Managing Ethics In the Workplace

Ethics

Daniel Shalik
 

Ethical behavior in an organization means “acting responsibly in gray areas where rules of right or wrong behavior is ambiguous” (Stephen P. Robbins, Guidelines for Acting Ethically). Although many companies have strict rules of conduct to follow written in their employee handbooks, interpretations of these rules are determined by particularized situations. For example, a manager promoting his relative over a more highly qualified candidate for a position in the company might be legal and authorized but it may be construed as unethical. Another example could be choosing a vendor with similar completive prices only because he/she offered you tickets to a hockey game. Microsoft code of ethics handbook explicitly states that “We do not accept incentives such as kickbacks or bribes in return for conducting business with them” with regard to vendors. (Steven A. Ballmer)The definition of ethics “commonly refers to the rules or principles that define right and wrong conduct”. (Stephen P. Robbins)

To comply with the changing business and legal environment organizations ensure ethical behavior by issuing orders of compliance with severe consequences. For example, Microsoft takes the standard of business conduct very seriously and “consequences for such violations may include disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment”. (Enforcement) These are severe penalties with long lasting implications that require employees to take ethical rules and guidelines earnestly to secure a long lasting relationship with their organization.

Taking a personal responsibility for ethical behavior is foremost a necessary requirement otherwise a prevalent attitude of ambivalence will lead to misguided interpretations of what is right and wrong. The feeling of a group norm mentality that everyone else is doing it will prevail without analyzing the results and the true meaning of your actions. For example, if you work in a company that does not recycle because the company manager has decided that is too expensive and time consuming to order recycling bins this may create an ethical dilemma for you. You know because of your core beliefs and values that everyone must do their part to save the environment and not increase landfills with waste but at the same time doing so would go against the wishes of your supervisor and could jeopardize your job. You realize that if you do not follow the supervisor’s wishes to throw paper and plastics into the main trash bin even though everyone else in the company is doing it you could be labeled as a troublemaker and could be fired for insubordination. Even though it is still legal for the company to be socially irresponsible it goes against every grain of your core beliefs. You are faced with the decision to go along with the company’s policy or stand in the unemployment line. This situation would fall into the category of being legal but unethical. Doing the right thing would be ethical. I would either try and change the behavior of the company or resign. Unfortunately, some people’s choices are not so simple, if the employee depends on his wage to pay his mortgage and have adequate health insurance because there is a baby on the way or is responsible for a family member who depends on those health benefits. Ethical choices have to be weighed in order to make the right decision. This is where the gray area comes into play.

Large scale unethical behavior can be practiced widely by a large group of people if there are no guidelines to follow. In the case of the Equity Funding Corporation of America scandal which perpetrated fraud by relying on equity fund policies as their primary source of operating cash, large scale blind loyalty was at its peak. Employees cooperated with top management executives to achieve their goals giving no thought to ethical implications. This 1973 scandal in the insurance industry proved that “guilt is elusive [and that] everyone presumes that somebody else will bear the final responsibility”. (Henderson)

It is interesting to note that laying the blame on higher authorities does not take away the ethical personal responsibility of individuals. If you feel that something is wrong based on your core values and beliefs it probably is. What you as an individual will do to correct the situation is the ethical responsibility that you must bear considering the consequences.

Changes in laws and social standards dictate norms and standards of behavior in corporations and members of groups. (Linda Klebe Trevino) Laws are made to correct imperfections in social responsibilities and injustices but they do insure that they will not happen. This was not more evident than in the recent “egregious unethical behaviors across a wide variety of organizations”. (Luis R. Gomez) AIG, Time Warner, CitiGroup, and the Bank of America were all involved in activities that circumvented proper ethical behavior to its customers. As Hillary Clinton wrote a book called “It Takes a Village”, it only took one person to write that book, as it takes only person to make a stand when injustices surface. The nameless man who stood in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square will forever imprint an image of one lone person who stood up for not only what he believed in but what was right for all society. In the same way, each one of us should stand up and voice our opinion to right a wrong if that is what we believe in. It is our moral imperative as individuals to shape policy and social integrations to the proper ethical behavior in business and in our own personal lives.

