CEO Blog

Category Archives: Customer Service

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

Bad Delivery AND Bad Customer Service … Wow!

I recently had the displeasure of dealing with a marble (and marble) company in Toronto who not only have very poor quality workmanship, they back it up with even worse customer service!   It is rare to find a company that remains in business and can be so bad at everything … maybe I just got unlucky!  I particularly liked their website messages … “our dedication to our customer’s needs and the focus on producing quality products in a timely manner has propelled us. blah blah blah”  ANDStone counters made by <name withheld because I’m a business owner too> are guaranteed to be of the finest workmanship and quality available anywhere.”   I would beg to differ!!  You say that crater in my counter top was just normal … I think NOT!

In my experience it is more normal that a company is good at one or the other … (a) they have a great product or service, but are lacking in the customer service; or (b) they are very good at customer service but not so great on the product/service side.

I wrote a blog entry some time ago about how Superior Execution can actually be a great Strategy!

I have also read on many occasions how great customer service can be a great differentiator from your competition.  We all know high profile examples of how that has worked … consider the customer experience walking into an Apple store versus the alternatives.  Many years ago Lexus distinguished itself from competition with a superior customer experience on the service side … and people bought because of that.

Great companies have great execution AND great customer service (Apple might be a good example?).

As a consumer I would suggest that I will buy great products that have poor customer service … but I will not buy inferior products that have great customer service!

If you have to spend your investment dollars on one or the other, then get your product/service right first!  Then QUICKLY work on your customer service.

In the meantime if you need new counter tops in Toronto I can tell you where NOT to go!


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?



A Customer Service Attitude

Here are some thoughts on the subject of Customer Service …

1.  Your External Customers pay the bills … without them you don’t exist!

2.  Your Internal Customers are also important … your sales team bring in business, your recruiters supply the “product”, your back office look after the money, your admin team keep the ship going, your proposal team works hard to get professional submissions in under tight deadlines, your marketing team show your brand to the world etc. etc. … it takes a WHOLE team to be successful!

3.  Sometimes we forget we have internal customers … EVERYONE in your company is your customer!

4.  Sometimes we think we are too important to treat others like our customer.

5.  If you treat EVERYONE like a customer (internal or external) you WILL get better results!

6.  If you really want to get under my skin, utter the words, “Its NOT my job!”.

7.  Just because I am the CEO it doesn’t mean I can’t help out where I can.

8.  If I am the office administrator and up to my ears in work should I be the one organising lunch, or could someone with a few minutes on their hands do it … could they treat ME like their customer no matter my position?

9.  How cool would it be if everyone in your office was thoughtful, pulled their weight and helped out where they could … everyone treating everyone like their customer?

10.  Teams are made up of all kinds of skills, those skills are  rewarded in different ways based on experience, qualifications, productivity, status etc.  The members of GREAT teams look out for each other regardless of status … they treat each other like customers!

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?

Make the Boss Look Good

The heading for this blog entry is fairly self explanatory, and at first glance seems quite simple. 

In reality it is probably the one piece of advice I could give anyone to encapsulate everything it takes to have a successful career.

Let me explain …

If you adopt the attitude that you will your best to support your boss’s success then it means a number of things:

1.  You will have a positive attitude.

2.  You will embrace the company rules.

3.  You will not “play politics” or undermine your boss.

4.  Your focus will be on doing a good job … even when no one is looking!

5.  Your approach will be to “serve”.

Add ALL of that up and you have a fantastic foundation for the future.

1.  Your boss will reciprocate.

2.  Your boss’s success will reflect on you.

3.  They are likely to take you with them.

4.  It is likely that your boss’s boss will also notice.

One final thought … You don’t need to like your boss (or your co-workers) you DO need to find a way to work with them.


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!


Reinvention is NOT Optional

Competition comes in many forms, so whatever business you are in it is important to be constantly asking yourself some basic questions.  Some of those questions might be:

Am I meeting my customers needs?

Is someone else doing a better job?

Is my industry changing?

If I keep doing what I do will I still be here in 5 years?

What else could I be doing?

Disruption can happen in any business, as has been seen many times over the years.  We only have to think about the affect of big box stores on the smaller retail shops, the impact of the internet on so many businesses, the impact of low cost off-shore labour on many industries … just to name a few.

When you work in and around high tech, or with the big consulting firms then innovation and change tends to be “a given” … but that is not always the case in smaller, mainstream businesses.

Yesterday I had my motorcycle serviced and today I had my car serviced.  It is always a frustrating exercise for me, and I assume any busy person, to have to take time from my schedule to drive out to the garage and then get back to work.  Which got me thinking about these businesses.

I asked the owner of the car shop how business was going and he replied that the last couple of months had been OK, he actually made money.  He suggested that in a 12 month period he will make money for 3 or 4 months, break even for 3 or 4 months and “survive” for the rest.

“Have you any plans to do anything different?”, I said.   He doesn’t.

