Get On Your Feet

Feet Floor

“Get on your feet. Get up and make it happen.”

Gloria Estefan’s timeless anthem of action and forward motion recently played from my Galaxy. A buddy of mine, in an attempt to get me pumped up for my day, selected that little classic to get me up and at ’em. (After all, sometimes the motivator needs some motivation.) They did the trick that day and I found that song bouncing around my grey matter for the rest of the day.

This morning I faced a slight dilemma. I’ve been going back to the gym, having recently made the decision to pay more attention to my health and make some necessary changes for the better. After a weekend off from the gym, there was one thing on my mind as my alarm music attempted to rouse myself from my sleep:

“No. This bed is soooo comfortable. Just enjoy it for awhile longer. Go ahead, you’ll make it up tomorrow.”

Choices. They tend to get us into trouble. Given the choice of effort or the path of least resistance, we unfortunately tend to gravitate towards the latte. However, this morning I had this thought that hit the override switch on my near choice selection to return to slumber.

“Get on your feet!”

No, it wasn’t Gloria singing to me. Rather, my mind was yelling at me, giving me it’s best barbaric yawlp to motivate me to sit up, put my feet on the floor, get vertical, and begin forward motion. And from there, it was on. Hit the gym, got my sweat on, and left with the feeling of accomplishment that generally comes with a good workout. Mission accomplished.

This same thing applies to life in general. Nothing happens until you get up and get going. Whether it’s in business, education, relationships, spirituality…absolutely nothing can come about with inactivity. When you’re faced with the choice between the proverbial (or actual) snooze alarm and forward motion, your success is contingent on forward motion. Don’t let opportunity pass you by.

QUESTION: What opportunities have you missed out on because you hit the snooze button rather than getting up and moving forward?

Fast Food Service? Time For an Overhaul.

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By a show of hands (yes really do this), how many of you went through the drive through lately and were given all of the above:

1.)  Visual acknowledgement (they looked at you)

2.)  Facial acknowledgement (they smiled at you)

3.) Professional acknowledgement (they thanked you for your business)

I’m not seeing many hands.  Figured as much.

Over the days ahead, I’m going to be writing on this very issue…drive-through customer service.  It’s not rocket science, but even with that in mind, the question is still this: why in the world is it so damn hard to get (minimum) good service at the drive-through?

Now, I do understand that not every fast food restaurant offers that same experience (I’ve still yet to go to a Chik-fil-A that didn’t provide me with, minimum, good service and more often-than-not exceptional service).  But there is clearly a problem that needs to be rectified.

And hopefully I can help alleviate that problem.  If only a little.

To be continued…

Where’s the Passion?

Hands in pockets.  Shoulders slumped.  Expressionless face.  Closed body language.  Basically, everything about these salespeople was screaming, “If you want to buy my product, that’s fine.  If you don’t that’s fine, too.  Whatever, just follow me on my tour as I tell you stuff.”

Watching these people was a terribly underwhelming experience.  Each and every single sales rep from this company was missing a key ingredient from their sales schtick (I couldn’t quite tell if they were asking questions and matching needs with solutions).  That one ingredient is this…

Where’s the passion?  I’ve written about this idea before, but then I see it happen again and again wherever I go.  Lack of passion is a plague and it’s not showing much, if any, signs of improving.  I’ve heard it suggested a couple of times recently that wages and salary caps are to blame.  (Which, of course, begs the question, At what salary can we expect excellent customer service and effort?)  Lack of incentive might also be a cuplrit (in this economic climate, however, the primary incentive should be receiving a steady paycheck).  I have a different theory personally.

Management.  Pure and simple.

Managers, if you want passionate sales and customer service reps (or all team members in general), you need to do three things:

1.)  Train the passion.  Granted, I can’t give somebody passion as if it’s a Christmas present (though I wish I could).  But I can show my team how to express passion in two words: body language.  Open posture and gestures.  Smiles on faces.  “Yes” phrases instead of “no” phrases.  Genuine interest in a prospective or current client’s questions, and wanting to let them do most of the talking.  Train your team on expressing passion…and you could see an uptick in your closing ratios.

2.)  Foster the passion.  Maybe you can’t pay higher salaries or fat bonuses.  (Of course, if your sales team closed more sales, this might not be an issue.)  But you can do more to encourage people to get jacked up on their jobs.  Contests, incentives (doesn’t always have to be about more money…find your team’s hot buttons and get creative), and other morale boosters can get your team excited about their jobs and give them more reason to come into work each day.  Share your vision, your goals, and how your team members contribute to the success of the company.  Try some transparency and trust that they’ll catch on to what matters.

3.)  Model the passion.  It starts at the top.  There isn’t a manager on the face of the planet who could possibly expect his or her employees to have passion for their work if they, themselves, don’t personally model it.  I tell middle and frontline managers to suck it up and show their direct reports their own passion for their work and company, even if the higher ups don’t do likewise.  But upper level managers, if you’re reading this, believe this to be true…if you’re not doing it, don’t expect your team to do it, either.  They’re watching you and will resent you if you don’t practice your preach.  You want them to model passion?  You be the first to model it.

