Nokia Care by yaofenji


customer service

The Official Journal of the Customer Service Institute of America
March 09

A Q&A with
Cassie Stern of
Nokia Care
Soothing the Savaged
Consumer Soul
What is
Book Review:
Flight Plan

                  Enroll in                                           Cassie Stern, Head of Nokia
                  CSIA’s Certified                                     Customer Care in North America

                  Customer Service
                  Manager Course.

CSIA- America’s Peak Customer Service Association.
                       C O N T E N T S
        02          A Q&A with Cassie Stern of Nokia Care

        06          What is Customer-Focused Leadership?

        13          Soothing the Savaged Consumer Soul:
                    Customer Love When Times Are Tough

        18          BOOK REVIEW: Flight Plan

Welcome to this edition of Customer Service Excellence!

Welcome to the Customer Service Institute of                        Love when Times are Tough. This Top 11 List
America (CSIA) and this edition of Customer                         outlines exceptional ideas for standing out to your
Service Excellence! This issue features the United                  customers during this difficult time.
States’ first organization to be certified to the                     For information about how to submit for the 2009
International Customer Service Standard (ICSS)                      International Service Excellence Awards or for
– Nokia Care NA. This division of Nokia was also                    more information on the International Customer
the International Service Excellence Award winner                   Service Standard (ICSS), please contact us using
in the Division of a Large Business category (B2B).                 any of the details below.
Cassie Stern, Head of Nokia Customer Care North
                                                                    Happy reading and Best wishes,
America, is featured in this article and shares some
of Nokia Care NA’s secrets of success.
Also in this edition of Customer Service
Excellence, we learn from Jeanne Bliss, author
of Chief Customer Officer, about Customer

                    Contact CSIA           Christine Churchill
                                               Art Director
                                             Tiffany Mehnert

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                               1
A Q&A w i t h C a s sie Stern of


Nokia Care staffers celebrate winning the International Customer Service Award in the Large Business Category

ROLE IN THE COMPANY.                                                COMPANY, PARTICULARLY WITH REGARD
                                                                    TO CUSTOMER SERVICE, RISK TAKING,
I am the Head of Nokia Customer Care in North                       RESEARCH AND QUALITY?
America, responsible for the functional and fiscal
operations, as well as satisfaction and delight                     Nokia is a consumer-inspired company that aims to
aspects of Customer Service for both the Business to                cater to both trade and consumer customers by
Business and Business to Consumer channels. I also                  connecting people in new and better ways. Our
hold the additional role of Host leader for Dallas                  business strategy is to develop a trusted consumer
based employees in Nokia’s Global Demand Supply                     relationship, the best mobile devices everywhere and
Network team.                                                       context-enriched services – connecting them to their

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                            2
 N O K I A C A R E …continued

                                               Nokia’s management style is very
                                               inclusive and participative. Across
                                               the company, employees at all levels
                                               are engaged in strategy development
                                               and strategy execution planning.

passions. Nokia encourages risk-taking and                          WHAT MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES ARE
renewal, invests heavily in research and has                        USED, DESCRIBE THE BEST ASPECTS OF
a reputation for supplying quality products                         EMPLOYEE RELATIONS AND THE
and services that bring additional value to the                     MANAGERIAL STYLE OF THE COMPANY.
consumers’ mobile experience.
                                                                    Nokia’s management style is very inclusive and
                                                                    participative. Across the company, employees at all
WHAT TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT                                       levels are engaged in strategy development and
PROGRAMS EXIST TO DRIVE DEVELOPMENT                                 strategy execution planning. Nokia uses internal
IN CUSTOMER SERVICE AT ALL LEVELS OF                                wiki’s, blogs, and other interactive approaches for
THE ORGANIZATION?                                                   participation in addition to face to face meetings and
In Nokia Care North America, we offer a variety of                  discussions. This facilitates broad reaching
formal and informal training solutions. These                       interaction from all areas of the globe. These
solutions include Executive Leadership Learning                     approaches are used for open communication in
Journey for Care business leaders, Service Manager                  daily business in addition to strategy development.
training, technology training such as 4G technology                 Nokia’s Global Care organization is an enterprise
evolution and contextual service applications, and                  matrix organization which aligns all employees to a
Customer focused training including consumer                        direct manager in their locality and also to an indirect
segmentation and retention. We also provide product                 manager whose virtual network then would set
readiness training for Contact Center team members                  standard global practices in place thus taking local
either at our own contact centers or those of our                   differences into account.
operators. We emphasize Six Sigma as a
methodology for improving the business and 65% of                   HAS THE WORKFORCE BEEN INVOLVED IN
our employee base in Care is presently trained with                 DEVELOPING STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS?
41% certified to green belt, black belt and master
black belt levels. As part of individual performance                Yes, Nokia is proud to involve its diverse population,
and development plans, Nokia also supports                          across disciplines, in all levels of the business
participation in external conferences and learning                  including strategy sharing. Over half the Nokia Care
opportunities to benchmark and learn from others.                   North America organization was involved in strategy
Best practice sharing through these external                        development last year, for example.
opportunities can be an invaluable exchange.

