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CMI Blog

Is You Business Customer-Centric?

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by admin

Think marketing and customer service are two completely separate departments? Think again. The two departments are intertwined: marketing will draw the customers in, and the customer service will extend the marketing efforts.

Customer service is the reason customers will come back, and it is the underlying value that will drive your business. But how do you achieve a quality customer service that will drive customer retention? By keeping your message customer centric.

Below are a couple of tips to becoming a customer-centric company:

      • Focus on the customers: You can’t be customer-centric without placing your customers at the center of your focus. Understand your customers, and their specific needs and wants. Everyone likes to buy, but no one likes to be sold to. If you are marketing what they need or want, you won’t have to push the sale.
      • Sell the experience, not the method behind the experience: Customers are thinking one thing when it comes to buying a product or service, “What’s in it for me?” Any other information you supply can jeopardize your sale and customer service experience. Don’t bog down customers with the method behind the brand, product or service. Instead focus on the benefits they will enjoy. Share details about the product or service’s benefits, and less about the details behind those benefits.

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Hire for Character

Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by admin

Quality customer service starts with your employees. They are the face of your company, and it is their skills that will give brand your company as a whole. As such, when hiring, you need to look not only at the competency of the potential employee, but at what kind of character they will bring to the table, and what kind of first impression they will give to customers. 

    While conducting interviews, make sure to assess not only their resume and qualifications, but also the following key characteristics:

    • People person: You can train skills, but what you can’t train someone to do is to like people. This is an important quality to look for, but especially for employees who will be dealing directly with customers. Customers want to be treated well, and a people person is more apt to do so.
    • Humility: Those who see themselves as the smartest person in the room generally don’t work well on a team or with customers. The last thing you want to happen is for employees to talk down to customers and/or come off rude. You want employees that can get the job done in a pleasant, and humble manner.
    • Team player: If an employee can’t work as part of a team and put value into the considerations and needs of their co-workers, is not likely to do so for your customers. A team that doesn’t work together well won’t serve together well.

Racial Tensions Surge After Missouri Shooting

Posted on: September 26th, 2014 by admin

It has been several days of protesting in Ferguson, Missouri after the police involved shooting that left a young man dead. This incident and the subsequent outcry of protests needs to make us step back and consider why we as a country see these events through race colored glasses.

Before jumping to conclusions about the protesting and rioting going on, we need to look at the big picture, and get all of the facts. Who is rioting? How many? How widespread is the rioting? Is that the majority? Are there those that are jumping on the bandwagon? Is all of the rioting related to the central issue?

In addition to gathering all of the facts, we need to look at the overall cultural pattern. Is this case an isolated incident, or is it part of an ongoing patter? To fully evaluate and understand the response and backlash currently happening, we have to look at a bigger overall pattern. When we also take into consideration past cases like Trayvon Martin and even back to O.J. Simpson, we see there is still something in these cases that is sensitive to a lot of people, and we see these issues are polarized along racial lines.

When it comes to diversity and sensitivity, our views and how we respond are shaped by our backgrounds, our past experiences, and more. It is clear with the re-appearance of this issue time and time again, that we still have so many issues that just have not been dealt with as a country. Yes, we have come a long way, but there is still work to be done.

Royalyn Reid on TV on August 20th, 2014 from CMI – videos on Vimeo.

Don’t Make These Top Customer Service Complaints:

Posted on: July 18th, 2014 by admin

You may have the best product or offer the best service, but if your customer service isn’t delivering, your customers won’t care. Customers look for the best overall experience, and will pay additional to do business with a company that is friendly, helpful and easy to work with.
Below are some of the top customer complaints to keep in mind as you build your customer service department:

  • Automated messages: Nothing replaces talking to a real person who can respond in real-time. A lot of companies have automated messages to filter the calls to the correct department or associated, but this can be a big frustration to customers. Having to listen to a menu of options is time consuming, and sometimes there isn’t an option available for what the customer called in for.
  • Long hold times/multiple transfers: While being on hold isn’t desirable, most people understand a certain length of hold time. But keep your customers waiting too long, and they will be frustrated before you even start to assist them. Additionally, transferring the customer to multiple different employees can be as equally frustrating. Make your customer repeat their problem multiple times to multiple people, and you have a recipe for disaster.
  • Unknowledgeable employees: When customers call in for help, they are seeking help from the “experts.” Don’t put a new employee on the customer service team on their first week. Make sure your employees are educated and know how to help or where to get help, otherwise you are wasting your customers time, and losing business.
  • Rudeness: Want to lose business fast? Be rude to your customers. Nothing is more of a turn off for customers than having a rude interaction with a business owner or employees. A small customer complaint can blow up into a major issue with little more than a bad attitude.

