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I had the great opportunity to interview Blake Morgan, customer experience futurist about her new book, More is More: How the Best Companies Go Farther and Work Harder to Create Knock-Your-Socks Off Customer Experiences.  I have been a big fan of her customer experience articles that regularly appear in Forbes. Her book is a must-read resource for those intent on delivering an exceptional experience for their customers. You can find out more about Blake at the end of the interview. 

Where did you start your career?
I started my career producing conferences, and then moved to building a social network and online magazine for contact centers. At this social network I had a podcast show, a blog, and I was an early thought leader on contact centers. I remember my boss telling me that now I was a “brand,” which at the time seemed really strange to me. Now I get it. That was almost ten years ago. I enjoyed studying contact centers, and worked at Intel as a social customer service leader. However after having two years of customer service practitioner experience under my belt I realized I preferred customer experience which included more branding, consumer behavior and more. I decided to focus 100 percent on customer experience thought leadership – speaking at events, writing a book “More Is More,” and even teaching an executive education at Rutgers Business School this August. I will also be keynoting the Genesys conference for 500 people in Australia this summer.

What inspired you to write the book More Is More?
I always wanted to write a book – while books don’t make any money these days, it does level up your career. If you want to be a thought leader, having a book is very helpful.

What is your book about?
I wrote a book about hard work called “More Is More” as I mentioned. Meaning? Not much differentiates us as individuals. Plenty of people have the goods – they’re smart, even talented. But not everyone wakes out of bed ready to run. It’s those that jump out of bed ready to run that end up successful. Others, who don’t have that internal maniac – who seem asleep all day, will let the less smart, less talented competitor win. It’s the same with companies. Companies today need to work harder. They don’t need to be the smartest or most talented. But they need to consistently jump out of bed ready to serve. Why? Products and services are largely the same. Airline, gym, grocery store…pretty much all the same. Companies that will go to any length to make their customer’s life easier and better will ultimately attract more customers. And it’s not even so much as how many hours you work…it’s the consistent focus. The “jumping out of bed” every single morning, ready to serve someone.

How can it help readers?
Often no one person within a company owns customer experience – and that’s how it should be. The CEO can lead it, but everyone within the company should be focused on customer experience. That said, my book is for anyone who wants a simple explanation of customer experience and the many ways it can improve their job, their company and their market share.

What’s the future of customer experience? 
In the future we will use technologies to fix many of the common customer frustrations we see today. Technology can fix the mundane customer issues so companies can focus on high touch customer experiences. When people tell me they’re afraid of the looming AI revolution, I wonder if they enjoy the many ways customer experiences are inefficient today. For example I want to ask them, do you enjoy waiting in line at the DMV? Passport control? Do you enjoy doing paperwork for insurance, healthcare etc? There is much opportunity to improve the efficiency of our world and that’s not a bad or scary thing. We need thoughtful, conscientious people leading technology strategies – and that way we can ensure we won’t have a robot take-over, but leverage technology to make people’s lives easier and better.

Blake Morgan is a Customer Experience Futurist. Her first book is “More is More: How The Best Companies Work Harder And Go Farther To Create Knock Your Socks Off Customer Experiences.” Blake is adjunct faculty at the Rutgers executive education MBA program. Blake contributes to Forbes, the Harvard Business Review and the American Marketing Association. She is the host of The Modern Customer Podcast and a weekly customer experience video series on YouTube. She’s been ranked as ICMI’s Top 50 Thought Leaders To Follow on Twitter In 2016, Clarabridge’s #1 Social Customer Service expert to follow and Customer Gauge’s top 20 customer experience experts in follow in 2017. She has worked with Intel, Verizon Wireless, and many more. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, daughter and their two Yorkie rescues.

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to her newsletter from her website at blakemichellemorgan.com.


