Tag Archives: customer service

Employee Spotlight: Rhonda Griffith

Meet Rhonda Griffith!  Rhonda has been with Hugg & Hall for 20 years and works as our Accounts Payable Manager at the company’s corporate location in Little Rock, AR. 

Griffith is originally from Carlisle, AR and currently resides there, but spent most of her life in Hazen, AR.  Griffith is happily married to her high school sweet heart, Marty and they will celebrate 36 years in May. They have two children. Their daughter Ashley and son-in-law Kyler live in Cabot, AR where Ashley is a family nurse practitioner.  Their son, Martin and daughter-in-law Courtney live in Little Rock, AR but travel a lot since Martin is a welder and inspector for 798 pipe liners. In December, Martin and Courtney welcomed Griffith’s first grandchild, Katelynn. Griffith stated “we are so excited to be Gigi and Pop!”.

Griffith enjoys spending time with family, being outdoors, and has a “green thumb”. She loves planting and watching her flowers grow. In the summer, you can “find me relaxing by the pool,” said Griffith. Something you might be surprised to learn about Griffith is she was crowned Rodeo Queen and spent most of her childhood on a horse and traveling to horse shows and rodeos.

Griffith says a typical workday is “Crazy – but I love it – lots of invoices, interruptions, and lots of money being spent”. Her daily job duties include managing a “great group of employees, along with vendor invoices and check disbursements, all the while maintaining a strict schedule to keep us on good terms with vendors”. Each month includes 8000+ invoices to process for payment, fuel cards for over 350 company vehicles and corporate credit cards to maintain. All this keeps Griffith and her team very busy. “I love what I do, but it’s not just the job, it’s the people…I love my Hugg & Hall family!” Griffith stated.

We are thankful for Griffith’s years of dedicated and loyal service.

 

 

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A Day in the Life: Product Support Sales Representative

Over the last 60+ years, Hugg & Hall has strived to be superior in the industry to assure businesses always receive the best service. As innovators in the industry, we excel in providing services that our competitors may not even offer. With each purchase, in any department, Hugg & Hall meets exemplary customer service standards.

A key role in providing unmatched service are Hugg & Hall Product Support Sales Representatives (PSSR). The individuals in this position work everyday to provide businesses the customer service that has come to be expected from Hugg & Hall. Knowing your needs and exceeding your expectations are their mission. Here is, “A Day in the Life of a PSSR.”


Your PSSR doesn’t wake up a superhero, that takes a cup of coffee. Once your PSSR has consumed their hero juice, they are set for the busy day ahead. They have a schedule filled with parts & service requests, but the agenda is likely to change with their first phone call. Today that phone call may be a customer with a machine down, but the requests are different each day.

With each request it is important to set daily goals to easily manage all tasks. These goals are to follow-up with customers, visit as many customers in person as time allows and to clearly communicate Hugg & Hall’s business practices. Long term goals are also in place as your PSSR always wants their value to be recognized by you, the client. Building strong relationships with clients and understanding that every business has different needs allows for a PSSR to be truly successful.

Today your PSSR is tasked with ordering a rental to temporarily replace the down machine while ordering and delivering parts to keep other operations moving forward. As the PSSR passes a new warehouse, they make a stop to understand the new business opportunity. The PSSR explains to the potential client that having a PSSR on their side is no additional cost to the consumer and leaves a business card making a note to reach out in a few weeks.

As their day moves forward your PSSR is sure to never over promise, but they try their best to over deliver each time. This honesty differentiates our PSSRs and allows them to truly shine in their role. Being inquisitive, dependable and knowledgeable with all their day’s tasks are also key to their performance.

Through industry knowledge and observations, a Hugg & Hall PSSR assures that every situation is handled differently and appropriately for the application at hand. As the day draws to an end the PSSR has accomplished more than you could imagine all while making each client a number one priority.

 

A PSSR on your side assures the greatest possible service that Hugg & Hall can provide. They work each day to ease the daily stress of operations in many different industries. If you don’t already have a superhero on your side, call today to meet with a Product Support Sales Representative.

