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The Human Aspects of Customer-Winning Customer Service

To have a quality staff that respects themselves, their management and their customers, it is imperative to have a good internal customer service program for everyone to follow:

1. CREATE EFFECTIVE FIRST IMPRESSIONS.  Because that first (and critical) impression is made in as little as seven seconds, it is imperative to immediately form a good first impression. Our posture, appearance, attitude and communication skills can create a professional, welcoming environment that encourages business…or it can repel people…even if our prices are the best.

Meet and Greet–where the most common mistakes are made in the customer service process. These first few moments set the tone for the entire interaction. By energetically and professionally welcoming your customer, you make successful customer interactions not only possible, but very likely. Customers want to be 1) recognized, 2) appreciated, and 3) treated with courtesy and understanding.  To accomplish this, you have to be at your best in the meet and greet stage of the service process AND know what your customers truly want!  You don’t want customers to get turned off in the first few moments of their interaction by someone making a negative impression so the customer chooses to take their business elsewhere.  A slovenly appearance, negative body language and annoyance lack of interest can send someone heading for the door. Be open, focused, well groomed and looking at the situation from their point of view.  Think about the characteristics that make you want to do business with someone.

Following are some relationship-damaging mistakes you want to avoid at all costs:

Ignoring waiting customers:  Sometimes we are short-staffed or too busy with current customers to help a waiting customer immediately; HOWEVER, never ignore a waiting customer. Establish eye contact, wave, or say something like “I’ll be right with you” to let the customer know that you are aware of them and will get to them as soon as you can.

Distractions:  It is easy to become distracted by other customers, other responsibilities, and the variety of other things going on at the same time. When customers see that you are distracted, they sense other priorities are more important.

Answering questions or taking calls while assisting a customer:  It is challenging to make every customer feel equally valued, and some customers try to push their way to the head of the line.  Don’t let these customers overstep earlier customers,  rather, say a few friendly words to the individual indicating that you will help them as soon as you are finished serving the current customer.

Giving a bored, indifferent greeting: Greet the customer with energy and be more creative than, “May I help you?” Make it a fun,  personal challenge to say something specific, which will make the greeting portion of the sales process more interesting and rewarding.  Get staff involved and create one specific one for your company.  “How can I help you with your computer selection today?” 

Although customers are all different, certain basic principles apply to nearly all of us, and you can safely assume that most customers are looking for the same things in their interactions with you as you would with them.

For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, National Speaker, Communications, Image and Presentations Coach, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy. 

Tips to Develop Successful Rapport!

Confident, considerate communication skills can open so many doors to new personal and  business relationships.  To build and maintain the kind of rapport that attracts new clients and friends, try to following:

  • Adjust the way you speak according to the type of person your are talking to; i.e., raise or lower your volume if it is easier for the listener to understand you
  • Use the person’s name 2-3 times during the conversation
  • Let your body talk (it keeps blood circulating and energizes you.
  • Use positive, active words (they’re understood three times quicker)

Example:  “excited” “looking forward to “

Business professionalism tip:  When addressing a group in the “business” world, it is NOT ok to say “you guys” as if just hanging out with friends.  In this multi-cultural world we live in, many professionals look on the reference as crude, careless or even insensitive to the group with whom you are speaking.  You can always refer to them as “everyone,” “all of you,” or in a more formal setting, something like “ladies and gentlemen.”  Attention to even this small detail can positively impact future business transactions.

  • Never belittle your title: “I’m only an assistant.”
  • Say what you will do, and when.
  • Pay attention to power talkers and pick up phrases that work for them that your personality is comfortable with.
  • Purge phrases (um, you know) from your vocabulary that are negative or annoying.
  • Get to the point (rambling causes annoyance, boredom and loss of attention)
  • Always tell the truth.  Do not sacrifice your integrity.

For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, National Speaker, Communications, Image and Presentations Coach, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy. 

 

Marketing Yourself to a New Industry

To successfully market yourself, especially if you are trying to get into a different career, sell your skills and experience rather than your job descriptions.

Write a new definition of “who” you are in the workplace.  Avoid identifying yourself with the job description but rather identify yourself as a package of skills.  This keeps you from determining your value and security by your position.  The closer you tie your self-image to your job, the more you will feel its loss if your position is eliminated. 

