Wednesday, 18 August 2010

"Bullseye Customer Service"

If you provide a customer service and want to go to the top of the league, there's only one way to do it: hit the bullseye every time. Here are 8 ways to hit the target plus one extra way to make yourself "bullseyeable" (hint: it's to do with the book cover on the right.)

B for Bang-on-Target

When you're "bang-on-target", you are able to respond to any customer need with speed, commitment, and dedication. The customer is not made to feel that they've gone to the bottom of a list and will have to wait their turn. They become priority number one.

The story is told of the customer with a blocked wash basin. She rang a local plumbing service at random. They promised a plumber would call the same night. 10 minutes later they called back to say he would be at the house within the hour.

45 minutes later the plumber was at the house, unblocked the basin and was paid.

40 minutes later the company phoned to check if everything was working alright. Two days later a letter arrived in the post thanking the customer and enclosing a sticker with their emergency phone number on.

That's "bang-on-target" commitment and the first step in being "bullseyeable".

U for Unforgettable

To score a bullseye every time with your customers, you have to find some way to deliver a service that people just can't forget. Whether it's your speed of response, your ability to empathise with your customer's needs, or the glow you leave behind, you've got to find a way to stand out from the competition. And if you can't work out how to do it, here's a clue: find out what really gets your customers angry, and then adjust your service to make them happy and content.

As top executive coach Patricia Fripp says, "It is not your client's or prospect's job to remember you. It is your responsibility to make sure they do not have the chance to forget you."

L is for Listen-to-them, Really Listen-to-them

When you know you deliver a great service, and have all the systems in place to respond quickly to your customers, it's very easy to go on auto-pilot. After all, you want to hit that bullseye every time, don't you? But hang on a minute. Are you sure you really know what your customers want?

To hit the bullseye every time, you and your team have got to know how to listen. And this sometimes means not taking what your customers say at face value. Find out what's bugging them, what keeps them awake at night, and what they really want from a customer bullseye-shooter like you. When you really listen, you show your customers respect, let them know they're not on their own, and find the solutions they're really after.

L is for Love What You Do

Every great customer service provider loves what they do. You don't feel they work for the money. They do it because they have a passion for it. The money just happens to come along afterwards, as if by chance.

Management guru Tom Peters loves great customer service providers. He's made a career out of finding them and celebrating them, from his local deli that delivers the best coffee in town to his car insurance firm that turned up inside 10 minutes when he had a minor bump on the Interstate highway.

And what's the secret to each of his star providers? They love what they do. Here's how he describes them:

"It's my show or your show. The auditorium lights up, the shop tills ring, the surgery door opens, the garage door clanks upwards, the class begins. It's our stage. Each day is a golden opportunity to experiment with a new approach. What are you going to be today? How are you going to connect? What's your new twist? What will you love to do?"

S for Service

To be a customer bullseye-hitter, you need to be a total service freak. Even if you deliver a product rather than a service, you still need to deliver it with style, on time, and with a touch of special class. Here are 3 ways to be a service freak:

a. make your customers feel good when you make contact with them. Remember to smile whether it's in person, on the phone, or even online. Everyone knows what a sincere service smile feels like. They'll feel so good that they'll tell their friends and come back for more.

b. don't equate "service" with "servility", they're not the same. Service isn't menial work, second-class work, or unnoticed work. It's what every business should be about. And it's what every bullseye-hitting business does every time.

c. the most committed customer carers are those who believe in the value of service. They don't see looking after customers as a way to increase sales, or make better profits or keep themselves in work - all of which are by-products of good service - but as a way to help others in their daily search for worthwhile living.

"Service to others is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth." (N. Eldon Tanner)

E is for Experienced

When you deal with a bullseye-hitting service provider, you immediately notice that they're a cut above the rest. The reason? They're experienced enough to know how to strike the right balance.

For example, they're…
a. knowledgeable but not over-technical
b. confident but not smarmy
c. smartly-dressed but not overpowering
d. attentive but not nosey
e. friendly but not too personal
f. helpful but not insistent
g. available but not intrusive
h. slick but not too quick
i. caring but not cloying.

Striking the right balance is like a discrete servant: visible and invisible, unnoticed but there if needed.

Y is for Your Responsibility

The great customer providers train their staff to accept total responsibility for what they do. They don't leave it to others, they don't duck and dive, and they don't pass the buck. When the chips are down, they accept responsibility for fixing things and get on with it.

