CEO Blog

Category Archives: Customer Service

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

Valid Business Reasons to Spend Time With a Client

Time is such a precious commodity these days that clients need to have a good return on the investment of their time spent with suppliers.  If you are an established sales person then you likely have strong relationships with your clients, and this makes the clients more amenable to spending some of that precious time with you … however (a) you still should not abuse their time and (b) how do you get time with those clients where you don’t have a strong relationship yet?

A client relationship (like any relationship) is built over time and while the intangible factor of the client “liking you” is valuable, you can invest in building the relationship by bringing value and building credibility.   Here are some “valid business reasons” to spend time with a client or prospect, all of which will move the relationship goal a little closer.

  •  Regularly scheduled meeting… pre-agreed “let’s meet weekly/monthly/quarterly to catch up on what’s changed”.  This should be your modus operandii with any client.  As your relationship improves/grows you will be able to shorten these cycles.  The ad hoc, let’s “touch base” is NOT a substitute for these.
  • You are moving through the sales cycle, and have information, answers or even a proposal for the client.
  • You have something to give them… could be a give-away like a company pen … doesn’t need to be a long meeting, “just a pop in wanted to drop this off & how is everything”!  If it turns into more that’s typically a good sign!
  • Social event, you invite them to lunch, breakfast or some other “out of the office venue”.  Can be combined with #1 … but better yet if you can have these meetings as well.  Primary reason is relationship building … all about them, but letting them get to know you a little better too.
  • Social/industry event … you invite your client to join you for an awards dinner, a charity event where you have a company table, an industry golf tournament etc.
  • You want to introduce your senior management … a Regional exec, visiting CEO etc.  Good opportunity to give your client a bigger company picture, to get a feel for the company senior management and for your bosses to get a feel for your client.
  • You have news … it could be something that is relevant to them.   Perhaps an upgrade to a product they own, a coming discount structure, changes in the organization etc.
  • You have a solution to a business issue for them.

In addition to face to face meetings you can build a relationship in many other ways. 

  • Send them an article of interest.
  • Congratulate them on their company or personal performance.
  • Send them a birthday card, a note of thanks, a hand written note if appropriate.
  • Share your company newsletter.
  • Share your company news … press releases etc.
  • Sponsor their charitable endeavors.

All relationships take work … developing a client relationship built on professionalism, credibility and delivering a return for that client’s investment of time is no exception.  The results however are very measurable, you will achieve success in sales, and the client will be well served by a supplier motivated to see them successful.

________________________________________________________________
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?
________________________________________________________________

Smile!

I have blogged on the subject of smiling several times … one of my favorite saying is Walk Fast and Smile!  So … when I read my regular email from Kit Grant, and saw that quote, how could I NOT blog about it!!!  Here is the quote, and the gist of Kit’s message … and you can visit his website, subscribe to his newsletter or engage him to be a speaker (you won’t be sorry)!

“A man without a smile should not open shop.” … Chinese Proverb

Is it just me or have you also noticed that way too many front-line people don’t seem too happy in their job. There is no question that some positions are less fun than others (and some bosses are not setting a pleasant model of behavior) but gee … with so many options available where people can spend their money, it just seems to make sense to train your staff to at least smile?! It’s little things that people notice that either get them to come back OR to look elsewhere.

I have always advocated hiring for attitude first and aptitude second. I can train anyone how to do a job but it’s pretty tough to teach a grumpy miserable person to be nice.

Kevin’s commentI don’t think i could have said it better myself!!!

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

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

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

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Energy People

Kevin’s definition of an Energy Person:  Someone who positively influences the “energy” in your workplace.  It might be the high energy sales guy with lots of personality; it could be the super nice person who is always “up”; it could be the joker in the office who brings a smile to everyone’s face.

Energy people can have a very positive impact on the morale of your company, which affects productivity.  They can make the workplace a fun place to be, tend to be good performers and they are viewed very positively by management.  Energy people also tend to be happy … glass-full kind of people.

Are you born an energy person … or can it be a learned skill/habit?  I believe it is easier for a naturally outgoing person to be an energy person … BUT if you are prepared to make the effort you too can be that person.

So, be positive, be thoughtful, be energetic, think “glass half-full”; make a positive impression on those around you; walk fast and smile … the benefits will be obvious for yourself and for those around you.

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

Subscribe to News from the Nest for updates about job market trends, industry news, and more.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

It Feels Good When People are Nice to You …

It does, doesn’t it?  When people go out of their way to be nice it makes you feel good.  It doesn’t have to be any big deal. 

