Posts Tagged 'attitude'

On the front lines of customer service – how field reps represent

I frequently consult with a wide range of field reps in different industries, from EMTs to plumbers. While most reps are hardworking, independent and conscientious, they are still human. Like everyone else, they too get tired, overwhelmed and wary of dealing with angry customers. Regardless of their industry, however, most field reps’ concerns are similar – how do they do their job technically while creating lasting positive impressions that go beyond doing a good job? It’s difficult to do both well and remain professional and courteous at all times, especially when a customer visit doesn’t go as planned and difficulties arise.

What I’ve surveyed in successful and happy field reps is that they see their job as bigger than simply solving a one-time problem and more about friendly field repcreating loyal customers who gladly request our services again and again and tell their friends about us. Field reps who have this attitude of care are more engaged and motivated to deliver extraordinary service. Plus it makes them feel good in the process.

Following are some tips that all field reps can implement to help them excel on the front lines of customer service:

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Be prepared! Before entering a customer’s site or facility, have the appropriate tools, materials, and paperwork ready.
  2. Have a clean vehicle. Your customers will notice and will equate a cluttered vehicle with a cluttered mind and work ethic.
  3. Walk with confidence, and a little pace, to your destination.
  4. Put away all other distractions like a phone or tablet as you’re walking in. Make this visit the highest priority at the moment. (You never know who’s watching.)
  5. Dress professionally – shirt tucked in, teeth free of food, hair combed.
  6. Smile and greet the customer warmly. Even if it’s the end of the day, the customer wants and expects to be treated as if he is important.
  7. Stay present with the customer. Focus on his issue not the three before or the two to come.
  8. Take your time with each customer. Don’t rush as if you are eager to leave.
  9. You’re a guest in someone’s home or office, so act like a guest. Take care of other people’s belongings. Return things if you borrow them. And don’t forget “Please” and “Thank You.”

Remember: Serving on the front lines of any enterprise can be an overwhelming experience. And for many field reps who are often the face of their organization, they must be well-prepared to represent with confidence, courtesy and professionalism—at all times and with all types of customers.

What do YOUR field reps do to make working on the front lines more rewarding? Please share in the comments section below.

How Emergency Room Delivers Exemplary Service

This is a continuation of last week’s blog about my mom’s trip to the Emergency Room http://wp.me/pFwfG-mK

From the moment I heard the voice on the other end of the telephone, I felt reassured and at ease. The caller immediately introduced herself to me as EMT Kathryn. She was calling from my mom’s assisted living facility, where she worked. Kathryn explained calmly Compassionate nurseand clearly that my mom was being taken out of bed in the middle of the night and would shortly be transported to the nearest ER. She further explained in detail how she was following the living facility’s instructions per its policy pertaining to infectious diseases. Kathryn was compassionate, extremely empathetic and eager to find a solution to what she knew was an extraordinary situation that did not fit entirely within the facility’s policy. She took the time and effort to note my name and confirm my telephone number, so she could get more information on her end and call me back with an update.

From the moment I heard the voice on the other end of the second telephone call of the night, I felt attacked and in trouble. A few minutes after talking with EMT Kathryn, the facility’s RN called. He was extremely rude and abrupt. He showed no compassion, was adamant about following the rules, abandoned all common sense, and considered absolutely no other options to resolve my mom’s atypical situation—like calling his boss for confirmation or my mom’s doctor for clarification.

From the moment my husband and I arrived in the Emergency Room, we were given full and immediate attention. Two EMTs and a nurse warmly greeted us and introduced themselves outside my mom’s room in the ER. The three emergency staff carefully explained what was happening. While they couldn’t understand why my mom was there, they did re-assure us that she was fine and would be sent back to her facility shortly—after running diagnostic tests to confirm their suspicion that she was not infectious. Not surprising for a Saturday night, the tests and results took FOUR hours. Throughout the night, however, the EMTs, doctor and nurses were extremely kind, caring, and service-oriented. When my mother answered questions and explained injuries, the nurse would stop typing on the computer, would look at her and say with all sincerity, “I’m sorry.” Not only was the nurse attentive and caring to my mom, but he was extremely patient with ME and my “goofy” (stress induced) antics. We felt like he was a friend and ally.

These caring and compassionate medical professionals turned a terrible Emergency Room experience into an exemplary service suite experience, much like a concierge, that we will remember with pleasure. They created a story that we can tell (and blog about to) our friends, families and clients.

Strategies that Turned it Around:
Here are some things that the EMTS and RN did that eventually made our experience great:

  1. immediately introduced themselves by name
  2. reassured us we were in good hands: before leaving, an EMT gently touched my mom’s shoulder, used her name, and told her she would be taken care of
  3. explained procedures thoroughly and without using medical jargon
  4. showed compassion and empathy throughout our stay
  5. did not appear to be rushed or bothered by my mom or my silly antics

Remember: Most people don’t enjoy visiting the doctor, more so, the Emergency Room. With exemplary service, health professionals can turn a seemingly bad situation into something that is remembered without dread or fear.

When was the last time you experienced exemplary service from a medical professional? Please share in the comments section below.

Games to Build Customer Service Spirit

As children, we all enjoyed playing games. Most of us were probably at our most creative and free when we played games as kids. We also took more risks without worrying too much about negative consequences. So why is it that as adults, we moan and groan about playing games?

So, it’s time for us to recapture some of that spirit. Okay, no moaning! It’sgames - crop also important to include this new spirit into our work lives, where we spend the most time — at least eight hours a day, for at least five days a week.

