Monday, 3 November 2008

Claus Speaking In Oslo

On Wednesday November 5th, Claus will be one of the keynote speakers at Max Marketing Mix event in Oslo, Norway. It is the 20th annual event of Norway's largest marketing conference, organised by the Norwegian Direct Marketing association, NORDMA.

Claus will be speaking about the importance of employee engagement in order to create good business results and create a lasting brand legacy.

For more information about getting Claus to deliver a keynote at your conference or internal company meeting, please contact Lis Touborg.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

"Mr. Time Manager"

A new biography about Claus has been released in Denmark. It is written by Niels Lillelund and published on Jyllands-Postens Forlag.

It has received some great reviews including this one from "Information" (in Danish). There was also a great review in Berlingske Tidende on September 30th, but this is not available online yet.

In the next few days, we'll make available an excerpt from the book in Danish.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Claus on TV in Denmark

On August 29th, Claus was interviewed in a segment of "Go' Morgen, Danmark!", the largest Danish breakfast TV show. In this interview he talked about how you can best ensure you make the most of the time available to you in terms of productivity and happiness.

If you are able to understand Danish you can watch the segment at Sputnik (TV2's online service).
Select Friday, August 29th and choose the segment with "Time Manageren's skaber".

Friday, 5 September 2008

Golden Nugget of the day: Self-esteem

After yesterday's golden nugget about taking responsibility for your life and actions to create a meaningful life, we received a couple of emails saying that for some people it can be hard to take this responsibility and that they felt they lacked the energy to break out from the patterns that they were following. This leads us to the daily nugget:

"Only people with self-esteem and a feeling of power can take responsibility."
If you do not have the feeling of being in control and ability to take responsibility for your life, it is often down to a feeling of powerlessness and low self-esteem. This is where you need to start your personal journey. There are many ways of building your confidence and tackling low self-esteem and everything from good coaches who can help you to finding things that you are good at and then keep on improving on those skills to build your confidence are a good way to start. Once you start to build your self-esteem and come to believe in yourself, you will also come to the realisation of what you need to do in order to take control of your life and achieve your goals.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Take responsibility!

Following on from yesterday's golden nugget, this one is very much along the same lines as it is all about realising that the responsibility for your own success or failure rests solely with you and it is up to you what you do with that responsibility:

"Taking responsibility is what it takes to create a meaningful life."

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

"Ordinary people can create extraordinary results."
This might seem like an empty phrase, but if you look at the everyday heroes around you in your local community, or in the stories from around the world we see in the newspapers every single day you soon come to realise that there is a hero hidden in all of us. Whether or not we choose to bring that hero out is another matter entirely. Many people choose to trundle through life, whereas others who are just the same as us realise that we can all keep on pushing our limits and through goal setting and planning can achieve incredible results. For some this is a painstaking and on-going process, for others it comes naturally - but the common thread is the realisation that you have to turn up in order to be in the game and to always give it your best shot. Then you too can create extraordinary results.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Of Life... and Management

Here's the golden nugget of the day:

"An incompetent manager treats minor tasks as major tasks -
while major tasks do not get done at all."
We all know somebody like that. Here's hoping it's not the person you see in the mirror in the mornings. In order to avoid this, prioritisation and planning are the keys and you always need to keep an eye on the bigger picture and where any given task fits into this picture. Does it help you achieve your long-term goals or not? Is it important? If you can't answer in the affirmative to either of those questions you probably should not focus too much on the task at hand, but identify the tasks which really do require your attention.

Friday, 29 August 2008

The Holy Grail of Life: The 3 Ms

Today's golden nugget is about what we all seek:

"Money, Meaning and Magic are what people want from life."
If you think about it, I'm sure you will agree.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Problem solving

Here is a golden nugget about problem solving:

"Ignore problems that solve themselves.
Delegate problems that others can solve.
Do yourself what only you can do."
This is a good one to keep in mind as it helps you improve your productivity - and lower your stress levels.

Monday, 25 August 2008

A golden nugget about time wasting to start the week

We'll start the week off with the last golden nugget about time for now:

"Time that passes never returns.
That’s why it ought to be a crime to steal other people’s time."
This cuts both ways. Don't waste other people's time - and make sure you don't allow them to waste yours. We hope you have a productive week.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Golden Nugget: Productivity

Following on from the first golden nugget about productivity, here is another one for the weekend:

"Time is the most democratic of all your resources. Everybody has the same available time at their disposal every day: 24 hours."

"A Complaint Is a Gift" Competition Ending Soon!

Just a quick reminder that our competition, where you can win 1 of 5 signed copies of A Complaint Is a Gift ends next Sunday the 31st of August.

Hurry and send in your best anecdote about good or bad customer service to us to be in with a chance.

If you don't believe you stand a chance of winning or just can't wait to get your hands on a copy of the book you can order it from with a saving of 32% on the list price. You can also get a complimentary excerpt from the book.

See the competition details here and remember that it is open to residents of all countries.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Golden Nuggets

We have decided to share some of the wisdom accumulated over more than 30 years in management consultancy at both TMI and since Claus sold the company and started his new consultancy. These Golden Nuggets are small pearls of wisdom, which we hope can help you by inspiring you to be your best.

The first golden nugget that we would like to share with you has to to with productivity:

"Time is the shortest of your resources, the only thing you cannot buy more of.
Therefore, it is not a matter of getting more time but of making the best possible use of the time you have."

