“Example is leadership.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
Manager and Supervisors, it all starts with you. Before you go into the workplace with grandiose expectations of your employees, be the example of what you expect to see from them. Don’t ask them to do what you won’t do yourself. A true leader leads by example, and in time, your employees will take notice and willingly follow your lead.
In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. observed holiday, I’d like to reflect on some words of wisdom from the inspiring leader and orator:
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
You never know where that first step will lead you unless you’re actually willing to take it. For many years, I just thought about starting my own business but always found a way to talk myself out of it because of the many unknowns. Would I fail? Would I succeed? Would I be able to make people believe in me and my services? These questions and countless others kept me stagnant and unfulfilled for the longest but the thought continued to nag me. Then one day, it finally occurred to me: If I didn’t believe in myself, I couldn’t possibly expect anyone else to. From that day on, I decided to take a chance on myself and pursue my dream of small business ownership. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? Yes, I could fail in my endeavors but even a potential failure presents an opportunity for growth. There was also, however, the chance that I could succeed in this venture. Deciding to look at my glass as half-full, I threw caution to the wind, opened Virtual Cachet, and haven’t looked back since. Since then, I’ve had such piece of mind because I stopped being my own enemy and took charge of my own destiny.
Individuals, job seekers, managers, supervisors, business owners, and others: Are you getting in your own way? Whether your goal is lifestyle- or career-oriented, commit to taking your first step now, and see where it will take you.
“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” ~ Walt Disney
I recently had my eyebrows waxed at a local establishment (yes, beauty is truly pain). Though things started off with the usual niceties (i.e. “How have you been?”; “Have any plans for the holidays?”), an unexpected brutal assault on my eyebrows commenced as the employee spilled the details of her husband’s current fling with a younger woman. As her story went on, the already uncomfortable experience became just about unbearable as she furiously tore hair from my pores. When the nightmare was finally over, I hightailed it out of the store to recover at home.
This very unpleasant experience and countless others led me to to ask the question: what ever happened to the good ol’ fashioned great customer service? This seemingly common sense concept is fast becoming a relic in business relations. Now first let me say that I’ve had some really great experiences in which I truly felt that I was the number one priority. For instance, whenever I go to the local Burger King, I always receive the absolute best service from the morning crew. They’re warm, inviting, and extremely friendly to me every time, and our brief encounters always make my day a little brighter. Unfortunately, though, my not-so-great experiences have begun to outweigh the pleasant ones, and often times, I’m left feeling less than impressed by the “customer service” received.
Businesses, take heed. If you’re not willing to give your customers good service, another company will. In this day and age of endless options, people have no problem taking their business elsewhere when they’re unhappy. The bottom line is that your customers must be your primary focus since your success is based on their happiness. You (and every employee) serve as the face of the company so every single move you make is vital in the process of establishing customer loyalty. Remember the saying, “A first impression is a lasting one”? Here’s how you can make each and every customer’s experience a positively memorable one, and reap the benefits in the end.
- Kill ‘em with kindness. Find a way to engage your patrons in simple conversation. A basic question like “How’s your day going?” can go a long way in cultivating relationships with patrons. This gesture humanizes the often robotic transactions that take place between you and your consumers.
- Leave your problems at the door. Presenting a professional front at all times is a must. The workplace isn’t the place for conversations about personal issues (even if you have a more intimate relationship with the customer). To avoid a potentially uncomfortable and unprofessional situation, save the dramatic convo for Happy Hour.
- Don’t just hear…listen. Sometimes, customers can be a bit wordy when trying to explain an issue or situation with you, or they simply may not really know what it is that they want or need. It’s your job to ask the right questions to draw out the necessary information get to the root of the issue.
- Be Accessible. Clients need to know when and how to reach you. This information should be easily accessible, and they should be able to actually get to you. Avoidance in any manner is unacceptable. Be in your office when you say you’ll be there, and promptly return phone calls and answer e-mails to win your customers over.
- Establish Trust. Be honest with your customers. Always keep them informed, and do what you say that you’re going to do. Also, let them know when you can’t do something; making false promises only creates more unnecessary problems. When patrons know that you have their best interests at heart, a relationship built on trust can be formed.
- Know Your Product. Present information with confidence in your knowledge. If you’re not invested enough in your product or service to know its ins and outs, why should be a customer invest in it? Just think of yourself as an artist. The more details you provide in your work, the more appealing it will be to your patrons.
- Go Above and Beyond. Don’t just get the job done…exceed your customers’ expectations. People appreciate the royal treatment and usually will return the favor with their loyalty to your company. Win-win!
- Follow Up. If you can’t provide a patron with immediate answers, let know the person know that you’ll get back with the answers and then actually do it. As aforementioned, return calls and respond to e-mails promptly. Just don’t leave ‘em hanging!
- Empathize. Sometimes, things may not go as planned when dealing with clients. Knowing when to give a genuine “I’m sorry” can go a long way in customer relations. This simple gesture can ease tensions, win your guests over, and get you back on task without missing a beat.
- Welcome Feedback. Provide your customers with a way to give constructive criticism, and take the information to heart. You can also reach out and just ask them how you’re doing. Becky Carroll states in her customer service blog that customers will gladly share those details with you. They’ll appreciate even more if you take heed to what they’re telling you and proceed accordingly.
Simply put, give your customers the type of service you’d expect to be given. Happy customers tend to become repeat customers and usually spread the word to others (and thus, leads to more customers). As we all know, there are just some customers who can’t be pleased no matter what you do and they may definitely try your patience. Unfortunately, you can’t change their attitudes; you can only control your own. Take the high road by maintaining your professional “cool” at all times, and you’ll be the victor when it’s all said and done. Other customers will take notice, and they’ll keep coming back.
Carroll, B. (2011). “How Zappos Affects Your Customer Experience.” Retrieved on Dec. 29, 2011 from http://customersrock.net/2011/09/06/how-zappos-affects-your-customer-experience/
Hello All! I’d like to welcome you to the Virtual Cachet blog. Since my first course in I/O Psychology, I’ve developed a great interest in organizational effectiveness, workplace behavior, and career-related topics. Armed with an extensive knowledge base and a desire to create ways to streamline and improve office processes, I took a leap of faith and launched my business in 2011. Since writing’s also a true passion of mine, it’s with extreme joy and anticipation that I embark upon this new venture of blogging specifically for Virtual Cachet. With each piece that I post, my hope is to:
- Give you an opportunity to get to know Virtual Cachet better; and
- Serve as a useful resource on Administrative, Human Resource, and Writing matters for individuals, small businesses, and other organizations
So, dear readers, enjoy the experience, and I look forward to our continued relationship in the blogosphere. Stop by frequently, spread the word, and here’s to a healthy, happy, prosperous 2012!