Top Ten Signs of Poor Customer Service

Here it is – The Top Ten Signs of Poor Customer Service!

Drum roll please.

Number 10

An Us vs Them Mindset. This person thinks that Customers are out to get him or her. They feel the customer decided to wake up that day and "mess with me for no reason." This also includes the "Poor me" and the "I hate my _____" (insert job, life, spouse, etc) person who feels that everyone is out to get them.

Number 9

Poorly trained staff. Yep. It seems to be everywhere. And I hear the same things all the time. "I do not have time to train" or "I train them and they quit" or "I want to try them out for awhile before I train them." These are poor excuses. Heck, I've even used the "try for awhile" one myself. You know what? There is no excuse for poorly trained staff. If you are the person responsible, you need to take a look at your paycheck. It represents payment for services rendered as a Professional! Not an amateur.

Number 8

Stiff, forced or awkward answers. When they speak it sounds like a teenager trying to explain why they came home late. ("Uhhh, you will not believe it man.") This is a lack of confidence in the product, poor training (see above), lack of skill or lack of aptitude. You can fix the confidence by learning the product, fix the skills with practice (role play, scripting) and conduct ongoing training. You can not fix the aptitude. There are some people who do not have the inner social, educational or people skills needed to work in the field of Customer Service.

Number 7

Uncommitted to the field of Customer Service or to the Customer. Very obviously especially when you ask them how long have they been there and they say something like "3 years" and yet the skill set they have belongs to a "day one never been in Customer Service" employee. That tells you something about them. I mean, you gotta figure they have about as much interest in becoming professional Customer Service people as a fish learning to fly. If they have not asked about training, company plans and their role in the big picture, they are telling you one of two things.

1. The place you work is sending a signal that everyone will work here will never progress beyond where they are now, so why bother.

2. They do not care to invest in themselves to become better at what they do.

And not committing themselves to the Customer by working to resolve situations is a big signal as well. These people throw their hands up at the first sign of trouble and say things like "I can not deal with this person" or "Why is everyone rude?" Some reasons for this behavior could be they feel as if they do not have the support or tools necessary, or they do not see the results that they expected from previous situations.

Number 6

Personnel are not Customer focused. They are instead focused on preservation. They want to preserve their status, position, seniority, etc. They very rarely extend themselves or reach out to customers.
It is a naturally occurring growth. Unfortunately, it's a cancerous growth. And you may need to remove it. Help them see that by continuing to perform in this manner that they are actually limiting them and not keeping anything. In fact, when there are rough waters, these are the first people you jettison as "dead weight."

Number 5

Customers have to ask for action to take place. It's called cattle prod Customer Service. They have to prod the personnel to get any action. And even then, may not get anything at all. In fact, they could possibly start a stampede! Anytime your customers are pushing your staff to get something done, something is wrong. And it's not the Customer!

Number 4

Frequent interruptions. Telephones, other employees, customer after customer, too many duties, not enough time, oh there are so many causes of interruptions. It is a symptom of our times. Just because computers and email and texting work fast, with no complaints, we expect our Customer Service to be the same way. Folks, it just is not so. No matter how many computers you have that hum, phones that ring and texting that flashes, if you do not have the human element in place, it's not going to work.
People need the human touch. It's that little warm feeling that comes from interacting with someone face to face.
What I am really trying to say is this.

HAVE ENOUGH STAFF! Not just enough, I mean enough.
Enough means no extra waiting, no wandering Customers, no standing in extra long lines, no "can not answer that question because I do not have time" and many other examples of being understaffed or "just enough" staff. Then have the processes and systems in place to back up your staff. And train them.

Number 3

In tense situations we raise our voices, flail our arms sometimes and generally have an effect on an entire area. Not moving the parties involved to another area is a sign of poor Customer Service. People know when something is not quite right. We sense it. It spreads from person to person without the need for speaking. It is obvious when we see it. In many cases, we feel there is a need to "stand your ground" with the Customer. Does that include include doing it at the front counter, reception area, parking lot, etc …? Why not move the Customer and you to an area that has some semblance of privacy and you can then air out your differences? It would definitely improve your image and other Customers perceptions.

Number 2

Unhappy people. That's right, unhappy people in your Customer Service department. They are there. And for whatever reason they are unhappy. Spouse, family situations, medical, you name it. And it bleeds over into their performance and to your Customer. If you are unhappy, do something about it. Talk to someone, get help! We already know you are unhappy! Let's work this out together so that we can conduct our business as Professionals! If you are unhappy because you are in Customer Service, then get out of it. Find a career you can be happy in. We'll manage without you. (In some cases, way better without you)

Number 1

Poor Attitude. What can I say? It's an internal thing. You can not fix it from the outside. People have to see it for themselves, change it for themselves. You wish you could push their attitude adjustment button; it just does not work that way.

