Steve Curtin

Volunteers at Work

For many years, I’ve gone on record saying that the reason you and I, as customers, consistently receive predictably poor customer service is because exceptional customer service is voluntary; employees don’t have to deliver it, and most don’t. It’s tr...

When Values Are Valuable

Earlier today I was the guest on a leadership podcast. Among other topics, we discussed organizational values. Too often the term “values” conjures up images of the corporate orientation video or inspirational break room posters and is otherwise widely...

If you ask a question, then listen to the answer

Back in the Dark Ages of gathering customer feedback, companies distributed hard copy customer satisfaction surveys with prepaid postage to increase response rates and then waited weeks to collect, analyze, and distribute the feedback. And when warrant...

The Hospitality Sweet Spot

Ed and Gayle NovakLast week, our family dined for the last time at The Broker, a Denver restaurant founded 46 years ago by my father-in-law, Ed Novak. Dozens of family members joined us from across the country to honor Ed and the legacy of his…

Every week should be customer service week!

Customer Service Week (Oct. 3-7) is approaching and, since I work in the field, I suppose I should contribute to the conversation. Let me begin by saying that celebrating the customer is a good thing—especially when you consider that, without customers, there wouldn’t be...

The Seacret to Sales Success

Earlier this month, I met Adele. Not the Adele you’re thinking of – I’m not sure how well she sings – but this Adele can sell! I had just left the Apple Store at Park Meadows Shopping Center in Lone Tree, Colorado when I approached...

Stop Counting Paperclips!

Last month, I returned to one of my favorite hotels in New York City. It was my first stay since the hotel completed an extensive renovation in 2012. I’ll withhold the name of the hotel because it’s not important. What matters are the observations...

Always prepare the soil before planting seeds

A colleague recently asked for my opinion regarding the skills that customer service representatives (CSRs) need the most help with. I qualified my response by saying that it assumes CSRs already possess a positive attitude and a willingness to expend discretionary effort in the...

Customer service is the new selling

The days of the boorish salesman portrayed in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross – where the mantra “Coffee’s for closers” was used to both recognize success and admonish poor performance – are gone. Certainly, there are still unscrupulous salespeople and gullible buyers, but it’s...

More Proof That Perception Matters

I recently developed a learning activity for a client who wanted his team of 60 commercial property managers to recognize the influence that biases, preconceived notions, and assumptions had on the quality of their tenant interactions. My client was motivated by the recurring conflict...

The lost art of cosseting

Last month I presented three breakout sessions at a client’s annual leadership meeting near Chicago. The meeting was held at the Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel and the audio-visual production company was PSAV. First, let me say that I’ve worked with top-tier A/V production companies on...

How to win customers in 2016

With the New Year upon us, I was asked by a blogger to comment on trends that will influence customer experience in 2016. My reaction was to reply with insights into the rapid growth of consumers’ mobile connectivity across socioeconomic categories and the impact...

Esprit de corps

The French term “esprit de corps” means a feeling of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty shared by members of a particular group. When I read about the most admired corporations or the best places to work, the common thread among these articles is the...

Celebrate customers more frequently and less formally

It’s Customer Service Week (Oct. 5-9) and, since I work in the field, I suppose I should contribute to the conversation this week. Let me start by saying that celebrating the customer is a good thing – especially when you consider that, without customers,...

You’re not entitled to a 10

Earlier this week, I hired a local handyman service to knock out my “honey-do” list so that I was assured a weekend of uninterrupted football watching. The handyman, Eric, was prompt, even calling to let me know he was running ahead of schedule if...

Approachable customer service

I recently completed a consulting project for a network of county libraries. One of our objectives was to identify ways to incorporate exceptional customer service into the day-to-day processes at the libraries. As a part of my preparation, I read a research paper by...

Excellence doesn’t require permission

Whenever I go on record saying, “Most employees don’t choose to deliver poor customer service; they just don’t choose to deliver exceptional customer service” (or something similar), there are always pundits who emerge from the dark recesses of the Internet to lay the blame...

Don’t break your brand promise

Many companies have brand promises that look good in ads, and emblazoned on websites, banners and buttons, but often these promises have little credibility among customers or employees. They are simply a set of words brainstormed at an ad agency that usually promise more...

Customer experience Q&A

The following post contains a recent interview by Erica Marois of ICMI: 1. In your book you mention that 80% of companies claim to provide superior service, while only 8% of customers agree. Where are companies missing the mark? Too many companies focus exclusively on…

Serving is selling

I recently struck up a conversation with my insurance agent, Kevin, about the link between customer service and sales. We both agreed that the line separating these two distinct disciplines is fuzzy. Where does customer service stop and selling start? Kevin said that while his...

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