Example:  Think of how many skills an administrative assistant must use:  desktop publisher, work-life organizer/scheduler, writer, negotiator, mediator, gatekeeper, skilled company representative, etc.  This is in addition to answering phones, filing, word processing and spreadsheets.  What are your contributions and the impact you can have on the prospective company?  Be creative!

Examine your history by compiling a comprehensive list of as many achievements, both personal and professional, as you can.  Include:  personal achievements (which contain valuable and saleable skills).   Write a page describing each achievement.  Use action words like organize, negotiate, lead, create, sell.  These are clues to your skills.  Review the list and notice recurring patterns.  Use this list as the basis for your skill-based resume.

When thinking of ways to market yourself into a new position, be creative in thinking about all of the experience you have had using the skills the company is looking for but maybe weren’t part of your previous job descriptions.  Most of us have a myriad of skills that we have used in professional organizations (leader–president of the group for example; promoter/sales; fundraiser; treasurer, etc.)

If your childhood lemonade stands were very successful, you may need to get out from behind that desk and into a public relations or sales position, right?  If you get excited just thinking about using those skills that may have been put on the shelf for a while, you’re on the right track to experiencing your new career!

Examine your skills.  You will see a mix of the following characteristics.  These will help you determine the best career path.

Influence.  You have a knack for influencing people through leadership, public speaking, marketing, motivating (not manipulating).

  • Organize.   Your organizational and monitoring/tracking ability help keep you and others managed and on track.
  • Helps.  You derive enjoyment from teaching, encouraging, nurturing and counseling.
  • Creative: You are artistic, theatrical or creative in designing products or environments.
  • Analytical.  You enjoy using math, analyzing data or keeping up with the latest scientific advancements.
  • Producer.  You like to see the fruit of your labor using hands-on skills—cooking, crafts, and construction or building projects.
  • Adventuresome.  You are competitive or like to take risks—law enforcement, fire fighting, military, athletics.

It may take some time to overcome pre-conceived notions, family expectations, negative comments from teachers, etc., BUT it’s time to pursue YOUR Life’s Goal! Start writing your new life’s career goals now!

For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, Chief Communications and Image Officer, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy.  

Another Meeting??? Tips to Making Them More Successful!!

Okay now, is this meeting really necessary??  It probably is if you need to communicate beforehand a specific, relevant objective with a pre-determined (if possible) time limit. To keep from losing your attendees as their minds wander to other duties that await them, observe the end time unless everyone agrees to continue with items listed on the original agenda. 

  1. Thank members for their valuable time and participation (yes, even if you’re the boss) and TELL them how their participation helped (or will help) meet the objectives. This will help them stay motivated and innovative when they know how their contributions count!
  2. Distribute minutes and objectives of the meeting in an email before the meeting and then what the outcome is after the meeting, again by email.
  3. Avoid any personal heated disagreements that should be discussed privately rather than in a group if it does not specifically pertain to everyone and always be careful with pointing fingers. We have all seen the dreaded dump on Mary or Bob day. Not good for anyone’s morale!
  4. Avoid assigning action items to someone not present unless absolute necessary. It helps them buy into the cause/project when initially involved and shows greater respect. Respect and consideration go a long way towards more successful employee performance.
  5. Playing musical chairs for the power seats?Being an expert on the subject, asking insightful questions, and making clear, relevant observations are more important, regardless of which seat you are in at the table. Key participants usually sit up front so  be watchful of where you sit when entering the conference room.

  For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, Chief Communications and Image Officer, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy

The Art of Self-expression

The strongest message can be diluted by an inappropriate choice of words. The message may not be perceived as confident or business-oriented as you really are. Your message is three-fold: body signals (do they match what you’re saying?), tone of voice and choice of words.

Business language is different from social conversation. Avoid using “empty” modifiers such as thanking a sales representative “ever so much,” or referring to a job applicant as a “lovely person.” A better choice of words would include bright, intelligent, quick wit, etc.

Instead of saying, “That was great!” try “I felt you gave an excellent and thorough presentation. It will be very helpful to us.”Exclude “tentative” words such as “I was kind of wondering if” or “I think we could try.” Eliminate “well,” “sort of,” “kind of” and “maybe” from your business vocabulary. These phrases all show uncertainty.