 

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Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is a comprehensive equipment provider offering services and expertise in the rental, sales, parts and service markets. The company offers a wide variety of equipment options for rent and purchase, including: material handling equipment (forklifts, pallet jacks, etc.), heavy equipment, mobile elevating work platforms (boom lifts, scissor lifts), air compressors, generators and more. Hugg & Hall Equipment Company offers industry-leading equipment brands for purchase or rental, like: Toyota, Bobcat, Crown, Taylor, Doosan, JLG and others. With value-added services and a focus on their customers, Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is the one-stop shop for every construction and industrial equipment need.

Employee Excellence: Brandon Brantley

“There are employees that work hard daily who may not get an “atta-boy”, “great job” or an “I appreciate you”. I wanted to make sure Brandon Brantley knew we appreciated him and that he did a great job.” – Justin Hines, Nexans AmerCable

Hugg & Hall Equipment Company has a quality standard that is beyond many other companies; Brandon Brantley has gone above the standard of excellence to best serve clients in our El Dorado, AR location.

Brantley works as a delivery driver for Hugg & Hall and started with the company a month ago. He conducts day runs between Hugg & Hall locations, as well as deliveries to customers. In his short time with the company, he has made a significant impact in the delivery division. Brandon said that his favorite thing about being a driver for Hugg & Hall is, “interacting with the customers.”

Brandon’s hometown is Farmerville, Louisiana where he currently resides with his wife Nikki. He has his hands full with a son, Logan, daughters Macayla and Karlee, and a granddaughter Paisley-Brooke. He enjoys spending time with his family and has a passion for horses & equipment. You may also be surprised to know that he is afraid of heights.

In his first few weeks, Brandon has noted that every day is memorable. If he weren’t currently working for Hugg & Hall, Brantley mentioned he would like to operate equipment. He thinks it is important for others in the profession to, “Never take safety for granted.”

Hugg & Hall would like to thank Brandon Brantley for his hard work; welcome to the team Brandon!

 

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Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is a comprehensive equipment provider offering services and expertise in the rental, sales, parts and service markets. The company offers a wide variety of equipment options for rent and purchase, including: material handling equipment (forklifts, pallet jacks, etc.), heavy equipment, mobile elevating work platforms (boom lifts, scissor lifts), air compressors, generators and more. Hugg & Hall Equipment Company offers industry-leading equipment brands for purchase or rental, like: Toyota, Bobcat, Crown, Taylor, Doosan, JLG and others. With value-added services and a focus on their customers, Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is the one-stop shop for every construction and industrial equipment need.

Customer Service Series, Part 5: The Importance of Listening

Customer Service Series, Part 5

Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is dedicated to providing excellence in customer service. The company strives to continuously improve and created the “Customer Service Series” as an outlet for sharing customer service ideas and strategies with the purpose to both enhance the experience of the Hugg & Hall customer and to provide a place for collaborative thinking. 

Customer service is a concept that elicits various ideas and strategies. Hugg & Hall created the Customer Service Series to provide a place for ideas and collaboration, especially as it relates to how company professionals serve their customers. Brian Robinson, Regional Rental Sales Manager at Hugg & Hall, recently spoke on the make-or-break importance of customer service in the equipment rental industry.  

“Exceeding the customers’ needs first and foremost,” said Robinson, when asked to define great customer service. “Blow their mind. My customer service mission is: ‘Listening, Acting, Following-up, Thanking, Repeat!’”

When asked to describe why customer service is so important to an organization, Robinson stressed that Hugg & Hall is a service company so valuing the customer relationship is intrinsic. 

“We are a service company and we must all carry that mindset, said Robinson. “They are the boss. It can be the success or death of a company in today’s business world.”

When thinking about customer service as a whole, it’s important to not think too broadly or to eliminate the significance of day-to-day interactions with customers, according to Robinson. 

“We’re getting there,” said Robinson. “It’s hard work and it never stops. We keep digging in and improving one deal at a time. One mishap, ball-drop, sleeping at the wheel and our customer can be gone.” 

Robinson said that members of his team can improve by honing their listening skills and learning how to identify solutions to customers’ needs. 

“Listening,” said Robinson, when asked how his team could improve. “Really, really listening to what our customers’ needs are and following through on meeting and exceeding their needs.” 

