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Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Feb
06

“Professors are reacting to the news, but they are also responding to calls from students for classes that deal with ethics. In recent years, students have said ethical issues, not finances, are a business’s most important responsibility, according to a survey of business school students worldwide conducted by a United Nations group and Macquarie University in Australia.”

This is a quote from a December NY Times article addressing the growing demand for teaching ethics in business schools.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World is pleased to announce the launch of a free case study library offering examples of “real life” business trust & ethics challenges and successes. The one-page “Trustlets” are designed to encourage discussion in both an academic and business setting and include instructions for facilitators. Written by members of the Trust Alliance, our Top Thought Leaders in Trust and academics from around the world, Trustlets will provide free and easy access to content that will be regularly updated as new cases are submitted. Each case will focus on a specific business challenge and covering a broad range of trust and ethics related topics. Both schools and businesses can feel free to access the library to meet the growing interest recently highlighted in the NY Times.

This latest initiative closely aligns with Trust Across America’s mission of helping organizations build trust. Trustlets provide a new tool that future business leaders can utilize to gain a “real life” understanding of how elevating trust & ethics are both a necessary (and expected) component of good business practices.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary. We welcome all our readers to join in our celebration as we roll out many new programs during the year ahead.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World is a program of Next Decade, Inc., an award-winning communications firm that has been unraveling and simplifying complex subjects for over 20 years. TAA-TAW helps organizations build trust through an abundance of resources and ever expanding tools, many offered at no cost. It also provides its proprietary FACTS(R) Framework to help public companies improve their trustworthy practices, and showcases individuals and organizations exhibiting high levels of trust and integrity.

For more information contact Barbara Brooks Kimmel at barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright (c) 2018, Next Decade, Inc.

 

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Dec
17

Photo above courtesy of www.ceotoceo.com

Every year about this time, the news “treats us” to the top corporate reputation failures, and 2017 is certainly no exception. I think it’s safe to say that the “buck stopped” on the CEO’s desk at Wells Fargo, United Airlines and Equifax, to name just a few leadership fails this year.

While bad news continues to sell, not all is gloom and doom. When I launched Trust Across America-Trust Around the World almost ten years ago, one of our objectives was to redirect attention to the “good.” Great corporate leaders are plentiful, but their stories often get buried amongst all the bad news.

The list below is not about philanthropy or CSR, but rather a long-term holistic embrace of trustworthy leadership and the resulting impact on ALL stakeholders, not just shareholders.

Ten Great CEO “Trust” Stories for 2017

(not in any rank order)

#1 David Reiling, CEO at Sunrise Banks talks about community enrichment, innovation and its impact on underserved consumers in banking.

#2 Basecamp CEO Jason Fried limits both meetings and work hours to ensure his employees lead well-balanced lives.

#3 Amy Hanson, CEO of Hanson Consulting encourages both teamwork and corporate transparency.

#4 Rose Marcario runs Patagonia and for her, conscious leadership has resulted in the quadrupling of profits.

#5 Fifty-year old Earth Friendly Products CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks pays her employees a minimum of $17.00 per hour.

#6 In an industry fraught with reputation disasters, Gary Kelly at Southwest Airlines not only puts customers first but insists on making flying enjoyable.

#7 Love, trust and commitment to excellence are how Mark Stefanski, CEO (for 30 years) of Third Federal Savings and Loan describes his values, while eighty percent of his associates are women.

#8 Mark Benioff at Salesforce is trying to close the gender and racial pay gap.

#9 Cathy Engelbert, Deloitte’s CEO has a 94% employee approval rating and still manages to balance work and family. (After all, family is certainly a stakeholder in the life of a CEO.)

#10 Chip Bergh, who took the helm at Levi Strauss in 2011, has created a long-term focused culture where employees feel safe to experiment… and it’s worked.

(And BTW: Chip and I share the same (Lafayette College alma mater.)

Whether male or female (count them on this list) trustworthy CEOs know that philanthropy and CSR only go so far in building high trust companies. Trustworthy CEOs practice what we call VIP Leadership (Values, Integrity & Promises kept). The CEOs mentioned on our 2017 list don’t just “talk” about stakeholder trust, they walk it. Community enrichment, focus on employees, conscious leadership, treatment of customers, protecting the environment. These are what make a great CEO.