Monday, 11 August 2008

Building A Customer-Focused Culture at

As promised, I wanted to give you some insight into the customer-centric culture at Zappos is one of the fastest growing retailers in the US and on the Internet, with sales of their shoes and accessories set to hit $1 billion this year. It is run by Tony Hsieh, who gracefully accepted the invitation to write the foreword to the second edition of A Complaint Is a Gift, the book version co-authored with Janelle Barlow, of the customer service concept I pioneered back in the early 1990s.

Tony has instilled a culture at Zappos based around 10 core values, which not only guide their everyday dealings with internal customers as well as external ones, but they are also a part of the hiring process so you need to exhibit these traits if you dream of getting a job with Zappos. The 10 values are:

  1. Deliver "WOW" through service
  2. Embrace and drive change
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
  5. Pursue growth and learning
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble
In addition to these 10 core values, Tony also has some incredibly good tips on how other companies can learn from Zappos and truly focus on their customers to achieve success. And what a success Zappos has become. 75% of all sales come from repeat customers and basket sizes increase from the first to the second transaction. This is all down to ensuring that the customers really do feel welcome and looked after by Zappos.

What impressed me most about Tony is his genuine interest in his customers. I read a story about how two sisters felt that they had been racially profiled by a Zappos outlet store in Las Vegas and how Tony personally dealt with the complaint along with other members of senior management. Read this inspirational tale of true customer service.

Try doing a Google search on Zappos and their customer service as well and you will find many fascinating insights into the company both from employees and from customers. The idea of doing an annual culture book is also something I like a lot, although I would like to see this being made available for free (perhaps as a PDF?)

Tony is very active on the speaking circuit and is not afraid to share the secrets of his success with people in all industries. The principles he has used to build the foundation for are evergreens in the field of customer service and customer relationship management and can be applied by ANY COMPANY in ANY FIELD. On Tony's blog he is more than happy to share his wisdom with you and you can watch several of his keynotes.

If you have time to watch only one, I would recommend that you watch Tony's keynote presentation below to be inspired to do something to improve your customer focus. I can guarantee you that just a tiny improvement in ONE of these areas can increase your customer loyalty and customer lifetime value (LTV) dramatically.

Friday, 8 August 2008

FREE excerpt from A Complaint Is a Gift

August 1, 2008 the 2nd edition of A Complaint Is a Gift hit the shelves. We've now got a free excerpt which you can download (PDF). The original sold more than 130,000 copies.

Thoroughly revised and updated with new material on handling Internet complaints, dealing with complaints directed at you, complaining effectively yourself, as well as new examples covering a wide range of industries.

The concept is more relevant than ever in today’s constantly connected world, when customers can complain instantly and broadcast their dissatisfaction around the world.

Download the excerpt.

Don't forget to enter our competition to win 1 of 5 copies signed by Claus.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book at the discounted launch price of $13.57 go to

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Competition: Win a Signed Copy of "A Complaint is a Gift"

To celebrate the launch of the second edition of "A Complaint is a Gift", we've decided to give away 5 signed copies of the book.

All you have to do is send us your best customer service story - it can be either good or bad service, but is has to be a good story :-) - and we will select the 5 best and publish them here on the site (please let us know if you want to be anonymous on the site).

Send your story, along with your name, address and email address to us before September 1st and a signed copy of the book could be winging its way to you before the end of September.

Seen on The Prize Finder

Monday, 21 July 2008

"Practical Leadership" Seminar Dates for 2009

The Practical Leadership seminars are proving to be very popular with 35 of the in-depth 6 day seminars held in Cotignac, Provence, France already having been held. The seminars are an introduction to the 4 key areas of management today as developed in Claus's theories: Leadership, Productivity, Relations & Quality. We will also soon be launching 2 day follow-up seminars in each of the aforementioned areas for customers who have already attended the Practical Leadership seminar.

The seminar is for anyone who is or who wants to become a leader. The seminar is held by Claus Møller and contains a framework for understanding leadership and gives you the tools to act as a leader in your daily life as well as your career. Along with the 6 days of instruction and one-on-one coaching you will also take extensive tests and will receive a full set of books, tests and tools to help you improve your leadership abilities.

We can now announce the dates for the 6 seminars to be held in 2009 and they are as follows:
PL 39: March 21st - 26th (in Danish)
PL 40: April 25th - 30th (in Danish)
PL 41: June 13th - 18th (in English)
PL 42: September 5th - 10th (in Danish)
PL 43: September 26th - October 1st (in English)
PL 44: October 24th - 29th (in English)

There are also still very limited places left on the remaining Practical Leadership seminars for 2008:
PL 36: September 6th - 11th (in Danish)
PL 37: September 20th - 25th (in English)
PL 38: October 25th - 30th (in Danish)

For more information on pricing, the contents of the seminar and to download a brochure please go to There you will also find information on how to book your place at one of the upcoming seminars.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Thanks, Tony!

I just wanted to thank Tony Hsieh of publicly. Tony has, very kindly, written the foreword to the second edition of A Complaint Is a Gift, and is somebody who really "gets" that business is about the customers - rather than systems and policies making it easy to shift products. Tony passionately believes in what he is doing and Zappos is definitely one of the true shining beacons of customer service anywhere in the world today.

For those of you who haven't heard of Zappos yet, they're one of the fastest growing shoe retailers and last year generated revenues of more than $800 million. However, they're a very atypical company because their mission is not to become the world's largest shoe retailer, but rather "providing the best online experience possible".

Over the next couple of weeks I will tell you a bit more about Tony and his company and give you some insights into what makes them tick and what makes them exceptional in my opinion. For now, I don't want to dilute the message of the big thank you I would like to send to one of MY customer service heroes for writing the foreword to our book.

