Tag Archive: sales


……….and you will deliver world-class customer service.

Popular belief suggests that customers are the reason problems begin in any organization. That’s far from the case in reality; problems begin with the company and its employees. Customers expect a top-notch experience but receive a bad one instead. As a result, the company loses them forever.  Excellent customer service starts with employees, and if the employees aren’t happy with your company, how can you expect them to make your customers happy?

In my book  Fresh Customer Service- Treat the Employee as #1 and the Customer as #2 and you will get customers for life – I explain that the best way to make your customers happy is to ensure  your employees are happy with their job and empowered and equipped to deliver a world-class customer service experience.  The first two steps of the 6.5 steps  are Side by Side Walking and Smart Tasking.

  1. Side By Side Walking

The first fresh step towards understanding your employees is side by side walking. This essentially means stepping into your employees’ shoes, enabling you to identify the gaps in your company’s operations and helping you determine which areas need improvement. All you have to do is engage in the same activities as your employees for one day to understand where your company stands.

Steps to Effective Side by Side Walking

Following are the main steps for side by side walking:

  • Make safety a priority
  • Jobs should be described in written documents which outline the tasks and desired outcomes
  • Mentally prepare yourself and realize the significance and purpose of this strategy
  • Ensure you adopt same dress code, gear, and use the same equipment as your employees
  • Perform all pre-work tasks your employees have to perform like clocking in, preparing shift register, reading the task board, etc.
  • Do all the tasks as per the existing processes and procedures the employees follow
  • Observe all the tasks and process being followed during the shift
  • Ensure that you complete the entire shift
  • Reflect and assess the tasks you did, the problems that occurred, and compare it to the job description of your employees
  • Determine where the problems are and where improvements are needed.

2.    Smart Tasking

The second fresh step towards understanding your customers is Smart Tasking. It helps in setting up clear priorities and expectations for your employees which would assist them in offering the best customer support to your customers. Train your employees to smart task effectively and encourage them to speak up if they are assigned tasks that they deem ineffective and unnecessary. This helps in eliminating unnecessary work for the employees and makes their tasks more manageable and enjoyable for them.

Steps for Smart Tasking

Following are the main steps for smart tasking:

  • Understand the processes and operations
  • Identify the right tasks and eliminate unnecessary ones
  • Recommend specific time duration for each task
  • Never sacrifice safety of your employees
  • Ensure you provide easy step-by-step instructions for all tasks
  • Determine if the tasks adds to the customers’ experience and to what degree
  • Make adjustments where necessary
  • Review all tasks to ensure they are necessary for the overall process
  • Offer appropriate training of smart tasking for your employees

Understanding the problems your employees face and the environment they work in will help you in making their work experience better. Training them to prioritize and eliminating complex and unnecessary tasks will enhance their work satisfaction and make tasks easy for them. As a result, they will be able to offer a world-class customer service experience  to your customers.


Basic RGB

Winning customers is important, and there are many tried-and-true methods for obtaining new customers (which often means “stealing” them from your competitors) I won’t go into here. However, too many professionals and businesses focus only on the win and not on the equally important task of not losing their customers to their competitors after the fact. After all, your competitors are also constantly trying to “win” customers, and they do not consider yours to be off limits!

To help ensure that customers stay won once the winning is done, I have compiled a list 6.5 ways to lose your customers to the competition. Remember, this is a “to-don’t” list, not a “to-do” list!


  1. Save your best offers for new customers. There is nothing more annoying to a loyal customer of a business than to see much better prices, deals and promotions given to new customers than anything they receive as established patrons. The message it sends is you only value customers up until the moment they switch their loyalty to you. And guess what? Your competitors are also offering lots of great new (or even returning) customer incentives your own, feeling-overlooked customers will likely be receptive to. Don’t stop incentivizing new customers, but make sure you also give incentives to existing customers who stick around, too.
  2. Provide poor customer service. It’s understood that the general quality of customer service offered today is abysmal. However, if your business is among the swelling ranks of companies providing poor customer service, your customers will switch to a competitor who even offers something marginally better. If you want truly top-notch customer service, try the counter-intuitive notion of putting your employees first and customers second. The resulting wave of morale and engagement among your employees will naturally produce excellent customer service that attracts and maintains customers, rather than pushes them away.
  3. Offer non-competitive prices. Figuring out what to charge for your products and/or services is never easy. Prices that are set too low will make profits hard to come by and also attract the least loyal type of customer – the one only interested in the cheapest price. However, if your prices are too much higher than those of your competitors, your customers will consider saving money by switching to a competitor, even if there is some drop-off in quality. Determine the top and middle of the price range offered by your competitors, and position yourself somewhere in between. Be sure you justify the price with your results!




