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Customer Service Starts with Employees

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Have you ever seen a company that provides consistent, exceptional service for its customers that has unhappy employees? I never have! From my view, it is not possible for longer than a short-term time frame. On the other hand, if you empower and engage your employees, you’ll find that customer service follows. It is no accident that the Ritz Carlton provides exceptional service. They know it starts with their employees. If you have a problem at the Ritz, whoever is helping you (from a baggage handler to a maid) will make sure you walk away satisfied – without asking for approval.…
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The Importance of What is NOT Happening

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Quality must be an assumption. The problem with assumptions such as service and quality is that people lose focus because there is little conversation about the topics when “all is well”. People are typically not rewarded for things that don’t happen. For example, if there is a crisis, people are rewarded for resolving the crisis and working long hours to work through the situation; however, if they avoid the crisis altogether, it might go unnoticed. Worse, they might get push back on working on the topic at all because it hasn’t proven to be an issue! As leaders, we must appreciate…
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Avoiding Top Project Pitfalls

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Project results drive business performance! In my experience in working with countless companies ranging from small to multi-billion dollar ones, I’ve yet to run across one that wasn’t dependent on project results to meet critical company objectives. Actually, quite the opposite is typically the case – too many projects with too few resources are vital to performance. Thus, those executives who find ways to ensure project success will outpace the competition. For example, one of my significant manufacturing aerospace clients is experiencing delivery challenges. Thus, there are several projects which are geared towards improving the order fulfilment processes to improve…
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Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

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Keeping with the customer theme, I thought a brief discussion on CRM would be in order. In the last 5 years, I’ve seen the importance of CRM double, at a minimum. The critical importance of customer service has emerged, and so having tools to aid with this process has become trendy – and helps to grow the business. To determine what you need in a CRM system, start with your customers. What is important to your customers? Determine the top 3 ways you’d like to leverage a CRM system to help you develop relationships with your customers. I often refer to these as critical…
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Cherry Blossoms & The Value of Time

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I was in DC this week for a conference. My theme last week was on continuous learning, and I put that into practice this week. Walked away with several ideas. It just so happens to be “cherry season” in DC. This is what got me thinking about time because the cherry trees are beautiful but only in blossom and last for 10-14 days. How ridiculous is that? Talk about a condensed tour season for cherry blossoms! Perhaps that’s why all the hotels were booked…. Thus, cherry trees made me think about the impact of time in our work life as well. If…
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Gain a Strategic Focus on Quality IF Customers are Important

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Even the founder of lean principles, Toyota, can falter on quality; thus, anyone can lose their edge – yet it is cornerstone to business success. People and companies have more choices than ever before. If you wish to remain in the race, quality must be more than an assumption; it must become a strategic focus. 1. View quality from your customer’s perspective – What matters is what your customer expects when agreeing to purchase the product or service. Be vigilant in understanding your customers’ expectations.  Remember to value what they would be willing to pay for. 2. Over delivery of…
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Your Customer Comes 1st

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As I thought about an appropriate topic, I was reminded of the importance of starting with your customer. No matter what your company objectives, you must understand your customer. There are several areas to consider; however, starting with these can never steer you wrong: 1) Determine what is important. 2) Prioritize. 3) Translate to a sales forecast. First and foremost, determine what is important to your customer. Do not fall into the trap of thinking about which features, benefits, services, etc. you think are important to your customer. Instead, find out. Ask your customer questions. Find out what he would be willing…
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The Value of Continuous Learning

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I’ve been thinking about the value of continuous learning. I am in the fortunate position of learning something new with each client and from each Board meeting (with my APICS and ProVisors groups). Last week, I met with a prospective client and saw interesting machines and manufacturing processes. I have skills that will help them succeed yet I am able to learn while I go. I also typically learn something new every day from different colleagues I meet along the way – new ideas, interesting facts, etc. This week, I am going to spend a portion of my week in a conference…
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Supply Chain Trends

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Keeping up on the latest supply chain trends can be invaluable for your career and your company success. I’ve never believed in “jumping on the latest bandwagon”, just to be in the cool crowd and to have the opportunity to work with the trendy topics. However, being aware of the latest trends can be invaluable in refining your strategy and developing the optimal plans to achieve your goals. Since laws change frequently that affect supply chain, if you are not up to speed, you can follow undesirable paths. Since supply chain disruptions seem to occur more frequently than we’d like,…
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Cross-Supply Chain Opportunities

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I find that cross-functional teams can be some of the most valuable teams that generate winning ideas. By taking a diverse team of people with different backgrounds and areas of focus and providing a common goal, ideas arise that never would have occurred with a silo approach. In my estimation, my clients that support cross-functional teams achieve at least 30% better results. Thus, why not consider the same idea with cross-supply chain opportunities? Start with your customers. Typically there are several customers within a supply chain. At the most basic level, there are internal and external customers. However, outside of…
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