Circling Back:  Going the Extra Mile in Customer Service

Bobblehead DollIt is no secret; I am a doctoral candidate.  On Facebook, I advertised my dissertation to find participants to engage in my dissertation data collection.  My dissertation is all about the role of the trainer in call center training.  I am looking to answer some specific questions about what a trainer does, their role in training, and flush out details about the role of the call center trainer in establishing genetic memory.  My first ad on Facebook, believe it or not, received more direct respondents than my second or third attempts.  That the respondents accused me of being fake, a troll, and committing several bodily functions on their timelines bothered me greatly.

When mentioned to representatives from Facebook, who could see the comments and the original ad, the representatives reflected less care than I would have ever imagined.  Yet, Facebook claims to be “customer-centric,” “customer-driven,” and “customer-obsessed.”  LinkedIn, AT&T, Sprint/T-Mobile, Bank of America, Navy Federal Credit Union, and many other companies make similar claims and act similarly, where the professed policies are disconnected from reality, and the only person who suffers is oddly the customer.  Then, the agents representing these companies are then asked to “go the extra mile for the customer.”Pin by N D on Jokes | Dilbert comics, Work humor, Funny picture quotes

When going the extra mile was first addressed, leadership, training, business processes, and organizational communication all were aspects to the foundation to helping an agent “go the extra mile.”  More needs to be discussed on “going the extra mile” and delivering upon the promises made by leadership.  However, the discussion is useless unless followed swiftly by concerted action; thus, this article asks for and directly inspires action.

Compounded Leadership Failure

Let’s begin with reality and address the 300# gorilla.  To the leaders of companies, customers are listening, and they are not stupid!  Whether you believe this or not, your customers do, and they do not like what they see.  AT&T, LinkedIn, and Facebook regularly inundate me with the voice of the customer surveys, new products, performance surveys, surveys, surveys, surveys.  These are not the only companies demanding answers and resources from customers, but these companies are especially egregious at this practice.  Tell me, why does nothing ever change in customer approach, customer service, customer care, and the voice-of-the-customer always appears to fall on deaf ears?Colin Powell quote: Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you...

Leadership never collects qualitative and quantitative data and then uses this information to make change, drive visible customer affecting policy shifts, or even act like the customer is worthy of being listened to.  How do we, the customers know we are not being heard; the agents do not have the ability to affect change.  I called Xfinity/Comcast; I have an issue, I get nowhere with the agents, but I am still expected and offered multiple times the voice-of-the-customer survey to help improve customer relations.  I invest my time in completing the survey; I even indicate a return call to discuss the scores is acceptable, only later do I discover that the voice-of-the-customer data is never worked, customers are not called, and the company does not care.

Poor Leadership #inspirational #motivational #quotes | Bad leadership quotes, Leadership quotes ...If you are sending a survey out, you need to address the survey results.  Publicly with your agents, transparently with your shareholders and investors, and clearly and openly with your customers.  By refusing to do these things, the leadership failures in demanding customer resources to complete surveys are wasted, compounded, and the customer is listening!  Worse, the customer is sharing this information with other customers and is openly looking for options to replace you and your company!  By publicly claiming “customer-obsession,” “customer-centricity,” and “customer-first” propaganda (e.g., marketing promises), you are making a commitment.  Failure to honor that commitment delivers a “Used Car Sales” pitch, and lawyers and politicians become more trustworthy than you and your company.  Customers are tired of “Lemons” when paying for cherries; is this clear enough?

Who is your first customer?

To every person claiming the first customer is a service or product purchaser, you are WRONG!  Your first customer is your employees.  Yet, employee abuse remains central to employee churn.  Asking your employees to “go the extra mile” for an external customer and not seeing the business first go the extra mile for them is disheartening at best to your employees.

I am intimately familiar with a well-known company, its operations, and its customer commitment.  The company does an excellent job in employee relations, which leads to year-over-year success with external customers.  But the company has some deep-seated problems they are working on, and because they are honestly working on these issues, I am willing to give them anonymity for their efforts.  One of the most fundamental issues this company has is in product delivery; the operations in the warehouse prioritize outbound (customer shipping of products ordered) to the exclusion of quality.  The products are more important than the people, which is a growing pain for this company.Tiger Team

By forgetting that the first customer is the employees, this group churns at phenomenal rates compared to other business units.  Why?  Because of the insanity of being left out of customer service.  Company benefits, time-off, vacation policies, “swag,” free merchandise, etc., none of this compensates for irrational operations that fundamentally treat the employee poorly and in a confused manner.  If your company is “customer-focused,” then employees are top priority, and in making them top priority, they look after your external customers more efficiently, more expertly, and they will build a fatter bottom-line through “going the extra mile.”

