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Roberta Matuson
Identify the best talent in the world.
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Roberta's Recent Publications

The Magnetic Leader

Employees don’t work for companies; they work for people. The more irresistible you are as a leader, the more pull you have for employees to want to stay and for your customers to remain loyal. Read Excerpt

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Roberta's Recent Publications

Talent Magnetism

Your company is only as good as the talent you keep. Learn the new rules for attracting top talent and getting them to stick around. Excerpt

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Roberta's Recent Publications

Suddenly in Charge

Honored by the Washington Post as a Top 5 Business Book for Leaders.

Learn how to manage up, down, and succeed all around... Excerpt

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Roberta's Recent Publications

Suddenly in Charge

Learn how to save your company millions by improving the quality of your hires, while improving productivity. Slash costly employee turnover.

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Resources

Are You in the Business of Customer Service? If Not, Maybe You Shouldn't be in Business

Is it me or does it feel like customer service is out of fashion? Here's an example. The other day I received an Ann Taylor charge card in the mail. Before being able to use the card, I was required to call a toll free number to activate the card. After pounding in the twelve digits or so on the card and providing the expiration date, I was then transferred to a customer service representative who proceeded to ask me the same questions. Please tell me why I just wasted five minutes trying to find the digits on my phone if she was going to take the information down as well. If that weren't bad enough, she then began a script that started with, "Are you interested in…" Me: "Please stop. I'm not interested in purchasing any protection services." She: "I'm still required to ask you. Are you interested in…"Me: "I told you, I'm not interested in the insurance, so why are you asking me?" Her: "I have to ask you this or I could lose my job."

This had me wondering if she was trying to protect me or was she trying to protect her job? I think we both know the answer to that question. In the interest of full disclosure, in a recent posting on Fast Company expert blog, The Management Escalator, I talked about an exceptional experience I had while shopping at Ann Taylor. I'm thinking I may have to retract my posting, as this experience has tainted my opinion of the company.

Is it your employees or your process?

We are anxious to share tales of terrible customer service with anyone and everyone who will stand still long enough to listen. The blame is usually placed on the person we are interacting with, but is it really their fault? For example, if a hostess tries to seat you near the bathroom because she's been told to spread the customers out so a single waitperson isn't slammed, is it her fault you can practically have your meal served in the restroom or is the process to blame? I'd say it's the process. If there is a more suitable table open then you must empower this employee to make a decision that is in the best interest of your customer.

But what if you don't trust that your employees will know how to seat customers so they feel like valued guests? You change the situation by replacing them with people who have the ability to think on their feet. You should provide training and rewards for consistently do the right thing.

Here is a simple solution to the problem described above: Train the hostess so she knows that tables near the restroom and kitchen should be the last seat filled. Even better, suggest that prior to walking the customer to an undesirable table, give them the option of waiting for a seat in a more favorable location.

Speaking of process and training, there is such a thing as too much. Last week, my husband took our twelve-year old son and his friends to the Olive Garden for a birthday celebration. Upon arrival, the line was out the door. But that didn't dismay my husband since he was told the wait would be no more than thirty-minutes. Forty minutes later, and an even longer line, my husband overheard the hostess telling families the wait would be between twenty-five and thirty minutes. My husband gently suggested to the hostess that perhaps she could try to be more accurate (code word for ditching the company line) so that families with young children could properly assess if they could endure the wait.

My favorite restaurants (and the one's I return to most) don't necessarily have the best food in town, but they are honest with me when it comes to wait times. Now I know that it's difficult to project exactly how long it will take to turn a table over, but I'd rather be called to my table 10 minutes earlier than anticipated, than to be kept waiting longer than promised.

Here's how one establishment manages to put processes into place that satisfy both the needs of the customer and the restaurant. We recently had dinner on a busy Saturday evening at the Popponesset Inn on Cape Cod. As we were finishing our meal, the host came over and asked us if we wanted to play "Let's Make a Deal". He then offered us the option of trading our beachside table for complimentary desserts in the bar. With two kids in tow, that was certainly an offer that we couldn't pass up. But it wasn't so much the deal that caught my attention. It was the way the message was delivered. He did it with humor and grace. It was obvious to me that the host was trying to create a win-win situation for us and the guests who were waiting for a table. He was the perfect hire for this position and he had the disposition to prove it.

Training by osmosis

How many times have you walked into a new job and knew exactly what you needed to know in order to be an asset to the firm? For most of us, that number is zero. The servers at McDonald's get more training than the average employee. Yet business owners are shocked when customers complain about an ill-equipped employee or it appears a new employee may not work out.

