How Customer Service & Retention Directly Impact Profits & Performance

July 12th, 2019

Since I’ve been speaking to CEOs about “Pricing & Profits”, the true impact of customer service and retention is arising as a game changer. Can you create a situation where you make a “forever promise” to your customers? It certainly will directly impact your customers’ perceptions of your value and your bottom line!

The statistics are staggering:

  • According to Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25-95%
  • According to Harvard Business Review, it is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one.
  • According to Salesforce, 74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult.
  • U.S. consumers are willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellence customer service
  • According to, after one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business again with that company.

Do you know how your company is doing?


What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Clearly, in reviewing the statistics, we should all be ultra vigilant about customer service and the customer experience.

Where do we start? In our experience, our best clients understand their target customers and what is meaningful to them. The customer experience has to start there. It is easy to get carried away with measuring on-time delivery, customer complaints and other metrics but what does that really tell us? Do our customers simply want a reliable delivery estimate and someone to pay attention to ensure success or do they want a tailored, customized customer experience? Are we getting complaints from our unprofitable customers and silence from our best customers, and therefore focusing in on the”20″ of the 80/20 equation? It happens more frequently than you’d think!

Once you know what is meaningful to your key customers, define a way to measure your success in achieving your objective. Perhaps use the net promoter score as it is one simple question that speaks volumes: How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague? As you explore why, you’ll find ways to increase the value of your customer experience to your key customers. Certainly, customer service is a critical topic in creating a resilient supply chain. You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.



Hello Dolly and Turning the Mundane into Magnificent

March 25th, 2018

I had the opportunity to catch Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber in Hello Dolly on Broadway while in New York, and it was fabulous!  Bernadette is “made for the part” (although I see the perfect fit for Bette Midler as well). Imagine how a musical that debuted in 1964 with FOUR Broadway revivals and international success remains wildly popular…..  



Hello Dolly certainly turned the mundane into the magnificent!  A strong-willed matchmaker and widower (Dolly) travels to Yonkers to find a wife for an ordinary yet half-a-millionaire local merchant (Mr. Vandergelder), and adventures ensue.  Actually, all the previously ordinary people surrounding the miserly Mr. Vandergelder get swept up into Dolly’s adventures. Great fun!

One tip to implement this week:
Are you turning the mundane into the magnificent?  Why lead a humdrum existence on a daily basis? Instead, search for opportunities to turn your everyday interactions into exciting and profitable opportunities!  Profitable doesn’t have to mean financial returns; consider your engagement and interest in what you do on a daily basis – don’t you think where you spend 8 hours a day (or more!) should be interesting?!?  Why not consider your customer as well – if you can deliver extra value and create a happy customer, isn’t that a profitable experience for you?

Executives and owners, search for ways to empower and engage your employees.  That alone will dramatically improve their interest in performing daily job functions.  Do you put thought into this? What could be more important for retention in an age of a significant skills gap shortage?

NO MATTER your position, DON’T let go of your responsibility for turning the mundane into magnificent.  It is yours alone. Look for ways to bring new ideas to the table. Be creative. Ask your colleagues to participate in finding ways to make the work more interesting – and impactful.  Pick just one item and move it forward. No matter how far it moves forward, you are closer to magnificent.

Dolly never gave up. Instead, she came up with a new idea – or scheme. What about you?


Retaining Project Management Top Talent

June 19th, 2015
retain top project managers

It takes valuable time and effort to replace talented managers. Instead, invest more attention, feedback and support on your top performers.

As the recovery takes hold and businesses become more comfortable investing money, top project managers have become scarce. In order to grow the business, improve profitability and accelerate cash flow, projects are integral. Having the ideas is “easy” in comparison to executing those ideas. Solid project management will ensure these results occur. Thus, those companies who retain top project management will thrive and leave the rest in the dust. What can be done to ensure you are in the driver’s seat?

First, recognize that the world has flipped. During the recession, executives could ask for a broad set of skills, multiple certifications, vast experience and other superhero qualities and potentially find a project manager who fit the bill. Often, it was even possible to find someone willing to take the long term perspective on compensation. This ship has sailed!

In today’s environment, if you aren’t focused on retention, you not only will have trouble retaining top talent but it will also be challenging to locate top talent. Top talent is leaving for opportunities closer to home, for creative compensation packages, for greater flexibility – and for retirement. Thus, your priority must be on retaining talent to thrive.