Step 2. Live the Frontline Experience. Everyone in the organization, including senior management, should live the frontline experience, both as an employee and as a customer. Spending even a day fulfilling the role of an entry-level frontline associate will provide managers a much more intimate sense of how customer experience is delivered and what will make it as good as possible, and periodic undercover “customer visits” from management are also a must to ensure everything looks as good to the customer as it does to the employees.

Step 3. Smart Tasking. Smart Tasking clearly defines the critical tasks/processes that support the customer service offering and the deadlines by which they must be completed. The most important factor is completing the necessary tasks/processes without impeding the delivery of a customer service experience that shines through the darkest gloom of a recession. Smart Tasking creates a harmonized balance between completing the tasks/processes and delivering a World-Class customer service experience.

To effect Smart Tasking in your organization, simply keep a careful eye on the frontline tasks your employees perform, the order in which they prioritize them, and periodically review them to ensure that they are appropriate and add value to the customer experience. Actively involve the Frontline Employees in Smart Tasking and encourage them to speak up when they find themselves performing tasks that are inefficient, ineffective, or just plain unnecessary.

Whatever time you may “lose” in careful observation and review will more than pay for itself in higher levels of employee efficiency, customer satisfaction, and corporate profits.

Step 4. Create a What-If Arsenal. Inevitably, the frontline employees delivering your customer experience will come across unpredictable circumstances outside their immediate control, such as an out-of-stock product or on-site accident. When fastballs of everyday life are thrown at you and your organization, you need to have a strategy for hitting homeruns in unstable conditions. It’s called life, and the What-If Arsenal is a strategy for life success, regardless of how the economy is doing.

The What-If Arsenal toolbox should be filled with techniques, strategies and scenarios generated by the frontline employees who encounter them every day. Management should then help frontline employees put these ideas into action. The Arsenal constantly grows as the organization grows, and customers will feel confident returning knowing that whatever problems arise, they will be solved quickly!

Step 5. Make-It-Right Power. Once you have given your employees a What-If Arsenal, equip them with the Make-It-Right Power to put that arsenal into action. Make-It-Right Power puts the ability to deliver a world-class customer service experience in the hands of the people who are best able to deliver it: The employees who interact with the customers. It’s about empowering and positioning employees to be able to instantly solve customer problems and view them as opportunities to Make-It-Right now for the customer.

Even once a What-If Arsenal is in place, managers will not always be on hand to supervise employees in executing it. Make-It-Roght power means they don’t have to be.

Step 6. Focus the entire organization on customer service. The entire organization needs to be focused on providing a World-Class customer service experience. The quicker you solve the problem, the greater the opportunity for making the customer happy and keeping him or her coming back. Every program, strategy, and initiative should have an automatic space carved out for providing a World-Class customer service experience.

If the front line is not empowered or it does not have immediate access to someone who is empowered to provide an instant solution to the problem, the problem will remain with the customer longer and fester into something greater and cause him or her to be even more dissatisfied with the experience. And in an ultracompetitive environment for limited customer dollars, dissatisfaction is unacceptable!

Step 6.5 Just Make It Happen. This is a half-step simply meant to remind you that the first six steps do you no good unless you actively put them into practice today and then constantly follow up to ensure they remain in practice (and continue to improve) throughout your organization. It’s one thing to “commit” to fresh customer service, it’s another thing to roll up your sleeves and make it happen.

The cost? Whatever the market rate for elbow grease and determination is these days. Like so many of the most valuable things in life, there is no financial value you can put on them, but they’re worth more than anything you can put a price sticker on. And in a time of scarce resources, they are more precious than ever.







Despite low levels of inflation and unemployment, most Americans still consider themselves living in an economic recession, and with good reason. High-paying, secure jobs with benefits have been replaced by low-paying, uncertain jobs with little or no benefits, leaving people with little money to spread around even as prices remain stable. In this financial climate, the average consumer is buying what they need to get by and little else. Clearly, it’s not the best environment for attracting paying customers to your business.

But despite these obstacles, you can still attract and retain paying customers in the current consumer landscape. How? By using 6.5 steps drawn from my Fresh Customer Service methodology that I developed over years of working in customer-oriented settings, starting as a child handyman. Fresh Customer Service brought me from childhood poverty to exponential success as an executive with several major companies and now as a motivational speaker and career coach. Let’s examine how you can start using Fresh Customer Service today to draw in customers.

