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Achieve Customer Service Excellence

Every interaction a customer has with your company is an opportunity to build a long-term customer relationship–or break one. For an organization to grow and thrive, investing in customer service training is essential.shutterstock_147498467

Developing your staff doesn’t just improve the customer experience. It can drive sales and give your organization a competitive edge. Positive service experiences translate into satisfied customers who keep coming back and who tell others about the great service they have received from you.

According to the Customer Experience Impact Report, 86% of customers stopped purchasing from companies after experiencing negative customer service, and customers who had the best experiences spent more than ones who hadn’t. How you treat your customers affects your bottom line.

Training, however, does more than create happy, loyal customers. It also increases employee engagement, motivation, productivity, loyalty, and retention. When employees feel valued, customer service delivery excels. If you’re ready to improve your customers’ experiences, contact me about bringing my program Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience to your organization.


Help Your Team Grow Professionally

As a manager and leader, you want to cultivate your team, so it can take on greater responsibilities and achieve greater results. You need employees who can take initiative, make decisions independently, offer suggestions that improve productivity, and demonstrate leadership. Here are some tips to help you:

Business development - Closeup of hands holding seedling in a group

Business development – Closeup of hands holding seedling in a group

  • Encourage the behavior you want to enhance by creating a safe environment for them to take risks.
  • Avoid blaming when someone makes a mistake. Hold staff accountable, but use mistakes as learning opportunities to foster continued initiative.
  • Ask employees to come up with process improvements, listen to their suggestions, and implement their recommendations, wherever possible.
  • Provide opportunities for them to gain new skills and sharpen existing ones by offering training programs.
  • Delegate assignments that showcase their abilities and let them stretch and grow.
  • Coach and mentor employees who show promise and cultivate their management and leadership skills. See my blog post Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor?

Helping each team member improve and showing them how to enhance their skills will strengthen your entire team and make everyone more positively productive.


Tips for Persuasive Presentations

Getting in front of a customer is just the first step in selling your products and services. You need to be persuasive and entice them to say “Yes!” You can only do this if you stop focusing on what you offer and start focusing on why they need it! Always remember, you are selling benefits, not features. Here are some tips from my newest onsite workshop, Getting Results through Influence and Persuasion.shutterstock_75645997

  • Tell stories. You want your presentation to grab attention, overcome objections, show the value of your product and service. Persuasive presentations are more compelling when you use anecdotes and stories to help your customer experience specific results that resonate with them on an emotional level. Stories that touch our hearts are one of the fastest ways to persuade.
  • Use facts and numbers for credibility. Your presentation requires concrete, verifiable evidence, such as statements and research from experts, facts and statistics, and specific, relevant examples. Back up every assertion with sound, qualified sources that make sense for the customer.
  • Persuade with benefits, not features. To communicate persuasively, use features, but always tie them to the benefits they deliver and tie those benefits to the customer’s values, interests, and beliefs. A feature is a characteristic of something; a benefit is what the feature provides. People are persuaded by benefits and then use features to justify their decision!

Persuasion is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. Use visualization to rehearse possible responses, anticipate questions that others may have, and plan how to respond. Check out my newest onsite workshop, Getting Results through Influence and Persuasion.


Gaining the Respect of Your Team

Managing employees can be challenging, especially if you are a new manager, and your team doesn’t know you. To grow your relationship with your team and help them trust in your leadership, you need to gain their respect. Here are some tools to help you with this critical task.leadership key

  • Always be accountable. As a manager, you hold your staff accountable; that same accountability applies to you as their leader. You must step up and take responsibility for your entire team and their actions—both mistakes and successes. Never hide behind excuses like, “That’s not our job.” Act and demonstrate leadership.
  • Support your people. Your team will not be right in every situation. Things happen within your team and with other teams. Regardless of who is ultimately responsible for a situation arising, you must stand behind your people. Never throw anyone “under the bus” if you want their respect. Address the situation, do what needs to be done to remedy it, and ensure it is not repeated.
  • Share the big picture. As a manager, you are responsible for day-to-day work and can become shortsighted by focusing only on getting the job done. However, as a leader, it’s up to you to communicate to your team that their efforts matter and make a difference. Take time to praise a job well done and devote time at staff meetings to discuss the big picture of the organization and their role in it.