The second edition of A Complaint Is a Gift will be published by Berrett-Koehler on August 1st, 2008.

Find out more about

Friday, 4 July 2008

Five Kinds of Quality

In my last blog on quality I delved into the topics of quality areas and quality factors. Following on from that I will now present the basis for my overall view on quality - the FIVE kinds of quality:

5 Kinds of Quality:

  1. Personal Quality
  2. Team Quality
  3. Product Quality
  4. Service Quality
  5. Company Quality

These five kinds of quality are all related. E.g. High personal quality and team quality are prerequisites of product quality, service quality, and the total company quality.

It is also important to understand that EACH of the five kinds of quality has two dimensions: a hard and a soft one.

Hard quality means concrete/technical quality.

Good hard quality exists when demands and expectations are met on a concrete, technical level.

Soft quality means the human, emotional side of quality.

Good soft quality exists when demands and expectations on a human/emotional level are met.

In order to ensure the development and survival of the organisation, it is necessary to constantly monitor and develop the five kinds of quality, in both the hard and the soft areas. In the following quality blog posts I will delve into each of these five areas and give you concrete examples of what good soft and hard quality is and explain my thinking in further detail.

If you haven't already done so, I would also recommend that you go back to the beginning and read all of my posts on the topic of quality on this blog.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Quality Areas and Quality Factors

Last week, I shared some quick thoughts with you about quality development. Following on from that, in this my fourth blog on the topical quality series, I will discuss quality areas and quality factors. To get the full benefit from reading this, please ensure that you read the previous three posts first.

In order to be able to define the Ideal level of Performance (IP level) and measure the Actual level of Performance (AP level) respectively, it is necessary to determine what is to be measured, evaluated and improved regularly.

For this purpose I introduced the concepts of "quality areas" and "quality factors"

Quality Areas
A quality area can be defined as:

"An area within which measurements must be made in order to determine the quality level and ensure that the quality performed meets the demands and expectations of internal and external stakeholders"

Within each quality area there is at least one,and usually more than one, quality factor.

Quality Factors
A quality factor can be defined as:

"An element - a measuring point - whose quality level helps to determine whether the total quality within a quality area is experienced as good or bad"

In order to work specifically on quality development, the quality factors within each quality area need to be formulated unambiguously and to be measurable.

For each quality factor:

  • The IP level needs to be defined
  • The AP level needs to be measured
and, if there is a difference:
  • quality development should be initiated
Quality on Several Levels
Quality areas and quality factors are determined on various levels depending on where in the quality process you are, and on which level within the company the quality is to be measured.

An example: The year end result is a quality area, which ought to be of interest to top management. Profitability would be a quality factor within this area. If the profitability is unsatisfactory, this may be due to quality deficiencies on a lower level, for example customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction can be measured by the number of customers who stay and those who leave the organisation, i.e. the churn rate. If the churn rate is too high, this may be due to quality deficiencies on a lower level, e.g. complaint handling. The quality of complaint handling can be measured by the number of customers who remain customers after having complained. If these customers are too few, this may be due to quality deficiencies in e.g. the way a complaining customer is received and treated. The quality of that treatment can be measured e.g. by the degree with which the complaining customer feels welcome with their written or oral complain. If the customer does not feel welcome with their telephone, email or in-person complaint this may be due to the "time waiting on the telephone", or the "delay in email response times", or even the lack of "commitment" from the person with whom the customer is dealing.

Quality Hierarchy

As becomes quite clear from the example given above, in order to meet the quality demands and expectations from the external stakeholders, it is imperative to deal with quality factors at the lowest level. For this reason, it is necessary to work your way downwards in the "quality hierarchy". This way the causes of quality problems are cured, not just the symptoms!

In the next post I will discuss the 5 different kinds of quality that make up the overall quality concept.

Monday, 23 June 2008

The Main Elements of Quality Development

This is the third blog post about the quality concepts and programmes that I have developed over the last 3 decades. Over the years I have helped a wide range of service organisations (including British Airways, SAS, Hilton Hotels); governments in Russia, India, the EU and Mexico; and manufacturing companies all over the world improve their quality. In this series I'm giving a brief insight into some of the concepts that have been implemented in these companies and organisations to give you a better understanding of the concepts as well as the process you have to go through in order to improve your quality at all levels.

Please read the previous posts The Human Side of Quality and Quality Standards for the introduction to the topic of quality management and for definitions of the IP and AP levels, which I will describe in more detail in this post on quality development.

There may be a great difference between the IP level (Ideal Performance level) and the AP level (Actual Performance level), whether at individual, team or organisational level. The goal of the quality development process is to eliminiate this difference between the IP and the AP levels.

There are three main elements in the quality development process:

  1. Definition of the IP level
  2. Measuring the AP level
  3. Quality development
1. Definition of the IP level
Determining the ideal/desired level of performance, i.e. the quality objective

2. Measuring the AP level
Clarifying the actual level of performance - the present standard

3. Quality development
Assessing the difference that has been ascertained between the IP level and the AP level and, if necessary, to establish and implement a plan for quality development in order to achieve the desired level.

I know that this all sounds straight forward, but in practice it isn't necessarily so. There might be many reasons why it is impossible to measure the AP level accurately (employees fearing for the loss of their jobs, area managers wanting to report higher numbers to the head office etc.).

In the next instalment of the series (available on Wednesday), I will give an insight into Quality Areas and Quality Factors, which are the basis for identifying and communicating the overall objectives, i.e. the IP level you want to achieve. Understanding these topics will allow you to work more specifically with your quality development and foster a quality culture in your company.

