Thursday, January 6, 2011

Career Words of Wisdom- Service

Excellent Customer Service(internal and external) is a necessity for a business to thrive, be successful and ultimately survive.

Healthy and respectful relationships between supervisors, managers and staff  is a key factor to good customer service.
If managers and staff are not treated with respect, then the customer will not be treated with the courtesy and  respect they deserve.
In today's market environment, though businesses claim to be focused on better service, customer service numbers continue to slide into the abyss.
Two of the  biggest factors ?
not enough people to go around. Companies are dealing with increased costs and managing and maximizing every square foot of their space is very important. This adds stress to management and staff at all levels.
The second factor ?
are the people who are serving you, their teams, managers and executives being given the tools they need to take care of you?

If the answer to that question is no, then who pays the ultimate price?

The Customer. The Client.


I have read many books, articles and gotten lots of advice over the years about customer service both internal (the people who work for you are your internal customers) and external. How we treat our people is the key and this post focuses on that.
I would like to share some words of wisdom from various people and authors.

The first three are my tried and true tips.

Remember to say Please and  Thank You. This is the one complaint I have heard countless times over the years from people at all levels, they never hear please or thank you. Saying thank you will not damage the way you are perceived or make you less effective. Smiling while saying it can really change someones life. Make the effort to say Thank you. Funny how we drop proper manners as adults.

Ask people about themselves first (health etc) and always remember to ask them something about family or pets.  Remember names ( repeating a name several times helps). Asking people about family or something that they care about will change the way you are perceived,  those people will jump through many hoops for you later. Remember birthdays, acknowledge employees who may be under stress, this can affect your bottom line folks!  Send cards, do small things. Showing empathy is important, it helps people to stay committed.

Listen- Keep your door open, unless in a serious meeting and give people time, try to stop and listen. You can set parameters of course but always listen.

"People Buy from People They Like"- IBM sales philosophy.


  • Fill the candy dish( this really works)
A Very Special touch for a manager is to keep a candy dish in an area where visitors will see it. Keep it full of goodies. Everyone likes a little something extra in his or her day-just be careful that your employees don't get addicted.

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."

Samuel Johnson

Leadership Secrets from the Executive Office- George Hathaway.

  • How do you find out what the people even at the lowest rungs of your company are thinking?
In addition to comprehensive surveys and town hall meetings. I schedule walk around time so that I can be different buildings, just stopping by offices. Typically people used to jump. They'd be working and I'd knock on the door and somebody would put up their head and sort of startle when they see me. Now they don't do that anymore. I would just say : Hey what's keeping me up at nights? What are you working on? What's the most exciting for you right now? Where do you see we could improve. That 's really rewarding.
Deborah Dunsire,MD president and chief executive of Millennium:The Takeda Oncology Company(excerpt from NYT Corner Office by Adam Bryant). .

  • What's the most important leadership lesson you've learned?
The biggest one I learned and I learned it early on in my tenure in the Army , is the importance of small gestures. As you become more senior; those small gestures and little things become sometimes more important than the grand ones. Little things like saying"please" and "thank you"-Just the basic respect that people are due, or sending personal notes. I spend a lot of time sending personal notes.
Gary.E.McCullogh, president and chief executive of the Career Education Corporation( excerpt NYT Corner Office by Adam Bryant). .

  • After you deliver a reprimand, it is important that people still know that you value them as a human beings.
Ken Blanchard.

  • What feedback do you get from your direct reports that you've used in setting your own goals as a manager and a leader?
In recent years,if I had to distill what I"m hearing most, it's the importance of listening and responding to people's concerns. I've always thought communication was important, but the older I get the more I realize that you cannot communicate enough, and you need to answer people's questions and their concerns directly.
I try to answer an e mail within 3 or 4 hours. Sometimes my response may be nothing more than Got This. I'll be working on it and get back to you. But I want people to know that I'm reading these things,I'm listening to them,that what they say is important,I heard it,I'm paying attention to it.
You may not be able to solve the entire problem at that moment, but just to let them know that you heard it, you understand it, that something is happening, I think goes a long way to making people feel that there is an environment of respect for their opinions, their needs, their concerns.
I also think that it's important, sometimes to communicate "no" and to say that in a very clear way and not to leave any ambiguity so that people continue to ask and ask and ask about a decision that's already been made.
Jacqueline Koseoff,Chief executive of Prescription Solutions, a United Health Group company ( excerpt from NYT Corner Office by Adam Bryant).

  • Tell me about the best bosses you have worked for.
The best leaders I've known really taken an active interest in a person. And once that person demonstrates that they have skill and capability, they try to help them achieve their potential. That's always been my thinking about management. If you have someone who's smart, talented, aggressive and wants to learn then your job is to help them become all they can be.
David C Novak, chairman,chief executive and president of Yum Brands(excerpt from NYT Corner Office by Adam Bryant).

  • What's the most important leadership lesson that you have learned?
In business you should treat your employees like they can vote. It doesn't mean you're going to get everybody to vote for you. But you kind of try to kiss the babies and shake the hands and tell them you appreciate them and would like them to support you. You can do it like a dictator, but I'm not sure very many of them in the long run are successful.
Daniel P Amos,chief executive of Aflac(excerpt from NYT Corner Office by Adam Bryant)

  • What is the most important leadership lesson you've learned?
It's the ability to listen and to make people understand that you are listening to them. Make them feel that they are making a contribution, and then you make a decision. I don't think that any one individual is brilliant that they know all of the answers. So you've got to have a sense of inclusiveness. The other most important things is making people understand the strategy and the message and be out in front of the people so that they actually understand the mission.
James J Shiro,chief executive of Zurich Financial Services (excerpt from NYT Corner Office by Adam Bryant).

Few Things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A Smile. A word of optimism and hope. A "you can do it" when things are tough.

Richard M Devos

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