How to make employees want to come to work.

Over the years I have experienced a myriad of different work atmospheres both as an employer, a consultant and a manager and in all these situations the one thing that has always proven true is that people perform better in an atmosphere that they are comfortable being in.  If you create an atmosphere that people like being in they will produce far greater than if they are in an atmosphere that is antagonistic.

A few years ago I was hired as a consultant for an incoming call center in Las Vegas in an attempt to find out why they has such poor sales conversion and such a high agent attrition level.  After only one day there I knew the reason, the call center manager was very strict and ran a very tight ship. Call center agents were not allowed to talk to their neighbor, they were not allowed to read at their desk, they were not allowed any snacks, and they were not allowed to do anything but answer the phone.  Because it was an inbound center there of course were times when it was slow and the phone was not ringing for some agents, during that time, they were expected to read company product information, nothing else.  Whenever the manager walked onto the call center floor you could see the tension in the room, everyone sat upright in their seat and you could cut the tension with a knife.  I randomly talked to a couple dozen agents and advised them our conversation was strictly confidential and asked them how they felt about their job and the feeling across the floor was pretty much consistent, none of them liked working there because of the manager, they felt the rules were unreasonable, they all talked about how many people were constantly quitting because of the working conditions and quite a few of them were on the lookout for another job. The supervisor’s opinions echoed the agents and some of the supervisors said they tried to talk to the manager about these working conditions but he would not listen and was not interested in what the supervisors had to say.

After witnessing this operation for around three or four days I sat down with the owner of the call center  and gave him my opinion that his biggest problem was the call center manager, he had created an atmosphere of stress and that most of the agents did not like their job.  He asked me what my recommendation was and I told him my recommendation was to find a new call center manager and to immediately put new policies into place.  My suggestions for him were to relax the rules for agents reading at their desk, and allow them to read magazines during slow periods so long as the phone was picked up on the first ring, and to allow them to quietly speak with their neighbor directly next to them so long as they kept their voices down and as long as it did not interfere with any of the agents who were on the phone and didn’t distract anyone.  I also said that allowing small snacks such as chips and pretzels on their desk should be allowed.  He was a little leery about some of the things I was suggesting and I said to him you are not running a preschool here, these are adults, and you need to treat them as such, you need to make this a conductive working environment.  I stayed around for another day or two and then left, about a month later I received a call from him letting me know that my suggestions had worked out very well.  The call center was much more relaxed, sales conversions were up, and they had not lost an employee in the last month. He said of course they had to set some guidelines because there are always those that will try to take advantage but that overall everything I suggested worked and several of the agents had made comments that this was now a great place to work.

I told this story because it is a great example of how simple things can make a huge difference in a company and it proves if you have an employee that hates their job, hates coming to work, this attitude is most definitely going to affect their work, their productivity, on the other hand if you create a working environment that is enjoyable and create an atmosphere that people like working in, this will create a more productive employee.  Create a workplace environment that is not only productive, but fun, a place where your employee’s friends and relatives are jealous of and you will see the results.

Customer Service; whose job is it anyway?

A week or so ago I posed this question during a lecture to MBA students: “Who’s responsible for Customer Service?’, and the answers I received were spread across the board.

  • The Customer Service department
  • Sales
  • Business Development
  • Public Relations
  • Everyone

Everyone!  Bam! That is absolutely right.  Everyone in an organization is responsible for customer service, and while depending on the size of your company you may have a department that’s sole responsibility is customer service that does not change the fact that every person in a company that comes in contact with a customer or prospective customer should be tasked with representing the company in a positive manner.

Every employee of a company should be trained in customer service regardless of their position or job title because every person that a customer or potential customer comes in contact with has the ability of leaving an impression.  Something as simple as asking a janitor for directions can have an impact on the impression of a company that is formed; it should be the goal of every company to have employees that are friendly and have a willingness to help attitude.  There is nothing that turns me off more than when I am somewhere and I ask for assistance and the person has no personality or an I don’t care attitude and while that person may be a low level employee that is unable to help me, their attitude is going to leave an impression that is probably going to last, especially if that is the first impression of the company that I received.