When was the last time your employees were honestly engaged in voice-of-the-customer surveys and results?  When was the last time the employees knew they were the top priority in your business?  When was the last time operational policies and procedures were adjusted to remove confusion about employee worth and value?  Tell me, are your shareholders and investors treated better than your number one investor, your employees?  If so, your shareholders should be raking the current leadership over the coals for robbery and theft.  Reduced bottom lines because of employee treatment should be a significant issue of discussion by the shareholders and investors, for this is nothing short of robbery. You are compounding another leadership failure through employee abuse, which increases costs and lowers bottom-line performance, e.g., robbing the investor and shareholder because you have refused to provide your first customer simple customer recognition, let alone service.

Going the Extra Mile

Before a supervisor, team leader, director, or other leaders in your business organization asks for an employee to “go the extra mile,” rate that leader on this question, “Have they already walked two miles with the employee?”  If not, that person is asking for the impossible.  No extra efforts can or ought to be sought when leadership fails to first show and do what it takes to walk two miles with an employee.

Call Center BeansWant to know a secret?  When the leader first walks two miles with the employee, that leader never has to ask anyone to “go the extra mile,” EVER!  Your best leaders, your followers, are the people who, instead of looking forward first, make it a priority to look sideways.  These leaders are experts at lifting the talent needed to look forward to a higher level.  Looking sideways includes value-added training programs, professional paths to progression, recognizing and praising efforts honestly and frequently, delegating assignments and tasks, and being actively engaged in delivering “customer-centricity” to the employees.  As a supervisor, team lead, director, etc., your first customer is those who follow you; what have you done lately to prove customer obsession to them?

By the way, your first customer is listening, awake, and actively engaged in either growing or leaving, all based upon how you treat your first customer.  I suggest taking heed of them.?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

If you want to be part of my dissertation research, please reach out to me using the following email address: msalisbury1@my.gcu.edu.  Please help me help you and your company through value-added research.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the photos or images used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

The Proper and Improper Role of Government – Part 3

Bait & SwitchThere many ideas I embraced as a child that brings me short mentally and cause some discomfort.  The biggest of these was the support of labor unions.  As a kid, I thought labor unions were the best thing since sliced bread.  I learned in K-12 how the labor unions had ended child labor, gave us weekends, Federal holidays, and the 8-hour day, among other tremendous and notable accomplishments.  Until I lost my job to a labor union guy who took four times as long to complete work, complained horribly and sent me to the unemployment line.  I never understood what he had to complain about, times were hard, and I lost a good job to a labor union member.

ApathyBecause of the hold, the Labor Unions have on government, the line between government policy and labor union influence is generally so blurred that confusion is bred as to why things work the way they work in government.  Unfortunately, every country with a representative government and labor unions has the same problem.  Labor unions are entirely Marxist in their ideology, but to keep the masses happy, instead of communism, we get rampant socialism instead.  J. T. Murphy writes specifically eloquently on the ties between socialism and the labor unions.  Frankly, I have never understood how a labor person can swear they love freedom and America while supporting tooth and nail their labor unions’ Marxist and socialist agendas.

Inflation and Socialism, plus the Captivity of Debt

Public Employment Retirement Costs Are At "Tipping Point"Public-sector labor unions are the number one reason many states in America have seen their credit ratings drop.  The debt of the retirement packages and pensions is a millstone around every state’s neck.  This is an absolute reality proven time and time again.  The pension crisis is so large that Forbes keeps coming back to this topic several times a year.  If you would like a primer on the public pension crisis, go here.  The public pension crisis is mentioned solely because it remains the number one budget item for too many states.  With that much money owed, the debt runs the state’s fiscal decisions, not people, and brings up the captivity of debt.

Look up the principle of “usury” in historical texts, and you find usury occurs when interest is charged on money borrowed, which creates captivity.  TheWalletcoach.com eloquently details how debt is captivity.  The oldest of historical texts, the Old Testament, is vehemently against charging usury of brothers and family members, but strangers being in debt captivity was okay.  Today, the confinement of debt, specifically the public pensions, leads the politicians like a goat to slaughter. But, unfortunately, none of the politicians can find the time to formulate a plan, gather their fellow politicians, and fix the problem.  Debt, to the height of the public pension crisis, creates inflation and leads to socialism, as the government runs out of other people’s money to pay for the failures of previous politicians to be fiscally literate and fiscally responsible.  Add in the labor unions’ consistent sticky hands, and the local and state governments are in deep trouble.  Add in the Federal Government’s debt obligations, and money trouble is a catastrophe!  Please note that catastrophe is not an “If” or “when;” it is a current issue right now!National Debt Graph + Bush-Reagan Voodoo Video - zFacts

