100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams’s picture

By: 100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

A large part of developing a rapport with customers is to offer a conversational tone that is warm and inviting. This can sometimes be achieved by paying close attention to the little things a customer might say. Search out ways to take your verbal exchanges down a road that is paved with friendly conversation.

Recognize and acknowledge

As you get to know your customers, you might discover some things about them that are worthy of your praise. If you learn of a birthday, marriage, anniversary, graduation, or other recent milestone, offer your congratulations. It’s a quick and easy way to instantly put a smile on their faces.

Look for things that can allow you to offer sincere validation of their interests as well. Acknowledgements can mean a great deal to people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, just so long as your questions take on the form of “small talk.” Don’t let customers perceive you as someone who is prying into their personal lives.

By: Mario Gislao

Reporting and documentation are fundamental aspects of the modern quality control (QC) laboratory. Whether using digital imaging to document a defect on a mission-critical subcomponent, performing micron-level measurements of wear on precision machined parts, or collecting important statistical information on the roundness of orifices in nozzles between production runs, virtually all pertinent QC information needs to be documented in the form of a report. Reporting has a number of vital purposes: It helps serve as proof of the organization’s methods and processes; it provides documentation to other entities that may want to purchase products from the organization for resale or incorporation into other products; it offers the manufacturer the opportunity to refine materials or processes to improve on the design or the production process; and it helps the organization find areas of weakness that it can address in terms of quality or efficiency.

Direct Dimensions Inc.’s picture

By: Direct Dimensions Inc.

“The Awakening” is a 70-foot sculpture by J. Seward Johnson that depicts a man struggling to free himself from the earth. The installation, which has been a landmark for nearly three decades in Washington D.C.’s Hains Point, is comprised of five aluminum body parts: a right foot, a left knee, a right arm, a left hand, and a bearded face. It was originally installed in 1980 and became a well-recognized attraction next to the Potomac River. It has been on loan to the U.S. Park Service by the artist.

In 2007, the piece was sold to a developer and it became necessary for the sculpture to be moved.

Moving the sculpture and reinstalling it in its intended orientation proved to be a true logistical and spatial challenge. Jon Lash, CEO of Digital Atelier, called on Direct Dimensions Inc. to find an affordable and accurate solution to document “The Awakening” in its exact current state and provide him with a 3-D plot showing the intersections of the sculpture’s mating surface with the ground. The plot would then be used to prepare the new site to receive the sculpture in its original configuration.

Marvin Marshall’s picture

By: Marvin Marshall

Leadership would be easy if it weren’t for those we lead. As any leader or manager knows, getting people to actually want to do the tasks you need them to do can be a challenge. People will not fully commit to a task unless they’re motivated to desire your goals and objectives or the reason behind the task.

Unfortunately, many managers and leaders rely on external motivators to get people to do things. For example, using rewards as enticements, or threats of punishment, are approaches aimed at obtaining obedience and compliance. They overpower, rather than empower. Telling people what to do and then rewarding them if they do as expected, or threatening them if they do not, increases stress while diminishing professional relationships.

Because these management approaches are manipulative, the results are never as effective as cultivating internal motivation. Manipulative approaches are something you do to other people and they have little long-lasting effects. This is in contrast to working with people to empower them.

Sal Lucido’s picture

By: Sal Lucido

Figure 1: Closed-loop process for managing regulatory compliance

In Part I, Part II, and Part III of this compliance series, I have described the benefits of using a closed-loop process for managing regulatory compliance (illustrated in figure 1).

Donald Jasurda’s picture

By: Donald Jasurda

The value of ongoing maintenance and prevention is no secret. We know we can save a lot of anguish and money by taking preventive actions today and every day to avoid major problems later. This principle also applies to the quality of the products designed each day by engineers.

The “healthiest,” most successful automotive and aerospace companies use tools early and often to address dimensional engineering problems before they occur. This prevents problems that others may not discover until manufacturing or—worse—until their end-customer experiences them as quality issues.

