CSP Happenings





Tagged: company culture

How to Impress an Off-the-Clock Customer Experience Expert

January 12, 2017

omaha gas station/food shop

Welcome to my favorite gas station / food shop in Omaha.

It only makes sense that as specialists in customer experience and service, CSP staffers are especially attuned to their own interactions with businesses. Here, Brittni Redding, Director of Client Education, describes one business that has earned her loyalty and what others can learn by this example.  

You can really tell quite a bit about the culture of an establishment by assessing the “climate,” or the feel when you walk in the door as a customer.

I have a uniquely memorable experience when I get my daily coffee at a gas station near our offices here in Omaha, Nebraska.  When I walk in the door, the first thing I notice is that all eyes are up from the task at hand, and I’m greeted warmly.  I also notice that the environment is clean and well stocked – if a customer walks through with wet or muddy shoes, it’s mopped up immediately. These may seem like bare-minimum details, but they already set the tone for what kind of service I can expect from this business.

brittni redding with coffee

Starting my day off right!

Keeping the coffee urns full is clearly a top priority in the morning.  You can observe every single employee checking and checking and checking.  One time, (and I mean only once) the original roast ran out for me mid-pour.  I chose another brew and politely notified the cashier during check-out.  His response? “We didn’t get you what you wanted today, so that coffee is on the house.”  Score one for me and another for this business!

My favorite part of this daily visit might be one of the regular cashiers. Chuck dresses up various days of the week in a loud flowered shirt and straw hat (or as Uncle Sam on Election Day) and always says to me “Hey, hey!  How are we doing today?” I can’t recall a time when I didn’t see a smile on his face.  He also always notices if I stray from my normal purchase of a large coffee and granola bar and asks about how the additional snacks fit into my day.  “No time for lunch today?” he’ll say, and we’ll go on from there until he closes by wishing me the best day ever.  He is SO happy!  Every. Single. Day. 

This is how you make customers smile!

My co-workers, who have been patrons of this particular gas station for many years before I joined the team, told me about it when I first started.  Clearly the service has an impact on referrals!  The turnover is minimal, given they have seen the same workers there for years – a good sign that the internal climate for employees is as good as the external impression I get as a customer.

Some key elements that I see at play at this gas station/food shop:
  • a clear picture of their main purpose (the customer), which is shared by all employees, not just one or two “top performers,” as evidenced by their genuine and authentic approach to ALL customers
  • autonomy and empowerment at the shop level to allow employees to make customer-centric decisions, which could correlate to a trust-based internal culture
  • openness to new ideas and willingness to progress through fun social media promotions and crazy outfits. The company itself runs fun promotions via social media every Friday.  Telling employees a chosen phrase, like “Go Big Red” (in honor of the Huskers) earns you a 25-cent coffee.
What really blows me away is that this is a gas station we’re talking about. 

You can go anywhere for gas and food, right?  Yet many times I have gone out of my way to give this particular station my business. Stepping back into my professional shoes for a moment, I’m measuring their “culture” as a result of how I feel as a consumer during my interactions with the business.  My colleague Jeff Dahms (CSP’s Vice President of Research and Development) would undoubtedly prefer some hard numbers related to turnover, business performance, sales, etc. – but the point remains, when the culture of a place is right, the customer feels it.


You may also want to read:

Deconstructing Company Culture: Q&A with CSP’s Brittni Redding

December 20, 2016

Meet Brittni Redding, CSP's Director of Client Education.

Meet Brittni Redding, CSP’s Director of Client Education.

With her background in both financial services and managerial/professional development, Brittni Redding was a natural fit to join CSP in 2016. As our Director of Client Education, Brittni has been instrumental in developing and supporting CSP’s Manager Development and Training solutions.

Brittni’s hands-on role with our clients, and her previous experience in a variety of training and coaching capacities, give her a unique edge. She’s keenly tuned in to what makes managers and their employees gel – and what doesn’t. Rather than keep her behind the scenes, we’ve invited her to share some of her insights as a facilitator and educator on all things company culture, here on this blog. 