The biggest obstacles to great customer service are not paying attention and not following through, according to Robinson. Not understanding their client’s needs and not following through on obligations can be detrimental to the trust necessary for a good customer relationship. 

“Not paying attention to the details, not truly listening to the customers needs,” said Robinson on the topic of bad customer service. “Most importantly not executing on their needs. I guess what frustrates me is when people take the lackadaisical approach on customer service. They just go through the motions with no excitement, no extra.” 

Robinson views customer service as trainable and fluid and understands it as a method of differentiating one’s business from that of a competitor’s. 

“It’s definitely trainable,” said Robinson of customer service. “It’s just important that they keep an open mind and listen to what works and duplicate that over and over again. As our business gets more and more competitive, we have to separate ourselves at being the best at customer service. This is key.” 

Managers can motivate their teams to better their customer service skills by framing it as a mutually beneficial concept. 

“It puts more dollars in their pockets,” said Robinson. “A great customer service experience resonates with people and it’s contagious. This equates to repeat business and new business thus more money to the old checking account. It’s that simple. 

Robinson also noted that coworkers should hold each other accountable in relation to customer service because they are representing the entire organization and it can affect more than their personal reputation. 

“They represent Hugg & Hall and we strive to always be the best,” said Robinson. 

When asked what his advice would be to those seeking to improve their customer service skills and what one thing he’d like each Hugg & Hall employee to remember about customer service, Robinson again emphasized the importance of listening in order to implement effective customer service. 

“Listen, listen, listen to the customer,” said Robinson. “Let them talk. Listen to the customers’ needs closely, walk the customer through what works best for them, exceed what they were after in the first place (give them the cake, the icing and plate of brownies). Blow their minds, build their confidence in you and your company. Duplicate this over and over and you become a customer service wizard.” 

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Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is a comprehensive equipment provider offering services and expertise in the rental, sales, parts and service markets. The company offers a wide variety of equipment options for rent and purchase, including: material handling equipment (forklifts, pallet jacks, etc.), heavy equipment, mobile elevating work platforms (boom lifts, scissor lifts), air compressors, generators and more. Hugg & Hall Equipment Company offers industry-leading equipment brands for purchase or rental, like: Toyota, Bobcat, Crown, Volvo, Taylor, Doosan, JLG and others. With value-added services and a focus on their customers, Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is the one-stop shop for every construction and industrial equipment need.

Product Support Team Gathers for Unprecedented Meeting in Little Rock

The Hugg & Hall Equipment Company (Hugg & Hall) Product Support Team gathered for a meeting like no other. For the first time (in anyone’s memory) all parts and service managers, as well as all product support sales representatives (PSSRs), gathered together to build comradery and talk about upcoming changes in the coming year. This unprecedented meeting took place in downtown Little Rock, Ark., from May 14 to May 15 at the DoubleTree Hotel and the Robinson Center.

Vice President of Parts and Service Operations, Chris Shields, set the tone for the next two days by offering definitions of comradery and what it means to be a team player in a company of this magnitude. Shields also spoke on the game plan for the meeting, noting that the first day would be difficult because he was going to be talking about the various struggles the departments face internally. He said that he hoped by the end of it all each department would have a better sense of what it means to be a team.

“One objective, one team,” said Shields. “Relentless passion to be the best provider of services that deliver maximum equipment up time to our customers.”

Before diving into the struggles of the Product Support Team, Shield’s spoke on the team’s achievements from the previous year. The Product Support Team had a record-breaking year, they contributed about 45% of the company’s total gross profit. With technicians bringing in 72% of total revenue deriving from product support operations.

“We are in a great place as a company, not only to provide quality service to our customers but to provide quality service and training to attract and retain skilled technicians,” said Shields on the importance of the role technicians serve. “Saying things like ‘they could’ve done better’ or ‘they should’ve tried harder,’ is unacceptable. The value of our techs can’t be understated.”

Larry Denson, Parts Operations Manager at the Hugg & Hall Oklahoma City branch, was surprised by the impact technicians play in the overall success of the company.

