In today’s short Coffee and Customer Service hangout, we each discussed two customer service insights gained this week. Don’t miss it!
In today’s short Coffee and Customer Service hangout, we each discussed two customer service insights gained this week. Don’t miss it!
Okay kids, I’m going to switch the channel here and dive into something that isn’t necessarily the nicest of items on our TO DO list:
There, there. Take a deep breath. I know that’s a scary word!
How do you decide what constitutes failure?
When I hit the big 3-0, I realized that I’m deeply afraid of failing. I know I have always been this way and had this fear, but a window of awareness opened up for me and I realized that I’ve been allowing this to push me around for so long.
But, there was something else poking its head in that window.
There was also a deep rooted fear of failing to try at all. Of not even giving it a shot and making any attempt.
For a long time, I always tell myself:
If I don’t try, I fail myself. Even if I fail at my chosen attempt, I still succeed because I tried.
We all know that “failure isn’t fun”. Plainly put, it sucks. But in fact, you may be more controlled by that fear than you want to believe.
JK Rowling, in her 2008 Harvard commencement speech says,
“You might be driven by a fear of failure as much as you are driven by a fear of success.”
Have you ever imagined yourself yelling your fears out loud from a mountain top? Then, afterward, you step back and pinch yourself, realizing you are still alive and breathing. The world has not collapsed below your feet.
When we step back and identify the current fear pits in our lives, areas in which we’re just not so sure will allow us to succeed, we must remember that we can emerge so much wiser and stronger from set backs.
Hitting rock bottom isn’t the end. You can go up. It WILL NOT be easy, but you can do it if you really want to. I mean, really want to. So, what will YOU choose today?
Three Reasons Why Failure Should Be On Your To Do List
1. You Gain Perspective: You begin to see things differently. You know what it is like to wear those shoes. You have stripped down the situation to the bare bones and are seeing it for exactly what it really is–in all of it’s ugly, truthful glory. Perspective may not pay the bills or solve the problem for the long run, but it sure as heck does help you see clearly in order to get to a better position.
2. You Gain Motivation: Perhaps it won’t come right away. It may happen a few days later or a few years later. Either way, you’ll find the motivation to accept your situation for what it is, no matter how horrible, and use that as fuel to pull yourself to the place you desire to be.
3. You Gain Strength: You’ll emerge a stronger and wiser person than before you stepped into the failure boat. You may not see this until long AFTER the situation, but it will be there. When you lift weights, you tear your muscles. It hurts. They rebuild. Trust in yourself that strength will be there waiting for you once the failure fog clears.
Watch JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement speech and see what you think about her perspective on failure:
“It is impossible to live without falling at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you failed by default.”
For whatever reason I am thinking in twos this week. I’ve had two recent epiphanies about how to make work feel a bit less like work and a bit more like AWESOME. In this case AWESOME might be described as fun, or some might call it flow, or perhaps time just flies by. Whatever it’s called, I want that on a routine basis. Here are two ways to do that consistently.
Channel Your Passion
I’ve been listening to Talk Like TED, by Carmine Gallo, on my commute this week. In the book he shares nine public speaking traits that the great TED speakers all have in common, which allows them to engage and influence their audiences so powerfully. So far, I’ve only heard the first one and I’m already inspired.
Gallo’s first principle is passion. All great TED speakers are not simply great because of the work they do. They are great because they share what they are truly passionate about and that passion is evident in their words, emotions, body language and of course the result of their work.
I recently asked my customer service leaders what they are truly passionate about. Did any of them respond with “customer service?” Absolutely not! I heard responses like connecting with other people, solving complex problems and learning new things. Those are things you can truly be passionate about. All of a sudden, an employee realizes that they can use these skills anywhere. They are not pigeon-holed in customer service, but they can do what they are passionate about within customer service.
As customer service leaders, do you know what you are truly passionate about? Do you know what your employees are passionate about? Your first step is to learn those two things. The second step is to find ways to use that passion at work daily. Yes there will always be aspects of work that we are not passionate about, but the more you can close the gap between work and passion, the less work will feel like work!