Works Cited

Enforcement, Microsoft Administration and. "Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct ." 29 June 2009. Microsoft Business Conduct and Compliance Program. 7 March 2010 <http://www.microsoft.com/About/Legal/EN/US/Compliance/Buscond/Default.aspx&gt;.

Henderson, Verne E. "The cost of blind loyalty is high ." Henderson, Verne E. What’s Ethical in Business? . New York: McGraw Hill, Inc, 1992. 83.

Linda Klebe Trevino, Katherine A. Nelson. "Norms – "The Way We Do Things Around Here"." Linda Klebe Trevino, Katherine A. Nelson. Managing Business Ethics . New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. , 1999. 208.

Luis R. Gomez, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy. "Ethics and Social Responsiblity ." Luis R. Gomez, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy. Managing Human Resources . Boston: Prentice Hall , 2010. 19.

Stephen P. Robbins, David A. DeCenzo. "Guidelines for Acting Ethically." Stephen P. Robbins, David A. DeCenzo. Supervision Today . Upper Saddle River : Prentice Hall , 2010. 51.

Stephen P. Robbins, David A. DeCenzo. "What is ethics? ." Stephen P. Robbins, David A. DeCenzo. Supervision Today . Upper Sadle River : Prentice Hall , 2010. 44.

Steven A. Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer. "Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct ." 29 June 2009. Microsoft . 7 March 2010 <http://www.microsoft.com/About/Legal/EN/US/Compliance/Buscond/Default.aspx&gt;.

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Colorado Foothills Online Shopping Facebook Stream Live

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Transition to Supervisor

Transition to Supervisor

Daniel Shalik
 


Working in an organization as an operative employee consists of working on specific tasks to physically produce a company’s goods and services. (Stephen P. Robbins) As a low level employee on the organizational hierarchical pyramid incentives are created by working hard to achieve a promotion as a reward. Organizations frequently hire from within their own company to promote individuals to a supervisory level. Knowledge of the people that they are going to supervise and the technical skills necessary have already been learned aside from new supervisory training. (D. A. Stephen P. Robbins)

There is no guarantee that a highly motivated and productive employee rising from the ranks to a supervisory level will have the necessary skills to motivate others. This is the one unknown factor that upper management is gambling on, that their candidate for a position as a front line supervisor will be able to successfully inspire their employees to achieve company goals and satisfy the mission of the organization. A model employee who is self motivated with a strong work ethic, proven track record of performance skills and an established reliability of being on time is a strong candidate for promotion. The ability to transfer these traits to others is the key to becoming a good supervisor. It is much easier to motivate yourself that it is to motivate others. Managing a group of employees that you were once were a part of is even more difficult than supervising employees that you do not know complicating matters even further.

You ex-coworkers, who confided in you, joked around, and invited you out with them to after work happy hours, are now giving you the cold shoulder. You are now considered one of them and are not one of the guys or gals any longer. The camaraderie that once existed with your work team has now vanished. This is confusing to many first time transitional front line supervisors, after all you still are the same person but they see you as different because you have taken on a new role. You are their boss.

Overcoming your new role as a supervisor of the same people who were your coworkers requires you to fine tune your interpersonal skills. You will have to reestablish the trust that you earned with them in much the same way you did when you were their coworker. Understanding that your role as their boss is confusing to them as well, and change is not an easy concept to embrace. Integrating your new duties include communicating company goals, new concepts, expectations of management, and attaining high performance levels. Your employees already are familiar with you and your character and in time they will be receptive in your new role as their supervisor.

Your new role as a front line supervisor with employees you previously worked will have you wondering why you even put in for this job. You will be giving up overtime pay and may even make less money per year than in your former position as an operative employee. The title has a manager supervisor is a progression in your career if you are one who is motivated for upward mobility. However, as alluring as this may sound, the reality of the job requires you to answer to upper management and handle conflicts on the workroom floor as well. You will be a coach, mediator, counselor, scheduler, budget watchdog and sometimes are placed in the position of issuing discipline to your former coworkers if necessary. In lieu of these extra duties it is important to remember to continue your education and keep up to date with the latest technologies to keep your “competencies up to date”. (D. A. Stephen P. Robbins) This helps with enhancing your credibility with upper management and your employees under you as well. Gaining a new respect from your ex-coworkers takes time and is an ongoing learning process.

