Archive Page 2

Broken promises – the newest addiction in customer service?

I have a hot button. But, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I blow things way out of proportion. But, my latest pet peeve is about people in service industries who don’t do what they say they will—people who simply don’t fulfill promises made to their customers.

The Verizon representative who promises to call you back in 10 minutes. He never does. The cable installer who promises that her manager will definitely call broken promiseyou today.  You never hear back from either of them. The Toastmaster who promises—out loud and in front of 19 other members—to give a speech on Friday and never shows up. The contractor who promises your windows will be ready on Monday at 3pm, yet doesn’t deliver, call, email or even answer his phone when your try to call.

I can understand and forgive one bad occurrence of promising and not following up. But, when it happens repeatedly, I lose respect for the offending company or individual. And, I lose the trust that they will EVER follow through on a promise. And I WILL take my business elsewhere because, to me, this repeated behavior is beyond frustrating and simply unacceptable!

My father was a police officer for more than 45 years. He was well respected for being honorable. And, a big part of his reputation was based on the fact that he always kept his word. As a result, my father was admired for being dependable, a man of high integrity and great character. If he said he would do something, he did it. Period.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all service companies and their representatives shared this work ethic? I bet we’d all have a lot less to complain about and, therefore, we’d be a lot less stressed.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Don’t make a promise that you can’t possibly deliver.
  2. When you honestly make a promise, follow through to make it happen.
  3. If you can’t fulfill a promise made because of unforeseen factors, call or email immediately and be honest in your communication. Apologize with sincerity, rather than place blame on others.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate—before, during, and after breaking a promise—to keep your customer informed and in the loop.
  5. If you find yourself breaking promises again and again, it’s time to look at the core problem. Honestly search for what the “real” problem is and take proactive steps to fix it. For example, if you’re breaking promises because you’re overextending yourself, then you need to fix how you schedule your day. If you’re breaking promises because you don’t have enough staff, then you need to do whatever is necessary to get the help that you need.

Remember: Promises kept earn loyal customers. Promises are not made to be broken. And if you or your company repeatedly breaks promises, you need to take immediate action to reveal the core problem. Then, take immediate action to fix that problem.

How do YOU feel when someone doesn’t follow through on a promise to you? Please share your experience in the comments section below.

How the Ritz-Carlton CARES about Customers

When people talk about companies that deliver great customer service, the Ritz-Carlton is consistently included in the conversation.  In an interview with the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai’s General Manager John Rolfs, he shares his keys to success.

Watch the short 2.38-minute video of the interview.Ritz- crop

Key take-aways:

  • C is for Credo: All employees carry “the Credo” with them to keep them focused on their goal– taking care of the customer.     Check out the credo and more
  • A is for All Knowing: Mr. Rolfs has worked in the service industry in a variety of jobs including chef, waiter, reception, housekeeping, management, then grew to general manager. He knows first hand what it takes to deliver great service—from the top of the ladder to the bottom rung.
  • R is for Routine: Daily Line-ups—team meetings—set the tone for the day and keep everyone focused on what is most important—the guest.
  • E is for Everyone: Everyone is encouraged to work as one big team—one big, happy family.
  • S is for Skills:  Employees’ individual skills and talents are important to great service. Therefore, the General Manager’s responsibility is to listen critically and to bring these skills and talents together.

According to Mr. Rolfs, service consists of three parts:

  1. Functionality — everything has to be perfect, if possible
  2. Emotional — the employee truly takes care of the guest
  3. Doing something so special that a guest never forgets — employees are empowered to do something extraordinary

Remember: Mr. Rolfs leads not only by example, but he also actively and consistently takes care of his employees by spending time with them, listening to them, and empowering them to make a difference in the lives of each guest. Because of his fair and respectful style, his employees are committed to him and to the Ritz-Carlton.  The next time you’re near the Ritz, give them a visit and check it out for yourself. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

What do YOU do to deliver consistently great customer service? Please share in the comments section below.

Why Being Happy NOW is So Important

On January 10, 2014, Sam Berns died at the age of 17 of complications from a rare premature-aging disease called progeria. Although Sam knew his life was short, he lived each day to the fullest and inspired teens and adults alike to adopt his positive mindset.

Check out Sam’s inspirational message:

Sam Berns crop

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/My-philosophy-for-a-happy-life;search:Sam%20berns

Sam’s three principles:

1.       “I’m OK with what I ultimately can’t do because there’s so much that I can do.” Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t. We all have “challenges.” Period. Instead of focusing on the negative, find something or someone to help you with your deficiencies, so you can spend time doing the things you’re good at. For example, if you want to write a book but are not confident in your writing skills, have someone interview you about your subject. Record the interview, then have someone transcribe and edit it.

2. “I surround myself with people that I want to be with, people of high quality.” We are all familiar with the adage “Misery loves company.” The problem with this is that negative people bring you down. So, instead of getting sucked into negativity, find and spend time with people who are doing something you admire. You will not only be inspired, but your perspective as a whole will improve as well.

