Category Archives: Customer Service

The One Skill That Most Managers Lack

Did you know that current research indicates that the No. 1 leadership skill most managers lack is communication with empathy?

The need to “create a communication-friendly environment” was the first choice listed on the top 10 skills and qualities of leaders by Officevibe, a fast-growing web-based tool for human resource and business leaders. And in 2015, an Interact/Harris Poll of approximately 1,000 U.S. workers illustrated the importance of opening those communication lines with empathy. In the poll, 91% of employees reported that communication is an area where executives need to improve, and a closer look at the results reveals a striking need for more empathy in the workplace. A failure to recognize employee achievements was cited by 63% of respondents, topping the list of specific communication issues. That list also included refusing to talk to subordinates (51%) and taking credit for others’ ideas (47%). Some in the survey even complained of bullying by management.  

All employees are entitled to a respectful work environment, but communication with empathy can impact more than that. As it raises team morale, it also can improve the bottom line.

According to Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager, disengaged employees cost up to $500 billion in lost productivity per year – with poor managers responsible for at least 70% of that employee disengagement. Liz Ryan, HR professional and author of the book Reinvention Roadmap, says the No. 1 skill these managers need is what she calls “perspective-taking.” In her column on that subject for, Ryan spells out a “working” definition of communication with empathy. “The more often you consciously step out of your own perspective to take someone else’s view, the more powerful you will become,” Ryan says.

So if you are trying to narrow the focus of any leadership training and development efforts you may be considering in the near term, this is one you may want to prioritize for anyone who manages people.

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Learning Dynamics offers training, organization development and coaching services that can help your organization grow and excel. Contact us today, call 203.265.7499 or email

Make Sure Your Systems are not Impediments to Stellar Service

The following passage is directly from Jim DeMaio’s book, Banking on Stellar Service: Strategies to Ensure Your Financial Institution Stands Out.

Customer-centric banks have systems that support, not impede, their customers’ experience with them.

Starting with their core system, banks must ensure that their core system provider remains state-of-the-art and not “user-hostile.” Often, every 5-7 years, a bank’s contract with its core service provider comes up for renewal. Many banks, because of their employees’ comfort with the system, will automatically renew, rather than determining whether there is a more state-of-the-art digital system available that enhances the customer experience.

The bank’s core system, coupled with its internal systems and procedures, will impact customer service. Take opening accounts, for example. This should not be a cumbersome process for the customer, or the bank employee, where it takes a half hour to open an account. We know of several banks where opening an account is so laborious that branch staff suggest customers or prospective customers set up appointments to do so.

A core system should also be evaluated on the ease of use and intuitiveness of back office, loan, and sales functions as well. Can it support ancillary systems, such as mortgage and loan origination? Does it incorporate the latest compliance and security measures?

With fewer customers coming into the bank, online banking needs to be easy to use. At one bank, the online banking system is so complicated, that branch staff hesitate to bring it up as an option to customers, for fear that the customer will ask for a demonstration by the employees, who will likely struggle with it!

Other internal systems, such as General Ledger, should be reviewed periodically for ways to streamline them.

A bank should also update its policies and procedures, and have them readily accessible for customer-facing employees. As previously noted, procedures using the Playscript format are easier to write and follow, as opposed to ones written as a lengthy paragraph narrative.

Blunder Bank

At Blunder Bank, the same core system has been used for decades. The system is outdated and difficult to use. Customer-facing employees even develop their own “work around” so that customers are not inconvenienced by it.

Better Bank

At Better Bank, senior management asks, “How can this enhance the customer experience?” when designing, revamping, or purchasing systems. The bank ensures that employees receive timely training on their systems and maintain up-to-date, easy-to-follow documentation.

Coaching Tip

When working with an employee who is struggling to use a new system, which can impede service to your customers, remember that everyone has their own learning style. It may be that the struggling employee is a visual learner, and needs to spend more time navigating the system to better comprehend it.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do your employees receive timely training on your internal systems?
  2. Is there up-to-date documentation for all of your systems?
  3. Does your core processing system enhance or impede the customer experience?

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Claim your complete copy of Banking on Stellar Service: Strategies to Ensure Your Financial Institution Stands Out.

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Learning Dynamics offers training, organization development and coaching services that can help your organization grow and excel. Contact us today, call 203.265.7499 or email

Learning & Development is More than a Class


When our Consultants at Learning Dynamics meet with clients to discuss training initiatives, we always start by asking what the client wants to accomplish. Combined with a thorough understanding of the current conditions within the client’s company, sometimes down to the individual employee, we make recommendations that go beyond training alone. Here is the story of one client engagement that called for much more than instructor-led training.

Our client was a small specialty healthcare organization, and it saw some need to improve performance in its patient contact center. The department was made up of contact center agents and a supervisor tasked with training them, monitoring performance, coaching, and delivering on revenue objectives. Senior management’s opinion was that their people could be doing more.