How have businesses’ (and specifically, banks’) expectations of their managers and internal leaders changed?

In banking, there are typically clear measurements for what is being accomplished — e.g., loan and deposit volume, services per household, or the controversial cross-sell.  We’ve all worked with the “top performer” who rocks at results but leaves a trail of dead bodies in their wake to get there.  This sends the message that the organization accepts, even condones, a “win at all costs” mentality, which in turn affects culture and climate.

Most organizations are learning that beyond bottom line results, it’s important for Managers and Leaders to be held accountable for how they are getting there.  They should ask themselves: Am I inspiring my team to deliver exceptional customer experiences, or are they encouraged to chase a score?  Do I utilize customer feedback as a development tool to ignite coaching conversations, or is it a punitive measure? 

In your observation, does the topic of company culture get as much attention as it should?

Company culture is always a hot topic, but it’s hard to move beyond the rhetoric to action.  So much of it is founded in “unspoken rules” that developed over a significant amount of time.  Changing those requires a long, uphill battle of resetting expectations, maintaining consistency (even behind the scenes) and establishing buy-in from the top down.  To succeed nowadays, organizations must be prepared to act not only on the measurable performance of people and processes, but on cultural misalignment. 

I bring this into focus for CSP’s clients by helping them develop a unique “service climate” at the branch or department level.  Managers play a key role in fostering a service climate geared toward service through consistent communication, coaching, peer to peer feedback, and best practice sharing. That service climate is then owned at the employee level, based on their perception of what behavior is expected, supported and rewarded. 

What is the role of managers in facilitating changes and making training stick?

Front line managers are the most critical players in holding employees accountable for training concepts – but that training must also be aligned with organizational goals. I once facilitated a training session for a group of contact center representatives, on the topic of recommending additional products and services.  I employed all the adult learning must-haves: interactivity, robust discussion, activities, handouts, job applicability, what’s in it for them – everything!  During a call listening session after the training, I desperately waited to hear the reps utilizing concepts from the class…but it didn’t happen. 

Why? The front line managers’ objectives weren’t actually about customer relationship expansion at all, but reducing hold times through effective and efficient service.  I had missed the critical step of communicating with the most important link to employee accountability – the managers.  Now, before considering learning and development objectives, I like to run pilots or special manager sessions to make sure we are on the same page.  The combination of alignment and post-training accountability is a must-have for any change to stick.

Is there a common theme, idea, or truth about manager development that you think companies tend to miss or undervalue?

Too often, managers tend to focus on identifying and improving employees’ weaknesses, rather than investing in their talents.  What they don’t realize is that they can achieve the same desired outcomes (or better) with a positive, strength-based approach rather than the more conventional weakness-eliminating model. My belief in this mentality is what led me to become a certified Strengths Coach through Gallup.

Empower your employees to play to their strengths and affect the company culture.

Your company culture should empower your employees to play to their strengths.

This is something that has played out for me personally.  Discipline, execution, and all the dirty details have never come naturally to me, whether at work or after hours. I had a personal goal to get healthy and work out more, but none of the strict master plans putting me at the gym or on the treadmill seemed to stick. Meanwhile, what I am good at is the big picture view, coming up with ideas, and collaborating with others.  My friend encouraged me to join a tennis team, which incorporated more of how I’m naturally inclinedand that worked! I continue to do that for exercise to this day.  I’m accomplishing the same outcome of exercise but doing it in a way that I enjoy and that comes more naturally to me. 

Now apply this logic to a coaching scenario:  when faced with Bankers and Tellers who are more analytical than socially driven, some managers might try to correct this “weakness” and get these employees to be bubblier.  But a strength-based approach would have them instead apply their eye for detail to drive customer service – going into more detail about products, following up meticulously, etc. 


You may also want to read: