VOLUME TWO, ISSUE 8
I grew up in a
resort area that had a very distinct tourist season - things got rolling over
the Memorial Day weekend and died down after Labor Day. Most businesses shut
down in November and stayed shuttered until late March. A lot of the labor that
fueled those businesses came from high school students - like me.|
I got my first full
time summer job when I was 13, in a hotel kitchen. In the early morning I was a
"salad and sandwich" girl. At eleven, a co-worker and I filled up utility carts
with supplies and rolled our way to the pool snack shack, where we cooked
burgers, hot dogs, fries and "O" rings. I spent the following summers working
as a bus girl, a prep cook and a cashier. They were all entry level positions -
something that today's vernacular would call a McJob.
The term "McJob"
was coined by a sociologist in 1986 and later appeared in a best-selling book,
"Gen X". Slang for any menial, low-paying, low-prestige job that requires
little skill, a "McJob" usually refers to work in the service industry.
At the time, of
course, I didn't know I had a "McJob". After all, there I was, learning to be
on time and honor my commitments because my co-workers and employer depended on
me. There I was, learning to problem solve when the electricity went out and the
register wouldn't open and people still needed to pay for their burgers. There
I was, learning that part of my job was to be pleasant, even when the public
wasn't. There I was, learning to prioritize my wants because my paycheck was
hard won and only went so far. There I was, helping make a family's vacation a
little more enjoyable. Yes, there I was learning all kinds of valuable skills
that would impact the rest of my life - who can blame me for not knowing I was
just working at a lousy "McJob"?
someone please explain to me why we've chosen to demean these entry level jobs?
It's how the vast majority of us, in our youth, enter the work force. It's
where we begin to establish our view of and relationship to work that will
follow us for a lifetime. No wonder so many young people are cynical and have a
negative attitude about their work. But who wouldn't - if you've come to
believe that you're just working at a lousy "McJob"?
I say we retire the
term "McJob" from our vocabulary. Are you with me?
Senior Partner, Challenge It Now
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"Are You a Killer Customer*?" by Janice Criddle
|(676 words - estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes)
efforts to attract and retain customers has created the Killer Customer. I
know, because sometimes I'm one of them. We're the customers who demand high
quality service and products at extremely low prices. We expect all of the
"bells and whistles" served on a silver platter with a smile, with no regard
for the organization's need for profits.
But customer service is a relationship and somewhere along the way, we
lost sight of our responsibility in the equation.
A recent experience
reminded me of my role in that relationship...and that it pays to be a good
customer. My car died. I mean died! I've owned this car for 4 years and have
been a customer of this car manufacturer for 30 years. The service manager told
me my out of warranty repair bill would be $15,000; however, since I'd been a
loyal customer, he'd spoken to his factory rep and gotten that reduced to half.
My response was to take a breath. I wanted time to think.
Customer Service is a Two-Way Street
In my head, I was
ranting and raving! I've been conscientious, diligently taking my car to the
dealer for service every 5000 miles. The car had been in for service just 2
weeks prior to the death. When my anger began to subside, I started to focus on
skills I'd learned as a Customer Service Manager and had taught as a Training
Specialist. I reminded myself that customer service is a 2-way street and the relationship (key word) works better
when both parties are working efficiently. I needed to be a "good customer".
Remain calm and professional.
It's difficult for a provider to help you if you're out of control. I
know it's easy to feel entitled, make demands and bully. But you'll get a lot
more cooperation if you're perceived as calm and logical.
Patience is a virtue. Particularly if you're dealing with a difficult
or abnormal situation; your vendor needs time to work through their red tape.
Understand their system. Ask
questions about how their system works. Ideally, you learn about this before a
problem occurs. In my situation, I knew there was a Corporate Customer Service
Department. I called and asked for their assistance.
Don't complain. I know that's what we normally do. Companies used to actually call it the
Complaint Department. By complimenting the dealer's efforts to help, I retained
their support in escalating to Corporate.
My goal was for all of us to work together to get my vehicle back on the
road at a reasonable cost. I wanted my "team" involved, not demeaned.
Know what you want.
Most providers want to "meet or exceed your expectations". They can't do that if you can't articulate
what you want. In my case, I specifically asked the corporate rep for guidance
on what I could expect. I didn't want to short-change myself or ask for
something that was so unreasonable it would be denied easily.
These principles work
whether you're an external customer, working with a business or organization,
or an internal customer, working with co-workers or team members. We expect a
lot as customers. Being a good one is vital to a customer service relationship.
And when you're a good customer, people look forward to working with you and go
out of their way to help.
Because of my focus
on remaining a "good customer", the Service Manager I worked with was able to
practice BoldWork™ in our efforts to
get this dilemma resolved. He
worked consistently for the higher purpose of my satisfaction as a customer, he
demonstrated excellence in our work together through his follow-up and,
ultimately, he remained accountable to his own integrity and to the greater
social meaning of "the right thing to do" for me as a loyal, conscientious
customer. Who doesn't want that?
In the end, my bill
was reduced by 75% and my service manager still loves me. I know I'll continue to receive stellar
treatment in the future.
