Archive

Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Aug
04

 

A simple message for the C-Suite…

Rules, regulations and policies are not substitutes for trust, ethics or corporate responsibility.

I would like to pose one question to each of the following five CEOs whose organizations hijacked my time this week:

JP Morgan Chase and Jamie Dimon: Do you think your policy of cancelling a widow’s credit card within two weeks of the death of their spouse, and with no notice, is the “right thing” to do simply because they are not the “primary?” It hasn’t been too long since you lost your parents. What if it was your mother who had been embarrassed at CVS over an $8.00 purchase on her Chase credit card?

Comcast and Brian Roberts: If I must have a landline for Triple Play, might you have an ethical responsibility to find a way to stop the dozens of robocalls that plague me every day? Surely, the expense of doing so would be far less than the “intangible” customer loyalty that could be quickly built.

Wolverine and Blake Krueger: Do you want to build or bust trust with your customers?  Your reps are demanding that I first buy a new pair of Sperrys online, cut the tongues out of my existing loafers, send you a picture, and then your company will reimburse me for YOUR shoes that fell apart 4 weeks after purchasing them. Why would I EVER buy another pair of shoes from you again?

State Farm and Michael Tipsord: When did you decide that cutting corners in hiring and training, (and probably hourly wages) in your claims department was “good” ethics, and do they get a bonus for making stuff up?

Blue Cross of NJ and Kevin Conlin (who recently replaced Robert Marino:) Do you care that your customers are miserable because you get so few things right? The most recent example being when you denied coverage because “another policy was in place” even though a termination letter was provided to you. A simple check of your internal records would have revealed that the “old” policy was also with YOUR company. Now the loyal customer has NO coverage due to your internal snafu.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World and its Trust Alliance has recently published a set of universal Principles called TAP. One of the 12 principles is Purpose:

We engage our stakeholders to build shared purpose – we avoid short term “wins” that undermine future success.

You can read more about TAP in the latest issue of TRUST! Magazine.

After 10+ years of studying organizational trust, one thing is for certain. Trust and ethics are a “top-down” strategy. Without buy-in from the CEO, watch out below and “buyer beware.” The silver lining…not all companies (or their leaders) are created equal. Some have proactively embraced elevating stakeholder trust and ethics, and they are reaping the long-term rewards.

Who do you think will be the first of the five CEOs to publicly respond? Do you have any examples (good or bad) that you would like to add to this list?

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. A former consultant to McKinsey and many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, Barbara also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance, and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 she was named one of “25 Women who are Changing the World” by Good Business International, and in 2017 she became a Fellow of the Governance & Accountability Institute. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. For more information contact barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright (c) 2018, Next Decade, Inc.

Photo Attribution: Alpha Stock Images – alphastockimages.com/

 

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Apr
04

 

This story starts with an increase of 30% on our monthly business phone bill for no apparent reason, and with no explanation. I set aside five minutes to call the company since this particular landline exists primarily to accommodate unsolicited robocalls, and not much more. Eighteen minutes later, I was still on the call.

Why?

  • First 2 minutes: A customer service telephone number is not displayed on Page 1 of the bill. (A number is buried on Page 4 as I was later told by Rep #2). Thank goodness for Google who popped the number right up on my screen.
  • Next 5 minutes: Listening to a recorded message and series of prompts with no way to bypass and speak directly to a rep.
  • Next 5 minutes: Speaking to Rep #1 who advised that our “special” rate had expired and she could not extend it. When I suggested that I might discontinue the service, she asked if she should connect me to the “disconnect department.” I suggested that perhaps there was an alternative and…
  • Final 6 minutes: Speaking to Rep #2 in the “loyalty department” who reinstated the discount, but “just for 12 months.”

I don’t think I need to name all the ways this company is busting trust and loyalty under the heading of “customer service” but I did share a few thoughts with #2. She had a rebuttal for every suggestion yet asked me to stay on the line for a customer service survey.

It’s hard to believe that ANY organization still operates in this manner, yet so many do.