Let’s celebrate these trustworthy leaders and the companies they run. Let’s work together to continue to build organizational trust in 2018.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award- winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2017 she was named a Fellow of the Governance & Accountability Institute, and in 2012 she was recognized as one of “25 Women who are Changing the World” by Good Business International. She holds a BA in International Affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch at the City University of NY.

For more information visit our website at www.trustacrossamerica.com or contact Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO and Cofounder

Barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

 

You may also join our Constant Contact mailing list for updates on our progress.

Purchase our books at this link

Copyright (c) 2017, Next Decade, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Aug
12

A customer service representative at a major health insurance company recently told me that HIPAA prevented him from disclosing whether an application submitted for one of my children had been received by the company. I sensed he had misinterpreted HIPAA whose purpose is to safeguard medical information, but as he insisted, he was just “following the rules.” I thanked him for his time, hung up, and called back to the same department. The second customer service rep gave me the information I needed without hesitation.

Whether an employee or a customer, I’ll bet you’ve heard these statements (excuses) or used them yourself more than once.

  • I need to get approval to do (or say) that.
  • I need to clear this through compliance.
  • I need permission before you can quote me.
  • I can’t help you without approval.
  • I’m just following the rules.
  • I apologize for your frustration.

Perhaps it’s time for business leaders to take a few minutes to understand the relationship between trust and approval.

Merriam-Webster provides the following definitions of approval:

Definition #1: The belief that something or someone is good or acceptable: a good opinion of someone or something. 

Definition #2:  Permission to do something: acceptance of an idea, action, plan, etc.

Focusing now on Definition #2, how many employees are constrained by “permission” in your organization? Have you considered how this impacts:

  • Speed of innovation
  • Decision-making
  • Employee engagement
  • Cost

Every time an employee needs approval to say or do something, the “approval” process impedes the outcome. In fact, the process may be so daunting, that employees choose to take the “easy” road, never creating anything new or suggesting a novel idea;  or as in the story above, checking with someone else when they clearly do not understand the company’s daunting “rules.”

As a business leader, have you considered how your customers are impacted by the “approval process” in your organization, or how the company’s actions:

  • Waste customer AND employee time
  • Create hard feelings
  • Lower customer retention
  • Damage reputation and elevate risk
  • Raise costs

As a business leader, what if your focus shifted from “approval” or rule enforcement to elevating stakeholder trust?

The most progressive and successful CEOs and their Boards have redirected their attention to crafting long-term vision and values statements and/or Codes of Conduct, not driven by legal and compliance, but by their two most important stakeholders, their employees and their customers. (The “credo” etched into the wall at corporate headquarters does not even begin to satisfy this requirement.) The entire staff, beginning with the Board and CEO, must vow to live their values every day, and ensure that employees understand that any “values violation” will result in immediate termination. Just imagine the innovation, speed of decision-making and empowerment that would result from this cultural transformation, not to mention the ultimate cost savings and impact on profitability.

During the editing process of our book Trust Inc. I reviewed the websites of many large public companies with the goal of including an Appendix brimming over with examples of well-crafted vision statements. This became a difficult and disappointing task as the handful identified could not be included in the book without “approval” from the respective company’s legal department, which would have meant a lengthy delay of the book’s publication. Instead, I created a “work around” by eliminating the company name. What a lost opportunity for all!

If organizations spent more time building values instead of layers of legal teams and compliance departments, the word “approval” would start to look more like Merriam-Webster’s first definition:

The belief that something or someone is good or acceptable: a good opinion of someone or something. 

And “approval” would be replaced with trust.

The most progressive business leaders have joined our Trust Alliance to ensure that they never miss an opportunity to learn about elevating organizational trust.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award- winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2017 she was named a Fellow of the Governance & Accountability Institute, and in 2012 she was recognized as one of “25 Women who are Changing the World” by Good Business International. She holds a BA in International Affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch at the City University of NY.

For more information visit our website at www.trustacrossamerica.com or contact Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO and Cofounder

Barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

You may also join our Constant Contact mailing list for updates on our progress.

Purchase our books at this link

Copyright 2017, Next Decade, Inc.