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                  3
 N O K I A C A R E …continued
OPERATIONS?                                                         IMPROVEMENT ACROSS THE ORGANIZATION?
Employees looked at all aspects of the Customer                     A crucial process promoting ongoing improvements
Care business and recommended improvement                           is the trimester business reviews with trade
initiatives in the areas of Growth, Productivity,                   customers on all areas of the relationship and metrics
Retention and People.                                               including Customer Care, Marketing, Pricing,
                                                                    Development and Product Quality. These reviews
                                                                    generate scorecards from Business to Business
Yes, there is a great sense of pride in Nokia and in
the Care organization and employees worked hard to
help us attain certification and receive the
International Service Excellence Award.

Improvement teams are formed for projects that are
initiated based on our strategy, our balanced
scorecard and the gaps identified during the CSIA
certification assessment. The Care North America
team has a Program Office that guides the execution
of prioritized projects essential to operational and
strategic execution. We staff the projects with the Six
Sigma certified project managers and teammates.                      North America Care
                                                                    celebrations are held
AND REWARD STAFF IN RELATION TO                                     periodically throughout the
                                                                    year to recognize great
Nokia Care North America recognizes employees in a
variety of ways, including the monthly Making A                     performance feedback
Difference Award, as well as monetary and
appreciative ‘Recognizing You’ awards. These                        received from our Business
awards can be awarded by managers and peers any
time they witness an employee displaying exceptional
                                                                    to Business customers
customer service. Additionally, North America Care
celebrations are held periodically throughout the year
                                                                    on the scorecards they
to recognize great performance feedback received
from our Business to Business customers on the
                                                                    use to measure us.
scorecards they use to measure us.

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                              4
 N O K I A C A R E …continued

customers from which we can identify areas for                      development and improvement of our business to
improvement, and continue the success where Nokia                   the consumer channel so that we may strive to reach
is meeting and exceeding expectations. Internal                     similar goals in that area of our business.
operative reviews and bi-annual strategy planning
also help to identify key improvement opportunities.
Initiatives are prioritized and resources are assigned              AS AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS RECENTLY
to ensure Nokia Care North America maintains its                    BEEN CERTIFIED TO THE INTERNATIONAL
rank as #1 or # 2 on all trade customer scorecards.                 CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARD, AND THE
                                                                    FIRST U.S. ORGANIZATION CERTIFIED TO
                                                                    THE STANDARD, HOW WOULD YOU
                                                                    What a strong motivational goal this was for us! This
The Nokia Care North America organization is                        certification process is excellent and has enabled us
honored to receive both CSIA certification and win an                to not only recognize the many best-in-class services
International Service Excellence Award in 2008. It is               that Nokia Care North America provides to our
especially helpful for us to improve using some of the              Business to Business customers today but helps us
great best practices that are occurring throughout the              understand how to excel to the next level with
industry. This knowledge enables us to continuously                 suggestions for improvement. This is incredibly valuable
improve our Business to Business Channel. We also                   and we will continue the ongoing quest to further
want to apply the excellent CSIA framework to guide                 enhance customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty.

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                               5
  What is



Customer Focus is an aligned organization-wide approach to customer satisfaction and service,
leading to customer loyalty and advocacy. The result is sustainable profitability.

In a Customer Focused organization, Leadership,                     ■ Every employee understands what he/she must
Processes and People are customer-aligned. This                     do in order to maintain and add value to every
requires that:                                                      relationship with both the paying customer and those
■ Every action is shaped by a relentless                            within the organization that rely on them for the work
commitment to meeting and exceeding customer                        they do.
expectations regarding product and service quality.                 While Customer Focus and service excellence is
■ Customer touch points and supporting internal                     everyone’s responsibility, this is particularly true for
processes are constantly evaluated and improved to                  anyone who manages and supervises others. That’s
meet or exceed those expectations.                                  why we believe that...
                                                                         ... Customer Focus is a Leadership issue.