Step 1. Make Your Customer Number Two. Since most customer service strategies are partially or wholly based on making the customer number one, then obviously customer service levels must be at an all-time high, right? Everywhere you go, people are raving about how great their daily customer service experiences are, and customer satisfaction polls back this affirmation up with hard data.

I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing before I continue. Hopefully you didn’t snort any of your morning coffee out your nose. We all realize that in far too many cases, the one word that best sums up the state of customer service today is “disaster.” Yet especially in an era where prices have already been slashed, customer service is more important than ever as a competitive differentiator.

The key to running a successful operation is believing and practicing the concept that customers should always come second—employees matter more in the immediate sense and should therefore come first. After all, happy employees unleash their enthusiasm and passion from within, and that passion is contagious. It infects everyone around them, including customers.

And happy employees naturally provide superior customer service. They smile. So thank your employees every day, let them be involved in the planning of the work affecting them, and treat them with the utmost respect and courtesy. Even in times when consumers are looking to do things quickly and cheaply, they will notice… and come back for more!


making a first impression

Yes, the three second rule applies to you

One of the key reasons I have been able to pull myself out of poverty and into a life filled with personal and professional success is that I have always maintained an extremely high level of vigor in everything I do. Staying invigorated will give you a huge leg up in making the all-important “three-second impression.” In the three seconds it takes you to walk through a door and extend your hand to someone for the first time, that person has already made irreversible judgments about you. You send out hundreds of signals about yourself, and people read those signals and react to them long before you’ve had a chance to say anything of substance.

Success in the new millennium comes to people who are versatile and can make positive impressions in any group. To ensure those judgments are favorable, have self-confidence, a positive attitude, and a neat appearance.

Also remember that the greatest temptation to give up, to slack off, and to lose sight of your goals will come just before you are about to succeed. Stay laser-focused on achieving exponential personal and professional success—be it for yourself, your career, your organization or your business.

As mentioned earlier, in the three seconds it takes you to walk through a door and extend your hand to someone for the first time, that person has already made irreversible judgments about you. You send out hundreds of signals about yourself, and people read those signals and react to them long before you’ve had a chance to say anything of substance.

Or to help you fully understand the “three-second rule,” think about how critical a high level of physical and mental health is to making a good impression. Imagine someone is meeting you for the very first time. Whether you want to admit it or not, you know they are going to immediately look you up and down and pass judgment on what they see, and you will care deeply what they think. Will they see a person who slumps their shoulders, lets their stomach stick out, and leaves loose, flabby limbs hanging limply, with a facial expression of resigned exhaustion and indifferent grooming and hygiene?

Or will they see a person with broad shoulders and a straight back, with a tight abdomen and taut, well-defined limbs locked into proper posture, smiling confidently and exhibiting impeccable attention to their appearance and cleanliness? Besides requiring regular access to good medical professionals, maintaining this type of health requires a high degree of vigor to keep up with the exercise, diet, active pace and positive attitude needed to make such a stunning first impression.

Ask your friends, boss, colleagues, and other trusted members of your personal network to close their eyes and open them when you walk into the room and give their first impression of you. Compare this impression with your intended impression and work on closing the gaps. You can’t see the big picture if you are in the frame; get help from someone who can tell you what you need to hear.

Remember, success in the new millennium comes to people who are versatile and can make positive impressions in any group. None of this is possible without a constant flow of vigor and confidence that exudes from you and is obvious to everyone you come in contact with. So stay invigorated and make those first three seconds meaningful!




Michael D. Brown developed a customer service process (6.5 Fresh Steps to World-Class Customer Service) that during the past 15 years has been credited with reengineering and enhancing the customer service strategy and experience for a number of small, mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies, including Marriott, Macaroni Grill, U.S. Army, Wendy’s, Omni Hotels, Houston Rockets, Capital One, Wells Fargo, Greater Houston Partnership, Jason’s Deli, Amoco Oil Company, ARCO Oil Company, Murphy Oil USA—The Wal-Mart Project, British Petroleum, and a number of colleges and universities. Michael was ranked in the top 5 percent among high-performing leaders and coaches in leading Global Fortune 500 companies. He is a globally recognized authority on customer service leadership for developing this customer service strategy that delivers to the frontline and three levels up in the user’s organization. This work was later turned into the best-selling book Fresh Customer Service—Treat the employee as #1 and the customer as #2 and you will get customers for life. He is also the author of Fresh Passion – Get A Brand or Die A Generic.