If you would like to find out more about how I can help your organisation measure its AP level, identify its IP level and develop a quality development programme, please contact Lis Touborg on +45 4822 5100 or by email:

Friday, 20 June 2008

Inbox Zero - An Update

Further to the previous post on managing information overload with Janelle Barlow's article and Merlin Mann's presentation at Google Tech, I thought I would share Merlin's slideshow with you. If you watch the video and then download the presentation below to keep as a reminder, you've got no excuses for not doing anything about your information meltdown.

Quality Standards

This is the second of my short articles on quality, giving you an insight into the basics of the quality concepts and programmes that I have developed. In this post I will focus on quality standards and their importance in implementing a quality culture in an organisation.

Quality Standards

In order to develop quality effectively it is necessary to be able to describe quality unambiguously. This means, quite simply, to determine levels, norms or standards for quality which are conceived in the same way by everybody who is involved in the quality process. The work on "quality standards" makes it possible to:

  • Define what is understood by good, mediocre or inferior quality
  • Goal-focus the quality performance
  • Measure quality performance
  • Compare an individual or team's quality with the quality performance of other individuals or teams
  • Improve quality performance
  • Communicate quality deficiencies to individuals/groups of people who are supposed to check, ensure and develop quality
  • Inform customers and other external stakeholders (e.g. business press) of quality improvements
  • Obtain a quality certification
IP and AP levels
For any kind of quality development, two kinds of quality standards need to be defined:
  • The IP level (Ideal Performance level)
  • The AP level (Actual Performance level)
The IP level
This is the quality development goal. That is to say the level to be achieved or the situation desired at a certain time.

The AP level
The AP level is the quality level at any given measuring time. The norms determining what is good, mediocre or inferior quality change all the time. In order to ensure that demands and expectations are met, it is necessary to keep working on quality development, i.e.:
  • to evaluate and adjust the IP level at regular intervals
  • measure the AP level regularly
  • assess the difference between the AP level and IP level and make quality improvement a natural part of day-to-day life in your company
In the next post in this series about quality, I'll give more insight into the main areas of quality development.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Excerpts from the first edition of "A Complaint is a Gift"

While doing a Google search for the new edition of "A Complaint Is a Gift", I stumbled across a list of quotes compiled by Andrew Gibbons from the first edition of the book.

You can download the excerpts and quotes here. I would also recommend visiting Andrew's site as there are many other free book excerpts available.

Soon you will also be able to read excerpts from the new book here on the blog, so sign-up to receive the RSS feed or sign up for email news in the right-hand navigation.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

5 Myths of Complaint Handling

I thought I'd just share this little teaser excerpt from the forthcoming second edition of "A Complaint is a Gift" with you. These are 5 myths about complaint handling, which you might find useful to keep in mind when dealing with annoyed customers.

Myth # 1: People naturally know how to handle complaints. After all, they've been receiving them their entire lives.
Reality: Most people have to check their natural reactions when they receive complaints. At some level, a complaint is perceived as an attack, and when confronted most of us are inclined to attack back, especially if the complaint is delivered in a blaming manner. Effective complaint handling requires that we counter our instinctive tendencies. When staff who work call-center phones hear themselves on tape with a customer, they are frequently surprised that they sound so hostile and arrogant with customers.

Myth # 2: It's a good idea to set targets to reduce the number of complaints you receive.
Reality: Bad idea! If you set targets to reduce complaints, your staff will help you by not reporting the bad news they hear. To some degree this normally happens.
Setting targets to reduce complaints will only encourage staff to make sure your organization receives even less customer feedback. Your staff will do this by making it more difficult for customers to complain or by discarding complaint evidence.

Myth # 3: If you give customers what they want, you have satisfied them.
Reality: No way! Giving customers what they want when they complain does not guarantee satisfaction. There is a huge emotional component to complaints. If this emotionality is not addressed, you can give customers whatever they want, and they will still walk away upset. Good responders understand the psychological dimensions of complaint handling.

Myth # 4: Complaint handling and sales are unrelated.
Reality: Complaint handling is as demanding a task as is sales. Actually, a good complaint handler is, in effect, a sales person for your organization because they keep your customers coming back.

Myth # 5: Complaints are a sign that your company is not doing a quality job.
Reality: Companies will always create some dissatisfaction for their customers. Zero defects is a target, often not a possibility. Your quality suffers when you fail to hear this dissatisfaction. Complaints represent an open dialogue with your customers who are giving you a chance to keep their business. They are giving you information you might otherwise not hear that you can use to improve your quality. At a minimum, complaining customers are talking with you, rather than the rest of the world. And that is a gift!

"A Complaint is a Gift" hits the shelves in bookstores across the US on August 1st. You can also pre-order a copy from or read more about the book in previous posts.

Monday, 16 June 2008

How to Dig Out From the Information Avalanche

Further to my previous post about managing information overload in order to achieve focus, I thought I would just share a quick link with you about how bad the problem has gotten.

It is an article from MSNBC, based on a survey commissioned by LexisNexis entitled the "Workplace Productivity Survey". According to the survey, released in March 2008, seven out of ten US office workers feel overwhelmed by the amount of information in the workplace and 40%(!) feel that they are heading for a "data breaking point".

Some of the key rules for how to manage your information and your time are explained as a real life example as well so I would definitely recommend that you read the article.

The Human Side of Quality

Following on from my first couple of posts about quality, this is the first in a series of small introductions to the various quality management concepts I have developed.

It gives a short introduction to the "Human Side of Quality", which was the basis for the quality concepts and programmes I developed over several years at each level in the organisation: personal, team and organisational.