“To see the average number in dollars of their (technicians’) contributions to the company’s gross profit and the bottom line was eye-opening, to say the least,” said Denson. “I think if more of the employees understood this it could and should help to eliminate some of those negative views technicians are saddled with.”

Shields was also proud to announce that the team is currently doing business with 55 Fortune 500 companies and 17 Fortune 1000 companies, a large majority of which are located, or have a substantial presence, in Arkansas.

“You should be very proud to do what you do and you should be very proud to do what you do with this company,” said Shields.

When it came time to address the struggles and hardships that the Product Support Team has been facing internally, Shields addressed it head-on, owning up to his part of the problem.

“I receive that, I own that, I believe in that,” said Shields.

The room grew quiet as everyone seemingly began to realize that the problems and issues they were having with specific departments were universal.

“The great thing about old walls is they can be removed,” said James Burgess, Product Support Sales Representative at the Hugg & Hall Fort Smith branch. “Our culture is changing with the business landscape, we are proving to be progressive and self-reflecting. I’m excited to be a part of the Product Support Team and look forward to the great things ahead.”

After the meeting, everyone gathered at the Flying Saucer, a local restaurant near the River Market, for dinner. This was also a great time for everyone to decompress and enjoy meeting people from other branches.

“It is always a neat experience when you get to put a face with a name,” said Denson “You hear these names of your counterparts that are in the same position as those you work with at your branch and then you finally get to meet them.”

The next morning, everyone gathered for the second half of the meeting. Shield’s kicked off the meeting by introducing structural changes within the Product Support Team’s leadership. After the new introductions were made, Mitch Perry, Regional Vice President of Product Support for the southern region, and Mark McLarty, Regional Vice President of Product Support for the northern region, conducted break off meetings with their respective colleagues to answer any questions and set the tone for future meetings.

“This isn’t going to change today, we aren’t going to be all huggy dovey as soon as we leave here, but you’ve got my trust and I hope I’ve got yours,” said McLarty to his group.

“We have the resources and people to do something incredible,” said Perry.

After a short break, everyone gathered to conclude the meeting. The meeting ended with small presentations from Lucas Hall, Product Support Software/Data Developer/Business Analyst, Tracey Gibbs, Corporate Parts Manager and Tom Mitchell, Product Support Manager at the Hugg & Hall Springdale branch. Each presented on new initiatives to minimize downtime and maximize productivity. Each of these initiatives will be detailed in future blog posts.

“This unprecedented meeting provided a unique opportunity to share real-world experiences that may be brought to bear for the benefit of our customers both external and internal; time well spent,” said Mitchell.


Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is a comprehensive equipment provider offering services and expertise in the rental, sales, parts and service markets. The company offers a wide variety of equipment options for rent and purchase, including: material handling equipment (forklifts, pallet jacks, etc.), heavy equipment, mobile elevating work platforms (boom lifts, scissor lifts), air compressors, generators and more. Hugg & Hall Equipment Company offers industry-leading equipment brands for purchase or rental, like: Toyota, Bobcat, Crown, Volvo, Taylor, Doosan, JLG and others. With value-added services and a focus on their customers, Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is the one-stop shop for every construction and industrial equipment need.

Part 4: Fostering Customer Service As An Organizational Priority

Customer Service Series Part 4

Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is dedicated to providing excellence in customer service. The company strives to continuously improve and created the “Customer Service Series” as an outlet for sharing customer service ideas and strategies with the purpose to both enhance the experience of the Hugg & Hall customer and to provide a place for collaborative thinking.

 

Customer service is a concept that elicits various ideas and strategies. Hugg & Hall created the Customer Service Series to provide a place for ideas and collaboration, especially as it relates to how company professionals serve their customers. In part four, Tracey Gibbs, Regional Parts Director at Hugg & Hall, ruminates on how customer service can influence customers and their prevailing impression of the company. Gibbs defines customer service as taking care of customers, 24/7, and taking ownership of their needs.

“Making their needs our own,” said Gibbs, referring to how she describes great customer service. “When we go above and beyond to make sure they are up and running, they are pleased with their experience.”

