What Does Quality Customer Service Look Like?

A few weeks ago I went to a local fast food restaurant to pick up a quick dinner.  While I Drive thrudon’t usually use many coupons, my wife does all the time.  So of course I was to use a coupon to reduce the cost of the meal.  Part of why I dislike using coupons is the hassle that always seems to happen when you redeem them.  When I try to use a coupon the code isn’t readable, I didn’t grab the right size or type for the coupon or I didn’t pay attention to the expiration date.  This trip was no exception to my luck with coupons.  What was the different about this experience was the way that the restaurant handled my mistake.

I rolled up to the speaker, placed the order (hoping that I got everything right this time), and then pulled forward to the window.  That’s where the wheels started to come off of our dinner cart.  The coupon I was trying use was forwarded on to me via email so as I was holding my phone out the window for the cashier to see, I had my usual feeling of dread about using coupons.  It didn’t help that the cashier – with a smile and in a very nice voice – said let me get my manager and we’ll be right back.  What did I do this time – right???

The manager came back and asked to see the coupon.  He recognized it immediately and apologized that the coupon was for online orders only.  (This is why I dislike coupons, there was a line on the coupon I missed that said exactly that.)

But as it turned out, this is where the wheels were put back onto our dinner cart.  Even though the coupon was for online orders only and I was a drive-up customer, the manager honored the coupon price and let me have our dinner for the price we had expected.  We probably would have continued to patronize this restaurant anyway but with the treatment we received on that visit, we have already been back once and will again.  The difference on that one sale was probably about $2.00.  In the grand scheme of things – not much.  But over the next months/years we will probably spend that 10 to 20 times more than we would have without the great experience we receive on that one visit.  How you treat your customers in the problems is even more important than how you treat them when everything is fine.

Who knows – I may even try to use a coupon with them (a valid one this time).

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Heart-Led Leadership

Heart-led leadership? What in the world does she mean by this?  If someone would have told me this early on in my career, I would have looked at them like they lost their mind.  While this concept isn’t new, it is often hard to find in people who hold power positions.Heart-Led Leadership

History shows us that leaders often led with a firm hand, gave directions with an expectation they would be followed no questions asked.  If you asked a question or challenged a process, you risked being fired.  It was a “my way or the highway” mentality.  I was even guilty of this when I started out managing retail stores back in the 80’s.  I realized early on a couple of things.  First, it wasn’t a style that worked well for me.  I had a lot of inner turmoil being the bad guy all the time.  Secondly, it didn’t work.  My employees left the building and I needed to hire new ones which created massive chaos.  Working the store by myself every day of the week, just wasn’t a great plan.  Plans change and so do great leaders.

If you look at some of the great leaders now, they walk by heart-led leadership.  Simply put, they lead with their heart.  People appreciate knowing that their leadership team cares about them.  More than just a number but as a person.  A person who will make mistakes, poor decisions and choices all because they are human.  If we truly care about people, want the best for them then we need to let our heart have a say in how we deal with our teams.

Too often I hear people in power positions tell me that people are expendable, “there are 10 more where they came from”.  Maybe so but do we really want to spend the time and the money retraining our team members.  We’ve made an investment in our people when we hire them, don’t throw it all away.  I realize we need to run the business, but people aren’t perfect and they are going to do things that may drive us crazy.  It is all in how we deal with the crazy that sets us apart.

Crazy will happen in every business but I would encourage you to take a deep breath and put your heart in charge the next time you are dealing with a team member.  Really listen to what they have to say, especially since we don’t know what they are dealing with in their lives.  We may be the one person who can see things clearly and help them with a solution.  Start out the conversation with something more like, “what do you need from me”.   “How can I help” really opens the door to working to a solution rather than stalemate.