Most quality programmes and concepts are based on concrete and rational elements: systems, methods, physical products, etc. These elements are both valuable and relevant. It has, however, been emphasised that an important shortcoming in many quality concepts and programmes is the fact that the importance of the human factor, the emotional aspects of quality, is underestimated. Even though most quality experts today recognise the importance of the human factor in the quality process, very few of them offer concrete methods for quality development within the human side of quality. When I developed my quality concept it was unique in that it takes people as its starting point. The quality concept and the quality training programmes I developed:

  • Focus precisely on the human factor in connection with the overall quality of work

  • Offer concrete methods to develop the human side of quality, i.e. your personal quality and those parts of team quality; product quality; service quality; and organisational quality, where the quality level is determined by the attitude, commitment and behaviour of the employees in a specific situation.

  • Make the quality concept acceptable and easy to understand for everybody in the organisation.

  • Point out the individual employee's advantages in performing at a high quality level.

  • Involve all employees in the quality process.

  • Make quality development a natural and integral part of the day-to-day life and future of the organisation
The underlying principles and concepts address one of the key failures of e.g. the ISO certification process in that they can help you to measure your current levels of quality as well as develop ways of improving quality at all levels of the organisation. ISO only helps an organisation certify whether the quality that is delivered is standardised - not whether the quality being delivered is actually good or bad!

Read an interview from Gestion about "The Human Side of Quality" (hosted on Mediafire as a PDF file), which explains a lot more about my thoughts on this topic. Later on this week I will release the next instalment in the series, where I will be looking at quality standards.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Congratulations to Fatih Terim and Turkey

I've spent the evening watching Turkey beat the Czech Republic at UEFA Euro 2008 and just wanted to congratulate the Turkish coach Fatih Terim, whom I had the pleasure of speaking with when we were the two keynote speakers at a conference in Istanbul some years ago. Both of us were talking about winning teams and how it requires everybody in an organisation to pull in the same direction and achieve results. He spoke about it from a sports point of view and I presented my Employeeship concept, which has many football references.

It was an enthralling match and even 3 minutes from the end it seemed like the Turks were out of it until they somehow managed to score two late goals (although one was more than a little fortuitous). I guess that it's true that the game isn't over until the whistle has been blown - and in the same way you have to perform at your best at all times if your company is going to succeed.

Congratulations! I'm sure Istanbul will be a fun place to be tonight when the Turks will be celebrating as only they can.

Start Fighting Back Against Emails!

I just wanted to share an another excellent article from 43folders with you. Merlin quotes a new article from the New York Times about how organisations are finally starting to realise how big a drag on productivity emails and instant messaging have become.

Merlin asks the most pertinent question possible: “What does a company get out of its employees spending half their day using an email program?"

In many ways the most shocking stat is this:

"A typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times…"

However, you also need to think about the overall productivity as this infographic shows. In total we spend 48% of our working hours either in meetings or being interrupted by things that are neither important nor urgent. If I spent 4 hours of my time everyday either checking my Blackberry or being in meetings I would never get anything done!

It just goes to show the importance of working in a structured way and perhaps taking some inspiration from the Importance/Urgency Quadrant proposed by Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca Merill in First Things First.

This has been adapted into a version for how to handle emails over at The Productivity Blog, where you will also be able to find inspiration for other ways of increasing your personal productivity. The article is one that I wrote some time ago and is based on the principles of the Time Manager® productivity tool, just updated for the 21st century.

Head on over to 43folders for the full low-down and Merlin's very relevant thoughts in his excellent commentary that I completely agree with.

Simplify & Focus - How to Manage Information

I was just sent a link to a speech given by Merlin Mann (founder of 43folders) at GoogleTech last year. In it, he talks about how you can de-clutter your life and manage, rather than be managed by, emails. He calls this concept "Inbox Zero" and he has also created a series of articles about the concept.

This reminded me of an article that Janelle Barlow, the President of TMI US and my co-author on "A Complaint is a Gift", wrote several years ago about "Coping with Information Overload".

There is no doubt that if you want to be able to not just manage your time, but thrive in today's fast paced business environment - and still have a work/life balance - knowing how to deal with the deluge of information is paramount. You have to be able to simplify in order to keep your focus and perform at the highest level. Starting by clearing out your inbox is probably the one task that will give you the most mental space and energy to tackle the rest of the tasks at hand. It can seem a daunting task, but if you spend a little bit of your time reading the articles and/or watching the video you will be able to make progress right away.

Janelle's article looks at the very important distinction between knowledge and information and how we can deal with the ever increasing amount of information. The article has a wealth of useful tips and ideas for coping with information overload, asks pertinent questions and provides some practical self-evaluation tools.

You can see Merlin's speech below or read Janelle's article here.

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Today I want to share an article I wrote a couple of years ago about Emotionally Intelligent Leadership. Read the brief introduction below and then download the full PDF article.

All leadership works through emotions. All undisputed leaders have earned their reputation because their leadership was emotionally compelling to a large or small group of followers.

Leadership in corporations goes beyond reaching a goal and ensuring that a job is well done. Nothing is more important for the leaders and managers of organisations than to have leadership skills, the social and emotional competencies required to manage their own and other people’s emotions, to drive the organisation’s collective emotions in a positive direction, and to avoid or control dangerous emotions.

Studies have shown that a leader’s ability to manage own moods and to influence the moods of others usually has a dramatic impact on business results. Since leaders have such an important role in bringing out the best in people, and since this has direct implications on the bottom-line results of the organisation, it pays for corporations to invest in emotionally intelligent leadership at all levels of the organisation.

