Employees expressed concern about being untrained in complaint handling
and being left unsupported. Many said their organization actively discouraged them
from resolving complaints. An unresolved complaint in a business to business
environment could be particularly damaging to your business...

Complaints can improve customer loyalty (...or drive customers away!)
Your business customers who complain are likely to be regular users of your services or
products. A well handled complaint can actually increase customer loyalty:
     Customers are more likely to use your services again or purchase further products
        in future (and also sing your praises)
     The use of a dedicated call centre (0800 numbers) for reporting complaints
        increases customer reporting of problems but also shows your customers that you
        are sincere in wanting to know about problems (improving your image)
It should be noted that 53% of examples of outstanding service resulted from complaints
handled well by a business.

A well-handled complaint will also.
        Educate your customer in the working of your business.
        Ensure that your customer will be easier to deal with in future contacts.
        Be an opportunity for you to impress your sense of responsibility in business.
Remember the impact a poorly a handled complaint can have on business. A
customer experiencing difficulties in achieving a resolution is likely to
spread bad press about your business:
           A dissatisfied customer tells 10 to 25 others a bad experience.
           Internet customers are becoming increasingly aware of e-mail chat with
              colleagues and business partners)
A poorly handled complaint can create customers who are:
           Badly informed about your business.
           Time-consuming or go elsewhere.
 Ease of complaint reporting can be equally important in making sure that
your customers complain in most cost-effective ways.
If you have a complaint process that is difficult to access you will find that
the process:
     Is only accessible to your most knowledgeable customers.
     Create difficult customers who may:
          a. Withhold or delay payment.
          b. Give up and go elsewhere.
          c. Make successive (costly) contacts across your business.
          d. Misses out on vital information for your business.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                        Page 56
The cost of winning new business compared to retaining existing business can be as high
as 20 to 100.An effective complaint process will be far-reaching across your business-
touching the parts that most other customer retention systems fail to get to! Your
processes will be more customer-focused with customers aiding the business through
quick reporting of possible areas. You will have a valuable source of information for
flagging possible problem areas-ideal for feeding in to quality assurance processes and
testing compliance with any relevant regulations and legislation.
When developing or reviewing a complaint process make sure you get the
basics right. Easy access to the process is all important. You will need to
     A free-phone help-line for reporting complaints.
     Publicity-why not give information on how to complain on invoices or as an
        insert with contract documents.
     Don‘t limit customers in the they communicate problems give fax and email
        contacts and consider the differing needs of customers in your particular market
        place- do you need to have a specific form on your web site for business to
        business customers to reports problems?
     Communicate in clear terms- remember a complaint is an opportunity to educate
        a customer about your products and services. A complaint may highlight that a
        partner is not using the full capabilities of a particular product-maybe the
        customer needs to purchase an additional add-in. A complaint is an opportunity
        for you to sell the benefits your business can provide. Poor communication will
        cause you to lose out.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                         Page 57
                 Customer complaints!!
               Turn them into More Sales.
   Customer complaints can cause you to lose future sales from customers and from
   everybody else who hears about their bad experience. Or you can turn customer
   complaints into more sales from these same customers and the people they influence.
   How you handle your customers‘ determines which of these two results you get
   Here are 7 simple actions you can take to turn customer complaints into more sales.
   1. Plan for Complaints.
   You can never eliminate every customer complaint. Some mistakes happen regardless of how
   carefully you try to prevent them. Expect to get a few complaints periodically. It‘s part of
   operating business. Handle complaints with a positive attitude. Strive to preserve your
   relationship with the complaining customer instead of your immediate profit from them.
   Make your customer happy now and they will reward you later with more sales.
   2. Make Resolving Complaints a Priority.
   Surprise your customer with a quick response to their complaint. If you cannot solve the
   problem immediately, let them know you consider it a priority. Then do whatever you can to
   resolve the problem fast. The longer a customer has to worry about getting their problem
   solved the less likely they will accept a satisfactory solution and remain your customer.
   3. Conduct Yourself Professional.
   Conduct yourself professionally even when a complaining customer does not. Complaining
   customers sometimes act hostile because they expect you to resist solving their problem. You
   can calm their hostility by letting them know you genuinely want to help them. Assure them
   you will do everything possible to solve their problem.
   4. Take Responsibility
   Take responsibility for resolving your customer‘s complaint even if the problem was not your
   fault. Apologize for the inconvenience. Briefly explain the probable cause of the problem.
   Then tell your customer exactly what you will do to correct it. Don‘t focus on blaming
   someone else for the problem. It sounds like an excuse. And never stretch the truth in your
   response to a complaint. Making excuses and explaining something the customer suspects is
   inaccurate can destroy your credibility.
   5. Compensate Your Customer for the Inconvenience.
   Complaining customers hope they can get a satisfactory solution to their problem.
   But they often expect to get something less.
   Surprise them by solving their problem AND giving them something extra to
   compensate them for their inconvenience. This helps customers forget about the
   problem they had. Instead, they will remember the special attention you gave them.
   6. Follow Up to Confirm Satisfaction.
   After solving your customer‘s problem, follow up to confirm their satisfaction with
   the outcome. This reinforces your relationship with the customer.
   TIP: Once you confirm the customer is pleased with the way resolved their
   complaint, give them a special offer not generally available to other customers or
   prospects. Offer them a special discount on their next transaction. Or offer to include
   a special bonus item with their next order. This motivates them get back into the
   habit of buying from you.
   7. Take Action to Prevent Similar Complaints.
   After resolving a customer complaint; try to identify exactly what caused it. A
complaint often reveals some weaknesses in your business procedure. Many times this
weakness is minor and you can easily correct it to avoid similar complaints in the future.
Customer complaints can cause you to lose future sales from customers and from
everybody else who listens to their sad story. Don‘t let that happen to you.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                Page 58
 Stop telling customers how great you
  If you're in the business of satisfying customers, the only thing that
                         matters is what you DO!

It's almost a cliche to see and hear organizations advertise to prospective customers about
how great their service is. As if somehow, great customer service were just that...bragging
about how much you care. You see it all the time, no matter if you're at the car dealer, the
bank or the grocery store.

We've all heard the sage advice that "It's what you do, not what you say." "Actions speak louder than
words." "Deed, not creed." "Talk is cheap."
If you're in the business of providing positive customer experiences for your firm's clients, this
concept is critical to understand. So why do so many businesses continue to make the same mistake?
What these businesses don't realize is that today's consumers are pretty sophisticated
operators and they see through such marketing noise for what it is. In fact, if your business is
bragging to customers about how great your service is, but your staff doesn't deliver to those
promised expectation levels, one could argue that such puffery actually does more harm to
your brand than never having promised anything at all! I can think of plenty of times I've
been frustrated at a service experience only to notice some cheesy service promise on their
literature or receipt about (insert high pitched, whiny voice) "how valued I am." It's the
definition of irony. I assume some clever ad agency or marketing genius wrote the copy
without giving any thought at all about how an unhappy customer would actually be insulted
by it down the road.

The things which matter most in the customer satisfaction business are the specific actions
and techniques your organization employs to demonstrate your commitment to your
customer. Think about your situation for a moment. How well do your daily actions
demonstrate your commitment to your customer's happiness? Do you spend more time
telling customers how much you care? Or actually working to solve their problems?

For an excellent real-world example of this phenomenon, examine Nordstrom. The Seattle-
based retailer is on many people's short list of impressive service providers. Yet, when was
the last time you saw or heard an ad from Nordstrom gloating about how high their level of
care is? They don't need to because they let their actions do all the talking.

Nordstrom has figured out one of the bedrock principles of winning the customer satisfaction
game: Invest very little in bragging about how good you are and put lots of resources into
demonstrating how much you care. Because demonstrating how much you care is the only
thing that matters to your customers.

Sure, Nordstrom likely spends more than the industry average by taking back merchandise
that wasn't bought from them or sending handwritten thank you cards or tracking down far-
flung merchandise requests that other retailers might only laugh about. But in the long haul,
they've obviously found it very worthwhile. There are tremendous economic payoffs with
these acts. People are astounded by the service and they like to tell other people.

Customers doing your bragging for you? Now we're on to something meaningful!
As you interact with customers, give some thought to how your organization can be the
subject of a positive service story in the future

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                     Page 59
    Things Your Customers Won‟t Tell
Most business owners know that customers will walk – take their business elsewhere if
they‘re not treated as they‘d like to be. But how does a business owner find out what the
customer really likes or dislikes?

I‘m not a person to be confrontational and cause a scene. However, there are several
things that bother me when I call or walk into an establishment. If you pass this on to
management, it couldn‘t hurt and probably would help. Thank you.

Dear Manager:

     Nobody greeted me when I walked into your store. No one said, ―Hello,‖ no one
      asked if they could help me, and no one said goodbye when I walked out. Well, at
      least I wasn‘t any trouble.
     Your sales staff looked tired. Yea, they did. Otherwise why wouldn‘t they greet me
      with a big smile and some enthusiasm? It didn‘t look like they even wanted me in
      the place.
     I bought a lot of stuff. I couldn‘t believe no one said, ―Thank you.‖ No one told me
      to enjoy my purchase. I did get a luke warm ―Have a nice day.‖ But it was said so
      routinely, it didn‘t mean anything to me.
     When I phoned for some information, my call was treated as an annoyance. I
      sensed very little desire to be of any real help. Know what I did then? I called a
      few more places until I found one who sounded as though they wanted my order.
     Whoever answered your phone never identified themselves. I happen to like to
      know who I‘m talking with and when I don‘t, it hurts any trust I might give your
     During the phone call, the voice of whoever answered sounded aggressive and
      challenging. I didn‘t feel very welcomed.
     When I walked in, all your employees were talking and laughing amongst
      themselves and ignored me until I asked a question.
     There was no management around. Remember the old saying ―when the boss is
      away, the mice will play.‖ Guess what? They do!
     When I told your staff about my problem, which was important to me, no one
      sympathized with me. It was ‗business as usual‘ for them.
     Everyone looked angry. No one was smiling. Remember, sometimes it‘s the
      things you ‗don‘t do‘ that make me want to go elsewhere.

Thanks for listening. We all know these are basic common sense topics, but we also know
that basic common sense isn't too common.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 60
Five Ways to Sabotage Your Business
Believe it or not, there are many, many ways to sabotage your business. And, chances
are, your staff is doing some of these now, without your even knowing it. And worse yet,
you've probably even heard some of this yourself (ouch!). That‘s the bad news.

The good news is, through our many surveys, we‘re able to bring to you the top five
sabotage practices and then show you how to neutralize the effects. So, get ready. You
and your staff are about to be in a much better position to handle: The Five Top Ways to
Sabotage Your Business Today:

It‟s Not Our Policy

This, unfortunately, is used more as an excuse than anything else. It‘s a sure thing that
the employee has not been shown how to explain a policy to someone. This phrase is
used, then, more as something to say when the employee doesn't know what to say. The
customer then calls that an "excuse."
When the customer hears "it‘s not our policy," they immediately respond (usually
silently) with, "WHO CARES?" What a business needs to understand is, no one but the
management and staff cares about your policies. Do you really think the customer says to
himself or herself as they enter or call your place of business, "Gee, I wonder what their
policy is on this issue?"
All this being said, there are companies who do have policies that make it more difficult
to work with them than with others. So here‘s a suggestion: Decide on your policy, then
work as a team with your staff to find a positive way to explain it to the customer.
Otherwise, it'll be the customer‘s policy not to do business with you!

It‟s Not My Department

Well, then who's is it? Let‘s remember one of the Best Achievers mottos: Tell the
customer what you do, not what you DON'T do. If someone mistakenly gets to your
extension and asks for something that you don't handle, the following is far more
effective: "Hi, I work in the paint department. Let me get you to someone in the area you
need." This is far more effective than telling someone it‘s not your department. (Let‘s not
say, "YOU have the wrong department." Take full responsibility with the "I" statement.)

My Computer‟s Down

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We've all heard that one. And Ouch! That one hurts because there are
still many customers who remember the days BEFORE the computer. My goodness, how
did we ever survive? Sure it‘s easier to have the computer but, believe it or not, millions -
of businesses, were launched and operated on 3 x 5 cards or some other type of manual

When your computer crashes, this sounds so much better: "I'll be delighted to help may take a little longer as I'll need to do things by hand...our computers are
currently down." This way you've still explained what happened and they'll have a little
more compassion as you've offered assistance - and didn't simply blame the computer
for your inability to help.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 61
I Wasn‟t Here That Day (or I was on vacation when that happened)

This one personally really makes me laugh. I don't remember asking them if they were
there that day. Do you really think the customer cares if you weren't here when their
problem happened? Honestly, they don't, so that‘s not even an issue to discuss. Just hit
the problem head on - apologize without telling them where you were...or weren't.
Remember, you ARE the company whether you were at work or on vacation when the
issue occurred.


SO? OK, you‘re new. Now what? Does being "new" allow you to be anything but super to
the customer? When the customer hears this sabotaging statement, do you really think
they say: "Oh, so you‘re new? So that‘s why I'm getting bad service? Well, then that‘s‘re new... no problem."

Yes, even if you are new, the customer honestly believes you should know everything
about your job.

Here‘s the Best Achievers method on this one. You can tell the customer, "Please bear
with me, I've only been here a few weeks." That will buy you time. For whatever reason,
hearing the short LENGTH of time you are with the company means more to the
customer than, "I'm new." Again, it‘s more of an "excuse." Remember to state the length
of time. It‘s a credibility enhancement. "I'm NEW" is a credibility buster.

Good luck. !

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 62
             7 Steps to Service Recovery
 Almost anyone who‘s been in a customer service position has had the opportunity of
running into either an irate call or person...or a situation that, shall we say, is not
pleasant. And even though it may not even be our fault, we still need to know how to
recover the situation.

      It is your responsibility. If you have answered the phone on behalf of the
       company, you have indeed accepted 100% responsibility. At least that‘s what the
       caller/customer believes. So get off the "it‘s not my fault" syndrome. And get on
       with the "what can I do for you?" position.

     "I‘m sorry" DOES work. Every once in a while, I hear from a CSR that tells me
      they don‘t feel they should say "I‘m sorry" when it wasn‘t their fault. Well, as
      stated above, in the customer‘s mind, it is your fault. Saying you‘re sorry won‘t fix
      the problem, but it definitely does help to defuse it immediately. Try it. You‘ll see.

     Empathize immediately. When someone is angry or frustrated with your
      company, the one thing they need is someone to agree with them, or at least feel
      they‘re being understood. Be careful, though: "I know how you feel" is NOT a
      good thing to say unless you have been through exactly what they have
      experienced. Try – "That‘s got to be so frustrating" or "What an unfortunate

     IMMEDIATE action is necessary to make a service recovery. Don‘t make a
      customer wait for good service. Get whatever it is they need to them immediately.
      Overnight service if it‘s necessary. That‘s recovery. REMEMBER: Best Achievers
      motto: It should never take 2 people to give good customer service.

     Ask what would make them happy. In a few rare cases, the customer can be a
      most difficult one. If you have tried what you considered "everything," simply ask
      the customer: "What can I do to make you happy, Mr. Jones?" In most cases, it
      may be something you‘re able to do. You just may not have thought of it. So go
      ahead and ask them.

     Understand the true meaning of Service Recovery. Service Recovery is not just
      fixing the problem. It‘s making sure it won‘t happen again. It‘s listening to the
      customer. It‘s going above and beyond.

     FOLLOW UP. After you feel the problem has been fixed, follow up. After you‘ve
      made the customer happy, make an extra phone call a day or so later. Be sure to
      ask them: "Have we fixed everything for you?" "What else can we do for you?" Be
      sure they‘re satisfied. When you hear: "Thanks, you‘ve done a great job. I
      appreciate it." Then you know you‘ve achieved.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 63
 How to Optimize Customer Feedback
      from Numerous Sources
   Can't see the wood for the trees? Learn how to identify and develop key
                             customer messages.
For an increasing number of companies today a major challenge is to identify the key
customer messages from a wide range of sources and then look to develop these
messages into an overall customer story. It is all too easy for the greater message to
become hidden by the latest single piece of customer knowledge.