Customer service can alter the way one perceives a company and a single bad experience may negatively impact the way an entire organization is viewed in perpetuity, despite the good intentions of many. Gibbs views customer service as a conduit to company reputation and, fundamentally, characterizes the concept of customer service as treating others as one would like to be treated.

“Customer service is what builds our reputation,” said Gibbs. “It is what keeps our customers coming back to us without hesitation. I expect good customer service everywhere I go, and our customers should expect it from us.”

When asked if she leads with a mission or vision statement in mind, Gibbs noted that she approaches customer service with the attitude that customers should be treated with the same respect and consideration that she expects when served.

“Treat your customers the way you expect to be treated,” said Gibbs. “Customers are the reason that we exist and without them we fail. We should strive to make every experience a good one and if we fall short, we need to learn from it.”

Hugg & Hall branch locations house several different departments, usually under one roof, which include: parts, service, rental and sales. From her perspective, Gibbs has noticed specific challenges that parts professionals face.

“We have so many different equipment lines that it is hard to be an expert at all of them,” said Gibbs, referring to the many brands that the parts departments keep in their inventory and/or can order for their customers. However, even with these challenges, she is proud of the service that the Hugg & Hall parts team provides.

“We have great parts managers and parts specialists in our branches today who have built many strong relationships with our customers,” said Gibbs. “We have a lot of the same customers today that we had when I started working for Hugg & Hall 26 years ago. To me that says you’ve delivered great customer service.”

A policy and culture of great customer service can transcend departments in an organization, according to Gibbs.

“One of the things that sticks with me is something Robert Hall told us years ago, we need to deliver ‘Outrageous Customer Service,’” said Gibbs. “If everyone in every department practices outrageous customer service, it becomes contagious and second nature.”

Some ways that a culture of valuing customer service can be built and proliferate throughout an organization is by harnessing accountability, training and good management, according to Gibbs.  

“We should hold everyone accountable for delivering a high standard of customer service,” said Gibbs. “For some people it’s natural and for others it takes some coaching.”

A great way for managers to hold their direct reports accountable is to establish standards through leading by example. “By leading and coaching those values every day,” said Gibbs, when asked what managers can do to inspire workers to value customer service.

However, Gibbs noted, there is some personal responsibility in how one serves their customers and workers should not hesitate to adjust their customer service tactics to get the right result.

“I think that certain parts of customer service are trainable,” said Gibbs. “We can teach the basic customer service skills, but it’s how the individual delivers it that determines how it is perceived. If it’s perceived well and the end result is their satisfaction, then the relationship has begun.”

Just as great customer service can affect an organization for the better, poor customer service can affect an organization negatively. One of the ways this can manifest itself is in reputation among customers.

“A lot of our customers are in the same line of business and they communicate,” said Gibbs. “If one of our customers has a bad experience, news travels fast and it’s hard work to overcome that.”

However, just as it is the responsibility of service professionals to provide exceptional customer support, patrons should allocate value to customer service. When asked whether there is anything frustrating about how people generally view customer service, Gibbs noted that the low value some people place on customer service can be frustrating.

“Sometimes people don’t see the value in great customer service,” said Gibbs. “They want the highest level of customer service for the lowest discounted price. Customer service has value.”

Gibbs is proud of the Hugg & Hall team members that exemplify great customer service and views their service as a tremendous asset to the company, especially as it relates to employees that maintain long-term relationships with their customers.

“We have several long-term employees at the branches I work with that are in the product support sales representative position,” said Gibbs. “I think this is a big asset for us as a company, because that means we have a lot of long-term customer relationships.”

For those seeking to better their customer service skills, Gibbs suggests they learn from some of the best.  

“Ride along with some of the good product support sales representatives or salesmen when they are out seeing customers,” said Gibbs.


Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is a comprehensive equipment provider offering services and expertise in the rental, sales, parts and service markets. The company offers a wide variety of equipment options for rent and purchase, including: material handling equipment, heavy equipment, mobile elevating work platforms, air compressors, generators and more. Hugg & Hall Equipment Company offers industry-leading brands, like: Toyota, Bobcat, Crown, Volvo, Taylor, Doosan and others. With value-added services and a focus on their customers, Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is the one-stop shop for every construction and industrial equipment need.