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Your most important assets are not your customers and your employees. It’s how your customers and your employees feel about your company. Your success as a customer service manager is directly proportional to your ability to drive simultaneously customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Happy employees are inclined to go above and beyond for your customers. And when your customers feel they are cared for, they will return. You can’t satisfy customers with disengaged employees. Start there first. So what can you do to ensure your employees are engaged? As a first step, begin by asking at least one employee these two questions every day:

What are you hearing?  You cannot even begin to satisfy customers until you remove all the potential dissatisfiers within the customer experience. The American Customer Satisfaction Index found that the response rates for electronic surveys were averaging between 5% and 15% . So if surveys are your only source of feedback, then at the most, you personally know 15% of all your customers’ angst. If you are interacting with customers while you supervise employees, you may know between 20 – 50% of your customers’ dissatisfiers. But your Associates know 100% of your customers complaints and concerns because your customers tell them everyday. So find out what they are hearing and act to systematically remove any potential dissatisfiers.

What can I do for you? Jan Carlzon, former CEO of SAS Airlines and author of the book, Moments of Truth said, “If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” To serve the customer, your employees need the empowerment, tools and resources to take care of their customers. Without the tools and resources, they will not feel empowered to solve customer complaints or respond to customer questions. As much as you want your employees to fulfill your customers’ needs, you need to serve your employees to fulfill theirs. So at the end of every employee conversation, whether it is a group setting or a one-to-one conversation, ask, “What can I do for you?” Listen and then act on their suggestions. Seriously weigh every suggestion, no matter how small you might think it might be. If they mentioned it to you, it is a BIG DEAL to them. Otherwise they wouldn’t have said anything. And if it’s a BIG DEAL to them, it should be a BIG DEAL to you. Whether you are able to implement their suggestion or not, always personally get back promptly to the individual employee who offered the suggestion. It will reinforce their perception that you are committed to their success, as much as you are to your customers’ satisfaction.

The biggest complaint from employees of their managers and supervisors is a lack of communication. Ask these two questions every day to generate a flow of ideas to continually improve the employee and customer experience. Then act on the feedback you receive to drive engagement and empower your employees to deliver exceptional service that your customers will rave about to you and others.


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This week’s post is from Swiftpage CEO John Oechsle.  He examines the evolution of how organizations connect with their customers and how smaller and midsized businesses are finding ways to compete for customers with larger players in their space through the 4 C’s of customer information. Swiftpage is the owner of Act!, the first to market customer relationship management software solution that pioneered the space 30 years ago and is still innovating today, so he has a bit of a unique perspective on how customer communication has evolved and where it’s heading. You can learn more about John and his company at the end of his post. 

Walkmen were all the rage, cell phones were the size of eggplants, and Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody was the No. 1 hit. The year was 1987, a time when technology was advancing at a tremendous pace. Just imagine—in four more years, some Americans would begin communicating via SMS text.

Enter 2017. Driverless cars are cruising the streets, and high school students are Skyping with astronauts in space. New technologies are shaping the world around us, and small businesses have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on these advancements. This is especially true with customer relationship management (CRM), an area that businesses were smart to pay attention to 30 years ago in 1987—and can no longer afford to ignore in today’s competitive environment.

As the technological complexity of customer relationships evolve, so must our approaches to them. The area is best tackled through the four C’s of customer information, which are crucial components of any business plan.  Currency, correctness, consistency and completeness are – and, arguably, have always been – the most effective path toward forging intimate, long-term relationships with customers.

Currency and correctness

Currency and correctness go together like the PC and mouse. After all, data only has value when it’s up-to-date and accurate. While the Internet makes it easy to link up with others, it’s important to ensure connections are managed properly. Remember, customer information is constantly changing. People move, switch jobs and update email addresses. Social media accounts might be inaccurate or outdated. This all underscores the importance of maintaining current and correct customer information.

If customer information is kept accurately and up to date, it can prove to be invaluable when used with predictive analytics technology. It can help an organization learn a lot about customer trends and who to reach out to for a sale at what time and via which method of contact to give the company the best chance for a successful interaction—giving the business its best chance to retain existing customers while growing by developing new customer relationships as well.

We’ve come a long way since 1987, when the first version of Microsoft Excel was released for Windows. Excel was preceded by programs such as Lotus and VisiCalc, which were used to store customer data and other important company information. Before then, punched cards were a popular way to save information.  Oh, and don’t forget the infamous rolodex, the original CRM. It’s truly incredible to think of the advances information management has made in such a short time period.