If you are the person with the poor attitude, then do something about it. The rest of us are tired of it.

There they are! The Top Ten! If any of these fit you, your department or your life, Get After It!

How Heat Can Escape Your House and How You Can Prevent It

As the cold season approaches, energy bill goes up. This is mainly because of the need for heating systems on winter months. But not all the heat generated by your heating device stays in your house. Some, or in certain occasions, most of them escape from your house. As a result, your heating device has to work harder resulting in unwanted increase in energy consumption and cost.

This can be avoided by effectively seeking out the root cause of the problem, and dealing with them accordingly. Follow these simple do-it-yourself methods and save hundreds or perhaps even thousands of dollars on energy cost.

Doors and windows

Doors and windows usually have gaps and spaces on them where heat can escape. Although they may not be that much, if you consider how many doors and windows there are in your house, they collectively result in a huge loss which will reflect badly on you next month’s energy bill. A simple remedy to this problem is covering the gaps with curtains, drapes and/or sheets. You can also use rugs and door sweeps to cover the gap beneath your door.

Electrical and cable ducts

Electrical wires, telephone wires and internet cables and others of the like enter your house through holes and/or ducts. And through these channels, heat can escape. You can easily remedy this by installing outlet gaskets or stuffing the holes and ducts with certain materials such as foam.

Cracks, gaps and leaks

First, you need to find where they are, but looking for them just by sight can be very tricky. You can use a lighted candle and move it near suspect places. The flame of a candle is sensitive to airflow and will sway at the minutest air movement. When you see the flame swaying at a certain spot, there must be an air leak there. Once you have found the cracks, you can seal them by using a caulk. But make sure to apply it both on the inside and the outside.

Attic and ceiling.

A popular physics law states that “hot air goes up”. This is also true inside your house. The heat produced by your heater is likely to accumulate on the ceiling and you attic. This will only result in wasted energy because people don’t normally stay on those places. You can prevent this by making sure that the gaps and cracks to your ceiling and attic are sealed. You may want to check your folding attic stairs if you are using one. You can use weatherstripping and caulk to remedy the problem.

Heat only certain areas

You may ask yourself: “do you really need to heat the entire house?” Maybe there are areas in your house that are not frequented by people and do not need to be heated. If you can manage to limit the range of your heater only to places that are frequented by people, and avoid places such as hallways, storage rooms, attic, and others of the like, you can definitely cut down on your energy consumption cost.

Introduction to Fixed Asset Management

There are obvious benefits from implementing and maintaining a record and control over assets. Savings can be obtained from being able to both see current asset deployment and thereby maximizing their use. Monitoring assets will reduce unauthorized use or misappropriation and insure employees leaving a firm return assets under their control. In some cases a system is mandated by government regulations, terms of lending, public grant terms, insurance terms etc. One person can maintain and manage all fixed assets of a business if they have software to assist them. Computer systems and software available reduce complexity, save time and prevent mistakes. Why use an asset management software program?

While paper and pencil methods can be used, software programs assist in the recording, maintenance and auditing of assets. This saves time and gives a clearer picture of assets since sorting and viewing in different ways is quick and easy.

The most basic ‘solution’ would be using a spreadsheet program such as excel. Even after migrating to software specifically designed for asset management there are times that a spreadsheet program may continue to be useful.

What is an Asset?

What you call an asset often depends upon your business activities. The first thing that comes to mind is fixed assets such as computers, production equipment, office furnishings etc. You might even wish to consider employees as assets or even service and maintenance contracts. A flexible asset management software program can provide a way to track many things most of us would not consider to be assets.

What are my first steps in setting up a system or ‘solution’?

1: Decide what assets will be managed.

The more assets the more work in setting up your system. Limiting assets to only those over a certain dollar value is a good idea.

2: Deciding what characteristics of assets it is important to record within the software.

Your choices will not only have an effect upon the amount of work required but also the extent to which you can manipulate and view asset information by sorting on asset information field or combination of fields.

For example if you setup a field for ‘location’ then you can sort data to see what assets are in each location. If you also have a field for ‘type’ or ‘class’ then you could further sort and display to show only certain types of assets such as computers at one or more location.

As in every aspect of life one has to make tough choices between what is ideal and what is feasible. Your choices will have an effect upon data entry when new assets arrive as well as collecting information about existing assets. Choices you make will also have a bearing upon your choice of software since some may not handle everything you want. One such a limitation is found within the AssetTrakker Pro software program. TrackitSoftware does not provide a method of tracking depreciation because it was felt this added too much complexity requiring the collecting and maintaining of a lot more data. Additionally, they felt, handling depreciation requires superior knowledge of government rules and regulations beyond the expertise of the very people that stand to benefit most from asset management. Accounting departments already calculate and account for depreciation. *Some software does promote depreciation calculation but only offers limited functionality that in most cases is not the way regulations demand.