At the motorcycle shop I managed to arrive there about 2 minutes after closing time, received no sympathy from the exiting employees and was lucky enough that there was a manager still on the phone who let me drop my bike off for service the next day.  On pickup day I had not heard from them 90 minutes before closing so after several calls I finally connected to the service shop and they were not sure if it was going to be completed that day.  It was … but again I had a level of stress I did not need.

None of this is earth shattering … and everyone has these frustrations.  But … it could be better.

A disruptive model could easily drive both of these hard working business owners out of business!

Why are they content?

If my business was unprofitable for 3 to 5 months a year I would do something about it.

If my customers were having trouble getting to my shop for service I would make it easy for them.

I took a quick look at what other service shops are doing around the world (that disruptive internet again) and came up with some top of mind ideas for these business owners …

Look at your hours of operation … if you are open when your clients are working and closed when they have free time does that make sense?  It doesn’t need to be a radical change but opening the retail shop for evening hours, with an opportunity to drop a bike off with them might just make life a lot easier for your customer.

The big garages have a shuttle … why not have a pick up your bike/car service?  Pick it up anywhere and return after service … I would pay for that!

What else could you do with your shop to generate revenues?  Offer the use of the shop to DIY people who like to work on their own vehicles, but don’t have the tools or space.  Offer courses to teach people at various levels about vehicle maintenance.  Form a partnership with larger shops as an overflow capability to help them meet their needs.  Buy a portable garage … a truck that could do “house calls”.

It is not just the big companies that need to reinvent themselves … every business owner needs to think that way.  It is tough to own and operate a business, the start up phase is extremely stressful, there are always ownership related issues but experience reduces the stress levels.  This creates a risk of complacency and perhaps even a shift to a more risk averse approach to business … so it is critical to remember, in ANY business Reinvention is NOT optional!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!

Solve Your Client’s Problems!

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change … Charles Darwin 

Do you make it easy for your client to buy from you?

Do you find ways to make your client’s life easy?

Do you solve their problems?

Or … do you provide a service that solves some (most) of your client’s issues and assume that they will solve the rest some other way?

Here is the issue … you might provide a GREAT service that solves 90% of your client’s issues, but the minute someone has a service that solves 100% (or even 95%) of their issues then you are in big trouble!

Scenario #1

If you owned a small local hardware store and you knew all your customers, you provided them with their paint, their wood, their tools and maybe a bunch of other things.  Along came “big box store” … it does everything you do, plus a bunch of things you can’t do … at a price point that might be lower than your cost!  The things you have going for you are your level of service, your relationships and the “loyalty” of your customers.

Over time your customers find that they can “one-stop shop” instead of buying some stuff at your shop and some stuff elsewhere; there might even be more selection at the big box store; they find they can save money; they don’t much like the service, BUT … its easier and cheaper!   Loyalty helps, relationships help but unless you are doing a better job of solving the customers problems you are in trouble.

Scenario #2

You are a big box store and you service a large area with a wide selection of items at bargain prices.  A niche paint store opens up, a niche tile place opens up … and the high end clients want more service, a better shopping experience and some advice to go with their “stuff”.  You lose some customers and they capture their share of the market!  What niche will open next?

Whatever business you are in, you need to understand your customer’s needs.  The more of those needs that you can handle for the customer, the better positioned you are. 

Its not enough to just do what YOU think is good for the client … it is much more important to do what your client thinks is useful to them. 

You can be quite successful for a long time serving most of your client’s needs … right up until someone does it better!

I won’t complain. I just won’t come backBrown & Williamson Tobacco Ad 

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!

Tough Conversations

You know the ones … you dread them.  The conversation with the under performing employee, the conversation with your parents about bending the car or maybe the conversation with the unhappy client.  It can even be much worse, a discussion about a relationship that isn’t working or a health problem that you have.

Here are some thoughts about TOUGH conversations:

1.  Like most situations, PROCRASTINATION won’t help.

2.  Have the conversation in appropriate setting.  For example sending an email to tell someone they are fired is not appropriate, having that conversation in a private office (preferably with a HR representative) is!  If you are going to have a relationship discussion you might NOT want to do it on the bus, sitting down in a private space might work best.

3.  Think through all of your pertinent points.  Perhaps write out note and ensure you have your thoughts collected before having the conversation.

4.  Try to keep emotions in check.  Tough conversations will always bring more emotion, but sticking to facts and avoiding inflammatory comments will make it as smooth as possible.

5.  Listen as much as you talk.  If the other person receives monologue with no opportunity for dialogue then that would be called a speech … a conversation is a two-way communication.

6.  Have the conversation when you are most energetic … for most people that may be first thing in the day.  Tiredness or alcohol are not likely to help such a conversation.

7.  If possible don’t make it a surprise.  A performance discussion should not be a surprise, nor should a relationship discussion.  Sometime this is not avoidable, but a surpise might elicit a stronger response … so be prepared.

8.  Tough conversations don’t have to always happen in one go.  You might agree that there is a situation, and agree to put the facts on the table … but come back after a little time to discuss those facts.  This way both sides come to the table prepared.

9.  IF you are in the situation where you MUST deliver a tough message, and it IS a surprise, and the timing is NOT very good … then just do it with as much humanity as possible (think how you would feel in their position.  Then go and drink scotch!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!