This challenge of being able to ‗see the wood for the trees‘ will become increasingly
important as:

1. There is increasing pressure to maximize the ROI from market research budgets by
gaining the maximum level of insight
2. Multi-channel customer interfaces lead to multi-channel customer feedback, with an
increasing need for consolidation and comparison
3. Companies look increasingly to differentiate themselves on the customer experience
rather than price
4. The customer strategy needs to be developed based upon customer needs data, both
from internal and external sources
5. The success of the rollout of the customer strategy needs to be measured from both the
customers‘ viewpoint and internal data

So potentially what are the data sources to be used by companies?
It is not only the Market Research or Market Insight team that will generate customer
feedback but a whole host of other teams (some intentionally, some not).
• Customer complaints data – some of which will be captured centrally and recorded,
other complaints may be received at a more local level and not formally recorded
• Employee feedback, both in terms of an employee satisfaction programme, and in
terms of gaining employee views about specific customer experiences e.g. complaints,
refunds etc
• Sales / Account Management reviews
• Win / Loss reviews
• Contact -centre logging reasons for contact
• Shop floor staff feedback on what customers talk to them about
• Qualitative and Quantitative market research commissioned by departments other than
the research team
• Transactional data from point of sale
• Customer Loyalty programme data
• Omnibus surveys
• Industry surveys
• Sales figures
• Product returns
• Customer event feedback
• Online customer forums
• Blogs
This list is almost endless!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 64
Having obtained the data sources, what are the challenges that are likely to
be faced?
With more than one team of people gathering customer feedback it is possible that there
will be a lack of consistency, and therefore comparability of data. For example, any of the
following could be key issues when examining multiple data sources:
• Definitions of customer segments / groups
• Sample size variation and comparability
• Timing, both in terms of possibly conflicting with each other, or being too far apart and
therefore difficult to compare
• One-off piece of research versus ongoing data collection
• The data from another exercise as by-product (and therefore less attention was paid to
its potential ongoing value to the business)
• Scales used within surveys are not compatible

So how do we solve the problem?

Clearly every company is unique in what it captures and therefore we cannot in this short
article give precise answers in achieving this global view of customers‘ experience with
your organisation. What we can do though is provide some stepping stones (or should
that be a chain saw to remove some of those trees!).
1. Identify a single person, or small team that is responsible for defining your customer
strategy. This needs to be built around the customer knowledge you have to date, and
what will be required in the future. It may be worth initially considering the use of an
external independent person to ensure that there is a totally unbiased view of data
captured to date. It will also ensure that people‘s ―day jobs‖ can be maintained whilst this
review of available data takes place.
2. Proactively go out to other teams who have a customer interface and identify what
data they may have on customer feedback. Offer to provide them with a summary of all
of the data that you collect from this exercise. This community of data providers will
prove valuable not only in the future in providing additional data, but are likely to also
have a key role to play in executing the customer strategy.
3. Before reviewing all of the captured data develop a framework showing what questions
need answering and therefore what data would ideally be available.
4. It may be worth considering developing different frameworks for different customer
groups. Clearly you need to start with the most important customer group.
5. Prioritize the available identified data sources against this framework, and be
prepared to discard some as irrelevant, out of date etc. Be prepared to remove some of
the customer data sources - just because it is available does not make it valuable!
6. Review the remaining data sources and note key points that come from each piece of
7. Look to identify common themes that start to become unearthed as you review the
data sources. Note: for other people the strength of the argument will be much stronger
if you have multiple sources confirming the same point. These common themes will form
the overall story, and therefore the overall customer strategy. How that evolves will
clearly be very different for each organisation.
8. Carefully track the data sources as you develop the overall story as people will rightly
ask you where it came from, and may ask for additional information from the same
9. Conclude the key messages and associated actions, with references back to the
relevant data sources.
10. Recommend which data sources should be used to track the impact of the customer
strategy, and which could possibly be removed.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 65
     Your Customers - Have You Asked
           Their Opinion Lately
  Learn about the importance of having an "ask strategy" and how to
                          implement it..

Bound for Savannah, sitting on a transfer boat from a resort island in South Carolina, I cannot
help thinking about the resort; beautiful and staffed by nice people. But is that enough? I think

How Was Your Stay?
When I checked out of the resort, the woman at the front desk never asked me about my stay;
wonderful, good, bad, or indifferent. This is the best time to query guests-asking for their honest
feedback about their stay. However, nobody cared to ask me.
Had she, I would have mentioned the cob webs hanging from the ceiling, the fact
that the bathroom was in desperate need of repair, that I had to call to request
maid service, and that none of the resort's materials were in the room, not even a
pen and paper-good thing I did not need to order room service.

My Conversation
As I leave, the conversation that I'm having with myself about the resort is, at best, mixed. While
most of the time that I'm visiting hotels and resorts is as a speaker, I also organize a number of
small meetings each year. Would I bring my group to this island resort? I really do not think I
would. My conversation with myself about the place is, "Pretty property and nice people, however
I truly question the competency of the resort's staff.
Every time one of your customers does business with you, it is your opportunity to
develop or strengthen the relationship-or to damage it.

What's Their Conversation?
How in the world can you query all your customers? Simple, ask them. You can have customer
service representatives ask your telephone customers and you can have other employees ask in-
person customers. How do you get your employees to ask? Motivate them through incentive. This
information is golden as you periodically review your business strategy.
Earlier this week, when I was in my office, I received a call from one of my suppliers. The
customer service person was calling to ask how we could do more business together. I
suggested a strategy change for sample ordering from their web site-to make ordering
easier on the customer. They asked! And, if they make the change, I will do more business
with them.

Ask Strategies
Consider developing both a formal and informal "ask strategy" for your organization. The
informal will consist of your employees asking at every possible opportunity, "How are we doing?"
And, truly caring to listen, and record, the answers offered by customers. Offer various low cost
incentives to employees that turn in their "ask sheets" each week. Hold contests only allowing the
people that turned in their "ask sheets" that week, or month, to participate. Offer positive
For your formal ask strategy; mail out "ask surveys" with every order. Incentivize your
customers to participate. Have your sales staff conduct an "ask session" with every
customer quarterly-and incentivize the sales staff for their participation.

Path toward Improvement
You can improve your products and services much more effectively when you have a deeper
understanding of what your customers consider to be valuable and important. Your "ask strategy"
will quickly fill in your knowledge gaps in this area. You do want to serve your customers the way
they want to be served, don't you?

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                    Page 66
          The Answer‟s yes…What‟s the
    A useful action plan to banish the word "NO" from your service

I hate the word ―NO‖! I truly do, I can‘t believe how many people from so many
companies use it. It should be stricken from the English vocabulary. Ok maybe that‘s a
little severe, but it certainly should be stricken from any customer service focused

Recently, I was speaking at a prominent hotel in Nairobi and when I got to my room I
ordered room service. When I was asked if I wanted fries or coleslaw as my side, I
inquired if I could have a side of fruit.

The person‘s response was a quick and unfriendly ―NO- fries or coleslaw?‖. Now they
offer fruit as a dish on the menu, so obviously NO was not the correct answer. How
about, ―certainly, while you cannot substitute the fruit for your side dish, I can add it to
your order should you wish‖?

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, 27 upscale restaurants in seven states, headquartered in
Columbus Ohio, not only has removed the word NO from their 2000 associates
vocabulary, they have one of the best service brand promises that I have come across;
―The answer‘s yes…now what‘s the question‖? This is not just lip service, everyone in this
company walks this talk throughout the organization. They have created such a strong
above & beyond legacy that nearly everyone is trying to outdo each other daily, with
unconventional ways they can exceed their guests expectations.

Cameron himself created a brilliant metaphor that the company‘s service philosophy is
founded on. It is known as the ―Milkshake‖. Legend has it, several years ago Cameron
was a customer with his family at a restaurant and his son asked if he could have a
milkshake. The server said ―NO‖! There‘s that word again. Cameron knowing that the
restaurant has ice cream, milk and a blender all at their disposal, couldn‘t fathom why
someone wouldn‘t accommodate a guest when it was so simple. So the Milkshake
became an icon to remind everyone in the organization about finding a way to say yes.

Having two young kids myself, I can‘t tell you how many times this exact scenario has
happened to me. As well as more than a few times we have been to a restaurant and one
of my kids didn‘t like anything on the kid‘s menu and asked if he could have a grilled
cheese sandwich, nearly every time the answer was ―NO‖! You mean to tell me that every
restaurant doesn‘t have bread & cheese they could throw on a stove?

The Milkshake has grown into a life of its own at Cameron Mitchell‘s. The company does
an incredible job with the constant awareness of what the milkshake represents. They
start every company meeting with a ―milkshake toast‖, they have a ―Milkshake Award‖
given to the associates who best demonstrate the spirit of their service brand promise,
―the answer‘s yes…now what‘s the question‖. If you walk into any of their locations, it is
likely you will see several associates wearing milkshake pins, milkshake icons on posters,
memos, training material and pictures.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 67
Action Plan

To start, ensure that every employee understands that there is NO worse crime that they
could commit than saying that horribly offensive two-letter word ―NO‖. Are there times
when you absolutely cannot accommodate someone‘s wishes? Certainly.

That is why you must do two exercises as an organization:

The first exercise is consider all the common situations that may arise that are difficult
for you to say ―yes‖ to and work on creative alternative responses to each. So your
employees can be trained to make your customers feel like their request was granted,
similar to my ―side of fruit‖ dilemma.

The second exercise is to create a metaphor that is similar to Cameron Mitchell‘s
milkshake. Then advertise the hell out of it to your entire organization, on a daily basis
through recognition, signage, awards and other themes. Empower everyone in your
company to do whatever it
takes to deliver genuine hospitality.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 68
      Why Complaining Customers are
 We don't always think of customer complaints as opportunities, but that's
                            just what they are.
It has probably happened to you. You get an email or even a phone call from someone
who is upset or unhappy with this or that about your business. Most of us don‘t really
care to deal with whiners or complainers, but, if you‘ll just take a deep breath and take
some time to think about it, many times they offer you some solid insight into your
business that you would not have seen. If you just react to their complaint without taking
the position that their concern might be legitimate, you will lose many valuable insights
and may very likely lose a customer.
After all, they are on the receiving end of your business, and you can‘t disregard this.
Whether they are just irritated or are really upset for some reason, you need to be
prepared for how to respond. Take a deep breath and keep the following in mind the next
time you have a run-in with a disgruntled or upset customer.

1. They often identify potential problem areas.
The cause of most customer complaints is failed expectations. It could have been
something you said, or failed to say. It could have been something you did or didn‘t do.
Or maybe your customer is simply confused. Whatever the case, customers are usually
unhappy because they expected something from you that didn‘t occur, and from their
perspective, needs to be remedied. If the cause of their dissatisfaction is reasonable,
guess what? They just helped you see something you missed, and now you can take care
of it and make your business even better. And that is a blessing. It‘s best to make sure
you make things right by giving your customer what they expected (if it is reasonable)
and then do something else – give an extra gift of value to your customer and a genuine
thank you for bringing it to your attention. Their jaw will usually hit the floor. You would
be absolutely amazed at how this will turn even the most dissatisfied complainer into an
extremely loyal and perhaps even a lifetime (and happy) customer.

2. The complaining customer represents others who won‟t say a word.
If you have a customer who makes a complaint about something related to your
business, you should assume the there are others who probably had the same issue, but
never said a word to you. It‘s a well-established fact that the majority of your customers
generally won‘t utter a peep. They typically prefer to avoid confrontation, and so they will
just leave and start doing business with one of your competitors. You want to avoid this
like the plague. The best way to do that is to make sure you ask your customers regularly
for their candid feedback. And then be sure to make adjustments and let them know
what you did.

3. A complaint is often a wake-up call for what your customers really need.
It‘s one thing for you to figure out what you think your customers need, but it‘s even
better when they tell you. Since most customer complaints are based on failed
expectations, a complaint is an excellent opportunity to assess how well you are actually
meeting the needs of your customers. If more than one customer makes the same
suggestion or complaint, guess what? That‘s a clue you probably should take a closer look
at an issue. You need to figure out if you need to tweak your sales message, your product
or service, or the way you provide service and support. Whatever it is, its bound to

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 69
improve your business because you will be responding to the stated needs of your

4. When they are done complaining, they will talk with others.

It‘s so important to remember that the way you handle a customer complaint is not the
end of the matter! In fact, it‘s actually much closer to the beginning. A complaint is a
tremendous opportunity if you handle the situation tactfully. This is because if you listen
and respond to a complaint by fixing what was wrong, and send your customer off with a
gift and a thank you – they will tell at least 10 other people about their experience. That‘s
called word of mouth advertising – the most powerful form of advertising on the planet
– and that‘s where your opportunity lies. And though it may not result in more
customers for you, it just might – and in any event, it sure can‘t hurt. You need to keep in
mind that this door swings both ways. If you fail to resolve a complaint, they will talk
with even MORE people about it! This can cause great damage to your online reputation
– a mortal blow to the trust you seek to cultivate with your customers and prospects,
which, by the way, is the most important online commodity you have.

5. Your customer is far more important to your business than a prospect.
With all the emphasis most online business owners put into marketing, it‘s easy to
overlook this simple fact. A focus on marketing can be a distraction
from investing more time on and with your customers. If you treat a complaining
customer with respect, tact, care, and genuine understanding – you might wind up
keeping them in the end – especially if they believe that their concerns are appreciated
and will be corrected immediately. Don‘t forget, it‘s FAR less expensive (both financially
and in many other ways) to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. You
might even want to follow up and tell your customer what actions you intend to take as a
result of their complaint or suggestion. And then be sure to follow-up with them again
and tell them what you actually did. If they see that kind of response from you, what will
they think? They will know you value their feedback – and for many customers – that
makes all the difference – even if you fail to remedy the issue completely. Keep in mind
that ANY time you have an opportunity to connect in a positive way by giving a customer
positive news is great for your business, and puts them in a better frame of mind towards
you - which means they will be more likely to think of you the next time they need a
solution you have to offer. Because you‘ve effectively communicated that you are
responsive to their needs.

6. Fixing complaints removes excuses to not buy from you.
If you invest the time and energy to eliminate the cause(s) of failed expectations your
customers come up with, guess what you‘ve just done? You‘ve just taken away more
roadblocks that might otherwise prevent them from buying from you. So, my motto is, I
want to hear all about it when my customers are unhappy! Because the more I hear, the
more I can take action to demonstrate that what they want is important to me. Working
to eliminate obstacles on their behalf causes my customers to see me as one of their
solution providers – and ultimately, their best choice.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 70
          Managing Caller Hostility on a
          Customer Complaint Hotline
      How to avoid anger spiraling out of control on the telephone.

A customer complaint hotline can be a great tool for businesses to gather intelligence about
marketing, measure customer satisfaction, and build or repair goodwill with customers.

However, operating a customer complaint hotline presents a number of unique challenges.

Two of the unique challenges of customer complaint hotlines that can be greatly aided
through the effective use of on hold messaging are:

1) managing the perceptions, attitudes, and expectations of callers and
2) preventing burnout of employees handling complaint calls.

The key to managing caller attitude, perceptions, and expectations is understanding caller
psychology; and the key to preventing employee burnout is effectively managing caller
attitude, perceptions, and expectations. Primarily, it is important to recognize that the
psychology of callers to a customer complaint hotline differs significantly from that of other
types of callers.

Callers to a customer complaint hotline are generally calling to air a grievance. The
significance of this fact is that while the callers are waiting to speak with a customer service
representative, their mind is focused on their problem.

The time that callers spend in queue provides them with the time and opportunity to
rehearse their complaint; practicing and refining the grievance in their mind and preparing
to counter whatever excuses or hostility they believe they will receive from the customer
service representative.

As they rehearse, callers further convince themselves of the merit of their complaint and they
become angry. As their anger builds, the rehearsed complaint becomes more hostile. The
more hostile their complaint becomes, the angrier they become.

This cycle continues as long as the caller remains on hold. When their call is finally taken,
these callers often unload on the customer service representative with a well developed,
thoroughly rehearsed, and highly motivated tirade. This phenomenon is known as the
"Grievance Rehearsal Anger Spiral", and the result is angry customers that cannot be
satisfied and burned-out customer service representatives that take the calls; in other words,
a counter-productive customer complaint hotline.

The "grievance rehearsal anger spiral" is real; and, if left unchecked, negatively affects
businesses, their customers, and their employees. However, once it is understood, the
phenomenon can be managed; and the result is a win/win situation for businesses and their
customers alike.

A well crafted on hold program will occupy the caller's mind with reassurances that their
problem is about to be resolved, manage the caller's mood and state of mind, and reduce the
caller's perception of the passage of time; all of which translate into more pleasant and
productive complaint calls, more satisfied customers, happier employees, and a more
effective customer complaint hotline.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                  Page 71
                    When saying „no‟ can help you business.
Successful companies choose the customers that they want to work with, others supply
anyone who will let them-they are busy, but not always busy making money.
Too many sales people find it impossible to say ‗no‘ and end up taking on work that is
non-profitable, proves difficult or impossible to deliver, is time consuming, and causes
hassle to everyone in the business, as well as the customer. Add to this, the fact due to
limited resources, this non profitable stuff actually stops them looking for and working
on the profitable work, it‘s easy to see how many business managers find they are being
‗busy fools‘.
So, what can be done?

Step One: Identify Your „Best‟ Customers
First of all consider your existing customer base and identify who your ‗best customers‘
are. This might not be the biggest, or the ones you‘ve been serving the longest. Think
about the order size and profitability, levels of profitable repeat business, ease of dealing
with, how price sensitive they are, whether they pay you on time, whether they pay you at
all! You need to agree your own criteria that suit your business. One design spend
considerable amounts of time working with clients they like (this actually makes
commercial sense as they have to spend considerable amounts of time working with
clients, and find themselves being more creative on jobs they enjoy than those they

Step Two: Establish Why They Buy From You.
Secondly, identify why these customers buy from you, what‘s important to them, what
attracted them to you in the first place, how you could improve, what would they like to
see you do better, and importantly, how could you do more business? Carry out a
Customer Attitude Survey, and a real picture of your strengths and weaknesses.