Read the full article about Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Monday, 9 June 2008

Jack and Suzy Welch (finally!) Have Their Own Web Site

Last week, the long awaited Jack and Suzy Welch web site was unveiled, following on from the great successes of their podcasts, columns and videos created in conjunction with BusinessWeek.

As the former CEO of GE and a former editor of Harvard Business Review respectively, their credentials are definitely impressive and the site allows you to look for insights into various topics facing managers and leaders in both small and large businesses.

Before delving too far into the treasure trove I would recommend that you spend a couple of minutes reading about their underlying principles.

Head on over to the Welch Way and prepare to be inspired.

Will "Jott" Help Break the Curse of the Crackberry?

Living in Europe, it's sometimes hard not to be envious of the technologies that are available to consumers and businesses in other parts of the world. One of the greatest examples of technology being used to increase productivity in recent years is Jott, which is currently only available in the US.

For those of you who don't yet know what Jott is, it's a service that transcribes speech into text allowing you the luxury of having a virtual PA. The service allows you to receive and read your emails on a Blackberry (or any other supported device) and then respond using your voice. Within about ten minutes your voice reply is transcribed into text and the email is sent. This means that if you're on the go you can even dictate notes and reminders to yourself and have them sent to you - thereby doubling up as a dictaphone. From what I hear the voice recognition is very precise and works well in North America.

Its greatest strength, however, is also its greatest weakness as developing voice recognition software for various markets is incredibly costly and difficult. At Eckoh, one of Europe's leading providers of voice recognition software for phone services, they identified more than 600 dialects and accents of English in Britain alone. Therefore it is highly doubtful that these services will ever make it across the pond in any form that is useful to European users. Just look at all of the software packages for PC that promise voice recognition. Some years ago I tried buying Dragon Naturally Speaking, but I could never get it to recognise my words as I don't have an American accent.

If you are in the US, however, I would definitely recommend giving Jott a go.

Visit Jott or read more about Jott and Blackberries. You can also read more about how you can use Jott for your personal notes at Gina Trapani's excellent Lifehacker blog.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

What does "A Complaint is a Gift" mean?

I just came across the above question on Yahoo! Answers and was sad to see that I didn't manage to respond to it in time, but I decided to email the person asking the question to clear up some of the mess that people actually responded with :-).

Below is the email I sent if any of you readers were actually wondering the same thing:

"... "A Complaint is a Gift" is a customer service management concept pioneered by Claus Moller, the Danish quality guru, back in the early 1990s and since developed into a bestselling book co-authored with Janelle Barlow. The 2nd edition of the book will be out on August 1st according to Amazon.

In short, it is a way of getting real customer feedback to help you improve your products and services. Research has shown that the customers who complain are very likely to remain customers if you treat them well, but are very likely to undermine your reputation to their peers if you do not. Winning a new client is substantially more expensive than retaining an existing one so finding out why your customers are unhappy, resolving their issues and using the knowledge gained to improve your overall quality means that you're getting something incredibly valuable for free: real market research rather than stilted focus groups and questionnaires filled out by people who just want to get it over with quickly and perhaps get a free pen in the process."

Net Promoter Score

Loyalty guru Fred Reichheld has started a real buzz going with the concept of Net Promoter Score, which is being implemented in a host of companies around North America - and we will probably see it in Europe soon as well.

The idea is that you can use NPS to measure your marketing efforts as an organisation by determining client satisfaction and using this very simple metric to improve your revenues and profitability.

The very simple explanation of the Net Promoter Score is that you have to identify the percentage of customers who rave about your products/services/company and are telling all of their friends, peers, or clients about it (9 or 10 on a scale of 1 - 10) minus the percentage of detractors - those who are not satisfied enough, and could even be badmouthing your brand in public (those who would score your organisation at 1 - 6 on the scale).

In other words, if 50% of your clients absolutely love you and 15% are not satisfied then your score is 50 - 15 -> NPS = 35.

Now let's try and take this concept into the real world... Competing for customers' share of mind has become increasingly difficult through the proliferation of media, which are all bombarding us with louder and louder messages from more and more desperate brand owners trying to stand out from the crowd. We're all fed up with companies telling us that they're the best. Why should we believe them? We're much more likely to believe a recommendation from a friend/peer/family member etc. who has already experienced a product/service that they love and rave about. If we trust their judgments in most matters then we will also be likely to trust their product and service recommendations if we have similar tastes and preferences.

Trying to compete through above-the-line advertising can often be seen as an expensive exercise in futility and it can be almost impossible for a small brand. Trying to harness the power of your loyal customers is often a lot easier - and a hell of a lot cheaper to boot! Back in the early 1990s, 30% of Apple's customers described themselves as "evangelists" for the brand and they not only helped create new "converts to the cause" they were also the most profitable customer segment as they would literally lap up any new product that came out. The big problem was that they also had a lot of detractors meaning that their NPS score was probably quite low. According to research by Bain & Company, the average NPS metric in the US is 15!

The key argument behind the Net Promoter Score is that a 12 point increase in the metric leads to a doubling of the rate of revenue growth, something Fred Reichheld argued in his book "The Ultimate Question" from 2006. It also states that one of the key opportunities lies in the methodology of ensuring you get buy-in from your customers in doing the research and not just asking what score they gave you, but why they gave you that score. Being able to have these frank discussions with the detractors from your brand gives you an opportunity to win them over and convert them to become "promoters" - one of the keys of "A Complaint is a Gift" as well.