Don’t Forget The Fun
I’m in the midst of a marathon training plan and am only two months from the big day. With the distances are getting longer, I find myself aiming to leave the house before 5am. Today, my 2-year-old son Sam threw a wrench in my plans by waking up at 5am. Good luck getting him to go back to sleep. To maintain the peace, he came along for the ride.
The run was going great until we ran by the donut shop. By stopping occasionally for a treat, I have created a monster. Not wanting to stop this morning, I knew I was in for a fight. All of a sudden, the run felt a lot more like work and a lot less like fun.
What did I do? I turned it into a game and redirected his attention. We began playing the game of chicken, narrowly missing every hedge, wall, tree and parked car along the way. Soon enough, we forgot about the donut shop and were back to enjoying the beautiful sunrise.
While I’m confident that Sam will adapt and this particular game will not work every time, this is a great reminder to continue to find ways to keep it fun and fresh. Work feels a lot less like work when we are having fun. How can you change your environment to lighten the mood and get people whistling while they work?
She’s darn good at it.
A last minute assignment came up and both of her employees were unavailable.
So, guess who got to be her cleaning assistant?
Let me tell you–I enjoy cleaning. Yes, I’m weird. I don’t consider myself a complete clean freak, but I cannot stand clutter and I just like a clean space.
When my sister asked me to assist her at a large cleaning job, which just happened to be the office I work in, I jumped at the chance. Little did I realize how much work cleaning actually is.
Within a cleaning gig, there are a list of tasks you must accomplish. Each task requires a different cleanser, cleaning towel and sometimes, a scrubber. You have to get down and dirty, hands and knees, with open eyes for tiny specks and details and pick up all the old and moldy grime.
And, when you are dusting off the base boards with spider webs and splatters of food and crumbs around it, your perspective starts to shift. Not just from, “OH man, I am much messier than I thought!” but to “Wow, it really IS the little things that make the biggest impact!”
While I spent my time scrubbing away singing, “Whistle while we work!”, I thought about just how important the tiny details in customer service are.
How many things that we don’t even notice on a daily basis–the streaks left on glass after we clean it, the few crumbs hiding under the side of the desk that we didn’t vacuum or the gook stuck in the back of the cabinet on the third shelf that you can’t really see all too well.
How can we shift our perspective to pay attention to the nitty gritty details in customer service to make the biggest impact on the overall picture, as if we were deep cleaning an entire office or even our own home?
While this post is also highlighting the importance of a tidy desk (do you want to have a roach or mouse hanging out with you?) it should shed some light on the tiny things that you may overlook, even when you think you have done the best job ever–what else is there?
PS: I ended up doing an sparkling job, of which I am very proud of!
Customer service is all around us. It’s totally and completely in the mainstream. Ask almost anyone on the street for a customer service story or their own personal opinions about good and bad customer service, and you’ll undoubtedly get an earful. You can write volumes about how to treat people and how not to treat people.
That being said, I want to share two recent stories with you. The first, a simple example of a do and the second, a don’t.
On my return from a recent trip in Chicago, I found myself waiting in line for TSA to inspect my boarding pass. Anyone that travels should be well aware of the bad rap that TSA gets in customer service circles. I’m here to tell you that there are exceptions.
On this particular occasion, I witnessed a TSA agent inspecting the boarding pass and driver’s license of a traveler. As she completed her inspection she said “Oh by the way, Happy Birthday!” She had seen from looking at the picture ID, that the person’s birthday was coming up and seized the opportunity.
Lesson: Information is powerful stuff. When you have information about your customers, use it to connect dots and seize these opportunities. Even a simple Happy Birthday can be very powerful. As the face of your company to that customer, you’ve just built a connection between them and your brand!
I was recently speaking with a friend who was on the phone with his bank. Apparently he had been the victim of a mistake that cost a few thousand dollars. He was working with the bank to have that money restored to his account. The agent he was speaking with had to escalate the matter to another department.
After escalating, she said she would keep her fingers crossed that his money would be restored to him. My friend couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of that expression. He responded letting her know he would call back to tell her when she could uncross her fingers.