 

 

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Aug
19

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If your life is anything like mine, you spend waste at least an hour every week, sometimes more, on a customer service issue involving some third party vendor who claims to be in business to enhance your personal or professional life. Comcast, Verizon, First Energy and all health insurance providers top this list. I’m not sure why these companies still bother using the word “service.” CHR or Customer Hindrance Representative would be more accurate.

These calls usually begin by pressing lots of buttons, entering many codes and personal information, and then being put on hold due to “heavy call volume” while being told the “call is important to us.” Often, before the offshore CHR picks up, the call is disconnected, and the process must be repeated. The latest “innovation” is notification that the call is being recorded. For whose benefit is that? One can only guess.

Who remembers when customer service meant something? When customers came before profits, calls were answered by an actual living being who had at least an elementary command of the English language, and who hadn’t been handed a robotic script to answer questions? It wasn’t really that long ago. But apparently now companies think they can save redirect money by hiring minimum wage, offshore CHRs and then, in the name of “training” hand them a list of responses that were certainly written by the legal department, and from which they cannot deviate. Not only are these companies sending a message that they do not trust their employees, apparently they also have little regard for their customers. The term “I apologize” is #1 on this script and so companies have taken two sacred words and devalued them into meaningless drivel that is supposed to solve all customer issues, regardless of the problem.

Is it any wonder why consumers have so little regard for the companies with which they do are forced to do business? Is it any wonder why trust in business continues to decline? Is it any wonder that more than 70% of employees are disengaged at work?

Who decided this was a “better way?” How did this happen? Is there a solution?

I propose a simple experiment.

  • Put every manager on phone duty for one week. Heck, call it “The Golden Rule” CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program and kill two birds with one stone.
  • Send the entire legal department on vacation during this same time period.
  • Replace the script with these 7 words: Let me see what I can do.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO & Co-founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World . Established in 2008, the program’s mission is simply to provide tools and assistance to organizations interested in building stakeholder trust. Barbara runs the world’s largest organizational trust membership program. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Barbara is an award-winning communications executive and former consultant to McKinsey who has run her own firm, Next Decade, Inc., that has been unraveling and simplifying complex subjects for over twenty years. She holds a BA in International Affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch at the City University of NY.

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Feb
08

TAA_R2_EDIT-CS3

 

What would happen if the following prerecorded messages were made illegal?

Your call is important to us

Listen as our menu options have changed

We are experiencing unusually high call volume

And instead, a person with just a bit of education and who had a decent command of the English language, answered your call and said the following; “Hello Customer, I’m here to help you. This call will not end until you are satisfied with the outcome.”

How would the customer experience change? What would be the long-term impact on the business? As companies grow larger and their executives get greedier, they consciously choose to substitute good customer service to save money. Profitability wins while “efficiency” and customers lose. This is short-term thinking and it busts trust with those who keep the company in business.

Makes no sense? Of course not.

Think about the calls you have placed to your health insurer, cable company, phone provider, even your doctor’s office. Check out the salaries and bonuses of those at the top of these organizations and then ask yourself how much YOU matter. The business of doing business is to serve customers, not the other way around. Leaders who choose to make their customers a low priority are not worthy of your business.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She runs the world’s largest membership program for those interested in learning more, and is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Our 2015 Poster, 52 Weeks of Activities to Increase Organizational Trust is available to those who would like to support our work by making a small donation.

Copyright 2015, Next Decade, Inc.

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Oct
10

TAA_R2_EDIT-CS3

Cultivate trust by deepening the conversation. Patricia Aburdene

(from Trust Across America’s Weekly Reflections on Trust 2014)

Today we start a new blog feature called Organizational Trust this Week, beginning with the “Good” and ending with the “Ugly.” Each story contains a trust component and at least one lesson for organizations seeking to make trust a business imperative.