Here is a true story from BT, the British telecoms company.

A customer went to a BT shop, only to find that the telephone he wanted was out of stock and wouldn't be available for a few weeks. He left his name and address and promised to call back in three weeks.

Meanwhile, the shop assistant took it upon herself to ring round every other BT shop in the area and found one with the right model in stock. She arranged to collect it on her way home from work and then set off to deliver it to the customer at his home that night. The customer was so delighted that he wrote a letter of commendation to BT's Managing Director.

That's taking response-ability and hitting the bullseye for you and your company.

E for Enquire if there's anything else you can do

If you've ever encountered a problem with a service provider and received a bullseye-hitting solution, you'll know that, even when the problem is fixed, they'll ask if there's anything else they can do for you. They're not soliciting new business or trying to cash in. They're just wanting to check you're OK.

The following letter is left with cars after a service at a garage that has an outstanding record for customer service.

Dear Customer,

My name is Joe and I have just completed the work on your car. The results and details of the servicing are on a separate sheet.

I hope you are happy with all aspects of my workmanship. Should there be any points that you wish to discuss, please ring our Service Reception and they will get in touch with me. Don't be afraid to mention anything you don't understand or are unsure about. I can guarantee that we will explain things to you in simple layman's terms.

Our company's success depends on satisfying our customers and reassuring them of our friendly service at all times.

Yours,

Joe

Those are the 8 features of the bullseye-hitting success companies.

And, now, here's the extra we promised you to make you really "bullseyeable".

Writer and "smokin-hot-piece-of-brain-candy" Scott Ginsberg has a new book out, called "-ABLE: 35 Strategies for Increasing the Probability of Success in Business and in Life". In it, you'll discover 35 new "-able" words that will guarantee you score a bullseye in your life and business every time.

Here's the link to the book (see the cover at the top of this blog):
http://www.amazon.com/-ABLE-Strategies-Increasing-Probability-Business/dp/0972649786/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281984545&sr=1-11

And here's a link to Scott's blog:
http://www.hellomynameisblog.com/

Now go score you own bullseyes!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

"Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is"

The other day I read a newspaper article that challenged everything we'd ever thought about using praise to motivate people.

It came from research done at Stanford University, California, which found that students who are repeatedly praised become risk-averse, make less effort, and are less motivated.

According to Professor Carole Dweck, praising a student too often fails to help them for three reasons. First, they think they've succeeded so they don't try as hard. Second, praising them puts them under more pressure to do well with the result that they try too hard and fail. And, third, they know that sometimes praise is used as a not-so-subtle way to bribe them to do what others want.

But, of course, that doesn't mean you should stop praising people. In the right place, and given in the right way, genuine praise for a job well done is one of the keystones of managing people. What this new research suggests is that we should do it in a way that doesn't put people under pressure but helps them do even better.

There is a true story about Nathaniel Hawthorne, the American novellist, before he became famous.

One day, he came home from his job at a custom house to tell his wife, Sophia, that he had been fired. Heartbroken, he declared he was a failure.

To his surprise, Sophia exclaimed with joy, "But now you can write your book!"

"How can I?" he replied with sagging confidence. "What will we have to live on?"

To his amazement, Sophia opened a drawer and pulled out a large sum of money.

"Where on earth did you get that?" he exclaimed.

"I have always known you were a man of genius," she told him. "I knew that someday you would write a masterpiece. So, every week, out of the money you gave me for the housekeeping, I saved a little bit. There is enough to last us for a whole year."

By the end of the year, Nathaniel Hawthorne had written "The Scarlet Letter", which was destined to become one of the greatest novels of American literature. And all because of the trust and confidence of his wife in him.

If you want to motivate your staff, don't just praise them. That's easy. Show them that you believe in them with deeds as well as words. That's hard. But it's effective.

Lesson? Put your money where your mouth is.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

"Stone Soup"

For those of you are regulars of the ManageTrainLearn blog, you'll know that I love stories that coach.

Stories that coach are great ways to learn. They are fun to listen to and easy to remember. And the best stories always bring a smile to people's faces and a glow to their hearts.

If you want to see what I mean, read the following story on teamwork and the company of those we care about. It's called "Stone Soup".