Read more about Net Promoter Score in Fortune Small Business or visit

More Information on "A Complaint is a Gift"

The book description page for the second edition of A Complaint is a Gift is now live at and I thought I might as well just present it in the same way that Janelle Barlow and Claus Møller have over there:

• Demonstrates why complaints are the biggest bargain in market research, and how companies can use this information as a strategic tool to increase business

• Offers a complete Complaints Policy that readers can implement in their companies

• Presents dozens of real-life striking examples of poor-and excellent- complaint handling

Customer complaints can give businesses a wake-up call when they're not achieving their fundamental purpose-meeting customer needs. Complaints provide a feedback mechanism that can help organizations rapidly and inexpensively shift products, service style, and market focus. Unfortunately many businesses dodge responsibility for a customer's dissatisfaction, believing that complaining customers are trying to get something for free or that the problem is the customer's fault. Businesses who don't value their customers' complaints suffer from costly, negative word-of-mouth advertising.

A Complaint Is a Gift shifts the paradigm about how complaints are viewed by business. By presenting dozens of striking examples and research studies, Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller show that companies must view complaints as gifts if they are to have loyal customers. A Complaint Is a Gift is a "how to" book for those who want to turn complaints into a strategic tool to increase business and customer satisfaction, and to learn something new about products and services. It is filled with practical guidance:

  • how to behave as if complaints are gifts
  • how to use communication principles to handle upset customers
  • how to respond to written complaints
  • how to handle personal criticism, and more

A Complaint Is a Gift also tells how to create complaint-friendly organizations by encouraging customers to speak out. It outlines communication structures that can facilitate the movement of complaints from frontline staff to upper management, allowing customer-identified problems to be fixed within the company. Complaint-friendly cultures are described in detail, and specific structures are suggested that can be adopted by companies interested in becoming complaint-friendly.

A Complaint Is a Gift repositions the role of complaints in business-and argues that handling customer complaints is not just about making customers feel better. It is a book for individuals and companies to deal with complaints in a new and refreshing way. It also brings together three decades of customer dissatisfaction research and shows how companies can use this information to change internal policies and practices.

The first edition has sold more than 130,000 copies so far and it's very exciting to see the buzz that is starting to build around the new edition. For more information and to order a copy see the previous post about its release.

Thoughts on Quality: What is Measured - is Improved!

My experience gained from working on quality development in many different countries and cultures, organisations, departments, and teams around the world confirms the results of many surveys: People react positively to attention, interest in and reward for their efforts. Over the years I have developed a wide range of quality improvement tools that involves everybody in an organisation in the task of measuring, evaluating and developing quality. These tools help in the following ways:

  • Everyone will be aware of both good and poor quality in connection with their own work
  • Everyone will be aware of the existing quality level - and will know how much remains to be done before other people's demands and expectations are met
  • Everyone has the experience of their managers, their colleagues and other people paying more attention and showing more interest in their work
  • Other people's greater awareness combined with the greater quality awareness of the individual will lead to higher quality in itself:
    • Whatever is in focus - whatever is measured - is improved!
It is also important to remember what Michael LeBoeuf said:
"You get more of the behavior you reward. You don't get what you hope for, ask for, wish for or beg for.
You get what you reward." - Michael LeBoeuf
Also be aware of the different types of rewards: thanks, recognition, salary increases, benefits, promotions, and greater responsibility.

To sum it up, one of the most important lessons in quality improvement is:

"What is rewarded - gets done!"

Friday, 6 June 2008

Quality - A Subject Close to My Heart

For the past 40 years I have been actually involved in quality development and improvement, and it is one of the topics for which I have received most acclaim for my management innovations. In 1990, the then Department of Trade and Industry in Britain named me as one of the world's "quality gurus" for my work on developing an understanding of the need for taking into account the human factor in quality: the "Human Side of Quality", and, in particular, for my concept "Personal Quality". The idea behind it is that quality starts at the individual level and without good personal quality, you cannot have good team or organisational quality. This was probably one of the finest accolades of my career, particularly as only three people are mentioned in the new wave: Philip Crosby, Tom Peters and Claus Møller. If you would like to find out more about all of the quality gurus and an overview of their quality concepts, you can read the full article by Professor Tony Bendell here (PDF format). Over the next few weeks, I will start sharing some of the ideas about my various quality concepts with you in a series of blog posts about quality at all levels of the organisation. If you would like to find out more about these concepts after reading the blogs, please contact Lis Touborg ( on+45 48 22 51 00 to find out more about how I can help your organisation and teams develop their quality through seminars and consultancy. Soon you will also be able to purchase eBook versions of all of my publications on quality for instant download. I hope you enjoy the article series and, as always, I look forward to receiving your feedback and comments.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

BusinessWeek's 2nd Annual Customer Service Survey is Out

BusinessWeek have just announced the results of their second annual customer service survey in the US. The survey was done with the help of JD Power and shows some interesting results. You will definitely be able to pick up some interesting tips for your company to improve your customer service.

For a wealth of in-depth results, including the top 50, feature articles and for an opportunity to share your own customer service experiences head on over to BusinessWeek.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Using technology to stay on the front foot in the customer service race

Earlier today I came across this interesting article over at ComputerWorld about how companies are starting to develop "Customer Service 2.0". There are some interesting examples of how Comcast, often slated for their customer service, now monitors Twitter (a mini blog service) and very quickly responds to negative comments in order to alleviate any grievances and ensure that customers feel their problems are being dealt with.

