is the developer of ‘The Leader’s Daily’
and author of “Bring Out the Best in Every Employee
” (McGraw-Hill), “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – in Sales
” (McGraw-Hill) and “Situational Service® - Customer Care for the Practitioner
” (CLS Press). Don has spent 30 years ‘helping people with people’
for the likes of Fifth Third Bank, Anheuser-Busch, Ford Motor Company, Sykes Enterprises, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Jaguar Cars, Hilton Hotels and many, many more.*
What is the biggest mistake that online companies make when it comes to customer service?
DB: The biggest mistake I see is the drive for technology over biology…the elimination
of the human interface. These first two questions are related for me. Understand, I help people with people, it’s what I do. But, I’ve heard one CEO say that ‘If you have the right process, people don’t matter’. My experience is that sooner or later – everything comes down to the human interface. If you eliminate the option, you rule out channels within your business model. Consider the provision of healthcare, right now hospitals have 10% of their federal reimbursement at risk over bedside manner…the human interface, not the clinical outcome. The ‘care and concern’ exhibited by healthcare professionals is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
A lot of large internet companies (Amazon, PayPal, etc.) make emphasis on self-help. You can’t simply pick the phone up or send an email to support@ before browsing through knowledge base and FAQs. Sometimes you can’t even call at all. What’s your view on this approach?
DB: As I mentioned, personally there are situations in which I prefer human interaction. I understand that there are many who prefer ‘self-service’. Again, in my mind you limit your options. My only request of any organization structured in such a way is to be up front about it. Platitudes about ‘in the interest of improved customer service’ ring pretty hollow when it is simply a cost cutting strategy for the enterprise. In my mind, ‘shadow work’ (off loading data entry onto the customer) is a burden upon me, not a benefit to me.
You wrote a book about Situational Service – Customer Care for the Practitioner. Can you share any tips from the book that can be used for Online customer service?
DB: Our newest generation of ‘situational’ thinking generates two key tips; calibrate need and create movement. Any service providers' job, regardless of industry, is to provide information and ensure satisfaction. What we suggest is to first calibrate what the customer needs in the interaction – and what you the provider need from them – and to then create movement towards a customer that simply put is informed and happy.
How to deal with unhappy customers?
DB: I guess my favorite among the dozens of tips and techniques used when dealing with elevated tension is embodying the intent to diffuse, not defeat. Too many times service providers and sales professionals are looking to win, often at any cost. Finding the healthy balance between ego and empathy allows you to fulfill the requirements of the enterprise, while meeting the customer’s needs at the same time. I would add that the #1
competency for any customer-facing personnel today is learning to be present…it’s the foundation of everything else, and sadly missing in many interactions.
Which blogs, books and other resources can you recommend to Bitrix24 users who are want to improve customer service in their organizations?
DB: You can enjoy our offerings at DonBrown.Org
for a variety of ways to help people with people, and I can also recommend ‘Udemy.Com
’ as a very useful resource for individuals that don’t have their organization providing opportunities for growth and development.
Thank you for the interview.
*Don Brown attributes his collaboration and mentorship with Paul Hersey and Marshall Goldsmith as the solid foundation of his success. He also takes great pride in his long-standing customer relationships, some running over 20 years. Don earned an Honors Degree from Michigan State University in foreign languages, a Masters in Management with Dr. Hersey at California American University and is now a guest faculty member of Pepperdine University’s Graziado School of Business and Management. Having lived and studied at the University of Seville in Spain, Don works regularly in English and Spanish in Europe and Latin America. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and can be reached at Don@DonBrown.Org