Part 2: Taking Ownership of Customers’ Needs

John Impson, Product Support Sales Manager, on Taking Ownership of Customers’ Needs

Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is dedicated to providing excellence in customer service. The company strives to continuously improve and created the “Customer Service Spotlight” as an outlet for sharing customer service ideas and strategies with the purpose to both enhance the experience of the Hugg & Hall customer and to provide a place for collaborative thinking.

 

Hugg & Hall’s business structure, with independent business units for each sector of the organization (parts, service, rental and sales), spawn’s unique challenges for the professionals in each sector. With unique challenges comes unique strategies and different approaches to delivering excellent customer service. John Impson, Product Support Sales Manager for the Southern Region, recently spoke on the challenges that product support team members face and the importance of conveying a message of consideration and caring to the customer.

“A big part of what we do is taking care of people whose equipment is not operating properly or as designed and they are needing our support,” said Impson. “In those cases, when someone has a piece of equipment that is critical to their business operations, we have to communicate the message that we genuinely care about their issue and that we are going to do everything we possibly can to get them back up and going. Whether we are face-to-face with them or talking to them via phone or email and regardless of the words we use.”

Product support professionals are an integral component of the overall Hugg & Hall business model. As is common among many industries and sales professions, the Hugg & Hall whole goods salesman is credited for the first sale, but the Hugg & Hall product support sales and operation teams are often held responsible for the second and following equipment sales. Customer service is critical to the long-term success of company. Impson believes that another key to great customer service is proactivity and having timely and effective communication with the customer.

Impson emphasized the importance of a sense of urgency, proactive problem solving and effective communication. 

“A keen sense of urgency and integrity is especially important in the product support role,” said Impson. “Good news needs to travel fast, but bad news has to travel faster. Customer service will always be better when it’s proactive rather than reactive. The ability to figure out what options are available coupled with a sense of urgency with the goal of resolving the issue as quickly as possible will always be a big deal in the world of product support.”

In product support, when a customer has a problem and time is limited, it’s especially important to work with persistence and to operate with complete transparency.

“The way we teach our people, which is the way that John and Robert taught me a long time ago, is that if you stop at the first no, you will never succeed,” said Impson, referring to John Hugg, President/Owner, and Robert Hall, Vice President/Owner. “It’s all about problem solving. It’s the element of figuring how to solve a specific or unique problem as quickly as we can. I tell our people and our customers that we will reach into as many hats as it takes to pull out the proverbial rabbit. And in most cases, we succeed but in those rare instances where we don’t, that’s when it’s critical that the customer know and believe that we did everything in our power to get them back to happy, healthy and whole.”

Impson stressed the importance of implementing the Hugg & Hall policy to “make the customer’s needs your own.”

“It’s the Golden Rule,” said Impson. “You’re always going to take great care of yourself. For instance, if you are traveling on your way to a dream vacation and you get to the airport only to find out your flight has been cancelled, you don’t cancel the trip. You dig in and make other arrangements and make it happen. It’s amazing how much more effective we are when we engage our jobs with this simple but profound rule: treat others as you want to be treated.”

Treating customers’ needs with a sense of urgency and as one’s own helps to develop a healthy and professional relationship with the customer. One of the priorities of the Hugg & Hall product support professional is to establish mutual trust and respect so that the business relationship will withstand difficult situations.

“When you’ve earned the customer’s trust and confidence to the point that they know that you’ve pulled out every stop and made use of every available resource to resolve a particular issue, then in those cases where we don’t fix the issue as thoroughly or as quickly as everyone had hoped, the customer may not be happy, healthy and whole, but they usually aren’t looking for a new vendor either,” said Impson.

Impson spoke about the importance of spending time with customers and learning the details of their business as it relates to building professional relationships based on trust and confidence. 

“I think one of the biggest ways we can continue to improve our customer service is to focus on spending time in our territories, seeing customers and learning to anticipate frustrations,” said Impson. “Seeing the frustration before it’s ever articulated to us can only happen by being out in the territory. It has to be intentional.”

The operational policy of Hugg & Hall allows professionals to be creative and confident in how they provide great customer service, according to Impson.