The outcome of the production levels in your unit depends on the manner in which you conduct yourself as a leader in your work team. Highly motivated employees will eventually use you as an example that a good work record is rewarded with a promotion in the organization. Knowing what motivated you as an operative employee and transferring this knowledge to emulate these skills will inspire your team members to be productive. It is a win-win situation for everyone when the culmination of your efforts in your new role as a supervisor produces positive results. It is also rewarding to an individual placed in a role of accepting the responsibility of being accountable to the organization and being part of the management team. Having the ability to produce work through others rather than just yourself is a skill that is required as a front line supervisor. Producing work from your ex-coworkers is a skill that requires more of an effort and it is imperative that your employees have trust and respect for you in your position as their boss. These ongoing processes are necessary as you transform from an operative employee to a supervisor.

Works Cited

Stephen P. Robbins, David A. DeCenzo, Robert Welter. "What else is critical for me to know about supervising? ." Stephen P. Robbins, David A. DeCenzo, Robert Welter. Supervision Today. Upper Sadle River : Prentice Hall , 2010. 17.

Stephen P. Robbins, David A. DeCenzo, Robert Wolter. "Transition from Employee to Supervisor ." Stephen P. Robbins, David A. DeCenzo, Robert Wolter. Supervision Today. Upper Sadle River : Prentice Hall , 2010. 10-11.

Stephen P. Robbins, David A. Decenzo, Robert Wolter. "What are the Organizational Levels? ." Stephen P. Robbins, David A. Decenzo, Robert Wolter. Supervision Today . Upper Sadle River : Prentice Hall , 2010. 5.

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Google Optimization on Bonanzle

The Google Optimization program here works great. Go to My Bonanzle and click on the Google optimization. I just joined here a few days ago – imported Ebay items and have been edited my items to remove Ebay links. (only fair to Bonanzle) It is a tedious process but most of my Ebay items do not have RSS graphics (some do) and all of the important item description text was imported. It is interesting to note that the import did not pick up many item specifics.
Your item specifics is the key to google optimization. When you are listing an item, do not ignore the bottom left hand side of your listing block. You will not be able to see the optimization until you actually put your item in a category. Very important to put your item in the proper category if you want your listing to appear on a google page.
Once you have put your item in a category – then click on your item specifics to add Condition – New – Used – etc.
Also if you are listing movies, dvds, books , tapes etc. include as much of the item specifics as possible. UPC code is important , ISBN number is important. The more you add , the more your listing will be visible to millions of viewers on the google pages.
Kudos to Bonanzle for adding this very important tool in the listing page. (This info is for listing individually)
To bulk edit your listings is a breeze. It took me less than an hour to edit my item specifics of over 200 listings.
More than half of my items did not have item specifics and would not have been listed on google if I did not use the bulk editor. Important – once you are done with one page- SAVE – your work and move on to the next page. If you added all of your item specifics and move on to the next page without saving your work will be lost. There will be a message on the top of your page noting that your specifics were saved.
Even FEEBAY – does not have tools such as this. As a matter of fact, many of their item specifics get lost or not included for some reason I noticed – as was evidenced when I used the FEEBAY import tool. That is why many sellers on their site do not get the exposure of their items. On Bonanzle – all of your items get exposure – not just a selected few such as FEEBAY. This is why I enjoy this site – because the owners of this company Bonanzle , really understand SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and offer tools for sellers to use to get the most out of your listings.
I know this is getting a little long – so I will cut it short. I hope this has helped someone to understand exactly how “syndication” with affiliate sites and google optimization works. Many syndicated sites pick up google listings anyway – anyone who uses traffic reports on FEEBAY can see that their are many other search engines who crawl for key words and relist your products(listings) or links on their site also.
Happy Holidays to everyone and a prosperous New Year!
Colorado Foothills Trading Post

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Buffalo Pizza Company – Empowering Employees Managerial Style

 

Business organizations large or small use particular management functions to operate their company. “Management is a process of planning, organizing, staffing motivating and controlling through the use of formal authority” (Rue-Byars) which is implemented by the person in charge of daily operations. The person in charge does not even have to be there physically as long as they follow the manager’s guidance and influences them in achieving the objectives of achieving a successful operation. For the purpose of a more introspective real life viewpoint of the basic functions of a manager the owner of the Buffalo Pizza Company of Buffalo, New York, Charles Middione, was interviewed for this project.

