Roy's Blog

July 16, 2018

What is the one thing that customers should never hear?

What’s the secret to a brilliant customer service strategy?


It’s not just about what you aspire to be.
Yes it’s critical that you have a service strategy that clearly differentiates your organization from others. It must address not only the element of service that your customers treat as their top priority, but also the one that your organization uniquely provides. If what you do in a service sense mirrors what your closest competitor does, you really don’t provide a compelling incentive for people to choose you over others.

It’s not just about cool technology employed to facilitate customer transactions. Employing the latest technology to maximize the efficiency of your service operations is essential — as long as it doesn’t detract from the experience your customers have when they do business with you.
And as long as its sole reason for implementing the technology is NOT to drive service costs down, as this end game will surely negatively impact service quality. Technology applied to enhance the customer experience AND improve the use of internal resources must be the desired outcome.

Awards and Recognition

It’s not just about the awards you win for “providing the best customer service”. This recognition is often provided by so-called experts in the customer service business who claim to have their fingers on the pulse of customers and who conduct surveys to determine the leaders in the service area.
Because they apply their own criteria on what superlative customer satisfaction looks like, your organization could be praised for achieving high marks in an element of service your specific customers don’t value as their highest priority — your award is therefore meaningless to your business.


Serving Leadership

It’s not just about serving leadership that places the emphasis on helping service employees do their job. Serving leaders are critical to developing a successful culture based on delivering mind blowing customer experiences.
A critical component of this culture is a leadership philosophy based on helping and enabling people do their jobs — removing the roadblocks and “grunge” that get in their way.
Serving leaders are a critical ingredient to service culture, but more is required to sustain it in a highly changing and competitive world.


A brilliant customer service strategy IS about what is said and not said during the customer engagement process; the Moment of truth when the customer and company are connected for the purpose of satisfying what the customer wants and desires.
The organization’s service strategy comes alive in that Moment, whether it’s a real time conversation with an employee, a web page view, an advertising message or an audio response from your call answer device.

In that Moment, your service strategy is no longer a strategic intent; no longer a piece of paper with words expressed on it. It’s an experience that either renders your intent alive or dead; the truth or a lie — your strategy in that moment degenerates into reality.


Words can hurt, anger and amaze

Many words characterize the Moment; words that either leave the customer feeling heard, honoured and cared for or feeing berated, belittled and angry.

This is where most organizations fail. They don’t treat words used in the Moment as a critical element of their strategy that needs as much or even more attention than the service end game intent.
It’s one thing to say “When a mistake is made, recovery will be our #1 priority” and quite another to have service personnel equipped with the right words to manage the recovery Moment when the customer has been screwed over by their organization.

If the wrong words are chosen, the recovery element of your service strategy dies — and your customer trots off to one of your competitors. If the right words are chosen (with the promised action of course) the customer is surprised, delighted and more loyal than if the OOPS! never occurred in the first place.

Service training must include what to say and what not to say, starting with the latter because the trash words must be expunged and replaced with the words that will support and enable your service end game.

”You should”

Start with “You should”; the one single phrase with so much implied meaning that it can singlehandedly scupper a Moment.
“You should”:
— follow the instructions (you dummy)
— upgrade your software (can’t you read?)
— call the billing department (and don’t bother me)
— have reported the problem when you were covered by your warranty (don’t expect any help now)
— be more understanding (leave me alone!)
— have known our policy (WE control YOU remember?)
— make your choice (can’t you make up your mind?)

You should

“You should” explicitly says that your behaviour should be governed by my expectations of you, NOT by your reality.

How can that ever lead to amazing customer service and Moments that leave the customer breathless?

It can’t.

Mind your words.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 7.16.18 at 04:39 am by Roy Osing
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July 9, 2018

Marketers: why bundling sucks like a dirty martini

Many like a dirty martini; I don’t.

I love martinis but please keep them clean and uncontaminated by dirty fluids that violate the clear pristine gin and vermouth mixture. I don’t mind if you put 4 symmetrically organized olives on a skewer in it because they are gone before any real contamination can occur — I love olives but hate the juice.

