CEO Blog

Category Archives: Customer Service

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to customer service.

Business Relationships

Trust Sales quote from Zig ZiglarBusiness relationships are just like any other relationships … they need to be nurtured, they need investment and they need a level of commitment.

Clients WILL buy from people they trust, and you do not achieve trust without establishing some kind of relationship.

In almost any business relationship there will come times of stress … where the parties need to fix something, or renegotiate something or have tough conversations.  These situations are always easier if there is a good relationship and a level of trust.

Salespeople and business owners work hard to develop these business relationships and clients invest their time and energy in them too.  There are many ways that they evolve and grow, but here are some ideas:

  1.  Make promises and always deliver (over deliver if at all possible).  This does not have to be hard it could be as simple as committing to send an interesting article by the weekend and doing it the minute you get back to your desk (but never forgetting to send it)!
  2. Meet face to face.  The phone is good, email is a good way to share some stuff but face to face is how you get to know people and they get to know you.
  3. Be truly interested in the other person.
  4. Find ways to bring additional value.  Share interesting articles, data, information, market knowledge for example.
  5. Have regular contact … without wasting anyone’s time.  (Touching base is a lazy approach … you should have a valid business reason, and ideally an agenda for a to meeting!)
  6. Never waste their time.
  7. Be positive … keep your own negatives to yourself!
  8. Listen more than you talk.
  9. All large client organisations have valid governance concerns about undue influence of their buyers, so be mindful of these.
  10. It always helps a relationship to have some meetings under more informal settings.  Breakfast, lunch, coffee, drinks after work or even a game of golf (even though I hate golf) can help people get to know each other better.  (Be mindful of #9 above).

Every business relationship will hit a bump in the road at some point, and if you don’t have a relationship built on trust and credibility, beyond the terms of a contract then that bump may feel like a mountain!

“The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.”  Robin Sharma

Invest in those business relationships!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Customer Expectations

Take care of your customer by Bob HooeyEvery customer has their own expectations in a given situation.  The best companies will help to set those expectations based upon their product or service … and will meet or exceed expectations in order to provide a satisfying experience.

Expectations can be reasonable or unreasonable heading into the sales situation … but through the sales process those expectations should be “reset” to reflect reality, and managed such that the experience is good.

“Customers may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

A recent example.  We rented a home in Florida for the month of February.  Renting a place over the internet is an improving experience, but there is always some trepidation.  We researched and modified our expectations based upon availability, and listed prices … and we tried to mitigate potential problems by booking well in advance.

So … four months ago we booked Sur La Mer, in Vero Beach.  We paid a 50% deposit and in the ensuing months planned our stay.  In particular we arranged with various family members and friends to visit with us during that month.

All looked good.

In January, we paid the remaining 50% and set about preparing for our trip, making sure we brought along everything we might need.

A week later (more than four months after reserving the place) we received an email … I was recently informed by the owner of Sur La Mer that the house … will not be available to rent.

No explanation and no real apology beyond … “I apologize as this matter is out of my control.”

Anyone who books a holiday home has a nagging concern that the property might become unavailable … but the expectation is that once it is booked and a deposit paid, it should be OK.

Apparently not!

We did  get our money back … but they had a significant amount of our money for four months plus we incurred costs (wire transfer fees twice).  The result was that we ended up out of pocket by $80 plus whatever the interest on our money had been worth.  Just to add insult to injury.

A good apologyAnd still no real apology.

We scrambled and found our own replacement because the agent could not find a suitable place … but ended up paying a significant amount more in order to be in that location on the dates we had planned for.

I thought it would not be unreasonable to write a review on the places where this home shows for rent.  I could share our experience and warn others that the owner is quite comfortable canceling at the last minute, without explanation and obviously did not feel an apology was necessary.

I tried to review the home on the site through which we rented, Florida Luxury Rentals.  Their site did not allow reviews … interesting customer service idea.  Guess we won’t use those guys again.

I tried to write a review on VRBO which also advertises this house.  Their policy is that if you did not stay there then you can’t review it!  I tried to explain that cancellations especially under these conditions are a major cause of concern to renters … but they couldn’t help.   So be warned if you are using VRBO you have no way of knowing the willingness of the landlord to cancel at the last minute.

I tried to send the review into Tripadvisor but they too have a policy that excludes reviews unless you have stayed there.  SO again, be warned that Tripadisor gives no indication if a landlord has a history of cancelling!

“The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you.”  Derek Silvers

I started the article talking about client expectations … and hijacked it with an example that shows how difficult it is to know, as a client, what your expectations should even be.   We ended up “burned” by a poor landlord and dissatisfied with our ability to provide feedback (a reasonable expectation).

