Catherine M. Mattice is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and she has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Chevron, the American Red Cross, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and non-profits. She has been published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared as an expert in major news outlets including NPR, FOX, NBC, ABC, USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Washington Times, Psychology Today and Bloomberg. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter, and one of the founders (and current president of) the National Workplace Bullying Coalition. In his foreword to her book, Back Off! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying @ Work, Ken Blanchard said it was “The most comprehensive and valuable handbook” on workplace bullying. BACK OFF, and her second book, “Seeking Civility : How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying”, are both available on Amazon.
Yanique shared that the issue of bullying seems like something that's not affected by a lot of organizations but it really is a widespread issue.
Catherine agreed and stated that they call it the silent epidemic in the U.S.A lot of other countries actually have laws around workplace bullying but America does not. So, it's just as pervasive if not more so than harassment and discrimination because it's really equal opportunity harassment and so there is a lot of it. A lot of people feel bullied at work, in fact research puts that number at around 30 to 50 percent of people have been bullied at some point in their working life.
Yanique stated that it's interesting that Catherine mentioned that it's such a high percentage and asked if she believe that it filtrates out of the education system because a lot of kids are bullied in schools as well.
Catherine stated that she thinks that we are all mean, the society at large is mean, look at TV, it's all full of mean drama. Reality TV is mean, politics they’re mean, we're mean when we’re on the road, we can be uncivil if someone's going too slow or cut us off. We tend to have this propensity to sort of lash out and we live in a high stress environment because we're always on our phones, we always have someplace to be and so she thinks it's harder to be kind and to take a step back and be nice and take a breath and focus on civility. It's easier to let your frustrations get the best of you. And in school certainly bullying happens and there is some research that's found that if you bully as a child you probably bully as an adult. And also, if you're a target as a child you may be a target as an adult.
Yanique asked what if the leader is a bully himself?
Catherine shared that she gets that question a lot. She stated that she honestly hates to give this advice but you have to leave. If the CEO or the leader is a bully, there probably isn't anyway that leaders going to hear anyone out if the leader is told people perceive you as too abrasive. Sometimes an HR professional or maybe someone close to the leader in the C-Suite depending on their relationship can have a conversation with the leader and maybe able to be heard. But in her experience, leaders believe that sort of abrasive aggressive leadership style has worked for them and so they're not going to be interested in changing unless you can really show them the damage they're causing. People can change, she coaches people who are bullies all the time but the CEO or the leader, unless somebody is close enough to that person to have that conversation she would say you may want to consider leaving because the culture is not going to get any better.
Yanique mentioned if the leader is a bully as Catherine said and she recommend that they leave. Do you feel that even though you said you believe people can change but a big part of change means that they have to become self-aware that something needs to change because many of them would be like, “Well the problem isn't me, it’s them.” She has heard that so many times in organizations when employees make complaints and a lot of times that the complaints are being made, they're not willing to accept that sometimes the issue is not necessarily with the other person but sometimes we need to look internally and look at how we could be doing things differently because maybe if we take a different approach you will get a different result.
Yanique mentioned that some companies have core values that their employees don't even believe in.
Catherine agreed and stated that that goes back to it though, she sees this all the time, companies have core values and they're on their website and maybe they're on a sign somewhere in the lunchroom and that's the extent of it, so how can employees believe in those core values when they're not part of their day in and day out life. It's up to the organization to say, “Here are our core values. This is how we want everyone to behave.” And then the organization has to find ways to advertise those core values regularly and ensure that employees know them and live them regularly.
Yanique mentioned that it's like you're basically trying to find new and innovative ways to reinforce and basically have lots of repetition. So, now it becomes a part of their DNA. So, if courtesy is one of your core values, in everything you do you try to effect courtesy that way when you're dealing with external customer it's not something that you're trying to put on, it comes so naturally because it's something that you practice every day anyway.
Yanique stated that she knows exactly what she means in terms of them not seeing the value in it. And as Catherine said, it really boils down to the value system of the individuals that you're dealing with and what they deem of importance.
Yanique reiterate, help them find meaning in what they're doing. Therefore, there must be a direct link between what the company's goals are and what the personal goals of the employee is because if those two things actually have some congruence then both entities actually have a win-win situation.
Catherine agreed and gave an example of that, she was doing some training for a company that kills mosquitoes, that's their business. She was doing some training and on a break, she just sort of asked the trainee sitting next to her, “Tell me more about your business, what you do?” and she said, “Well, we killed mosquitoes. That's about it.” That's all she got. And this other person sitting next to her says, “Is that all you think we're doing here? We are saving this community from West Nile Virus.” He was offended that she thought all they did was kill mosquitoes and so he believes he's saving the community from this horrible disease by killing mosquitoes and killing mosquitoes was a means to the end goal of saving that community. So that's what she’s talking about, help reminding your employees that there's a bigger picture beyond their tasks.