If your team is currently lacking in the passion department, there is no easy fix or turnaround.  But you can right the course of your vessel if it’s off by following these three principals.  It’ll take some time, but the results will be noticeable.  And profitable.

QUESTION:  How can you best model passion for your team (regardless of your position in the company)?

Speedy Service?

I want that and I want that yesterday.

Have you ever heard those words from a customer?  Okay, maybe not those words exactly…but you have assuredly felt those sentiments when faced with a customer making seemingly impossible demands.  So what do you do in this situation?

Among the many aspects of customer service that your clients will rate you is your speed of service.  I would submit to you that this speed of service is broken down into two key components:

1.)  Rate of Response

2.)  Rate of Delivery

Let’s face it….you want to do all you can to satisfy your customer, but your Rate of Delivery may not be exactly what the customer has in mind.  Doesn’t he know  that it takes 1-2 weeks for that part to come in?  He might, but he doesn’t care.  He’s got a busted ride or a fridge on the fritz.  He wants it fixed on HIS timetable, not yours.

Though your actual delivery time might take longer than you’d like, your Rate of Response will be what makes or breaks the service experience.  Are you giving your customer the impression that you’re moving heaven and earth to make this thing happen?  Are you showing him that he’s a VIP (regardless of the price tag) and that getting this handled is priority 1 for you?  (And yes I realize this means that you’ve got a hundred “priority 1’s” on your desk…again, this is about impressions.)  If the answer is no, then it doesn’t matter how fast you get it done.  If you appear slow on the stick in solving your customer’s problems, then you’ll have an unhappy customer on your hands.

Always do what you can to handle the problem ASAP…but even if that part takes longer than you’d like, show the customer that you’re prompt, punctual, and professional in your response.

QUESTION:  What else can you do to show that VIP mentality to your customers in responding to their service issues?

You Gotta Represent

Branding.

That seems to be the “in” word right now among business and marketing circles.  I used to have a fairly negative view of the word, what with how trendy it seems to have become and my simply not wanting to hop onto that bandwagon.  But the more and more I think about it and its implications, the more I’m convinced that every professional needs to be mindful of branding.

Move over, Sally.  There’s a new passenger on the wagon.

But when it comes to branding, there’s so much more than the brand of “Me” or the brand of “You.”  When I’m teaching my sales and customer service classes, I like to remind my students that they are really representing not one but TWO different brands:

1.) The brand of “Me”

2.) The brand of “We” ( the company/product they represent)

When I’m out trying to make deals and create sales opportunities, my client isn’t just buying the product or service (though that is what it shows on the invoice) and everything that brand represents.  He’s also buying the brand of “Me”….and everything my brand represents.  Because, after all, if I want to generate repeat business I have to not only provide a superior product with superior value, but I also have to provide superior service to keep that customer happy and loyal and coming back for more.  The level of service and excellence I provide all goes into the brand of “Me.”

When you’re out selling and servicing, you really are representing two different brands.  And the reality is, the power of the brand of “Me” carries a lot more weight that the brand of the product or service you’re selling, because as a sales professional it’s going to be you who makes or breaks the deal.  Always.  They might be able to get a lower price down the street on the same product, but because “Me” provides the most superior service anywhere, chances are you’re going to be able to service them into a sale and build a loyal customer for life.

It’s a huge responsibility being in sales and service.  You’re representing your own personal brand as well as the company brand.  Be excellent with both angles and watch your sales and revenue continue driving upward.

QUESTION:  What does it mean to you to represent your personal brand?  Share with us below in a comment.

The Assassin

There are lots of ways to take out an enemy.  The deadliest member of any military isn’t the one pushing the button on the biggest bomb (though they can certainly do the most damage in one action), nor is it the guy driving the tank or flying the jet.  The most lethal soldier out there is generally the one with a single smaller weapon, positioned in hiding, and takes out one marked target at a time at just the right time.An assassin.

An assassin takes out one target at a time.  If gone unchecked, the damage done can be immeasurable.  To compare the concept to customer service, there is a deadly assassin on the loose in our companies.  Some companies have their defenses up and know how to stop him.  Others, though, are left struggling to keep him contained and, as a result, see their employees’ and businesses’ performance being taken out one by one.  That assassin has the same name, no matter where he’s found.

Apathy.

Apathy can do a number on any business when it sets in, affecting one or multiple employees.  The results can be staggering:

–  Robs employees of their enthusiasm for the business and the desire to make a solid contribution.

–  Begins to kill customer service when employees care about neither their jobs or the impact they’re having on their customers.

–  Ultimately destroys the business completely when customers who receive negative customer service experiences begin taking their business (translation – “their money”) elsewhere.

Apathy exists in many forms, ranging from employees not tending to customers to a total lack of excellence and pride in their work.  Rather than a lengthy treatise on the development of apathy, I want to share some ways to take out the assassin called apathy in your company:

1.)  Share the company’s vision and mission with the employees.  Most times people get into their jobs for the paycheck and not the payoff; the fulfillment.  By sharing the company’s vision and mission statements, and helping them to see that they’re part of the company’s success, employees can begin to see a bigger picture of why the doors to the business are open in the first place.