Companies that want satisfied customers need to manage those expectations correctly or they will get the kind of negative exposure they deserve.

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Productivity Tips from the Best Salespeople

Your income is related to attitude quote by Jim RohnHow do the most productive salespeople spend their time that makes them so successful?

The best salespeople have many qualities, but in terms of productivity these are just a few ideas :

1.  They maximize time with clients and prospects.

  • They make it a priority to fill up their calendar.
  • They go out of their way to have meetings, never putting them off because they are inconvenient or might entail a drive.
  • They will fill their calendars out into the future, and group meetings by geography or building.   If you have to drive to a meeting then who else could you meet while there.
  • They recognize that time spent with any influencer is good … this could include assistants, receptionists, contractors etc.

It is difficult to get past Zig Ziglar’s obstacles if you are not meeting with, and listening to, your client and understanding her situation.

“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”  Zig Ziglar

2.  They set themselves mini-goals.  They will likely already have targets set by their company, but they set their own to motivate themselves.  Here are just a very few ideas:

  • an increased number of meetings this month, by some number or percentage;
  • an increased number of calls out;
  • an increased number of telephone conversations;
  • an increased number of warm leads; and
  • an increased number of written cards thanking clients.

All of these will be in addition to their own company targets that will likely be revenue, margin or profit focused.

Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.”  William Clement Stone 

3.  They focus their efforts on “high return” activities.  Salespeople are paid to generate revenues.  Tasks that are not focused on that goal will always be secondary.

  • They will be super organised, with great time management skills.
  • They will chase leads.
  • They will chase and build relationships … that are meaningful.
  • They will push their internal colleagues to meet the needs of their clients.
  • They will bring added value to their contacts wherever possible.
  • They will get their vital administrative work done (CRM notes, account collections etc) but secondary to the higher return activities that lead to revenue.
  • They will not allow paperwork, busywork, “administrivia” or any non-vital tasks get in the way of their success.  (Note the difference between vital and non-vital admin!)
  • They take full advantage of their work day, and will put in the extra time whenever needed.

Everyone lives by selling something.”   Robert Louis Stevenson

Would you add anything to this list of what successful salespeople focus their time doing?

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Silence is Not Always Golden!

Communication quote by John PowellCommunication is more a science than an art.  There are guidelines and even rules that can govern communication which we can use to train people, yet it remains one of the most frustrating aspects of people’s modus operandi!

One of the most frustrating communication traits is when there is silence, when there should be some form of communication.  You know what I mean … that contractor who was going to build your back yard deck was supposed to start last Monday, but he didn’t show and he won’t return your calls.

You were expecting to hear from that relative visiting from abroad, and you don’t know if they are going to show up.

You were expecting an update on a project that is late, but have received nothing.

You applied for a job and you don’t even know if your resume was received, because the recruiter hasn’t even acknowledged your application.

There are many, many such situations.

Invariably, when (if) communication does happen it will begin with, “I had nothing to tell…” or “I was waiting for news to give you…” or “I assumed…”

“Silence is a text easy to misread.”  A. A. Attanasio

We all know that “silence” can be deafening when we are expecting news, but somehow we don’t always translate that into what other people are feeling!

Here are a few thoughts on the subject …

  1. Most times more communication is better than less communication.  (That does not include talking instead of listening.)
  2. It is OK to communicate the fact that there is nothing to report.
  3. Try to put yourself in the shoes of people who might expect to hear from you.
  4. Poor communication erodes relationships as much as anything.
  5. When you don’t communicate at all, the person at the other end will make assumptions that you might not want them to make!

Great communicators are thoughtful, not only in the messages they deliver, but also in when they deliver them.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn.  It’s like riding a bicycle or typing.  If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”  Brian Tracy
 
Having said all of the above, there are absolutely many times when silence is preferable to words … just not when people are waiting anxiously for an update!

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Use Your “Out Loud Words”!

Assertiveness quote from Dr SeussToo many people worry too much about offending others with their opinions.

Too many people offer their opinions with no thought.

Somewhere between those two statements lies “perfection”… but in an imperfect world give me the raw unfiltered opinion rather than have nothing to say.

“Staying silent is like a slow growing cancer to the soul and a trait of a true coward. There is nothing intelligent about not standing up for yourself. You may not win every battle. However, everyone will at least know what you stood for-YOU.” Shannon L. Alder

We, individuals and companies, can only learn and grow if we know what the issues are.

The only way we get to know what the issues are is if someone tells us.