Ask the right questions at the right time

When it comes to quality, everything starts in design. It’s important to ask the following questions as early as possible in the process:

• Is your quality process in control?

• Is it linked to your program objectives?

• Are your product and process requirements tightly defined and traceable?

• Are there any process considerations being made for dimensional objectives?

• Does your build strategy help you meet your design for Six Sigma (DFSS) objectives?

• Are you going to make your launch schedule—without staff overtime or other unplanned costs?

Donald Jasurda’s picture

By: Donald Jasurda

The value of ongoing maintenance and prevention is no secret. We know we can save a lot of anguish and money by taking preventive actions today and every day to avoid major problems later. This principle also applies to the quality of the products designed each day by engineers.

The “healthiest,” most successful automotive and aerospace companies use tools early and often to address dimensional engineering problems before they occur. This prevents problems that others may not discover until manufacturing or—worse—until their end-customer experiences them as quality issues.

Ask the right questions at the right time

When it comes to quality, everything starts in design. It’s important to ask the following questions as early as possible in the process:

• Is your quality process in control?

• Is it linked to your program objectives?

• Are your product and process requirements tightly defined and traceable?

• Are there any process considerations being made for dimensional objectives?

• Does your build strategy help you meet your design for Six Sigma (DFSS) objectives?

• Are you going to make your launch schedule—without staff overtime or other unplanned costs?

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Burger King’s advertising jingle during the 1970s was, “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don’t upset us. All we ask is that you let us serve it your way!”

In late August, Sarah E. Needleman profiled in the Wall Street Journal that entrepreneurial manufacturers are experiencing a demand for made-to-order goods. In her feature titled, “‘Custom’ is Customary,” Needleman hop-scotches through a variety of businesses from Create-a-mattress.com to Panraven, a 3-year-old customer photo-scrapbooking business.

Along with these customized products and one-at-a-time customer orders comes not only the opportunity for increased profit margin but also the potential for dissatisfied clients if the fulfillment process is lacking or mispicked. Returned materials, and the corrective actions and express shipping that result, can consume all the profit-margin benefits of a customer build-to-order operation.

Thomas Hall and Wally Bock’s default image

By: Thomas Hall and Wally Bock

Today’s entrepreneurs and business leaders must tread a tightrope through a universe of distractions. Information pours into our brains in a relentless, never-ceasing deluge. A rising army of companies across the globe competes for our customers using “new and improved” business models and practices that lead us to second-guess ourselves. Meanwhile, social and economic turbulence threaten to shake apart what we’ve built. In the eye of this hurricane, it’s all too easy to let something very basic yet very crucial slip away.

Focus. That’s right. The ability to focus—ruthlessly—in the midst of chaos is what separates the companies that grow steadily and successfully from the ones that get distracted, trot down the wrong side path, and find themselves lost in the forest.

Have you heard the phrase “Do one thing and do it well’?” Well, that’s how companies that succeed long-term do it—they concentrate on doing one thing better than anyone else. They block out the external noise and stick to their proverbial knitting until the strategy they’re following just doesn’t work anymore.

Jon Miller’s picture

By: Jon Miller

I am in Japan helping to lead one of our lean manufacturing benchmarking trips. What I took away from the debriefing from yesterday’s lean benchmarking visit was a series of lessons on how to sustain a lean culture after 10 years. The company we visited had made a few defining choices, played its cards well so to speak, and this shows in how it operates its lean management system and sustains its lean culture. These can be summarized as follows:

Bottom up trumps top down

The early years of a lean transformation tend to be directive and driven by a senior leadership or a compelling business need, such as a crisis. This was the case for this company. Crises come and go, as do senior managers. There should always be a top-down element to kaizen, but in the case of this company, the major focus is on bottom-up engagement and continuous daily improvement at the workplace. Senior management’s role is to make sure these small improvements add up to something tangible and strategically meaningful.

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