Some help!

Below is a listing of Asset Attributes ‘fields’ for your consideration. You will not want to use all of them for your own ‘solution’ and may well have additional ones you need.

Asset #: The key identification reference used to track assets. They can be straight numbers or a number with an alphabetical prefix. (0001 or A001). This number is used for audit purposes and perhaps for cross-reference.

Make: Manufacturer

Model: Useful when arranging service or buying parts. Useful as allows grouping by model type.

Serial #: Specific asset identification. Needed when making warranty or insurance claims.

Cost to Repl.: Estimate of the cost of replacing an asset. Useful for planning, risk assessment and insurance.

Cross Ref. #: Reference other asset number or tie together group of assets.

Type: Can be used for a general grouping such as furniture, computer, shipping, etc.

Condition: Helpful to see what is likely to require replacement or decide on service needs.

Description: Other detail in addition to make, model, and serial number.

Memo: Additional information about the asset. If a computer you might want to list details of the hardware configuration or even the programs installed on it.

Department: This is helpful for sorting assets by department to assist in auditing.

Location: Good field to have so that a search/sort can give you a clear view of where assets are located.

Used by: Necessary if you have assets in the personal possession of an employee and/or assets off business premises.

Date Assigned: Useful if assets are moved around or for telling how long an asset has been at its current location.

Expected EOL: The anticipated date when the asset will no longer be useful.

Funded by: Source of funds if provided by Bond Issue, or outside funds (loan) or a grant.

Cost: Total cost of acquiring an asset.

Date Acquired: Helps give some idea when replacement might be required.

Disposed: Indicates an asset has been disposed of.

Disposed Date: Date asset was disposed of.

Business Use %: Used if an asset is not used full time by the business to break down asset use. Not for everyone, but a field that imagination might find an indispensable use for.

OUT: Used for Tool/Equipment Tracking,

Taken By/In From: Used for Tool/Equipment Tracking to indicate who is taking or returning item.

Date Due: Used for Tool/Equipment Tracking to show when an asset is due back.

Recovered Value: Net proceeds of the disposal of an asset.

Disposed Detail: Notes on how and where an asset was disposed of.

Warranty: Indicates if asset is covered by a warranty or could be used if covered by a service/maintenance contract.

Warranty Expiry: It is useful to see what expiries are approaching for tracking maintenance or service agreements. Helps prevent paying for service covered by warranty as well as prompting the repair of items before expiry.

Image: Can assist in asset identification or where ‘look’ is an important feature. Useful if insurance claim ever made.

Value: Could be amount the asset is insured for. Risk exposure control.

Leased: Helps keep track of Leased vs Owned assets.

Lease End: Used to warn when assets have to be replaced or the lease has to be renewed according to the terms of the lease.

Lease Start: Commencement date of lease on leased equipment.

Lease Co: The name of the company from which an asset is leased.

Audit Date: This column records the date the batch scans of assets were made for audit purposes.

Auditor: Record the name of the person who performed the audit.

What next?

By now you have a good idea of what asset information you want to track. Before looking at the various software packages available you should consider how many people will be entering data and how many will be accessing the data. For a smaller organization it is likely that just one person will be involved but in larger firms perhaps a number will wish to participate. Your situation could require purchasing more than one software license and the software must support multiple users.

Use a Barcode Scanner?

A barcode scanner can be used to speed data entry and auditing. This will add to the cost and most lower priced software packages offer limited support for barcode scanners. If properly incorporated into software a scanner can provide excellent value and save a lot of time, particularly for annual audit purposes.

Below are outlined the types of barcode scanners used with asset management software.

A ‘dumb’ tethered ccd scanner is cheapest and purchased for around $70. This can only be used when plugged into the computer and acts similarly to a keyboard in that you scan a barcode and it is put into whatever cell or space you are in.

A ‘laser’ tethered scanner is more money but will be able to scan smaller barcodes and perhaps have a deeper field of view (easier to scan a barcode quickly).

A ccd or laser scanner which has built in memory so scans can be made and then the scanner can be brought back and plugged into a computer, and those scans uploaded. This is extremely useful for audit purposes. For maximum utility your software should be optimized to take advantage of this ‘batch’ memory capability. A capable unit can be obtained for around $150.

A laser scanner with internal memory, as well as an input screen and keys, means that after scanning a barcode you can add additional information. These are more expensive and again their use has to be integrated into your management software. While prices are coming down you are looking at units in the pocket pc price range plus scanner cost. It is usual for software utilizing these units to also, for some reason, be priced higher.