Many organizations hope training will happen by osmosis and are sadly disappointed when learning does not take place. A strategy to create a customer-focused workplace must include training from day one.

How might your service ratings and profitability dramatically increase if you invested the time to train and onboard every new employee? I suspect two things would happen. First, the employees would immediately become productive and secondly, they would feel like they were working for a firm that valued their presence. My goodness. Why wouldn't you do this?

Every business today is in the business of customer service. Believe me, ticking me off when I'm already upset about a problem or even worse, when I'm hungry, is not going to do anything to strengthen our relationship. Find a better way and help customers like me become advocates for your company.

As the economy improves, businesses will be scrambling to reclaim their piece of the customer pie. Wouldn't it be easier to keep what you already have on your plate, rather than hunting for crumbs? The time to bring customer service back is now, before your customers decide to cut you completely out of their diet.

Testimonials

"Roberta's guidance has dramatically increased my ability to pull in and retain the talent we need to take our organization to the next level. She's proven to be a trusted advisor and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to other CEOs who are looking to accelerate..."
Tom Hopcroft, President & CEO
Mass Leadership Technology Council

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"The coaching that Roberta Matuson provided for one of our retail store managers renewed the manager’s excitement in her work, provided her with increased skills in the selection of new employees and gave her the tools she needed to better manage her staff..."
Mary G. Rahal, VP, Human Resources and Administration
Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, Inc.

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"Roberta was able to clearly define our project objectives and the methodology that we needed to reach those objectives. Roberta helped us pinpoint the root cause of our problem by using in-depth probing techniques that gave her access to important data we did not have..."
Amy Waryas, Director, HR
The Boston Beer Company

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"Roberta worked with us to create a comprehensive onboarding program. With her guidance, knowledge, and expert HR advise we have successfully launched our company-wide training initiative. We now assimilate new hires into the company more effectively than ever..."
Ted Winston, Co-Owner
Winston Flowers

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"When it comes to management of people, Roberta sees through all the noise and gets right to the heart of the matter..."
Mark Spitzer, President
Photonic Glass Corporation

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"As we have grown, Roberta has provided continued support to help us work through complicated personnel issues while allowing us to focus on other areas of our business. Our employment practices truly support our business goals..."
Paul M. Zavracky, Ph.D., Former President and COO
MicroOptical Corporation

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"Roberta has saved us time and energy on situations we may have needlessly wrestled with. We consider her a partner and look for her guidance often. Roberta has provided a welcomed service to Six Red Marbles..."
Sarah Smith White, President
Six Red Marbles

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"Roberta was tenacious about keeping us focused on completing our project on schedule. The finished project was comprehensive, professional and passed the scrutiny of legal experts. I would definitely use Matuson Consulting again..."
John Blake, Former COO
Advanced Results Marketing

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"Roberta has been a tremendous mentor and coach to me over the past year. She has partnered with me on multiple professional development fronts, as well as helping me through some very challenging situations. I found Roberta to be wise counsel!"
– Allison DiSiena, VP of Recruiting, Marketing, Interactive and Creative Services Division, 24 Seven Inc.

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"Roberta Matuson was our answer. She met with us, developed a plan, walked us through the process to record our policies and procedures. She helped identify areas where policies were non-existent. She then developed and produced our employee handbook. We still use it today..."
Tim Slattery, CEO
CFSmail.com

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"Roberta presented an engaging and informative webinar on “Managing Up in a Top Down World” for Northeastern University’s alumni. This thought provoking session provided practical strategies for navigating office politics and building effective relationships for career advancement. Roberta’s extensive expertise and knowledge of workplace trends was apparent as she skillfully answered a wide range of questions from participants. Her well-organized presentation made it easy for the audience to commit to implementing her advice."
Michele Rapp, Associate Director
Northeastern University

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"Roberta’s ability to provide new leaders with insights on matters that few are willing to discuss is refreshing and will serve our members well. As a CEO, I'm especially impressed with her ability to quickly distill difficult situations and provide pragmatic advice that can be quickly and successfully implemented."
Aradhna Malhotra Oliphant, President and CEO
Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.

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"I have had the opportunity to experience Roberta Matuson’s “fast track” coaching. Her candid, succinct and concise approach provided positive reinforcement toward my professional goals."
Cheryl Schondek, VP of Food Acquisition and Supply Chain
The Greater Boston Food Bank

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Talent & Your Bottom Line: The Employee Turnover Calculator

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