When we focus on heart-led leadership, our people will realize that we are not the bad guy, but rather a potential bright spot in the storm.  If you’ve ever struggled in life with something you couldn’t control, you know what I’m talking about.  What if you would have had a boss that led with their heart, would it have made a different to you?  It’s easy to get caught up in what we need to have happen.  The better choice to utilize is to stop, open the lines of communication and let your heart take the lead.  Given an opportunity, it can take you in the right direction to make a difference for everyone.

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3 Important Reasons to Mentor Young Entrepreneurs

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Tasha with Starshine Cupcakes.  She started making cupcakes as a way to fund her summer camp expense.  Tasha is 9 years old and makes the BEST cupcakes.  I was very impressed with her talent but also with the fact that at her age she is smart, creative and has a vision for her future.  Being able to encourage, support and mentor someone of her age increases our chances of creating a new generation of successful entrepreneurs.  There are 3 important reasons to mentor young entrepreneurs.

“Olden Days”

Knowledge and Experience

As business leaders we have a great opportunity to share our knowledge and experience when we come alongside a young entrepreneur.  Can you imagine where you would be in your career if someone had done the same for you?  Knowledge and experience are best shared.  Think about what you could offer a young person looking for a way to start a business.  Knowing where to start and how to focus their energy would be valuable to start on the right foot.  Just think of what you could do personally to ensure the success of the next generation.  We have all learned things the hard way.  What if we could keep just one person from having to experience our “failures”?  It would make our experience worthwhile.

Community Support

The more we develop and promote our community the greater a place it is to live.  We have an opportunity to “home grow” our next executives and local businesses.  Plus, it gives us a chance to promote our local economy by purchasing from local young entrepreneurs.  Growing up, we only purchased from locally owned and operated businesses in our community, rarely did we ever shop outside our town.

If we want to continue this tradition, we need to start at home within our own community.  We have some incredibly talented youth who just need some of our expertise to get them started on the right path.  When you see one of these young up and comers with a great idea, encourage them to move forward with their idea.  Give them your support by mentoring them to succeed.  The saying about “it takes a village” continues to be true.  We all bring something unique to the table.  By surrounding these young entrepreneurs to build them up, we are building up our communities.

A Challenge to You

Finally, if you have never mentored someone, there are plenty of organizations looking for you.  Find one that is going to utilize your strengths and talents and deliver a rewarding experience to both you and the next generation.  Look around your neighborhoods, communities and within your organization because I know that there is someone looking for you.  Let start building the next generation one young entrepreneur at a time.  You are never too young or too older to make a difference — you just have to step out and make the effort.  Are you ready to to be the foundation for the next executive, CEO, COO or entrepreneur?  I hope so, because the time is now to step out and make an impact for our future!

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Reviving Common Courtesy

Common courtesy seems to be like Elvis and has left the building.  The days of hearing and maybe even saying “please” and “thank you” seem to be part of a bygone era.  Yet, these are two of the most powerful words in the English language.  They can change someone’s day if delivered in a meaningful way.  As leaders, reviving common courtesy is paramount to set the standard of expectation and behavior.

“Please”

Growing up in my household, if you didn’t say please when you asked for something, my parents would come back with “what do you say?”.  Proper manners in my house was not optional, it was required.  Because of that, I raised my child the same way.  These days, it seems that please is optional and rarely used.  In my experience, it seems to be a dying art.  When people want something it is more of a demand, rather than a request and “please” is no where to be found.  The majority of the people I worked for rarely said please.  Mostly, it was do this, do that and by this time.  A “please” with true intent would go a long way to creating an environment where people feel valued and appreciated.

“Thank you”

Along with “please”, “thank you” can encourage results in people.  Personally, getting a heartfelt “thank you” for something I’ve done, can go a long way.  Heartfelt is the key word here.  Some people will throw it out there as an after thought and it can do more harm than good.  A valid “thank you” needs to include “what”.  Think about these two examples:

“Hey thanks.”

“Thank you so much for completing that project on time.  You have made a difference to our client.”