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                    6
What is Customer-Focused Leadership?…continued

To become a customer-focused leader, it is helpful to               5.    Lead with a Customer Focus
look at the best practices of other organizations                   6.    Define Service Boundaries
when it comes to management and leadership                          7.    Provide Autonomy
practices and tailor these to your specific situation.               8.    Measure What’s Important
                                                                    9.    Accountability for All
Why is this important?                                              10.   Recognize and Reward

Truly customer-focused organizations are run and
managed on a day-to-day basis by Customer-                          Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
Focused Leaders. The buck stops with you.                           1. COMMIT TO SERVICE EXCELLENCE
■ Customer-contact and support employees are                        Most managers and staff typically say that service is
rarely the biggest obstacle to service improvement.                 important. The question is, do they act consistently in
■ It’s up to management to create an environment                    a way which demonstrates that service is important?
in which employees can deliver excellent service.                   A true commitment to service is based on the belief
                                                                    that service excellence is a competitive advantage.
                                                                    The term commitment in this principle means action.
The reality is that you can talk about how important                It is what you do as leaders, not what you say that
service is from the highest levels of your company,                 counts. The best evidence of your commitment is
you can begin to change processes and procedures                    found in what customers and your internal service
company-wide which reinforce customer-focus, and                    partners say about you and your team.
your staff can work diligently at trying to provide
service excellence. But, at the end of the day, the
only way to ensure sustainable service excellence is                2. BE PRO-ACTIVE IN RECOVERY
for those in management positions throughout your                   Recovery is a term which describes your actions in
company to do things which create an environment                    response to a customer’s complaint or problem. Even
where service flourishes. You will make it happen.                   with a goal of “zero defects,” people make mistakes.
                                                                    It is important to remember that the vast majority of
Your Key Role as a Leader is to:                                    customers don’t complain about the quality of the
                                                                    service they receive, they just leave. Problems will
■ To build and maintain the conditions that make                    happen and should be viewed as opportunities to
service excellence possible and worthwhile                          impress the customer and create positive stories.
■ To make it real operationally                                     In the world of service recovery, the faster the
■ To make it stick culturally                                       problem is resolved the more likely the customer will other words, to be a Customer-Focused Leader.                be satisfied. Work with your staff to ensure that the
                                                                    solutions provided to customers are designed to at
                                                                    the very least satisfy, but whenever possible impress.
Organizations that deliver top quality service have a
                                                                    Since the most frequent complaints and problems
number of things in common. These best practices
                                                                    are predictable, you can work with your staff to plan
have been summarized into ten key customer-
                                                                    recovery strategies for handling these complaint
focused leadership principles.
                                                                    situations and empower your staff to take action.
                                                                    Being pro-active also means seeking out disgruntled
These are:
                                                                    customers before they have a chance to complain,
1. Commit to Service Excellence
                                                                    particularly when you know that as a result of a
2. Be Pro-Active in Recovery
                                                                    change in a process or procedure, complaints are
3. Enhance and Align your Systems
                                                                    likely to result. It’s about building solid relationships
4. Listen to the Voice of the Customer

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                     7
What is Customer-Focused Leadership?…continued
with each customer based on trust, honesty and a                    make these changes or communicate the changes
sincere desire to earn their loyalty.                               required to those who are empowered to do so.

An organization’s survival depends upon rapid,                      Listening to customers and continually realigning
continuous enhancement to all processes, policies                   systems and actions to what customers want and
and systems which impact on the customer. Many                      need is critical. While periodic customer surveys are
processes are designed to meet regulatory,                          important, listening to the customer should be a
compliance and fiduciary standards. Other processes                  routine part of day-to-day business practices
have evolved to expedite workflow. You need to be                    especially at the point of contact with customers. We
continually examining all processes, policies and                   will address this issue in greater detail in the Know
systems which impact on the customer and looking                    Your Customer and Learning From the Customer
for ways to make them less burdensome from the                      chapters. Enable every customer-contact person to

             An organization’s survival depends
         upon rapid, continuous enhancement to all
        processes, policies and systems which impact
                      on the customer.
customer’s perspective. Management’s role in the                    truly listen to what customers say and don’t say.
development and implementation of improvement                       Recognize that customers’ perceptions are their
plans must be strong, and highly visible. Sustained                 reality. Create processes to catalogue your customer
quality improvement efforts require the highest level               perceptions and act on this intelligence by aligning
of commitment from managers and continual                           your operational practices wherever possible to
attention and action. This commitment must be                       positively impact on your customers’ perceptions.
demonstrated through their actions.                                 Customers also make sweeping conclusions about
Any system that wasn’t designed for the essential                   product quality and service based on minor details,
purpose of creating a high level of customer                        so pay attention to the little things.
satisfaction rarely, if ever, results in high levels of
customer satisfaction... no matter how hard
employees try!                                                      5. LEAD WITH A CUSTOMER FOCUS
                                                                    Like most organizations, you probably have a
Employees at all levels of the organization must be                 Responsive Up Mind-Set where upper management
actively involved in the implementation of                          is responsible for setting and communicating the
improvement plans. Managers play a critical role in                 organization’s vision, direction and goals. In this
identifying and removing barriers to the delivery of                structure the frontline and support staff are
service excellence. Minor improvements can be                       responsive to the needs of middle management who
perceived as major improvements by the customer.                    are responsive to the needs of upper management.
Encourage your staff to constantly look for better,                 To visualize this, think of your company structure as a
faster and unique ways of doing business in a way                   pyramid with senior management at the top,
that your customers value and enable your staff to                  customer contact staff at the base and your

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                               8
What is Customer-Focused Leadership?…continued
customers below the base of the pyramid. As depicted                needs of the customer. This is the mind-set that
in Figure 1.                                                        supports leadership with a customer focus. This
A Customer-Focused Leader’s goal is to combine this                 means seeing yourself as a service organization for
with The Service Mind-Set (Figure 2)                                your employees.

