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Four Actions to Energize Customer Service Without Annoying Anyone

SERVE:  Energize yourself and others (fifth of five week series)

Energizering too

Of course, an afternoon espresso never hurt…

This past four weeks we have explored ingredients on how to better serve the customer.  This week we come to the final ingredient – energizing yourself and others.  The first visual image that comes to my mind is the Energizer Bunny – it keeps going and going.  When I think of energizing I think of movement, action, doing something.  Lots of people care, lots of people can say the right thing, lots of people can be emotional/passionate – these are all internal feelings/thoughts.  But as the customer I ask:  “Is there any action that moves things forward?”

Serving the customer, at the very end, means actually doing something.  Fix their problem.  Deliver a quality product.  Provide a pro-active improvement.  Do something.

As a customer, I really want to see people moving (especially if I am waiting in a line).  I was at a store recently, waiting my turn in line.  There was one person working to serve the customers, and three others behind the counter doing “something” slowly.  They may have been doing something important, but as the customer I felt aggravated that they were doing something other than wait on me (it should be noted many of those in line with me felt the same way).   Throughout the day, we should be constantly serving our customers (internal or external).  Being energized to take care of your customers is critical to serving successfully.  AND you being energized will help energize others.  If you are not actively moving, no one else is going to move either.

There are lots of ways to energize yourself and, in turn, energize others.

  1. Know what end game you are driving to.  Is it getting what your customer needs faster?  Is it anticipating and being proactive?  If you move in a single direction, you can more easily energize others to move in the same direction with you.  If you are spinning your wheels, no one will want to join you.
  2. Know why you care.  It is hard to be motivated (energized) if you cannot state why you care, or why others should care.  It can be as simple as earning your paycheck, or as complex/altruistic as being the best in the business.  What motivates you? What motivates others?  Plug into that to become energized and energizing.
  3. Don’t confuse thoughts with actions.  Energized means movement.  Think Energizer Bunny.
  4. Communicate the actions – sometimes what we do, the real action, is not seen by others.  If people do not know you did something, they will assume nothing happened.  Did you tell the customer that you fixed their problem?  Or did you figure they would eventually just see the problem disappeared and then they would know it was fixed.  Why make them frustrated while they wait to see it is fixed? Why make them wonder if you did something.  “Knowing” is key to your customer appreciating that you did something, that you did something specifically for them.

Can you think of a time where you wanted to “energize” the customer service you encountered? Just for a moment, put yourself in their shoes. What do you see?  Does it change your opinion any? Feel free share below in the comments.

Thanks for joining me on this journey to not only SERVE your customers but to SERVE them well.

kind regards,

Today’s Reach for Perfection Creates Tomorrow’s Answers

Reach for Perfection (third of a five part series)

This convinces me I should have bought Apple stock when it was $78 back in 2009. Ugh.

This photo just convinces me I should have bought Apple stock when it was $78 back in 2009. Ugh.

One of the things I have learned in life is that every time I am close to perfection, the definition of what perfection is moves (usually higher).  Looking at business, people, education, I see a similar trend.  For example, the definition of quality for consumer goods has continued to evolve over the past decades. For proof, just look at the photo, every one of those phones were “perfect” when they were introduced.

In America, one of the things we do right is never being satisfied with status quo – innovation is a creative avenue that is “reaching for perfection”.  America is built on continuous improvement; reaching for perfection.

When we look specifically at how we serve our customers, “reach for perfection” is one of the key foundational mindsets we must embrace.  Reach is the active verb that paints a picture of stretching out your hand to grasp something just past you.  If I stretch a little more, if I expend a little more energy, if I find a ladder and climb up a little higher – I can get hold of it.  We fail our customer more times than not because we are not putting in the energy (the reach) needed to get just that much closer to perfection.

Is it that simple?  Isn’t there reasons why we fail at perfection?  Manufacturing is complex.  Lots of disruption, lots of unknowns, lots of excuses.  Yes, we fail at perfection – the world is not a utopia.  As long as there are people, there will be failure.  BUT STOP! That is not the right mind-path to go.  Reaching for perfection is really quite simple – actively, constantly strive for better.

Start owning your issues – reach.  Start asking yourself how I can adapt – reach.  Start working at improving what you have – reach.

Try these few “hows”…

  1.  Every day find one, just one, thing to make better.  In manufacturing there are dozens of tools at your fingertips that drive continuous improvement.  What are you using to reach for perfection?  You may not complete something daily, but you will be reaching daily to obtain perfection.
  2. Stop blaming everyone else and start owning your own reach.  Are YOU reassessing YOUR problems and doing YOUR OWN reaching.  Or are you finding a hundred excuses why.  Here is the test – do those looking into your world see you expending so much energy at reaching they want to jump in and help OR do they just think you have given up with no desire to get better?
  3. Don’t use the excuse that perfection is outside your reach to prevent you from doing better.  Never stop learning and growing.  Reaching is all about expanding beyond your current state.
  4. Evolution is an expectation of every person.  I dare you to think of one product that has not improved in the last 3 years (Again look at the photo).  What you except is at a higher level for product and services today than it was 2 years ago.  At work, it is the same thing.  What your customer expects is something better than last time.  If you are hovering in the status quo, you need to jump start yourself and find a way to reach.

What are the opportunities within arm’s reach of you that will “stretch” and “grow” your definition of perfection? Your customers will be the better for it and so will you. Let me know what you think. I look forward to having a conversation with you. And if you happen to have a time machine, let me know, as there’s some Apple stock I need to pick up…

kind regards,

How many “trust coins” are in your pocket?