Step Four: Maximize Resources
Target these customers, make sure that your ‗selling time‘, and that of your team, is
spent in front these customers-this might mean turning some potential ‗customers‘
down. You might consider ‗incentivizing‘ these customers to do business with you (not
necessary by discounting!), or even ‗disincentivising‘ those who you don‘t really want to
work with!

Step Five: „Dump‟ Your Worst Customers.
As for your ‗worst‘ customers; consider reducing your reliance on them, and then
eventually eliminating them from your portfolio. I‘m not advocating ringing them up
tomorrow and telling them to get lost, but look at how you can turn them into profitable
customers-that sometimes means saying ‗no‘. Your time and that of your business might
be far more effective working with customers who appreciate you, and let you appreciate
profits at the same time. Dumping non profit customers, gives more time to devote to the
best customers, less hassle, increased profits and the satisfaction of knowing my
competitors have picked up all the problems that go with the bad customers!‘

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 72

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.   Page 73
          Master Strategies to Building
               Customer Loyalty
Spending time getting to know your customers will help you reap long term
                          benefits in profitability.

The winds "they are a changing my friend". The current state of the economy, a new
President, failing financial systems, fluctuating prices and high unemployment have
caused many of us to pause and evaluate opportunities to reduce expenses and to
optimize our performance.

As our economy continues to fluctuate, controlling expenses and optimizing service
levels from partners and vendors is going to become the focus for all of our customers.
We all must be sensitive to these "changing winds" and enhance the experience of our
customers each time we interact with them.

We must go back to the basics of serving our customers and take the actions that make a
difference. The simple actions - a patient ear, a please, a thank you, a quick update on
status (even if you don't' have update to give - the fact you are reaching out to let them
know you are working on their problem goes a long way) and a smile that can be heard
over the phone are all simple things that we can do each and every day to stand apart
from our competition. The art of hospitality can be very profitable, but it does take some
practice and effort. To succeed, you must be dedicated to customer service first, always
demonstrating that you care about their issues. Although customers may not always be
right, we all must agree that it is okay for them to be wrong. Treat everyone with concern
and compassion. After all, our business is not about us - it's about the people we service
and that single fact is more critical now as we navigate the changing winds... Below are 6
strategies that when applied, will evolve your customer service to the next level -
customer loyalty.

Master Strategy # 1: Know your customer
Customers are not a dime a dozen they come with a variety of different characteristics,
desires, needs and expectations. It is important to know everything that you can about
your customers to ensure you are offering the most value. From basic information, name,
address, title and area of responsibility to wants, needs and pressures and everything in
between, it is important to understand your customer to enhance communication,
articulate your proposition and to develop the foundation for trust.

Master Strategy # 2: Develop a customer strategy
Companies spend a lot of time and money developing strategic plans for their business,
their technology solutions, operational strategies and financial strategies but rarely
develop a customer strategy. Developing a good plan to enhance each client's individual
experience will result in uncovering areas for improvement and areas where you excel
that may easily translate to another client. By writing a strategy on each client and
personalizing that strategy based upon what you know about your customers (Master
Strategy #1) you will memorialize a systematic approach and philosophy that will be
easily followed by all in your company.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 74
Master Strategy # 3: Deliver on your promise
Customers bought your product or service based upon a promise that you or your
company has made. Make sure that you always deliver on your promise and therefore
maintaining trustworthiness with your customers. Customers want to purchase from
companies and people they trust to deliver the product and/or service they need and
with the value they expect. According to the book, Trust Based Selling, Trustworthiness
consists of four factors: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy and Self-Orientation. The
combination of these factors used in the right combinations will develop a connection
with your customers that will lead to a long time relationship.

Master Strategy # 4: Educate your staff
Educate your front lines with your customer knowledge. The characteristic of your
customers, what they are buying, the promises that were made and train your staff on
how to not only deliver customer service but how to go over and beyond the basics. They
should know how to react in all situations and be empowered to respond to the
customers' requests. They should know it is okay to tell the customer that they don't
know the answers, but will find out and get right back to them. Customer service is a
culture and a theme that must permeate your entire organization.

Master Strategy # 5: Over Promise and Over Deliver
Make sure you provide true customer service. In today's market, service has become a buzzword
thrown around by every company, but it is important to understand that customer service is now
a baseline expectation and not considered an added value. Customer service is no longer a key
differentiator but going over and above the call of duty, well that will set you apart.

I recently heard of a story of a retail store owner, selling women's clothing,
overheard customers in her store looking for a place to eat. She not only made a
recommendation but picked up the phone and called the local restaurant to make
a reservation on behalf of her customer. - She went over and beyond the basics. Here is a
great opportunity to over promise and over deliver. Set yourself apart from the competition and
be unique. Be creative and personalize your service specific to your individual customer. One size
does not fit all in this case and offering personalized customer service will assist you in developing
your unique brand.

Master Strategy # 6: Make it easy for your customers to do business with
Leave all the guess work out and make it easy for your customer to do business with you. Have
your staff go through the same process and channels that your customers will so they can
experience the same exact experience your customers will have. Make adjustments to your
current process if needed and always put on your customer hat and understand how your services
are being evaluated through the customer eyes. Is it easy to request your product or service? What
if there is a problem? Is it easy to escalate an issue? Is it easy to check on a status? Is there a long
wait time? Is there a consistency each time the customer calls? These are all important questions
that you must understand in order to make it easy for your customers to do business with you.

By taking the time to apply some or all of these strategies, you will create a culture centered on
top notch customer service. By educating your team on expectations and providing them the road
map to deliver the serviced you expect, will not only make your customers more loyal but will
make your business more profitable. Simply stated, happy customers buy more and tell more
friends about their experience. Use that as an opportunity to build upon your already stellar

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                       Page 75
 Memorable Encounters - Every Time!
In this article we look at five ways we can leave our customers with a
positive lasting impression.

Think about how many people you come into contact with on a daily basis.

Now think about how many of them will remember you later in a favorable light. A few?
Lots? All? This may be something you don't think about often, but wouldn't you like for
everyone you encounter every single day to have positive thoughts about you later? I sure
do! For those of us in business our interactions with people can lead to good or bad
publicity, so remember these four simple steps to make each encounter an enjoyable one.


When we meet someone for the first time or the fiftieth time - smile. A smile conveys that
we're happy to see them. A smile is an unspoken form of encouragement (which we all
crave) and smiles are contagious. They help people relax from whatever stresses they
might be experiencing, at least for a few moments, and that by itself will make you

Learn a persons name and remember it

Our names are valuable and unique to each of us, so it stands to reason it makes people
feel important when we address them by name, whether it's from memory or just reading
it from their name badge. Don't mispronounce a person's name because on some level
they will take it as a personal insult. Ask them to repeat it (or spell it) if it's unusual. The
more difficult the name is, the more reason we should say it correctly.

Compliment people

Be sincere and make a positive statement about something they are wearing or working
on or proud of or interested in. It makes people smile and feel good about themselves.
Doing this also shows that you have taken notice of them and are interested in them and
this too makes people feel important.


Paying attention to someone as they speak is akin to giving them a high compliment. It
says we are interested in them and what they are saying. Ask questions that they will
enjoy answering. If we show a genuine interest in a person they will automatically like us
on some level.
The goal here isn't to actually "make more friends" but when other people enjoy
encounters with us we are making friends. And we all know "One can never have too
many friends!"

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                Page 76
    Dispelling Customer Loyalty Myths
If one were to read the thousands of books written about creating customer loyalty and providing
customer service over the past few years, you might begin to believe that it was an
insurmountable task. Each week the business best seller lists include books telling us that we
must "exceed customer expectations," create "mass customized products" and so on. Fact is, it
really isn't that hard. Much of what we're told about creating truly loyal customers is not fact but
fiction. Top 5 customer loyalty myths:

Myth #1
Technology will save us. This couldn't be further from the truth. Many of us have grown up
adapting to technology rather than it adapting to us. If we are serious about creating loyal
customers, we must ask ourselves if our technology is helping us or hurting us. If you have to
work around your technology to serve customers then you shouldn't be using it. Unless your
technology is helping you serve customers faster, more cost efficiently or with a higher level of
service, get rid of it!

Myth #2
As long as we keep our customers satisfied, they will keep coming back. Contrary to
what was true in the '80s and '90s, customers now demand much more from companies, products
and services in order to continue to spend money with them. In his book, The Loyalty Effect,
Fredrich Reicheld found that of customers who defected from a product or service to a similar
product or service, more than 80 percent of them were actually satisfied. That means that simply
satisfying customers doesn't help us create loyal customers. Companies have to build deeper and
stronger bonds with their customers because simple satisfaction won't keep them coming back.

Myth #3
We have to exceed expectations to keep customers coming back for more.
Surprisingly, customers are much easier on us than we give them credit for. We simply have to set
the appropriate expectation and then meet it, consistently! This is not to say that the expectation
we set can be completely out of line with the marketplace, but assuming we are in the ballpark of
our competition, we don't need to exceed anything, simply meet it. If companies are up front and
honest about what to expect from their product or service, customers are willing to give them the
benefit of the doubt. Remember, time rather than money, is the new commodity for most of our
customers, make sure everyone within your organization is setting appropriate expectations.

Myth #4
If we had more money and people, we could provide better service. Most organizations
have all that they need to drive significant improvements in service right now, the secret is in
accessing it and then allowing everyone to be involved. It's impossible to overestimate the power
of aligning everyone in the organization toward a higher goal, something bigger than each of them
as individuals or departments and teams. When everyone within the organization is allowed to
participate in providing solutions and ideas, the brainpower of the entire organization is accessed
and energized. Not only do you get better ideas that tend to be easier to implement, but you also
gain a feeling of accountability and responsibility throughout the organization.

Myth #5
Everyone has a poor long as I keep him/her away from customers, it's not a big
deal. Wrong! Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only does a poor performer make your
customers angry, they also affect the overall performance of the team. In a team of five, one poor
performer can bring the overall productivity of the team down by more than 40 percent!
Additionally, high performers tend to leave a team because they don't get enough time or training
from their boss. If you are spending all your time with your poor performer, you have a 76 percent
higher chance of losing your high performers. For the sake of your customers and your high
performers, fire your poor performers now!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                    Page 77
       Five Strategies for Guaranteeing
               Customer Loyalty
 Customer retention has always been one of the most cost effective ways to
                       increase business revenue.

According to the international consulting firm Bain & Company, you can increase profits by as
much as ninety-five percent through increasing retention by as little as five percent.

If organizations fail to focus their efforts on servicing current customers while spending excessive
amounts on acquiring new ones, they are wasting their efforts and much of their revenue. Most
customers look for good value for their money, especially in hard economic times. They are also
attuned to product and service pricing. Even so, many customers are likely to pay a bit more to
organizations that demonstrate a true concern for customer needs and a willingness to go out of
the way to provide quality service levels.

Certainly, providing service that differentiates your organization from others requires effort,
training, and staffing, but the return on investment (ROI) is well worth it long term. You cannot
expect to approach service with a ―fix it and move on‖ mentality. Service is a process, not an
event. It requires dedication of time, money and resources and a commitment to provide
whatever it takes to satisfy your customers.

Here are five strategies that you can use to enhance your organization‟s customer retention:

1. Create brand recognition. The most successful companies and those that stay in business
for decades or longer, are the ones that spend time and effort planning and executing strategies to
acquire and sustain brand recognition. This means creating a market presence where customers
know who they are and what they provide.
Think about organizations such as, Toyota, Safaricom, Firestone, Ford, Maytag and Microsoft.
When you hear those names, you know what they do and what to expect from them.

To establish your brand recognition, you must first identify what it is that you want to be known
for, to whom you will market it, how your will market it, and ways to offer quality products and
services at a competitive price. Once you establish these criteria, you can set out to spread the
word through advertising, product and service sampling, strategic partnerships, customer
acquisition, and effective service.

2. Get regular feedback from your customers. You cannot address customer needs if you
do not know what they want. A big mistake that many service providers make is that they look at
articles and other sources that say ―customers want...‖ and go on to list what all customers want.
While such resources can be a good indicator, unless you ask your customers what they expect
and want regularly, you are likely spending time and money providing the wrong thing to your

For example, in good economic times competitive pricing may not get people in your door or to
your website. However, when money gets tight cost may become more important to your
customers. Additionally, depending on the type of products or services that you provide, customer
needs may be different. For example, for customers looking to buy construction equipment, safety
might be an important concern. For someone buying women‘s clothing that is not likely a big
issue. Take your customer‘s service pulse regularly in order to keep up with their changing and
specific needs.

3. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback. Do not forget to ask for feedback
following a sale or service encounter. If you do not ask, most customers will not tell you. Some
studies show that if customers are disappointed, they will not tell you. They will simply go away

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                    Page 78
and then tell others about their negative experience. You need to hear the good, the bad, and the
ugly related to how well customers perceive your service efforts. Many organizations say that they
welcome customer feedback but they hide behind technology and make providing it difficult.

Make it easy for people to give you feedback or voice concerns. On your website, have a link that
says ―Customer Feedback.‖ When some clicks the tab they should get a form to complete and see
your organization name, address, phone number and email address at the bottom, in case they
want that information. On your automated phone system, offer an extension in your outgoing
message that says, ―To leave feedback for us, punch extension #.‖ Ensure that someone checks
these sources daily and responds within less than twenty-four hours. Contact the customer to let
them know that you received their feedback and to thank them. Continually look for a variety of
ways to collect customer feedback. Use traditional (e.g. table/counter questionnaires, mailed
surveys, telephone follow-ups) as well as less traditional means (e.g. feedback drawings/give-
aways, website ―contact us‖ forms that provide complete addresses and phone contact
information, personalized letters from the President/CEO that are mailed or emailed right after
the service encounter). To accomplish this feedback solicitation, create a dedicated system or staff
responsible for gathering, analyzing and responding to customers, when necessary.

4. Listen to your customers. It does no good to gather input from your customers if you
ignore it. This will only lead to frustrated customers and lost business. If nothing else, thank the
customer for taking the time to share their opinion with you.
Not matter whether the feedback that you receive is positive or negative, you should receive it
enthusiastically and give it immediate attention. Instead of looking at negative feedback or
complaints as a bad thing, recognize that the customer took the time to share it with you and ask
yourself the following questions:
Why would this customer feel this way?
What did we do/say that created this impression with the customer?
Is the customer‟s reaction reasonable? Why or why not?
Have we heard similar things from other customers?
If necessary, what can we do to prevent similar reactions by other customers?

Gather all customer feedback and examine it periodically. Look to see if there are trends or
patterns that you need to address. For example, if a number of customers have complained about
long wait times on the telephone or that they failed to receive a product or service when promised.

5. Act on Feedback Immediately. Do not file customer feedback away for discussion later, or
to have a committee review it; act on it right away. If you fail to examine the cause of customer
dissatisfaction or to acknowledge feedback received from them, they will likely stop giving it. If
they are complaining, they will also likely escalate the issue higher in the organization or abandon
and take their business elsewhere.

If someone is unhappy with your organization because of a policy, procedure or the way he or she
was treated, you should deal with that issue immediately. Examine and change the process that
created the problem or counsel or discipline any employee, as appropriate. Failure to act can lead
to additional complaints by other customers.

The key in guaranteeing customer loyalty is to treat customers not as you would like to be treated,
but as THEY would like to be treated. Strive to provide exceptional service in every service
encounter and the name of your organization will potentially become a household word.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                     Page 79
         What Customers Really Want?
                       Five Steps to Customer Loyalty
Sales managers take note: when it comes to the sales experience, customers aren't
comparing you to your competition alone. They're holding you up against the most
outstanding service they've received anywhere. Whether they get wowed at a bank, a
restaurant, or by a cell phone service provider, customers set their expectations by these
pockets of excellence and will judge their experience with you by them.

"Figuring out how to attract and retain loyal customers is no simple task," acknowledge
Chip Bell, senior partner of The Chip Bell Group, and John Patterson, president of
Atlanta-based Progressive Insights. "However, there are five loyalty drivers that fit most
customers most of the time." Here's a look at each of those five:

1. Include me. When you include customers in the sales and service experience, loyalty
soars. "Help your customers feel like partners," say Bell and Patterson. They cite the
retailer Build-a-Bear Workshop by way of example. At Build-a-Bear, customers don't
simply choose a product, they make it. They stuff, sew, clean, dress, and create a birth
certificate for the animal of their choice. Thus, the final result is not simply another
stuffed animal - it's a creature of his or her own creation. By including the customer in
the sales experience, Build-a-Bear Workshop has grown to more than 200 stores
worldwide in less than a decade.

2. Protect me. Customers expect the basics. Just as customers take it for granted they'll
have enough air to breathe, they assume your product is quality they can trust at a fair
price with a painless buying experience. As Bell and Patterson point out, "If the plane
lands in the right city, we do not cheer. But if it lands in the wrong city, we're upset." Get
the basics right every time and you'll build a solid foundation of loyal supporters.