Communication: The Key to Good Customer Service

Posted on: May 21st, 2014 by admin

Customers love to buy, but they don’t like to be sold to. So, how do you sell without over-selling? Improve your communication.

Below are some communication tips to keep in mind:

Open up a dialogue with your customers: Don’t just talk to your customers; make sure you LISTEN to them. Tune in on complaints, suggestions, and even comments and interactions on social media. There are so many avenues for listening to your customers, and there is no excuse for not using them.

Don’t make assumptions: Assuming you know what a customer or employee is going to say, and interrupting them with a response is poor customer service, and is a sign of bad listening skills. Doing so can create frustration, and take longer for the customer’s need to be communicated and solved.

Even if you think you know what is being asked because you’ve heard the same story from a hundred other customers, wait it out and listen to everything. This situation may be different, and require a different response. Not making assumptions will help you stay present in the moment, and eliminate opportunities for misunderstandings.

Encourage curiosity: Cultivate a culture where customers and employees alike feel encouraged to ask questions. Encourage questions, and make it known that there is no such thing as a stupid question. The more questions asked the fewer assumptions that will be made both on the part of customers and employees.

Be attentive: Take the time to actively listen to customers. Ask yourself if you are fully engaged in the conversation or if you are trying to multitask. Stop whatever you are working on, and look your customer in the eyes. You can’t help your customers adequately if you are not focused on helping them.

Royalyn Reid of the CMI Team Honored at WBENC Summit and Salute

Posted on: April 17th, 2014 by admin

The 2014 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Summit and Salute in New Orleans was three day event featuring a variety of workshops, networking receptions, committee meetings, panel discussions.

At the conclusion of the event, Royalyn Reid of the CMI Team was honored along with thirteen other exemplary women with the nation’s premier award for excellence among Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) bestowed by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

Below are some highlight moments of the awards gala dinner:

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Legacy pic at reception before the award dinner: Royalyn’s daughter Madisen, Royalyn, Royalyn’s mom (Billye Rayes)

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Selfie taken by Roaylyn’s daughter (Madisen) and Roaylyn with Nettie (Debbie’s daughter) and Debbie Hurst, President of the Women’s Business Council Southwest (WBCS).

Royalyn is the National Honoree representing the WBCS Region.

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Debbie Hurst, president of Women’s Business Council Southwest(WBCS) and Pam Eason, President of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

Debbie receives Royalyn’s award from Pam to present to her.

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Benita Fortner, WBENC Chairman of the Board and Director of Supplier Diversity at Raytheon; Debbie Hurst, president of Women’s Business Council Southwest(WBCS); Royalyn and Pam Eason (WBENC President)

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Picture of the 14 WBE Stars and their Regional Presidents (Debbie behind Royalyn), Benita Fortner, WBENC Chairman of the Board and Director of Supplier Diversity at Raytheon, and Pam Eason (WBENC President)

 

 

Photos by Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

Posted on: April 3rd, 2014 by admin

This year’s Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) was held in New Orleans from March 18-20. Royalyn Reid of The CMI Team, was honored at the awards gala during the last evening of the three day event with the nation’s premier award for excellence among Women’s Business Enterprises.
Check out the following blogs and news articles:

WBE USA Magazine Article: Click here to read the full magazine and see the other thirteen WBE Stars.

WBENC_blog1

WBENC Star Congrats: Click here to see all of the 2014 WBE Stars.

WBENC_blog2

 

Women’s Business Council Southwest Blog: Click here to read more about the Summit and Salute, and Royalyn’s award.