The great news is that retaining top talent is not rocket science; it is actually quite simple. It is NOT easy to implement; however, it is simple. Consider a comprehensive approach to retaining top talent: 1) Focus on your top performers. 2) Address non-performers. 3) Provide passion and clarity on goals. 4) Ensure frequent communications.

1. Focus on your top performers.Instead of focusing most of your energy on the issues and non-performers, focus the majority of your effort on your top talent. It sounds easy but is far from easy to implement. Yet this one simple rule can make all the difference in the world! The idea is to focus your efforts on those who drive your project and company’s results.

You must focus on your top talent with what you DO; not with what you say. Set up regular meetings to check in with your top talent. Do not reschedule for “the crisis of the day”. Stop by on a regular basis to show support and ask questions. Be visible and make sure it is a clear priority.

2. Address non-performers. One of the best incentives for a top performer (assuming they are paid within reason for the role based on the market) is addressing non-performers. I typically see non-performers riding on the coattails of top performers yet no one is willing to address the issue. The problem is that the above average performers (and especially top performers) know exactly who is not performing, and it provides a constant source of frustration.

One of the best sources of motivation for a top performer is to know that the value of his/her work is understood; thus, slip-shot work will not be tolerated. A clear priority on maintaining a culture of accountability is cornerstone to success.

3. Provide passion & clarity on goals. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of employees would prefer to make a difference while at work. It isn’t about just collecting a paycheck for top performers. Instead, he/she wants to know that their piece of the project directly contributes to a core company goal. Explain the company’s strategy and goals. Tie the project’s objectives to the company objectives. Clearly communicate the value of the project manager (and each team member) to these objectives. Demonstrate passion and excitement for these results and confidence in the team. Suddenly, focus and results will accelerate!

4. Ensure frequent communications.Although this sounds like suggesting motherhood and apple pie, it is often overlooked, and, unfortunately, it is not nearly as easy as it sounds. My most successful clients are those who spend the majority of their time communicating.

Set up a communications strategy upfront. What makes sense for this particular project and project team? How often do critical path milestones occur? How often should communications occur to make sure bottlenecks are being addressed rapidly? How should communications occur? In person? Over the phone? Via a webinar? In emails?

For example, I’ve been working with a client on an ERP implementation. We had to change the day of the week for our communication updates in order to make sure the critical participants were available. We also had to change our mode of communication because the sharing of files was creating frustration for people working remotely and traveling. Both of these were easy fixes but greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the communications. Be willing to be flexible. Determine what works for the particular team and circumstances and modify your behavior instead of expecting others to cater to you.

My best clients support and deliver many millions of dollars of revenue growth and increased profitability through projects. Thus, what could be more important than retaining your top project management talent? Follow these four simple strategies, and results will follow.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Retaining Top Talent – A Must for Success

Employee Performance: Do Not Ignore Your Stars


I’ve Been Thinking about Supply Chain Talent Retention

July 11th, 2014


supply chain

As promised in my 100th Profit through People(TM) newsletter, below is my first “I’ve Been Thinking” brief, weekly tips, tools, trends and top news ideas to transform your supply chain. I’d love to hear your feedback…. 

An Immediately Implementable Tip to Retain Your Top Supply Chain Talent

According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 63% of CEOs in 68 countries are concerned about the future availability of key skills at all levels. This not only supports my firm’s skills gap research but also is proven true on a daily basis with my clients, contacts and trade association colleagues. Not a week goes by where someone hasn’t lost a key employee, doesn’t have the skills available to complete a critical project, or experiences a skills gap due to suddenly increased requirements.

Those who want to thrive in the second half of 2014 will focus immediate attention on ensuring you retain and attain supply chain talent. Start at the beginning – retain your top talent!

One tip to implement this week: Schedule a 30-60 minute session with your top performer to discuss ideas and strategies for moving the business forward. Delay that meeting with your under-performer if necessary. Where you spend your time speaks volumes. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain talent? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


The Skills Gap

January 28th, 2014
LMA Consulting Group Skills Gap

With an increasingly complex business environment, businesses need to know how to resolve skill gaps in their workplace.

