Posts Tagged 'smiling'

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.




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.

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 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.

How to love the job that you hate

Loving your job begins with ensuring that your values align with your employer’s mission. This is an important principle that I teach employees in my customer service trainings. It’s hard to work for a company that you hate. And at the root of such hate, you’re very likely to discover that your personal values simply aren’t in line with the company’s values.
unhappy worker
At a conference that I attended last weekend, the speaker added one more piece of advice. She said that if your job is a transition job – one that’s NOT your ultimate goal in life — do it with joy, with gusto, with gratitude. Because, when you do, your results will change for the better. This fantastic piece of advice goes back to what my mom taught when I was a little girl: “Whatever you do, do it well and with a positive attitude.” Thanks, mom! You were right, again.

Aligning your values with your company’s mission is especially important if you are a customer service agent. I’m sure you’ve had the experience in which you walked into a place of business only to be greeted by someone who looked angry to be there. And when this happens to us as customers, we automatically feel our defenses rise, and we become either afraid or feel guilty about asking angry staffers for help. Conversely, can you remember the feeling of being greeted by a smiling and happy person? How welcoming you felt? I know that it’s rare, but it still happens. Believe me.

Real world story: When I was in college, I worked for a local pizzeria. Like many jobs from our youth, it became very boring, quite fast. However, another co-worker always seemed happy. I asked her how she kept such a positive attitude and great outlook, and she said that her goal was to make the best pizza for each and every customer every day. And you know what? It worked like magic! Customers would call the pizzeria to praise her and rave about how great HER pizzas tasted. Not only was she fantastic at her job with customers, she was also helpful and great to her teammates. This created a positive and contagious buzz throughout the restaurant. Can one person cause positive change? In this restaurant it did, so I say YES! She deserves a Happy Pants button! (Email me to find out more information about these buttons and how they can be your vehicle to starting a postive buzz in your company.)

Strategies that Turn it Around:

1. When you wake up in the morning, turn your dread to joy about the day you’ll have at work. If you work in a transition job, remember that this is not your final destination.
2. Focus on one thing about your job that you enjoy: break time, lunchtime, a favorite co-worker, or payday. Think about this particular one thing until you feel some joy about your job.
3. Tackle every day with joy and gratitude! Period.

Remember: Sometimes life finds us in situations and predicaments that are not ideal. Instead of moping, approach each day with joy and watch your results and your attitude change before your eyes.

How have YOU dealt with “challenging” jobs? Please share your stories in the comments section below. I look forward to engaging with you and your comments.

Four Seasons Hotels: the Superior Service Super Stars

I consider myself a well-seasoned traveler. Throughout the last 15 years, I have experienced the full gamut of hotel customer service. And quite frankly, not all hotels live up to the great standards they claim. Because of so many disappointments and let downs while travelling, I now have extremely low expectations of service when it comes to most hotels.

But something magical happened recently that brightened my outlook on hotels and rekindled my expectations that great customer service is possible. The magic happened at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas

For more than five decades, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts have redefined the meaning of luxury and comfort. How do they do it? It’s quite simple. They do it through exceptional service. The company calls part of its service culture How We Behave: “We demonstrate our beliefs most meaningfully in the way we treat each other and by the example we set for one another. In all our interactions with our guests, customers, business associates and colleagues, we seek to deal with others as we would have them deal with us.”

Real World Example: So, it shouldn’t have been such a big surprise to me when I called the hotel’s front desk, and the lady who answered EXPLAINED, “I’m currently assisting another guest. May I put you on hold?” The next morning at breakfast, I was seated at a table that had white cloth napkins. The host took the napkins off the table and said, “I’ll be right back with darker napkins.” When I asked why, he EXPLAINED, “So you don’t get lint on your black slacks.” Wow! How impressive is that? Talk about going above and beyond customers’ expectations.

The most outstanding aspect about my Four Seasons experience was the consistency in the staff’s behavior — every employee in every encounter. Now, that’s rare.

Strategies that Turn it Around: Following are some tips for improving your customer service (taken directly from my experiences with Four Seasons). Most of the tips are fundamental and basic, so the beauty of them lies in their simplicity. Unfortunately, most of these key points are missing within many organizations today:

  1. Greet immediately: As soon as I arrived, a bell-hop took my bag, gave me a big smile, and helped me into the lobby.
  2. Acknowledge immediately:  I stood in line for only a few seconds before a woman at the front desk gave me a smile and said, “I’ll be right with you.”
  3. Use the customer’s name:  When I got to the front desk, the woman got my name, used it immediately, and continued using it throughout our transaction. Also, the Housekeeping staff would knock on my door, using my name.
  4. Over deliver:  When I asked if I could have an apple from the bowl on the counter, instead of pointing me toward the bowl, I’d get a “Sure” and the entire bowl brought over to me.
  5. Listen:  All the staff was extremely patient with my questions about the gym, a market, directions to the convention center, and breakfast places.
  6. Go above and beyond:  Instead of pointing me toward the elevator, staff came out from behind their counters and walked with me and around a corner to make sure I knew where I was going.
  7. Be proactive:  While dining outside in the restaurant’s patio, the sun started to get in my eyes. Before I could say anything, staff brought out an umbrella.

Remember: Customer service is not a one-time occurrence. Exceptional customer service must happen consistently and with each customer, every single time. Doing so will make you a superior service super star, helping you to create happy and loyal clients.

When was the last time YOU experienced superior customer service? Please share in the comments section below.

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