The Service Mind-Set inverts this structure so that                 Recognize that excellent service is impossible if you
upper management views itself as serving the needs                  over-control. Understand that people are generally
of middle management who service the needs of the                   eager to do a good job and distressed when they
                                                                    can’t. Remember that frustrated employees do not
                                                                    deliver good service.
Figure 1
                                                                    View your staff as your customers while at the same
                                                                    time become very adept at managing paradox such
                                                                    as “How can my subordinate be my customer?” or,
                                                                    “How can I increase customer focus while looking for
                                                                    ways to exercise fiscal restraint?”
                                                                    6. DEFINE SERVICE BOUNDARIES
                                                                    Each employee needs to understand your
                                                                    organization’s service values and be able to connect
                                                                    these values to everyday actions. A leader must
                                                                    define a performance playing field that will allow
                                                                    employees to handle the routine deviations from
                                                                    normal customer transactions or interactions. The
                                                                    employee’s performance playing field must be wide
                                                                    enough to allow employees to handle all routine
                                                                    transactions and interactions, as well as the
                                                                    predictable and routine deviations they face, and
                                                                    narrow enough to protect the financial integrity of the
                                                                    business operation. Each employee must have
frontline and support staff who in turn service the                 clearly defined goals, boundaries and guidelines
Figure 2
                                                                    which enable him or her to deliver quality service. It
                                                                    must be clear how achieving performance goals will
                                                                    contribute to service quality.
                                                                    Setting effective service goals requires that every
                                                                    employee thoroughly understands the basic promise
                                                                    your company makes to your customers and
                                                                    Moments of Truth (this is covered in Learning from
                                                                    the Customer) for which he or she is responsible and
                                                                    can identify how to impress the customer. The
                                                                    customer-focused leader creates a service playing
                                                                    field that allows people to succeed. Clearly define
                                                                    measurable and achievable goals and boundaries
                                                                    based on employee capabilities and guidelines to
                                                                    enable them to deliver quality service.

                                                                    7. PROVIDE AUTONOMY
                                                                    Every employee needs to understand why what he or

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                 9
What is Customer-Focused Leadership?…continued

she does is important in the context of service                     understands and agrees to what is being measured,
quality. Ensure that every employee has the requisite               why it is important and how these measures reflect
knowledge and skill relative to their specific job                   the defined playing field. The scorecard you use to
function combined with a clear                                                     assess success must be developed
understanding of the playing field.                                                 from the customer’s point of view.
When employees demonstrate this
understanding and these
capabilities, give them the autonomy                                               9. ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ALL
to take action; set them up for                                                    You have an obligation to your
success, not failure.                                                              customers, to employees, and to the
                                                                                   company to be unwavering in your
The people with the most customer                                                  demands for service excellence.
contact are the best source of                                                     Employees will pay more attention if
information regarding the customers’                                               they know they will be provided with
needs and wants. The people with                                                   solid, equitable and constructive
the most internal business partner                                                 positive feedback on their performance.
contact are the best source of                                                     Employees give credibility to service
information regarding their needs                                                  quality if they are held accountable to
and wants. So don’t micro-manage.                                                  the outcomes of their performance.
When people show they can do their
job, then let them do the job. Too                                                  Measurement must be followed by
many rules make it difficult, if not                                                 action. Action means giving timely
impossible, for service providers to effectively                    feedback on both good service performance and
perform their jobs. Rules and procedures designed to                poor service performance, equally. Provide feedback
protect against a small percentage of individuals                   as close to the service performance occurrence as
convey a message of mistrust to the majority of                     possible. A lack of action communicates that service
honest customers. Replace rules with judgment.                      is not important, individual performance does not
                                                                    make a difference, there are no clear-cut performance
                                                                    expectations, and that the organization’s leadership is
8. MEASURE WHAT’S IMPORTANT                                         not credible. Pleasing the customer is the only valid
Some say “You get what you measure.” ... The reality                end result of service performance.
is... “You get what you pay attention to.”
A major responsibility of a leader is to create effective           10. RECOGNIZE AND REWARD
and accurate measures from the customer’s                           Successful service leaders ensure attention is paid to
perspective. Good measurement allows employees                      those who serve customers well and to those who
to understand how to be successful within the                       assist in that effort. They show their appreciation to
organization. You can do this by translating these                  those who make sure the organization’s customers
measures into actions that will allow employees to                  are served properly. Consistent recognition of
understand what good service looks like and how to                  achievement is an integral part of building and
succeed.                                                            maintaining a customer-focused culture. A good
Measurement is about paying attention to the service                work environment depends on positive feedback, so
performance you want, and focusing on outcomes                      “Catch people doing things right.”
rather than activities. Set service performance goals               Good leadership makes a big deal of little things and
that are realistic while at the same time strive to go              thereby creates a performance culture where little
beyond the basics in an effort to exceed customers’                 things become a big deal. Recognize the desired
expectations. Ensure that every employee                            changes in service behavior you want frequently and

