Now Dat’s Customer Service

This was a sign that talks to a real customer service orientation:


“Suppose we refund your money.


Send you another one without charge.


Close the store.


And have the manager shot…


Would that be satisfactory?”


Actually no, that’s not good enough!


While you’re at it…


Bow down and kiss my filthy feet.


Flagellate yourself with 40 lashes using a wet noodle. 


Give me a complimentary supply of whatever the crap is I was buying for life.


And after you shoot the manager, hang him from the tallest tree for everyone to get the message.  LOL


Now dat’s customer service!  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Give Me That Fridge Handle

So we got a new stainless refrigerator. 


A cause for celebration!


It get’s delivered and afterwards, I notice that the door handles are installed unevenly. 


I call the store and they agree to send their guys out to us again to fix it. 


Well, the handles were on the wrong doors and they switch it so that now they look even, but in the process, they break the handle on one of the doors so that only the top is attached to the door and the bottom is blowing in the wind (and ready to scratch the door). 


With this second installation debacle, I call the store again and not a happy camper!


Three calls later, the store agrees for me to come over and literally take the handle of the fridge on the showroom floor to replace my broken one–which I promptly did!


Third times the charm…no more broken door handle. 


As for the one in the store, let’s just say you can only open the left door for now.  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting The Biggest Bang For The Buck

So I had the opportunity to sit in on a colleague teaching a class in Performance Improvement. 


One tool that I really liked from the class was the Impact-Effort Matrix. 


To determine project worth doing, the matrix has the:


Impacts (Vertical) – Improved customer satisfaction, quality, delivery time, etc.


Effort (Horizontal) – Money, Time, etc. 


The best bang for the buck are the projects in upper left (“Quick Wins”) that have a high impact or return for not a lot of effort. 


In contract, the projects that are the least desirable are in the lower right (“Thankless Tasks”) that have a low impact or return but come at a high cost or lot of effort. 


This is simple to do and understand and yet really helps to prioritize projects and find the best choices among them. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Project Management – The Best Day

So a colleague said something interesting to me about project management:

The best day of project management is usually the first day, but I want to show you that the best day is really the last day of the project.

And as I thought about this, I sort of starting laughing to myself and thinking, you know what, I think this guy has something here. 


– Day 1 of a project, everyone is usually all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. 


We’re embarking on an adventure together to build something new for the organization and our customers. 


We’re going to team up and everyone will contribute.


And out of the project sausage maker–poof!–like magic comes a new system or product. 


– But as we all know, things don’t always go so smoothly.


With some projects, the pretty smiley faces of day 1 may quickly turn to ugly frown faces.


There is analysis paralysis, scope creep, conflicting or changing priorities, resource issues, technical challenges, or the sausage just doesn’t come our right–oh sh*t!


Thus, many  projects end up going bust in terms of cost, schedule, or performance. 


That is, they end up costing too much, being delivered behind schedule, or just not meeting the performance requirements. 


You have some projects that never even truly get off the ground, have multiple resets, or get dumbed-down or even cancelled altogether along the way. 


So by the time you reach the last day of the project, many people seem like they’ve been through the project ringer. 


I’m sure that I’ve heard more than one project manager say:

Just take me out back and shoot me!


So when this colleague said that he wants the best day of the project to be the last–in terms of satisfaction with the project (not that that pain was finally over!)–I really appreciated this as an awesome goal. 


We should all look to the last day of our projects as the best–one where we can look back and say: 

Wow, great job everyone!  We really got something great done here–and we did it right!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Say YES!

Really liked this sign on my colleague’s desk.


It says:

Start With Yes


I remember an old boss who used to say:

Don’t make me get through no to get to yes. 


The idea as another colleague put it is to:

Keep a smile on your face and your focus on the customer; everything else takes care of itself. 


Basically, it’s all our jobs to make sure that the customer’s needs are being met. 


That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to differentiate between requirements and desirements or that we need to deliver the yacht in the first go around.


As a 4th colleague put it:

The customer is in the water. They want the yacht. But I can give them a boat. It gets them to where they want to go, and they no longer need to swim. We can work our way up to a yacht.


Good analogy analogy and good things to keep in mind for customer service excellence! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

“Shock And Awe” Project Management

So this is a new type of project management and it can be very effective. 


It’s called (my name): 

Shock and Awe Project Management


This technique is similar to the military doctrine of shock and awe that uses speed and overwhelming power to dominate the battlefield and vanquish the enemy.


In project management too, there are often naysayers, Debbie Downers, resisters, excuse makers, and people that lay down obstacle after obstacle to progress. 


This invariably derails projects and causes them to fall behind schedule, go over budget, experience scope creep, not meet the genuine user requirements, and ultimately fail!


However, if you manage the project with “shock and awe” and set aggressive timelines, assign substantial and very good resources, and move the project full speed ahead, then you can similarly create a momentum to the project that enables it to overcome the “enemies of the progress” (i.e. those that don’t really want it to succeed or are too busying covering their own a*ses).


This approach is not advocating speed at the expense of quality nor is it calling for cutting corners or riding roughshod over people, but rather to the contrary, it calls for techniques similar to the military of moving with absolute focus, determination, efficiency, collaboration, synchronization, and overwhelming “project power” to ensure it’s success. 

Projects, like battles, can be “won” by putting the right resources on the field and moving them to get quick wins in rapid succession (where the enemies of progress don’t stand a real fight) so that the projects get not only completed on time and within budget, but most importantly to real stakeholder satisfaction and the organization’s success. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to AlexVan)

Customer Service No-Nos

From No To Yes.jpeg

So if you’re in customer service…


The answer is easy. 


It’s always got to be YES. 


– Any less is a big No-No!


The customer’s needs are paramount.


Their satisfaction is your goal. 


So your job is to figure out how to get from no to yes!


You’ve got to problem-solve and figure it out. 


And it’s not enough to come up with any old solution.


When I said to my colleagues the other day:

“There’s a solution to every problem.”


Someone joked and answered back:

“It’s just that the customer may not like it.”


And I responded:

“Well then that’s not the solution you are looking for!”

You’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get to a legitimate yes. 


Of course, it can difficult, especially when at times you deal with some challenging customers and problems.


But listen, this is the customer service field and in the end, the customer experience should be WOW fantastic!


It’s the customer that is depending on you to come through for them and their mission. 


Doing your job isn’t just a matter of reading off of some cue card or playbook. 


This is real life with real consequences. 


If you can deliver, the customer will be able to do their jobs, and they may even sing your wildest praises–wouldn’t that be rewarding? 


Customer service means getting to YES from the earliest possible moment in the interaction, meaning it, and legitimately delivering on it–no other questions asked.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)