3. Understand me. "Great service providers are great listeners," say Bell and
Patterson. "They know that unearthing the essence of a problem will point to a solution
that goes beyond the superficial transaction." Make every customer contact person in
your company a scout. Put a system in place that enables them to gather and capture
customer intelligence so you can see trends, spot problems, and get early warning about

4. Surprise me. Remember opening a box of Cracker Jacks when you were a kid? You
were probably more excited about the prize inside than the popcorn itself. Think about
your own product or service - what can you do to create your own "free prize inside?" In
other words, what can you do to wow your customers with something unexpected? These
unforeseen moments of "wow" create lifelong customers who will tell others about their
great experience with your organization.

5. Inspire me. When your sales reps exhibit the highest qualities of character,
customers get inspired, and become loyal to your company. These qualities include
taking pride in their work, putting the needs of the customer ahead of their own need to
reach quota, and acting at all times in a manner that is fair, honest, and ethical.
Customers respect and admire people and companies who exhibit these traits, and they
will keep coming back for more.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 80
  Get the Everyday Basics Right - Then
       Work on Customer Loyalty
           Encourage repeat business by working on customer loyalty.

It always amazes me how companies put so much emphasis on loyalty programs yet they can‘t get
the everyday basics right about the customer experience. This past weekend I was out shopping at
a downtown mall with my wife. We strolled into one of the well-known clothing stores to pick up a
couple of items for our daughter. We needed some help picking the right accessories, and as it
happened, five sales associates were "working" in the cash area. Two of them were actually
working the registers; the other three were chatting together in a corner.

When I asked for some help, one of the associates, without even glancing up or making eye-
contact, mumbled "Give me a minute". I was obviously interrupting her conversation.

My intent, with this article, is not to advise on how the sales floor should be run, but rather, to
recommend focusing on fixing the basics, for as it happens, this retailer also invests heavily in
quarterly promotions, elaborate online contests, and a points program with the view that that
these types of initiatives increase customer loyalty.

From my personal vantage point, the hot button among retailers these days seems to be "loyalty
programs" – "loyalty programs will bring people in the door"; "loyalty programs will help us
through this economic downturn"; "loyalty programs build advocates among our customers".

In fact, the right loyalty programs, implemented at the right time in the life cycle of an
organization, will encourage repeat business. But you can‘t put the cart before the horse. The
personal relationships that you‘re trying to build with your customers, where they feel
emotionally connected with your brand and advocate you to people they know, is only achieved
after you‘ve been able to deliver products and services to them in a reliable manner, day in and
day out.

First you have to earn the right to your customers‘ confidence. You have to deliver an experience
that is consistent. If you were to install listening posts at various customer touch points, this is
what you should hear: "You get it right", "You know me", "You always deliver", "You treat me with
respect". If these are not the types of messages you are hearing from your customers, then your
foundation likely has some cracks in it. If your goal is to build personal relationships with
customers where they have an emotional bond and will recommend you to their friends – a true
indicator of loyalty and the benefits that go along with it – you really have to start with the basics
– there is no shortcut. The trouble is, in most cases, the basics have to do with the interpersonal
skills of your employees. And such skills are often very difficult or take a long time to change, even
with the best training programs. So what are you going to do? Retrain some of your people? Fire
some of them? Overhaul your entire sales staff? The big question here is: Do you invest in HR or
in Marketing? Hmmm, a loyalty program could do the trick! It would be much quicker and less
intrusive than a longer-term employee retooling.
Problem is, your customers can see right through it. "The market is smart", as they say. If you
think you‘re going to build true loyalty this way, you‘re mistaken. In fact, your strategy may
backfire, because your customers may feel patronized by the introduction of some new points
program as a cover for an aloof sales staff.

Now back to our clothing retailer. My recommendation, if they‘re in it for the long haul, is to
spend their dollars on better employee selection programs – screening for people who are highly
engaged and place a high importance on customer service, are dependable, and take initiative on
their own. Consistency on the sales floor provides reliability for the consumer, and gives them
confidence in your brand.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                      Page 81
  How to Build Customer Loyalty by
 Making & Keeping Credible Promises
    Turn around negative expectations by keeping marketplace promises.

It is no wonder that very few companies enjoy customer loyalty nowadays. Consumers
are skeptical of company promises. A "new" product is not really "new." A great looking
item on an info-commercial works much differently than demonstrated. The beautifully
designed hotel room pictured on the website leaves a lot to be desired.

This is why in my new book, Strategy Activation: How to Turn Your Vision into
Marketplace Success, I show how your organization can build customer loyalty by
delivering what is expected.

Why Making Promises Is Not Enough Anymore

The Loyalty Engagement Index by Brand Keys, a New York marketing consultancy,
shows consumer expectations climbed for a decade-up 28 percent. Yet, brands only kept
up 7 percent of the time. The result: Customers were perpetually disappointed.

In 2007 this changed drastically.
Consumer expectations leveled off.

"Consumers are more realistic," said Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff. "Their
desires are now based on experience rather than expectation. Consumers who've been
disappointed for so long seem to have surrendered."

In other words, consumers now expect imperfect results from companies. They have
become cynical and assume that certain things will likely not go their way. But don't
confuse expectation with acceptance. When the inevitable letdown occurs they search
elsewhere for a new product or service provider. Not a good situation.

Companies need to turn around these negative expectations. Making a promise is not
enough to get people flocking to your door. You have to give them a credible promise and
a reason to believe that your promise is not another empty one.

For example:
- You promise me speed? Why should I believe that you could actually deliver speed?
- You promise me luxury? How are you going to deliver luxury?
- You promise me safety and security? Can you really keep me safe?
How to Let Consumers Know Exactly How You Will Fulfill Your Promises:

You have to communicate the "What" and the "How" to your prospects and customers.
The Promise is "What" you say you're doing. The reason to believe is "How" you do it.
For example:
- We will deliver speed by flying your packages overnight to your destination rather than truck
them. (Fed Ex) - We will deliver luxury by giving you the Heavenly Bed. (Westin Hotels) - We
will safeguard you with our Roll Over Protection System. (Volvo XC90 )
Marketers call these the pillars of the promise. They give customers the additional details
they need to make an informed decision.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                Page 82
For example, Marriott Hotel promises "Achievement Guests" (those driven to perform and who
thrive on personal excellence) an environment that inspires their performance. That's quite a
promise. To back it up Marriott developed three pillars to build credibility:
1. Achieve. The hotel's professional, performance-driven side offers well-lit, ergonomic
work desks that easily move. This way guests can create the best work environment.
2. Revive. The luxury offerings include aromatherapy bath products, 300-thread-count
sheets, and high-definition TVs that guests can connect to personal devices such as
3. Culture. The emphasis is on warm, friendly, sincere service built on their pledge to
provide a refreshingly human touch in today's hectic world.

How To Create A Compelling Brand Promise Supported By Convincing
Large hotel chains are not the only organizations developing strategic pillars to support
their marketplace promises. Dunlop Tires promises performance. Here are the five
credible reasons why you can believe that they deliver high performance tires:
Reason #1: Innovative New Products. "New" to Dunlop consists of developing a
different product: They don't just make a small change to an existing product and call it
Reason #2: Linkage to the world's most prestigious auto brands. Dunlop can point to
prestigious automobile companies that use its tires, which builds credibility.
Reason #3: European Heritage. This third reason to believe was based on its reputation
as a performance leader in the fields of European automobiles and racing that played to
the customers' emotional connection with their cars.
Reason #4: Link to the racing circuits. Dunlop has a strong reputation in auto and
motorcycle racing circuits in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan.
Reason #5: Cutting edge website. The site dares to be different and continually changes
to cater to automotive enthusiasts and their lifestyles.

This is why Dunlop Tires has superior customer loyalty.

How to Find The Right Marketplace Promise To Specifically Target
Customers -- Then Continually Deliver On It.

Not all promises are created equal. Each organization carries its unique marketplace
permissions and organizational competencies. Your best customer promise depends on
several important factors:
- Is your promise compelling to customers and does it distinguish you from competitors?
- What permissions and limits have customers placed on you? The marketplace has to
believe in your ability to keep your promise.
- Do you have credible reasons for the customer to believe your promise? What
assurances can you provide that your promise will be delivered in the marketplace?
- Can you consistently deliver on your promise?
- What current or new capabilities can support marketplace implementation?

Finding the right promise that resonates best with your target customers is the critical
first step. But making empty promises is a futile and unprofitable exercise. Keeping
promises made to the customer is the only way you will build customer loyalty. This is
the new paradigm for success!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                Page 83
     What Do Customers Really Want?
        Survey Reveals the Truth
   It's a question we should always ask and yet we often find so difficult to

How an organization handles this question (and the answers) will determine its ultimate
success. Because if you consistently offer your customers what they want (at a price they
feel is fair) you'll have all the customers you can handle.

Recently, I surveyed about 2,000 people on this topic. They came from all over the USA
(32 states). I asked them all this question:

"When you are a customer, what do you want?"

When they answered, I listened. I kept track of what they said and I tabulated the results.
I removed results that had to do with specific products or services because I was looking
for information that would be helpful across many industries and organizations.

So, without further ado, here are the results of the Group Customer Service Survey:

"What Do Customers Really Want?"

1. Listen to me
2. Know more than I do (about your product or service)
3. Be easy to work with
4. Give me what I came for
5. Smile
6. Tell me your name
7. Acknowledge my presence
8. Don't treat me like I'm an interruption
9. Show me you care
10. Don't waste my time
11. Be honest
12. Offer alternatives if you don't have what I want
13. High quality and low prices
14. Don't try to sell me. Just help me
15. Do what you say you're going to do
16. Keep me informed

(The results are in ranked order from most popular response.)

Use this list as you work with your employees. Do you do all of these things for your
customers? If not, why not? (You better have a good reason.)

The more you give your customers what they want, they more loyal they will be. This list
can help you give your customer what they want.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 84
    Six Steps to More Loyal Customers
  We all know it's important to have loyal customers. But do you know how
                               important it is?

A study by Bain & Company suggests that a 5% increase in customer loyalty can improve
profitability by anywhere from 25% to 95%. It shows us there are big opportunities
available for owners and managers who are willing to do what it takes to increase
customer loyalty.

The good news is, it's not hard. And you can do it with the people and resources you have
right now. It takes time, effort and patience to make it successful. But you can make a
huge impact on your business.

Here's what you need to do:

1. Ask your customers what they want.

This is different than what they expect. What customers expect is usually less (often a lot
less) than what they want. But you need to know what they want.
What do they want in general? What are they trying to accomplish (or avoid)? Why did
they choose you instead of your competition? What are their priorities and preferences?
Keep in mind different customers focus on different aspects of what your business does
and how you do it. But if you speak with enough, you should see patterns and trends. You
should develop some profiles of what various customers want.
Also look for how your customers want to be served. This will vary a lot and is harder to
discover. Most people focus on what they want because it's easier to talk about. But
people like to be treated well. We all have different definitions of what being treated well
means. You need to learn what it means to your customers.

2. Tell your customers what to expect.

Some companies try to be all things to all customers. They do too much and none of it
well. Every company has a unique set of resources that gives it a competitive advantage.
these are your company's strengths. Learn what they are. Use them to determine what
your company can do better than anyone else in your market.
Once you know what your company does best, compare that list with what your
customers want. These two lists should overlap. (If they don't, you have a problem!)
Where they overlap is what your company should focus on. These are the things you
need to do for your customers: the combination of what they want most and what you do
From this list you need to develop your message. You might call it a brand promise. You
might call it your Customer Service Standards. What you call it is not as important as
what you do with it. Use it to tell your story. It tells people why they should do business
with you. and it helps them know what to expect when they do business with you.
Then make sure your customers, employees and management all understand your
message. Do everything you can to share your message with these three groups. Post it in
your store, on your web site, on your business cards, in your ads and anywhere else your
employees, management and customers will see it. Get it noticed!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 85
3. Create easy ways for your customers to offer feedback.

This is where many companies stumble. They focus so much on getting new orders and
delivering the product or service, they forget what happens afterward. The only way you
can consistently get better at what you do is with a steady flow of honest and direct
Find many ways for your customers to let you know what they think. Brainstorm with
your employees. Make it a contest. Copy other businesses. Ask your customers. Do a
Google search! Try different communication channels and keep trying until you find a
bunch that deliver the amount of feedback you need (which is a lot).
Make sure this step is done by your employees. Don't rely on outsiders (consultants,
survey companies, etc.) to do this for you. They are your customers and you need to
communicate with them directly. You'll learn more from them this way and you'll
develop closer ties with your customers. You'll also get another benefit. Customers love it
when a company pays attention to them after the sale. They feel important because
you're asking them what they think.
Finally, make sure your customers know how they can contact you. Publish and promote
the many ways customers can connect with you. Encourage them to reach out to you

4. Listen to what your customers say.

Many companies talk about customer feedback. Some do it well. Most don't. Because
they don't work vary hard to hear what customers are saying about them. They might
hear the obvious, like complaints and "thank yous" but nothing else. If you want to
increase customer loyalty, you need to do better. You need to make a special effort to find
out what customers are saying about your company, your products and your service.
This includes more than the feedback mechanisms you create (Step 3). It includes the
many other ways people communicate about your company. The Internet is full of
people's comments about their customer experiences. Make sure you are mining this
resource on a regular basis.
When you build trusting relationships with your customers and you open the lines of
communication. You position your customers as partners. They can help you learn how
to do a better job. But you need to communicate with them to make this happen. You
need a steady flow of quality customer feedback.
Are you doing what you said you would? If not, what's missing? Are they getting what
they want? Is the message you're sending the right one? If you have developed a brand
promise, is it really what your customers want? And since things change, you need to
stay abreast of changes in what your customers want.
Look for the Amazing Service Gap. This is the difference between what you promise your
customers and what you're actually delivering. Their feedback is how you know what
your gap is. So listen for ideas on how to do better. Find ways to close the gap.
In addition to listening to your customers, you need to gather and store what they tell
you. Most companies have plenty of contact with customers. But they never keep track of
what their customers say. And if they do keep track, it's often hard to access because it's
in a file drawer somewhere or buried in a database that nobody knows how to use.
Make sure the feedback you gather is stored in a way that people can get to. In fact, you
should publish it. Make it available to everyone in your company. The more people who
see it the more ideas you can generate to use it (Step 5). By having a lot of people look at
it and talk about it, you'll be able to see your customers more clearly.
Conduct regular and frequent meetings to talk about the feedback and draw conclusions
about what it means. Look for trends and patterns. Also, look for what's not there. Are

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 86
there things you think are issues or concerns but that do not appear in any customer
feedback? If so, what does that tell you? If it's not important to your customers, should it
be important to your company?

5. Act on what your customers tell you.

Information is no good if ignored. Beyond listening to your customers and considering
what they say, you have to use it. This doesn't mean you act on everything. Remember,
Step 2, you can't do everything everyone wants. So you need to pick and choose what
feedback to act on. Focus on what will help your company do what you do best. Choose
ideas that will help you close the gap (Step 4).
You might find feedback that takes your company in a different direction. Your brand
promise (Step 2) might be missing the mark. Maybe you have a changing customer base
or a changing market. If your feedback suggests this you need to consider how it affects
your business. Then either act on it or make an informed decision to not act on it.
The bottom line in Step 5 is to do something with your customer feedback. It's a gift from
your customers so treat it as such. Make sure your thank every customer every time they
offer feedback. And, let customers know what you do with the feedback. If they know it
gets used they're more likely to keep offering it. Help them get involved and stay involved
as your partners.

6. Repeat.

Like the shampoo bottle says, "lather, rinse, repeat". But in this case you should be
repeating forever. This is a never ending process of learning, sharing, and working
Managing your company is no different than practicing a sport or hobby. The more you
do something, the better you get. And since people and situations change constantly, this
process needs to keep repeating so you don't miss these changes. Keep cycling through
again and again. You'll get better at knowing what your customers want and at giving it
to them. Your customers will see you are truly focused on helping them get what they
want. They'll have little incentive to go elsewhere.
You'll never please every customer every time. But if you follow these steps you're much
more likely to please most of them most of the time. That will keep your customers
coming back again and again.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 87
       How Job Satisfaction Can Affect
             Customer Loyalty
   Do not underestimate the power of job satisfaction when keeping your
                             customers loyal.
Employees who are dissatisfied with their positions are a tremendous obstacle to
developing customer loyalty.
Some recent research that surveyed 1,597 employed executives (conducted by ExecuNet)
revealed some interesting facts:

At least 1 of 3 executives were dissatisfied with their positions - or in more simple terms
ready to jump ship. If the executive was in sales, that dissatisfaction translated into
almost 1 in 2. The further away the executive was from external customers the higher
they rated their job satisfaction.

This last statistic reminds me of a quote by Charles Schultz:
"I love mankind. It is people that I cannot stand."

Since business is all about people, this statistic reveals a lot of people truly do not
understand the purpose of business is to attract and maintain customers.