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                              10
What is Customer-Focused Leadership?…continued
provide rewards when you have seen a sustained                                                               Excerpts of this article have
improvement in service performance outcomes.                                                                 been taken from the recent
Ensure employees know what they need to do to                                                                book That’s Customer Focus!
earn a reward. Provide rewards that are valued from                                                          For more information about this
the employees’ perspective and ensure that you                                                               excellent resource, please visit
reward those who deserve it.                                                                       
                                                                                                             Ray Miller is the Author of That’s Customer Focus!
To conclude:                                                                                                 and The Customer Focus Companion and Managing
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                                                                              ■ Discounted access to our professional     ■ Continuing recognition of member’s
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                                                                              qualification for customer service           professional standing through maintained
     The Official Journal of the Customer Service Institute of America
     Volume 1 • Issue 1
     July/August 08
                                                                              managers—the “Certified Customer             use of the CSIA’s designatory post-
                                                                              Service Manager Course”                     nominal letters: ACSIA, MCSIA or FCSIA
     Jeanne Bliss
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     (CCO) Guru and Consultant

     From Leader Centric
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CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                                                          11
Customer Service
        Manager Course
Certificate and Diploma for Customer Service
The Customer Service Institute of America
is currently taking applications for its two
day Certified Customer Service Manager
(CCSM) Course. The course is administered             “I would like to congratulate the
both in the classroom and through workplace           CSIA for putting together such a
based activities.                                      practical program in the CCSM
The CSIA has worked with leading organi-             Course. I have found its flexibility
zations internationally to develop a training,    very valuable in allowing me to work
assessment and certification program leading
to CSIA’s nationally recognized “Certified
                                                  at my own pace and in implementing
Customer Service Manager” designation.              what I have learnt almost instantly
                                                  through the workplace based activities
Organizations can now benefit from qualified
service professionals in the customer service                         and assignments.”
industry.                                                    Anthony Keyes, Baxter Healthcare
The course includes a workbook and a two
day workshop followed by a final assessment
with the Customer Service Institute of America.

          For more information
          Phone: 312-268-5855

                                                                                                      BY JEANNE BLISS

     the Savaged Consumer Soul:
     Customer Love When Times Are Tough
                                                                    11 Ideas* for Companies and
                                                                    Customers (*An extra idea because
                                                                          times are tough!)
                                                                                In these economic times, when our
                                                                                nerves are raw and we are stretched
                                                                                like a rubber-band ready to snap...we
                                                                               all need a kinder hand, a kinder voice...
                                                                           just plain more kindness in our life.

                                                                               Nearly every interaction tests us now.
                                                                               Opening the cell phone bill and
                                                                              gasping...then endeavoring to get a bit of
                                                                        help. First the queue, then the call. Not much
                                                                    kindness there. Putting gas in our car. Forget about
                                                                      the boat. Buying groceries which are creeping
                                                                         up in price daily. Trying to sell our home
                                                                           or buy one. Calling the support line to have
                                                                           the appliances fixed which chose NOW to

                                                                         If you are in the business of serving
                                                                     customers, right NOW is the time to seek out the
                                                                    intangible opportunities to soothe the savaged
                                                                      consumer soul. Here are ideas that will bring you
                                                                             dividends in rising above the fray and in
                                                                                soothing the frayed nerves during this
                                                                                  time of spending woe.