The skills gap is a rapidly growing issue for manufacturers and distributors.  Almost every day that I go into a client, go to a trade association meeting or talk with colleagues, I hear of someone who has retired, decided to change careers, jumped ship for a better opportunity or I hear of a company with too few high-skilled resources for what’s required to succeed.  Worse yet, according to the survey my firm conducted in conjunction with APICS Inland Empire, 77% are struggling to fill these positions.

The business environment has increased in complexity. Just think of a few of the recent complexities:  1) global 2) extended supply chains 3) increased regulations, requirements & risks 4) the Amazon effect of the 24/7 customer expecting same-day delivery as commonplace 5) increased focus on sustainability.  Top talent is required to successfully simplify and navigate these waters.

What can executives do to proactively approach this skills gap dilemma?  Three of the top strategies include: 1) Retain your talent.  2) Develop your talent.  3) Attract top talent.

1.   Retain your talent:  Although this might seem obvious, it is the most often overlooked strategy for success.  As employees are gaining comfort with the recovery, they are pursuing opportunities that offer greater responsibility, opportunities for career progression, flexibility (including remote work and/or are closer to their home), and money – just to name a few.  Are you thinking about how to retain your top talent?

Of course there are a few reasons which are tough to avoid such as retirement and a dramatic reduction in the commute; however, in my experience, the vast majority of reasons can be avoided.  It boils down to leadership.  Do your leaders appreciate their employee’s value?  Do they hold folks accountable?  Interestingly enough, top talent will stay when they see that non-performers are being addressed.  Yes, you must make the tough decisions!  Do your leaders make time to talk with employees about goals?  Offer support?  Who do they prioritize?  The lack of time is not a resource; it’s a priority.

Don’t even think about training and development programs or recruiting if you don’t have solid retention programs in place.  You’ll be even busier and yet still fail.  Instead, you must start with this fundamental!

2.   Develop your talent: In my experience, there are two key ways to develop your people:  1) Training and development programs.  2) Mentor programs.  Exceptional leaders do not consider this an either-or situation but instead require both.

Training and development programs achieve the following goals:  1) Show the employees that you value them.  2) Provide training on specific skills.  3) Provide development opportunities required for career progression such as an international assignment or a cross-functional role.

These types of programs can be an essential element of a significant culture change such as the journey of lean, SIOP (sales, inventory & operations planning), an ERP upgrade and a merger and acquisition.  What better way to bring employees up-to-speed on new concepts?  In addition, these programs can be invaluable in training for new job skills.  As the business environment becomes more complex and employers are reluctant to hire up to pre-recession levels, a broader range of skills is no longer a nice-to-have.  It has become a “must”!

Mentor programs can be invaluable.  In order to develop new behaviors required for a job, there is no alternative.  Mentoring gives the employee a way to observe someone who has “been there and done that”.  Then, the employee can trial or test out new behaviors, and the mentor will provide feedback and guide them to success.

3.   Attract top talent:  This is third by design as it is often more successful to retain and develop than it is to hire new talent.  With that said, you must always be on the lookout for top talent – and ensuring your organization will attract top talent.  Would potential employees want to work for your company?  Your leaders?  What do they hear in the press?  What will their friends and colleagues tell them?  In today’s world, the best employees come via referral.

Hiring is a much tougher task than it seems.  I venture to guess that almost every hiring manager has “stunk” at the hiring process at one point in his/her career.  I certainly did!  How do you know the seemingly perfect candidate will deliver?  You must do the hard work to decide what you expect of the potential hire.  Don’t worry so much about the typical job description information – a compilation of tasks.  Instead, what results are you expecting?  How can you be assured your candidate will be the right one?

My colleague and friend Janet Boydell has an effective process that she calls the Fast Forward Resume which has proven highly effective.  It is well worth reading up on and pursuing – IF you want to hire the right person. She has two books on the topic – A Hire Connection and You’re Not the Person I Hired: A CEO’s Survival Guide to Hiring Top Talent.

My passion for my original brand Profit through People is not by accident.  I’ve always believed in pragmatic and tangible results.  These cannot be achieved without top talent.  Thus, you must circle back to the fundamentals.  Even in today’s complex world, these successful strategies of retaining, developing and hiring top talent are quite simple.  Simple but not easy to implement…….will you be one of the few to pursue?

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Critical Priority: Retaining Top Talent