*Killer Customers: Tell the Good from the Bad by Larry Seldon and Geoffrey Colvin
|"Service: Give It to Get It" by Rebecca Ripley|
|(521 words - estimated reading time: 2 minutes)
In our consulting practice, we see it as our life's work to encourage employees at all levels to do BoldWork
. What does that mean and how does it relate to superior customer service? BoldWork
has three defining characteristics:
Purpose - guiding passion, reason for which
something is done, the intention of a goal or aim
Excellence - work possessing outstanding quality or
superior merit; remarkably good.
Accountability (to self & others) - impactful work
that contributes to the "greater good of society at large"
approach their jobs with a sense of purpose for the greater
good, strive for excellence and take personal accountability for their impact
on others - just like the Service Manager did in Janice's article above. Who wouldn't love to see this
level of commitment in service providers everywhere?
What Goes Around Comes Around
sure it comes as no surprise to you that service in the United States
is plummeting. This is doubly sad, since
we claim to have a service economy. Why
is poor customer service tolerated and what can businesses do to reverse the
trend? Some time ago while designing customer
service training, I came across Robert Desatnick's powerful book, "Managing to Keep the Customer". Desatnick says that if we expect workers
to provide stellar service to our customers, we've got to consistently demonstrate
respect and support for our employees. Employee relations mirror customer relations. What goes around comes around. Employees give what they get. The bottom line is that employees treat
others like they are treated by management. If this is what's at the core of poor customer service, American
businesses are in worse shape than I thought. Nothing is ever quite this simple, of course, but I believe we would
generate significant improvements in our service economy if we treated service
providers, i.e., our employees, like professionals who have the capacity to
meet others' needs rather than like nameless, faceless drones who owe us
because we give them a paycheck.
you're a leader, think about how you can help your service providers reconnect
with your organization's greater purpose. Help people feel proud of the work they do. Every business has a purpose and a
vision. Find a way to inspire others to share that vision. For example, if you
run a fast food restaurant, inspire your workers with the message that you want
to create a respite for guests during the 20 minutes they spend in your
establishment nourishing their bodies. Of if you manufacture widgets, help
people see how the widgets fit into an end product that betters the world,
whether by attaching to a piece of farm equipment that results in supporting
our nation's food source or to a piece of medical equipment that saves the
lives of accident victims. Maybe you're
a car manufacturer who helps people safely navigate their world. Some businesses
have a harder time connecting to a higher purpose than others, but it's worth
the effort to forge the link.
we help employees connect to a greater purpose, they feel good about the work
they do and are much more likely to service customers with pride. What's one thing you can do right now to
ignite the passion in your team?
|"Shifts Happen" by Jennie Ayers|
|(444 words - estimated reading time: less than 2 minutes)|
Our country's economy has
undergone a fundamental shift since the end of WWII and moved away from
producing goods to providing services. Industries providing services now
account for more than 80% of all non-farm employment. The American Customer
Satisfaction Index lets industries know how they're doing when it comes to
customer service. The Index interviews more than 16,000 customers in 225
companies across 45 industries and 130 government agencies and puts out a
quarterly report on how satisfied the American customer is with the services
The latest figures for July 2010
show that roughly 75% of the public is satisfied with the services they
receive. Sounds impressive, doesn't it? It might be...if it weren't for the fact
that the percentage is roughly the same as it was when the Index was first
established in 1994. There have been ups and downs within industries, but
overall, as customers, we're no more satisfied with the service we get than we
were 16 years ago. And fully 25% of us are unhappy with the service we're
getting. So let's picture this - if there were 10 of us standing in a retail
store, about 7 of us would be satisfied with the service we receive and about 3
of us would not. I don't know any company that could stay in business if over a
quarter of its customer base was dissatisfied. Standing in The Service of Whom?
This country may have shifted to a
service economy, but I don't think our perceptions have shifted when it comes
to "standing in the service of others". I think way too many of us have embraced the
"McJob" and "McWorker" mentality, thinking of people in the service industry as
"less than" or "low end" or "unskilled". And we, as customers, often treat them
accordingly. Our less than positive engagements simply reinforce what the
worker thinks of his/her job to begin with. Remember, how we "see" another
person has a great deal to do with how we engage with them, and guess what this
determines? It determines exactly what we get in return from the service people
we meet. Then the cycle begins... what we get determines what we expect and on
and on and on.
If we want a different kind of
service economy in this country, then it's time to change our "see" and the
manner in which we interact with each other when we engage in a service
transaction. I think it's a privilege and an honored profession to "stand in
the service of others" - which is a good thing, since 80% of us are doing it.
Are you ready and willing to change your "see"?
Challenge It Now focuses its energies on a common goal - through consultation, coaching and facilitation, we help professionals in business organizations create and sustain a workplace climate where the positive experience of work is optimized, engagement is enriched and performance potential is maximized.
Please take a moment and visit our website at www.challengeitnow.com
to find out more about us and what we have to offer. Or contact us for additional information at: 818.585.9553 or 818.429.0077 or 443.838.4327.