Barbara Burke has spent the last 26 years as a customer service consultant, workshop leader and keynote speaker. Known as an international expert and thought leader on employee engagement, Barbara is passionate about helping call centers deliver top-box customer care by leveraging their most valuable asset — their front-line employees.
Barbara lives in Northfield Minnesota, a small college town, located just outside Minneapolis. In her free time she enjoys gardening, writing, traveling, supporting local artists, skiing and fly-fishing.
Her extensive client list includes: Lands’ End, Honeywell, Target, Microsoft, Estee’ Lauder, Proctor & Gamble, State of Minnesota, State of Pennsylvania, Cox Communications, Verizon, Portland General Electric, Progress Energy, Alltel, Vertex, Carlson Companies, City of Austin Texas, Georgia Power and Time Warner.
Little known facts about Barbara — in her own words.
I’ve always wanted to make a difference.
Up until my second year in college I intended to make my living as an artist. But that changed after spending an interim in riot-torn Detroit working for the Equal Justice Council studying racism in the judicial system. It was the mid-70′s, at the end of Vietnam War, a time when many in my generation felt compelled to do what we could to make a difference in society. But after several years working for community organizations and not making much headway, I concluded that changing the world was a much bigger job than I imagined. By then I was married, had a daughter and a mortgage and needed a steady income. I somewhat reluctantly became a capitalist and took a “real job.”
Lucky for me I eventually discovered I had a knack for making a difference in customer service organizations as a consultant and trainer. I recognized that the most stressful part of a service rep’s job was having to deal with a constant stream of disgruntled, irate customers. I wanted to do something to help. I thought that writing a story about a struggling service rep could be a good way to pass on what I had learned from the many wise, experienced reps I worked with and to share the mindfulness techniques I found so useful in my own life. That story, written in 2003, eventually became the fable, The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey.
The truth about my Associates.
When I established my consulting company, Barbara Burke & Associates, Inc., in 1986, no one dared admit they worked from an office in their home. Now, 26 years later, working in a home office is in vogue. I enjoy the relaxed dress code (jammies and bunny slippers) and the ridiculously short commute (down a flight of stairs). But what I like most about living and working in the same space is having the company of my four-footed “associates.”
My current “staff” consists of two terrific cats, Vera (pictured) and Bodhi Boy, and my latest addition Jazz, a delightful mixed breed (her name says it all.)
I love getting my hands dirty.
When I moved from Minneapolis to Northfield, Minnesota in 1995 I didn’t know a petunia from a pansy. The 1940′s Cape Cod house I purchased in the neighborhood adjacent to Carleton College was in dire need of a front garden. I set out to create one and in the process got hooked on gardening. I still don’t know the names of most of my plants. But what I do know is how wonderful it feels to be outdoors digging in the soil.
My garden has taught me many life lessons including patience and the need to savor the moment — and the beauty.