Which do you think is more powerful?  The second more tells the person what you appreciated!  Not just an off-handed “thanks” with no meat.  My favorite stores to shop understand the and embrace the power of “thank you”.  Recently, as I completed my purchase, the person at the counter stopped and looked me right in the eye and said, “thank you so much for your business, we appreciate you”.  Wow, I must admit I was in shock and awe . . . rendered me speechless.  Ask my husband, that rarely happens!  I just smiled and said “thank you”.  Will this encourage me to go back?  You bet.

Three simple words

Three simple words that when used effectively pack a powerful punch!  Easy to say and yet, seldom used.  It’s time to revive common courtesy and put “please” and “thank you” back into our vocabulary.  Let people know that we appreciate and value them in their efforts.  Here’s your challenge for the week.

Please focus your attention on getting back to the “please” and “thank you basics.  Ask rather than demand, and when someone on your team meets or exceeds your expectations, please let them know.  Thank you for taking the time to read this article!  You are well on your way to reviving common courtesy!

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Positive Attitude, Positive Intentions

“Attitude is contagious, is yours worth catching?”  I love this mantra that is displayed on a mug that sits on my desk.  It is a reminder that a positive attitude is needed if positive intentions are going to be carried out when it comes to customer service. Customer Service

If you look it up in the dictionary, customer service is “the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services.”  Wikipedia describes customer service as “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.”

The consumer seems to be leaning to online purchasing which seems to me to lack a great deal of customer service if there is a problem with a purchase.  Continue reading

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Give Your Team the Tools to Do the Job Right

Have you have been given a task only to find out you don’t have all the information?  How about the right tools?  As leaders, it is your responsibility to make sure you give your team the tools to do the job right.  Incomplete instructions or lack of resources to give them the right tools will set your team up for failure.  Develop established standards to set the stage for success.

Establish Standards

In order to ensure that you give your team the tools to do the job right, start with standards.  Outline a process for each job that they will be required to do.  Make sure that as you develop those standards, you do the task yourself so you can document the step-by-step process accurately.  So many times we give assignments, and because we have done them for so long, we forget key pieces when we gave the instructions.  Then what happens is your team feels like they were set up for failure. Continue reading

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Discover Your Strengths and Talents

Do you ever wonder why you prefer some tasks over others?  You procrastinate on some tasks until the last minute?  Years ago a colleague gave me a copy of “Now Discover Your Strengths”, by Marcus Buckingham.  I was looking through it on the airplane and was certain I knew my five strengths.  When I got home, I sat down to take the assessment and what I discovered was a surprise to me!  It was time to truly discover strengths and talents pertaining to me.  

Discover Your Strengths and Talents

The assessment gave me five strengths.  Two I already figured I had, but three were a surprise to me.  As I looked through the explanations, I realized that I had been selling my self short all this time.  Discovering strengths and talents that make you unique will open doors in business and in life.  According to Marcus Buckingham,

“Most organizations are built on two flawed assumptions about people: Continue reading

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5 Stages to Successful Performance Coaching

Great leaders know that they cannot be successful without a strong team.  Success is determined by how effectively we handle their performance.   By following these 5 stages to successful performance coaching, you can determine what stage your team is currently in.  Furthermore, now you know how to move them to new heights.   Gallup research gives us insight on how to proceed.

 

Gallup wanted to find strong workplaces in order to determine what leaders would need to know in order to attract and retain the most productive employees.  In their research they discovered it came down to five stages to successful performance coaching.  In those steps, certain needs must be met in order for employees to be ready to move to the next stage.

Stage 1 – The Basics

Every person on your team when they were hired, needed to know what they would get from taking the job.  If you think back, you will remember there were things that you needed to know.  Initially the needs are simple, they need to know the hours they work, what is the pay rate, how long will the commute be, and what equipment will they have to enable them to do their job?   Expectations need to be clear and equipment to do their job well is provided. Continue reading

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