Posts Tagged 'leadership'

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 Kindness Cures in Customer Service

My mother has always said, “Fill them with kindness.” So, it’s no big surprise that this has been my motto my entire life. In support of my mother’s philosophy, recent data now proves the importance of kindness in customer service in healthcare.

In his recent article “Recognizing the Value of Kindness in Health Care,” Gary Greensweig gives poignant reasons and statistics on the importance of kindness in the healthcare kindnessenvironment. (Gary Greenswerig, D.O., is the chief physician executive of Dignity Health in San Francisco.)

Here are a few statistics:

  • 87% of Americans feel that kind treatment by a physician is more important than other key considerations in choosing a health care provider, including average wait time before appointments, distance from home and the cost of care.
  • 64 % of Americans have experienced unkind behavior in a health care setting:
    • 38% failure of a caregiver to connect on a personal level
    • 36% staff rudeness
    • 35% poor listening skills
  • Nearly 75% of respondents would be willing to pay more to visit health care providers who emphasized kindness in their treatment approach.
  • Nearly 88% are willing to travel farther to receive kinder care.
  • 90% of those surveyed say they would feel like switching health care providers after receiving unkind treatment.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Make sure everyone—from the boardroom to the break-room, from the lead physician to the head nurse, from the reception desk to the maintenance crew—knows the importance of demonstrating kindness to every person at all times. (And yes, co-workers included!)
  2. Be present–don’t let the business of the day interfere with truly listening to each patient, each time.
  3. Be compassionate and show empathy–demonstrate caring.
  4. Train all employees on a regular basis on what kindness looks and sounds like.
  5. Reward employees who do it right.
  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Remember: In today’s busy work environment, most people wear many hats, leaving us short on time to get everything done. Being kind may not take much time, but it does take thought. And the results may surprise you, pleasantly.

When was the last time YOU were treated with kindness in a customer service situation? I would love to hear your story 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 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.

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

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.

Doctor’s note reveals shocking diagnosis

We’ve all had to do it. We don’t like doing it. Yet, we expect to do it every single time. What is “it”? Waiting for the doctor to see us. When we DON’T have to wait, it’s a pleasant surprise. But, it certainly isn’t the norm. However, a doctor’s note from an astute practice recently revealed a shocking diagnosis — and an immediate cure. This practice is certainly doing things a little differently than most.

Real world story: This past November, my mother returned home one afternoon from a regular appointment with her hearing doctor (Rancho Santa Fe Audiology). My thank you from doc-cropmom didn’t report to me being upset about anything. It was a fairly normal checkup. And yet, two days later, she received a letter in the mail along with a $25 gift card to Starbucks with a message from her doctor’s office:

“Mrs. Nyland, Thanks for the opportunity to serve you!”

What a thoughtful and memorable gesture. This doctor’s practice obviously places a high priority on diagnosing problems within the organization and taking immediate actions to apologize and solve the problems that it finds. Bravo for the effort of being and staying on time!

Strategies that Turn it Around:

1. Be on time.
2. If you’re running late, communicate immediately with your customers to inform them.
3. Send a handwritten note a couple of days later apologizing for the delay.
4. If you later hear from your patients or customers, LISTEN carefully to what they have to say. And don’t forget to show genuine empathy and interest in the feedback that you receive.

Remember: Patient and customer care isn’t only about treating the problems of the people whom we serve. It also involves being able to diagnose problems within our organizations and fixing them. And the first step to doing so is to know our patients’ and customers’ expectations. How else can we meet and exceed expectations if we don’t know what they are?

Have YOU ever received a handwritten apology from a doctor’s office? Please share in the comments section below. I look forward to engaging with you and your comments.

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