THE GOOD

Silos kill trust: Mary Barra is Breaking Down Silos to Build Trust at GM

Corporate DNA should not change when the CEO leaves: Pimco’s new CEO Doug Hodge will Remain True to the Corporate DNA 

Corporate transformations take time: Marissa Mayer remains passionate and focused on corporate transformation at Yahoo

Great leaders say these things to their employees: John Brandon discusses 17 things great leaders should say

How much influence should CEO’s have on their Boards? Interesting research from George Mason University’s Derek Horstmeyer Beyond Independence, CEO Influence and the Internal Operations of the Board

 

THE BAD

Trust is busted when fines are nothing more than a slap on the wrist: AT&T pays $105 million fine and gets to keep the rest

The big pharma industry is an ongoing trust disaster: Why exactly are prescription drugs so expensive? 

What to do when the CEO has an affair? Nothing. It doesn’t violate the company’s ethics and integrity policies!

Here’s what the same CEO has to say about company ethics.

 

THE UGLY

When it comes to violations of trust, it doesn’t get much worse than the unfolding scandal at Sayreville High School in NJ: Governor Chris Christie makes a statement. But the best part is what a former NFL trainer had to say. Read the full article.

 

OUR MOST POPULAR POST THIS WEEK

And finally, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s Most Popular Post on LinkedIn Pulse this week

 

Send us your stories for consideration in future editions of Organizational Trust this Week. Barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

 

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Nominations are now being accepted for Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s 5th annual Global Top Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business.

PrintND Trust CEO cvr 140602-ft914Trust front Cover

                                                                                               Coming Soon!

Should you wish to communicate directly with Barbara, drop her a note at Barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.

 

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Oct
05

 

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Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.Tony Allesandra

Who remembers Lily Tomlin as Ernestine the Telephone Operator from Saturday Night Live?

This past July I wrote a blog post called Sorry, Our Policy Doesn’t Permit It  that attracted lots of attention and followup notes. Today I have another customer service blunder courtesy of our local phone company.

Until this week I had not paid the bill for our office phone service for three months, simply because the online “Pay” button on the company website had disappeared and I had spent too much time looking for it.  The bill was now over $150.00, so it was time to make that dreaded customer service call. After pressing lots of buttons and codes, I was connected to “Jason” who quickly assessed the issue and advised me that I was connected to the wrong department.  He could not solve the “Pay” button problem but COULD take the payment over the phone, with a service charge of $4.00. When I told him I wasn’t interested in paying the service charge, but wanted to offer a suggestion, his response was simply “I don’t want to hear your suggestion as this call is being recorded. All I want to do now is transfer the call.” I told him that the recording of the call was all the more reason for me to make the suggestion, hoping that maybe someone would actually hear it! Every “Jason” should be given an $8.00/day discretionary allowance to accept a phone payment without the service charge. After all, what company wants to forego $150.00 to save $4.00?

Why is it so difficult for companies to provide excellent customer service? Is it poor leadership, low priority, too many policies, poor training, low pay, or all of the above? Why should I believe that this company cares about me as a customer? Why should I want to continue to do business with them? Why should I even care when apparently they don’t?

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Nominations are now being accepted for Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s 5th annual Global Top Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business.

PrintND Trust CEO cvr 140602-ft914Trust front Cover

                                                                                               Coming Soon!

Should you wish to communicate directly with Barbara, drop her a note at Barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.

 

 

 

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Jul
30

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Have you ever considered the inverse relationship between product warranties and trust? I have.

According to my friends at Merriam-Webster a warranty is: a written statement that promises the good condition of a product and states that the maker is responsible for repairing or replacing the product usually for a certain period of time after its purchase. 

The catch phrase is “a certain period of time.”

As consumers, how often have we heard the following:

  1. It’s not covered under warranty.
  2. Sorry, your warranty expired last week.
  3. Do you have a copy of your warranty?
  4. Do you know the length of your warranty?
  5. Did you send in the warranty?

In essence the manufacturer is setting a time limit on its own reputation and building a wall of mistrust between itself and its customers. I’m not suggesting that warranties should not exist. I suppose there are times when they are needed, although I can’t think of any offhand.

If you are interested in reading about the history of the warranty including such events as the 1975 Magnuson-Moss FTC Warranty Improvement Act, express vs. written, repair and replace, breach of warranty, disclaimers and limitation and dozens of other “laws” please click here. (Thank you Paul E. Wojcicki for incorporating all this information in one neat Slideshare.) Imagine how many lawyers it took to write the warranty rules and how many are needed to enforce them! Let’s not even think about the gross annual costs to society of warranty litigation.