Customer Service is something that should be received by every single employee from the bottom to the top in every organization; it is the responsibility of everyone.

How much is too much email? – Guest Post – Karen Post

That is a million dollar question. Email continues to get high marks as an effective channel to reach customers and prospects, but it can also cross the line of too much, too frequent and even feel pest-like.

Oddpodz is very sensitive concerning how often we reach out to our community. Starting this week, we are going to employ a new schedule of sending ezines to our friends and supporters. Twice a month we will blast our top posts from our three blogs. On the off ezine blast weeks, we will post a wrap up article in the Grow your Business blog. And if you want a daily dose of Oddpodz, please sign up for our RSS feed too.

Let us know what you think? Just enough? Too much? Need more?

The Purpose of a Business

I have often heard small business owners say that they are comfortable where they are, that they are not looking to increase business, not looking to expand, they are happy with their current income level and the amount of work that they have to do and that they don’t have an interest in doing anything more than what they are currently doing.  This quite honestly is a horrible attitude for any business owner to have, small, medium or large.  The purpose of a business, including a small business is not to make you comfortable, its purpose is not to provide the owner with a paycheck so that he or she can live comfortably and do just enough to get to a comfortable point in life.  That is not the purpose of a small business.

The purpose of all businesses are the same, whether that is a small mom and pop operation or fortune 500 company, the purpose is the same, it is consistent across all verticals, it’s purpose is unwavering, and it is a simple one; the purpose of a business is to MAKE MONEY.  That’s it, nothing more, it exists to generate as profit.  It doesn’t matter if you have a DBA, are a sole proprietor, a corporation, or a publicly traded company, a business is its own entity, and has its own purpose, and that is to generate a profit.  Whether your small business is providing a service, or selling a product, it has a life of its own, and it has a purpose of its own, and that purpose is to generate a profit, have a return on investment that is sensible and to continuously strive to improve its bottom line, and if you are running your small business any other way than you are doomed for failure.  I say that because regardless of how successful your business is, regardless of how loyal your customers base is, a business cannot survive without constantly bringing in new clients, and continuously doing things to improve on the service and products,  bringing in new services and products,  because failing to do this is certain death for a business.  You can only survive so long on the loyalty of existing customers, eventually a better deal will come along, customers no longer need what you are offering, they move out of the area, they lose jobs, whatever… your business needs to consistently strive to improve itself, it needs to consistently strive to bring in new clients and it needs to consistently strive to increase the bottom line, to make more money.

So at the end of the day if as a small business owner you are not motivated to do these things that your small business needs, if you are burned out, been doing this too long, whatever the reason is, it may be time for you to move on, let someone else take over, whatever works, but your business needs to be fed, it needs innovation, it needs new clients, it needs to attempt to outperform where it is currently, it needs to create new streams of revenue, it needs to continuously grow and without this it is doomed to die.

Does whats after the @ matter?

Whenever I go to a website and the contact email address has an AOL, Gmail, Yahoo or some similar account, it really rubs me the wrong way. If you are going to spend the time and money to create a website, why not take the extremely easy step to creating an email address to go with it; It doesn’t cost you anymore because most hosting packages include an email address, as a matter of fact most of them include several, even hundreds depending on the package you have.  It just makes little sense to me to have a professionally designed website www.anywhere.com and then an email address that says johnnybgood@yahoo.com.  Is it just me?

It’s not even just websites either, I have had people hand me business cards, and it was obvious that they spent some money, nice paper, great looking logo, raised print their domain www.abcinsurance.com in the middle of the card, and then an AOL address.  ??  I just don’t get it.  It really makes you look like an amateur, and to me no matter how good looking the site is, no matter how professionally designed your business cards and other literature are, not having your email address match your domain just kills it for me.

So from a marketing professional to all of you out there that do not have a domain email address to go with your website, take it from me, it’s hurting your image.  Take the extra step and create an email address to complete the package, it’s easy, and probably free.