3. “Keep moving forward.” Do one thing every day to achieve your goals. It doesn’t have to be big. Just take action. You may find that the path you take may NOT be where you end up. But, at least you’re moving, and that’s half the battle.

Remember:  Happiness is a choice in which you have full control. Make a conscious decision to be happy. Take action and watch the good times roll.

What do YOU do to be happy? Please share in the comments section below.

Do You Pout Over Poor Pay?

Employees who are unhappy with their compensation has always been an issue within companies. And lately, it seems to be a dominating theme.pay-packet-peanuts

According to Don MacPherson, President and Co-Founder of Modern Survey, employees routinely complain about compensation because “Pay is the easiest way we can articulate our satisfaction.”  In his article “Employee Motivation and Compensation,” McPherson further outlines six drivers of employee engagement:

1. I Can Grow and Develop
2. Confidence in Future of Organization
3. Personal Accomplishment from Work
4. Values Guide Behavior
5. Paid Fairly for Work
6. Senior Management has Sincere Interest in Employee Well-being

Driver number five, which addresses fair pay, plays a central role in employee engagement. The article explains how companies that focus more on the other drivers increase employee engagement—which increases employee satisfaction with pay. An interesting connection, huh?

BUT, what can you do as an employee if you’re not feeling completely engaged at work? You may need to be proactive by asking important questions of yourself and your employer.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

If you are not engaged at work because you pout over pay, practice the following tips:

  1. Ask yourself if your personal values are in line with the company’s values. Are you proud to work at your organization? If not, it may be time to look for work somewhere else.
  2. Ask your manager or HR rep for an explanation of your salary and what you can do to earn an increase or bonus. If your salary is comparable to other workers’ salaries in your field, and it is consistent with your geographic region, then ask yourself what it is about your job that troubles you. Is it really your salary that bothers you, or are you simply not satisfied with other areas of your job?
  3. Do you understand how your job fits within the overall objectives of the company? If not, ask your manager or HR rep for an explanation. Employees who see how their particular job impacts the bigger picture tend to be more satisfied and engaged.
  4. Do you get regular feedback—the good and the bad—from your manager or peers? If not, be proactive and ask your manager how you’re doing. Don’t wait for feedback during your yearly reviews only.
  5. Does your manager listen to your ideas? If so, does she follow up with updates?

Remember: While salary is important, it is only one of six drivers that leads to an engaged employee. In the workplace, everyone is always extremely busy. Managers may assume you’re satisfied and happy; when in reality, you’re not. Before giving up and jumping ship, try the tips mentioned above. Who knows? You may be surprised by the positive results to you, your team, and to your bank account.

What have YOU done to become more engaged at your company? Please share your responses in the comments section below.

How to Work with People You Dislike

How do you get individual people to work effectively as a team? While teamwork is a tricky topic for managers and team members alike, it is possible to create teamwork — even among workers who don’t like one another very much. First, we have to realize that humans are hardwired to be independent. As a result, we often have to deal with individuals’ “What’s in it for me” attitude.

Once you effectively break down this attitude, you can begin to build a team of people to work and collaborate together. In my video, Facts About barb - teamwork cropTeamwork, I discuss four tips that can turn around your team from working as independent workers to collaborating as members of a highly productive team. These tips will ensure that your team achieves — and maintains — high morale, thus staying productive, effective, and efficient — while working together and respecting one another.

Strategies that Turn It Around!

  1. Focus on results. To ensure positive results, your team should first create a mission statement that aligns with the company’s overall vision. By allowing your team to create its mission statement, members automatically create and perceive value in the process and final results of what they draft. This also helps to create accountability for tasks and goals, thus increasing morale and productivity.
  2. Team recognition. Recognizing your team’s efforts is crucial to sustaining team performance. And when you recognize and reward your entire team in social settings — a group dinner, picnic, night of bowling, etc. — team members will see one another in a different and more positive way. Invite your team to your house for a bar-b-que, or take them to the beach for a volleyball game, or even on a team-building game of paintball. If you have team members who hate each other, put them on the same team. When team members work together, they learn to watch out for each other. What a concept, huh?
  3. Individual recognition. It is also important to recognize individual members of your team, especially when their efforts align closely with the company’s mission and vision. Team members who are happy about individual accomplishments are more eager to work with others.
  4. Be nice to each other. It’s not essential that all team members agree about everything. It’s okay to disagree. However, it’s important that team members be nice and kind to one another. Everyone should treat one another with respect. So reinforce this concept throughout the year.

Remember: By nature, people are hard-wired to be individualistic. It is only through social conventions like a group dinner or a competitive game of volleyball that people can begin to see others in a different light — not as impediments to personal goals, but as other human beings who deserve kindness and respect.

What techniques have you tried in the past to help build teamwork? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below. I look forward to engaging with you and your comments.

What’s worse? The doctor or the cancer?

Have you ever received bad news from a doctor? Did the doctor’s way of delivering the news make you feel better or worse?