Approximately 50,000 employees currently work for this public company. In September 2014, the stock traded at $41.00. Today that same stock can be purchased for $16.75. Are you surprised? I’m not.

PS- The CEO, who has been in this role for over 25 years, recently announced his early retirement.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. A former consultant to McKinsey & Company, 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@trustacrossamerica.com

Follow us on Twitter @BarbaraKimmel and @TapIntoTrust

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

Copyright (c) 2018, Next Decade, Inc.

 

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Feb
27

Photo courtesy of tenor.com

The other day I was speaking with someone who is not familiar with my professional work. He told me that his company is asking all employees to complete an anonymous “satisfaction” survey, and now blasting email reminders to those who have not yet filled out the online questionnaire. I asked what was holding him back. His response… “I doubt it’s anonymous and I will NOT be honest for fear of losing my job. My colleagues are also nervous about how to handle this.”

I know a bit about this company since two generations of my family have used their services and watched their evolution from a “one man shop” in the 1960s. At one time my dad and the founder of the company used to “talk shop” in our garage. Fast-forward and the company is now a 50+ year-old family business in residential and commercial services with well over 100 employees. They have been acquiring competitors at a fast pace and had their “best year” in 2017. The founder is now retired and management (primarily family and family of family) has all worked their way up through the trenches.

From my customer perspective:

  • Main office customer service is declining, with an emphasis on charges, not service
  • The skill level of technicians is no longer consistent
  • Up selling during service visits is increasing
  • Prices have skyrocketed

Back to my conversation with the employee… I asked whether his manager had ever attempted to obtain the same “survey” information through any other means like face-to-face discussions, team conversations, workshops or professional development? He laughed and replied that such actions would surely result in fistfights, so “No.”

I pressed further. Why would fights break out? He responded with a list of reasons:

  1. Management plays favorites
  2. Demands on employees are unrealistic and uneven
  3. Politics runs rampant
  4. Lots of jerks in the room
  5. Nobody trusts anybody else

So what’s really happening here? Without any additional information I would point to lack of competent leadership, which has resulted in a culture of distrust. It’s one thing to run a small “mom and pop shop” and quite another to manage several acquisitions, rapid growth and on boarding of large numbers of new employees. Just because a person may be “family” doesn’t mean they are “cut out of the leadership cloth.”

Employee satisfaction surveys will do little to help this company except perhaps bolster management egos, and maybe provide some advertising “bragging rights” if all the employees exaggerate their responses for fear of job loss.

I wish this were a unique story. Is it?

Am I correct in my assessment of the “real” problem?

What should be done differently?

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. A former consultant to McKinsey & Co., 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.

Join our Constant Contact mailing list for updates on our progress.

Contact me for more information.

Purchase our books at this link

Copyright 2018 Next Decade, Inc.

 

 

 

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Dec
21

 

Winter has officially arrived and many of us will be traveling. We tend to blindly trust the various companies that we book to get us from point A to point B, and who host us once we arrive. What do the Trust Across America FACTS ® Framework rankings have to tell us about those in whom we place our trust this holiday season?

The following data compares the Trust scores for ten well-known travel and holiday-related companies, from the highest to the lowest. *See below the rankings for a detailed explanation of the displayed data.

Book with companies that work hard to ensure they are meeting the needs of not only their shareholders, but also their customers and see how your experience compares with your family, friends and business colleagues.

Have a happy holiday season!

 

*The chart above displays only companies in the Russell 1000 Index that have “above average rankings in their industry. Companies that are below “average” have been omitted. Scores are updated annually.
**No company is perfect. It is unusual for any company to score about an 80% in our rankings.

 

In 2010 Trust Across America introduced the FACTS® Framework, a comprehensive unbiased barometer of the corporate integrity of America’s largest 2000 US public companies. The Framework identifies companies whose leadership is going beyond doing just what is legal to choosing what is right in meeting all stakeholder needs. The FACTS® Framework is the most comprehensive and data driven ongoing study on this subject. We analyze companies quarterly and rank order showing trends by company, sector and market capitalization. Read more about the Framework at this link.

 

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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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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