Consistency

Consistency has always been a hallmark of helping businesses grow. After all, success is impossible if a business can’t maintain positive and long-lasting relationships with its customers. We have infinite options for storing detailed customer information. We use mobile apps, cloud servers, customizable CRM software solutions, email, Google docs, Excel spreadsheets and – gasp –pen and paper when we’re in a pinch! If the customer information is not consistent across all of them, currency and correctness go out the door!

It wasn’t always so simple to store all that information on a computer. Apple’s 1986 enhanced Macintosh computer had limited capacity and could store just 4 MB worth of files. To put that in context, the ’86 Mac had enough space to store about one decent quality mp3 song file today.

Completeness

Completeness is not just about knowing a customer’s address and birthday; it’s an across-the-board collection of customer information aimed at documenting every individual customer interaction. And complete record keeping wasn’t always easy to accomplish through technology. In the late 1980s, computers were only beginning to make their way into mainstream life. By 1989, just 15 percent of U.S. households owned one and customer records were often kept tucked away in filing cabinets.

Today, we’re fortunate to live in an age where we can keep an effortless record of emails, web analytics and online sales with the right technology. We can detail each interaction a customer has with any point of contact at the business, and that information can then be stored and shared so everyone has the same, complete information about the customer’s experience. It’s easy to make notes of face-to-face meetings and phone calls, too, with tools that have been developed for just that purpose—including pioneering software solutions like Act! that were laying the foundation for modern CRM technology all the way back in 1987.

With such effective and reliable technology available at our disposal in 2017, we are wise to take advantage. Bringing the four C’s together gives businesses the ability to mine information, examine trends, and forge lifelong relationships with their customers that enable the business to grow and thrive.

And, at the end of the day, isn’t finding ways to connect and form relationships with our customers what it’s all about—both today and back in 1987?

About the Author

H. John Oechsle joined Swiftpage in July 2012 and currently serves as president and chief executive officer. John came to Swiftpage with a 30-year track record of building highly profitable and sustainable revenue growth for emerging companies and established global leaders. John is an advocate for technology and education in Colorado and has been an active contributor to the Colorado Technology Association (CTA). He has been recognized several times for his involvement in the tech industry. In 2006 and in 2009, John was awarded the Technology Executive of the Year, and the Titan of Technology awards by the CTA. John was also awarded the Bob Newman Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community by the CTA in 2011.


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This week’s guest post is from Teri Yanovitch, author of Unleashing Excellence – The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service. You can learn more about Teri and her book at the end of her post.

I am a big fan of Marriott International. With the recent acquisition of Starwood, Marriott is the world’s largest hotel company with over 5700 properties worldwide. If you ask loyal customers and me to describe Marriott in one word, we would respond with “Consistency.” I am convinced that the enviable growth of Marriott is based the focus of its associates to consistently deliver an experience that meets the high expectations of its customers. And that focus was set by founder JW Marriott with this business mantra, “Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.”  Even more succinctly, Teri puts forth in her post that, in any business,”Everything Speaks!” 

Imagine visiting a fine dining restaurant for a special occasion.  You’ve been looking forward to the meal and you’ve heard good things about the restaurant.  Then imagine noticing something crusty on your fork and lipstick marks on your water glass.  Wouldn’t you begin wondering about the cleanliness and quality of everything else in the restaurant?   Everything Speaks!  It’s important to pay attention to the details of the work environment because everything is communicating  a message to your customers.  Every detail of your physical environment says something about you and your business.  Everything the customer sees, hears, smells and touches creates an impression.  

Now picture a technician pulling up into a customer’s driveway.  The service vehicle is dirty, dusty, missing sign letters and disorganized in appearance.  The customer opens the door to greet the technician who smells, shoes are muddy, shirt askew and hands are dirty or greasy.  During the application of the service, the technician receives a personal phone call, then stands around and has a cigarette before continuing the job.  All this detracts from your business’s image.  It both consciously or subconsciously raises the customer’s antennae and makes them question, “Do I really want to spend my money with this company?”

