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Chris LoCurto

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May 5, 2011

Seth Godin Gets It!

Not that you really needed me to tell you that. But in The $20,000 phone call Seth posted about one of my biggest pet peeves. The front line of a company that greets the public, but is so indifferent to their job, company, leader, etc. This is the person that when you engage them as the first impression of a company, they don’t go out of their way to take care of your needs, they treat you like you’re an inconvenience to them, or they engage you and let you know how bad their day is going.

It frustrates me for two reasons. First, how do you not understand that your job is being the public face of your company. Or maybe you do and you just don’t care. If it’s the latter, what are you DOING there?! Why would you waste another day making yourself miserable? Especially when there are people out there that would kill to have that job.

Move on and find something that makes you happy! Chances are that I’ve already made that person mad and they’re no longer reading this. So if you are still reading, you’re probably the leader…or some crazy stalker chick. Either way I’m flattered.

Second, what leader has that little grip on what’s actually happening with their customers? How is it possible to allow someone to affect your livelihood in such a negative way? Well, it’s called being busy. Unfortunately, too many times in leadership we get so busy with what we need to do that we completely miss out on what’s most important. Happy customer, continued business.

So what do you do if you’re the overworked, tired, stressed out, lazy leader? (Ok, lazy was more to see if you’re still awake.) You fire yourself! Or…try the following:

  • Be Your Customer – I can’t ever seem to stress this enough. Many times in EntreLeadership I discuss the importance of actually walking through your company as though you’re the customer. Not just calling a meeting and asking what people experience, get out there and surprise your team and yourself. It’s the only true way for you to get an understanding of what’s going on. Have family members, friends, or business colleagues that you trust, and that have never visited your operation, come and be a customer. As you do this, you’ll find both the issues, as well as the opportunities. Yep, it’s not just for finding problems anymore!
  • Train Your Leadership – You have to be working with your leaders on a regular basis to spot check your customer base. Constantly be getting updates as to what they’ve done to insure excellent customer service, as well as how they’re ensuring its success. Being as busy as you are, it’s a good chance that so is your leadership team. Therefore, what makes you think they’re on top of the front line? You have to inspect what you expect. And don’t just take their word for it, get out there with them and witness it. Too many leaders trust solely in their leadership team and forget that they are human.
  • Survey Your Customers – If you ask them, they will tell you. (Said in the voice from Field of Dreams.) Split your customer base up into small segments of long time customers, mid range, and brand spankin’, and ask them to tell you how well they are being treated. I know, I know…this seems like a ton of extra work. But let me ask you a question, how much more work is it to replace the customers you keep losing due to your team running them off?

As you do these, you may be really surprised at the results. Worst case, you find that you have a lot of areas that you need to work on. If so, you’ll find you have a lot of customer growth opportunities. And that my friends, is never a bad thing.

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  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.com Louise Thaxton

    Regarding “Be Your Customer” – For the past few months, I have been keeping the “Dentist Diaries – My Journey Through Pain for Better Customer Service” and have written 4 articles thus far for an industry publication.

    It started with an ORDEAL in the dentist chair – and then I remembered that it has been said that people dreaded obtaining a mortgage more than they did the DENTIST! So….I begin to write -and compare the two industries – and then specifically this particular dentist to MY own practice. I knew that there was a possibility I could be looking at his practice with a magnifying glass but looking at my own with a telescope.

    It really has been amazing journey as I have shown my team how we can do the EXACT thing for which we critized him (the evil dentist)! It has been an eye-opening experience to write about how customer service should be better in ANOTHER industry – and humbling to realize we can be guilty of the same practices. I believe we have grown as a team – even if it has been a PAINFUL JOURNEY for me!

    Oh well, the things we will do

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That is absolutely correct! We understand here that with money comes the feelings of guilt, shame, and cynicism. Therefore, with a mortgage from the big ole scary company, we are fearful of getting taken advantage of. Of not getting a great rate. Of someone owning us. The responsibility of being locked in for a huge portion of our lives. With the dentist, we only feel pain, and that’s only for a little while. :-)

  • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

    Okay, now my real comment (and you might want to also change “spakin'” to “spankin'”). I worked the front counter at a print shop and was often the only contact that customers had. They needed to know when their jobs would be ready, and no one, not the pressmen, the darkroom guy, the owner, would ever give me the information that I needed to give the customers. It was horrible – I wanted to give great service and had no support system. So, make sure you know what it is your counter and front office and phone people need in order to give good service.

  • Greg LeBre

    I had a front desk person lose her mother to a medical malpractice case. For way too long, whenever a patient would come into our office and ask how she was doing, she would tell them about what happened to her Mom. Needless to say this did nothing for my practice and I let it go on for a year watching my number crash through the floor. I wanted to be forgiving and understanding as she had been with the previous doctor for a couple years and with me for two more. She had done a good job until then, but it really killed the practice. I finally let her go, but unfortunately the staff who came after her didn’t work out so well either even though they had plenty of training, workshops and so on. I was busy in the back treating, not monitoring what they were doing, so we had numerous gaffs and glitches which killed the good reputation of this clinic. I wish I had better training and been better manager of the situation. Entreleadership would have been a good course for me and when I get a chance (read enough funds) I will be there. Thanks for your blog, keep up the good work.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Fantastic input Greg!!! Thanks for sharing your story!!

  • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

    You might want to change “effect” to “affect” (the verb instead of the noun) and “lively hood” to “livelihood” . . . then feel free to delete this so it isn’t embarrassing on your comments. I couldn’t find a way to contact you via email, otherwise I wouldn’t have put this in the comments section!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      hahaha…no, thanks for the help!!! :-)