How about instead, if companies just “did the right thing?”

Sometimes they do.

Yesterday I called Kohler to inquire about replacing a broken head on my kitchen faucet. The call wait time was very short, an English-speaking customer service rep answered, some basic information was collected (name, address, phone) and the matter was resolved in under 5 minutes. The outcome: The part is being replaced at no charge. There was little discussion of warranties. The closest was the question as to when the item was purchased. I told the CSR I had no idea, as I could not remember when we had our kitchen remodeled.

So hat’s off to Kohler for standing behind their product and “doing what is right” instead of only “what is legal.” And the way they do business is clearly not by accident. Founded in 1873, Kohler is a family-owned business, and a privately held company. You can read their mission statement here. Their employees seem happy and they have won many awards. The CEO, Herbert Kohler, Jr. is the founder’s grandson. And I’ll bet you didn’t know that the company owns several golf courses and an arts center in Wisconsin! Do you think culture and values are high on the priority list of this company? Are you surprised they have been in business for so long? I’m not. It seems they try to “do right” by all their stakeholders. I doubt the company is perfect, but they certainly set high standards.

Kohler has built trust with this consumer, and based on the success of the company, with many others as well. Can you guess who will get my business next time I need a new fixture?

Thank you Kohler. You are truly a role model for trustworthy business.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

PrintND Trust CEO cvr 140602-ft

Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.

 

Have a question? Feel free to contact me: barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jul
15

TAA_R2_EDIT-CS3

 

We’ve all heard them, those annoying robot recordings and canned phrases that companies and their customer service “professionals”  have adopted because it’s what “policy” dictates. I would love a seat at those policy meeting tables to remind management that without customers, business ceases to exist.

Here’s a short list of my favorite first hand trust-busters and the way my brain translates them:

CSR: “I understand how you feel”

ME: No you don’t. You think that by saying “I understand how you feel” that I feel better, but actually you haven’t resolved the problem so I feel worse.

CSR: Sorry, but this is our policy.

ME: You’re not sorry at all. You’re giving me a stock answer because that’s all your company permits you to say.

CSR: “I’m doing the best I can.”

ME: Well then I feel sorry for YOU because you’ve set your own bar very low.

CSR: Hobbily gobbily gobeldy gook. (The CSR is not a native English speaker and I can’t understand a thing they are saying.)

ME: This company doesn’t care enough about it’s customers to ensure that their reps speak English well enough to be understood.

CSR: “We can’t give you a time when we will be there.”

ME: You don’t value my time so customer service is clearly not a priority.

CSR: Our computers are very slow today.

ME: Funny, every time I call you, you tell me the same story. Please suggest to management that the computers be fixed.

And the best one:

CSR: You’re not the first one to call and complain about this.

ME: Then let me calculate the gross time wasted by all the callers instead of just my call. And now that I have finished my calculations, I  feel better knowing that you are letting all your customers down and wasting all their time, not just mine.

And I can’t help but recall of all those times I’ve dialed, listened to the recording, entered  the info and account numbers, sat on hold and then the CSR finally picks up… and the call is disconnected.

Certain kinds of companies are famous for poor customer service. Health insurers, utility and cable companies and airlines come to mind first. Also, all the local businesses that deliver appliances and the like. The remainder of companies, get it “right” more often than wrong, but it’s probably because we never need to call them.  And in some cases like utilities, we have no choice but to do business with these companies, and they know it. We are a captive audience.

What this tells me is that the “right” leaders are absent at the policy meetings (probably because they are too busy putting out fires.) The company is not customer focused and therefore not trustworthy. Management is more concerned with lining their own pocketbooks than in meeting the needs of all their stakeholders, including their customers. Their focus is short-term and they are fooling no one but themselves, and the lack of customer focus is usually indicative of more serious underlying and systemic problems, starting with untrustworthy leaders. As a consumer, I avoid these companies whenever I can. We all have choices (most of the time). Whenever possible, choose to give your business to those who don’t train their CSR’s to give stock answers to real concerns, and who apparently have no respect for the people who ultimately pay their salaries, their customers.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

PrintND Trust CEO cvr 140602-ft

Drop her a note at Barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.

 

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