There are tons of ways to make people smile, to affect them in a positive way.  If we all did it every now and then perhaps we would also be the recipients of those feel good moments!

Here are some excerpts from previous blog entries that might make you think about this stuff …

1. SMILE … its CONTAGIOUS. I wrote this blog entry in October 2006 about all the reasons why you should smile, even though you don’t actually NEED a reason to smile … its just a good thing to do!
2. I wrote a blog entry in April last suggesting that you CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY, and in fact it is very possible to do just that!
3. In August 2006 I shamelessly plagiarised TEN TACTICS FOR A SUPERB RELATIONSHIP from Robin Sharma. Remarkably its all about being nice to each other!
4. In August of 2007 I talked about the EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT which I learned from Stephen Covey, and the need to make deposits in all of those accounts!!!
5. Finally, in March 2006 I explained one of my favorite personal sayings WALK FAST and SMILE, which once again focuses on the power of a smile!

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

Subscribe to News from the Nest for updates about job market trends, industry news, and more.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Poor Customer Service Spells Opportunity

 I read a good entry from Pat Katz today talking about that very human trait of leaping to a conclusion that someone else is at fault … the blog entry is called A Slice of Humble Pie.  Pat’s point is dead on, I think most people do have this reaction when something goes wrong … BUT perhaps that is because we are so often let down by suppliers that we just assume it is more of the same! 

Surely there is a huge opportunity right there … what is it worth to a customer base to KNOW that they will get good service? 

Is it worth paying a premium?  OR is it just a way to take market share?  Either answer is good if YOU are the efficient supplier!

As a supplier could I manage my costs to be very efficient such that I could offer a higher level of service but at a cost competitive price? 

That’s opportunity.

Could I utilise today’s world to compete with “old world” suppliers … increase the level of service and keep costs down? 

 That’s opportunity.

I read an article today suggesting that predicting the future of the internet is easy … anything it hasn’t yet dramatically transformed, it will! 

 That’s opportunity.

Pat’s original article was about the need to perhaps take a breath before assuming the worst … and I agree with her, we do need to slow down a little before jumping to conclusions.  However if I look at WHY we have that response I think that’s opportunity because most people don’t want to be treated poorly, they want to deal with competent suppliers and get what they pay for.  Not really a lot to ask for but so often we are disappointed.

Is there an opportunity out there for you to capitalise on?  Next time you suffer through poor service maybe you should devote your energy to developing a competitor that can take market share from the poor performer!

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

Subscribe to News from the Nest for updates about job market trends, industry news, and more.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Book Review – Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect … John C. Maxwell 

There are a million business books and every now and then I find one that resonates … this is one of those!  It would be easy to be put off by Maxwell’s assertion that it is effective communication, really connecting with people, that is the secret to success.  In my experience I would suggest that effective communication is ONE of the key factors to success.  However I do agree this is a very important topic and Maxwell has some very effective messages. 

One key message is that this is a skill like any other and so it can be learned, and also like any skill practice will bring improvement.  It is also a skill that is as important with friends and family as it is in business. 

Some ideas from the book: 

  1.  You need to know when you have “connected” with people … its not always evident.  So some of the things to look for are:
    1. Extra effort.  People go the extra mile for you.
    2. Unsolicited appreciation.  They say nice stuff!
    3. Unguarded openness.  They demonstrate trust.
    4. Increased communication.  They open up.
    5. Enjoyable experiences.  They clearly feel good.
    6. Emotionally bonded.  A deeper connection is evident.
    7. Positive energy.  You and they get energy together.
    8. Growing synergy.  Together you are more effective than individually.
    9. Unconditional love.  OK!
  2. Connecting is all about others!  It should be all about them.  You will want to answer, in some way the three questions they will have:
    1. Do you care for me?
    2. Can you help me/
    3. Can I trust you?
  3. Connecting goes beyond words.  According to a UCLA study what we say only accounts for 7% of what is believed by our audience.  The way we say it accounts for 38% and what others see accounts for 55%.  So you need to connect on four different levels:
    1. What people see … connect visually.  Are you dressed appropriately, are you what they expect?
    2. What people understand … connect intellectually.  You need to be empathetic to their situation, understand their pain and be able to talk from that same place.
    3. What people feel … connecting emotionally.  People will feel your attitude, your energy … positive or negative.  “The exact words you use are less important that the energy, intensity and conviction with which you use tem”.
    4. What people hear … connecting verbally.  The words are important, as is the tome, inflection pace etc.  you want your audience to really hear your message … whether an audience of one or a larger group.
  4. Here are some suggestions from Maxwell about how you can improve your skills in this area.  If you can get your head around these “life rules” you will be a long way to becoming a great communicator …
    1. I will choose to spend time wit others.
    2. I will LISTEN my way to common ground.
    3. I will be interested enough in others to ask questions.
    4. I will think of others and look for ways to thank them.
    5. I will let people into my life.
    6. I will care about people.
    7. I will think of myself less so I can think of others more.
    8. I will move from my world to theirs.
  5. Some ideas on keeping communication simple …
    1. Talk to people, not above them
    2. Get to the point.
    3. Repeat your point .. several times.
    4. Say it clearly.
    5. Say less.
  6. Some thoughts on creating a good communication experience … of particular interest if presenting to a group.
    1. Take responsibility for your listeners.
    2. Communicate in their world.
    3. Capture their attention from the start.
    4. Activate your audience.
    5. Say it so it sticks.
    6. Be visual.
    7. Tell stories.