I might not like being told bad news, but it sure as hell beats finding out months later when it is too late!

So, tell your boyfriend that his breath stinks, or you hate the way he throws his dirty socks in the bathroom. He will likely not like it, but his reaction will tell you a lot about your future relationship! Not telling him will just make those issues BIGGER with time, until they become so BIG you either explode or just give up!

Tell that restaurant that their service was lousy or their food was cold or any of the other things that will stop you going there again. That way they have a chance to fix things, or not, but their response will be telling!

When you are struggling in your role because “stupid rules” or “old thinking” is getting in your way, speak up! Try to be constructive in your criticism. Try to think about why things are the way they are, but even if you just think your manager is stupid, let someone know that there might be a better way!

I had an industry colleague thank me for some advice I gave him earlier in his career. He was a little guarded in his comments, suggesting that we don’t always see eye to eye on every subject. That made me think! We have had different opinions over time, but neither of us backed off expressing our opinion and that is how things evolve. My “mistake” was in letting him feel that was a bad thing!

We live in a democratic society with political parties disagreeing on almost everything. It is by no means perfect but the alternatives are not even worth considering!

“You have enemies? Good! That means you stood up for something in your life!” Winston Churchill.

I would say there are two lessons here:

  1. ALWAYS voice your opinions, hopefully with some thought, but at least get them on the table.
  2. ALWAYS listen to the opinions of others, and try to learn from them.

I can choose to discount opinions that I perceive as “no value”.

I can choose to learn from others opinions.

I can live in a fantasy world of perceived perfection, if I get no feedback… but THAT is where the real danger lies.

“Give me the sting of an opinion that I disagree with over valueless silence any day.”

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?
________________________________________________________________

Customer Service Means Managing Expectations

You have been recognized as customer of the weekBusy people can be the toughest clients… but also they can be very easy to keep happy.

The busy client calls his investment advisor (could be anything… insurance agent, banker, lawyer etc.) looking for some answers to a few questions at 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon. By Saturday afternoon the client feels like it has been ages since he asked his question. By Monday lunchtime he is wondering what is taking so long. Tuesday goes by and by the time the investment advisor actually calls back at 5pm on Tuesday (with all of the answers to those questions) the client is feeling very neglected.

The reality is that the investment advisor got back to the client within 2 business days, with everything he was looking for. The investment advisor is feeling like she did a great job and can’t understand why the client doesn’t sound grateful. In fact the client sounded quite abrupt!

The perception of the client… who might be a busy entrepreneur or any other kind of role that moves at a very fast pace is quite different. “I asked a question 4 days ago and she gets back to me like she has done a great job”!

You have to know your clients!

Some things that could have avoided all of the fuss. Set expectations

1. A quick call late on Friday, even if it is voicemail… “I got your message, it will take me a couple of days to get you everything you asked for. I need to chase a few people down so worst case I will be back to you Wednesday at Noon”.

OR

Customer service means meeting expectations2. A quick email. “Sorry I missed your call. I’m on it, but have to chase a few people down so I will get back to you Wednesday Noon at the latest. Will that be OK?”

OR

3. A call Monday morning… with the same kind of message. This call will remind the client that they made their request just a couple of “business hours” ago. Believe me, the client will NOT think that way unless you gently remind him. I got your message late Friday but I was out of the office and am on it first thin this morning”.

It is called managing expectations.

When you are dealing with clients do you always know what their expectations are?

If you assume that people think like you then you will almost always be wrong.

The best salespeople, the best client service people and anyone dealing with clients who is good at the job will understand this. As Covey said, “First seek to understand” and this applies to expectations as much as anything.

“If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed.” Terrell Owens

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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If You Are Leaving A Voicemail Do It Right!

Quote about communication from George Bernard ShawHow often do you get a voicemail that you find hard to understand?

How often do you get a voicemail that misses some critical information?

Voicemails are an effective tool if used correctly, but they can be frustrating if they are done badly.

In the last few days I have had several voicemails that have been difficult to understand, I listen to them a couple of times but if I don’t get the message by then I just ignore them!  That defeats the purpose of the call and leaves me frustrated.  Clearly just a little bit of attention by the caller would have made it a positive experience rather than a frustrating one.  Speaking too fast, speaking too close to the microphone can create a lisp that makes it hard to hear and accents can be difficult to understand … I had them all this week!

Here are a few tips for leaving business voicemails:

1.  Be prepared … if you are expecting to talk to someone, and are not prepared to leave a voicemail then hang up.  You can call back when you have thought through your message.

