TASB Summer Leadership Institute …
I will be presenting three sessions at TASB SLI in both San Antonio and Fort Worth this year.
On Thursday at 3:00 PM, I’ll be presenting:
The Magic of Customer Service
- As school district budgets disappear, more and more tasks are being required of fewer and fewer people. Has customer service turned into one big vanishing act? When it comes to contact with our communities, all of us are on center stage! What perception do people have about your customer service performance? If you think its time to conjure up a few new tricks, then this workshop is for you. You’ll leave realizing that customer service is no sleight of hand, but a skill that can be learned faster than you can say abracadabra!
On Friday at 11:00 AM, I’ll be presenting:
36 #SchoolPR Tweets to Learn From
- In a world that communicates with 140 characters or less, who has time for intense training? This rapid-fire session will present thirty-six School PR pointers with breakneck speed. You’ll have to listen fast if you want to assimilate it all, but you’ll leave with some great advice on crisis communications, media relations, customer service, community engagement, and more.
On Saturday at 10:00 AM, I’ll be presenting:
Don’t Bother Me … I’m Having A Crisis!
- This interactive session explores what every school leader needs to know to better manage their communications during a crisis situation. Participants are provided with a checklist of techniques that can make anybody look like a PR pro when there’s a whirlwind of attention at your doorstep. Attendees will become versed in how to handle the media and explore what resources to tap when a crisis does occur.
If you plan on being at either of these conferences, please stop by and say hello. I will be glad to see you.
A smile is very contagious.
Have you ever been in a rotten mood and a total stranger passes you by and gives you a big smile? It’s funny how that one simple act, a smile, can start the process to change your mood and your attitude!
The last week of any school year is always busy. All of us will be inundated with phone calls, frantic parents, anxious students, and edgy co-workers. The important thing that we can all do is smile. When we smile out attitude becomes softer, warmer, and brighter. Our smile can make others change their attitude too.
Make the last week of school an exciting time. Share your smile. It’s contagious. The more you smile, the more others will feel like smiling back.
The Customer Service Lottery
All the news this past weekend about the big Powerball lottery got me thinking about customer service.
- Do our customers feel that the service level they get from us is a gamble?
- Do they maybe think that today will be their lucky day and they might get a smile from us?
- Do our customers leave our schools and offices feeling like losers?
Our customer service level should always be of the highest quality. As public school employees, each of us is judged daily by any visitor that comes through our doors. Let’s make sure that the service level they experience is the best it can be. Let’s make sure that we are consistent in offering customer service that is superior. Let’s make sure that our customers know that they are our #1 priority.
Customer service is not a gamble. Take time to let each person know that this is their lucky day. If you do, you as well as the customer, all come out like winners.
Things we shouldn’t say …
Whenever I call someone or visit an organization or business, I always pay attention to what kind of customer service I am receiving. I also pay attention to what people say. You know like when someone tells me “You look nice today.” Is that a compliment, or are they telling me I look like a slob every other day. I am sure that the person does mean that I do look nice today. My brain just can’t help thinking of how things are really perceived in a customer service world.
Here is my list of the top three phrases we need to watch out for when talking to customers:
- No problem – A lot of times we say this after we have done something for someone. They say “Thank you” and we say “No problem.” We should never let our customers feel that they have been a problem to us.
- To be honest with you – Talk about bad perception! When a customer hears this, it indicates that perhaps our school district or an employee they have talked to before has been less that honest with them. That’s an impression we definitely don’t want to make.
- There’s nothing I can do – Hey buddy! Then find me someone who can!
So that’s my list of things we shouldn’t say when dealing with customers. How about you? Do you have one you can add?
A twist on attitude …
Is there any reason why today won’t be the best possible day for you and every person you come in contact with? One of the things we have control of is our attitude towards this day. If you expect nothing but the best today, than the best is what you will receive. Our best attitude is what customers are expecting today. Our best attitude helps us cultivate meaningful relationships. Our best attitude helps us generate positive engagement with our co-workers. Our best attitude can delight each and every one of our customers. Treating people kindly is not something new. The school business is a people business. When people feel that they are being treated well, chances are your day will run smoothly and efficiently.
