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This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

Go ahead, read a book – I dare you. Not just a book, but a blog, newsletter, whitepaper or magazine article. Watch a video – not about cute kittens but one that’s information based.

Find something interesting, something you never thought about much or something you overheard while taking the train to work. Then research it.

Look online or even – GASP – go to the library. Take out a book and read.

Put down the cell phone or laptop. Stop with Snapchat or Facebook, even for 30 minutes and read. (See below video of how addictive the cell phone can be)

I know, I know, you’re saying “Steve, I’ve read book after book about ________________ (insert topic) and they all seem the same. Nothing is new.

Nothing is new? Here’s a statistic for you – according to Statista, in 2016, there were a total

The post Go Ahead, Read a Book – I Dare You appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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…and 7 steps we can take to get there too!

This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

The West Japan Railway Company has issued an official apology after one of its express trains left the platform at Notogawa station in central Japan 25 seconds early.

Yes, you read that correctly; 25 seconds early. The commuter train left at 7:11:35 a.m., instead of the scheduled 7:12 a.m., on May 11, 2018.

According to the company’s press release, the train conductor misunderstood the departure time and closed the train doors ahead of schedule. The early departure didn’t affect any other travel schedules that day but led to one person missing their train.

“We inconvenienced our customers very much, and we will strive to prevent this from occurring again,” JR West said in a statement quoted by the country’s Asahi newspaper.

Japan prides itself on punctuality. Last November, management at the Tokyo-area Tsukuba Express line also apologized for a train leaving 20 seconds early— it had left at 9:43:40 a.m. instead of 9:44 a.m.

Can we in the U.S. expect this level of attention-to-detail or a willingness

The post Another Reason Why Japan’s Service is Hard to Beat appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

More than 100 years ago, a young Franklin C. Mars started making candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen. From that simple beginning, his son Forrest built Mars Inc. into the household name is today.

Being well known for products such as Skittles, Snickers, Twix and the iconic M&M’s; what can we learn from the 6th largest privately held company in the United States that earns over $35 Billion dollars per year?

To answer that question, let’s look at “The Five Principles”; that Mars Incorporated published in 1983 and which is the key to their culture. Their 100,000+ employees strive to live by these principles each and every day and they serve as a compass to help guide their business decisions.

Quality

The consumer is our boss, quality is our work and value for money is our goal.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

There is no substitute for quality. No trendy headquarters, famous spokesperson, flashy ad or marketing ploy, can take the place of a quality product or service. Let quality and value be your calling card and be thankful for the consumer’s willingness to choose your business over all others.

Responsibility

All associates are asked to take direct responsibility for results, to exercise initiative and judgment and to make decisions as required. By recruiting ethical people well suited to their jobs and trusting them, we ask associates to be accountable for their own high standards.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

Asking your employees to take direct responsibility for results can only be achieved by hiring the best result-oriented candidates who share the company’s mission. They must be trained well, and often, and given clear expectations plus the tools to get the job done. The final step, as stated above, is trust.

Micromanaging an employee’s actions results in mistrust, apathy, and loss of morale.
Click To Tweet

We can’t expect an employee to take responsibility for the company’s success when management doesn’t allow for learning experiences (failure, assessment & success) that shape their core goals.

Mutuality

A mutual benefit is a shared benefit; a shared benefit will endure. The actions of Mars should never be at the expense, economic or otherwise, of others with whom we work.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

Management will continually discuss the need to “work as a team”. HR employees write missives laying-out the recommended path to create a positive team atmosphere. All employees have heard that call.

But, does management understand how their actions negatively affect the team mindset when they understaff to save on payroll or delay the purchase of equipment until the next accounting period? Probably not. They focus on budget and fiscal requirements as a primary goal.

A mutual benefit focus also allows for the negative business aspects to be shared across the board so no single employee(s) or department must bear the brunt of that challenge. This is a unique take on the responsibilities of teamwork.

Efficiency

We use resources to the full, waste nothing and do only what we can do best. Our strength lies in our efficiency, the ability to organize all our assets – physical, financial and human – for maximum productivity. In this way, our products and services are made and delivered with the highest quality, at the least possible cost, with the lowest consumption of resources; similarly, we seek to manage all our business operations with the most efficient processes for decision making.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

I love the first line of this principle; “do only what we can do best”. This should be followed by all businesses.

We easily lose our way when we try to be everything to everyone.
Click To Tweet

We cannot be efficient or productive when stepping outside our core to please everyone. Employees and society at large appreciate businesses that operate in a manner aligned with a common goal, especially one that is not wasteful or negligent.

If we wonder why a business like Mars is so successful the answer is right here – efficiency in all areas.

Freedom

We need freedom to shape our future; we need profit to remain free.