When internal customers (employees) be they executives or front line workers become
dissatisfied with their positions, the end result is that their interactions with others
become unauthentic. In other words, there is a whole lot of negative energy flowing
through the organization. The goal to become a high performance organization, if that is
one of the goals, will never be achieved.

Additionally, these negative feelings are both conscious and subconscious. As human
beings, our emotional feelings and being unsatisfied has emotional connections. We
need to remember that all feelings can be heard, seen and most importantly felt by many
around us.

The bottom line is that all businesses have some very real challenges to overcome.

Now is the time to determine why your employees are unhappy especially those who
have first contact with your external customers. Your organization may need to engage in
organizational assessments that are aligned to recognized quality criteria such as
"Baldrige" or individual assessments that look beyond the "How" of behavior to the
"Whys" of behavior.

Developing your employees based upon the results of these assessments is the next step.
Then, reassessing your actions to determine the impact of the development and coaching
is the final step. Failing to take these corrective actions may not only result in unhappy
employees, but in higher customer turnover and lower profitability.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                               Page 88

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.   Page 89
                       Customer Survey?
Finding out exactly what your customers think and feel is one of the most
important aspects of providing customer service excellence..
A customer survey is a systematic and objective process of gathering, recording, and
analyzing data to help make better marketing decisions. However, the responses you
receive will not make the decisions for you. Survey data represents an opportunity for
review and analysis to help point you in the direction of new responses and solutions to
meet customer needs. Surveys can help you:

1. Define your market more effectively and make your marketing dollars go further.
2. learn more about your existing and potential customers.
3. Learn how your customers perceive your products, your offers and your customer
4. Position or reposition your product in the marketplace.
5. Identify the specific product benefits you should be promoting.
6. While surveys can determine the answers to who, what, when, where and how
questions, they will not tell you WHY an event occurred.

While conducting surveys can be quite complex, a good survey does not have to be overly
complicated. All you need is common sense, a clear idea of the information you want to
gather and a basic understanding of how to communication effectively with your target
Preparing the survey is the hardest part. Still, it's something that nearly any
businessperson can do - and do effectively - if he or she is aware of a few simple points:

Make the copy simple and easy to understand. Remember, in most situations, you will
not have a representative present to explain ambiguous points. Your copy must be easy
to read and easy to understand.

Use closed-ended questions. Avoid open-ended questions. Such questions as: "What do
you think about XYZ..." are open-ended and can produce a wide variety of responses that
can be difficult to categorize and quantify. Instead, pose your question like this: "How
would you rate XYZ...?" Then give a series of brief, descriptive phrases or a numerical
scale so that customers can simply check their choice.
Don't ask leading questions. "You'd like to purchase XYZ for less than $, wouldn't you?"
is a leading question and inappropriate for a survey. Leading questions imply the
answers you'd like to receive.
Don't make the questionnaire look too complicated or time-consuming. Your customers
are busy people. If they have to tackle a 100-question survey they're not likely to
respond. A short, simple survey that is easy to read is more likely to receive a positive

Make your questionnaire look important. If customers feel that they will be performing a
worthwhile service by taking the time to answer your questions, they will be more likely
to respond.

Use premiums. Premiums have been found to greatly increase survey response. The two
most commonly used are money and ballpoint pens. When using money as a premium,
however, it's important to point out to those who receive your survey that you don't

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 90
intend the money to represent the worth of their time.

Offer survey participants a copy of the results. Such offers have also been proven to
increase response. People are inherently curious; when they've invested their time in a
survey, they naturally are interested in seeing how their answers compare to others.

Follow up. If your responses come in slowly and are lower than you expected, consider
mailing reminder postcards to those people who didn't respond.

Here are some additional tips for developing a survey that gets a good response:

Make it easy for the respondents to answer
Use special-interest questions
Avoid confidential areas
Avoid technical jargon
Include a brief cover letter
Protect the confidentiality of your sources

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 91
      Strategies for Contact Centers
An important focus of any effective leader is to improve the day-to-day
operating capabilities of the contact center.

The traditional view of the contact center as an interchangeable assemblage of talking
automata who disseminate minimal information to the calling masses within the shortest
possible talk time is equal parts outmoded and ubiquitous.

This underestimation of the contact center‘s role deserves rethinking--particularly given the
wide range of process improvements and technological advances in recent years that extend a
center‘s capabilities. Taking full advantage of the contact center‘s expanded capacity to
enhance revenue and drive customer loyalty requires contact center leaders to develop new
strategic perspectives.

Contact center leaders can extend their strategic role within the corporation by
understanding the many advances and improvements that are reshaping the center‘s impact
on innovative business strategies. The focus here is on business transformation. Certainly,
there are always opportunities to improve the day-to-day operating capabilities in a contact

This is an important and continued focus of any effective leader. The suggestion here is to
also jump up a level and position the contact center as a fundamental engine of change for
the entire business. This strategic reassessment outlines what is changing, what is unique,
what capabilities can be effectively leveraged to support broader business goals and how to
think about these advances in a way that optimizes the new role of the contact center.

Viewed from a fresh perspective, the contact center‘s principle strategic roles in a business
are threefold: 1) increase the accuracy, impact, and reach of a company‘s market intelligence,
2) serve as a collaboration engine for continuous improvements in client loyalty, and 3)
radically alter the economics of client interactions that ultimately drive revenue growth.

First, market intelligence, broadly defined, encompasses a company‘s knowledge of client
needs, relationship management insights, product development savvy, and the processes or
workflows that generate value for customers and clients. Thinking about marketing
knowledge in this broad context highlights the new role of the contact center in
disseminating, collecting, and leveraging knowledge. Market intelligence, in the past, was
primarily generated by the company for subsequent application to targeted clients and

The contact center was used as a response mechanism to answer specific product inquiries or
fulfill offers; more advanced centers developed telesales departments using rudimentary
triggers to identify cross-sell or up-sell opportunities. The proposed new role incorporates
the contact center both as a listening post and as a source of information gathered through
social networks and in-market product testing.

Massive quantities of purchasing advice, innovative applications that extend a product‘s
capabilities and intensely technical product information developed by expert users are now
exchanged through purpose-built Internet discussion groups and social networks.

Nielsen Online reports that Member-communities have overtaken email as the fourth most
popular online activity, behind only search, general purpose information portals, and

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 92
software applications. Companies now have an opportunity to plug in to these member
communities, evaluate current products as well as proposed enhancements in the crucible of
unrehearsed and unrestrained public opinion, and conduct broad scale in-market testing
using the contact center‘s capabilities.

Contact centers are routinely connected to customer relationship management (CRM)
databases, but these databases are often extracted specifically for the center and do not
connect back to the marketing databases that drive offer analysis. By extending the concept
of CRM to include some elements of marketing analytics, the fundamental capabilities of the
contact center changes.

The contact center, with its advanced skills and infrastructure for texting, chat, email, and
web inquiries becomes the natural place for the core marketing group to embed their
listening capabilities by leveraging the lower cost, high production controls, and expertise of
the contact center to reach out to social networks, engage member communities, and conduct
broad scale in-market tests of new concepts and products.

Traditional focus group research, with its high costs and small sample sizes, can now be
bolstered by a willing public that will comment, criticize, and improve market intelligence
with reactions from thousands to hundreds-of-thousands of consumers—without paying any
participation fees.

Second, the contact center infrastructure is now capable of serving as a collaboration engine
to drive continuous improvements in client loyalty. Part of the shift here is driven by newer
on-demand, or ―cloud,‖ software architectures that hide much of the development complexity
from the developers. Just as spreadsheets shifted the focus from doing math to analyzing
business results, the ―soft‖ architecture underlying contact center applications shifts the
focus from years of development to days of table changes.

The contact center can afford to change workflows to reflect process improvements requested
by consumers and employees because many of the changes are now point and click rather
than code and debug. Equally important, the contact center is continually receiving a
sufficient volume of client feedback to effectively evaluate the needed changes.

Again, in-market tests with a small percentage of the production traffic can quickly evaluate
and sort through the various change hypotheses.
For example, increasing first contact resolution is always one of the super ordinate goals of
any contact center because of the beneficial impacts this has on staffing levels, costs, client
loyalty, and business margins.

However, finding the right combination of self-service capabilities, IVR prompts, transfer
capabilities, and dialogue that will consistently improve first contact resolution can be elusive
outside of a structured, carefully measured, high volume contact center. The quality
measurement structure that is an integral element of most high volume contact centers is
perfectly suited to this critical role of driving client loyalty to exceptional levels through
constant iteration and improvement of the client workflows.

Third, the contact center will continue to fulfill its traditional role, significantly improving
the economics of customer interactions, but the strategic opportunity is now open to extend
this technology across much more than the ―back office.‖ The development of fully
distributed, VoIP, cloud, and outsourced technical capacity that can be purchased on demand
has changed the definition of ―center.‖

The center of the contact center is now strategic rather than tactical, virtual rather than
instantiated in a particular pile of bricks and mortar. In the past, the automatic call

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                 Page 93
distributor, one of the first pieces of special purpose contact center technology, was designed
to equitably connect calls across a waiting queue of available telephone representatives
performing repetitive tasks (although often highly complex) in an anonymous pool of
similarly trained staff.

This advance over previous distribution schemes eliminated overloaded representatives and
enabled detailed measurement of workloads--since every representative was presented with
an equal opportunity to complete a fair share of the incoming traffic. With the addition of
email, integrated voice response, voice recognition, chat, and assisted self-service the core
capabilities of the contact center have been extended across a wide range of customer access

These capabilities can now be extended beyond a narrow definition of ―telephone service
representatives‖ to incorporate many functions across a corporation. Skill-based routing was
a first step in this evolution. However, an overly narrow definition of ―skill‖ prevented the
contact center from demonstrating its full range of capabilities. Skills were always defined
within the center, across a very tight, operational, compensation range, rather than across
the company as a whole.
Contact centers are now virtual—the connection between the client and the representative
can be from anywhere to anywhere. Contact center software is now collaborative—knowledge
is accessible across multiple organizational levels. Contact center workflow automation
includes a wide range of contact and case distribution rules, review steps, and intelligent
queues (i.e., retrieve and reroute if the delay is > x).

These capabilities extend the center in two directions. Outward, because the center can now
leverage resources across the organization to resolve client issues that were previously too
infrequent or too complex to become part of the center‘s retinue. Inward, because ―front
office‖ functions that required highly compensated professionals to resolve can now be
shared with the contact center.

A simple example of this is the migration of tasks away from a front end sales force and
toward the contact center. Most sales people spend 30-40% of their time on non-critical,
non-client facing tasks. Relocating these tasks to a contact center nearly doubles the
productive face time with the clients. Advanced routing capabilities and virtual center
capabilities mean that the actual configuration of the center can conform to the traditional
operational modes of the sales force—e.g., the assistant can still be in the next cubicle, but the
work queue becomes enormously more efficient as it is shared across the corporation.

These three strategic capabilities of the modern multi-channel, collaborative contact center
provide a starting point for rethinking the design and distribution of work across a
corporation. By fully leveraging the distributed resource model found in virtual call centers,
taking advantage of the workflow automation tools, strong production controls and
collaboration tools that are now available off-the-shelf, there are a range of strategic choices
opening up to build client loyalty and drive revenue that have not previously been fully

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                 Page 94
               Mystery Shopping Ideas
 Is your store or business really delivering the best service? Find out with a
                          spot of mystery shopping.
An element of almost every retailer's marketing strategy today is devoted to convincing
potential customers that their stores offer friendlier, efficient and personalized service
than its competitors. But do your customer contact personnel really live up to this
image? Or might they be inadvertently undermining every advertising dollar you spend?

Clearly, your marketing dollars are ill spent if you fail to upgrade the capabilities of your
customer contact personnel. Advertising promotes interested prospects, but these do not
become or remain customers if your store provides inadequate service.

Since management has neither the luxury nor the anonymity to regularly observe the
actual performance of customer service personnel, how can you be sure they are
routinely conveying the appropriate image to their customers? After all, your marketing
strategy is only as good as your personnel are!

Many retailers attempt to upgrade quality service via training programs but fail to
include a system of information feedback. If an investment in employee performance is
crucial to your success, only a continuous, systematic evaluation of your training efforts
will protect that investment.

Objective measurement of the quality of your service delivery, as well as your training
efforts, is as difficult as it is vital. Although sales statistics are useful, there are too many
variables to isolate quality of service. Customer surveys are also informative, but they can
be both costly and time consuming. The alternative - "shopping" - is a unique and
relatively objective tool of measurement that is remarkably free of these constraints.

In "shopping", (sometime called "mystery shopping"), trained and supervised "shoppers"
actually engage in typical transactions with customer contact personnel and then rate
specific attributes from a customer's perspective. These include such traits as:

• friendliness
• attitude
• courtesy
• product knowledge
• appearance
• sales ability

The ratings are done in a manner that allows easy comparisons between employees,
shifts, locations, and periods of time. This provides important data about the
effectiveness of your employee selection and training, thus giving you a built-in,
objective and systematic feedback loop.

Comprehensive shopping audits can help you determine the effectiveness of your
internal marketing strategies so that you may upgrade them, thereby enhancing your
image, your service, and your market share. You will, in effect, be minimizing human
"turn-offs" and thereby keeping the promises of satisfaction implicit in your service

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                Page 95
     The Age of True Customer Service
           Has Long Passed By
   Why we should not forget the fundamentals of customer service.

Whatever happened to the era where a marketplace shopper was greeted in this manner:
"Welcome to company X! How may I help you today?"

When was the last time this melody struck your chords: "Sure, I‘ll be happy to locate that
for you" Or are we more likely to hear, "You‘ll find it in isle 16" (a half mile downstream
atop a shelf too high to reach)?

Whatever happened to the day when you got the best price whether you clipped the
corresponding coupon or not?

We now seem to live in a world of do-it- yourself (DIY), get it yourself (GIY), bag it
yourself (BIY), and now, you can even ring it yourself (RIY).

In return for our loyal patronage, we get the bare minimum: Customer service without a
smile, merchandise returns with much attitude and combativeness, a game of hide-n-
seek when looking for help; and this is all topped off with the long lines that only rival
amusement parks.

Worse, is that many fast food chains now feature kiosks in which you can order it
yourself (OIY)!

Companies should heed the message that cutting costs need not be sacrificed on an alter
of disingenuous or rushy rush customer service.

Companies should not forget the fundamentals of customer service, which is to "Serve
The Customer". There are ways to incorporate low cost customer satisfaction:

1) Place employees in high traffic areas of the store.

2) Make sure employees have casual conversations with customers and at the same time
remind them of specials.

3) Create a warm atmosphere for shoppers, what happened to the calming music in
stores – get shoppers excited to shop.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 96
   The Year of the Customer - Are You
Even in a recession, when businesses are closing and people are being laid off,
customer service is still terrible!

How can this be? This should be a top priority all the time, but especially in tough times. Here are
some tips to improve your customer service - and make this a great year for your customers!
1.) Be friendly. What happens to customers when they enter your business? Is there a gate
keeper or a host? Gate keepers keep people out, hosts make people feel welcome. Your host
should be smiling and should greet people when they come in. Try something crazy like, "Hello!"
This goes for the phone too - do callers hear warmth or annoyance?
2.) Stop assuming. I hate to say it, but too many managers are delusional. They think they can
pay their front line people peanuts, treat them poorly, give them little to no training or feedback,
and have them radiating joy and happiness all day. Get real managers. Have you ever rewarded
good service? Does Susie Sunshine earn more than Evil Eddie? I bet not. That would be too hard.
3.) Be responsive. I know we can't all be perfect, but people want you to respond quickly. After
all, they are trying to give you money. Seat them quickly, get them through check-out lines
quickly, don't keep them on hold. If people have to wait, at least train your employees to
communicate! Too many times I see employees talking to each other rather than helping
customers. Hello? There's a recession, people! You cannot afford to ignore your customers! But
see number 2 - do your employees really have any incentive to help customers? And where are
you when this is happening? In your office answering e-mail?
4.) Provide information. All people are not technology experts - they need help and
information. They don't know how to find all the things in your store or understand all the
services you offer. The worst thing is, most of your employees don't seem to have this information
either. Train them! Or make the information accessible. Listen to what questions customers ask -
do they want nutrition information on the menu? Is your return policy confusing? If more than
three people have a problem or ask a question - address it! Don't blame the customer for not
reading your small print or your lame sign. They are in a hurry - train your people to be proactive
and explain problem areas.
5.) Have a great attitude. Customers will put up with a lot if the person trying to help them
has a great attitude. Things are going to happen no matter how hard we try. Mistakes will be
made. If you can keep smiling and the customer knows you are really trying, they will cut you a
break. It's when you lose it or come across as rude, that they get angry. If you are a front line
customer service person, your job will be a thousand times easier if you can remain friendly. You
will also have job security - your boss won't want to lose you and all the customers you impress
will want to hire you. And you will have so much more fun. We attract the energy we give out -
give out happiness and good will - and it will return to you tenfold. Be rude - and you will suffer.
5a.) Supervisors - this attitude thing goes for you too. Your people are often mirrors of
you. Are you always angry and stressed? Well - there you go! Expect your people to be angry and
stressed as well. I believe leaders get the followers they deserve. What kind of followers do you
have? Companies talk a lot about customer service but at the end of the day, their actions speak
louder than their words. They don't take care of their customer service people, yet they expect
them to carry the company. But front line people have to carry part of the burden as well - are you
really friendly? I've seen heavy sighs and eye rolls way too may times when I simply wanted to pay
for a purchase. I've tried to find items in poorly organized stores and been ignored by employees
who could have helped me. wake up, people! You wonder why sales are down? Because you treat
your customers like garbage. You are mad when they want to return things or ask questions or
need help. You make jokes about how stupid they are. Welcome to 2009, the Year of the
Customer. Next time you treat a customer badly, you just might be out of a job. But be a superstar
in all you do and who knows to what levels you might rise!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                   Page 97
                CHANGE MANAGEMENT
                             Customer Centered Change.

