Workplace Wisdom

05 Jun 2018

Which Environment Is Being Improved, and Who Really Benefits?

Twice in the past month I’ve stayed at hotels that asked me to participate in new, eco-friendly programs with names like “A Green Choice.” And twice, I agreed to do it, because of the promised savings of 37.2 gallons of water, 25,000 BTU of natural gas, 0.19kWh of electricity, and 7 oz. of cleaning-product chemicals “for each night you forgo full housekeeping.” But I won’t be doing it again. For many years now, almost all but the most luxurious hotels […]

23 Jan 2018

How to Make a Small Tweak in Communication for a Surprisingly Big Change

When I interviewed a group of highly experienced technical employees at a client company last week, one of the things I asked them was what consistently made them nuts on the job. They told me about daily frustrations that ranged from software problems to the challenges of trying to do deep, creative thinking in the distracting open-office setup — all of which were straightforward, reasonable concerns. And then one observably upbeat and seemingly unflappable fellow shook his head a little, […]

12 Dec 2017

It’s Always Better to Resolve a Problem Than to Reroute It

When should an organization realize that it’s not enough to keep stepping around a problem — and that it’s time to work through it and stop the excessive cost, disruption, and generally bad customer experience? Wrong Way, Go Back Here’s a personal example of bad customer service from last week: I arrived at Tucson International Airport, ready to return home after spending a satisfying, productive week with a wonderful client. I’m not a micro-packer so I had to check a […]

17 Oct 2017

The Devil’s in the Details. For Customer Loyalty, You Need to Be There Too.

How can you apply enough of the right kind of attention up and down the hierarchy to ensure a seamless customer experience? Last week I stayed at a major hotel chain in New Orleans for a few days. Everything seemed pretty standard for a business hotel in a touristy city. Almost all the staff members I interacted with were extremely pleasant, and the room looked quite fine on the surface. But as a trained observer, I can’t help looking at […]

26 Sep 2017

Why Your Silos Are More Important Than You Think

Last month, a longstanding client brought me in after reviewing some recent customer research. The company provides a relatively complex service, and one of their most common and unprompted customer complaints was that the company’s various service areas “worked in silos.” Some staff leaders agreed that the organization was siloed and others did not, but they all recognized that the tone and consistency of the complaints meant that their customer experience needs work. The staff leaders also acknowledged that they […]

15 Aug 2017

What Can You Do When a Customer Explodes?

I just watched a customer take offense in a situation where no one was actually in the wrong. She reached into an awkward — although salvageable — circumstance, and pulled out a negative experience for herself — and a terrible experience for the employee trying to help her. Round 1: The Customer Picks a Fight Over a Price I was finishing a cup of tea in my favorite frozen yogurt place when a customer came in and ordered two large […]

05 Jul 2017

Your Complaint Was Refused? No Surprise, They Don’t Care

If an employee ever says the equivalent of, “Please don’t tell me about your problem; I really don’t want to know,” you can be sure that the organization has bigger problems than the one you happen to be having. That was my sad experience traveling on the Hickory Hop shuttle from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to my long-awaited vacation destination. It turns out that the shuttle’s cute name is no indication of appealing service: Hickory Hop is in the business […]

23 May 2017

3 Practical Ways to Prevent United Airlines-Style Damage

Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, recently ran a public letter of apology as an ad in several major newspapers. A much more detailed, self-abasing version of the apology was sent as an email to customers and ran in the May issue of United’s in-flight magazine, Hemispheres. In the more extensive letters, Munoz referred to the “important promise we make to you, our customer” and admitted that “we broke that trust.” He described concessions that United will make “when […]

25 Apr 2017

Is It Time to Shake Up Shake Shack?

How does the chain break in chain service? Danny Meyer would not be happy with this story. The famed New York City restaurateur and Shake Shack founder has explained that his business strategy is “built on both good service, defined as the technical delivery of a product, and ‘enlightened hospitality,’ which is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel…‘You must make customers feel that you’re on their side.’” But recently, I visited a Shake Shack in Terminal […]

04 Apr 2017

Who Needs Attention, and Can I Get a Quality Latte with It?

The other morning, I was feeling cranky, unfocused, and unproductive — the perfect situation for coffee. Sadly, I haven’t been allowed to have caffeine for a couple of years, on doctor’s orders, and I miss it terribly. Coffee gets the day off to a civilized start, provides a boost in the afternoon, enhances all kinds of well-being, and delivers a satisfying snap! of clear-headedness. I still believe in — and crave — coffee’s healing powers, even though it’s not healing […]

 

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