2.  Keep it short.

3.  Tell people who you are first … “This is Kevin Dee from Eagle”.

4.  Tell people why you are calling … “I am calling to follow up on an invitation you sent me”.

5.  If there is more detail, then be clear about that … “I would like to get some more information about the event”.

6.  Give a clear contact number … “You can call me back at (999) 999-9999”.

7.  Repeat the contact information … “Again this is Kevin Dee at (999) 999-9999”.  Note that by repeating this information you may save the person from having to re-listen to the voicemail … for which they will be appreciative!

8.  Speak slowly, knowing that the person may need to write this down.  Too many times I will need to listen to a voicemail multiple times and still have trouble catching the details.

9.  Enunciate your words clearly.  If you have an accent, then practice talking so that people WILL understand what you say.  (This applies to me too!)

10.  If it is a sales call, make sure you inject energy and enthusiasm into your voice.

  • Role Play leaving voicemails;
  • Smile while you are talking;
  • Preparation of your message is EXTRA important;
  • Try standing up when leaving a message.

Any communication is important and voicemail done correctly achieves your aim, but it can also create a favorable impression of you … or NOT!

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
________________________________________________________________

Develop Good Sales Habits

Zig Ziglar quote about using time effectivelySales team are often made up of some different characters, each of which will have an annual $ target (their plan) and they will often be compensated based on their performance.  Their approach will however range differently … here are three different sales characters that you might recognise.

Salesperson #1 works as hard as they can every month, receives some recognition for those months that are exceptional … and at the end of the year they may or may not meet and/or exceed their plan.  They have some regular clients where they spend most of their time, and a few key people who they will socialise with regularly.

Salesperson #2 breaks the annual target down into 12 equal amounts, works as hard as possible each month to make the target.  Some months she will exceed, some months will miss.  At the end of the year she “hopes” to meet her plan.  She will have decent rapport with her clients but will be fairly low key, and she only attends client social events when absolutely necessary.

Salesperson #3 sets their own target which is x% higher than the company plan and breaks that down to a monthly target.  They develop a plan that will identify what clients the revenue is coming from and what action is needed to generate those results.  The person reviews their plan weekly, adjusts where their efforts are directed depending upon the return on that investment and owns the responsibility for meeting the plan.  They will have a wide group of acquaintances, and some close friends amongst their clients, with whom they will socialise fairly regularly.  They spend a great deal of time out of the office meeting clients and prospective clients and may have many coffee meetings and other client type get togethers.

Which type of salesperson are you?

Which of these salespeople would you want on your team?

Some thoughts …

  1. The Hope and a Prayer plan is really ineffective.  You needs hard goals with an associated action plan detailed enough to show the road to success!
  2. A consistent, professional and systematic approach to sales WILL bring results.
  3. Sales is not about how popular you are, nor how much you talk.
  4. Sales is far more about listening and bringing value to your clients.
  5. Clients will buy from people they enjoy working with … which is professional people, who are pleasant to deal with, who help them with their challenges and who have established a level of trust!  (Oh by the way, often these relationships develop into friendship).

A picture of what a salesperson should be ... using words

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Selling is a Process Not an Event

Good salespeople will always be “on the go“!

They know that there is a momentum to selling, and so they avoid inertia at all costs.

They will be meeting new people, because that is how you find opportunities.

They will be building relationships with the key people in their networks.

They will be looking to find new key people to ad to their networks.

They will be finding ways to be bringing value to their clients.

They will be working to ensure their organization gives great value to their clients.

They will be understanding the business of their clients … so that they can understand ways to bring value.

They will be building relationships within their own company to ensure they can bring their clients the best their company has to offer.

They will be learning and growing.

They will be managing potentially tough situations.

They will be developing competitive knowledge.

They will earn their client’s trust.

They will ask their clients for business.

Somewhere in all of that, sales happen … and they earn their keep.

A poster with descriptors of what GREAT salespeople do!

There is a Price to be Paid for Everything

long-term-thinkingSometimes it is not evident … but generally speaking there IS a price for everything.

If you win a wage increase what is the impact to your employer?

If you do not treat your employees fairly what is the impact on your business?

If you do not pull your weight at work what is the impact?

If your boss expects you to work long hours consistently what is the impact?

If the government increase costs for businesses what is the impact?

If governments do not provide for their citizens what is the impact?

If you spend more than you earn what are the impacts?

If you treat your partner poorly what is the impact?

If a company treats its clients poorly what is the impact?

If you are prudent with your money then you try to live within your means … whether you are an individual, a company or even a government.

If you are prudent with your actions then you can reduce the potential impacts of those actions.

Life is never black and white … there are generally many potential impacts of any action.

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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