So, how exactly does playing games improve business communication? In my video, Games for Business Communication, I’ll explain the biggest benefits of playing games: through play, we get to engage with others in a safe environment, and we are better able to absorb more readily the main learning points of any game. Simply put, games help us to learn new things about others while having fun.

Strategies that Turn It Around!

  1. Two truths and a lie. This game allows you to get to know your fellow team members a little better by evaluating three statements made by someone and figuring out which one of the statements is a lie.

a. Depending on the size of your group, get people into groups of 3 or 5.
b. Everyone needs to write down two truths and one false statement about themselves.
c. Each person then reads the three statements and the rest of the group tries to figure out which statement is the lie.
d. Each person who guesses a correct false statement gets a point.
e. Once every person in each group has revealed his or her false statement, tally up all of the correct false answers.
f. Pick a winner from each team and reward him or her.

Mirror mirror. This game helps people to recognize elements of non-verbal communication styles like big hand gestures or head nodding. The object of the game is to spot physical movements and mirror them back to the person with whom you are speaking, thus learning to communicate in her style. This makes people feel more at ease.

Pair people into couples.

  1. Have each partner talk about anything for a minute (e.g., what they did this weekend, favorite food, favorite movie — anything.)
  2. The partner who is listening will then observe the person talking, paying close attention to the non-verbals (e.g., fast moving hands, head tilts, shoulder shrugs — anything that is non-verbal.)
  3. Have each person tell his or her partner which non-verbals they observed and how they mirrored the gestures. This will reveal which gestures were perceived as friendly and which were a little annoying.

Remember: People are more at ease when they communicate with others who have a similar non-verbal communication style.

Which games or icebreakers have you used effectively to improve business communication among your staff members? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below. I look forward to engaging with you and your comments.

How poor telephone etiquette can lose a customer in 5 seconds or less

Have you ever called a business and the person who answered the phone spoke so quickly that you doubted you called the correct place? Did you ask for the customer service rep’s name and not understand the reply, feeling embarrassed to ask again? The problem with this poor first impression is that it’s a long lasting bad impression. We form our opinions about angry call center ladyothers and the businesses they represent in the first 5-10 seconds of an interaction. And, if we start with a bad first impression, it’s hard to change it to positive one later. And, if I actually have to drive to an actual location, I will most likely enter the business with a bad attitude from the start.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. SLOW DOWN your rate of speech and enunciate—no matter who’s calling. Make that first impression positive.
  2. BE PRESENT. This may involve cleaning your work area—and especially your mind—to be free of distractions and clutter.
  3. FLIP HOW YOU THINK. Don’t think of a ringing telephone as an interruption. If you think it’s an interruption, you will sound like it’s an interruption—not a great first impression.
  4. SMILE before you dial—yes, it’s an old saying, but it’s still applicable today. Can you tell someone’s mood by how they answer the phone? Of course you can.
  5. MATCH your customer’s rate of speech speed. If a customer is in a hurry and is speaking quickly, remain friendly, but pick up your pace. If the customer speaks slowly and softly, you should do the same. People like people who are similar to themselves. So, the quicker you mirror them, the quicker you will build rapport.

Remember:  Customers use the phone to talk more than any other form of communication.  Therefore, it’s important to know and follow appropriate telephone etiquette, especially when we want to make the most of our first impressions.  As call center representatives, you are the face of your company and a reflection of its brand.

What good or bad telephone experiences have you had with service companies? 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 be nice even when you don’t want to be!

holding doorIt’s the end of another year, when we celebrate the holidays and spend time with all kinds of people. They may be family, relatives, friends, neighbors, or work associates. We may not always agree with many of them or approve of their decisions. Yet, we still need to get along — right?

But, how can we keep an open mind during this busy time of the year — not to mention during all 12 months of the year?

Real World Story: Just the other day, I became extremely frustrated by everyone that I encountered. It started when I walked into the gym. The guy in front of me did not hold the door open for me. In the elevator of an office building, a man rushed in just as the doors opened and before I had a chance to exit. Later, a young lady did not say “Thank you” when I held the door open for her.

I was utterly upset and annoyed by everyone’s lack of courtesy, lack of manners, lack of common sense. But then, I took a step back and reflected.                         Who exactly was impacted by the bad behavior — them or me? Me. And was this healthy or unhealthy? Unhealthy. I was obviously the one who was harboring resentment, not them. Duh!

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Set a positive intention. Before greeting people, tell yourself they will be wonderful encounters. For example, if you are going to a gathering, tell yourself you will meet as many unique and interesting people as possible, and that you will enjoy every second of it. If you’re greeting a customer, tell yourself you will deliver the best experience EVER to that customer.
  2. Stay focused. When you feel yourself starting to judge someone or thinking negative thoughts, do something physical – pinch your leg – to get back into the moment. Remember strategy #1 above.
  3. It’s not always about you. Believe it or not, not everyone has the same “rules” as you. Not everyone knows the “please” and “thank you” rule. Not everyone will behave the way you expect. So, you have a few choices. You can communicate, compromise, or simply let it go. I bet in the majority of cases, you’ll choose the latter. If so, your physcial and mental health will thank you for it.

Remember: We have to be nice, even when we don’t want to be. And like smiling, being nice can be contagious. So, when dealing with “different” people, stay positive and fill them with kindness. Who knows, being nice may just catch on or even go viral.

What do YOU do to treat people nicely? I’m looking forward to reading your comments below.


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