One of the keys to Walt Disney World’s success is meticulous attention to detail.  Using the entertainment analogy of “onstage” and “offstage”, cast members are constantly reminded the importance of recognizing they are “onstage” every time they step into a guest area.  Just about everything  is carefully planned, managed and orchestrated to ensure a positive guest experience.  Cast members are responsible for their appearance with the appropriate, clean costume, name tag and fresh-faced look.  “Onstage” behaviors do not include smoking, drinking, eating, or cursing.  All cast members are responsible to keep up the work area appearance by picking up trash or noting when things need maintenance.  

Great memorable service people are the ones who understand the concept of Everything Speaks.  I’m talking about…

The pest control technician who took off his shoes and put on cloth slippers before coming into my home.

The insulation rep who worked in my attic in 90 degrees heat, went out to his service van and changed his shirt before coming back in with the bill so he wouldn’t look or smell bad.

The plumber who showed up in his shiny, well-organized truck, clean-shaven and wearing a monogrammed polo shirt and nice trousers.  After he finished installing a new garbage disposal on the kitchen sink, he cleaned up the kitchen floor.  When I shared my appreciation for his thoughtfulness, he said “I always try to leave a customer’s home looking better than what it was when I came”.

Teri Yanovitch is a speaker, author, facilitator, and consultant.  Her passion is helping organizations create a culture of service excellence.

Previously as a keynote speaker with the Disney Institute, she shared exemplary practices of customer service with organizations world-wide.  For more than a decade, she facilitated cultural change as an executive with the company that revolutionized total quality management, Philip Crosby Associates.  And for the first five years of her career, she trained hundreds of leaders and frontline staff of the Hertz Corporation in the value of the customer experience.

In 1991, she began her own firm, T.A.Yanovitch, Inc. Over the years, Teri has helped many diverse organizations  such as;  AAA, Marriott, Ernst & Young, Subway, America’s Blood Centers, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, First Citizens Banks, Ocwen Financial, and many college and universities to share her combined experience and knowledge of how to offer a customer experience that delights and differentiates one from the competition.

Her highly acclaimed book Unleashing Excellence – The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service is the culmination of years of experience in the field and serves as a guidebook to leaders of organizations that are looking to create a culture of service excellence and quality.
You can reach Teri directly via email: ty@retainloyalcustomers.com and learn more about her and her company at her website: www.retainloyalcustomers.com


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This week’s blog post is contributed by a very special guest, actually more like a guest star, Nancy Friedman, better known as “The Telephone Doctor.” The author of the recently published book, Customer Service (finally) Defined – Ideas, Tips, techniques & Skills You Can Use Now and Forever, and eight other books, Nancy is simply one of the best keynote speakers on customer service. (Can you tell I’m a big fan?) Named by meeting planners as one of their “favorite speakers” by Meetings and Conventions Magazine, she has a natural gift for entertaining an audience that will engage and inspire every attendee to deliver a better customer experience.  Find out more about Nancy and how you can connect with her via her website, email or social media platforms at the end of her post.   

Every business has one thing in common. Phone calls. Inbound or outbound; service or sales. How these phones are answered and handled is critical.

New software and hardware is constantly coming into the marketplace and yet, the one thing that remains constant is how these phone are answered, no matter WHO answers it.

Telephone Doctor has a near foolproof plan on improving customer service that will boost your employees moral, and more importantly, your callers will feel they have definitely “called the right place.” By using only a few of these Telephone Doctor tips, you will raise awareness and increase customer satisfaction.

