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“Recruiting, interviewing, selecting and training of employees for customer service jobs are the biggest issues of customer service today.”

Perry Ludy is an author, senior executive and business consultant with 30 years of experience with leading corporations, including PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble. Among his achievements are successful turnarounds, creative problem-solving, strategic planning and profitability improvement. He is highly skilled in working with corporations as well as entrepreneurs that require expert assistance with business operations, people development, and strategic planning. Perry’s concerns about declining customer service in America motivated him to write No Lizards in My Shoes: How to Motivate Good People to Bring Back Great Customer Service.

Perry ludy Lizards

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you elaborate on how your concerns about declining customer service in America motivated you to write, “No Lizards in My Shoes: How to Motivate Good People to Bring Back Great Customer Service?”

Perry: There was a time when providing good customer service was a universal goal. It was a tactic that nearly every organization used in an effort to gain a competitive advantage. In that not-so-distant past, executives were held accountable for low customer satisfaction results. Sometimes they suffered the consequences of corrective action planning where bonuses, performance appraisals and employment contracts were affected. Today, most companies track and monitor their customer satisfaction results, but few put into place corrective action or contingency plans for improvement.

And it shows up in employee performance. Have you ever complained about a product or service and not gotten a satisfactory response? Have you ever wondered why certain people are hired for customer service jobs when they do not seem to be the best suited for it? These questions, and more, gave me the motivation to explore past and current customer service practices, which resulted in my book “No Lizards in My Shoes.”

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you elaborate on how utilizing a cross-functional approach can help take a company to the next level of excellence?

Perry: After thirty-years of involvement with executives and middle management, I’ve seen trends and “concept–waves” which flow in and out from thought leaders such as organizational development experts and consultants. One of the areas that seem to withstand the constant bombardment of new concepts is “silo-management”. This is where executives tend to work within their own silos to accomplish tasks and only come out to work briefly on an action team where positive rhetoric is exchanged but cross-functional corrective action is dead on arrival. Designing effective cross-functional teams with the sole purpose of “breaking-down” the walls of the silos is the only true way to afford the opportunity for organizations to move towards the next level of excellence.

BusinessInterviews.com: What’s a customer service issue that’s often overlooked and easy to correct?

Perry: Recruiting, interviewing, selecting and training of employees for customer service jobs are the biggest issues of customer service today. In most organizations, these steps are not given the proper attention considering the importance of these very valuable people. The prevailing attitude seems to be to spend as little time as possible on selecting these candidates. It’s a big mistake to think that just because these are usually low-paying positions or offshore services, the way they represent the business is unimportant. I believe an organization should put its people first and customer service is second in importance, ahead of revenue generation and profits. I believe this way because without excellent customer service a business will eventually lose revenue and thus profits in the long run.

BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired your decision to hold 2 free workshops in Chicago based on your new book? What can attendees expect to gain from the experience?

Perry: There are so many workshops based on customer service and they tend to concentrate on knowing the customer, a well-defined process, exceeding customers’ expectations, creating the right setting or environment and so forth. These are all very important aspects of great customer service. But, I want to start a conversation about customer service from a different perspective. Research shows that there are aspects in each individual’s DNA that determines their ability to be a great “people person”. The term I use is Great Employees Managing Service (GEMS). The workshops are a way to introduce this new way of thinking about how to recruit, interview, hire and train customer service employees. Participants will learn how to hire people based on my Selfless verses Selfish Matrix. They will leave with a realistic plan for approaching any current customer service issues. I am hoping that a free workshop will be a way to break thru the “clutter” and start this new conversation about customer service.

BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?

Perry: Executive management is all about taking one risk after another. But actually, writing business books is the biggest risk I have ever taken. Capturing the approaches I have taken over the years and putting them out there for the world to see opens me up for a level of scrutiny that could backfire. This type of risk-taking makes me feel very vulnerable, and yet that vulnerability turns into drive, because each time I get feedback on how my concepts have helped an individual, a new business or a growing corporation I feel a need to continue taking that risk. The fact that my first book “Profit Building: Cutting Costs without Cutting People”, which was translated into several languages, is still being sold worldwide makes me think that taking the risk was worth it.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your innovative problem-solving technique, “Question Brainstorming” and how our readers could implement into their daily lives?

Perry: In most business cultures, asking questions tends to have a negative effect. Questions are perceived as antagonistic or confrontational–challenging authority. How often have we heard “Let’s hold all questions until the end of the discussion”? We have all been at the mercy of the few people who speak-up during traditional brainstorming sessions and load the flip charts with their ideas; and most organizations turn those ideas into action plans. I believe the silent or quiet majority have more to bring to the problem-solving table than the outspoken few. This is the root of my inspiration behind Questions Brainstorming. Questions Brainstorming takes the pressure off of feeling like you have to come up with an immediate solution to a problem. It replaces the immediate problem-solving approach with the simple approach of just asking questions about the problem and taking those questions to experts, who most of the time are not in the brainstorming sessions, to answer the questions. Then, if those answers have performance improving merit, they are considered to become part of the action plan.

Your readers can take any business or personal problem and come up with all possible solutions and then take the same problem and simply ask as many questions about it as possible, for example, who, what, when, etc. They will come up with many more questions that when answered by themselves or other knowledgeable persons will get them closer to effective and productive problem-solving. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “When we arrive at the question, the answer is already near.”

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