16 March 2019, Tom Del Beccaro, writing an opinion piece for Fox News, produced the greatest missive I have ever seen tying the principles of debt captivity to inflation and governments becoming socialized!  Historically speaking, Mr. Del Beccaro is 100% correct that the socialization of Greece and the fall of the Roman Republic are both tied to government debts. However, the Founding Fathers in America knew history, were literate, and they feared what would happen to this Free Republic (if we can keep it) when the government is allowed to rack up debts!  Every single publication I have on the Founding Fathers, and the Founding of America, come back to the bondage of debt and the problems with government debt. However, when the population demands “free benefits” from the government and uses their voting power to elect only those who keep the “Gravy Train” coming, socialism has been achieved in all but name!Government Largess

That fact alone should scare every member of the American Experiment into correcting their government!  Yet, what do we find, the exact opposite!  Frightening does not entirely cover my feelings here!

Socialism, Taxes, and The Workplace

Gravy TrainReturning to the pattern discussed on 16 March 2019, Tom Del Beccaro, writing an opinion piece for Fox News, discussed how taxes are a knee-jerk reaction to “keep that gravy train running.”  Therein lay the root causes for how socialism has been promoted in the workplace and how high taxes will eventually go!  I have written about this relationship for a long time, but please allow me to refresh memories.

In the United States, the Government Agency tasked with employment, employment laws, and employer responsibilities is not the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); by statute, it is the Department of Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The NLRB is only there to handle labor unions, labor union growth, and labor union law.  The IRS defines what an employee is vs. a contractor or knowledge vendor.  Worse, the IRS rigidly protects this relationship as a key to preserving the government’s interest (tax dollars) in keeping socialism in the workplace.  Some of my earliest articles deal with these exact principles and the socialized employee structures in which each worker and business is demanded to participate.Gravy Train 2

Upset with how your employer treats you, both on and off the employer’s property, there is only one place to put the blame, the IRS.  The IRS states the employer can invade your privacy, in your home, as an extension of “Risk Control” because your employer agreed to the IRS’s demands to pay taxes.  Your rights, freedoms, and liberties are curtailed, culled, and clipped in the workplace because the IRS demands the employer play ball with them, and your liberties are the price you pay for a paycheck.  Every time I see a labor union complaining about how the employer treats them, I want to shake the stuffing out of the leaders, for it is not the employer but the IRS that should be struck down and disbanded!  Yet, the NLRB will always side against the employer, and the labor union, a Marxist organization, wins, the IRS wins, and the employer and non-union employees lose. As a result, socialism in America becomes more powerful and influential.

Socialism and Mothers in the Workplace

As a means to improve the strength of the family in society, several religious organizations would love to see mothers provided the power to stay home.  Yet, socialism, as a fundamental operating principle, that all able bodied people must support the state, K-12 educators can rear kids, and the government acquires drones who do as they are told.  High fuel prices are no longer discussed on the nightly news because the government needs every able-bodied and disabled person working and asked the media to find something else to discuss.Plato 2

Why does the current president keep ducking questions about inflation; because the higher inflation goes, the higher prices are demanded, and the more people will rely upon the “Government Gravy Train.”  Unfunded liabilities (kited checks) are acceptable to socialists as a means of controlling the populace and keeping people in the game.  Higher taxes from inflation are good when it controls those in society who would raise their heads and ask questions under the thumb of totalitarian control.  If mothers returned home, how fast would demands for improved schools become the big issue in local politics, again?Gravy Train 3

My wife, a single mother due to divorce, while raising her two kids, relates stories of gathering mothers in Seattle to fight the school board and win.  Bewitched (1964-1972), the TV show reflects several times where Samantha got involved and changed local politics.  It used to be expected in local politics for mothers to have the ultimate last word on worthy politicians for whom to vote.  Yet, by increasing prices, mothers had to go to work.  It is now standard for politicians to get elected whose only desire is to keep socialism going, stealing liberties and freedoms while pontificating that the other party is at fault for your suffering.

Knowledge Check!I repeat, only for emphasis, the IRS remains the most influential, nefarious, and deadly threat to America.  America, what I am proposing will be a culture shock. It will turn many people onto their heads. It will appear anathema, all because we, the citizens, have watched the government become stronger and us the citizens weaker for so many generations.  But, the reality remains, we own the government, the government has been abusing us, and the time of big government to solve all the problems from a broken shoelace to fixing the weather has to end!  We must believe, gather knowledge, and act as a conjoined whole to make the necessary changes.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.