The Buffalo Pizza Company adheres to a functional plan with short range objectives utilizing a stability strategy. The company is primarily profit oriented dedicated to servicing customers in the general locality heeding the needs of its employees and their well-being paying particular attention to community social awareness and responsibility. Buffalo Pizza Company is active in charitable events in the community, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Society, local churches and contributes to the success of the Canisius College basketball program. This short range objective cements the company into the community as an integral active viable resource. (Appendix 1)

Charles Middione, owner of the company has established alliances with other restaurateurs in the geographical customer region. This has helped his company when an unexpected circumstance beyond anyone’s control has resulted in the use of a contingency plan. Automatic slicers have broken down, delivery shipments of food items have been delayed and employees have called in sick. Mr. Middione’s business friends have come through with the loaning of equipment and resources with an agreement that reciprocity is understood. (Appendix 2)

Delegating authority using the parity principle which enables employees to do their jobs presents a challenge for any business organization. Buffalo Pizza Company’s employees have specific tasks that need to be accomplished on a daily basis. The owner usually reminds the employees with a list to ensure that the specific jobs are completed. Employees with experience take on the role as a mentor for new hires. Mentors are empowered with the authority to train new employees for two hours a night and report their progress to the manager on duty. This helps the trainers to be self-motivated to want to be successful. Subordinates are enabled with the knowledge that they are responsible for successfully completing the duties that are assigned to them. The knowledge of knowing what is expected of them creates a trust among employees and between team members and management. (Appendix 3)

Charles Middione is a democratic style manager. His decision making leadership style combined with a self-fulfilling prophesy attitude of positive expectations results in high performance productivity from his employees. Although his management leadership style allows his employees not only to allow but to seek responsibility, the initiating structure of the work environment is geared toward the attainment of the company’s ultimate goal of completing the day’s work. This leadership behavior style works more effectively on the production line where the primary goal is to serve the customers efficiently. Buffalo Pizza Company’s employee motivation factors are based on dedication which is rewarded by raises and flexibility in scheduling with time off from work. (Appendix 4)

A moderate amount of control is exercised at the Buffalo Pizza Company including behavior, output and budgetary. There is a video surveillance system installed at the pizzeria primarily for security purposes but it is also used to monitor employees. Sales receipts are tallied and records kept for sales tax reasons but are also used to track profitability. Budgetary control methods used are audited by an external accountant twice a year to prevent a biased report. (Appendix 5)

Economic considerations in the control of the operation have played a major role in the past few years at the Buffalo Pizza Company. Recently after a monthly sales receipt tally by an internal auditor it had been revealed that total sales receipts had decreased by $5,000. A break even chart revealed that the total cost of operating expenses exceeded total revenue. Budgetary management control methods were revised to reduce the cost of variable expenses and employee hours were cut as a temporary measure in order to break even. For example, flour, luncheon meats, hoagie rolls, pepperoni, beverage drinks, pizza boxes, napkins, and other variable costs were reduced to absorb the profit loss. (Appendix 6)

Performance appraisals are achieved at Buffalo Pizza Company by direct observation. The managers/owners of the company tour the premises and work areas on a daily basis. On most occasions the owners work alongside their employees and through personal observations are able to determine the proficiency of the employee work force. The mutual trusts that exist negate the notion that employees are being micromanaged thereby a credulous relationship is enhanced. The work culture at the pizzeria is based on self-motivation together with a family and friendly atmosphere that is transmitted to their customers. (Appendix 7)

Employee rewards consist of both intrinsic and extrinsic varieties. A sense of achievement is derived from being successfully employed together with a sense of accomplishment. Formal and informal recognition exist between workers and the customers of the pizzeria. A chance for promotion and fringe benefits exist by working at the Buffalo Pizza Company. All employees feel like they are part of a team as they are given hats and t-shirts with the company name on them. Although there is a policy whereby employees pay for their lunches at 50 percent of the cost food is frequently available at no cost when new menu items are introduced. Mr. Middione frequently rewards his workers by setting out food items. Incentive payments are made available to the drivers and counter personnel as tip jars are shared at the end of the night. Many social relationships are made possible throughout the work day and at charitable events. One of Mr. Middione’s workers has been there for 15 years after a brief absence he returned citing the reward benefits as one of his reasons for returning to work there. (Appendix 8)