“One of the admirable things about how our company operates is how John and Robert have created this environment and culture where we are able to go about doing our jobs of taking care of our customers as entrepreneurs,” said Impson. “Our culture puts each of us in the position of being an entrepreneur. It’s as close as you’ll get to owning your own business with the added bonus of not having all those additional stresses and responsibilities.”

Impson provided an anecdote of truly understanding how Hugg & Hall approaches customer service.

“Robert Hall has the best one liners,” said Impson. “One of my favorites that speaks to the core issue of customer service is ‘If you are going to eat crow, don’t nibble!’ The point of that expression is for us to challenge ourselves every day. To not do the least we can to resolve an issue, but rather, do the absolute most and best we can to make things right.”

When asked what advice he’d give to those trying to improve customer service, Impson kept it simple.

“I think genuine and sincere concern for others is the best way to improve customer service,” said Impson. “Do the right thing. Care about the person. Care about their business. It goes back to the Golden Rule.”

Part 1: VP of Rental Operations On Valuing Customer Service

 

VP OF RENTAL OPERATIONS ON VALUING CUSTOMER SERVICE AND ENHANCING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is dedicated to providing excellence in customer service. The company strives to continuously improve and created the “Customer Service Series” as an outlet for sharing customer service ideas and strategies with the purpose to both enhance the experience of the Hugg & Hall customer and to provide a place for collaborative thinking.

 

In diverse, competitive markets distinguishing one’s business among customers and creating a loyal client-base is an essential aspect of remaining relevant. Rick Vollmer, Vice President of Rental Operations at Hugg & Hall Equipment Company (Hugg & Hall), recently shared his thoughts on the relevance of customer service and how it can affect business opportunities and brand reputation.

“We are a regional company,” said Vollmer. “Larger companies have greater buying power and resources, so when you take the same products and offer them to the public at comparable prices, even as our buying power increases, it’s important to deliver excellent customer service. We fight for customers everyday so we’re constantly trying to find ways to set ourselves apart. The obvious, and free, way is customer service. When you think of a high-priced product like a stay at a Ritz-Carlton, you expect to receive excellent customer service for the price. I believe that Chick-Fil-A proved that you can take a median-priced product and pair it with excellent customer service. You can marry any-priced product with high-priced customer service.”

Customer service is an intangible concept with no one definition. As such, discussing ideas on how to provide positive experiences for each customer can be wide-reaching. Vollmer shared his thoughts on how companies can create a culture of prioritizing customers.

“The one thing that never seems to get, in my opinion, the kind of attention that it needs is making the customer feel like they’ve made the right decision by calling here or deciding to do business with us,” said Vollmer. “I think that it’s important that the management team and I continue to stress, number one that it’s as important as getting something delivered on time, or washing it or buying new and selling old. Number one, the management team stressing customer service. I think that if people would just think ‘what would I want? What would I expect?’ because the person on the other end of the line or the customer of Hugg & Hall would expect the same thing.”

The implementation of a comprehensive customer service strategy requires the consideration of many factors in sizable organizations; delivering cohesive client service within a company housing many teams and departments can be a challenge with specific obstacles and frustrations.

“The most frustrating thing to me is that it is just not focused on,” said Vollmer. “It’s just not top of mind. I don’t believe that it’s a purposeful thing, it’s because we are all so focused on the task at hand or what’s staring at us in the face, so when it comes time to focus on customer service, we just forget.”

Vollmer stressed that customer service requires fluidity as opposed to a simple, traditional set of rules and processes. He touched on the importance of authenticity and actually valuing customers.

“I believe that customer service needs to be fluid and I think that if somebody just takes a minute and thinks ‘there’s probably a few areas where I can add some increased elements of customer service in what I do’ and comes up with what they think is the correct way to express a strong customer service concept then it does the job and it’s fluid and it’s genuine and someone can own it,” said Vollmer. “If you are going to commit to making customer service top of mind, also, commit to making it genuine. Be genuine about it. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Vollmer spoke on the importance of valuing limited facetime with customers and how he’s been influenced by interactions with professionals at Genie Industries.  