Here goes:

  1. We’ll start with the obvious. SMILE. And be sure you use our Telephone Doctor motto, smile BEFORE you answer the phone. Often times, it’s simply too late to smile after you know who it is. There can be no discrimination when you answer the phone. Everyone gets a smile before you know who it is.
  1. Assure the caller they have “called the right place.” This needs to be said before you ask for any information. It’s very frustrating to be interrogated before you welcome the caller. If you need information, be sure you welcome the caller first.
  1. Be a good listener. Often times, this takes practice. If your mind wanders or you find yourself “not terribly interested” in the call, customer or the caller, you need a good listening course. Listening is an art, NOT a science. It needs to be practiced.
  1. Take notes. Take notes and then take more notes. It’ll also help you become a better listener. By jotting key words as the caller talks, you can refer back to any point in the conversation and the caller thinks you’re a great listener. It can be very dangerous to be on the phone without a pencil and paper. “What did you say” isn’t great customer service. Good note takers become great on the phone.
  1. Use buffers. “BUFFER WORDS” in Telephone Doctor language means the words before the key point. “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” or “Thanks for calling” are buffer words for your company name. Use buffers when you ask a question too. Just blurting out a question can become offensive. Using a soft buffer before the actual question is an excellent technique to learn. Example, if you need to ask several questions to gain more information, a good buffer might be, “Mrs. Jones, so that we can get you exactly what you need, I’ll need to ask a few questions.” That way the caller or customer is notified, prepared and expects the questions rather than feeling as though you’re bombarding them with one question after another.
  1. Take your time. Remember Telephone Doctor Cardinal Rule – “Rushing threatens callers.” Sure, you may need to take as many calls as possible, but at no time does anyone want you to sacrifice quality for quantity. There are many ways to ask questions that can help move the conversation along.
  1. Stay in control. Sometimes it seems as though a caller can wander off into another world. It’s up to us to get them BACK ON TRACK. There are several ways to do this. One is to tell the caller, “The story about your great-grandmother sounds very interesting, but I know you called with a specific question and I’m eager to help you.” In other words, you’ve acknowledged what they’re wandering off about and yet you’re still in control. Indeed, some calls or situations are more challenging than others. When you learn to stay in control it’s much more effective for all. Enjoy it! And have fun!

7.1 And when all else fails, go back to tip #1.

Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is a featured Customer Service speaker at Franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets, around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Financial News. The Author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy’s passion to help corporate America improve their communications, is second only to the material she delivers. You can see her books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman’s website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Or you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancyfriedmanspeaker
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/telephonedoctor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@telephonedoctor


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I had the great opportunity to interview Blake Morgan, customer experience futurist about her new book, More is More: How the Best Companies Go Farther and Work Harder to Create Knock-Your-Socks Off Customer Experiences.  I have been a big fan of her customer experience articles that regularly appear in Forbes. Her book is a must-read resource for those intent on delivering an exceptional experience for their customers. You can find out more about Blake at the end of the interview. 

Where did you start your career?
I started my career producing conferences, and then moved to building a social network and online magazine for contact centers. At this social network I had a podcast show, a blog, and I was an early thought leader on contact centers. I remember my boss telling me that now I was a “brand,” which at the time seemed really strange to me. Now I get it. That was almost ten years ago. I enjoyed studying contact centers, and worked at Intel as a social customer service leader. However after having two years of customer service practitioner experience under my belt I realized I preferred customer experience which included more branding, consumer behavior and more. I decided to focus 100 percent on customer experience thought leadership – speaking at events, writing a book “More Is More,” and even teaching an executive education at Rutgers Business School this August. I will also be keynoting the Genesys conference for 500 people in Australia this summer.

What inspired you to write the book More Is More?
I always wanted to write a book – while books don’t make any money these days, it does level up your career. If you want to be a thought leader, having a book is very helpful.

What is your book about?
I wrote a book about hard work called “More Is More” as I mentioned. Meaning? Not much differentiates us as individuals. Plenty of people have the goods – they’re smart, even talented. But not everyone wakes out of bed ready to run. It’s those that jump out of bed ready to run that end up successful. Others, who don’t have that internal maniac – who seem asleep all day, will let the less smart, less talented competitor win. It’s the same with companies. Companies today need to work harder. They don’t need to be the smartest or most talented. But they need to consistently jump out of bed ready to serve. Why? Products and services are largely the same. Airline, gym, grocery store…pretty much all the same. Companies that will go to any length to make their customer’s life easier and better will ultimately attract more customers. And it’s not even so much as how many hours you work…it’s the consistent focus. The “jumping out of bed” every single morning, ready to serve someone.