Employees are encouraged to participate in contributing ideas and suggestions to the Buffalo Pizza Company including menu suggestion items. Recently a popular food item in Buffalo, haddock fish, was included as a menu item not only on Friday but throughout the year. This became a very popular item at the restaurant and increased business substantially and it was all because of an employee suggestion. Employees are encouraged to be a part of the total success of the company as all will benefit and this will promote a team concept. (Appendix 9)

One of the main lessons that can be learned from this interview project is that mangers should plan ahead and have a backup contingency plan in case things do now work out. There are many outside variables that could interfere with the original planning of a company such as a downturn in the economy or a natural disaster. Organizing and leading a work team requires an element of trust between management and employees for an operation to be successful. A moderate form of control management is necessary for a business to succeed. Knowledge of knowing when to implement management controls is also a key element. A good effective manager must know how to communicate with his/her employees and exercise an element of human relation skills to persuade his/her work-team to be productive. Implementing a form of control in business organization requires leadership skills to execute plans. The realization that employees are your most valuable resource is good sound management advice to heed.

Appendix

1. How is your company active in community events?

2. What is your contingency plan when things go wrong?

3. How much authority do you delegate to your employees?

4. How do you motivate your employees?

5. What type of quality control methods do you use?

6. How have economic conditions played a role in your company?

7. Do you conduct performance evaluations?

8. How do you reward your employees?

9. Do you listen to suggestions from your employees?

Works Cited

Rue-Byars. Management Skills and Applications. 13th Edition. New York : McGraw-Hill Primis , 2009.

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Microsoft – Customer Service Report

Microsoft a company founded by Bill Gates in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen envisioned a world that every office desktop and home would contain a personal computer. Microsoft has continually improved, advanced and developed software making it easier for all people to use personal computers. (Bill Gates) This business was chosen as a company providing excellent customer service because of their commitment to make a product available that has world wide appeal while offering personal service to every customer.

Microsoft’s commitment to service is reflected in their mission statement of “At Microsoft, our mission and values are to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential”. (2009 Microsoft Corporation ) Not only does Microsoft stand behind their product in regards to reliability but their mission statement goes beyond their product with the full intent of improving people’s lives and their businesses. The company is interested in how to make their customer’s lives easier while proactively integrating their product. Microsoft’s dedication to the implementation of creating software for the betterment of humanity as a whole is reflected in their investment of 7.1 billion dollars of research and development in the fiscal year ending 2007 alone. (Bill Gates) Microsoft addresses customer service related issues with their products and information technology (IT) request with service management functions by:

· Recording and determining the nature of a customer request.

· Resolving requests for information, for existing and new features, and for changes.

· Resolving incidents.

· Ensuring good customer service. (Microsoft Corporation )

Microsoft Corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington reported on July 23rd of 2009 that their fourth quarter earnings of 13.10 billion dollars for the fourth quarter ending June 30th of 2009. (Microsoft Corporation 2009) Although their tremendous financial success is commendable their reasons for success are not measured in dollar amounts. Microsoft’s element of success can be attributed to their commitment to customer service more importantly recognizing the value of their customers. Their allegiance to serving their customers is demonstrated in their statement of commitment of “At Microsoft, we’re motivated and inspired every day by how our customers use our software to find creative solutions to business problems, develop breakthrough ideas, and stay connected to what’s most important to them” (Microsoft Corporation) which falls in line with their main mission statement of helping their customers realize their full potential.

Microsoft was not immune to the adverse economic conditions which affected the global PC and server markets but they overcame this barrier by focusing on delivering customer satisfaction and solutions to save customers money. New product innovations such as Windows 7 and Bing a new search engine designed to help people make better decisions helped to elevate Microsoft in maintaining its service to customers. (Microsoft Corporation 2009) Being a world-wide corporation Microsoft has confronted barriers and obstacles relating to growth but transcended this by incorporating their commitment to values and ethics in regards to serving their customers. Since they are world renown, Microsoft accepts the responsibility of setting the standard for community engagement and innovation. Their company manages their business “to meet or exceed legal, regulatory, and ethical standards” and their high sense of values is met with honesty and integrity. (2009 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved)