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                13

1 3

BECOME WIZARDS AT ALTERNATIVE                                       PRACTICE WILD EMPATHY.
SOLUTIONS.                                                          Customer empathy is NOT a pity-party! The ability to
Creative solutions that help your customers cope and                empathize, and to put ourselves in our customers’
manage with the current financial pinch will be                      shoes so we understand what they are going through
loooong remembered. Can you offer revised payment                   — tests the humanity of our organizations. Especially
plans or offer different pricing schemes? Coach your                NOW when times are tough. Bring groups of people
frontline how to hold a diagnostic conversation to                  together in clusters of twenty-thirty and have them
understand the financial implications of the current                 identify the top 10 customer frustrations that are
market with customers. And reach out to customers                   occurring right now. Identify which have emerged
proactively, especially if service contracts or annual              recently. And discuss how customers are responding
commitments are due. In this economy, customers                     and coping with challenges. Then bring people up in
are more likely to opt out and disappear. If you show               groups of two and have them role play customer
up proactively with a helping hand, empathetic                      conversations. Film these and make them available
approach and creative options prior to this decision,               to everyone. I guarantee that the small investment in

2 4
you can save business and build allies. And the                     filming will be worth it. This action will send a signal
memory of your actions will serve you long after this               internally that it is recognized that times are tough.
financial pinch is over as you stand out as a partner                Giving people permission and good examples for
in supporting your customers from their point-of-view.              how to empathize will provide not only comfort to
                                                                    customers who receive it, but also to your employees
                                                                    who are feeling the pinch themselves. The humanity
LISTEN; THEN REPEAT.                                                and humility that comes with acknowledging this
This sounds ridiculously simple, right? Think again.                condition will bring you closer to your employees and
Eight out of ten phone calls, retail interactions and               customers.
service calls begin with prescribing a solution to a
customer before the customer need is really listened
to, understood and validated. This is a time when                   DELIVER SMALL HEROIC ACTS OF KINDNESS.
customers will want to vent. Let them. Then repeat                  Small kindnesses will go a long way right now. We
back to the customer what they said. Because not                    are all so fatigued from walking away empty-
only do we need to vent right now, we need                          walleted, that small gestures will really stand out.
validation. That times are tough, that prices are high,             Zane’s cycles, a bicycle shop in Connecticut sells
and that we’re in pain. If your customer is not in dire             $15 million a year from a single shop. They give away
straits, good results will also follow. Repeating the               any item that a customer is in a panic about finding
reason a customer walked in the store, called your                  (read: link that will fix a broken chain) that costs
number or emailed your ‘contact us’ contact will take               under a dollar. Think Dad with a 10 year old whose
you to a level that is just not being received today...             bike is broken; one stop at Zane’s and they save the
which is internalizing what the customer needs and                  day – WITHOUT charging anything. Every day Zane’s
using that knowledge to drive an outcome that is                    extends these small heroics that send customers
right for them.                                                     away shaking their head in amazement. My husband
                                                                    came home from the dry cleaners last week and they
                                                                    gave him a $1 package of collar stays which he was
                                                                    going to buy – but they gave him. What can YOU do?

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                              14

5 7

Your best customers, whether you call them                          Indications are that this financial crunch will take
Promoters from how they rank you or are your                        some time to recover. Profile the type of person who
highest value from how you rank them...if they are                  will thrive with customers in this type of economic
hanging in there with you...they deserve all the love               environment; listeners, creative thinkers and naturally
you can give. First, let them know that you’re glad                 service oriented people for those serving and
they’re sticking around. Then reach out to them. Are                interacting with customers. Hire for passion and the
you developing new products or services? Bring a                    natural ability to empathize. Find leaders who find the
group of your best customers in for an evening of                   glass half-full and can motivate creativity and inspire
food and feedback. Perhaps you can send them a                      creative solutions. While these skills are always
letter acknowledging that you value your relationship               desired, if you want to emerge above the rest, they
with them and offer an extra service. One company I                 are a necessity when times are tough. Amy’s Ice
work with rotates their executives through outbound                 Cream, a beloved place in Austin Texas actually has
calling their best customers per month. The impact of               their applicants make a creation out of a white paper

6 8
this simple personal and humane contact...especially                bag instead of filling out a boilerplate application
right now...lets your customers know that you care                  form. What’s your particular brand of experience that
about them and are reaching out to help. THAT in                    you’re delivering? And what can you do differently
itself will set you apart!                                          in the interview to make sure you’ve got a match for
                                                                    the job?

Your people at the front who are working directly with              CALL CUSTOMERS WHO HAVE LEFT YOU!
customers are likely feeling two things right now:                  This is the time when acts of heroism for consumers
their personal pain in the wallet and the pain of their             and business accounts WILL NOT go unnoticed. So
customers. NOW especially is the time to come up                    reach into your customer database and identify some
with uncommon acts of kindness for them. Create a                   customers who have left you. Then reach out to
monthly casual conversation with your front line so                 them. But before you do, build some creative
they can tell you what they are hearing and where                   financing and pricing options for them. When you
they are perhaps being beat up a little by beleagured               call, first apologize. Then listen. Asking why a
customers. Rotate in 10-20 per month so everybody                   customer left and then really listening and repeating
has a time to vent and have a bit of cheerleading.                  back the reason is extremely powerful...and yet FEW
Host something fun once a month...bring in lunch,                   DO THIS! Finally ask to be given another chance and
host a karaoke night. Most importantly LISTEN to                    then offer your new creative finance and pricing
what they have to say. Make a list of the biggest                   options. Even if they don’t bite right away...this type
issues customers are having that they have heard                    of gesture sticks with customers. One financial
and work to systematically cross items off the list.                services company we did with this ultimately got
You’ll need to create perhaps some tools to help                    back 35% of customers who had departed. Just the
them coach customers down from that ledge that                      shock value that you realized they were gone and
some may be standing at right about now. Don’t wait                 cared enough to ask “what happened” will set you
to do this!                                                         apart from the rest!