Leave out cold and dictatorial commands. Use “please,” “when you can,” and “what do you think?” which are better choices.
Harsh: “I want to talk to you.”Uncertain: “May I talk to you?”
Confident: “I want to talk with you when you’re free.”
Consider the kind of message that each of the following phrases projects: “Maybe you could call tomorrow?” “Call tomorrow.” “Please call tomorrow as soon as you can.” The third is the most favorable for cooperation.

Self-effacing: “I know this sounds stupid, but…” Apologies don’t contribute to the speaker’s image of a confident professional. Instead, it is better to say, “Tell me if I’m on the right track with this, I believe…” Be careful not to raise your voice at the end of each sentence: “Hello? This is John? I’m calling about your monthly report?” It gives the impression of uncertainty.

Force yourself to stand tall, walk with authority, look others in the eye and speak up. If you’re nervous, you may need to speak more slowly and lower your pitch (especially if you’re a woman).

Remember: Winston Churchill was a self-made speaker. He was 5/5” tall, stuttered, lisped and had little college education. He was so terrified of public speaking that he passed out while delivering a speech to the House of Commons. However, he practiced his speeches for four hours and became a great orator and statesman! A little determination and practice can go a long way in building greater credibility and stronger relationships!

How to Successfully Work in the Cubicle World!

Because those in cubes so visible, subconscious assumption that person always available.

Control over own space:  Knock on cube walls (even if only symbolic foam partitions) before speaking.  Ask permission to enter.  Don’t hover if they’re on the phone.  “Don, we’re in close quarters, but would you mind giving me privacy when I’m on the phone?”

Don’t loiter:  Conversation free-floating among people who are trying to make phone calls, read or write important documents and concentrate on their work.  “Mary, I’m working on something right now that demands my full concentration.”

Odors:  No boundaries.  What smells good to you can turn someone else’s stomach.  If eat at desk, take trash out immediately.  Shoes ON.  Strong perfume.

Possibly alternate lunch hours with those around you to have some quiet time.

Aware of what you say and how loud you are.  Personal tiffs, weird bodily functions, clipping or tapping nails, gum popping, the radio, etc.  Avoid shouting over walls.  Assume everyone within a four-cube radius can hear you.  Take sensitive matters to a closed-door room.  No vibrating cell phones on your desk jumping around.

“Prairie Dogging”  Popping head up over cube (or talking over wall):  “Bob, I know it’s easiest for you to talk over the wall, but would you do me a favor and come around?”

Cubeland Home:  Tastefully “framed photos,” nice plants, small Persian rug, meaningful knickknacks or posters.  THESE ALL GIVE OFF POSITIVE IMPRESSIONS.

 For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, Chief Communications and Image Officer, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy.

 Follow Rita on FaceBook: Rita Rocker;   Twitter: @Rita_Rocker       LinkedIn: http://budurl.com/ayjl;     YouTube: RitaRockerSpeaks 

 

How Do I Handle This Introduction?

Business Introductions:  Why is it so hard to remember someone’s name?  Well, the first seven seconds we are sizing them up before listening (checking out their clothing, hair, grooming or a myriad of other things)…so we aren’t really listening!  The best way to introduce yourself, particularly if you are standing up in a large group of individuals you do not know, is to say 1) what do, 2) for whom, and then your name).  Example:  Hi.  I’m Chief Communications and Image Officer with Transformation Academy.  My name is Rita Rocker!  Take a slight pause between your first and last name, adding a little emphasis to the last name.  By then, the person should be more focused on listening to you versus giving the visual once-over

When introducing two people during business:

Introduce the person with the “least important” title (regardless of gender) to the person with the most important title.  For example: Mr. or Ms. Greater Authority, I would like to introduce you to Mr. or Ms. Lesser Authority.  This usually refers to saying the company president’s name before the sales rep.  When introducing someone to an individual from another company, the one with the “highest position” is actually the guest, or client…even if he/she holds “lower” title.

Introductions should be brief.  “How do you do?” or “Hello” is fine.  If you can’t remember someone’s name, reintroduce yourself and they will often say their name again.  If they don’t, say something like, “We met at last month’s marketing conference at the Embassy Suites.  I apologize but I don’t remember your name.”  They should offer it to you at that point.  If they still don’t, just smile and say, “I apologize but I don’t remember your name.”

