Posted by Leslie Dickson
Did you see the recent news article about the top 10% of workplace performers? It’s from a survey done by Bloomberg Business Week. Let me get right to the punch line: a full 90% of those surveyed thought they were among the top 10% of performers in their company.
Funny. And not funny at all. So, it got me thinking. What makes a good professional great? At VoicePro, I’ve had the privilege of working with people from all types of organizations, large and small. Each one brings an array of skills to the job, but the best of them display what we call the Five Great Skills™ . They are crucial in a person’s ability to present his or her best self, work with and through other people, and achieve results even while navigating the enormous pressures of professional daily life.
- The skill of relaxation. When you can keep cool physically, mentally and emotionally you convey the personal power of leadership.
- The skill of communicating with energy. When people can see and hear your conviction and passion, you inspire confidence.
- The skill of expression. A message is carried by more than words. Vocal inflection, body language and gestures either support your message or hinder it. It’s not mere “showmanship”, it’s essential to clarity and impact.
- The skill of organization. No matter how good your ideas and facts are, if you put them together in the wrong way, your message won’t get through. How you outline and structure communication, from capturing attention to actionable results, has enormous bearing on your ability to persuade and influence.
- The skill of focus. When extraneous thoughts cloud your thinking, your message goes off track. Focus helps you stay centered on your message, and, just as important, calm enough to watch and listen to your audience. That’s how you make an authentic connection – and progress.
How many of these skills have you mastered? Or, more directly – what are you doing to become the real top 10% of performers in your organization? If you want to take your career to the next level, The Five Great Skills™ are a powerful place to start.
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Posted by Carolyn Dickson
Everyone embraces the idea of good customer service. Management wants a satisfied customer, and the customer most certainly wants to be satisfied. In order to achieve this, both sides must put effort into the relationship. Here are five steps a business can take to assure good customer service, along with five ways customers can assist in getting the service they want.
Advice to the business
Create an in-house environment for service. Good service begins with the attitude: “We’re proud of our company, we like what we do, and we want to share it with you.” This mindset cannot be restricted to front-line personnel. From the shop floor to the accounting office to the executive suite, everyone must share in the effort and be willing to live it day after day.
Put systems in place that support your commitment. Nothing breeds ill will faster than a stated policy that differs from policy as carried out. It's not fair to expect service reps to continually apologize for system errors or to promise action that is never forthcoming. A good customer care system doesn’t happen by itself. It can take months—even years—of painstaking development, but the payback is well worth the effort.
Train everyone. Every single employee should be trained in good communication skills. The abilities to deliver clear messages, listen intently, negotiate, and handle difficult situations are especially worthwhile. These skills have value far beyond customer interface; the way people treat each other internally will invariably spill over into outside contacts.
Empower everyone to help the customer. When it comes to customer service, there’s no room for it’s-not-my-job thinking. The yardman who stops what he’s doing to help a visitor carry heavy boxes into the building says more about a company’s commitment to service than a hundred mission statements hung on the wall.
Reward good service. This means more than just an “employee of the month” certificate. It means job upgrades, bonus programs, pay increases, and other substantial forms of recognition. If you honor good service with meaningful rewards, you will have a staff of fully committed, service-oriented people.
Advice to the customer
Make your expectations clear. Whether you’re hiring a consultant, purchasing a piece of equipment, or remodeling your bathroom, you’ll get a better proposal, better service, and probably a better price if you state clearly exactly what you want. If they’re forced to guess what’s in your mind, suppliers and salespeople may keep missing the mark, resulting in Impatience and irritability all around.
Ask questions. Take responsibility for knowing what you’re getting. Don’t agree to something you don’t understand, thinking you can work it out later. What is the exact price—with everything included? What’s the warranty and/or return policy? How long will it take? Who do I call if I have a question? If you make sure your mental picture of the transaction’s outcome matches that of the supplier, you’ll save headache and heartache down the line.
Prepare your complaint. If the unexpected does happen and you have a problem, arm yourself with receipts, written agreements, notes of your phone conversations, etc. The more detailed your documentation, the stronger your case will be.
Keep your cool. You’ll lose power if you let your anger show, so diffuse hostility with temperate words. Contrary to what you might be thinking in the heat of the moment, your goal is to achieve a satisfactory conclusion to the transaction—not to get revenge. So relax your muscles, take a deep breath, and move forward with a pleasant and calm demeanor.
Don’t make the person the problem. Operate on the premise that the people you talk to are doing the best they can. So, don’t blame. Use statements like, “You’re very helpful, but I’m not getting the information I need. Who else can I speak with?” And, “Our server did everything he could, but the dining room was understaffed and we had to wait far too long.” In this way, you focus on the problem and avoid blaming the person.
Benefits abound to both business and customer when good communication skills are exercised and the responsibility is shared. Customer service is clearly a two-way street.
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