Real World Story: My sister-in-law, Holly, finds a lump in her breast. Alarmed, she schedules a mammogram.  Bad thoughts lead to bad news. After giving the “bad news,” her medical group recommends she get a second opinion.

For her second opinion, Holly drives three hours in Los Angeles traffic with her neighbor, who is having severe back pain. They miss their exit and immediately notify the doctor’s office. They arrive at 8:55am for an 8am appointment. The doctor will not see them. They need to come back tomorrow. Holly is now distraught. She has just driven three hours, is anxious about her diagnosis, and cannot possibly return the next day. She insists she see the doctor today. After much back and forth, the doctor agrees to see her.

At 9:15am, the doctor walks into the exam room looking angry. There’s no “Hello. How may I help you?” The doctor instead blurts out, “I looked at your results. I know what angry-female-doctorI saw. The cancer has probably gone into your lymph nodes and could be in your bone. You need to have a chest x-ray.” Holly is now in a panic. Lymph nodes? Bone? Am I dying? –  she thinks to herself. “The previous doctor didn’t see anything in the lymph nodes,” says Holly. This doctor then aggressively lifts up Holly’s arm and starts feeling under it, and says, “See, there’s a lymph node.” Holly then lifts up her other arm and says, “Yeah, and there’s the exact same one here. Are you saying I have cancer on both sides? Are you saying I’m dying?” The doctor replies, “I didn’t say that. We have to do a chest x-ray.”

Holly tries to ask additional questions, but the doctor puts her hands on her head, as if to say “Enough already!” By the exam’s end, Holly is terrified. “I feel like I’m dying right in front of your eyes.” The doctor replies, “I’m not sure about that.”

Thanks to this doctor, Holly leaves feeling hopeless and terminal. What a horrible way to give and receive BAD news.

Two emotionally excruciating weeks later, Holly is told by a different medical center that the cancer has not spread, is only in one spot, and can be treated. A fantastic third opinion!

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Ensure you are in a positive mindset, ready to “be present” when communicating.
  2. Deliver BAD news – especially about life or death – with compassion and empathy, regardless of what else is happening in your world. Please.
  3. LISTEN to your patients’ reactions first, then respond appropriately. Remember #1 and #2.
  4. Be proactive if you begin to feel angry – take a break, drink water, pinch yourself. Remember: it’s not about you!
  5. Offer alternatives. Something can always be done.
  6. Help patients look beyond the bad and focus on a positive action plan.

Remember: People need you to care about their problems as much as they do. Once you do, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. Will it be easy? No. Easier? Yes.

How do YOU deliver BAD news? Please share in the comments section below.

Restaurant Revelation: Is Your Food as Bad as Your Service?

When you’re greeted in a restaurant with bad service, do you doubt the quality of its food?
If a restaurant’s parking lot is littered with garbage, do you question the tidiness inside?
If a restroom is dirty, do you worry about the cleanliness of the kitchen and the people who work in it?

Real World Story:  On a recent Sunday afternoon, my husband, mother and I were leisurely sightseeing in a small southern California town. We were enjoying the quaint feeling of this lovely community, so we decided to stop in for lunch at a restaurant in a converted bank building.

We weren’t able to easily enter the building since my mother is in a wheel chair and the restaurant’s main front entrance has steps leading into it. My husband ran in ahead of us to see how we could enter. He quickly came back and showed us around the side of the building, through a back entrance, and into the restaurant. While we were walking, my husband told us that the employee with whom he talked was not exactly happy to serve us. Making matters worse, we noticed garbage on the floor.messy restroom - crop

We started to seat ourselves at a back table, since there wasn’t any room for my mom to maneuver anywhere else. Minutes later, an employee told us that we could move to the front of the restaurant. Although we said we were fine, she repeated her request — this time more forcefully. We told her, again, that we were fine where we were. Finally, impatient with us, she said we couldn’t sit there unless we made room around our table for other people to pass. Geez, she could have been a bit nicer and clearer in explaining why she needed us to move.

After we were situated at a new table, a waiter took our order. Although he was pleasant, he never returned to check on us or to refill our water and chips. We felt insignificant. During our stay, I went to use the restroom. Guess what? Yep, it was disgusting. The toilet was filthy and the floor was littered with used paper towels.

Our lunch was an awful experience! We were treated poorly, surrounded by garbage, and the food turned out to be mediocre.  We were initially very excited to eat inside this beautiful building, but the service and the food made our experience less than average. We will never return.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Regularly spot check around your premises for anything out of place, including the parking lot and restrooms. If there’s garbage on the floor, simply pick it up. You don’t always need to call the cleaning crew.
  2. Greet all customers as if they are the most important people in the world. If you can’t do it, perhaps working in a service job is not for you. Find another job.
  3. If you need a customer to sit somewhere different than where they want to sit, explain why it’s necessary to move and then offer to help. And, how about smiling every now and then.

Remember: First impressions are extremely important and are the responsibility of all employees, at all times, in all circumstances.

What do YOU do to create great first impressions? Please share in the comments section below.


About Barbara

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