Workplace Wisdom

07 Feb 2017

How to Make Exceptions When Real Life and Policy Collide

My friend recently shared a story about a striking customer experience after she accidentally left her wallet at a meeting. When I showed up to claim it, the receptionist asked: “Do you have photo ID?” “Yes,” I said. “In the wallet.” “Oh,” she replied. “But we will need to see ID to return the wallet to you.” “How about this,” I suggested. “You look at the photo ID that’s in the wallet, and if it looks like me, you give […]

06 Dec 2016

Do You Share This Bad Communication Habit?

I’ve got a bad habit in some of my interactions. It breaks my own rules about showing respect, recognizing that I don’t know everything, and giving people full control over their own choices. I was reminded of it recently one evening during rush hour in Penn Station. I passed a very tall fellow who was hollering into his phone, “You know what you need to do…” as if he meant it as a question. But he clearly wasn’t asking, he […]

25 Oct 2016

Marketer, Do You Know Your Target?

From the Annoying Sales and Marketing File: A sales rep emailed me and, in an overfamiliar, cheeky tone, implied that I was in default for not responding to an earlier message. This, despite the fact that we had no prior relationship. Would you find this situation as annoying as I do? And would it aggravate you even further, the way it did me, that the rep hadn’t even bothered to check for accuracy, thereby committing that most grievous of all […]

20 Sep 2016

How Can I Help You If I’m Not Listening to You?

“Andy, you’re not listening to me, bro!” I heard this accusation delivered in the hall outside my office in a very tense tone by a fellow with a very tense face. There’s a mortgage brokerage on my floor, and sometimes, when the phone reps are having a hard time with a borrower, they leave their office and talk on their mobiles or headsets in the hallway. Real estate transactions can be stressful. They involve big money, huge commitments, and multiple […]

30 Aug 2016

Support Your Frontline and Improve Customer Loyalty

“It’s not my fault!” the assistant practically wailed. “She never gave me the paperwork!” The poor woman was almost begging me not to be angry at her, and to put the blame in its rightful place — on the boss who hadn’t provided the paperwork that should have been ready for me. It was clear that she had been in this situation numerous times before, and that, unfortunately for her, previous customers had not responded with patience and forbearance. This […]

19 Jul 2016

From Urgent Care to Important Care: Design Considerations

Last Friday, I went to the new Northwell Urgent Care two blocks from my office. (I’m fine now.) It was a well-designed customer experience, and so different from the typical medical office intake, that it’s a useful example for other service interactions. Walk Right In, Sit Right Down As you enter the facility, a touch screen on a stanchion asks you to input your name and cell number, tells you the wait time (0-15 minutes for me), and asks you […]

07 Jun 2016

Stop Swinging the Service Pendulum

“Why can’t we keep our customers happy?!?” a CEO called out during a meeting with his department heads. “Just take care of the problems! What’s the big fuss?!?” And he meant it. But that was before he learned how much it would cost. Over the years, I’ve heard numerous owners, presidents, and CEOs vacillate between making prideful service promises and declaring angrily that too much is being spent on customer service, or employees are giving the store away, or customers […]

15 Mar 2016

You Can’t Always Get What You Want from IT

Whichever software platforms and development methods an organization relies on, the features and functionality that users want aren’t always available. As the Rolling Stones song goes, “if you try sometimes, well, you might find / You get what you need” — except that the operative word, when it comes to IT, is might. Mind the Satisfaction Gap A disparity between expectations and actual deliverables can occur if the IT provider, whether external or internal, applies only a cookie-cutter understanding to […]

23 Feb 2016

Navigating Complex Customer-Supplier Relationships

Have you experienced the stress of a complex, high-ticket customer-supplier relationship going awry? The problem often occurs when there’s a mismatch between the customer’s expectations and what the supplier has available and actually delivers — particularly if it’s an internal supplier. How Do Things Go So Wrong on Both Sides? Many sales reps can only promote their offerings in very general, benefit-laden terms. They may not be aware of what their typical customer’s experience is, or how challenging project implementation […]

26 Jan 2016

When Design and Customer Experience Conflict

“Tell me why you chose this place,” I said to the colleague I met at a hotel during an otherwise successful trip to Baltimore. “I always like the Kimpton properties,” she answered. “Why, did you find something wrong?” There was a twinkle in her eye as she spoke. She knew I was about to critique various aspects of the hotel experience. But when I enumerated the customer experience challenges, she agreed. Displeasures Disclosed “There’s no deadbolt on the door, and […]


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