Monthly Archives: March 2013

Great Service from a Bulk Food Discount Store?


bulk food, grocery store, shopping, service

Well, I love great service, and I expect it from the upscale companies who charge more and put a premium on appearance, but sometimes I get great service where I don’t expect it.

Recently, I was shopping for a big event—breakfast for 300 people. I had my list and wanted to check out a local bulk food discount store to see if they had what I needed. So I marched in, list in hand, and got busy checking the items off. I wasn’t prepared to buy anything that day; I was just doing my research.

I was looking at the fresh produce when a man in an apron who was stocking strawberries stopped and asked if he could help me. “No,” I responded, “Just trying to see if you have what I need. I’ll be back next week.”

“Oh,” he said, “Let’s see your list.” See my list? He wants to see my list? Well, not only did he want to see my list, he wanted to walk around the entire store with me to ensure I found everything. Okay, this keeps going. Not only are we walking around together, but he is also giving me tips on how to call ahead and order what I need so the produce will be fresh.

Well, we are still walking around and he has my list. I want my list back, but he is marking it up with checkmarks on everything that we find. Not only is he putting checkmarks by each item, he is making notes by each item, such as aisle number and shelf location. What? Who does this? Who expected this kind of service from a bulk store? Not me.

You might be thinking what I was thinking…it’s just him, it’s not the entire staff. But I was wrong. On our way through the store, the manager stopped and talked with us, asked about the event, and she gave me even more helpful hints on how to save money. And it keeps going. After that, another staff member in the paper goods department took the list (there it goes again, and I really do want it back) and showed me how to look for quantities in cases, because that saves money and reduces the number of boxes I have to drag around.

Someone there has it right. I loved the experience. And eventually I did get my list back, with all the notes, and I will be back there to shop, not just for this event but for any future events.

If they can do it, can you? Could you and your team top that experience? I bet you can! I believe that great service can come from any organization that makes it a culture and customer goal.

Your thoughts?

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

It’s Service Malpractice


Recently we called a contractor to evaluate a leak in our house.  There was an obvious crack on an interior wall, and we suspected the leak was coming from the roof or the siding.

When the contractor came, he said that our downspout was not connected properly, and he could fix it. That was a big relief.  However, this was the same company that installed the downspouts and gutters, so I was curious why he now felt it important to change the direction of the downspout.

What he said next stunned me. He explained that when they put in the downspouts and gutters, they had asked my husband and me how we wanted them to be attached. Why did they ask us in the first place? We’re not the experts!  If they had counseled us on what they usually do and why it is important, we would have followed their recommendation, because who wants to tear out part of an interior wall and fix it!  We couldn’t remember who we talked to when this was installed, but I don’t remember them sharing their knowledge, expertise and best practices with us to persuade us how it should be done.

I consider this service malpractice.  When your team members talk with your customers, are they confident in their expertise in your industry, and are you confident they are truly helping customers?  Don’t take your expertise for granted. Give your customers the full advantage of what you know about your products and services, because they don’t know unless you help them.

Your thoughts?

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

They Dress Up for Work Now


Tatooed BankerConfidence is a funny thing; it affects people in different and unexpected ways. For a client call center, I was helping to train a group of new and young team leaders, and we were focusing on a leadership week. The structure to the week and the detail needed for driving results through behaviors was sometimes a challenge.

As this client has a casual work environment, filled with tattoos, earrings, jeans, t‑shirts, sunglasses, and spiky hair, we didn’t have any plans to change appearance, just behaviors. The four individuals who I was working with were hip, young, team leaders in the call center who had recently been promoted from reps.

We wanted to demonstrate that a written weekly leadership plan could drive the right behaviors and the right results, so basically they were our pilot group within this large center.

When piloting a new initiative, we like to take people with positive attitudes who will give the ideas and concepts a real go. So we started with weekly teleconferences to define the right activities in their plans and commit them to paper. Getting a great plan that delivered results took about four months, as we incorporated a completely new structure with meetings, coaching sessions, daily briefings and debriefings, objections clinics, etc., to meet current business objectives.

After we got into the plans and their results improved, team morale improved as well, and, most importantly, their confidence in their new roles increased. With that came a remarkable and voluntary transformation, their appearance. When I returned for a visit six months later, they all greeted me in dress trousers, dress shirts—no sunglasses, no ripped jeans, and no t-shirts.

I asked if they had dressed up just for me, and, boy, was I wrong. “No,” they responded, “We dress up every day because we feel we have now earned the right to be team leaders and we want to look the part.”

I never suspected that writing down a weekly leadership plan would have such impact on someone in the workplace, but it really helped “dress up” these team leaders and their performance.

Your thoughts?

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