2.)  Catch your employees doing something right.  We have a tendency to be on the lookout for what people are doing wrong and to find where they need correction.  But by pointing out when an employee is performing with excellence and professionalism, you begin to condition them to work in that same manner.  as the old saying goes, you get more bees with honey than you do with, errr, bug bombs.

3.)  Make customer service the king of the business, not the cash register.  The bottom line will always be a factor in the health of any business.  This goes without saying.  However, without positive customer service experiences, the bottom line will grow more and more red as the customer service experience continues to dwindle and fail.  Under-committing and over-delivering on customer service and product will just about always yield return business.  Putting a premium on positive customer service will do you better than a pricey advertising campaign or a slick showroom.

4.)  Reward your team for outstanding service contributions.  Just as catching your employees doing something right is important, rewarding them for going over and above the “job description” creates an atmosphere for excellence.  The recognition doesn’t have to be extravagant; something along the lines of a mention at a team meeting or in the company newsletter, or even a little gift card could go a very long way in motivating employees to roll out the red carpet for the customer.

Those four action items can do wonders in eliminating the apathy assassin in your company before it can take out your employees’ productivity and morale.  Give them a try, let me know how they work.

QUESTION: How else can you eliminate apathy in your business?

Back to the (Customer Service) Basics

Is there something on my face?  Do I have bad breath?  Missing a tooth that I’ve been previously unaware of?

All of those thoughts and more cross my mind every single time I visit the drive-through and the individual sitting in that window virtually refuses to look me in the eye when taking my money or handing me my order.  If I weren’t for the fact that I’m composed of something (albeit slightly) stronger than sticks and stones, the lack of eye contact might begin to hurt me.  But I think that, perhaps, it really has less to do with me than it does a lack of training or a big picture perspective.

“But Scott, this is not the job I want.  I don’t really want to be here.  This is only a stepping stone.  I’m only doing this because everybody starts out serving up a Number Three Combo with a large Coke Zero, no ice.”  Speaking of, sounds kind of like one of my fast food orders.  Starting to get hungry now.

But I digress.

Yes, I understand that you might not have imagined as a youth that you’d one day be wearing a name tag at Burger Heaven and dropping the fries into the fryer.  I’ve been there myself, I get that sentiment.  You are, however, currently employed there.  And as an employee of the company, positive customer service is your responsibility for 100% of your encounters with each and every customer – both internal and external.  Even though your management might have taken you through the scripted and packaged company line on customer service, it can be challenging to maintain that expectation throughout your shift, whether you’re at Burger Heaven or Al’s Mart of Stuff.

Customer service isn’t rocket science, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in our work that we forget what our job really is – positive customer service experiences.  We (presumably) want to stay employed?  For that to happen, customers need to come back for repeat experiences.  And if they’re not receiving the experience they expect and deserve, they’ll find somewhere else to spend their money.  It’s a process that has caused many companies to close their doors.  Don’t take care of your customer, then somebody else will.

So maybe what we need is to get back to basics.  If you feel like your or your company’s customer service needs to get back on-track, I offer up the following tips:

1.)  Smile!!  That’s right, it’s as simple as that.  When you smile at your customer, you’re showing them that it’s your pleasure to be serving them (a lesson we can all learn from our friends at Chik-fil-A).  It also breaks your own stress cycle and helps improve your mood.  Try it, you may be surprised.  For better or for worse, wear that smile.  Plus it takes fewer muscles to smile as it does to frown.  I’ve never personally counted, but I’ll take their word for it.

2.)  Don’t just tell them – show them.“Well yes sir, the Prune-o-Matic machines are over on aisle 13.”  Awesome, now where exactly is aisle 13?  Where on aisle 13?  I don’t seem them IN aisle 13, now where did that twerp go??  Yeah, we’ve all been there.  It’s aggravating and not very professional.  If a customer is looking for something specific, don’t tell her where to go find it…take her there and make sure she connects with that product.

3.)  Eye contact (just not too much) – The opposite of zero eye contact is akin to starting a staring contest.  You’re not trying to reach into their soul or look like a statue.  You’re simply giving pleasant eye contact and letting the customer know they have your focus.  Even though you have fifty other things to do at that moment, that person has all of you.  When you give good eye contact and your winning smile, the impression you leave on them is priceless.

4.)  For goodness sakes, say “Thank you.”  While you’re looking at him and smiling, when you’ve concluded the encounter, just say “thank you.”  I’m not sure where the art of courtesy has disappeared (unless it’s gone with the missing socks in my dryer), but this absolutely needs to be brought back.  Saying “thank you” is very much a recognition extended to the customer for doing business with you and your company.  They are also an open door to return for more business.  Two words.  Infinite impact.

Nothing fancy or out of the ordinary.  Just simply the basics that, sadly, too many businesses are either not pushing or employees aren’t incorporating into their daily routines.  Spread the word, get back to the basics and enjoy your customers and your work again.

QUESTION:  How do you and your company deliver excellent customer service to your customers?