You Are Competing Against Apple (And May Not Even Know It!)

Whether you are in a consumer business or B2B, the quality of your customer service experience with your company is key to generating loyalty and referrals. Many businesses believe that they are good at customer service, but that level of good may not be good enough.

To many customers, their expectation of good service is based on the best service they have received from anywhere. For example, if they have an iphone, they have Apple’s level of customer service in mind as a standard when they deal with you, too. Therefore, even if you are in a totally unrelated industry to Apple’s, customers’ expectations are high because they are not just based on your company’s service quality or even on your industry standards, they are comparing your service with a global expectation of the best experience they received anywhere. Relative to Apple, this means that they want easy access to your “geniuses”, a relatively quick fix or at least quick attention to the issue, and a smiling personality to handle everything.

Achieving this, may be less difficult than it sounds. It starts with refocusing your perspective away from your own standard to the broader one. Explore service you receive from every company and take note of especially outstanding experiences.

Ultimately great customer service starts with leadership setting the tone at the top. Leadership must set an example of quality and not waver from setting a high bar. Leadership then must support their customer service initiative by training everyone in techniques and expectations, as well as giving people authority to solve problems for peak customer satisfaction, reminding them that they are competing against Apple every day.

In Selecting Your Next Leaders, Here Are 4 Things More Important Than A Great Resume

Perhaps the most important thing every leader must do is to select and prepare his or her successor, or at least to create a leadership culture where budding leaders have the best opportunity to flourish.

However, even in a thriving leadership culture, sometimes it becomes necessary to look outside the organization for its next leader. When that is the case, often the board and its search firm scour resumes to find that one person with a blue chip line of experience together with a storied body of successful experience in just those areas most important to the organization. But don’t stop there. Although experience and expertise are important, we believe there are four characteristics that are even more valuable:

Honesty – a natural inclination to do the honest thing, in both positive and negative situations.

A Listener – someone who automatically listens first and even has the skill to draw out the positions of others in the organization before voicing his/her own.

Optimism – not a Pollyanna, but a person who approaches life from a positive perspective and reflects a positive outlook and environment.

Respect – for people and their ideas, no matter what their status is.

For best results, create your short list based on resumes and then make your final selection based on these 4 qualities.

Stan Silverman is a writer, speaker and advisor on effective leadership. He is the Leadership Catalyst at Tier 1 Group, a firm of strategists and advisors for preeminent growth. Silverman is vice chairman of the board of Drexel University, a director of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and former president and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Website:

As A Leader, Are You Communicating Your Expectations To Your Employees?

Years ago, as the new CEO of my company, I set out to tour our divisions once our business strategy and plan had been finalized. I wanted to present it so everyone would be on the same page. After a presentation to one division in particular, I had an opportunity to sit down with their divisional management team to chat.

After a number of their questions relating to where I saw product growth from their division together with an appeal for the allocation of capital resources to support that growth, it soon became apparent that there was a major disconnect here. This division’s product line was in a highly mature category where cash generation from them was our corporate goal and it was critical to supplying capital to other high growth areas of the company. Once I explained that to them, they actually seemed relieved – they knew what was expected of them. I pointed out the change in tenor of our conversation to which they remarked, “no one had ever taken the time to explain their place in the business plan.” “We were stressing over growth when the company just needed us to provide as much cash as possible.” Once they understood their assigned mission and the role they played, they could focus on their part in making it a success.

Don’t make your employees guess what their role is and what your expectations are of them when communicating the company’s plan. To maximize results as a leader, everyone must understand their roles. To accomplish this:

1) take time to present your big picture plan directly

2) clarify everyone’s role in achieving the plan

3) reinforce their worth and value in achieving organizational success.

This will help create a sense of ownership in your employees, and increase the probability of achieving the plan.

On Valuing A Leadership Culture

Throughout my life, I have been a student of leadership. In the business and non-profit world, I have worked for leaders and have observed leaders, both good and bad. I have been a leader myself. Leadership fascinates me. Perhaps it fascinates you too. What makes an effective, or even a superlative leader, has been both a personal and professional quest for me.