Posts Tagged 'negativity'

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.




Company Policy Causes a Trip to the Emergency Room

Have you ever received horrible service that was based on a policy that made absolutely no sense in your situation? Was the policy in your case so far removed from common sense that it simply left you shaking your head in disbelief? Worse yet, was the offending party so entrenched in the policy that no one could see how illogical the policy was to your situation—but you? Well, you’re not alone.

Real World Story: It’s 9:00 pm on Saturday night. My mom is fast asleep in her “home” in the assisted-living community where she lives. A caretaker enters my mom’s room to check on her, but instead finds a doctor’ note on the dresser, reads it, and takes it to a supervisor. The supervisor immediately calls ambulancean EMT and orders an ambulance to take my mom to the emergency room. Distraught—not understanding what’s going on—my mom phones me in the middle of all the raucousness. My mom is then taken out of bed, not allowed to get dressed, get her purse, or get anything. She is transported to the nearest hospital, where the EMT, ER nurse, and ER doctor are all confused as to why my mom is there.

Apparently, the doctor’s note mentioned that my mother had tested positive for MRSA two days prior, so the doctor had put her on antibiotics to treat it. MRSA is an infection-causing bacterium that can be contagious when left untreated. However, the assisted-living facility has a firm policy: anyone with MRSA MUST be taken to a skilled nursing facility to avoid infecting other residents. Period.

The medical staff in the ER said that MRSA is extremely common and that since my mother was on antibiotics, she could not infect others. The ER staff considered my mom’s trip to the emergency room a complete waste of time—not to mention the stress it put on her: to be taken from her bed and home, brought to the ER, tested, only to be sent back to the assisted-living facility FOUR hours later.

This begs the question: When should common sense bypass “the policy”? It appears that we are training employees to be robots, to simply follow the rules without exception, and not to think logically through individual cases. These situations are unacceptable, and they probably happen way too often. Can’t we ask for better from our employees through better training?

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Policies are in place for the majority of cases. Follow them within reason and remain flexible.
  2. When a situation appears to violate a policy, look at all the facts surrounding the situation before blatantly rejecting viable options. Your situation may be unique, so it will require a unique solution not covered in a policy.
  3. If you absolutely MUST abide by a policy, take the time necessary to explain nicely and compassionately with whoever is being affected what is happening and why are doing what you have to do. Do NOT make them feel like they are Patient Zero. Geez!

Remember: Policies are in place for definite reasons; therefore, they are meant to be followed—especially in medical situations. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and common sense and great communication skills go a long way in healing a wounded spirit.

Have you ever experienced someone enforcing a policy that seemed ridiculous? 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.

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.

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;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.

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.

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