“I was always impressed and influenced by Genie Industries and how they operated, as a company in the industrial equipment business,” said Vollmer. “When we would go out there to take a plant tour, they were the best at thanking us for our business. When we’d pass by a cubicle, they’d always turn and acknowledge us and were always really quick to thank us for our business. At the American Rental Association show, they would always have an event planned and they would never have their employees piled up together, they were always dispersed throughout the crowd and they were always meeting and thanking people, even if you had no idea what they did within the Genie organization or if you had no involvement with those particular people. Those opportunities are the best times to execute excellent customer service because it’s so hard to get in front of your customers.”

In order to understand how to deliver great customer service, it’s important to understand how negative customer service is demonstrated, Vollmer delineated.

“Terrible customer service, in my view, is giving the customer the impression that they’ve reached the wrong person and it’s not your job,” said Vollmer. “The biggest obstacle to great customer service is that people are quick to not get in somebody else’s square when it comes to helping a customer. If I don’t know the answer to a customer’s issue, I can find out.”

In order to avoid uniformity with industry competitors, importance is focused on standing out and offering value-added features to clients, this can be achieved through offering technology at the cusp of innovation, simplifying processes or providing excellence in customer service. Vollmer spoke on the importance of how client engagement can impact Hugg & Hall and combat homogeneity.

“I want to wave the flag because at this particular time and place, customer service is the one thing that can put us over the top,” said Vollmer. “If we and our competitors all basically have the same product, we’re all coming to the table with the same opportunity and we have to come to the table with something that’s better and different and can set ourselves apart. We have to have something different to talk about, and customer service is the thing that can set us apart. I’ve heard comments made from our customer base, from time-to-time, express that the customer service aspect and the people, sets us apart. We need to continue that and not take it for granted.”

Vollmer elaborated on the Hugg & Hall customer service mission statement, “make your customers’ needs your own,” and what that means for employees and how they should operate. He expanded on the mentality that just as companies strive to create loyal customers, companies should return loyalty.

“If a customer were to walk through the door with a complaint about something, I don’t have any qualms about making a decision to solve that problem and make them happy without having to ask anybody,” said Vollmer. “Making your customers’ needs your own is exactly what that means.”

“As we want loyalty from customers, customer service reciprocates loyalty on behalf of us back to the customer.”

When asked what advice he would give those striving to improve their customer service skills and to provide genuine, effective service to their customers, Vollmer stressed the importance of not shying away from taking action and making assertive decisions as it relates to customer service.

“Customer service is an easy word to fly around but it just seems so difficult sometimes to perform it,” said Vollmer. “As much time as we spend here, if it wasn’t here it’d be somewhere else. We all have to work. Why not put out that little extra effort and see what kind of return it brings, because it doesn’t cost anything.”

“Commit to making customer service a top of mind concept,” said Vollmer. “Remember you’ve been knighted to make decisions, fix problems and are allowed to outwardly express ideas. You can step out on a limb and not worry about it. You are allowed to make decisions and take action as it relates to customer service. A true, genuine act of customer service has the most value, it stays with people. It makes their decision-making process easier in the future.”

Teams should pivot toward instilling confidence in members, according to Vollmer, so that they will have the self-assurance and ability to make consequential decisions for the sake of excellent customer service.

The notion of a more open managerial style, to promote creativity and success, is a growing concept among entrepreneurs and business leaders. The idea is that using the more stringent, chain-of-command style stifles creativity and ones ability to improvise and solve problems, quickly. The open managerial style is designed to promote open communication among team members, regardless of title or position, in order to create a more effective service style and to eliminate any slow-paced, closed-door environment. In the context of customer service, this style gives employees the ability to be more decisive and to serve clients effectively without the perpetual consent of superiors. 

“In my mind it resonates ultimately the type of thing John and Robert allow in their business,” said Vollmer, referring to John Hugg, President/owner, and Robert Hall, Vice President/owner. “There probably was a time that I thought there were things that I couldn’t do and decisions that I couldn’t make, but a long time ago I shifted to believe that taking action is what was needed in order for things to get done and, it turns out, that is in line with what John and Robert think. I think if people just stop and think about that for a minute, then customer service at this organization would be a whole lot easier.”