Most importantly, show respect for your team. Recognize their achievements, lavish praise and recognition on them for a job well done, ask for and act on their input for making their jobs easier.

“If I made a commitment, I stood by that commitment…. Because when you become leaders, the most important thing you have is your word, your trust. That’s where respect comes from.” Michelle Obama




Email Matters

Have you ever opened an email and immediately closed it for one or more of these reasons:

  • It looked like it would take a long time to read?
  • It was riddled with typos?
  • It rambled?

Have you ever been guilty of sending an email with these errors?

Writing and responding to email takes up a huge part of your day, and you want the task to be as easy and as efficient as possible. Here are some

  • Use a professional greeting. If you are sending an internal email, show courtesy by greeting the person. A simple “Hi” plus the person’s first name is basic etiquette. If you are sending an email outside the company, use a formal business letter greeting: Dear [the person’s title and last name}.
  • Keep paragraphs short and to the point. The rule is one topic, one paragraph. Generally, try to keep paragraphs under seven sentences in length. Make sure that you double space between paragraphs and that each paragraph has a topic sentence, which tells the reader what the paragraph is about.
  • Use the right tone. Tone is what people hear when they read since we tend to sound out words. A polite, conversational tone is best since most people respond positively to it. See my blog post Controlling Your Tone in Email for more information on this topic.

Need help being more positively productive with email? Check out my program Writing and Managing Email.


Why Delegation Doesn’t Work

If you have attended one of my workshops, you know that I am a staunch advocate of the power of delegation to make managers more positively productive. Despite the benefits of delegation, it doesn’t always work. Here are some things to watch for to ensure more effective delegated assignments.29-11-2011

  • Delegating to the wrong person. Matching the assignment to the employee is a critical factor in the success—or failure—of a delegation. Generally, you want to give staff opportunities to showcase their abilities and learn new ones. This is best accomplished when the assignment builds on the employee’s strengths and pushes the employee to perform beyond their current level. For example, if you want to delegate the researching and writing of a report, choose an employee with strong writing and organization skills, but who has limited knowledge of the subject matter of the report.
  • Failing to clarify your expectations about performance. When an employee receives a delegated assignment, they need to understand what you want them to deliver—the where, when, and how. The clearer you are about metrics, deadlines, and their decision-making authority, the easier it will be for them to accomplish the results you need.
  • Micromanaging the employee. When you delegate an assignment, you must trust the employee to deliver. Maintain an open door for questions and coaching, but let the employee handle the assignment as they see fit. Remember, your job is to help staff grow and develop, so create an environment that lets employees do so.

Delegation is an important tool that helps you be more productive and encourages your employees to advance in their careers. When used correctly, it also enhances your role and reputation as a leader. See my blog post Successful Delegation for more information.


Are You Recognized as a Leader?

Being recognized as a leader doesn’t just happen for most people. You must present yourself as a leader, demonstrate your leadership strengths, and be willing to take on the responsibilities of leadership. If you’re ready to step up to a leadership role, here are some tips to make the transition easier.jet medium

  • Talk to your manager about your desire to take on more leadership responsibility. Show that you have the big picture in mind and are eager to increase your contributions to organizational success.
  • Discuss your career goals and why increased responsibility supports these goals. Be assertive about asking for additional training opportunities that strengthen your leadership skills.
  • Grow your influence. When you have influence, you get people to support you without having to use force, power, or authority. Influential people change how others think and what they do by forging an emotional connection with them. (Send me an email to receive information about my newest workshop, Getting Results through Influence and Persuasion.)
  • Grow your network. The more people you know and who know you, the more opportunities you have to demonstrate your leadership ability. The relationships you develop with those inside your organization and within your field of expertise can open doors to information, lead to career advancement, and enhance your reputation. See my blog post Networking Made Easy for more information.

Taking on a greater leadership role is exciting and challenging. It may take a while for others to view you in your new role, but with patience and persistence, you will succeed and gain the recognition you have earned.