Microsoft’s customer service plan and strategies are broken down into their internal and external customers who consist of:

· Clients: who include the Windows product family

· Server and Tools: Software server product users

· Online Services Business: Online advertising platforms

· Microsoft Business Division: Unified communications business solutions

· Entertainment and Devices Division: Xbox, Zune and entertainment (Microsoft Corporation)

Implementing a customer service plan and strategies is accomplished through their internal and external customers by applying a Customer Service Management Function (SMF) protocol which is initiated by users who need to inquire about Information Technology questions and concerns. The primary goal of the SMF protocol is to resolve issues with information technology related services and by providing a positive experience by meeting the needs of the customer. Increasing business productivity, adding value to the information technology services provided by Microsoft and improving business efficiency is the desired outcome of the customer service plan. The ultimate objective is to ensure good customer service. This is validated by providing the customer with follow up feedback opportunities via e-mail or phone call. Quality of the product is enhanced by customer feedback and suggestion for improvement is encouraged in all correspondence. Responsible product development is consistent with Microsoft’s culture of accountability and integrity.

Microsoft’s chairman and founder William H. Gates leads by example to promote success, values and ethics. Gates has written bestselling books written in 25 languages and made available in 60 countries where all proceeds have gone to non-profit organizations to promote education and the spread of technology. In January of 2005 Gates started a foundation called the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where he has contributed 3.6 billion dollars to support global health and learning. Through his foundation public libraries in low income areas of the United States and Canada have been the recipients of more than 2 billion dollars in the form of internet access and training. (Bill Gates) Bill Gates is a visionary and through his elements of success he places his values and ethics of his company in high regards towards achieving his goal of providing his world customers the benefits and opportunities of technological advancement. Creating a better life for all people through the works of Microsoft’s culture extends to all its employees and the company’s strive for excellence is readily apparent. Microsoft also holds its “partners and vendors accountable for responsible business and financial practices” as well as hiring, managing and promoting people of integrity within their own organization. (2009 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved)

Bill Gates philosophy of empowering his employees has shown his ability to multiply his effectiveness through the efforts of others. (Manning-Curtis) In his writings Gates instructs his readers to “Develop your people to do their jobs better than you can. Transfer your skills to them” Gates believes that “Smart managers like to see their employees increase their responsibilities because it frees the mangers to tackle new or undone tasks”. (B.Gates) Microsoft’s goal is to empower their employees with “the resources, incentives, and flexibility you need to enjoy success on the job and to live a healthy, balanced life”. (Microsoft Corporation 2009 All Rights Reserved) The company encourages its employees to continue their education with their tuition assistance for undergraduate or graduate work. Internal training programs available online or in classrooms around the globe help to fortify employees with knowledge necessary to be successful at Microsoft. The company supports their employees in their culture infrastructure in their thirst for knowledge through mentoring and employee groups which helps workers in their career development goals. Employees are empowered by feeling that their work life is a compliment to a rich and fulfilling experience enhanced by taking charge of their own lives by participating in the outlets available to them at Microsoft.

The customer service systems that Microsoft has in place include customer support via email and phones twenty four hours a day. Employees are not only motivated by the empowerment that they possess in being able to help their customers because of the knowledge that they have accrued through company procedures, policies and training but by company benefits. The company benefits include a comprehensive health care plan, adoption pay assistance, maternity leave, discounts on child care services, employee financial education program, a 401(k) plan that matches dollar for dollar and an employee discounted stock purchase plan. Microsoft also matches your charitable contributions up to 12 thousand dollars a year. Microsoft rewards its employees with competitive pay, bonuses and stock awards based on performance. (Microsoft Corporation 2009 All Rights Reserved) Microsoft also rewards behavior “that demonstrates Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to ensuring a culture of accountability and business integrity at all levels of the organization.” (2009 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved) The company addresses the morale of the company by hiring, managing and promoting people with integrity. This encourages employees to sustain high levels of competence with incentives to increase performance.