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                              15
Soothing                        …continued

9 10
Finally, for consumers... Here’s a dose of                          this state we’re in) of 2008 could go down as the time
“customer yoga” to manage your nerves during                        when we all grew our humanity instead of the
this season of spending woe.                                        economy. While our bank balances may be a bit
                                                                    thinner, as people, we’d all be richer for working
GIVE WHAT YOU WANT TO GET.                                          through this time with grace.
It’s a jungle out there right now; and if we all let our
stretched rubber bands go flying; well, somebody’s                   REDEFINE ‘GOOD LIFE’.
gonna lose an eye (thanks mom)! Before you call that                We’re too used to having our barometer of our
call center, remember the gal on the other end of the               success connected to how much we’re spending.
line is a stretched like a rubber band too. You’ll get a            Stuck in that rut, our measure of how good our life is
lot more back if you decompress before you call.                    right now will clearly sink. Instead, redefine what
Just wrap your tone in velvet. Try a little tenderness              “good” is. A great cup of coffee and the paper is
for whoever answers the phone. Who knows, maybe                     good, but blended with thirty minutes that you give
the recession (or whatever we’re not supposed to call               yourself to just, great. Weekend at a four

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                16
Soothing                        …continued

       Take a deep breath
    (maybe even a yoga class)
        and get creative!
star hotel can be wonderful, but so can a great hike,               through the roof. So take a deep breath (maybe even
or camping under the stars, or site seeing trip of the              a yoga class) and get creative! There are options out
city you live in...that you never take the time to see. A           there that will give your wallet the rest it needs!
movie is good, conversation with someone you love;
even better. I’d say great. If we can re-blend our
consumption to one part purchase and three parts                    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
enjoying the time between the spend; I bet we’d                                    As “Chief Customer Zealot” for five US

actually enjoy those purchases more. I bet all this                                market leaders; Jeanne Bliss has
great thinking time will create the next new breed of                              fought valiantly to get “customer” a
consumer break-throughs – which we can get back                                    place on the strategic agenda. At
to after this economic intermission.                                               Lands’ End, Inc. she reported to the
                                                                                   company’s Founder as leader for the
RELEASE YOUR INNER CREATIVITY; CONTROL                              Lands’ End Customer Experience. She served
YOUR INNER WALLET.                                                  Allstate Corporation as their Officer for Customer
Who would have thought that riding the bus would                    Satisfaction & Retention. Jeanne was Vice President
be where all the “in” people are? “Yet if you’re                    of Franchise Services for Coldwell Banker’re riding lean.” Taking the time now to                 Corporation, Microsoft Corporation’s General
find out the options in your community to ease the                   Manager of Worldwide Customer & Partner Loyalty,
stress on your gas consumption will do wonders for                  and Senior Manager, Customer Satisfaction for
the stress in your wallet. In 2007, public                          Mazda Corporation.
transportation usage increased more than in the past                She now runs Customer Bliss (www.customerbliss.
50 years. And in the first quarter of 2008, 88 million               com), where she coaches leaders how to wrap their
MORE trips were taken in the first quarter of 2007.                  company’s focus around customer profits. She is a
So get on that’s a party out there! Here are               worldwide keynote speaker on the subject. Her book,
just a few of the new trends that have crept up in the              Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to
past few months. “Stayvations” have increased...                    Passionate Action is currently available. Look for
families are actually spending more time together                   Jeanne’s second book soon.
while consuming less gas! And scooter sales are

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                             17
   B O O K                      R E V I E W

                                By Brian Tracy
                                Reviewed By Rebecca Potter

                                Tired of daydreaming about success,
                                instead of living it? Then read Brian Tracy’s
                                book “Flight Plan”.