How can it help readers?
Often no one person within a company owns customer experience – and that’s how it should be. The CEO can lead it, but everyone within the company should be focused on customer experience. That said, my book is for anyone who wants a simple explanation of customer experience and the many ways it can improve their job, their company and their market share.

What’s the future of customer experience? 
In the future we will use technologies to fix many of the common customer frustrations we see today. Technology can fix the mundane customer issues so companies can focus on high touch customer experiences. When people tell me they’re afraid of the looming AI revolution, I wonder if they enjoy the many ways customer experiences are inefficient today. For example I want to ask them, do you enjoy waiting in line at the DMV? Passport control? Do you enjoy doing paperwork for insurance, healthcare etc? There is much opportunity to improve the efficiency of our world and that’s not a bad or scary thing. We need thoughtful, conscientious people leading technology strategies – and that way we can ensure we won’t have a robot take-over, but leverage technology to make people’s lives easier and better.

Blake Morgan is a Customer Experience Futurist. Her first book is “More is More: How The Best Companies Work Harder And Go Farther To Create Knock Your Socks Off Customer Experiences.” Blake is adjunct faculty at the Rutgers executive education MBA program. Blake contributes to Forbes, the Harvard Business Review and the American Marketing Association. She is the host of The Modern Customer Podcast and a weekly customer experience video series on YouTube. She’s been ranked as ICMI’s Top 50 Thought Leaders To Follow on Twitter In 2016, Clarabridge’s #1 Social Customer Service expert to follow and Customer Gauge’s top 20 customer experience experts in follow in 2017. She has worked with Intel, Verizon Wireless, and many more. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, daughter and their two Yorkie rescues.

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to her newsletter from her website at blakemichellemorgan.com.


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Your most important assets are not your customers and your employees. It’s how your customers and your employees feel about your company. Your success as a customer service manager is directly proportional to your ability to drive simultaneously customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Happy employees are inclined to go above and beyond for your customers. And when your customers feel they are cared for, they will return. You can’t satisfy customers with disengaged employees. Start there first. So what can you do to ensure your employees are engaged? As a first step, begin by asking at least one employee these two questions every day:

What are you hearing?  You cannot even begin to satisfy customers until you remove all the potential dissatisfiers within the customer experience. The American Customer Satisfaction Index found that the response rates for electronic surveys were averaging between 5% and 15% . So if surveys are your only source of feedback, then at the most, you personally know 15% of all your customers’ angst. If you are interacting with customers while you supervise employees, you may know between 20 – 50% of your customers’ dissatisfiers. But your Associates know 100% of your customers complaints and concerns because your customers tell them everyday. So find out what they are hearing and act to systematically remove any potential dissatisfiers.

What can I do for you? Jan Carlzon, former CEO of SAS Airlines and author of the book, Moments of Truth said, “If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” To serve the customer, your employees need the empowerment, tools and resources to take care of their customers. Without the tools and resources, they will not feel empowered to solve customer complaints or respond to customer questions. As much as you want your employees to fulfill your customers’ needs, you need to serve your employees to fulfill theirs. So at the end of every employee conversation, whether it is a group setting or a one-to-one conversation, ask, “What can I do for you?” Listen and then act on their suggestions. Seriously weigh every suggestion, no matter how small you might think it might be. If they mentioned it to you, it is a BIG DEAL to them. Otherwise they wouldn’t have said anything. And if it’s a BIG DEAL to them, it should be a BIG DEAL to you. Whether you are able to implement their suggestion or not, always personally get back promptly to the individual employee who offered the suggestion. It will reinforce their perception that you are committed to their success, as much as you are to your customers’ satisfaction.

The biggest complaint from employees of their managers and supervisors is a lack of communication. Ask these two questions every day to generate a flow of ideas to continually improve the employee and customer experience. Then act on the feedback you receive to drive engagement and empower your employees to deliver exceptional service that your customers will rave about to you and others.


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