   In keeping with the biblical theme of the 10 commandments, I have listed below the key
   ―thou should do‖ activities that empirically have the highest leverage in terms of
   delivering a customer based strategy.
   There are 11 –you have received one bonus commandment. You will note they are equally
   internally and externally focused:
   1. Stop investing money in customer based capabilities until you are sure these truly
       work; Build and encourage a mindset of piloting and testing small incremental
       improvements with customers and work to build the capability to continually look
       pilot and test improvements to the customer proposition with customers.
   2. Given the scale and scope of your business it‘s highly likely that businesses have
       different levels of maturity. Systematically identify and encourage sharing of
       what‟s already working well, this is likely to be both low risk and fast.
   3. Build customer value creation into the strategy and planning process.
       Start off by ensuring the organizations business strategy is going to be delivered by
       the customer strategy and in turn that this is going to be supported by the data
   4. Ensure you have a balance of customer based measures as key indicators to
       manage the business. Critically, these need to be given equal prominence as the usual
       efficiency metrics by managers (adding common, enterprise wide customer based
       measures is probably the single action that has highest leverage in driving a customer
       based agenda.)
   5. Ensure that the businesses product/service proposition is translated into terms
       that employees understand and can articulate back to customers and each. Make
       clear to staff the key practical things they can do to help reinforce the customer
       proposition. Celebrate and share stories where staff go ―the extra mile‖ to reinforce
       these messages and put in place mechanisms to systematically draw up from the
       front line what customers are saying about your products and services.
   6. Ensure that your people/HR team has translated the customer proposition and
       values into a customer centered staff hiring specification so that new hires are
       already aligned to the customer centered message. Starting to build a new customer
       centered culture with new hires will over time start to influence the longer serving
       staff. Your organization needs to handle unsuccessful applicants extremely well so as
       they become advocates of your business.
   7. Encourage all executives to start listening to customers. Mandate that EVERY
       manager must make at least 4 customer visits each year (consider making
       this a condition of receiving the annual performance bonus). Each visit is to end with
       the question to the customer ―what single thing do you think I can do personally to
       help improve my company‖ each executive is then to take personal responsibility for
       actioning these customer based suggestions.
   8. Encourage customers‘ help you listen better. Establish quarterly customer
       councils/surveys in each major market to ask them how your organization can
       improve the business for the business for them in the market. Each time, reporting
       back on the progress of items raised at the last event.
   9. Encourage your staff to systematically purchase yours and competitors‟
       products and services to gauge how well yours and competitor‘s products
       services compare and to inform where you need to improve and consolidate your
       offer, an help educate staff on what they personally can do to improve the
   10. Comprehensively map the customer journey through your organization
       from the customer‘s point of view. Then check this process for pain points with both

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 98
       staffs and customers. Make managers specifically responsible for each stage in this
       process and for continuously improving it.
   11. Systematically benchmark best customer practices in other sectors to help
       stretch the best performers in your organization and to keep in front of competitors
       in you sector.

Successful companies today are the ones that their business around their customers. They
focus on adding value by designing processes such as technology, training and employee
compensation systems to support a strategy of customer-centricity that penetrates all areas
of the organization, resulting in a concerted effort towards providing superior value.
      Internal focus.
Many companies focus on improving ―output‖ measures (e.g. cost, revenue and returns)
rather than improving ―input‖ measures (e.g. quality of the experience and staff satisfaction).
      Short-term approach.
 Many companies drop back to their product-thinking after not seeing immediate results.
Customer-focus is a long-term initiative based on customer Loyalty and retention.
      Command and control cultures
Many traditional companies have structures where power flows from the top to the bottom of
the organization. This creates a climate of poor communication, internal conflict, mistrust
and lack of empowerment. With a command and control culture, innovation, learning and
freedom to build customer relationship is constrained.
      Inadequate customer data
Many companies produce large volumes of data to help with internal control, such as call
cycle times and productivity, but they produce little data on customers that can be used to
predict behavior and manage relationships.
      Un-optimized customer knowledge.
Even when companies are able to gather customer data, they lack the abilities to truly
harness this improved customer understanding.
      Believing that technology is the solution
Investment in systems represents the largest single category of investment by business in the
last 10 years. Executive tend to look at technology as a solution to customer or other CRM
problem. They find it is easier to put an IT investment on the balance sheet than investment
in customers. They also look at IT as a way of removing cost from the process servicing
customers rather as a means of adding value and building relationships. But technology is a
means to an end in itself and without people behind it, investment in IT will not deliver the
desired returns.
      Rewarding the wrong things.
Saying that your company is now customer –centric, but paying your staff to be Product-
centric, is just dumb! Check how you reward your people if it isn‘t aligned to customer-
centric thinking, change it so it is!

Customers are an organization‘s biggest asset. There‘s much written and spoken about
customer care, customer service, even customer ‗delight,‘ but what does it all mean? How
does it relate to your business, your people, and most importantly, to your customers.
Here are a few tips to help you look at your own business, and identify some steps to improve
the service experience you create for your customers and delight them.
Step 1. Ask yourself ―How easy are we to buy from and deal with?‖ So many businesses
don‘t even get the basics right: telephones that aren‘t answered properly (some not even
answered!), sales people not trained (or even interested!), and people and systems that stop
customers getting what they want. We call them ‗Sales Prevention Officers‘ they lurk
throughout the business. Who, what and where are yours?

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                               Page 99
Step 2. Eliminate your Sales Prevention Officers: No, don‘t fire your receptionist! Too
often they are the very ones dealing with the consequences of your real Sales Prevention
Officers. Investigate and find out what‘s preventing your customers from getting what they
want. Ask your front line people, ―What causes Sales Prevention Officers in our business?
Look in the mirror; too have you ever refused a call with ―tell them I‘m not in‖?
Step 3. Get feedback from your customers: Ask them ―What lets us down?‖ ―How could
we improve?‖ ―What irritates or annoys you about us?‖ How can we exceed your
expectations?‖ Email them, call them. Visit them. Find out what they really think about you.
Step 4. Act on the feedback! (No explanation needed here!)
Step 5. Identify ways to „delight‟ your customers: ―Not Have a nice day‖ or ―Missing
you already‖ but surprising customers with the level of service you provide (in a positive way,
please!) Customer Delight has a personal touch, it appears spontaneous, and makes
customers feel good. Think about ‗thank you for your order‘ notes, ‗Welcome‘ signs in
reception, send them articles of interest, anticipate their needs and solve their problems.
Step 6. Reward customer delight: Encourage your people to ‗go that extra mile‘, to
generate ‗delight‘ ideas and to create ‗raving fans‘. What‘s the reward in your business for
‗delighting a customer‘ what‘s consequence for not.
And finally,
Step 7. Ring up your business and ask for your self!!! This can be a real eye opener.
It‘s sometimes quite scary!!! In reality it means standing in your own queues, sitting in your
own reception, and listening to your own switchboard. Find out what it‘s like to be a
customer, and identify areas for improvement.

The pursuit of customer delight is a constant process it never ends.

How to get customers to tell a lot people about their experience with you; to act as customer
evangelists? The obvious lesson is the important of creating a distinct experience. People
want to ‗do‘ things rather than just ‗buy‘ things. They‘re highly conscious of consumerism and
don‘t want to just consume and then die.
They measure their life in experiences.

   They purchase and believe in your product and for service.
   They are loyal and passionately recommend you.
   They buy from you as gifts for others.
   They provide unsolicited feedback or praise.
   They forgive occasional dips in service and quality, but let you know they are not
   They extol your virtues freely.
   They feel connected to something bigger than themselves.

     Continuously gather customer feedback.
     Share your knowledge freely.
     Build buzz: through word of mouth networks.
     Create community: encourage communities of customers to meet and share Make
       bite-size chunks: devise specialized, smaller offerings to encourage customers to
       bite Create a cause: focus on making the world, or an industry, better.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 100
               In Difficult Times, Keep Your
                     Customers Happy
Ironically, the cost of keeping a client is less costly than trying to find a new one.

Recent research stipulates that advertising expenses, web development, television production
and other media means are simply too costly to the bottom line. Yet, rather than focus on the
core, organizations incessantly seek new clients for business.

Recently, a client recommended a certain vendor to David. In trying to secure a large print
order David immediately called the vendor, not once but five times. The call was never
returned and the vendor lost a significant six-figure order. The question for you is, "Are you
losing business before your eyes"?

Delivering an experience that is satisfying to customers and differentiated from competitors
drives both repeat visits and improved profitability. However, poor experiences such as that
above enable clients such as David to test competitors and move freely to others. Further, in
today's competitive and quick paced world, it is not difficult for someone like David to take
the remote control and switch quickly to the competition. And if that does not work, they will
switch again as loyalty in today's market runs thin.

Family and Friends Plan

The cost of conducting business is very expensive. Everything from gasoline to
telecommunications is on the rise. Ironically, maintaining clients costs less than one third the
cost of new client acquisition. Organizations today fail to adopt the "Family and Friends
Plan". One negative interaction between client and vendor will be shared amongst family,
friends and neighbors. Recently a real estate professionally securing a million dollar sales
agreement was asked by the same client to find a new home. Being distant with the client by
focusing on new client acquisition, she not only lost the million- dollar sale but a 1.2 million
dollar purchase by the same client! Friends and neighbors discovered the issue and now the
agent's sales are down 37%.

It's the little things

I do an extensive amount of work with a print and shipping operation not far from my home
office. Many vendors have opted for my services but I prefer to go to Frank and Carol. They
have a mutual passion for serving the client. My visits are not about business but rather
interested friends exchanging pleasantries and getter better acquainted each time. The pair
knows the names of my children their respective birthdays and even my wife's! That is not
just interest, not about friendship- it is service differentiation. Further, one Sunday evening I
received a telephone call at 9:30 from Frank indicating the completion of a job. He
apologized for a two-day delay and wanted me to know that the job was not only ready but
was on his tab. That is service with a smile and service that continues to enable me to return
time and time again.


Effective operations and service experiences yield to the bottom line. Consistent execution
leads to repeat business via customer loyalty and lower cost of operation. Interestingly, and
based on doctoral research prior to this study happy clients, lead to happy employees and
happy employees lead to less attrition on both sides of the operation.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                Page 101
Three businesses exemplify consistency;

1) Starbuck's always hires excited and passionate baristas. Their energy and consistency
help retain customer loyalty. It is no wonder that consumers do not mind paying a premium
for coffee. Whether you are in Boise or Baton Rouge, you the consumer will always be served
in a similar fashion.

2) Southwest Airlines decreases the fair of flying by offering a uniform fee with a
passionate and energized staff. Infrequently does one find a poor experience traveling on this
air carrier, that continues through the years to continually post a significant profit.

3) McDonald's offers fast, reliable and efficient service in any city. Employees are
constantly willing and ready for your order. And, while dietary issues have changed during
recent times, this fast food icon continually posts profitable results.

Albeit each maintains a different demographic and product/service focus, the differentiation
between each and its competitors is consistency in operation and operational design.
Customers repeatedly experience consistency each and every time enabling a low cost, high
return customer loyalty program.

Standards for Excellence

A program or rather culture to achieve consistent experience is difficult and arduous work.
The first phase is to assess critically where you are and where you want to be. It is imperative
to take pen to paper and ask both customers and employees about their experience with the
organization. Seek trends and spikes in the data. Do not ask for the why, but what and the
how. There exist other helpful ideas:

1. Make unannounced site visits or simply watch operations. Use a critical eye here
to denote spikes in mission, vision and values of your organization.

2. Do not look for the obvious. Seek the rationale for the little items. Ensure calls are
answered in two to three rings. Return calls within an allotted time from, for example I
return all client calls within reason within 90 minutes of receipt. Use thank you cards and
remember client's names.

3. Teach and Coach. Your clients as well as your customers need the correct operational
tools. If you seek improvements they must be taught, as years of habit do not immediately

4. Standards. Simply put, when change is needed set standards and stick to them. These
include appearance, dress code, hiring, and client interaction. If the culture does not
exemplify the standards how might clients remain loyal?

Clearly, globalization, the proliferation of the Internet and the ease of entrepreneurialism
have created a highly competitive environment. Differentiation, loyalty, consistency and
execution are paramount for the client experience. It is not conscious effort but the
unconscious subtleties that will help separate your organization, make you different,
maintain client loyalty and keep your profits.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                               Page 102
   Keys to having a positive mental
                               Everyone Doesn‟t like me

There‘s an old joke about a little girl who always had such a great attitude. She was
always so happy and upbeat. Her brother was just the opposite. One holiday, just to
aggravate her and test her, her mean brother gave her a box filled with horse manure. He
was tired of his sister always having such a positive attitude. He thought surely this
would ‗fix‘ her. Christmas day, when she opened the box and saw the manure she
exclaimed, "Whoopee...where‘s the pony?"

Ok, Ok... maybe you had to be there; but what a great attitude! The topic of our monthly
email is ATTITUDE. Taken from our new program "The 7 Keys to a Positive Mental
Attitude." We‘ll list some of the ways you can have a positive mental attitude despite the
challenges life may bring you.
Why do some people have such a great attitude and others a negative one? Well, we
wondered the same thing; and through our research, we found 7 ‗keys‘ that those with a
positive mental attitude all share. See how you rate.
KEY #1: Choose your attitude in advance - When you wake have a choice.
You can be in a good mood or a bad mood. You also choose your attitude. You can wake
up and mutter to yourself "this is gonna be a cruddy day" or you can tell yourself "this is
gonna be a great day!" That immediate choice is the start of a great attitude. You‘ve
already decided it‘s going to be a good one.
KEY #2: Visualize success - What this means is picture yourself having a successful
day. Runners in the Boston Marathon picture themselves crossing the finish line. Maybe
not in first place, but still finishing the 26-mile race. Self-visualization is a key factor in
having a positive mental attitude. Will it work 100% of the time? I wish it would.
However, by visualizing your success, you‘ll be able to have a better handle on what does
happen. And a better chance of making it happen.
Key #3: Demonstrate humor, energy and enthusiasm - We call these three items
the MAGIC ingredients. Because without each one, creating a positive mental attitude
will be very difficult. First, HUMOR. There is normally humor in every situation. Finding
it is the KEY. Sometimes you‘ll need to stretch and dig a little deeper to find the humor in
a situation. But once you do, you‘ll feel so much better. The ENERGY we talk about is
important because without some ‗energy‘ in your attitude, you‘ll be dragging along
behind everyone. Energy is closely related to the third ingredient...and that is
ENTHUSIASM. My father used to tell me "Nancy, enthusiasm is contagious; let‘s start an
KEY #4: Resist negative influences - It‘s a fact. When we have a negative
experience with a company, we‘ll tell more people about it than if we have a good
experience with the same company. And many times, when you hear that someplace
wasn‘t very good, you‘ll believe the person who told you and choose not to do business
with that company. However, you may only be hearing HALF the story. Check things out
for yourself. Especially if the negativity involves a person you work with or know. I bet
we‘ve all heard negative things about someone we didn‘t know and then when we had the
opportunity to meet them ourselves, we find that they‘re not as bad as someone had
alluded to. In fact they might be nice. But you need to be the judge. Take negativity out of
your life. Steer clear of those who drag you down and say negative things all the time.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 103
Being around other positive people is a good start.
KEY #5: Be a WHATEVER-IT-TAKES person - This "KEY" means be a problem
solver. Life is going to put obstacles in front of all of us. How we go around those
obstacles is the KEY factor. There‘s normally a good answer to every problem put in front
of us. Dale Carnegie said it best. Ask yourself, "What is the worst thing that can happen
here?" And move up from that.
KEY #6: Embrace change...expect it and accept it - Some people are very good at
handling change...and some resist it a lot. We had a fun saying at our house - I can still
hear my father saying it: "Nancy, the next time you change your mind...get a good one."
The major KEY to handling CHANGE is to accept it. Deal with it. In most cases there‘s
little we can do to stop it.
Key #7: Be grateful for what you have - I‘m not sure this KEY needs to be
explained. So many people have so much. And yet those same people are often the ones
that constantly complain. Why wait for some life altering experience to be grateful for all
you have? Be grateful, NOW...before something bad happens and makes you aware.
We know there are more KEYS to having a Positive Mental Attitude, but these are the
first seven. Get these down ‗pat‘ and you‘ll find the rest falls into place.