I feel the same way about bundling and the way it is practised in the marketing world today.

Bundling is commonly used by most organizations — add a number of products together and give the customer a discount.
Combine two products and get 10% off the total price for both; take 3 products and the discount goes up to 15%. The more you buy, the more you save. A pretty simple idea.

To me, however, bundling practised in this manner is like a mixing a dirty martini.

It contaminates and dilutes the basic marketing tenet that says price should be a direct function of value; the greater the value, the higher the price.
And, conversely, the lower the value, the lower the price.

Dirty water

I’m not aware of any marketing principle that advocates increasing the value of an offering and then reducing the price.
Even if economies of scale and scope were in play, the right thing to do would be to maintain price levels and reflect the benefits of the lower costs in increased margins.

But rarely does merely selling two products together materially drive cost down; bundling isn’t physical integration.
Combine long distance service and internet service on a customer’s bill, and the telecom company doesn’t realize any measurable cost savings as a result of the combination yet the customer gets a discount for signing up to two communications products.

It’s an illusion

And it’s a pipe dream to believe that lower bundle prices stimulate long term demand and increase revenues. Combined billing for long distance plus internet service doesn’t stimulate usage of either.
I’ve had home phone, long distance, internet and TV services bundled together for years, but still treat each one separate and distinct from a consumption point of view — my usage hasn’t changed for any one of them.

The customer loves getting the discounts but no real value is created for the organization. In my former CMO days, I was skeptical to the point of a non-believer of bundling activity — I viewed it as lazy marketing and slight of hand.

Bundling drives marketing creativity to zero

It’s a no brainer — it doesn’t take a marketing graduate — to add and bill two services together and apply a discount.
What talent does it take to do that? What value proposition does the addition produce other than a lower price?
When long distance and internet service are sold together, what unique communications value is created by the synergy between the two services other than a price discount? Right. Nada.

Marketing professionals should be motivated to create new packaged solutions that seamlessly integrate a number of product elements and apply premium — not discounted — prices that reflect the added value created by the package.

Bundling ignores basic pricing principles

The function of price is to value the exchange between an individual and an organization that satisfies each party to the transaction. A successful value exchange leaves the customer happy with the money they have spent for the benefits they have received ; the company is better off because they realize an acceptable margin.
It’s easy to offer volume discounts but it completely ignores the impact it has on profitability. You can’t sell a martini if it doesn’t make money.
Do you really think a discount should be offered if you buy two drinks? Never seen a two-fer on martinis.


Bundling gains no competitive advantage

All marketing teams think by offering bundles they create customer loyalty; that by offering reduced prices for volume, customers will decide to stay with the organization forever.
Not true. People are fickle when it comes to price and will go wherever the lowest price is offered.
The reality is that most competitors offer bundles and therefore competitive advantage is conferred on no one. All the banks use bundling, all the telecom companies offer them — every sector is represented in the bundling dysfunction.

Bundling gives customers the wrong message

Increase the number of products provided and get a price savings is exactly the wrong message that should be given to the market.
In life the more value you receive the higher price you expect to pay. In martinis, the better the gin, the higher price for the martini — bar stock gin is sold at a lower price than Brockmans.

Bundling screws them over

Customers deserve more value that satisfies their overall wants and desires and we should be doing it at prices that reflect the value they perceive they’re receiving.
This preoccupation with discount bundling is a distraction to the marketing profession from what they should be practising.
Bundling is a red herring; it’s olive juice that screws up a perfectly good martini.

What people really want are integrated packages that satisfy a broad range of what they covet. Packages that reflect their lifestyle, for example, that might seamlessly integrate elements like a vacation, meal, wine, snuba and a car rental or if it’s a business, elements like sales training, CRM apps and logistics assistance.

Bundling is marketing’s dirty martini; it muddies the waters of good marketing.

