The ‘Cure’ for lousy customer service

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I know it’s foolish to walk into one of Rochester’s most popular restaurants without a reservation on a Saturday night. But, we did it anyway; and, in addition to enjoying a great meal, it turned out to be a great lesson in how to cure the customer service ills that infect many companies.

I’ve been on a rant about lousy service lately. First, there was my experience with American Airlines (F-Bombs over Charlotte), followed by my open letter to the CEO of Delta. I got lots of responses to these posts, many of which brought to mind that it isn’t just major airlines that are afflicted with this disease.

Throughout, I have espoused a model of empowering employees first outlined for me by my good friend Cara Holland (Great Thinkers Who Are Also Great Leaders). It goes like Continue reading “The ‘Cure’ for lousy customer service”

An Open Letter to the CEO of Delta Airlines

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Dear Mr. Bastian,

Don’t worry. I haven’t been dragged off one of your planes by my hair or contracted an unheard-of, respiratory ailment through the ventilation system of one of your airplanes. Nor am I writing to complain about high fares or unbundled pricing. We consumers have made our own beds – always sorting by low price – and now must lie in it.

In fact, my last trip on your airline was almost pleasant because I paid extra to sit in an exit row. No, I am not writing to complain about my round-trip flight to Atlanta. I am Continue reading “An Open Letter to the CEO of Delta Airlines”

From the Birdbath and Back Again

1218_zoomEd Binkerd has died. He was 78 years old.

You’ve probably never heard of him and the death of someone his age is not remarkable in and of itself. But, Ed was a remarkable man — remarkable for his warmth, remarkable for his generosity of spirit, and remarkable for his charm and wit.

I first met him aboard the Bottom Line, a yacht whose owner has hosted many for an evening cruise or dinner on Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway. There was something about his ramblings and intermittent chuckling that caught my attention. He wasn’t just entertaining; he was intelligent, warm and funny.

He was “between opportunities” as we say of professionals on the hunt for a job. Soon Continue reading “From the Birdbath and Back Again”

Retrofitting Conscious Capitalism

 

The Conscious Capitalism movement made a big splash last week in our small city. A half-day conference featuring a keynote by Trader Joe’s founder Doug Rauch attracted over 100 local business leaders. The appeal to make business decisions in the context of community needs is long overdue.

Those of us raised in a business culture characterized by a focus on bottom line results to the exclusion of all else are having our consciousness raised. We must retrofit a new way of doing business or face consistent societal pressure for government to further regulate business activities.

Most often, companies wishing to burnish their brand donate to charities and participate in highly visible community activities. The public relations benefit is undeniable but the Continue reading “Retrofitting Conscious Capitalism”

The Governor’s Budget vs. the Free Market

jeffersonquoteIn the tug of war between the welfare state and free market capitalism, New York’s recently passed budget represents a setback for the free market. Wrapped around the promise of free college tuition for the middle class, the budget adds a new entitlement to an already overtaxed economy. Programs like free tuition, family leave and minimum wage increases all add to the cost of doing business in New York, a state that has relied on Wall Street employment to bolster job growth and tax revenue as the upstate economy flounders.

The governor seems to be unaware of the connection between his policies and a Continue reading “The Governor’s Budget vs. the Free Market”

Great thinkers who are also great leaders

The title of Robert Kelley’s piece in the New York Times was “Not Leadership Material? the_thinker1Good! The World Needs Followers.” I had to read it.

Kelley makes some excellent points about high school students feeling compelled to demonstrate that they are great leaders or risk not being accepted to their college of choice. He argues that great thinkers who are not leaders are being screened out of colleges that should embrace them. With a shortage of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians extant and projected to grow for the foreseeable future, it strikes me that we should take Kelley’s point of view seriously.

But, there was something else that occurred to me while reading the article: it’s not a Continue reading “Great thinkers who are also great leaders”

4 things you must do in your new leadership role

New-managerI remember sitting in the company cafeteria out in Denver, commiserating with a colleague. Our view of the Rocky Mountains was fabulous. Our view of our corporate careers… not so much!

Distributed computer networks enabled big companies to get reports on how operations were performing. Senior management reasoned they no longer needed middle managers to evaluate and provide status reports. The big box model was in! General management skills and leadership were no longer Continue reading “4 things you must do in your new leadership role”