Posts Tagged ‘serving customers’

The Customer’s Language

July 21, 2009

Recently we met with a prospective client to discuss their goals for improving customer service. Their six work groups all have a different way of approaching customer service, and their executive team said, “We want a common service process for everyone.” Here are some key thoughts for anyone who might be thinking the same thing:

Serving is a Process. It is much easier for people serving others to understand how to do that if there is a process they can follow. Our process is six steps. Yours can be fewer. The key is that everyone understands that you have a service process, and they all know what the steps in the process are.

Problem Solving. Part of the process must include a way to solve the customer’s problem, if appropriate. (Not every call is a problem.) One way to find out what that problem solving process could be is to find out what your most successful customer service employees do and teach that to everyone.

People Are Different. Not everyone who comes in or calls has the same kind of personality. Help your people learn that “Different is not right or wrong — it is just different.” If I think everyone should react and act like me, I might think those who don’t are stupid. If I think that, it is likely to be communicated to the customer and will interfere with our relationship.

When these factors are part of your customer service philosophy, you create a common language, which facilitates communication about customers at all levels. Suppose I tell my supervisor, “I have a customer who is a Doer personality. We are at the ‘help’ step and I am having trouble identifying the cause of his issue.” The supervisor knows what a Doer is, knows where the help step is in the process and knows the significance of my problem in identifying the cause. What can be better than great communication with and about your customers?

Submitted by Mark Walker.

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Building a Trusting Workplace #3

March 2, 2009

This is the third of four blogs on Overcoming Commoditization with Your People.  Click here for the original post.

Our businesses are always at risk for being seen as “commodity suppliers” by our clients, customers or prospects.  Our people are the best resource we have to differentiate ourselves in the markets we serve.  So far we have discussed identifying the values on which our enterprise is founded (#1) and having the right people in place (#2).  This blog is about “catching people doing something right.”

Forty years ago, the founder of Integrity Solutions, Ron Willingham, recognized the vital significance of building people by positive reinforcement.  Then Spencer Johnson and Ken Blanchard wrote their little book, The One Minute Manager, which was a roaring success.  Steven Covey’s Seven Habits took the business world by storm in the 1980’s.  In this decade the Gallop organization has numerous books on the importance of creating a positive work environment, including Vital Friends by Tom Rath.  All of these deal at some level with the need to reinforce people in a positive way.

What about growing the person?  How do you focus on the positive?  You have to be intentional about it!  The best way to grow people is to 1) assess their strengths, 2) talk with them about those strengths, and 3) listen to where they want to grow.  Then encourage and help them accordingly.  When we teach Integrity Coaching® part of the mindset we want supervisory and management folks to adopt is: 1) Point out a person’s strengths and show them how those strengths fit into the organization’s goals.  2) Ask them for areas in which they would like to see themselves grow, and encourage them to grow in those which are compatible with their strengths. 3) Point out to them every time you see them doing something correctly in either strength or an area they identified for improvement.  In his book, The Greatest Management Principle in the World, by Dr. Michael le Boeuf (now out of print), he makes this key point in building up people:  “Behavior that gets rewarded, gets repeated.”