Stay Positively Productive During Vacation Season

Summer is vacation season when most of your employees have scheduled time off. While vacation season gives staff needed time away from the office to rest and recharge, it creates challenges for managers who must ensure work is done and deadlines are met. The key to success is planning.shutterstock_95647150

Review the Vacation Schedule

  • Meet with employees a week before their scheduled time off.
  • Have them provide a list of tasks that need to be done, any deadlines or deliverables due, or open issues that must be addressed during their absence.
  • Identify and train back-up staff to handle necessary job duties and activities for absent employees.

Establish Procedures

  • Require staff to set up out-of-office responders for email and create rules to forward key emails to assigned staff or to you.
  • Remind employees to change voicemail greetings and provide back-up numbers for customer assistance.
  • Make sure key customers and vendors are personally contacted about an employee’s absence and assure them of continued service quality.
  • Ask employees to provide you with contact information where they can be reached while on vacation.

Consider Your Options

  • Prioritize deliverables and deadlines to ensure you have adequate resources.
  • Consider flexible scheduling, overtime, shift changes, temporary employees, and consultants to cover absent employees. Some employees may prefer to take time off in short spurts rather than entire weeks. Make this an option if your policies allow.
  • Cross-train staff to develop a pool of knowledgeable resources that can fill in for critical activities during vacation time.

Vacation time may not be easy for you as a manager, but it is needed time off. Remember to take your own vacation and prepare for it just as you want your employees to prepare!


Help Your Team Handle Change

Change is frightening for most people who feel vulnerable and uncertain. As a manager and leader, your employees look to you for guidance and direction during times of change. They take their lead from you about how they should think, feel, and behave about the change and its impact on their jobs. Here are some tips to help you lead your team in times of change.shutterstock_98421482

  • Focus on the people issues. As part of effective change management, the “people issues” must be addressed. Acknowledge the uncertainty and anxiety that your employees are experiencing, especially if their roles are changing, or they must learn new skills. Explain the reasons for the change and encourage questions. Listen, discuss, and answer.
  • Identify cheerleaders. Early adopters are eager to embrace the change and are enthusiastic about it. These employees may be younger team members, especially Generation X and Millennials, who tend to embrace change more readily than older employees. They are champions for the change and can influence other employees who may be reluctant or resistant.
  • Handle criticism and skepticism head-on. People who are skeptical about change can be hard to convince since they view change as threatening. They can be critical of not just the change, but how it is being implemented. Don’t wave aside their feelings or criticism; be prepared to address it. Focus on the benefits of the change, keep two-way communication open, and make it safe for them to express their reservations about the change. Reinforce any signs of cooperation from them. See my blog post How to Recover from Negative Criticism for more information.

It is natural to expect a decrease in productivity until employees become familiar and comfortable with a change. Give them time to adjust, make training readily available, and reward those who take advantage of opportunities.


Don’t Let Frustration Derail Your Team

Do you ever have days when you feel like tearing your hair out in frustration—those days when nothing gets done, when it takes forever to get something up the chain of command, when your best laid plans are shot down by a change in direction? Sometimes just keeping up with everything you must accomplish seems overwhelming.

As the pace of business approaches light speed, so does frustration. Too much constant frustration can increase stress, decrease motivation and morale, and lead to illness. As a manager and leader, it’s important for you to create an environment that helps your team handle daily frustrations.Stress

  1. Be aware of what is happening. One factor that contributes to worker frustration is a manager who fails to keep their finger on the pulse of the team. Managers often are so focused on the big picture, they ignore the small, daily challenges. Regularly talk with your team members about the obstacles they face and the battles they are fighting to do their jobs. While you may not be able to effect changes to processes or policies, showing empathy and being open to hear what people say can improve morale.
  2. Challenge assumptions. Just because something always has been done a certain way or a procedure has been in place for a long time doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. Start asking yourself, “Is there a better, faster, easier way of doing this?” Encourage your employees to do the same and seriously consider their ideas. The pace of change that gives rise to frustration also opens the door to new opportunities for process improvement.
  3. Create a positive work environment. Effective managers provide the training and tools their employees need to achieve results. This demonstrates your commitment to the growth and development of your team. In turn, this enhances motivation, improves morale, and creates a positively productive workplace. Find ways to praise employees for accomplishments and encourage them to view mistakes as a means of improvement. See my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference? for more information.

Workplace frustration is contagious; don’t let it spread throughout your team. Instead, act and face it head-on to ensure both you and your team deliver the results you need for professional success.