Great Customer Experiences Are Stress Free

Posted on: March 26th, 2014 by admin

Great customer experiences are stress free, but creating that stress free environment can be tricky. Below are some tips to cultivate a stress free environment for both employees and customers alike:

  • Focus on employee training: When employees are properly trained, they do their job well and efficiently. Knowing the protocols, how to work all necessary technology, what superiors to get involved and when, and what to do in each situation gives the employees the confidence to do their job, and the customers confidence in the employees. Customers want to deal with experts, and when employees act like experts, the stress levels of all involved parties is minimized.
  • Emphasize positive attitudes: Positivity feeds off of positivity. If employees are upbeat, enjoy their job, and are happy to be there, customers can tell. A smile and kind gesture can go a long way, and can make an average buying experience, a pleasant one.
  • Empower your employees: It’s called situational power. If employees are given the flexibility to go the extra mile for the customer without having to check with management, customers will be satisfied faster. Whether that is being able to honor a coupon, add any additional discounts, or provide an extra service, if employees are given the power to make decisions on their own, all parties benefit.
  • Encourage the use of an apology: Even if the customer is at fault, a meaningful apology can diffuse a tense customer quickly. Instead of trying to play the blame game, encourage your employees to apologize quickly, and move on to solving the problem.
  • Offer compensation for mistakes made: For customers that disgruntled customers that feel cheated for mistakes made, offer some compensation for their time and inconvenience. If you use this opportunity to not only fix the issue, but to go above and beyond what is expected, you can turn a bad customer service experience into a positive one.

Do Happy Employees Mean Happy Customers?

Posted on: March 19th, 2014 by admin

According to the American Customer Service Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the following large corporations ranked in the top ten worst customer service providers.

 

10. Winn-Dixie

9. Supervalu Inc.

8. Gap, Inc.

7. Best Buy Co., Inc.

6. Safeway Inc.

5. Macy’s, Inc.

4. Walgreens Company

3. CVS Caremark Corporation

2. Rite Aid Corporation

1. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

 

When taking a closer look at each of the companies’ score, unhappy employees seems to be a common theme. Why is this and what can you do to avoid falling into the same trap? Below are some tips:

  • Pay your employees well: These large retail stores often times pay their employees low wages, and offer few or poor benefits. Paying your employees a little more can go a long way, and if you don’t have the means to pay more, make sure you make it up to your employees in some way by providing incentives or rewards to work towards.
  • Value your employees: If you want your employees to show respect and kindness to your customers, they must see that attitude from you, the boss, or from their direct management. A customer service friendly culture starts with the infrastructure of the company. If your employees feel valued, that feeling will trickle down to your customers.
  • Prepare your employees: If employees are not adequately prepared, they will be nervous and make mistakes when dealing with customers, and this can lead to frustration for both the employees and the customers they are serving. If employees know how to act and handle each situation, their overall performance will be better, and customers will notice.
  • Give your employees the benefit of the doubt: There will always be disgruntled customers, and sometimes “the customer is always right” mind frame can take a toll on your employees. Even if you expect your employees to follow this rule, as the employer, you need to instill trust in your employees. If your employees have confidence that they will not be fired at the first sign of customer dissatisfaction, they will be more capable of solving customer problems.

Customer Service Olympics

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by admin

Unlike the Olympics that only come around every four years, the customer service Olympics occurs every day, and businesses have more opportunity to capture the gold. While watching the winter Olympics this year, there are several key learning objectives that can be applied to our businesses.

  • Team work: Even in the sporting events that are individual athlete competitions, there is a team behind each athlete. Whether that is a team of coaches, family, friends or sponsors, the Olympian competing did not get to the Olympics by themselves. Likewise, one person can’t be solely responsible for a company’s customer service. It takes teamwork, a common goal, and the dedication of all team members.
  • Practice: Practice makes perfect is a true phrase that applies to both athletes and business alike. An Olympian spends hours, days, weeks, and years preparing for competition, and businesses can follow suit. Things like employee training in both people skills and technical skills can help tailor the company’s overall culture, and ensure that the customer experience is at its best.
  • Goals: An Olympian’s dream of competing on the world stage was not a mere coincidence; it was a long term goal that they visualized for quite some time. Likewise, good customer service does not just happen by accident; it is the result of articulate planning and goal setting. Companies that can visualize and anticipate the needs of their customers, and plan accordingly to meet those needs, are one step closer to achieving the customer service gold!
  • Competition: Athletes practice and practice in order to perform well in competition. Through their training, they know what their strengths are, and they know how to take advantage of them. Their performance will be a reflection of their preparation. Similarly, a business that practices and trains for customer service success should perform well. Know what sets your business apart, and use it to your advantage.

When an athlete stands on the podium to receive their medal, they are reaping the rewards of their hard work and dedication. What are you doing to win the race? Are you putting forth the effort worthy of a customer service gold medal?