Let’s get back to the basics — create more value for customers and charge premium prices that reflect it.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 7.9.18 at 03:43 am by Roy Osing
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July 2, 2018

Why serving leaders are the new black

Popularity breeds, in some circles, believability. What is a popular notion soon becomes the belief of the day.

It’s the age of populism

Populist topics abound around us and define the conversation around what’s important — #MeToo, illegal immigration, “the wall”, decriminalization of cannabis, the environment, indigenous rights and the charter of rights & freedoms define the social agenda and the priorities people turn their attention to.

In a relative sense, not much attention is given to the people who define the economic agenda of society — the leaders of our organizations whose quality of leadership defines how people live their lives in the other pluralistic society that engulfs them. Their daily environment is shaped by how they are treated; how they are motivated and how they are engaged in fulfilling the strategic agenda of their organization.

And when attention is paid to the topic of leadership it is typically dealt from an academic and theoretical perspective. Studies discovering relationships between leadership behaviours and employee performance are discussed and conclusions reached on the skills people should possess if they want to aspire to be an amazing leader.

Rarely are emotions targeted as the means to hook people to engage in a leadership conversation; certainly the same cannot be said about debates on the environment, oil pipelines and allegations of sexual misconduct. These topics are dripping with emotion — how people feel dominates the position you take rather than the facts presented.

Leadership is ignored

Certainly #MeToo gets a more emotional conversation going than #Leadership.

The practice of leadership, is in my view, every bit as important as #TheWall. People spend most of their life in a working context with a boss they coexist with.
And it is the boss’s skills, capabilities and attitudes that impact the lives of individuals in a relevant way much more than any movement could.


But not the same old leadership taught by people with proud academic pedigrees and theoretical expertise; rather the new style leadership that has grown up in the trenches where real people work and profound performance is achieved. Practical leadership experience grown from knowing what it takes to ignite the passion and emotion in people to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives.

#ServingLeadership is the new black. It must be if people are to have meaningful and rewarding careers and if organizations are to achieve remarkable levels of performance and stand apart from their competitors.

“Organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve. Period.” — Tom Peters

It’s a fashionable notion because it relates to the fundamental human needs of people to feel they have a compelling purpose and that they are needed and cared for.

#ServingLeadership stems from empathy rather than text books. This is what it looks like when it’s in action.


Leaders ask; they don’t tell. They are more interested in what people have to say about what’s going as opposed to directing them on what they have to do. They know they don’t know; that their staff are the experts, so they ask them. These leaders have conversations that are skewed to listening and not transmitting. Their communications style invite commentary, opinion and input.


The key questions they ask are “How can I help?”; “What key changes should be made to enable you to do your jobs easier?”; “What do you think about…?” They see themselves as instruments to make life easier and more productive for others.



They spend most of their time walking about in the trenches rubbing shoulders with the people doing the work required by customers; they dislike their office and boardroom consuming much of their time time at all. If you look at their calendar, they literally have a mobile office.


They act with humility. They don’t create a splash wherever they go and they are more comfortable without an entourage than with one. They are the antithesis of what most people view these days as a stereotypical leader. They don’t need charisma to be effective; that veneer isn’t consistent with who they are.


They believe in simplicity. They understand that success is a function of connecting and engaging with people and that complexity gets in the way. They wrote the book on dumbing stuff down to aid in understanding and with that the commitment to achieve.


They are practical in orientation. They’re unimpressed with theoretical concepts that can’t be implemented. They are more receptive to ideas they believe are both consistent with the strategic intent of their organization and are likely to have strong support by people who would be asked to implement them. Their “would they be emotionally all-in?” filter dominates their decision making on potential innovation.


They’re ok with imperfection. They are not jaded by the notion of trying to achieve the perfect solution. In fact they encourage people to try as many imperfect solutions as they can, and preach that the more tries made the more likelihood that success will eventually be achieved.

#ServingLeadership is the new black.

It addresses a compelling societal need — to create organizations with a human face where people can grow, prosper and be valued.