Lesson: There is no room for wishy washy lack of ownership in customer service. Especially when money is on the line, customers need customer service representatives who take ownership of the situation and see it through to the right resolution. Rather than crossing her fingers, the agent should have personally ensured there was no luck necessary.
In this week’s Coffee and Customer Service Hangout we discussed this week in customer service. Don’t miss Jeremy all dressed up in a suit and Jenny just plain weird.
But, some of us are totally game for it. And, you’d be surprised at how many people really get into it, despite the ridiculousness. Hey, isn’t that what makes it more fun?
Last week, our customer service team rolled out of bed…and into the office…in their PJs.
We toasted bagels and drank OJ together while answering calls and going to meetings clad in our cozy jammies. Check us out in the picture!
When we talk about building culture at the office, PJ day may not be high on the list of “to do” items, but maybe it should be!
Incorporating FUN into your day in customer service helps bring the team together. And, when other departments get involved, it opens the door to even stronger comradery. You get to know people on a casual level, have a good laugh and still get work done.
Plus, people are more likely to get MORE work done when they are working in a positive environment.
It keeps people happier…and healthier!
So, how can you throw in a dash of fun to your already awesome team?
Rolling Out 3 Ideas For Customer Service Fun
Themed Dress Up Days: Bring the customer service team or the whole company together for a themed dress up day. Throw in some themed food to keep people’s tummies happy as well. Make sure to take lots of pictures!
Peer Recognition Programs: Saying “thanks” to people in your organization may not seem as fun as wearing your PJ to work…but gratitude is a beautiful thing and helps bring a smile to someone’s face. We have a Smile Box that our team can drop notes to each other and have an opportunity for their “smile” to be drawn from the box and the representative be recognized and given a gift for their awesomeness.
Company Events: We’ve been go-karting and bowling together and we’ve had hip hop dance lessons and gone rock climbing together. With so many fun and inexpensive things to do, the sky is the limit.
I had the privilege of attending ICMI’s 2014 Contact Center Demo in Chicago. It’s a fantastic event packed with insight, technology and great people. Rather than writing a comprehensive review of the show, I want to simply share my top five AHA moments.
1. What else can I help you learn today? I have a bit of an obsession with asking “Is there anything else I can help you with” at the end of each call. I’ve written a couple posts over the years debating the validity of that question. Keynote speaker and author, Chip Bell offered “What else can I help you learn today” as an alternative. I love it! It’s so far from the typical question which seems to push the customer off the phone faster. Chip also shared numerous inspiring ways companies offer distinctive experiences to their customers. Click here to read about Trixie the Goldfish!
2. Don’t be in no man’s land. I got this little nugget in a session with Brad Cleveland about gaining the most from our small contact centers. His point was in regards to technology and the fact that we either need to fight for new technology or accept what we have and make the most of it. It’s not acceptable to sit in no man’s land wishing you had better tools or technology. As small contact centers, we simply do not have that luxury to wait when it comes to solving problems. This was one of many takeaways from this fantastic session by Brad.
3. Call of the month. In a session with Tim Montgomery of CSG about getting the most from our quality assurance program, I learned about a call of the month program. Not that every call is going to be a WOW, but this is a friendly competition for the best call of the month. At CSG, the agent with the best call as determined by the staff gets a bonus of $500! In addition, CSG has a fantastic and refreshing approach to managing their employees. As long as employees show up to work, stick to their schedule and continuously improve, they can be successful.
4. If you would never say it, it doesn’t belong in an email. I attended a fantastic session with Leslie O’Flahavan from E-Write about writing great email in the age of social media. I loved this simple and sage advice of never writing in an email what we would never actually say. So often we attempt to write email in a way that is “professional” and ends up making it sound stodgy (Leslie’s word) and failing to make a meaningful connection with our customer.
5. What is the value of your training? In a session about training contact center agents, Justin Robbins challenged us to not simply train for the sake of training but instead determine the value of a training program. For example, if we are doing sales training, how many more sales can the team close as a result of the training? This was one of many terrific tips from Justin shared in the session.
