Showing that you care …
One of the things that the holiday season lets us do, is to show others that we care. When we receive a card, a phone call, a plate of cookies, or a thoughtful gift - it lets us know that someone appreciates and cares for us. Doing the same for others, shows them that you care too.
Customer service is based on that similar concept of mutual respect. It would be a disservice to our customers if the “golden rule” was not an implemented practice in our workplace. It doesn’t matter if we are dealing with parents, community members, students, or our fellow employees – caring is paramount to the success of YOUR personal customer service program.
If you go back and look at any of the customer service messages that have been sent your way, you will notice an underlying theme. It’s all about showing people that we care.
“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Happy characteristics …
A customer service survey from a few years back showed that 90% of people said they “woke up happy.” At times, doesn’t it feel like the only people you deal with are the 10% who wake up on the wrong side of the bed! Maintaining happy characteristics is very hard, but something that every one of us needs to do.
A great way to start being happy is by making sure you have a positive mental attitude. If you have high expectations for yourself, your happiness will rub off on others. If you feel that you are getting in a rut, be willing to try something new. We are all adults, but every once in a while back up and look at things with a childlike enthusiasm. You’ll be surprised how your attitude will change.
Having happy characteristics makes the day go by much faster. And why not be happy, Thanksgiving is just a few days away.
Veterans Day …
Many districts are taking the time to honor our veterans. Schools will be filled with visitors. Some will come to see their child or grandchild perform in a program. Others might be a special veteran accepting an invitation to be recognized for the honorable service they provided to our country.
Public schools for many people on Veterans Day, are the place to be. Every visitor will leave with a smile on their face and a warm spirit in their heart. When we provide excellent service, that’s the feeling all customers should have each and every day.
If you are on the front line of a Texas public school, thank you for taking the time to smile at all your visitors. Thank you for providing directions to them. Thank you for making everyone feel welcome on this very special day.
Happy Veterans Day!
The picture above was taken when my Dad retired from the U.S. Navy after 22 years of service. He served in WWII Europe, WWII Japan, Korean Conflict, and Vietnam War.
Keeping promises …
Do you consider yourself to be a person of integrity? If you are, then keeping your promise is probably high on your list of personal requirements.
Making lots of promises, but keeping only a few of them, is probably not the smartest thing to do in our customer service world. In order to build trust with our customers, we need to become a person of our word. Every time we break a promise, we’re telling our customers that we just can’t be trusted.
To build trust with our customers, we need to stand by what we say. Keeping our promise is the best way that we can show others just how reliable we are.
Scary customer service …
I bet you were thinking that I was going to talk about bad customer service, especially since Halloween is this week. Instead, I decided to go in the opposite direction and talk about a customer service level that is so good, it’s scary!
Over the past few weeks, I have been the recipient of some great customer service. This has been the case not only in restaurants and retail stores, but in schools and school offices that I have visited too. When I thought about why I felt so good about the customer service level I received, it came down to one word: PEOPLE. I was around some pretty great people.
They smiled. They made eye contact. They maintained a positive attitude. They did all the things right that made me feel welcome.
Working in any customer service position carries a big risk of developing potentially incurable misanthropy. This was not the case with the people I was around. Instead, they chose to provide me with first class service, something that really isn’t scary at all.
Internal customer civility …
It’s hard to believe that all of us probably spend more hours of the day with our co-workers than with any other group of people we associate with. Our co-workers are like relatives … we don’t get to choose who they are! We all come from different backgrounds, have different interests, and run the gamut in age range; yet we need to function well in order for our schools and district to run smoothly.
Usually our focus (in terms of customer service) is on students, parents, and community members. Taking time to concentrate on the needs and feelings of fellow employees can bring us a broader, yet well-defined customer service master plan.
Some tips that we can use to improve our internal customer civility with co-workers include:
- Give co-workers the gift of undivided attention.
- Show interest in what people are saying.
- Before acting, consider the impact of your words and actions on others.
- Be patient not to interrupt or jump on people’s small mistakes.
- Take responsibility for your actions and practice self-restraint in responding to potential conflicts.
- If differences in opinions or ideas do occur, try understand it from the other person’s perspective.
- Remember the simple things that foster an atmosphere of civility like “please” and “thank you”.
From a customer standpoint, we spend the most time dealing with each other rather than serving taxpayers, parents, or students. Maintaining a great relationship with our co-workers allows us to give the best of ourselves to all of our customers in the end.
Unexpected interruptions …
Interruptions will probably always be a way of life at work for us to some extent. How we handle those interruptions and the pressure they create, separates those of us who are good at customer service and those who are GREAT at customer service.
I like to think of interruptions as more of an “interlude” than a bother. There are times in the day that these interludes are more predictable than others in terms of unexpected interludes. What we need to do is anticipate when is the mostly likely time that they will occur and what classification they fall in. Students, parents, and community members should always take priority one. Take notice this week of what time those interludes tend to happen. Most likely you’ll see a pattern develop. That pattern will allow you to tweak your schedule to accommodate the people who need your expertise the most.
By managing interruptions, we can maintain control of our work. But we also need to be mindful of how we interrupt others. When we interrupt someone, we suggest that our time is much more valuable than everyone else’s. This is especially true when we interrupt two people in a conversation or a meeting. Doing it one time may be forgivable, but doing it often becomes problematic.
There are interruptions that, no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot control. Consider those interludes. It’s critical for us to stay focused, not just for our own priorities, but for the priorities of our district or school as well.
Becoming a part of the solution …
When a customer has a problem, does it help them if we add to that problem? Does it help us? We can add to a person’s problem by not helping them, ignoring them, or by providing provocation to make their problem even worse.
Finding a solution to someone’s problem is not always easy. Maybe we have to go that extra mile to assist them or maybe we need to stop what we’re doing and help them right now. Either way, if we help and assist, we just became a part of the solution. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a parent, a student, or a fellow employee - everyone appreciates it when you’re the one to solve their problem.
A simple case of “I forgot” …
Sometimes it seems like rude customer service is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Luckily, in the school business, many of us know that we are in the people business. Many of us smile at the parents that walk through the door. We like to greet new visitors with a courteous welcome. We take time to help those that need our assistance. Once in a while, we all slip. But in those times, customer service that is perceived as rude is not really intentional. It is often the result of carelessness or absent-mindedness on our behalf.
Are you having a bad day? Everyone does. Never let your foul mood carry over into conversations with your customers. Make it a goal as a customer service employee to keep it to yourself. Are you shorthanded today? Just because you’re a little understaffed today, don’t take it out on your customer. Remember, it’s not their fault at all! Is work piling up on your desk? Nobody likes to hear how much you have to do. Never be too busy that you blow off your customers.
So what can we do about it? In those times, remember Rule #1 of our Five Rules for Great Customer Service - Keep customers the priority. If we keep our customers the priority at all times, we can make sure that “I forgot” never happens to us.