Microsoft’s customer retention program consists of offering support for the life of the product free of charge enhancing product reliability and worthiness. The company offers assistance to their internal customers and vendors who sell Microsoft products in the development of a customer retention program by means of their consulting services and suggestions for programs that can be implemented. Only 25 per cent of Microsoft’s licensing products are acquired through transactional sales volume discounts which are a form of retention because of the incentive for a discount on volume purchases. Microsoft’s commitment to its customers as a lifelong service provider is an incentive for them to stay with the company. There are not many other options available to the products that Microsoft offers so their retention efforts are geared towards maintaining a high level of customer service satisfaction. Microsoft supports the products that they sell by continually updating information technology software with an option to download the updates automatically. Microsoft customer support is easily reached by telephone or e-mail and their support is usually free of charge. The available of their customer support is paramount in retaining its existing customers.

The key to Microsoft’s success is the vision and foresight that Bill Gates has in the realm of personal computing software and business operating systems. The ability of Bill Gates to allow his employees to administer his personal passion and quest for knowledge of creating a better life for people throughout the world ensures the viability of Microsoft to survive long after the company’s founder will be gone. Bill Gates has allowed his company to take on the enormous responsibility of providing a personal desktop environment for all the people of the world and not just the business entities that formerly were the only sector of society that could afford a computer prior to Microsoft’s formation. The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation and other charitable contributions that Microsoft has contributed to are making that dream a reality.

The rapid pace of technology in the past 30 years has caused many changes and updates to Microsoft’s operating systems. If a suggestion would be made to improve Microsoft’s customer service it would be to ensure that all new operating systems would be compatible with all existing operating systems that are in place of all computers. That sounds like an insurmountable task and it probably is. A more realistic approach would be to ensure a smooth transition to any new operating systems to comply with the previous operating system. For example, the new Windows 7 should be compatible with the previous version of Windows Vista. There have been some versions of Office that are incompatible with updated versions. This has made it difficult especially in the education environment. The Office systems versions are also currently being updated and an Office 2010 version will be coming out soon, while the previous versions of Office 2007 have been just recently installed in many school systems and personal computer environments. The demand for newer innovations and products to increase profits should be managed more closely if the customer satisfaction index of the company is to maintain at a high level to be compliant with performance systems. Although consumer anxiety to rapid change is always present customer confidence in Microsoft’s product reliability could be in jeopardy if an alternate company would produce a more reliable and consistent operating system for personal and business computers.

As a student in the Business Administration field I would welcome the opportunity to work for Microsoft Corporation. Upon completion of my studies I feel I would be well suited for the Business Services and Administration Division of Microsoft or the Customer Services and Support Division. The commitment to helping people achieve their goals and making a better life for people in general appeals to me and I feel that Microsoft is dedicated to that mission. The incentive and rewards systems that the company maintains are invigorating. The ongoing research and development that Microsoft invests in appeals to my sense of security knowing that the company is interesting being a part of the future. Solving business and technical problems and making customers lives easier by using Microsoft’s products is a win-win situation. I would feel very comfortable working in that type of environment.

Works Cited

2009 Microsoft Corporation . "About Microsoft: Your potential Our passion." 1 January 2009. Microsoft: About Microsoft. 27 November 2009 <http://www.microsoft.com/About/default.mspx&gt;.

2009 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Trustworthy Computing:Business Practices Overview . 1 January 2009. 27 November 2009 <http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/twc/businesspractices/overview.mspx&gt;.

B.Gates. "Business @ the Speed of Thought." Manning-Curtis. The Art of Leadership, Third Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. 276.

Bill Gates. "Bill Gates, Chairman Microsoft Corp." 1 January 2009. Microsoft Press Pass. 27 November 2009 <http://www.microsoft.com/PRESSPASS/EXEC/BILLG/BIO.MSPX&gt;.

Manning-Curtis. "Effective Delegation." Manning-Curtis. The Art of Leadership, Third Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, 2009. 276.

Microsoft Corporation . "Customer Service: Service Management Functions ." 1 January 2009. Microsoft: TechNet. 27 November 2009 <http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc543262.aspx&gt;.

Microsoft Corporation 2009 All Rights Reserved. Microsoft Careers: U.S. Benefits. 1 January 2009. 27 November 2009 <https://careers.microsoft.com/careers/en/us/benefits.aspx&gt;.

Microsoft Corporation 2009. Microsoft Reports Fourth Quarter Results . 23 July 2009. 27 November 2009 <http://www.microsoft.com/msft/earnings/FY09/earn_rel_q4_09.mspx&gt;.