Mars is one of the world’s largest privately-owned corporations. This private ownership is a deliberate choice. Many other companies began as Mars did, but as they grew larger and required new sources of funds, they sold stocks or incurred restrictive debt to fuel their business. To extend their growth, they exchanged a portion of their freedom. We believe growth and prosperity can be achieved another way.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

Not every business has the luxury of being self-funded as they grow. The desire to expand and the allure of a new influx of capital may create “partnerships” that seem to be of initial benefit but may force the company direction away from service and toward profitability as the ultimate goal.

This doesn’t even take into consideration the “WHY”, as Simon Sinek reasons, a business is “in business” in the first place.

Lofty goals of changing the world, preserving the environment or providing services to the less fortunate are masked in the need to provide shareholder value and returns.

The freedom attained when one is self-funded sets the course for the future. Take this as a luxury, not a burden. As the principle of mutuality states, doing only what you can do best is a requirement when operating within your means.

This allows for peace of mind by knowing your experience and past practices can weather any storm. No need to “keep up with the Joneses” and chase the latest fad or craze. You can put aside the mountain of legal documents your “new partners” bestow on you. You have no need for them.

You will not be tempted to enter the marketplace with a product that is not cost-effective to produce, just because the high expectations of growth are upon you. You can sleep well at night.

The freedom to shape your future gives comfort to the operation and allow for a sustained and controllable growth. Employees know their job and will reach, and surpass, expectations. Employees’ wages will rise and profits soar, allowing for measured expansion and increased productivity.

The future looks bright because of the freedom you possess. It fuels ingenuity and advancement; overcomes hurdles and regulatory burdens, and provides products and service for the masses.

Every business starts with an idea and that idea is nurtured by hope, vision, and a willingness to do all you can to satisfy your “Why”.

It seems like “The Five Principles” of Mars is a roadmap for success that we should follow. So, stay true to YOUR 5 principals and find your “why”.

The post The Five Principles of Mars & How To Incorporate Them in Your Business appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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…here’s 3 skills every customer service actor must have

This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

Ah, the life of a call center agent. A cushy job, right? You do nothing more than talk to customers on the phone and punch some information into a keypad. Sounds cool, sign me up!

But wait a minute, there’s more…much more.

You get to sit in a cramped cubicle wearing a scratchy headset and stare at a screen for 8 hours a day. After a few weeks, you start looking for an ergonomic pad to cushion the small of your back – which has started to ache (maybe it’s because you’re sitting down for too long?).

That great new haircut you spent $75 on (and takes forever to style) gets ruined each day by that headset and you wonder why you bothered in the first place. Might as well just put your hair in a ponytail and forget it.

Next comes the shoulder pain, the neck pain and the feeling you’re trapped in a never-ending cycle of discomfort and overbearing management. And we haven’t even discussed the complaining customers!

Whatever happened to that cushy job? Well, it’s still there, just hidden behind the failed mindset of complacency.

The post Are You a Customer Service Hero, Villain or Problem Solver? appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

Adrian Swinscoe is a customer experience consultant and advisor and has been helping develop customer-focused large and small businesses for 20 years. He has consulted businesses around the world to help them engage with their customers, build customer retention and improve their service and customer experience.

Adrian is also a Forbes contributor and published a bestselling book in 2016: “How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways to Make Every Customer Experience Amazing” (Pearson).

Q1: Hi Adrian, it’s so nice to be able to get together for this interview, thanks so much. I was intrigued by a recent article of yours that spoke about a CEO who writes personalized birthday cards to all his 7400 employees. Can you explain the many ways a business’s culture and employee morale is shaped by ownership and management?

Hi Steve, it’s great to be with you today. I think leadership sets the tone and context but the actions of ownership, leadership and management need to be congruent with their words. That’s where many companies and many leaders get tripped up. It’s easier to talk a good example than it is to set a good example.

Sheldon Yellen of Belfor, by sending personalized hand-written birthday cards to all his 7400 employees every year, is an outstanding example of someone who is constantly setting a good example.

In addition to that, I think one of the biggest and oft ignored elements in culture and engagement is middle management. There is truth in the old saying that a person joins a company but leaves a boss and, in return, this has significant consequences for culture, employee morale, performance and engagement levels.

The scale of the problem has been highlighted by Gallup whose research found that 70% percent of the variance between top quartile and bottom quartile performing companies, in terms of employee engagement, can be explained by the quality of that organization’s managers.

That research finding is wild and shows where companies need to focus on if they want to improve their culture and employee morale.

The post Leadership Series: Adrian Swinscoe appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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...they fall into 5 main categories

This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

Walking the streets of my beloved NYC, I see a never-ending supply of people living in la la land. They all fall into 5 main categories:

The Great Communicator – Walks, talks, and texts while on a cell phone.