Asset Management Software

The range of prices for asset management software is $200 to $10,000 and all require you to do the entry of existing asset data as well as some setting up for your requirements. Some offer telephone advice at additional cost but hands on assistance only comes with expensive packages (this level of software requires expensive sales force and marketing expense so perhaps their price, for the features provided, may seem high).

Purchasing Criteria a lot of people seem to use. You may have more.

1: Price 2: Ease of implementation of system 3: Ease of use 4: Ability to fit the business 5: Functionality 6: Potential to handle growth

What you can obtain for a reasonable price

A program with full relational database, such as MS SQL Server Express, or open source database. Today there is no reason to settle for less power or quality. Microsoft provides their SQL 2005 ‘Express’ DB version at no cost.

A program that allows you to attach images of assets. While not necessary for everyone it is something that someday you might want to use.

A program that integrates the use of inexpensive ‘batch’ memory barcode scanners because, if not now, at some point in the future such an accessory will save time and money. Used in auditing it assures an asset was actually seen as barcode had to be scanned.

A program that will permit the management of 10,000+ assets. With decent memory in your computer and a fast full relational database engine there isn’t much of a limitation anymore and while certain functions might slow down a bit even a low cost program should handle over 10,000 assets.

A program that is flexible so you can take advantage of features later instead of having to implement everything at once.

*If more than one person is to be given access to the database then you should ensure that different levels of access can be set for different users to prevent unauthorized changes to data.

What you can get but not cheaply.

A program that integrates directly into your current accounting system.

A program that has full professional depreciation calculations.

A program that runs directly off your company server (lower cost software runs off workstations and while a central database can be located on your server and accessed by individual workstations this is not the same as complete software being server based with applets on workstations.

Hand holding and in house training to get your system up and running. There are firms that will sit down with you and ask you all the right questions, set up your software, audit and list all your assets and then train your staff how to operate and maintain your ‘solution’. Most, to my knowledge, will recommend a mid to high priced software because it is easier to sell (commission higher as well) and easier for them to install due to their familiarity with it.

Nuts and Bolts

Gathering your Asset Information How you perform this step depends upon your situation. In our discussion below we assume you do not have existing asset information, in an existing excel spreadsheet or other format. If you do then you would save work by export/importing that data into your asset management software.

Starting your Asset Listing and Numbering from Scratch

This is an advantage because you are not limited by inherited constraints. Of course it is more work, as you cannot just load in existing asset information but have to collect everything yourself.

Collecting asset information is time consuming. Getting this information accurately, with as little work as possible is important. Thinking about how to do the job and planning will help make this big job easier.

The following is how I suggest doing this but you may have your own, perhaps better plan.

Create data entry sheets that you will have people write in information about assets under their control. Your asset management software may create these or you could make up an excel spreadsheet to obtain them.

Try and obtain some ‘buy in’ from the department or location manager with control over assets. The closer to the asset you can allocate some responsibility the better that asset will be controlled. ‘It’s my department’s asset’ is more powerful an incentive than ‘it’s I.T. Dept’s asset’.

Final steps

After entering data, that your co-operative managers helped you obtain, it is time to work with that data within your asset management software. It should not take long to become familiar with how it can present information to you on screen and in reports.

Now sit back and enjoy how easy it is to administer your assets.

Can Someone Find Me With Just My Phone Number?

Due to the fact that there are so many different online reverse phone lookup sites, and they have become very popular for tracing the owner of a phone number, you may be worried that your phone number may provide anyone who cares to use it with your personal information, such as your name and address. However, before you become overly concerned, you should know that the type of information that will be divulged to someone searching your phone number will likely be very vague.

What you need to understand is that how much information a person can find on you using your phone number depends on the phone number they are searching. For instance, if you have a listed landline number, a person who conducts a reverse phone lookup on this number will likely be provided with your name (typically last name and first name initial), address and location.

This should not come as a surprise to you, especially since this information would also be included in your local white pages. Your wire line phone number typically becomes part of the public phone directory, unless you personally request to have your phone number unlisted and removed from the directory.

Your cell phone number, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. If your cellular number is searched, the person conducting the search will not be provided with any real information that will be useful in finding you. The reason is because, the only clue they provided in relation to your whereabouts is your location. The state and city where you stay or are near will always be provided because this information is linked to the area code of the number. However, keep in mind that if someone is determined to trace you through your cell phone, they can pay for a more detailed search which may reveal your name and address.

What can you do to prevent people from finding you with your phone number? The following are two suggestions:

– Block your phone number, especially when calling people you do not know or trust, so that the Caller ID will not register who is calling. To block your number, dial * 67 before entering in the phone number you are calling.

– If you need to give a new acquaintance your number give your cellular number instead of your landline number because the cell phone is harder to trace back to you.

Finally, if you are very concerned about what personal information is made available to the public public, you should trace a cell phone number that belongs to a friend, or trace your own number to find out what type of information is provided.