Dianne Durkin
An Infectious Attitude
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As a former branding consultant Dianne Durkin helped hundreds of companies come up with perfect product names, company names, and strategies for optimizing brands. But in 1996 Durkin struggled for nearly two months to name her own new consulting and training firm. Then while skiing the slopes of Vail, Colo., it hit her: Just let the name reflect what she regarded as the key to business success. Thus, Loyalty Factor was born. Durkin, who has held senior management positions with General Electric Co., Gulf Oil, and Digital Equipment Corp., says Loyalty Factor was formed out of her desire to help companies improve profits by improving communication skills between its business representatives and their customers. Durkin's 10-person training firm is packed with upbeat, passionate people from a variety of backgrounds, including a Harvard MBA, a former financial services executive, and a customer service manager. Loyalty Factor's clients, which include IBM/Lotus and Kronos Inc., come to her for a variety of reasons, among which are management training, training customer service representatives and supervisors, and teaching customer representatives to handle corporate changes. She says that most of her clients have some kind of CRM system in place, but they have not spent time on the soft skills. Her philosophy is that to provide the best possible service, customer representatives need to first understand what their style is for communicating with customers. "All of us have a style," Durkin says. "There are four basic styles, and once we've identified their individual styles, we teach them how to interact effectively with the other three styles--especially the opposite style, which is always the most difficult." Durkin likes to practice what she preaches, and her infectiously positive attitude is reflected in her own work environment. "I feel I died and went to heaven in a work environment," Durkin says. "Because we teach clients to understand what kind of workers they have, we all understand what kind of workers we are. Often we'll joke about it by saying, 'Your expressive thinker is coming out' or 'Someone is on the phone and I think he's a sensor.' It's funny and helps us all get along in positive and productive manner." Durkin, who is fluent in Polish and French, says she expects that as customer service improves, customers will come to expect an even higher level of service, and that businesses will need to have trained representatives to deal with more demanding customers. She admits to being one of those of those highly demanding customers. "I think of it like this: Businesses can never improve unless I tell them."
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