For me the lessons of this book are applicable when trying to improve networking skills, when talking with clients and co-workers … and can easily be translated into home life too.  Overall one of the better business books I have almost read … as I have mentioned many time before, I subscribe to Executive Book Summaries from Soundview.  I find their 8 page book summaries to be an excellent way to learn from a lot of business book with a limited amount of reading time invested.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective)VirtualRecruiter service?

———————————————————————————————-

If You Have Been Lucky in Your Life then Help Some Else Out.

I am a very lucky person.

I live in Ottawa, the capital of Canada.  Its a beautiful city with high employment, lots of green space, museums and galleries, beautiful neighbourhoods and low crime rates.  We are very close to ski hills (5 smaller ones within an hour of the city and Mont Tremblant just 2 hours away).  You can get to the US border in less than an hour and visit upper New York state, you can be in cottage country in minutes, you can party in Montreal in about 2 hours.

I am truly a very lucky person.

There is another side to this beautiful city that I live in.   Nineteen percent (19%) of children under the age of 6 live in poverty.  One in four families with single moms lives below the poverty line.  Somewhere close to 8,000 people need to use the shelters and about 9,000 teens are using drugs.  Twelve percent of our community live below the poverty line.

I am a lucky person.  I don’t have any of those problems … personally.

BUT, those are my neighbours.  They are the people I pass on the street, they might be related to people I know.  They are part of the community in which I live … that same community that has given me an opportunity to live a full and rewarding life to date.  So … it is my responsibility to help those people, and all the others in our community who need a hand.

This time of year is when the United Way runs its big campaign, and it is one of the charities that I personally believe is making a huge difference in my community.  I give money to the United Way, I give my time to the United Way and I am doing what I can to encourage everyone to get involved with helping our communities … and the United Way is just one of the great ways to do that.

I wrote a blog entry not too long ago about why we should all give back … check it out if you want a reminder.

I wrote another entry a month or so later about How Much to Give … which is worth a read if you are struggling with that thought.

Be a part of fixing those parts of our communities that are broken … the world will be a better place for it.

I am a lucky person … and I’m doing my bit to help others be lucky too.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Eagle finds GREAT Technology Resources for our clients across Canada!
————————————————————————————————

There is More to Sales than Selling

In sales the primary focus is always about “closing business” …rightfully so, because that is the lifeblood of any organization. Having said that, it is possible to be “brilliant” at “closing business” BUT still a liability to your company!

Sounds counter-intuitive, but here are some examples …

1.  If you sell something and the client doesn’t pay you … then you are worse off than not selling it at all.  Your company incurs all the costs associated with delivering, but does not get paid. 

How can that happen?

a.  You circumvent a client’s procurement process.
b.  The client is not solvent and you bypass your own company’s qualification process.
c.  You screw up the paperwork such that the client doesn’t get billed, (big clients lose paperwork too … if you send it to the wrong place).    Try billing a “system integrator” for work done on a project after the project is ended and all of the accounting is done!

2.  Your attention to detail is so bad that your company doesn’t make any money on the deal.

a.  You negotiate multiple levels of discount into a deal … resulting in zero margin at the top end!  Crazy as it sounds I have seen procurement try to get there!
b.  You mess up the legal paperwork and your company ends up paying out the equivalent of the margin in legal fees to protect themselves.
c.  You cause such a mess in paperwork that multiple senior managers and executives need to devote their time to cleaning up your mess.   

