Monthly Archives: February 2013

Are Your People Robots or People?


I am an on-line shopper out of necessity. I really like to go “shopping” into stores and malls, but I am time-poor, so it’s shopping on-line a majority of the time.

Recently, I purchased a large item from an on-line retailer and was not satisfied when I got it. They make the return very easy and ask you to complete a lengthy satisfaction survey about the product: Will you shop with them again? Will you recommend them? Was the experience fast and efficient? Did you encounter any challenges?, etc. I completed the survey and was quite happy with everything until I had to call. That’s when this experience “went South”.

Because of the extensive survey that I completed and the ease of ordering and returning, I was expecting a great phone experience. After all, they look for customer satisfaction in the survey and ask a number of questions around it. So, I was very disappointed when I encountered an uninterested and bored person at the other end of the phone. What happened to all the hype? Was this only the marketing department creating a great website with exciting phrases and cute slogans? Where was the enthusiasm for helping me figure out the return process with a large item?

I knew she was bored, because I could hear it in her voice. We always say, “It’s what you say and how you say it.” And this couldn’t be truer in today’s electronic world. When you do have to speak to a person, wouldn’t it be nice if they were engaged, excited to speak to you and help you? I think so.

If you manage people, listen for how they interact with your customers. Do they take the opportunity to fully engage customers with their tone and their own personal style, or could they easily be mistaken for robots? This can be a very subjective area, but it’s one that can set your organization apart, one conversation at a time.

Listen to yourself, too. Are you smiling when you talk in person or on the phone? Do you put some enthusiasm into your voice, no matter what conversation you are in? Or could you be a robot?

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Stun Them!


Recently, while I was standing in a long line at the bank to purchase gift cards, a woman turned to me and said, “I cannot imagine doing my banking over my cell phone!” She was looking at the marketing poster positioned very properly at a turn in the waiting line. “Can you?” she asked me.

I said, “Actually, yes I can. I use mobile banking and love it!” She appeared shocked. Well, she asked me! So I went on:

“I’m the type of person who loves to scan her mobile for a cup of coffee. So, the convenience of using my phone to check my balance or to see if checks have cleared is perfect.” She stared at me, but I didn’t stop. “Last week, I was traveling and obviously made an error in my checkbook, so I transferred funds from my savings to checking on the phone. That saved me both money and embarrassment. So, yes, I love, love, love mobile banking. You need to download the app.” She didn’t know what to say but did get out an “oh” before I was called to the teller window.

The point I’m driving at is…on a dime, you need to be able to articulate the benefits of any one of your products and services and do it with passion.

Your thoughts?

Cynthia Whitmer Griffith is a Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

That Was An Amazing Experience and Quite Unexpected


Buffet_GermanyI travel quite a bit for my job. It takes me all over the world. Working for a sales-and-service company that focuses on the internal and external client experience, I always have my antennae up for great experiences.

I am always intrigued when people from other countries tell me they come over to the U.S. to evaluate and learn from the American service industry. Granted, we have some real role models that can be used as case studies and have certainly proven themselves, but some of the names they throw out leave me scratching my head.

One of the best and most unexpected experiences for me happened on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa. I was staying in a hotel that was nice, had great rooms, and seemed to be average overall. During my two-week stay, I ate breakfast in the restaurant every morning. My usual breakfast consists of cereal, orange juice, and coffee, so the big extravagant buffets were not a positive. They cost me money. During the second week of my stay, the hostess approached me and said she needed to speak with me. She said that she had watched my selection of breakfast every day and didn’t think I should have to pay for the full buffet, so she had already asked her manager to give me a refund for my first week and every day during my stay. I was amazed and delighted.

What she displayed was a real interest in her customer and a proactive approach. Companies are made up of people, and your people have the opportunity to amaze and delight every day. Have you given them the tools and environment so they can? Have you given them the training and coaching so they can amaze and delight? Do you remind them on a regular basis of the opportunity they have to do this? If not, take the time to amaze and delight your team, so they can amaze and delight your customers, so they become your advocates.

I’ve told that story everywhere I go, and I am still writing about it 4 years later, because that doesn’t happen to me very often.

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Doing What Is Right


tvsRecently I purchased a television. I had done some research ahead of time, but standing in front of 50+ televisions all flickering at me was a little intimidating. I began to question myself. So, when the salesperson approached me, I asked about LED, LCD, and Plasma. I asked, what does dpi mean? He appeared very knowledgeable in his responses and did not act as if I was the 10th person to pose these questions in the last four hours. He asked me some questions about where I would watch TV and what I would use the television for. Finally, I asked him, “I have narrowed it down to these two televisions. Which one would you buy?” Without hesitation, he told me his choice and why, and it wasn’t the most expensive of the two televisions. He sold me the right television for my needs without worrying that the other would have added to his sales for the month. He did what was right.

I highlighted a few of the phrases from my experience, as I think they are wonderful reminders to us as we are dealing with clients, members, or prospects. We should also keep a few things in mind:

  1. People who are not in financial services can be intimidated by the wide range of products we offer. And even if they aren’t intimidated, we should consider that, no matter how knowledgeable they are or may have been in the past, the rules and regulations change quickly and often.
  2. We need to be knowledgeable yet clear in our responses. That means we should avoid jargon and details that could be confusing. Having patience with those who have questions and concerns can build rapport and lead to retention of clients and members.
  3. Being consultative will allow us to determine the correct products and services for the person standing in front of us. For example, we can ask questions about how a person uses their checking account, or when they plan to use funds they are investing in a certificate of deposit.
  4. Making proper recommendations will provide financial benefits to the client or member, allowing them to make or save money, borrow money, protect their money, or save time in their banking.

The bottom line is that doing what is right for the client or member is the ultimate form of service.

Cynthia Whitmer Griffith is a Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.