There exists a tale, handed down from times long ago, of two travelers on a pilgrimage. Hungry and tired from a long day’s journey, they come to a small, impoverished village, where they decide to rest by the side of the road. One of the travelers builds a small fire, upon which he places a large pot, while the other, having drawn water from the town well, fills the pot and places into the vessel a simple stone. As the two men sit by the fire, bringing their "stone soup" to a boil, the local villagers become inquisitive of the curious antics of these strangers. Eventually, several townsfolk decide to investigate the matter and approach the two travelers to engage them in conversation.

Shortly thereafter, there is heard the sound of merriment, as the visitors, who turn out to be quite friendly, share their tales of the lands and people they have met throughout their journey and pilgrimage with the local villagers.

Finally, a young boy asks the travelers "But why, pray thee, are you boiling a stone?"

One of the pilgrims replies, "So we may eat stone soup."

"It must be terribly bland!" says an old woman. "But I have a cabbage, which will add some flavour!"

"And I, some carrots, which will add colour!" says another villager.

"Some potatoes!", offers another, until, shortly, by the contribution of a little by many, a hearty stew was made, upon which the entire village and the weary pilgrims dined... and while doing so, shared their tales, talents, and camaraderie throughout the night.

The very next day, the travelers (who by now could be called "strangers" no more), continued their journey, leaving the little town, and its people, behind. But the villagers never forgot them, and the lesson they had learned. In fact, during the hardest of times, in such a time as this tale, that little village thrived, because the townsfolk never forgot how to make "stone soup".

I love this story for its simplicity, truth, and wisdom. And, just like the villagers, I've added it to my blog in the hope that you, too, will never forget the lesson and pass the story on.

Friday, 8 January 2010

"The Year of the Visionary"

The New Year has always been a time for making new resolutions about the year ahead.

This year is no exception. About.com have even published a list of the most wanted resolutions for 2010, the top 5 being:

1. to spend more time with friends and family
2. to get fit
3. to lose weight
4. to quit smoking
5. to enjoy life more.

Of course, in reality, most of us who make New Year resolutions won't keep them. Research suggests that only 12% of us actually go on to achieve them. Which means that 88% of us fall by the wayside.

Why is this? Why are the vast majority of us no good at getting what we want?

Mike George of relax7.com says it's because when most of us set goals, we're in one of 6 modes. These are...

1. worriers, who as soon as they make a resolution to do something new, worry about how they're going to do it and what they'll have to give up.

2. hopers, who have a vague sense that somehow their resolutions will work out but have no plan or follow through.

3. followers, who make resolutions because everyone else does and then as quickly give up when everyone else does.

4. wanters, whose focus on the wanting results in more lack, or "wanting".

5. dreamers, who spend more time imagining the desired state than actually doing anything about it.

6. aimers, who put all their efforts into goal-setting and action planning so that, while they may achieve their aim, the effort needed to sustain it is too great and so the change doesn't last.

These are not the ways to achieve the changes you want in your life. The best way to do that is much more simple and subtle. It is to become the person who has already become what it is you want.

To do that, you have to turn the normal process on its head. Instead of first having the means to get what you want and then using that to be someone different, - the "have, do, be" cycle, - simply be the person you want to be and all the rest, the doing and having, will follow by itself. In other words, be, do and have.

Be the person who spends more time with their family and friends.
Be the person who takes the stairs not the lift.
Be the person who eats less.
Be the person who cherishes clean air not smoke.
Be the person who enjoys life in all its glory.

Mike George describes the person who lives this way as the "seer" or "visionary". Such a person is on a different plane entirely from the worriers, hopers, followers, wanters, dreamers, and aimers.

Here is how Mike describes them:

"The visionary either knows what lies up ahead or they know whatever they envision for their life is likely to evolve in the most natural way. The visionary forces nothing, least of all thoughts about the future. They know that if they sit quietly and pose a simple question, while being fully present in the moment called now, the sense of what is to unfold in their life will become clear. They are aware enough not to worry or desire, as they know that such habits block the emergence of clear insight into what will be. They trust their intuitive abilities. They surrender to whatever subtle insights and feelings may arise. And deep within their heart there is both gratitude and grace, and a clear awareness that life itself is the greatest gift, an opportunity to create beauty and a responsibility to show others the way ahead."

Now there's a resolution for a new year. And a new life.

A very happy New Year to you!