The sometimes abusive comments being posted by bloggers and Internet users are worth listening to as these could be from the customers who are so hacked off that they've given up on complaining, but at the same time now have the free tools available to tell the world how they feel about your company in a minute or less. Following on from the concept of "A Complaint is a Gift", by monitoring the Internet for unhappy customers can give you a competitive advantage and can put you in a position to not only keep your customers, but increase their loyalty dramatically. Knowing what we do now about how few of unsatisfied customers actually complain, this is one of the best opportunities that technology has afforded us to actively identify our unhappy customers and make sure we bring the relationship back on track.

Head on over to ComputerWorld to read the full article with several examples of how companies are now monitoring the web and kick-starting "Customer Service 2.0".

Pre-order "A Complaint is a Gift" (2nd Ed.) now!

Monday, 28 April 2008

2nd Edition of "A Complaint is a Gift" Hits the Shelves on August 1!

I'm happy to announce that BK Business is releasing an updated version of the customer service management bestseller "A Complaint is a Gift" on August 1, 2008. As with the first edition, released in 1996, this book has been co-authored with Janelle Barlow and will feature brand new and up-to-date examples of how to deliver great customer service through handling customer complaints. When I originally developed the concept as a 1-day training programme with a small booklet of cases, examples, ideas, tests and implementation guides back in 1993, it was considered a novel concept that a complaint could be a gift. Most people thought that I had lost my marbles and I was often asked: "How can you say that a complaint is a gift? Have you ever been on the frontline dealing with irate customers?" My response was quite simply that if our customers do not tell us what we're doing wrong, they're probably not telling us what we're doing right, either.

  • Handling complaints in an efficient manner does not only give us the opportunity to determine if there is anything wrong with our products, services or delivery mechanisms.
  • It also allows us to establish a better relationship with the complaining customer. Research has shown that at heart, most of the people who complain actually want to remain your customers so this is an ideal opportunity to turn them into even more loyal customers rather than risk them spreading bad word-of-mouth around.
One of the key premises of the original book was some shocking research from TARP that showed that on average, an unhappy customer will tell 23 of their peers about their experiences, whilst somebody who has had a positive experience will only share that information with 9 peers. Furthermore, the cost of retention for almost all product and service categories is manyfold lower than the costs of a new customer acquisition. Therefore you cannot afford to take customer complaints lightly, but must learn to treat them as gifts. You can pre-order "A Complaint is a Gift" (2nd edition) from Amazon now.

Test run of "Beyond Time and Knowledge"

Last Tuesday, Ron Young and I did a first dry run of our new exciting concept called "Beyond Time and Knowledge" (just a working title so far) in front of an exclusively invited audience at Les 4 Moulins in France.

The foundation for the concept is that we live in a world that has become too focused on gadgetry and technology, which leads to people losing track of who they are; what their goals are; and how they can attain those goals.

The underlying principle is that there are some management evergreens, which people of all ages, and in all walks of life, could benefit from learning and that by having a clear focus in both your personal and work life you will also be able to benefit from technology to a greater extent. Knowing where you are going and how you are going to get there will allow you to select the right tools for the job.

We had an incredibly powerful day, where the guests really felt that they had received some valuable inspiration and we got some great feedback in terms of both the contents and the format of the presentation.

The plan is that we will develop the concept into a multitude of products and services from books to articles, tests and seminars and we will probably be ready to unleash "Beyond Time and Knowledge" on the world in 2009.

I am immensely excited about this project, as it will be a first for me to develop a concept with a co-presenter. I have collaborated with others on writing books in the past, most notably "Heart Work" with Dr. Reuven Bar-On, who originally coined the phrase "Emotional Intelligence", and "A Complaint is a Gift" (retail version) with Janelle Barlow. I will continue to lift the veil a bit more as the year progresses so you can follow the development of this exciting project, and I hope that you will actively wish to participate in the development of the concept by giving me feedback along the way.

In the meantime, if you would like to attend one of the small and closed test seminars in the Autumn of 2008 for a marginal fee to cover accommodation and meals, please feel free to send me an email.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Be more proactive and be less reactive

Many people have asked me in my seminars, over the years, 'What one thing would you wish to teach your children?'

My answer is 'Be more proactive and be less reactive'.

You can learn to apply simple, but very profound and powerful, methods, techniques and tools to enable you to spend a little more of each day working on important, goal focused, tasks and activities.

  • Why give in, and become a servant, to the incessant demands of work and daily life? Why not give out to the world, instead?
  • Make some meaningful life goals.
  • Start by dreaming the impossible dream!

I will write so much more about how to do this in coming blogs, and you can learn this from my Practical Leadership Seminar.

For more information visit:

Friday, 4 April 2008

34th Practical Leadership seminar has just finished in Provence

It is hard to believe that it has already been that many seminars, but it just seems to get better and better and the feedback Claus got from the participants was brilliant. The Practical Leadership seminar has been running for almost 6 years now and I'm doing 4 more this year, 3 of which will be in Danish and 1 in English.

It is a 6 day management programme for everybody who wants to become a better employee, manager or just improve yourself as a person. The idea behind it is that you have to excel in two areas of business: one has to do with industry specific skills and knowledge and the other is the general traits of good management and business excellence. The Practical Leadership programme cannot help you to become better at the professional aspects of your particular industry, but it can help you improve the general areas.

It draws on all of the aspects of the evergreens of management: Productivity, Relations, and Quality and devises a model for better leadership across the general areas of business excellence.

To enhance the learning experience, this 6 day programme is held at the exclusive retreat Les 4 Moulins in the south of France, where you can relax fully between the sessions; play tennis; go for a swim; or get relaxing massages. All of this is complemented with 3 meals a day using only the finest local produce and served with the wines from Provence.

If you would like to find out more about the seminar, you can download a PDF brochure here or find out more about registering to attend the next Practical Leadership seminar.