It’s not a cause or fad that will fade with limited media life. In fact it won’t attract the traditional and social media attention that other current narratives garner.

It is a sustaining force because of its universal — rather than special interest group — appeal.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 7.2.18 at 04:23 am by Roy Osing
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June 25, 2018

6 weird things people never knew about making a mistake

How often do you remember being praised for making a mistake? When you screw up, does the person you admire and respect congratulate you and lavish you with attaboys?

I can’t recall EVER being rewarded for a miscue; it wasn’t — and still isn’t — the acceptable thing to do.

Our entire life we have been taught to not make mistakes, from school to work. Get 100% on the exam and develop a perfect strategy for the organization you work for. And when we fall short of those expectations we are forced into remedial work to correct the things we did wrong so that the next time we will get them right.

It’s all wrong. Human beings make mistakes; some more than others but everyone screws up at one time or another.

To try and eradicate mistake making is senseless, unproductive and misses an opportunity to turn the “failure” into an epic win.

Epic win

As long as we are going to make mistakes shouldn’t our academic institutions and organizations should be teaching people how to turn them into amazing outcomes rather than scolding them for doing it? NO! because the teaching narrative is always about “do it right the first time” and be perfect.

Schools don’t get it

The tools to at least have a good chance of achieving a position result remain a secret in the hallowed halls of our teaching institutions. “How to make the best out of a mistake” doesn’t appear on any school curricula or on any organization’s internal training agenda.

So, we are left with the enigma of teaching and expecting perfection in a world where unpredictability and uncertainty govern the dynamics of our environment and human beings are left to survive its forces.

An impossible task without making mistakes.

Weirdly, the mistake has a profound impact on our lives.

The mistake is the best teacher you’ve ever had

When you get something right, you receive positive reinforcement and a satisfied feeling of achievement, but when you get something wrong, there is an even more powerful emotional impact that motivates us to “fix it” and prevent it from happening again. In particular, a setback on a real world issue where the consequences can include a loss of a relationship, a furious customer or a loss of revenue can motivate us to get it right much quicker than merely getting the third question on a math exam wrong.

The mistake can make you better off

Ironically, a mistake that is fixed fast can improve your situation more than if you never made the mistake in the first place. Proper recovery from a mishap — repair the situation fast and then do something extra — can build customer loyalty or enhance a personal relationship. The recipient of your mistake is so impressed with what you did to remedy the situation they soon forget about the OOPS! that caused them the original discomfort.

The mistake can make you more human

A mistake shows that you are more than superficial veneer; someone who is flawed just like everyone else. This is an endearing trait to most people as compared to the phoney slick image that some people like to portray. Humans are liked and respected more than plastic; the mistake fortifies the former and dispels the latter.

More human

The mistake can build your personal brand

The ability to morph a “bad” situation into a delightful one is a personal brand dimension that few people possess. An individual who can turn a mess into a positive outcome is extremely valuable to an organization struggling to weave their way through complex and uncertain markets.

The mistake forces you to look for another path
It stimulates the creative process to explore other potential avenues to take. In fact it’s not about the mistake at all; rather the moment after the mistake. Problem solving in today’s environment requires nimbleness and the flexibility to consider all options available, and the mistake brings this to life in a very real way. You have no choice but to look for another plan if you are to move forward. The mistake is the visceral reminder that you must always have “Plan B” available.

The mistake can separate you from the crowd

BE DiFFERENT or be dead is my mantra. If you can’t find a way to separate yourself — as an organization or individual — from the crowd, you will go unnoticed and sooner or later you will fail. The mistake can be the catalyst for discovering how you can standout from other people who are totally consumed with trying to get things right that leave themselves exposed and vulnerable when things go wrong (and they eventually do). If you excel at squeezing the best from a mistake you will be truly unique in a sea of others struggling with trying to achieve perfection.

Learning how to prevent mistakes is a laudable goal but an unachievable one; learning how to live with them is essential if you want to be successful.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 6.25.18 at 03:57 am by Roy Osing
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