Learning Dynamics engaged in a detailed review of the workflow, the talent, and obstacles to success. By bringing in a Consultant with contact center management as well as learning and development experience, we were able to identify several opportunities to help. Our proposed solution included instructor-led patient service training, follow-up written training materials (Learning Dynamics Skills Sharpeners), and performance coaching for the supervisor. Significantly, our solution also included developing a call monitoring and evaluation tool so the supervisor had a standard process and criteria to evaluate performance.

The process of creating the call monitoring tool was itself revealing. Our Consultant sat with the supervisor, listened to recorded calls, and identified immediately some opportunities for improvement. One issue – extended and unnecessary hold times – was addressed immediately. The tool continues to be used for agent coaching and has helped produce great results.

This engagement also allowed us to demonstrate flexibility to respond to the client’s needs. Toward the end of the coaching period, a senior manager identified agents’ time management and prioritization skills as needing further development. Knowing that pulling all agents off the phones for a long class was not practical, we created a 45-minute webinar, delivered before the contact center opened for the day, that delivered the essentials of what the agents needed. The feedback has been terrific.

This story is just one example of our ability and willingness to collaborate with our clients to customize a solution that meets your organization’s unique needs. Connect with us today to start the conversation about Investing in People™.

Call 203.265.7499 or email

Customer Service Glitches: Train for Recovery

Every company has customers, so every company must pay attention to customer service. In our increasingly connected culture, where every meal, hotel stay, attraction, and service can be rated and reviewed by the masses on yelp!, Trip Advisor, Google, or any of the other countless websites, organizations interested in growth have got to get it right. One bad interaction can lead to a review that lives forever on the Internet. Usually, it’s the little things – and how you recover from them – that make a big difference.

Most every organization looks at the big things. Airlines generally get their planes in the air on or close to schedule and most bags get to where they should go. Hotels will have a room for you if you have a reservation. The supermarket will be open, the lights will be on, and the registers will be ready. Big stuff is the price of admission; little things separate the elite from the rest. Here are a couple of examples of how little things can make for a bad experience.

One of our consultants shared this story: I needed to pick up some nutritional drink for my son. The product is sold in a four-pack for about 10 dollars. I went to the store, picked up two four-packs and went to pay. The cashier rang eight bottles as one item. When I corrected her, telling her she only charged me for one instead of two, she said, “Wow! That’s really expensive. I didn’t realize that was two packages. That’s really expensive.” In the end, I did the right thing by pointing out her error, and in return, I was reminded of the price tag and almost regretted pointing out the error.”

How could the cashier have done a better job? At the least, she could have thanked the customer for being honest by pointing out the error.

Another member of our team recently had a home repair done by a local company. The work was warranted for a year, and soon after it was completed, something went wrong, requiring the company to come back to redo the work. After two unreturned phone calls, a letter was sent that finally got a response.

Clearly, a process was needed to improve responsiveness to phone calls.

Here are some idea about boosting your company’s customer service performance by investing in your people who deliver it every day.

Hire people who care about customer service. What does your selection process include? If you are hiring customer-facing employees, consider including behavioral interview questions for which the candidate must give you an example of competent customer service recovery. Role play common scenarios. Those who have done it well before will do it again.

Lead with a customer service attitude. Everyone in the organization – from the CEO to the first-level supervisor – must embrace and model strong service delivery.

Train and empower your team. Customer service training combined with employee empowerment – allowing your people to fix problems on the spot – makes a huge difference. Online retailer Zappos is known for empowered people who can make decisions to solve problems without getting supervisor approval. If you have hired and trained the right people, why not trust them?

Recognize service champions. People generally repeat the behaviors that get rewarded. Does your organization have a formal program to recognize and reward its service superstars? If not, why not?

Train for recovery. Things go wrong. Prepare for it. Spend time training on problem clarification, solutions exploration, and satisfaction confirmation. Statistics show that customers who have had a problem that was quickly resolved are more likely to be loyal to your company than those customers who never had a problem at all. We don’t want there to be problems, but recognize them as opportunities to bolster loyalty, and your team will look forward to the chance to be the next service heroes.

Measure It. How do you know if your customers are happy? How likely are they to refer you to others? How are you performing over time? Are you better this year than last? Mystery shoppers, surveys, and calls to customers can give you insight that might not be possible otherwise.

Customer service will never go away as a top priority. Leaders who embrace the challenge and view it as a way to differentiate their organizations from the competition will win. What can you do right now to better position your company to deliver superiors service? Try some of the tips above and let us know how it goes.


Learning Dynamics offers powerful customer service training and mystery shopping services. Exceeding Customer Expectations can help your entire company enhance its service delivery efforts. Contact us today for more information.