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Yanique reiterated, basically freedom of choice is something that we all have regardless of the situation that we're in. And that's a great privilege. So, we should definitely try to exercise it as much as possible.
Alexander Genov but will be affectionately refer to him as Alex for the purpose of this interview. Alex is an experienced Customer Research Professional who applies his Experimental Social Psychology background and his passion for research, design and innovation to solving important customer and business problems. His professional goal is to help teams create remarkable products and services which make people's lives easier and more enjoyable. Currently, Alex is Leading Customer Research for the Zappos Family of Companies. In previous positions, he was responsible for research and usability of the products and services for companies like Turbo Tax also known as Intuit, State Farm Insurance and the Active Network, he has over 15 years of relevant experience, 5 years of academic research and over 10 years of customer research in the software industry. Alex received his Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology from Clark University and his areas of research include defining and measuring emotions, individual differences, usability and consumer segmentation.
Yanique mentioned that we talk about Zappos all the time in workshops and people think about Zappos as the Customer Experience guru in the Retail Market especially in the online space. They basically came in and they transformed how retail business is done online. The fact that they have a 365 day return policy, if you call them somebody is going to answer the phone even when you go on their website, unlike other websites, every single page on their website has their telephone number at the top. So, at the end of the day when somebody has an issue or when a customer has an issue whether it is to make a request or it is to query a product or service that they have already engaged you for a lot of times they want to speak with a live human being and sometimes it's so hard navigating on these organizations websites some of them don’t have a phone number, they have this contact us page where you have to type out your entire request or issue and then wait for somebody from their company to respond to you. So, the fact that Zappos actually makes themselves available by providing a telephone number on all their pages really sets them apart.
Yanique mentioned that if businesses looked at their companies like that, “I'm just an airline” or “I'm a customer service company that just happens to be in the airline business transporting people from one location to the next for all different reasons, weddings, business, vacation.” And they realize that their focus is on service because without these customers we have no business. I think it would really change the mindset and propel, it would be like a paradigm shift in how we as customers experience business.
Alex agreed and stated that it will help to have some competition, some industries are more much more like monopolies right. And they have less choice than there is much less pressure to not be customer centric in general. One question in the outline about what business owners can think of and what's going to make them successful - it's very simple, it's just focus on the customer and of course you have to have your business plan and you have to have your operations to be excellent. You cannot be focusing on the customer and giving away free product and you know you're going to be in business for maybe 3 days, you will have very happy customers but very short-lived success. You need to have your financials work but beyond, he loves Zappos because it's a company that's focused on purpose before profit. And it’s a very subtle but very important difference, if you say that you’re in there for the profit then you’ll be making all those decisions that ultimately end up hurting customers. If you are saying that you’re here for that purpose then but also make sure that you are making profit. Ultimately, if you're making customers happy they will be loyal customers and they will be telling others about your business. Alex stated that another thing that sets them apart is that they don't do a traditional advertising. They don't pour billions into TV ads for example, but people know about Zappos from word of mouth, from things that they do that benefit the community. And they have a very strong Social Media Presence. So that's another lesson for entrepreneurs and for business folks. Focus on the customer, focus on the community, do good things for the community and for the customer and then you're going to have those customers that are not only customers but they're going to be your ambassadors they are going to spread the word about you. So, it's going to be saving a lot of money on advertising essentially and marketing.
LinkedIn - @alexgenov
Jeff Toister Show Notes
Jeff Toister helps customer service teams unlock their hidden potential. He is the best-selling author of The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide To Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service. More than 140,000 people on six (6) continents has taken his video base training courses on LinkedIn Learning aka Lynda.com. Jeff’s 15 training videos on LinkedIn Learning include Customer Service Foundations and Leading a Customer Centric Culture.
Jeff was named one of the top 30 customer service professionals in the world by Global Gurus. He was also named one of the top 50 Thought Leaders to Follow on Twitter by the International Customer Management Institute. Feedspot has named his Inside Customer Service Blog one of the Top 50 customer service blogs on the planet.
Jeff holds a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification from The Association for Talent Development.
Yanique stated that she finds it interesting that it was a not so positive experience that propelled you into this because as a consultant that many times when a customer becomes loyal to business, if you track back the root cause, it’s usually a dissatisfied customer who dealt with an employee who was able to turn the situation around and just because of how it was handled, now every time they come back to that business they only want to deal with that particular employee, they’ll even wait sometimes if they’re on vacation to come back from vacation to transact business with that company and it all came out of a negative experience.
Jeff mentioned the “Peak-End Rule” (Psychology Term), he stated that it explains what Yanique said is true. It’s about customer perception or perception in general that we tend to not notice things that are normal. We tend to notice things that are different than normal and what really stands out is the thing that is most different and so the bad experience if you kind of think of that as the heartbeat of customer service, the bad experience is kind of like this really bad deviation from our normal experience and then a really good correction, really good fix is a huge difference. So, it stands out because it’s such a leap from a horrible experience to this great experience, it becomes imprinted in our memories and that’s the peak part, if it’s the last experience we had with that organization or that person, that really gets imprinted in our memories. So, the Peak End Rule kind of explains why that big gap, it’s so true when we recover from a bad experience, that’s what really sticks in our customers’ mind.
