The Death of Customer Service

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

It had been a long day at the office. All day long, day after day, it was always the same routine; and it was starting to get harder to pick himself back up again. There was no real reason why it broke – sometimes that’s what things do; they break. Tom was just reaching a crisis point. The competition for his job was becoming a bear to deal with, and neither his age nor experience was counting as much as they used to. When his mp3 player busted, for Tom, that was the last straw.

Granted, Tom had only purchased the mp3 player a week ago, and there was no reason for the player to die; it just did. Relying on the success of his storied career, he planned to walk right back into the store and have this problem fixed. Unfortunately, that was not in the cards. At least he wasn’t alone.

Tom’s friends joined him at the mall, though I’m sure it was mainly because he promised to take them out to dinner afterwards. The fun did not last long, though, because as soon as they entered the store, they had to deal with Ray. Ray was the customer service manager at the technology store. His job was to make sure that every customer got served, but he also had to ensure no easy points got scored against the company. In other words, Ray—definitely no saint—had no intention of allowing a return.

“I’m sorry, Tom. Before I can let you return this, I need to ask you a few questions. Has your mp3 player been roughed up in any way? Have you ever dropped it in water? You do know that automatically voids the warranty. If we find in any way that you caused the breakage of this machine, you’ll have more luck making money off the old 49′er gold rush than you will getting a replacement device.”

His buddies did the best they could to protect him from the coming onslaught, but Tom scrambled out of their way and into danger head-on. Ray’s complete blockage of an innocent return was inexcusable. There was no reason for Ray to be colder than steel; it was as if he were trying to pack on the punishment for no reason. After forty-five minutes of convincing, Ray finally relented and gave up the discount; mainly because he finally succumbed to the pressure being laid on him by Tom’s buddies. Being gang-tackled by a bunch of large guys isn’t fun for anyone, especially Ray.

In the end, Tom won the day and returned his mp3 player. I would say he is enjoying his new iPod, but I’m not allowed to use real product names. There is a lesson to be learned in all of this (by the way, if you haven’t picked up on all the football references by now, there are multiple lessons to learn), and that lesson is the value of customer service. When did it become okay to lie to a customer while signing up for satellite television? Or to jet off after a contract signing before anyone could ask questions? It certainly seems as though the big companies today truly do not care about your business. It may only be $39.95 this month they receive, but the lifetime value of that $39.95 per month client can be in the hundreds of thousands after a few years if nurtured properly (by way of longer-term contract, referrals, etc…).

The problem is that nobody cares anymore. What reason did Ray have to actually care about Tom’s problem? What motivation do the “Ray’s” in the world have for actually caring for the client experience? Are they receiving extra rewards for their level of “niceness”? Are they being compensated off the long-term value of the clients with whom they work? No. This is why customer service is dead. It wasn’t eaten by a lion.

If a customer service employee comes to work after having a bad start to their day, there is nothing to keep them from passing that on to other people; no motivation to listen to another complaining customer, or to take seriously an issue that they’ve heard about by thirty other people in the last hour. That is, unless the owner of that business cares – and cares enough to ensure that no bad days are allowed in the office – at least by way of ensuring that each employee is directly rewarded for their client care record. Maybe then customer service can be revived. Though I’m not holding my breath, miracles do happen. A few weeks ago a cowboy named Roger fulfilled every American male’s dream by making one simple decision.

Buccaneer.

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Gotta Love the Quick Fix | Business Problems and Easy Solutions

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

I vaguely remember an old movie starring Michael J. Fox and James Woods entitled “The Hard Way”. I couldn’t tell you what it was about or even why I saw it, other than I assume it has something to do with doing something in a more difficult fashion. I certainly prefer doing things the easy way, and that is one of the main reasons why I love duct tape.

“Iowa Chrome”, as many call it is a tape that can hold virtually anything together. Originally designed for duct work, its main purpose was to hold the metal ducts together against heat and sometimes even water. For a roll of tape, that’s pretty impressive! The mid-nineties witnessed the rise of duct tape pop-culture, a fashion statement that included designer duct tape suits. I once made a wallet out of the beloved material, though I regrettably never used it. It is just so simple – one roll of tape that can fix basically anything – who wouldn’t want to use it for everything?

Most people did. It became such a popular household tool, that sales have consistently risen over the years, and, according to a recent article about a spike in sales due to Hurricane Irene, proves that Americans will pretty much use duct tape for anything. Why?

According to Florence and the Machine, duct tape is simply the quick and easy solution to life’s problems, and causes situations when not readily available. “I got in a lot of trouble from my stepfather for using his duct tape, to tape up my school skirt. So the inside of my skirt was done up with electrical tape. I always find in daily life, it’s like, don’t you kind of make your own uniforms in a sense. It’s really weird.” Duct tape is simply the quick and easy solution to your fix-it needs. This is why Iowans use it so much.

What does this tell us about life? It tells us that we are all about finding the quick and easy fix to our problems. It’s been often said that necessity is the mother of invention and, since the industrial revolution, America has prided itself on its ability to figure out faster, easier solutions to problems. While Eli Whitney was brilliant in figuring out ways to make plantation life easier, the impacting result today is unquenchable desire for the next get rich quick scheme.

Hard work is considered a bad word in many parts of our culture. Even during the recession struggles of the past few years, I personally have witnessed multiple people choose laziness. This shows itself in the business world as well. While I am in no way saying that multi-level marketing is, in and of itself, a scam, it is often marketed as an easy way to get rich quick. “Discover the Hefty New Online Revenue Source To Get Rich And Generate At Least $31,650 Every Month On Complete Autopilot! Now You Can Learn The Step-By-Step Methods This 21-Year Old College Dropout Used To Make Money Fast And Generate His First $1,000,000! The Secret Is Now Revealed To Public” (http://21butrich.com/ – please do not visit this site, used only for “journalistic integrity”).

The truth is getting rich quick doesn’t work. “In an October 15, 2010 [USA Today] article, it was stated that documents of a MLM called Fortune reveal that 30 percent of its representatives make no money and that 54 percent of the remaining 70 percent only make $93 a month”.

Success and financial independence can certainly be earned, but it takes time and hard work. Whether or not you have decided to go the multi-level marketing route, it still takes work – lots of it. There are plenty of people out there helping others reach their vision, business coaches (Yay for shameless plugs!) being a good place to start. However, regardless of how many people you have helping you, there is no way to avoid hard work. If you want to strike it rich, my suggestion is to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and invent something better than duct tape. Or at least make a bad movie with an aging movie star.

Sales Explosion | Linda Panattoni of At Work Credits Pro/Vision Coaching with Placement Success

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uN9nui6JD-s#!

Linda has consistently been a solid producer for her non-profit organization, At Work, where she is a job placement specialist for people with developmental disabilities. She believes thoroughly in networking for her business, which is where we met her.

Linda became one of our first Academy clients, starting in the Networking 4 Introverts support group as well as taking the Time Management Workshop. Through those tools and the time she has spent with myself (Phil) and Paul, she has seen a significant increase in her time efficiency and marketing presentation, both of which have led to a major upswing in job placements.

Over the last few months Linda has gone absolutely gangbusters and all of us here at Pro/Vision Coaching are super excited for her and the continued success headed her way. We look forward to a continual relationship with her, as she has not only become a client, but a friend. Congrats, Linda!