Workplace Wisdom

27 Nov 2018

Why Service Suffers When Unhappy Customers Sound Happy

During a recent visit at a client company, the management asked me about the problem of service reps who feel like they’re successful because a customer thanked them graciously, even enthusiastically, for their help, when, in fact, they had not been sufficiently helpful or gotten the customer the best possible outcome. Although the reps were patting themselves on the back, they weren’t using their training to help customers; they were merely answering the customers’ direct questions and getting off the […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

 

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