The 3 Fundamentals Everyone Always Forget with Internal Customer Service


I do an exercise in my workshops using a pole. I tell participants to lower the pole to the ground. I give them two rules: The pole can’t lose contact with their index fingers, and they can’t use gravity to pull the pole.

This exercise is hard. Everybody’s focused just on their small section of the pole.
But, they figure out that to lower the pole, they must focus on everybody, not just their section.

This activity helps improve internal customer service. Just like with the pole, a good internal customer experience requires people to focus beyond their own tasks. You have to think broader.
When everyone focuses on the bigger picture, the result is an extraordinary external customer experience.

Here are three keys that will help improve your internal customer relations, which enables you to deliver a better external customer experience. Continue reading “The 3 Fundamentals Everyone Always Forget with Internal Customer Service”

That Time My Client Cropped My Afro In My Headshot, And Why This Is Not Okay.

I haven’t stepped into a Starbucks since two African American men in Philadelphia were arrested for merely being black in Starbucks back in April. But Starbucks isn’t the only company with issues with insensitivity. Consider three of my recent experiences with companies.


It’s Not Okay to Crop My Afro In Your Corporate Images

Minutes before a workshop, I was seated stage-right as my client gave me an impressive introduction to the audience. As part of the opening, a slide with portraits of all of the conference speakers was featured on the big screen. There were five of us, and I was the only African American.

I do not attempt to tame my hair with chemicals or heat. Unapologetically I wear my hair big and out.

The slide with the conference speakers showed headshots of each speaker. My headshot was positioned so that at least two inches of my Afro was chopped off. The portrait was odd and unflattering.  Continue reading “That Time My Client Cropped My Afro In My Headshot, And Why This Is Not Okay.”

You Didn’t Know a 12-foot Pole Could Teach You This


One of the goals for my customer service training in Cerritos, California yesterday was to help employees follow-up with colleagues, to close the loop so that everybody was up to date on what’s being done to fix issues for customers.

I designed a short lecture and a small group discussion to address this. And then, three hours before my flight, I scratched the entire section.

A brilliant trainer of trainers once cautioned me, “Don’t do for participants what they can do for themselves.” Recalling her advice, I thought, I won’t tell them to communicate better, I’ll put them in a situation that forces them to see why not communicating is making their jobs so much harder.

Here’s what I did. I stood in front of the class and pulled out at 12-foot pole. And I told my group of 12 people that their task was to lower the stick to the floor. It sounds simple. Incredulous, the people merely stared at me, mute.

I divided the class up into two groups and explained the rules. You’ll start with the pole waist high, you cannot lose contact with the pole at any time, and only gravity can move the pole (that is, the pole couldn’t be pushed or pulled down).

After my instruction, I stepped back and watched (and took out my iPhone to film). Within seconds, the group learned that this exercise was anything but simple. (See video clip below from the training.) Continue reading “You Didn’t Know a 12-foot Pole Could Teach You This”

5 Little Tricks To Get Customers To Accept Your Word As Final


If you find it hard to get customers to accept your word as final and if too many of your customers just go over your head to talk to a supervisor who will tell the customer the exact same thing, you need to read this.

I have for you five little tricks that I share in my onsite de-escalation workshops. These ideas will help you be far more successful in getting customers to accept your word as final.

1. Show regret.

Your words of regret help you come across as genuinely concerned and helpful. When customers feel you’re concerned and willing to help, they’re more likely to accept your word as final. Saying something like, “I can appreciate how frustrating this must be for you” is perfect.

2. Sound confident.

It’s important that you sound confident when you tell the customer what you can’t do. Otherwise, some customers won’t take your word as final. They’ll push and ask to talk to someone higher up. Here are some of my tips for sounding confident.

  • Slow down a bit.
  • Enunciate and speak clearly.
  • Relax. (Consciously try to release tension and anxiety.)

3. Assertively make your point.

Continue reading “5 Little Tricks To Get Customers To Accept Your Word As Final”

9 Books Every College Senior Should Read


A bright young Generation Z professional approached me after a customer service workshop last week in Atlanta and asked me for advice.

Here’s one of the smart questions she asked me, “What books would you recommend that my younger self, say my senior year in college, should read? What books would position me to be the most successful version of myself?”

This is the list I had her type out on her iPhone right there in the conference ballroom.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
2. Presence by Amy Cuddy
3.Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
6. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
7. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
8. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
9. I Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart (Get the audiobook for this one!)

Even if you’re in mid-life, like me, these books will propel you to reach your full potential in business.

5 New Thoughts About Work-Life Balance That Will Turn Your World Right Side Up


It’s rare that I don’t write to you about customer service issues. But I want to talk about balance, not just because it’s so important to me, but because I know achieving peace and balance will help you be a better manager, leader, or customer service professional.

Over the years I’ve found five practices that have helped me find peace and balance between my business and my personal life.

1. Stop compulsively checking emails. Trust me; it can wait.

I’ve just started a practice of pausing my inbox every weekday from 6:00 pm to 8:00 am. I noticed that most of the time I grabbed my iPhone, it was to habitually check email for matters that were neither urgent nor important. Being untethered at night is liberating.

2. Don’t email staff after business hours.

If I follow my first practice, it’s easy not to email colleagues after hours. Here’s why I urge you to hold off on evening emails. When you email an employee at say, 7:30 pm, the late hour implies a sense of urgency and your employee may feel she has to respond to you right away. Taking the time to read and reply to your email is taking time away from whatever she’s doing (drinking wine, enjoying time with bae, watching Netflix)

Help your employees and colleagues enjoy peace after work by not interrupting their evenings, unless the matter is crucial.

3. Make business travel pleasurable.

Continue reading “5 New Thoughts About Work-Life Balance That Will Turn Your World Right Side Up”