Those are my five ahas! What were some of your favorite insights from the conference?
I tend to feel overwhelmed at this particular store with all the frills. I just want the basics and don’t want to spend a lot of time in there.
After walking around aimlessly for a while, a representative approached me by welcoming me to the store, introducing herself as Jessie and asking for my name. She shook my hand. Then, she asked what I was looking for today. I gave her the run down of my dilemma, what size I was looking for and she was ready to help right then and there. We walked to two different spots in the store where I had the size options that I thought I needed. She grabbed a few for me to try on and then walked with me toward the direction of the fitting room, sending me on my way.
When I arrived at the fitting room, I was greeted with a smile by the attendant, who already knew my name (through a walkie talkie system that the store has and Jessie sent a message to the attendant) and she said, “We have your room waiting for you to try on your items.” She opened the door for me and said that she’s going to look for a few more options as well.
I begin to try on the items and it turns out, they are the wrong size. I go to leave the fitting room and Jessie is back there to check on me. Talk about perfect timing! I explain to her how I was wrong with the size and she then begins to measure and offer assistance. She picks out the proper size for me, hands me several options to try on and asks me to let her know how they fit.
After trying on a few, I realize that this is the proper size. I don’t buy just one–I purchase two. As I leave the fitting room with my items, Jessie approaches me again with a smile saying she was so happy to help and hope that I have a great day.
The thing about this experience that sets the bar even higher is that the store was busy. It was packed! There were women all around, asking questions to representatives and trying on items. However, thanks to Jessie’s personal attention, we were all treated as important individuals that felt like a million bucks in a store that can definitely cause some insecurities. Wait, or is that just me?
I’ve shopped at this store for many years because I like the product but have never had this personalized of an experience before. While the representatives are usually friendly, the experience is rarely one to remember.
But, now I wonder–am I going to expect this every time and be let down if I don’t get it?
It’s no secret that the customer experience is the biggest key to keeping your business in the mind of your consumers. So, why is more focus not placed on this? Why are there not more representatives like Jessie in every store to provide this level of an experience to everyone? Would this be better for business all around? You tell me!
I think back to the Un-Bursting Bubbles In Customer Service SodaStream story about a story my aunt shared with me of a positive customer experience. I’m not even a customer of this company BUT if anyone ever asks me about what is a go to brand for this type of product, you can bet I’d recommend SodaStream just on the story alone.
Today I urge you to think about how you can tailor your customer experience on a more personal level for your customers–even in one tiny way. What would it be? How would it impact your client base? Would it be difficult to implement? I’d love to hear your comments about what has and hasn’t worked for you.
I love having conversations with people who either know more than me or have an outside, high level view on things that I just may not see in my present situation. I recently had lunch with my brother in law who fits this bill and has always been a big brother and mentor.
We talked a lot about my career and how I’ve gained so much valuable experience in the world of customer service. He then talked to me about the fact that in the world of reactive customer service, there’s a ceiling and I’ve likely hit that ceiling.
He went on to say that customer service leaders have an opportunity to gain a “seat at the table” when it comes to making strategic decisions for the organization. If you’re anything like me, pay attention to this advice. Customer service departments possess information that is invaluable to virtually every other department within our organizations. This is information critical to gaining insight about our customers! You probably just heard the sound of shattering glass.
As I mull this advice over, I’m beginning to envision a way to do my job better. I’ll give you one scenario. Even as awesome as Phone.com is, we still have customers cancel on occasion. Rather than simply making sure my customer service team is trained to handle those cancelations well, I should be working with my team to gain insight from each of those calls. Other departments are literally begging for this information and the opportunity is there for the taking.
One does not need to search long to find people talking about the voice of the customer (VOC) in order to find out what customers are saying about our product and service. As customer service professionals, it is critical that we listen to that voice and make darn well sure we share it with the rest of the organization.
My question for our community of readers is simple. What are some other ways customer service leaders can provide value to their organizations and gain a “seat at the table?” As for me, the challenge is clear and the opportunity is there. What happens next is up to me!