Today there are thousands of books, videos, seminars,               in your life. You need to have clear goals, plans and
articles, presentations, key note speeches etc. that                schedules to get from wherever you are today to
speak of goal setting and success. These books and                  wherever you want to be tomorrow. It is amazing how
discussions often recycle the same old subject matter               similar our lives are like an airplane trying to get to its
over and over again. In his book “Flight Plan”, Brian               destination. Reading this book bought back many
Tracy rehashes the same common-sense principles                     memories of the training rooms when I use to work for
that have already been advocated in many other                      an airline. The airline industry is uncannily transferable
books, however this tome cuts through the fluff and                  to our own personal life and ambitions.
explains what it takes to be “successful” in a common
                                                                    Using the metaphor of an airplane trip, Flight Plan
sense, no nonsense format. This book provides a
                                                                    shows that the real secret to success is to first be
proven method to achieve your life long goals. It is not
                                                                    completely clear about your destination. Everything
about academic strategies that work only in a “perfect
                                                                    you do today, every decision you make, is moving
world” but rather a practical prescription for success.
                                                                    toward the destination you have chosen. Second, you
Brian Tracy unpacks the success journey one step at a               must evaluate all the different routes by which you can
time, showing you how to structure your life today, so              reach your destination. Identify precisely what you
that you can succeed tomorrow. In “Flight Plan,” Brian              must do to achieve the goals you have set for yourself
Tracy reveals the key ingredients that go into                      and take action and then write your flight plan. Third,
accomplishing any long-term, meaningful success.                    prepare for the journey/flight. All pilots will tell you that
This book specifically analogizes your life to an                    a great deal of time before any flight is spent on the
airplane flight. Just like a pilot needs a flight plan to             preparation. Pilots review a checklist, even if they have
guide them to the destination, the same thing applies               flown thousands of hours and been a pilot for over

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                  18
   B O O K R E V I E W …continued

twenty years, they still go through a checklist every               it complex but Brian Tracy takes the complex and
time, before take-off, during flight and prior to landing.           makes it simple...and therefore eminently practical.
Guard yourself against things that could go wrong by
                                                                    “Flight Plan” is not just a bunch of motivational “flak”
preparing a checklist. Fourth, my favourite metaphor in             — this book helps you take the concrete action steps
this book, is the chapter “Take off at Full Throttle”. An           you need to take: right now, today. I thoroughly
airplane hurls down the runway, picking up speed until              enjoyed how the author wrapped many of his long
it is at full throttle and takes off towards its destination.       held beliefs about the importance of goal setting,
Successful people always take off at full throttle when             planning, and perseverance into an analogy of a flight
they embark on a new flight toward a new destination/                and was skillfully used throughout the book.
goal or life dream.
                                                                    Life is a journey and you need a flight plan. Let the
Fifth, plan for turbulence. You become a superb pilot               flight begin!
of your own destiny by dealing effectively with the
inevitable storms that occur in your work and personal
life. You must persist through the inevitable challenges                          Rebecca is the Learning and
and setbacks and make continual course corrections,                               Development Manager at CSIA and has
until you reach your destination. Tracy observes that                             a mountain of experience in the
any airplane, headed for any destination, will be off                             customer service and training industry.
course 99 percent of the time because of air                                      Employed in the service industry for
turbulence. But, by locking in on its destination, taking                         over 13 years, Rebecca has spent the
off, and making continual course corrections, the                                 past 9 years in the field of training. She
plane will arrive as scheduled. The same is true of                               is a highly sought after presenter and a
people’s journey through life.                                      corporate professional speaker.
This book helps you understand that without a “Flight               Rebecca’s background extends from being a Trainer
Plan” you will have no direction and simply wander                  and Supervisor with one of Australia’s largest
aimlessly through life. With a “Flight Plan” for life you           domestic and highly regarded airlines and previous to
will get to where you want to go faster and easier.                 that, owning her own successful business on the Gold
Once you read this book you will feel motivated and                 Coast in the field of corporate health. Throughout
appreciate the importance of perseverance and                       these years, Rebecca provided training in the areas of
planning. “Flight Plan” is a fairly quick read and it has           guest care, customer service management, customer
a few exercises throughout that will get you thinking               service on the frontline, leadership and management,
and committing to your goals today.                                 personal development and motivation, health, fitness
                                                                    and sports and injury rehabilitation.
Brian Tracy has written a refreshing discourse that
gives you the assurance that you too can apply these                Rebecca is motivated by others achieving and
principles and reach your ultimate dreams! The old                  growing professionally and personally and she thrives
verities — Work hard! Think positive! You can achieve               on taking people to a level, where even they don’t
anything you put your mind to! — remain eternally                   believe they can go. Her passion is evident through
valid. Most books claim that all you have to do is think            her high level of enthusiasm and energy for training
and visualise positive thoughts and in turn, the things             and the mentoring of students. Rebecca has a talent
you want will magically appear in your life. This idea              for motivating teams through her strong ability to
appeals to people who are unwilling to do the hard                  coach, develop and inspire her staff and students.
work that is necessary to achieve anything worthwhile.
Tracy makes a great point in saying that “the real
secret to success, is that there are no secrets.” Many
writers on this theme like to take the simple and make

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE                                                                                                19

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