Workplace Wisdom

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 […]

21 Mar 2017

Please Stop Sending Me Annoying Emails Like These!

I’m used to receiving prospecting emails from companies that claim they’ll lift response rates, help me be more productive, and provide other kinds of help to a small business like mine. But sometimes I so dislike their marketing techniques or style that I write about them as cautionary tales instead of having anything else to do with them. Exhibit A: Don’t Pretend I’m Your Friend Occasionally, these irritating communications come in series. A recent email’s text was poorly written and […]

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

Why You Need to 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 […]


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