Good luck. And remember, as long as you‘re going to do the job, you might as well do it
with a smile!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 104
       Simple and effective steps to provide amazing customer service.

Even though Black Friday has begun, there is still time for retailers to increase their
chances of having a good holiday shopping season. We all know customer service is
important, but it‘s critical during stressful times like the holidays. And when the
economy is sour and people want the most for their money, one of the best things your
company can do is take steps to improve their customer service.

Remember, customers come to your company to get something they want. The
companies that do the best job giving them what they want (in a way that is sustainable
for them) will be the winners.

They‘ll get more customers, more repeat business and more referrals.
So, get the most from this holiday shopping season by offering your customers Amazing
Service. Here are ten ways to make it happen:

1. Put your customers first
Remember, your customers come to your store to get what they want. They believe you
can help them. (Otherwise they would have gone somewhere else.) They have chosen
you! Honor their choice by doing everything within your ability to help them. This means
focusing your attention and efforts on discovering what they want and helping them get
it. You put their interests and desires first. It means your sole motivation is helping them
get what they came for.

2. Listen
When you begin talking with a customer, stop whatever else you are doing and focus on
them. Make appropriate eye contact, listen, nod and show them you are paying attention.
Some people take notes when listening, to ensure they get everything the customer is
saying. Certainly you should ask questions to confirm and clarify that you understand. As
you listen to your customer, don‘t pre-judge what they‘re saying. Keep your mind open
so you hear everything. And remember, listening is a full-time job!

3. Have fun
This is SUPPOSED to be a fun time of year. But for many people it never is because of the
stress they subject themselves to. You can help them get back to the fun of the season.
Have fun by giving them an unexpected and positive experience. Enjoy your work and
your co-workers and your customers. It‘s not about goofing off or wasting time. But it IS
about finding ways to bring fun and joy into your work and bringing your customers
along for the ride.

4. Be flexible
Our goal is to help our customers get what they want, within our ability. So we always
need to look for alternatives. We need to be creative. We need to think beyond the first
solution that comes to mind when we‘re working with our customers. Being flexible
means offering customers more than one solution. By offering choices we‘re making it
more likely they‘ll get what they want. There are few things worse than being a customers
and someone says ―that‘s the only way you can do it‖.It also means being willing to try
new things and go the extra mile for customers. It means being a problem solver rather
than an order taker. Customers know the difference.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 105
5. Make your customers smile
This is the most important thing you can do with your customers. If they are happy with
your service they will come back. Note, this does not mean you do anything and
everything to make your customers happy. You‘re always limited by the resources and
policies of your company. But it does mean you do everything within your ability to make
them happy. Get creative and look for ways to give your customer a great experience.

6. Put Yourself In Their Shoes (PYITS)
Try to see things from your customer‘s perspective in as many ways as you can. Think
about when you‘re the customer. How do you feel and what do you want from people you
buy from? What are the top three things you want from them? Most people want similar
things like courtesy, helpful information, solutions (rather than dead-ends), a friendly
smile, fair value and quick service. What about when you‘re angry or frustrated with a
company or person you do business with? Think about the emotions you have in those
situations. And consider your motivations too. What drives you in those interactions?
What actions do you want from the people you do business with? How do you want them
to resolve your complaints?We all wear at least two hats. One is our ―service‖ hat which
we wear when we are serving others. Another is our ―customer‖ hat. Keep both of them
handy at all times as a reminder to put yourself in your customer‘s shoes.

7. Be fast and friendly
The crowds, the weather and the stress of the holiday season can people‘s patience.
People are under pressure to get a lot done in a little time. Move as quickly as you can as
you help people. Be as efficient as you can and show them you respect their time. But
don‘t trade fast for friendly. You need to do both. Give your customers a warm smile and
a sincere, friendly greeting and you‘ll help them have a better experience while they‘re in
your store.

8. Help, don‟t sell
Don‘t push people to buy what you think they should buy. Remember, they came to you
to accomplish something, not to help you make a sale. Your focus needs to be ―how can
you help them accomplish their goals‖. Keep this in mind as you help your customers
and you‘ll find they‘ll be easier to work with and more likely to buy from you.

9. Be extra patient
Even though some shoppers might not show you any patience, you need to give them
plenty. Do whatever you have to do to be extra patient with everyone. Pretend you‘re
talking with your 83 year old grandmother. How would you treat her? Keep in mind the
pressure and stress your customers are under. They might snap at you in frustration but
you need to let it roll off like water off a duck‘s back. Be nice to everyone every time - no
exceptions and no excuses!

10. Brainstorm with your team to offer your customers the best experience
Even though the holiday shopping season has begun, you can still find ways to provide
amazing customer service to your customers. Every day, meet with your staff and debrief
what happened the day before. Did they have any unusual requests? Were there any
difficult situations? Review each day and learn from it. Engage your employees to find
creative solutions to your customers needs so you can help your customers have a great
holiday season. The more people you help, the better holiday season you and your
company will have.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                             Page 106
      How to Improve Your Surveys to
           Obtain Better Results
       Make sure you are not missing out on useful customer feedback.

Of course, for someone who has no experience with this way of gathering information,
starting to run surveys can be a little daunting.
As always, you'll want to make the user's experience your first priority. This means taking a
little extra care in crafting the surveys themselves and the ways that you promote them.

Survey early, Survey often-Don't go back through the last 5 years of business data and
figure out everything you've ever wished you knew about your clients and their habits and
dump it all into one survey. It would be great if all of your customers were willing to spend 30
or even 60 minutes answering your questions, but they are not. In fact, if you ask them to do
this, they'll probably lose a lot of respect for you and be less likely to do business with you
again. You'll probably have better results doing a short 5-6 question survey every few

Mix it up a little-Since you're adding frequent, short surveys, why not hook them into
different actions that your site's visitors are usually taking anyway? If you have a
membership area, you could add in a quick survey between the login page and the member's
area. If you offer something for download, you could stick one in before the download is
served. Make it feel like a quick, relatively unobtrusive extra step in the middle of an action
that your clients are used to performing anyway. If you play this right, you can actually gain
an extra layer of data that might tell you about the different types of answers you get from
users engaged in different types of activity on your site.

Explain yourself-You have to be classy about these types of things. Remember that you're
asking for your clients to take time out of their busy days, and explain to them why you think
it's important for them that they help you out. Will the results of this survey be used to make
your site nicer for them to use? Will it help to improve your products or services in some
specific way? Let your clients know that you care about their experience with you and are
offering this survey in order to make sure that you keep improving. Make them love you.

Offer some incentives- They don't have to be major incentives, just a little something
commensurate with the effort you're asking for. If you offer an information product and are
using your surveys to improve it, offer clients a free or discounted copy of the new version for
helping you improve it. It's only fair. If it's a membership site you're asking questions about,
consider giving a free week of membership for completing your survey. The other day I saw a
bank offering free blankets for opening a checking account. I can't possibly imagine whose
banking decisions they're trying to sway with this offer, but I'm sure they must have put some
kind of market research into it. People like to feel rewarded.With a little bit of brainstorming
about the types of information you could use from your clients, a little planning about how
you intend to extract the information and put it to use, and some basic common sense about
the way that you ask people for their help, you might just open up your business to some
surprising potentials that have been right under your nose for years. Or you might strike gold
with one client's dead-on analysis or fond wish. A well-placed web based survey could change
your life.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 107
Call Center Skills - Five Tips for Better
        Huddles and Meetings
   One of the keys to providing better customer service is to keep your Call
                           Center Agents up to date.

The best way to do this is run daily team huddles and monthly team meetings. Here are five
tips that will help you make your meeting time more effective:

1) How is a call center team huddle different from a formal meeting?
A team huddle is usually an informal 10-15 minute long meeting held just before a shift takes
the floor. They are typically held daily. Or, several times a day for call centers with multiple
shifts. They usually take place on the call center floor. They are meant to give urgent
information to Agents such as that day's hot issues, equipment problems, etc.
In comparison, a formal team meeting occurs once or twice a month. They take place in a
regular meeting room and involve a set, pre-announced agenda. The topics include upcoming
product or policy changes, and refresher training.

2) What is the recommended location for a team huddle?
You can hold a team huddle in a breakout room or meeting room (if you have the space.)
However most call centres hold their team huddles in an open space on the call center floor.
Since a huddle is very brief - just 10-15 minutes long - there's no point in booking a dedicated
meeting room for it. Just make sure the noise from your huddle does not disturb any nearby
Agents who are on a call.

3) How often should you do a team huddle? What time of day should it be held?
Informal huddles are usually done daily. The best time for a huddle is just before the start of
a particular shift. For example, all the people who start their shift at 9:00 AM meet at 8:45
AM. During the huddle, the Team Manager outlines any urgent issues, gives updates about
the day's potential challenges, and asks for any feedback or questions from the Agents.

4) Who should provide the topics for a team huddle: Managers or Agents?
Usually Managers provide the topics for a team huddle. A huddle is meant to rapidly update
Agents who are starting their shift, on urgent issues for the day. So normally the Manager
sets the agenda.

5) Those are great tips on how to run a team huddle. Now, what are some
techniques for effective call center meetings?
There are a number of activities you can do during a formal team meeting. Because team
meetings are longer than huddles, you can build in more interactivity. So, you can ask your
Agents to provide feedback. Or, do a skills building exercise. Or, an interactive team building
exercise to build rapport. Another common technique is to focus on a specific product or
service, and ask your Agents to share their best ideas for how to sell that product or service. If
you are in a service environment, you can ask your Agents to share their best practices for
how to deal with a particular service issues.

By allowing your Agents to share, they can learn from each other and build their skill level.
This will lead to better call quality scores and improved customer satisfaction.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                Page 108
   Thank You Notes - Are They a Thing
             of the Past?
 Sometimes it's the simple approach that means the most to customers and

Do you remember when you used to write real thank you notes to people in your life.
Maybe some of you still do from time to time.

The value of the thank you note goes much further than the words you write. The best
thing about these notes is that they rarely get discarded. I still keep a box of old thank
you notes which I look at on a day when I have had some business disappointments,
friendship disappointments and family issues. And if the truth be known I read each one
of them sometimes more than one time.

And I always feel better afterwards. When my daughter in law was visiting last year, she
wrote me a personal note on a paper plate. It is still sitting where she left it, and I read it
every single day. It always makes me feel appreciated and cared for.

I have purchased a variety of thank you notes throughout the years. Some of them have
been very fancy, some cute and some with just my name on them. Today when I need
one I make it on the computer. But that is okay, as long as my message is in long hand.

It is almost a sad thing that people do not get a pen out, take some time and write a
special thank you. There are many reasons to say thank you. Some reasons are for a
present, a kindness or just a thank you for being a good friend or business associate.
People always appreciate the fact that you took the time to write out your feelings, put a
stamp on an envelope and go to the post box to mail it.

Okay now the big one; the proposition of writing thank you notes to insure more loyalty
from your clientele. What a daunting thought that a note would stay in the hands of a
business associate for a very long time. It certainly beats the time an e mail stays on the
computer before being deleted. Your cents can really get a lot of mileage.

When you put your true feelings down on paper it resonates to another person's ego and
heart. What a great business strategy to keep your name in front of your clients and
customers. What if you sat down today and sent a bunch of your customers a thank you
for being such wonderful customers and how much you appreciate their business.

Sound like a lot of work and money? It is a lot cheaper than putting an ad in a magazine
or newspaper - and it will last much longer. Do you think they would feel pretty special? I
know that I would be delighted.

After reading this article I am hoping many of you will go out and purchase some thank
you notes and start writing. Today, with the economy in shambles we need to do all we
can to keep our customer loyalty. The joy of making someone feel good is worth the time.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 109
 The Three Worst Words in Customer
   By changing a few words, you can turn a bad customer experience
                          into a great one.

We all have little things that drive us nuts. Here's one of mine - the phrase "You'll have

Yesterday I walked into a store, politely asked for help, and was told, "You'll have to wait
for one of our technicians to be free." I didn't mind the wait, but it got me thinking how
often we hear that statement in public - and how abrasive it is to hear as a customer.
(Excuse me, but I don't "have to" do anything, especially for a stranger!)

Most of us probably don't say "you'll have to" out of rudeness. We say it because we are
trying to protect ourselves, or set expectations with a customer. But when you examine
the meaning of this statement literally, you can see where it breeds a lot of customer
resentment right off the bat:
-It tells another person what to do.
-It implies that you have the power in this transaction, not them.
-It doesn't give the customer options.
The irony is that, just by changing a few words, you can turn a curt brush-off into a great
customer experience. Let's try a few examples:

Before: You'll have to fill out this form.
After: I'd like to get a little information from you so we can help you better.

Before: You'll have to wait for a technician.
After: I'll have someone out to help you in just a few minutes.

Before: You'll have to wait in line.
After: We should be able to get to you soon - it shouldn't be more than a short wait.

Perhaps the best example of an alternative to "you'll have to" came when I tried to go to a
sold-out Philadelphia Phillies baseball game last year, while I was passing through town.
Instead of saying the obvious "We're sold out - you'll have to come back another time,"
the ticket clerk said, "We'd love to have you see the game. Even though we're sold out,
here's what I'd suggest - if you'd like, feel free to check at each of our gates to see if there
are any extra tickets. Good luck!"

As it turned out, there were no tickets at any of the gates and I eventually left empty-
handed - but every person I dealt with at the ballpark was so polite, upbeat and helpful
that it was still a great customer experience. I later discovered that these people are
specifically trained for what to say to fans in situations like these, and it works!

So look critically at times where you are tempted to say "you'll have to" to customers, and
start rehearsing new responses that speak to your customers' interests. The difference
will be amazing!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 110
                 SENIOR MANAGEMENT
         Customer Excellence Begins With You
Your organization is like an engine - and you are the switch that can ignite
In today‘s competitive marketplace, extending excellent customer service is essential to the
survival of any business. I hope by now most of us understand the importance of taking care of
the customer and exceeding their expectations.

If some of you are like me, you spent your leisure time reading books like ―Raving Fans‖ by Ken
Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles, or ―In Search of Excellence‖ by Tom Peters. I read these books
and took them as gospel because they offer sound principles for creating a vision of what excellent
customer service should look like.
I truly believe that these books and a few others really help us to delve into the principles for
taking care of the people and maintain our customer‘s loyalty.

We have great examples of companies that live by the customer loyalty principle by constantly
striving to be on the cutting edge of services and products. Such companies that come to mind are
Starbucks, Nordstrom, The Four Seasons, and Virgin Atlantic. These are companies who set the
mark for creative and enlightened organizations that are always finding ways to make the
customer say ―wow‖. Consumers brag to others about the services they receive at these customer
centered organizations and therefore create a word of mouth buzz that creates exponential growth
and success.
As managers you have probably tried to instill certain campaigns or slogans at your company. You
made sure your employees understood and practiced the following procedures:

- Greeting the guest with a smile and a salutation.
- Looking for the ―moment of truth‖, the opportunity to make an impression on your customer
with each interaction.
- Soliciting feedback from the guest or customer.
- Employee empowerment.
- Taking care of the ―internal customer‖ (teamwork)

The list goes on, but in our organizations we have all tried to instill the above initiatives at one
time or another. If your organization is a progressive one, then many of the above initiatives are
common practice and part of the expected norm. By the way, have you ever walked into one of the
large video store franchises? You walk through the familiar doors in search of the newest
―Rambo‖ movie on the way you plan to drop off your last rental – ―P.S. – I love You‖ (My wife
made my rent). As you walk in the door, you are hit with ―hello‖ from two or three employees.
Rather than be impressed by their great service you are actually annoyed by their forced
salutation. They are not sincere and it shows. Some executive at that company decided long ago
that all of the video store employees will greet the guest as they walk in the door despite if the
employee is across the room or not. Forget about greeting me from across the room as I walk in
the door. Instead, try not to ignore me the rest of the time I am in the store. Say ―Hello‖ to me
when we are face to face or passing in the aisles. Give me an opinion about a movie that I should
see or ask me if I found everything ok. The point is that when something seems scripted or forced
then it is not going to work on the customer, instead it will cheapen the customer experience. ―Do
you want to supersize that?‖

Ok! We all know the importance of customer loyalty because it costs less to get a customer to
come back then to create a new one. We all know that the customer is king because they pay our
bills and pay checks. We all know that our employees have to be friendly and have good attitudes
or the customers won‘t come back. We all know that an unsatisfied customer will tell far more
people than a happy customer. So how do we make our employees follow these initiatives and

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                  Page 111
constantly work toward improving their services? It is easy. You, be a good leader. Huh? ―No, it‘s
the employees fault.‖ ―It‘s hard to find good people now.‖ I say B.S. (Bogus Sandwich).

Some of us know that the philosophy of customer loyalty and constant improvement were
studied, researched and taught by the American statistician, Dr W Edwards Deming. His
teachings have been carried out by such companies as Sony, Fuji, Toyota, Honda and a multitude
of others. In fact every year Japan still honours the most innovative or successful company with
the Deming Award. Deming‘s teachings were so simple yet they are still some of the most
powerful management philosophies today which Deming referred to as ―profound knowledge‖.
Some of the points from his 14 point list from his book ―Out of the Crisis‖ are:
- Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to
become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
- Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and
productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs
- Institute training on the job
- Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets
to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of an overhaul, as well as supervision of
production workers
- Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
- Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production
must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with
the product or service.
- Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement
- Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is
everybody's job.