Yanique agreed that he tries to look at a very practical, operational way that any business, even if it’s a small business with just 5 employees would be able to extract that information and run with it in their own company.
Jeff stated that even a team because one of the biggest questions he gets is that people say, “I read the book but I’m not the CEO and I don’t even think my CEO cares too much about service, she says it important but I know she really cares about the budget.” And that’s fine, you can still use the book. He has examples in there with specific teams or departments, so whatever the size, whether you’re the CEO or you’re just leading the small team within a bigger company, the goals and the ideas that you can use these tools to create a service culture in whatever you control.
Yanique agreed and stated that in her process of dealing with some businesses this week, she called a company that deals with cooking gas and their office is not located in the city, it’s located on the outskirts of the city so it’s a 20-minute drive and she asked them if didn’t have any other mode of payment because she told the sales representative before they came that she will be paying by card and she specifically requested that the gentleman coming brings the card machine. He comes and he didn’t bring the card machine and of course he now informs her that she needs to drive all the way to the location to make the payment. So, she called them and said, “Can the payment be taken over the phone?” “Oh no, we just changed out our card machines and that’s not possible anymore.” Yanique called and ask them, “Do you expect me to drive 20 minutes outside the city just to get to you to make a payment for a service that you provided, I think you really need to talk to your finance department and think about a more customer friendly way to accept payments from your customers.” And it’s interesting because they were voted one of the best customer service organization in their industry and that left a bad experience. Even when the guys came, the service was good but then the payment part is a part of the service as well.
Jeff agreed and stated that whenever that happens, he always wonder why does it happen and is it that the person doesn’t want to do their job, sometimes but often it’s that they are put in that position or no one shared with that driver that Yanique had had that communication or that driver was specifically told, “We’re not doing cards so this is what you have to tell people.” Those employees are often put in a bad position where they almost can’t win.
Yanique agreed that with the point that even though they’re not focusing on culture, every organization has a culture but is it the culture that they really want and so if you don’t have intentionally activities, whether it be meetings, conversations, group outings, strategies built around what you’re trying to achieve, then the culture will emerge on its own. And so, you’d have a culture you don’t want all because there was no intentional act but not because you didn’t put any attention there doesn’t mean it’s not formed.
Jeff mentioned that often when you don’t put the intention there, it goes in the direction you really don’t want it to go.
Yanique mention that the take away from this interview is culture is not something that just doesn’t happen, it happens even without your intentional behavior behind it, it’s going to manifest and this is why you really have to intentionally work towards the culture you want. It’s like eating because we have to eat every day but if we don’t intentionally make an effort to eat healthy then we’ll eat anything and of course the body will just consume whatever you put inside of it and if you’re consuming negative thing then it will lead to disease and chronic illnesses versus taking an intentional approach towards eating, ensuring you do your meal preps, you exercise 3 to 4 times a week, you’re getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night, those are things that are intentional activities you schedule into your life to ensure it’s done every single day.
Yanique stated that it’s interesting because she does workshops for organizations and a lot of questions that she hears from employees is that sometimes you can’t do what you love because you have bills to pay but then, if you have that kind of mindset which goes back into your attitude. Is it your motivation that affects your attitude or your attitude that affects your motivation?
In reference to Yanique’s question if motivation affects attitude or attitude affects motivation. Jeff stated that he is a big sports fan, so the team that’s winning, are they because they are motivator or are they motivated because they are winning. He thinks success breathes that and those two go together. Doing well, we feel good, we’re motivated and if we’re not doing well we feel bad with a bad attitude, we feel demotivated. There’s a concept called, “Learned Helplessness” that a lot of employees’ experience. What it is that over time they feel like they failed trying so they just stop trying. It gets really bad is a lot of times they stay in the same job, not every job is right for every person and so they’ll stay in the job or maybe they have those bills to pay and they don’t feel like they have another good option and so they kind of give up but they keep coming to work everyday and that makes it so much worst because it’s defeating.
Twitter - @toister (www.twitter.com/toister)
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Insider Customer Service Blog – www.toistersolutions.com/blog
Yanique mentioned that in most of her workshops towards the end of the session, she always explains to the participants that the customer is always right literally is not a true statement because there are times when the customer is wrong but what we should be guided by is the principle that as employees, we are not here to prove the customer wrong, we are here to help them, they are wrong but we are not here say, “Hey Mr. Customer, you’re wrong and we are going to punish you.” But more like, “It’s okay, let’s work back to how we can undo what’s happened and find a solution so that you can leave here feeling good, let’s make this right.”
The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service by Jeff Toister