Don’t get me wrong … I’m a sales guy and I understand that sales people are not always the best at paperwork and process.  HOWEVER … your company has checks and balances in place for a reason and if you don’t “play by the rules” it will eventually bite you.

Some other things salespeople “forget” … or don’t place enough value on!

1.  Salespeople can’t do anything without the “delivery” side of the shop … treat them well.
2.  Developing relationships internally (the same way you do with clients) will go a long way to helping with many other potential issues.  Buy the donuts/flowers/chocolates for the support staff, proposals, accounting etc.
3.  Set aside time to get the “little things done” … at least you think they are little, but when you don’t get them done you cause a lot of grief for those around you.
4.   If you display the “big ego” when you are having success, people will take great delight in your fall … which is inevitable at some point.

So, the lesson here is … focus on the selling and the close BUT (a) bad deals are BAD deals (very profound) and (b) look after the people who help you to be successful!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Let Eagle find your next Finance and Accounting Professional anywhere in Canada?
——————————————————————————————————-

Bullying is Alive & Well … in Business

Respect is one of the most basic of expectations.  It’s a common refrain from people of all levels, all educational backgrounds, all cultural or ethnic backgrounds … we all want some respect.

Bullying is not tolerated in our school yards or our work places.  Society today abhors “the bully” … there really is nobody who believes that bullying is acceptable.

SO let me see … (a) the vast majority of people in  our westernized, civilized world want to be treated with respect, and (b) that same vast majority would denounce bullying.

WHY then is it considered acceptable to be demeaning in the business environment?  Why do people feel  that it is acceptable to treat suppliers or even colleagues, with disdain?

I am appalled at the number of times that people on the other end of a phone feel that they can scream and abuse my staff.   Whether they have a justified issue, or not, there is no call to become emotional with people who are doing the best job that they can … whether in my company, driving buses, serving in a store or any other employee who seems to suffer the wrath of “the client”.

One of the trends that I have experienced comes from the procurement world.  It is a tendency t o bully and abuse suppliers … which can be easy to do from the position of “power” held by the procurement world. 

The procurement profession has experienced a resurgence in recent years as their importance in containing costs for corporations has been, deservedly, recognized.  I also know and count among my friends some extremely competent and professional procurement people who manage to do their jobs while treating people with respect. 

However … there have been an escalating number of situations where I and my management team experience condescension and abuse.  Characteristics that reflect badly on their organisations and again I wonder WHY do they believe this is even necessary, as they already hold the power?

So whatever your job, whatever your rank … treat people with respect!  It is what you want from others and there is no reason why you can’t act that way yourself.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Eagle finds GREAT Technology people for our clients across Canada!

Ten Ideas for Success in Your New Job

I have been running my own company for fourteen years and before that, had a number of management roles.  Over that time I have seen lots of people come and go, and I thought it would be worth trying to capture some of the things I think a person should do in a new job/role in order to impress: 

  1. Be keen!  Sounds easy, but I’m not talking about superficial stuff here I am talking about a real desire to succeed, to do what it will take to conquer the role.
  2. Be organized.  Don’t expect everyone else to arrange your life for you … clear the decks of personal “stuff” that might get in the way of earning your position.
  3. Take notes.  Lots of them, all the time.  After a meeting send a synopsis of the meeting back to the person you met with and ensure what you heard is what they meant to say!
  4. Don’t be late in to work and don’t be the first out the door.  There is nothing quite so irksome to a business owner as the person with their coat on at 4:57pm!
  5. Dress for success.  Think about the impression you create … don’t dress like you are going on a date and don’t dress like you are doing the gardening.  Dress just a little smarter than you need to … and you don’t need to break the bank to do that.  Clean, pressed clothes, smart polished shoes, a tie, a jacket … little things can make a good impression.
  6. Ask lots of questions.  It is going to take a while before you know everything (OK … you will NEVER know everything!) so ask, ask ask!
  7. Don’t whine!  If you are at all unhappy then communicate that … but in a professional, well thought out manner.  Don’t knock other people, don’t knock the company, don’t knock the competition (get the message) … be constructive!
  8. Ask for feedback … and don’t take it personally!  Learn from it and get better.
  9. Get involved.  Join in with your co-workers, for lunch, for social activities (remembering these are “work social activities”) and any way you can to build a strong network at work.
  10. Invest in yourself!  Its is a funny thing but many professions expect people to invest in themselves (accountants need to take ongoing courses, trades people need to buy their own tools etc) but very often the thought of your average office worker investing in themself is alien.  Read, take courses, over time buy work clothes, buy a nice brief case etc etc

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?