Microsoft Corporation. Our Commitment To Our Customers . 12 February 2009. 27 November 2009 <http://www.microsoft.com/about/companyinformation/ourbusinesses/business.mspx&gt;.

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Customer Service Conflicts – Opportunities

Thinking of ways to view problems as opportunities requires the recognition that the problems that are being addressed are originating from customers. Customers are interested in arriving at a solution which involves the interaction with your customer service representative. The interaction should be viewed as a customer service opportunity to provide excellent service.

A customer service representative should use the same positive attitude when encountering a conflict as they would any other customer. This approach reduces the temptation to respond defensively. Important skills and guidelines to follow when encountering conflict are:

· Listening actively

· Not appearing distracted

· Showing empathy

· Keeping an open mind

· Showing patience

· Not arguing

· Asking questions

· Remaining calm

· Acting proactively

· Identifying and confronting underlying issues immediately

· Clarifying communication

· Focusing on resolution efforts

· Following established procedures

Use active listening skills while avoiding distractions while providing service. Stop talking, listen carefully and tune out external obstacles such as ringing phones or speaker announcements as to not appear distracted. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes by showing empathy. Keep an open mind when dealing with a customer by being objective, prepared and focused. Don’t appear pushy; allow the customer to make a buying decision showing patience. Avoid the impulse to argue if you do not agree with the customer’s assertion or comments. When you argue you become a part of the problem. By asking open ended questions to your customer you can clearly define the customer’s needs and wants. Remain calm if you feel your customer might walk, consider getting an objective third party or another co-worker to arbitrate the situation. Act proactively by approaching each situation which can lead to a win/win situation. Use verbal and non-verbal techniques when approaching or dealing with customers. Remember to confront issues immediately when dealing with a problem situation. Failing to acknowledge and confront issues will cause the situation to escalate eventually. Make sure that communication between you and customer are clear. Clarifying communication is necessary to avoid errors when dealing with customers. When a customer service problem arises avoid finger pointing and blaming others. Concentrate on arriving at an amiable solution to satisfy the customer’s needs. Finally, make sure that all established procedures are followed are in line with your company rules and policies.

An action plan for making customer’s number one utilizes the following strategies:

1. Making positive contact

2. Establishing rapport

3. Identifying and satisfying customer needs quickly

4. Exceeding expectations

5. Following up

6. Encouraging customers to return

Greeting the customer at your contact points with a professional personal and friendly salutation is imperative in making a positive initial contact. Your customer will expect no less and respond reciprocally.

Establishing rapport with your customers on a personal level by using their name or initiating a non-business professional topic will develop a kinship connection. Your customer will respond proactively when he/she has encountered a problem. Your customer will be less likely to leave negative feedback to your organization and will increase the likeliness of having your customer return.

Identifying and satisfying customer needs quickly by engaging your interpersonal relationship skills will allow customers to feel confident in your ability to satisfy his/her needs. Your customer will be less likely to turn to another competing organization. You can expect your customer to be more loyal to your business if this strategy is employed.

Exceeding customer expectations in a highly competitive business environment could include starting a customer service loyalty card program. This could be initiated by issuing award cards to customers that could electronically track purchases and offer discounts or freebies after spending a certain amount. For example; Qdoba Mexican Grill has an awards program using loyalty cards and the customer’s response is an increase of returning customers to achieve the awards that the cards offer. King Soopers has a similar program that rewards customers with a discount on their gas purchases with the use of the loyalty cards.

Following up on a client after a purchase could include mailing out a survey or by simply handing a buyer a customer satisfaction survey. This action allows your customer to know that you are interested in how they feel about their experience at your company. Emails to a patron informing them that you appreciate their business while inviting them back to your store will provide positive encouragement so that they are a returning customer. This also provides you an opportunity to thank them again for their business and letting them know that you appreciate them. Your customer will feel valued and will most likely return .A sincere thank you goes a long way.

Closing the sale with a customer provides the service representative the opportunity to ask the customer last minute questions to make sure their needs are met and it allows you to ask your customer to return to your establishment. Making your customer feel like royalty while interacting with them while they are leaving and making sure their needs are met will encourage them to return to you as a customer.

Daniel Shalik

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