Michael’s success story is even more impressive considering his humble roots. Growing up as one of 10 siblings with a widowed mother in Holmes County, Mississippi, statistically among the poorest counties in the United States, Michael early on resolved to break the cycle of poverty and dead-end jobs that plagued so many of his friends, neighbors, and relatives. Starting with a job as a low-paid handyman and housecleaner for a verbally, mentally, and physically abusive boss at the age of nine, Michael quickly learned the importance of satisfying the customer and always doing the best possible job and having a brand of excellence, regardless of the circumstances.

He went from been supported by welfare to starting his own highly profitable candy-selling business (generating about $40 a day and quickly blossoming into a $300 to $400 a day business) in high school to support himself and the family, and then he worked his way through Jackson State University with a job as a cook at a fast-food restaurant, where he cut the average wait time at the drive-through window almost in half, achieve record sales, and received multiple raises within six months—but was not initially allowed to work directly with customers in the front of the house because of the “unwritten” rules. Despite this action, Michael continued to deliver greater results than all of his co-workers and stayed focused on delivering excellent results. After months of begging to work in the front of the restaurant, he was given a “trial shift,” which turned into a night of customers raving about his superior customer service and leaving over a dozen positive comment cards.

After graduating, Michael, who holds a BBA in management and an MBA in global management from Jackson State, embarked on a highly successful executive career where he consistently boosted profits and employee morale at companies in the hotel, food and beverage, oil and gas, and retail industries. It is this unique perspective and know-how gleaned from his upbringing that makes Michael a sought after speaker, career and management consultant, and the leading authority on delivering fresh results.

With a track record of delivering double-digit top- and bottom-line growth to his clients, Michael is able to take a problem and look at it five to seven levels deep, allowing the delivery of strategies and solutions that are detailed, yet simple, and impactful while focusing on the overall strategies and sustainability of the achieved growth. He has a unique ability to break down the complex strategies and processes into a simple and executable strategy that can be delivered with passion and conviction by the frontline at every step of the value chain.

Michael’s expertise in revamping how companies provide world-class customer service and establish a market-leading brand has led him to assisting individuals in creating personal brands that allow them to achieve otherwise unattainable levels of personal and professional success. He is recognized for this best-in-class coaching strategy that yields consistent results.

Michael has motivated and helped thousands of entrepreneurs, military personnel, individuals, college students, graduates, small business owners, and entrepreneurs move from a stage of generic mediocrity to an exciting place where they become successful personal brands that yields exponential personal economic and professional success. His signature work Fresh Passion: Get a Brand or Die a Generic is the catalyst for helping individuals make the transformation and achieving world-class success.

Michael’s ultimate message is this: Without a personal brand, you don’t have a career—you only have a job. When you are a “generic” individual, there is only so far you can go in a given job, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re replaced. If you develop a dynamic personal brand, however, you differentiate yourself from your competitors and become a force to be reckoned with. Nothing will keep you from personal, economic, and professional success.


For leadership coachingprofessional development training, customer service trainingcustomer service tips, college success tips, or to learn how to build a personal brand, how to improve customer service, or  how to succeed in college, contact Michael D Brown, a premier leadership speaker, customer service speaker, and college motivational speaker at http://www.myfreshbrand.com, http://www.freshcustomerservice.com, or http://www.52collegesuccesstips.com.


The low costs and high returns of 'fresh customer service'


You have probably heard the phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” more times than you can count. Apples are natural, healthy and best of all — cheap. If you aren’t eating an apple a day to maintain your health, presumably the cost isn’t what’s keeping you from doing so.

For the same amount of money that you would invest in that daily apple to ensure your physical health, you can also fund a strategy that will ensure the health of your frontline customer service operation. I call this strategy “Fresh Customer Service.”

Fresh Customer Service demystifies the process of attracting loyal, happy customers who return again and again and recommend your business to their friends and families. This type of customer reaction, what some may consider as a minor detail, can actually tip the scales and prove the difference between a prosperous organization and a bankrupt organization. So what’s the secret? The frontline employee.

Throughout your organization’s entire process of selling, serving, marketing, cleaning — you name it — the only way you can hope to deliver a world-class customer service experience is by listening to, equipping, empowering, involving and valuing the feedback and expertise your frontline employees can offer.

How do you implement and execute Fresh Customer Service? I have broken down the process into the following 6.5 simple and cost-effective steps.

Click here to read the full article.