SERVE: Earn Trust (second of a five part series)

"What's in your pocket?"

“What’s in your pocket?”

Trusting can be hard for some people. They could be naturally inclined to not trust. They may be in life situations where they see the worst and thus are void of trust. They might have trusted once only to have been deceived or betrayed. When you are working on “earning trust”, it is important to consider that each person has a different trust meter.

I am sure you have heard many sayings about trust… “Trust but verify” -unknown, “Love all, trust few, do wrong to none.” – Shakespeare, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Nietzsche. These all testify to our human nature’s lack of trust regarding “trust”. I think Hemingway got it right, though – “ The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”.

Most people say “I, of course, am trust worthy. It is everyone else that fails to be trustworthy.” Hmmmm. Here lies the problem with that statement – if everyone thinks they are trust worthy, that means they do not believe they have ever broken a promise or done anything to break trust. Therefore, no one should have a reason to not trust the other person. So, why then do we SO distrust each other? I contend that half the problem of “earning trust” is answering this question.

Here are a few things to ponder in figuring out how to earn trust…

Manage your promises.
If broken promises lead to lack of trust, managing and tracking my promises becomes key to success in earning trust. This includes not promising things lightly. My yes is yes and no is no (trite but true). Most important, you have to remember you made the promise. It also means ensuring that there is strong communication on exactly what I am promising. Managing expectations goes a long way to earning trust.

Betray no one.
Lack of trust can come from a sense of betrayal. The obvious is “don’t betray people”. But none of us see ourselves as betrayers – so is there a less obvious action here? Yep – communication. More conversation, staying in touch through a situation, keeping people informed (from the horse’s mouth, so to speak). Many times “lack of hearing from you” is filled in with gossip, half-truths, and imaginations run amok.

Manage the importance.
What you see as non-consequential may be the utmost importance to the other person. Your words “I’ll call you” may have been polite conversation, with no intent on your part that you made a promise, much less an important one. The hearer of your comment took it to mean “you were calling them before the end of the day”. They waited by the phone all day and when you did not call, marked it up to a broken promise. Ensure your words are clear and manage how important your promise is to someone. For you to “earn trust”, you are earning it from someone else based on their ranking of the importance of the promise in question, not based on your ranking of importance.

Work ahead.
Go the extra mile. Everyone fails; no one is perfect. I heard once that trust was like coins in your pocket. When you keep promises, people give you coins. When you fail, you give them a coin. The goal is to always have coins in your pocket as “lack of trust” comes when your pockets are empty and you have no coins to give. Work ahead, go the extra mile and earn coins for the inevitable day you fail. Everyone does.

Maybe if we all work more on earning people’s trust rather than on judging each other, the world will become more trustworthy.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below. Let’s chat.


You’ve been “served”

SERVE: Show Respect (first of a five part series)

I believe that a key component of a successful leader is serving. Regardless who you are serving (an external or an internal customer) the definition and the actions are the same. Don Flow, CEO of Flow Companies, summed up five ingredients that do a nice job of saying what “serving” means.

Show respect
Earn trust
Reach for perfection
Value input
Energize others

Over the upcoming weeks, I want to share my thoughts on “how” you can put these into practical application in your day-to-day job.

This week we’ll start with: Show Respect

Part of serving others is recognizing that each person has worth. Webster talks about respect as a feeling that something has value, has importance, is good. We all want to feel respected – feel that we have worth, have value, are good. But we are talking about serving others, not feeling good ourselves. It isn’t about how YOU feel, it is about how you make OTHERS feel. People are unique and each has their triggers for feeling respected. What makes you feel respected does not make everyone else feel respected. You may very well believe that your customer has value, are important, are good. That is not the point. It is all about “showing” it in a way that they feel it.

So how do we show respect to others? If everyone is different, can you ever succeed in meeting everyone’s requirement to feel respected? Of course not, but there are a few simple things that will help you make most people feel respected.

1. Know your customer.
Do you know the person well enough to understand what makes them feel valued? Is it words? Is it actions? Is it listening? When in doubt, try all three. Just doing one and hoping for the best is like handing someone a book in the dark. You gave them the book, but they can not see to read the book. You think you showed respect, but they can’t feel it.

2. Follow-up.
Regardless of the person, not following-up, not keeping your promises, are indicators that you don’t care about them. That is universal and is a sure bet — something that you can do for everyone. Even if you do not have the answer your customer is waiting for yet, a quick email to let them know they are not forgotten goes a long way.

3. Words matter.
You may have heard that you act like you dress. Put someone in a suit and they walk and sit different than when wearing jeans and sneakers. I contend the same goes for our words. If you talk about people in the positive, you will act positively toward them. How you talk about people when they aren’t around is a mirror that reflects your level of respect when they are around.

4. Be fair.
If you weigh the options, are fair in your judgement, and communicate the rationale to those involved – you are showing respect. They might not agree with your decision, but will know that you valued them by including them in the assessment/decision.

5. Agree to disagree.
Showing respect does not mean you always give in or always win. It means you discuss and respect differences in opinion. In business, there can be multiple “right” opinions. What greater level of respect is there than acknowledging a difference in opinion?

6. Manners.
Seems simple enough. Manners exist in all cultures to “level the behaviors” such that everyone feels valued. We know what to expect, and what to do. Things like “please and thank you” are simple words that show respect. When in doubt, dust off your manners and use civility to communicate respect.

Let me know how you are “showing respect” for your internal and external customers. I’d love to hear how you are putting the words into action.

kind regards,