You Got What You Paid For

“You get what you pay for” is a common saying … and generally it is pretty true.

In the services business we have to match the service that we provide with the return on that investment … we cannot afford to provide a level of service that costs us more than we get paid.  Seems like common sense, but it is actually a pretty difficult lesson to learn … for suppliers, and for clients!

Sometimes in business, (maybe more often than sometimes), there is a disconnect between what the client expects and what the company thinks they are delivering.  If a client chooses the low cost supplier, to deliver a project or a service … then they need to expect the quality and customer service attributable to a low cost provider (acceptable, but not great).  The reality is that all clients want GREAT service … but not many clients are willing to pay top dollar.

Therein lies that quagmire of expectations versus reality!

If you don’t pay much … then don’t expect much!  

If you buy a Honda Accord, its a very good car, but it is not a BMW 335! 

If you buy a small apartment in an average Toronto high-rise … don’t expect Trump Towers!

If you buy a cheap laptop … don’t be surprised when it doesn’t operate like a high end machine!

If you beat your staffing supplier’s margins down to peanuts … then don’t be surprised if you get monkey-like service!

Obviously all of this is relative (that is another blog post) … you can get good value for your money, and if your expectations match the product or service that you get then you can be a very happy customer. 

At the end of the day … you generally get what you pay for! 


Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!


Join My Protest … Against Grumpy People!!!!

Have you noticed how GRUMPY people are lately?

They are worried about money, they are worried about the economy, their jobs, the fact that some people have more money than them, the fact that other people (bankers, CEOs, corporations) are ruining their world, the fact that government is not doing what they want etc etc.

This makes people GRUMPY … and the fact that there is very little they can do to change those things makes them GRUMPIER!

GRUMPINESS is contagious, so they infect the people around them creating more GRUMPY people!

My advice … focus on the things YOU can change, and have fun doing it!!!

Being GRUMPY will not make anything better … in fact you might just lose some friends. 

If you want to be GRUMPY then go far away from me!

I am going to start a new protest … NO Grumps Allowed!!!!

Walk Fast and SMILE!


Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?


Don’t Poke the Bear … Unless You Should!

I saw this expression used today in one of our internal discussion groups … it made me smile, and gave me the idea for today’s blog subject!

The idea behind the saying is simple … don’t do something that is going cause a reaction that could be “problematic”, perhaps volatile, perhaps just negative.

In a sales situation the phrase could be used a lot …

In the sales cycle an experienced sales person will avoid taking a client conversation down a path that could be contentious … if the client “goes there” then you deal with it, but a sales rep should not usually go looking for trouble.  When managing client relationships there will be plenty of occasions where tackling contentious issues is absolutely the right thing to do … during the actual sales process it is important to keep the focus on the positives as much as possible!

In a relationship it could be used when discussing sensitive topics … bringing them up can spark some tense discussion.  A spouse may avoid letting their partner know their thoughts on a particular habit or hobby … knowing the “reaction” will not be worth the trouble.  A friend my choose to avoid topics of conversation that are sensitive, focusing instead on upbeat subject etc.

Obviously there are a million ways that this phrase can be used.


We also need to recognise that sometimes “poking the bear’ is exactly what is needed.

The way things change is by addressing contentious issues, challenging old ideas and dragging reluctant participants into a new way of thinking.

It is also important in any relationship NOT to “sweep issues under the rug” … poking the bear every now and then might be uncomfortable, but it airs out issues that need to be addressed and helps avoid harboured resentments which lead to REAL conflict!

Maybe I should blog sometime about when, and how, to “poke the bear” to effect positive change!!!   

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!

Will Your Mood Affect Your Decision Making?

No matter how “even tempered” we are, there is always the opportunity to be a little edgy … and in a business setting that can be dangerous.

One of the biggest topics of conversation here in Canada lately is the weather … always a topic close to the surface, but a wet miserable Spring is certainly being felt!  You can almost feel the tension in people, after a typical long Canadian Winter we are ready for some sun … so a cold, miserable Spring has people in general feeling edgy!

Whatever the cause for a “bad mood” it is critical that your mood does not cause you to make business decisions based on emotion, rather than on sound business parameters!  

If you were in a great state of mind would you be having “this” conversation? 

Are you tending towards more “direct and honest” feedback … and would you do that IF you were in a “sunny” mood!

Are you going to make a decision, “say something” or act in some way that you will regret later?

We are all human, with human feelings and emotions … but in the work place it is important to make rational business decisions, NOT react because of those emotions.   A few thoughts for when you might be a little emotional …

1.  Make sure you give yourself time to really think before reacting.

2.  The old example of sending your “response email” … to yourself and not replying to the originator until you have had time to settle down is good advice.

3.   Walk away from contentious discussions, put them off, set up a future meeting … don’t get drawn into a “her and now” discussion.

4.   Take deep breaths and physically calm yourself down … so that you can appear relaxed.

5.  Always remember that you don’t want to be regretting “this decision” later!

Walk fast and SMILE!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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