How good of a listener are you?
Did you ever notice that when we are having a conversation with another person, we often wait to speak instead of keenly listening? Having good listening skills is essential if we plan on providing great customer service to others. If we listen attentively, we can not only increase our rapport with people, but also reduce conflict when a challenging situation arises.
Listening is one of those skills that you and I can improve on through determined effort. A few years back, I developed a workshop called “Listening is the Key to Great Communication” that was presented at several education conferences in Texas. During that training, I would address the Five Tenets to Good Listening:
- Give your full attention to the person speaking to you.
- Make eye contact.
- Use confirmation noises to keep the conversation going
- Ask questions to confirm understanding
- Listen without criticism or judgment
Good listening skills are essential in everything we do. Take some time this week to do a self analysis of your personal listening skills. Good listening skills will let all of us become more productive as we function in our team based environment.
Being Optimistic …
If we are optimistic, we transmit a positive attitude and people respond to us in a favorable way. When we are pessimistic, our attitude becomes negative. People will avoid us if our attitude is negative. Maybe you’re thinking “Great, now everyone will leave me alone!” Not so fast, there are a lot of positives to being optimistic.
Did you know that optimistic people live longer? In addition, they are more productive in the workplace. Optimistic people usually gain the support of others around them. And lastly, if you’re optimistic, you tend to make better decisions when under stress.
I know it won’t take you long to figure out which direction to take today. As you can see, being optimistic is the only way to go.
To see ourselves …
Every once in a while we need to step back, and look at how we offer customer service. Remember that customer service is not just a smile and a friendly greeting, although those are important. Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction.
Growing up in the sixties, my English classes were filled with the recitation of poetry on almost a daily basis. A portion of a poem that I learned, has probably been quoted and misquoted more times than I can count. It is a line from a Robert Burns poem where he writes “to see ourselves as others see us”.
If we take the time to audit ourselves and look at our customer service level from an outsiders perspective, how do you think we would fare? In doing customer service audits with school districts, I have seen a number of things that from the inside are considered necessary and mandatory or cute and funny, but from the outside interpreted much differently.
Before you leave work today, take your own audit. Take some time to see yourself as others see you. Only then will you know if your service level has met your customer’s expectations.
If you are involved with a public school in Texas, you know that this upcoming week is STAAR testing week. STAAR is Texas’ rigorous standardized test given to grades 3 and up. Teachers have been working with their students all year getting ready for this week. One of the things that teachers do best is encourage others to succeed. That got me thinking. How often do we encourage others in our job? Here are a few tips that will make it easy.
Show genuine interest in others. Give them time to talk about their weekend, show joy in the pleasures they are describing. Be specific when you offer someone a word of praise. You did a great job with … or I really appreciate it when you … Sometimes the unexpected is the best revelation. Doing something as simple as buying someone a soda or giving them a candy bar can be a great token of encouragement. Write someone a note. Tell them that you enjoy working with them or they are doing a great job. If you know what encourages you, a lot of times those same things encourage others. Try some of those methods on a co-worker.
People thrive in situations when they feel valued and honored. Imagine what a few words of encouragement will do today to someone you work with! It could make the difference on whether or not they have a day worth remembering.
It’s good to be gracious …
Sometimes, its just not enough to be polite to our customers. We have to be courteous and gracious as well. The secret to great customer service is building relationships with everyone we come in contact with. Never be too busy to say hello or to offer assistance and help. If we look at the outside world, businesses that don’t focus on customer service, suffer in the long run. Our schools and our departments can flourish if we take the time to be responsive, thoughtful, and obliging to our co-workers, our community members, and our parents.
If we want to develop loyal and long term relationships with all of our customers, becoming gracious is the deciding factor.