The main thing to remember is to lean slightly forward, give a warm handshake, smile and be totally sincere and engaged in getting to know them.

For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, Chief Communications and Image Officer, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy.   Follow Rita on FaceBook: Rita Rocker;   Twitter: @Rita_Rocker       LinkedIn: http://budurl.com/ayjl;     YouTube: RitaRockerSpeaks

Is Your Appearance Giving YOU the Competitive Edge?

Your clothing should help you move up socially and in business, not hold you back!  Appearance can work for you by projecting a polished, confident image…or it can work against you by having scuffed, run down shoes, wrinkled clothing or ragged fingernails, which cry of low self-esteem, carelessness or that there is no motivation to go any further in life.  You always want to be recognized as a polished, intelligent and articulate professional rather than remembered for what you wore.

 Dress for the position–or clients–you want, not for the one you have.  Your wardrobe reflects your personality—creative, dramatic, intellectual, conservative, unsophisticated, or careless.  Avoid wearing clothing that overwhelms your size or personality.  You do not want your outfit to speak louder than your own character; however, you may perk up a drab personality by wearing clothing that is more appealing and friendly.

GlassesModerate size adds weight and authority.  They should cover eyebrows and be in a neutral color or complement hair and skin tone.  Too trendy or colorful are distracting.

Rain WearUse a solid handled umbrella with ten or more spokes.  Avoid plastic hats and coats if possible.

Attaché Case:  Get the best quality you can afford.  Shop the discount stores for quality leather.  They should be simple and functional.  Ladies on business calls, avoid taking an attaché case and a purse.

Wallets/Luggage:  Dark brown or maroon leather works best.  Invest in a matched canvas luggage set with leather belting when you can afford it.  Use a business card for identification rather than your home address.  Carry a tasteful business card holder.

The One-month CalendarIn order to fully realize the impact your clothing styles and colors have on your performance and the messages they portray to others, try the one-month calendar.  Each evening, write down what you wore—color, style, and fabric.  Describe how you felt and how others reacted to you.  Were they cooperative or antagonistic?  Warm or aloof?  Did they treat you with respect or indifference?  You will see a pattern that will help you dress in the most beneficial manner for your career.

Best Way to Get More Mileage Out of Your WardrobeChoose three compatible and flattering colors.  Ask yourself:  Can I wear it with three outfits I already have?  To three different events?  For three years and still look quality?  Accessorize it three different ways?

The Business Social Function:  If you are not sure what type of clothing is best for a business social function, keep an extra blouse/shirt, accessories, etc., in the car for a quick change if needed.  Strive for a sophisticated look.

What is Business Casual…Really?

Opinions on business casual vary among industries and areas of the country.  Even on “dress down days” you can still dress a notch above the norm.  Business casual is an extension of professional, yet in a more relaxed manner.  Suits are off the scale at the top, but anything worn, frayed, scuffed, dirty, wrinkled, ill-fitting, revealing, out-of-date or offensive is also off the bottom end of the scale.

Considerable research has been conducted on the effect of dress in the social environment.  When business associates meet in a social setting or on casual Fridays, they carry back to the business world the impressions they receive and the judgments they make based upon those impressions.  A well-dressed person is the one who attends a social function and, when he or she leaves, people say, “Did you notice how nice he/she looked?”  Yet no body can tell you what he or she was wearing.

Even in the casual setting, the one with more polish and professionalism will usually beat out the competition.

Wearing anything too trendy in a conservative environment can become a liability in that setting.  If your job is in a creative field, it might benefit you to be up to date.  Clothing for work has more to do with appropriateness, boundaries and respect than it has to do with fashion.  Neutral colors will not draw as much attention to a more casual style.

Avoid anything with large logos, tee-shirts with controversial messages and items that are too revealing.

Unbutton no more than the top button on shirts or blouses.

Pants with belt loops must be worn with a belt (in good condition and in the appropriate color and style).  Cut off the loops if you don’t want to wear a belt.

Remember, people are judged within the first seven seconds and you always want to portray the confident professional, whether on casual Fridays or doing business on the golf course!

Breaking Generational Barriers Part 5: What Can YOU Do?

We began this short series with basic intergenerational tips, followed by insights and suggestions for working with Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.  Following are some potentially “not-so-easy” suggestions that, when practiced, will help close the generational gap and make for a more cooperative and pleasant working environment:

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