These people are so skilled that they can walk through some of the busiest intersections in the world and never look up from their phone. Their “skill” of weaving in and out of pedestrians is second to none. Their actions never restrict those around them; they “see all” and “know all”. Yeah, right!

How dare I, and the few like me, expect the “great communicators” to actually take the time to glance away from their addiction and look where they are going. That’s not reasonable, is it? Sometimes I just want to give them a stiff elbow and send them crashing down to the ground. Oh, did I say that out loud? Only kidding – NOT!

The Ghost – Blocks the walkway and is oblivious to all.

The ghost is unlike most people. They go where they want and never worry about others. They’re invisible – unseen by those around them and never interfere with the normal flow of pedestrians.

>>>Read Pet Peeve #1 -Slackers

When the ghosts feel the need to stop and take a picture, no worries, they just stop – the heck to those

The post Pet Peeve #5 – People Living in La La Land appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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…which of these 5 types are you?

This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

Most people understand that in order to provide good customer service we must use one of our least appreciated soft skills – listening. Without being a good listener how can you ever “hear” your customer’s concerns, wants, needs or desires? You lose the opportunity to identify the best way(s) to service them.

I bet you’re a pretty good listener, right?

But most people who think they are good listeners underperform. There is some research that suggests they do so by as much as 60%. This overconfidence impedes their success as it prevents them from truly understanding the motivation of the other side.

So why do most underperform? Because most fail to recognize that there are different levels of listening.

According to the latest post from the Black Swan Group’s blog, here are the 5 levels of listening.

Listening For The Gist

The first level is intermittent listening; that is to say, listening long enough to get the gist of what the other side is saying before we refocus on our internal voice which is formulating a reaction from our worldview.

The post Are You a Good Listener? Here’s How to Tell appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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...maybe, but I'd much rather win with good people!

This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

I love this quote from legendary football coach Don Shula. He should know something about winning since he, and the teams he led, has won the most games in NFL history.

Can you say the same for your business?

What kind of people have you hired?

  • The great salesman but a bully in the office?
  • The neighbor’s kid that constantly comes in late. You know you should fire him but you feel guilty since your neighbor has done so many good things for you.
  • The woman who gets all the customer complaints – “she’s rude”, “she’s nasty”, “who hired that lady in the first place?”.
  • Your “right-hand man” that you know is a lecherous husband but is also your good friend.
  • The woman with the dark cloud over her head. Wherever she’s worked things have gone wrong. Can it be her fault? Probably…
  • The narcissistic 20-something you thought would bring in new clientele but only brought in jealousy and cynicism.

These questions always come up:

The post Can You Win with Bad People? appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

Those of us in the customer service industry have much to deal with. Payroll, purchases, inventory, market share, etc. take a lion’s share of our daily tasks. But, there’s one thing I left out: the customers.

No matter what we deal with we must also deal with the occasional upset customer (whether we like it or not). Here’s a great tactic to use in these circumstances:

H.E.A.R.T.

Hear

Hear your customer out. Don’t interrupt or try to justify your actions. Be patient and allow your customer to fully tell their side of the story so you can find out what happened.

Empathize

When you empathize you “understand and share the feelings of another”. In other words, put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Use phrases like “I understand how upsetting that could be”. “I’d feel the same as you if that happened to me”.

The post Do You Have H.E.A.R.T. and Do You Use It Every Day? appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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...nobody raves about average!

This original article was written by Steve DiGioia.

After a forty year career in hospitality, where several properties under his administration were ranked #1 in Guest Satisfaction or earned Hotel of the Year awards for their respective brands, and he was recognized as Renaissance Hotels General Manager of the Year, Bill Quiseng is now a sought after customer service speaker and blogger.

He is one of ICMI’s Top 50 Thought Leaders and was recently named as one of the “Top 20 Customer Experience Leaders to Follow” by Bold360. His blog at billquiseng.com was recently selected as one of the “20 Customer Service Blogs You Need To Be Following In 2018”.

Q1. Hi Bill, it’s a pleasure to interview you today, thanks. With such a noteworthy career in the hospitality industry, how did you get your start as a customer service speaker?

You’re welcome Steve, great to be here. Well, many years ago, I was the general manager of The Inn at Bay Harbor in Michigan. During my tenure there, The Inn was recognized as being one of the World’s Best Hotels by Travel & Leisure Magazine. The president of the local chamber of commerce asked me if I would speak about customer service. He also invited me to speak at the Michigan Chambers of Commerce annual meeting. That led to invites from those Chambers. Then attendees to the Chamber events would ask me to speak to their company employees. And it just continued simply via referrals.

The post Leadership Series: Bill Quiseng appeared first on Steve DiGioia and was written by Steve DiGioia.

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