As you can see, the father of quality and improvement says that quality begins in the boardroom
with the leaders and managers. This especially counts for service companies. Leaders, owners,
and manager make the rules and the procedures. They can create the empowerment in the
employee or tie their hands and have them afraid to make a decision. They are the ones that
decide how much should be spent on training and what objectives are important. The owners are
the ones that decide if they are going to share part of the profits with the employee and make
them feel like part of the company.

The leaders and owners are the ones that decide how they are going to treat the employees on
their interactions. Are they going to set goals and work toward helping the employee to achieve
the goal or are they going to leave them alone and just dump all over them when the employee
does something wrong? The leaders decide if an employee‘s or customer‘s idea will be
implemented or not. So you can keep blaming the line employee for the bad customer service or
you can take a deep look at the root cause of it all, leadership and owners.
We want our people to treat our customers with warmth and respect. How do we treat our
people? We want our people to constantly improve their work standards and output. Do we
provide the on-going training and listen to their feedback? We want our people to be able to serve
the customer to the fullest without making them wait and go through hoops. Are they afraid to try
anything without your approval because they know if they screw up you will be all over them?
Look at yourself and see.

Your store, restaurant, factory or office is like an engine. Then you the leader are the ignition
switch. Your people are the spark plugs, pistons and other moving parts of the engine. If the spark
(behaviour) you provide is weak or surges then the engine will sputter. Without the oil (training,
goals, feedback, and support), then the engine will quickly burn and seize up. The parts of the
engine all have their function but without the spark, the engine will never run. Now go take a look
at yourself, your other managers and the system itself. Can you improve something to ignite
maximum performance from your employees and create customer loyalty? Always!

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                 Page 112
                                  Case studies
                            Don‟t Lose a Customer to Bad Service

My husband received his first paycheck from his new job on Friday. So we decided to celebrate
and went out to our favorite restaurant for dinner. The excitement and pleasure we normally
experienced was soon shattered by disappointment.
The wonderful service we received was replaced by a waitress who was too busy to take care of us.
She had no problem serving the tables to the left and right of us, but we seemed to inconvenience.
We had to call her over for our order and for refills. She forgot our straws, forgot our serviette,
forgot my daughter‘s dipping sauce, and forgot my husband‘s soup. She finally brought the soup
and straws upon our second request, but the dipping sauce and the serviette never arrived.
―That‘s okay,‖ I thought. ―Everybody has a bad day sometimes.‖ But then came the worst
customer service I have ever experienced in my entire life! It was heavily suggested that my
husband and I were LIARS! When we received our bills, I noticed that we had been charged for
two coffee drinks. The problem was while I had ordered two coffees, we only received one.
When the hostess came by, I explained that I would like the second coffee taken off because I
never received it. Her reply,‖ yes you did. I brought it to you.‖ I looked at her and said, ―Yes, you
brought me the first coffee I ordered. The second coffee never arrived.‖ She left the table to
discuss the matter with our waitress. The waitress returned and said, ―You had two coffees. I
picked up a glass.‖ My husband and I looked at each other and politely said, ―Yes. You picked up
the first glass. We never received the second coffee.‖ She then said, ―Well the bartender made two
drinks.‖ We said, ―That may be so but we never received it,‖ She walked away to discuss the
matter with her manager who in turn went to discuss the matter with the bartender.
The bartender swore he made the drink. We dint deny the fact that he made the drink, we simply
stated we never received the second drink. The manager came to our table and said, ―We have a
dilemma here. Mr. Waitress, the hostess, and the bartender said you received your drink.‖
We looked at him and said, ―We don‘t deny the bartender made the drink or that we ordered two
coffees (white and black coffee to be exact.), but that second coffee never made it to this table‖
Doesn‘t sound bad, right? Well, here is the kicker! The manager looked dead in our face with a
look of anger and in a harsh voice said, ―Well, I can always go look in the dishwasher for the
second glass. My bartender assures me that you are the only ones who ordered one of those
drinks,‖ My husband looked at him in disbelief. ―Did the manager just call us liars?‖ I asked
myself. My husband simply replied, ―Look, we understand your position, but we never received
the second coffee. Go look in the dishwasher.‖ Frustrated, the manager threw his hands up in the
air, and with a disgusted voice said, ―Well here is what am going to do. I am going to credit this
drink.‖ No apology. No sorry for misunderstanding. No sorry for inconvenience. Nothing.
I looked at the manager and said, we come every other week. We never had a problem before,‖ He
just walked away.

The manager came back with the check a tally that showed the times each of orders were put into
the system. Guess what? The second coffee was not listed in the sheet, but he had written down
two times in blue pen and said, ―The first coffee was put in at 5:58 and the second was put in at
6:40. ―We looked at him and said, ―We aren‘t denying we ordered two coffees; just the second one
never came.‖ Then my husband added, ―Look at this table. Every from the second order is here.
Do you see that cup here?‖ The manager just walked away disgusted. We paid our bill, left a $10
tip since the bill was $100 and we didn‘t want to stiff the sushi makers, and walked out. My son,
who hates waiting for the bill because he always feels bad when we spent too much on eating out,
had gone out when we asked the waitress for the bill. The look of bewilderment and anger on my
face must have given me away because my son asked, ―What‘s wrong?‖
After nagging, I finally told him what happened. He looked at me and said, ―Mom, you never got
the second cup of coffee.‖ I said, ―I know and you can bet we will never eat there again.‖
The moral of this story....Sometimes bad customer service can cost you a long time repeat
customer. If you‘re having a bad day, try to take a deep breath and don‘t take it out on your
customers. And remember, sometimes, employees lie to cover their butts. And sometimes,
mistakes just happen.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                                   Page 113
     Customer Service Lessons from a
              Sweaty Guy
      Never overlook the importance of first impressions and employee

In my 10 year speaking career, I've had the privilege to visit hundreds of colleges. It's
always exciting to walk onto a Campus and meet a new group of students. Last month,
though, I had to make a trip to a university and I'd been dreading it for a long, long time.

See, I wasn't going to a new campus to present a lecture. Instead, we were dropping off
my stepson, Jordan, to start his freshman year at the University of Florida.

Granted, Jordan came as a package deal when I married his mom, but I never could have
imagined how close he and I would become. He's a brilliant guy with a lot of depth and
insight. Plus, one minute we can be having an intense discussion on politics or
philosophy, and the next we can be laughing like school girls while making fart noises
with our armpits. Since Jordan is both my stepson and friend, this next step of his life
would leave a gaping hole in mine.

So, when it came time to take him to college, I didn't want him to leave - I just knew how
much I was going to miss him. I can't even imagine how tough this must be on parents
who've raised a kid since birth. So, one blistering August morning, we squeeze clothes,
game systems, computers, books and everything else you can imagine into the car. Two
hours later, we pull onto campus and try to get to his residence hall.

Fun Fact: University of Florida is one of the ten largest universities in the country.
Approximately 50, 000 students are Gators. Moving in day. With 50K students. In
Florida. In August. And 5000 pounds of Jordan's stuff to lug upstairs to his room.
Parking spaces? Fat chance! Err, make that a bit more exact: super morbidly obese

Through gridlocked traffic jams, we finally got to the entrance to a parking lot. The guard
walked up to the passenger window, shaking his head and saying, "The lots are all full,
y'all." Then, he spots the handicapped hang tag. Right about this time, Carson pops up
between my knees in the front seat. The lot guard does a double take. "Is that a service
dog?" We all nod (even Carson because he knows how hot parking lots can be on paws).
The guard looks over his shoulder, back at us and smiles. "Let me see what I can do..."

A minute later he returns and directs us to an open spot; the only one, I swear, within a
100 mile radius (or so it felt). When we piled out, I think all of us were ready to hug this
guy. He had, single-handedly, saved the day. And why? Just because he wanted to help. I
wonder if UF realizes what a great job this guy is doing? And how important! So often we
forget how vital these "first impressions" can be.

Folks, I want to be like this parking lot guy. I want to smile, even when it's hotter than
Paris Hilton out. I want to be observant to the needs of others. I want to try to help
however I can. And, above all, I want to help make people's lives easier. This guy was a
great reminder of how, with an attitude of assistance - you can really make things better
for someone else.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 114
Jordan is sure to get a great education at UF. And to think his first college experience
wasn't taught by a professor, but a sweaty guy in a parking lot!

How to Prevent a Style Conflict between Customer Service and Sales
Aligning these key areas of a business is essential when dealing with

A (sales) manager once told me that every complaint should be treated as an
opportunity. Treat the complaint with care and you will win a loyal customer.

The difference between sales and customer service is that for the first client contact
dominates and administrative tasks occupy only a second priority.
Style in this sense, is the way your company addresses clients. Let's take two main
approaches: the formal way and the more personal approach.
I have seen websites that have a virtual receptionist with the image of a real person.
"Rose," I found on one of those sites and they have selected this name and her look to
represent a real person. Other sites with a virtual receptionist often choose to a cartoon
or digital character. Less personal.

To prevent a style mismatch you have to treat your clients in the same way whether they
are being serviced by salesmen or by the customer service department.

If the approach is like the above, with the personal touch -- this site in question shows
even real employees with their face and real name on the home page with an invitation to
discuss a idea, product, service, etc -- than make sure you offer this approach during the
whole contact-cycle.

If you use the personal touch in sales, and all of a sudden a customer issues a complaint
and you send a letter in response without any name, nor function of the one who has
written it, but only the name of the company, you are breaking the style of the approach;
Personal in sales, impersonal at customer services.

Clients do not only understand this, they also assume that the impersonal approach is
the real one, thinking - "so this is your real face." It shows that the organization is not
responsible; when there is a problem they hide behind the brand of the company. This
damages the image of the organization as well as the brand, because it sends a marketing
message to clients who may chain it to others. The best thing to do is to consequently
choose one style and use it all the way.

To prevent such a mismatch, first look at the business. A complaint may turn out to be a
claim but it can also turn into a loyal customer. When designing the organization you
have to choose what business process you want to stress most; claims you will always
have, but if you are preparing for them in a defensive way you will increase their number
too. So design the personal approach with a focus on loyal customers and not on
preventing claims.

This requires education and training. Sales is much more pro-active, customer service is
used to a more reactive approach and that invites a defensive attitude; "there is another
customer, what will it be this time." Changing that into: "I bet five dollar if I can change
his mood." is not an easy task.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                            Page 115
Both departments also differ in focus in the way that sales is return-driven, customers
service is more often cost (saving) driven.

Alignment of the approach throughout the organization however (both in sales and
customer service) is the (only) option: in either department you propose a friendly and
personal approach. That includes accepting mistakes... if you have to ... with a smile.
When sending an apology do it in a responsible way, signed with the name of the

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                         Page 116
 Customer No Service - How to Lose a
          Loyal Customer
I'm a loyal customer, but today was the day where I almost stopped going to my favorite

Today I went to the supermarket to buy a few things for dinner. I knew it was going to go
wrong because my usual entrance to the parking lot was gated off by shopping carts lying
on the ground to block my path. OK, I'm flexible, I'll drive around.

The second thing was when they were out of my favorite glass bottles of skim milk. It's
the best way to drink milk, in my humble opinion. They had every flavor except for mine.

Next, I tried to check out by "paying by touch." Let me tell you, this can be the best
system in the world, you just sign up with your driver's license number, your credit card
number, your preferred customer number, and your phone number, and away you go.

Notice I said can be the best. Many times, my preferred card number doesn't work in the
system, and it doesn't take the savings off of the bill, and tonight was one of those nights.

Now this would have been okay, had the checker just used the house card and given me
the lower price so my debit card would be billed the correct amount, however she did not
know how to do this. Instead, she said to go over to the service counter and someone
over there would help me out.

Skeptical, I walked over to the service desk to see 3 clerks talking to each other and
cutting out something that was much more urgent than me and the 4 other people in
line. For some reason, after a few minutes, one girl asked to help me.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I told her my dilemma, and she proceeded to
go through my bags, re-scanning things and writing down what she thought was the
correct cents off. I'm no cheapskate, but five dollars is 2 gallons of gas!

Of course, she was doing all of this in her head, and didn't let me see the slip, and of
course didn't do it correct, ripping me off to the tune of about 20 cents, plus I had to re-
pack my own groceries.

To add insult to injury, there was no ramp open to go down to the parking structure I
was forced to use, so I had to grab my bags and carry them, with my wife, down 3 flights
of 10 stairs.

This is maddening to me! It's so easy to do things right. Here's how I would provide
customer service:

Plainly mark the entrances that are closed, and advertise it on your stores website, thus
alleviating some of your customers' frustrations, and provide the alternative entrances.

If you're out of something, put a sign up that lets me know when it's going to be back so I
can return and buy it then, and apologize that you're out. A little sign is all I ask, not a big

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                              Page 117
Make the error in favor of your customers, and scan the house savings card whenever in
doubt. And give your checkers the ability to fix this, instead of sending us over to the
service desk.
Offer something extra to customers when your computer systems don't work as planned.
It doesn't have to be a lot, but give me a coupon for a free loaf of bread, a free deli
sandwich, or something nice. It's not my fault your preferred system doesn't work.
Use loyalty cards for EXTRA things, not to get the every day lowest price. Why am I
going to scan my preferred customer card if I know I don't have anything that's on sale?
I'm not, that's why.

That's all I've got. See, it wasn't so hard, was it? Making customer service great is a lot
easier than you though. And oh yeah, you won't lose me as a customer if you at least try.

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 118
           Customer Satisfaction: What
            Yardstick Do You Choose?
    When considering your performance, consider the yardsticks of your
I used to frequently facilitate a five day workshop. As a part of the process for this
workshop, we had a Thursday night dinner where all of the participants got together and
celebrated the week - even though there were a few more hours of workshop remaining.

When the workshop took place near our home, my wife often attended this dinner.
Participants wanted to meet her, and I had been so busy with the workshop all week that
it was nice, even if there were 20 other people in the room, to have dinner with her.
One night after this event, Lori asked me what seemed to be a very strange question,
"Have you spent your week with the same people I met tonight?" Not knowing why she
was asking such a cryptic question, I answered, "Yes, of course, why do you ask?"

She explained. "All week you have been telling me how many things haven't gone well
during this workshop; what you want to fix next time, and that you are disappointed in
your performance. And then I spend an evening with a group that is laughing and telling
me, almost to a person, how this is the best workshop they've ever attended. These
people are excited about the prospects of going back to work and putting these ideas to
work. So something doesn't seem to match up between your description, and theirs."

I looked at her, not really knowing what to say.
Then she went on, saying, "This isn't the first time I've experienced this at this dinner.
You tell me all week what you want to change, but then the group is always excited, and
thoroughly delighted with their experience. I think you need to recognize that there are
two yardsticks that you can use to measure your performance - yours and your

She was right, of course.

I loved the work I was doing in those workshops. Yet, I was always hard on myself,
recognizing the things I wanted to tweak, fix, and change to make it even better. Even
though I knew people were benefiting from the workshop, and even enjoying it, that
wasn't my focus. My focus was on making the experience better in the future.

It wasn't until Lori pointed it out so insightfully that I really realized that I was
measuring my performance on a yardstick of a continually expanding length.
As I thought about her advice and the metaphor of the two yardsticks in the weeks,
months, and even years that followed, I realized that her advice applied to many more
people than just me, and that it was actually a profound truth:
When assessing your performance, consider both yardsticks - yours and your

In the story I shared, I wasn't recognizing my success. Having a high benchmark to
define success helped me continue improving, but it also kept me from realizing a
balanced view of the situation. I already had delighted Customers. Perhaps this is your
situation, or perhaps the situation is reversed - by your yardstick things are fine, while

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                           Page 119
your Customers are less than thrilled.

So where are you - and where is your organization - on the two yardsticks with your work
at this moment?

The concept of the multiple yardsticks is valuable no matter what you do or who your
Customer's are. Both yardsticks are valuable, and both are necessary. Make sure to think
about and recognize your results from both perspectives, and, most importantly, use
both perspectives as you plan future events and your ongoing improvement.

Potential Pointer: When considering your performance, consider more than your
personal perspective - you must consider the yardsticks of others as well - especially your


Andy Hanselman, UK consultant, ―customer experiences that delight‖ & ―when saying
‗no‘can help you business‖

Catherine Ngahu, Accountant Journal, April 2003, ―Quality Customer Care‖

Sonia Cottrell, Marketing and Business Development, Deloitte

Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, ―Creating Customer Evangelist‖

Michael Hill ―Complaints R Great‖

Cohn Marvell, Founder of the Customer Experience Co. Uk ―complain handling is easy‖

David Hicks (CEO, Mulberry House Consulting), ―Customer Centered Change‖

www. Customer focus

©Basilio B. Joshua, Winning Rhymes Inc.                                          Page 120

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