Taking pride in your work …
People who take pride in their work are usually the kind of people who aspire to perform every assignment they do at a very high level of proficiency. When we take pride in our work we see our work as being something valuable, not only to us, but to the entire organization. Many of us take the time in our everyday jobs to look for ways to accomplish tasks better and sometimes in more original ways. Many of us do what we do not just for a paycheck, but because we love what we do.
Customer service is all about taking pride in our work. It’s about taking pride in assisting our customers: from parents to students and co-workers to community members. It’s about taking pride in that next phone call we take, that e-mail we write, or personal contact we make.
What’s your plan for today? What’s your plan for this week? Let’s take pride in everything that we do. Everyone will notice, especially our customers.
Everybody makes mistakes …
Mistakes are a part of life. I’ve made a ton of them. How about you? What’s the best thing to do when a mistake happens? Some people think they should shut up, keep quiet, and maybe nobody will notice. That’s not a good thing to do in the customer service world.
When we deal with customers, mistakes do happen. Sometimes, mistakes create a bigger problem. If you make the decision that customer service is your top priority, any mistake should be dealt with in a timely manner. Customers not only appreciate it, they deserve it. When a mistake happens, admit to it. Don’t blame others. The faster that you admit to the mistake, the faster you can concentrate on a solution.
We are all human. We do make mistakes. The important thing to do is to always make NEW mistakes. Never repeat your old ones.
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”. During that training, I would address the Five Tenets to Good Listening. They are:
- 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 lets us all become more productive in our team based environment.
With most campuses involved in STAAR testing this week, there’s going to be a sense of urgency and seriousness in the air. 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 … 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 that says 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.
The smallest things …
Sometimes, the smallest things can make a customer’s experience with our school or our district a positive one. Words like: “Please”, “Thank you”, “Sorry for the inconvenience” – are oh so simple, but very much appreciated.
These little things cost us absolutely nothing, take very little effort (except to remember), and make big points with our customers – especially if they are angry. This week, remember the smallest things. Our customers will notice and appreciate our efforts.
Did you know that, besides a smile, a “hello" is the simplest way we can offer customer service to someone. How many times will you say "hello" today? Believe it or not, saying "hello" is becoming a lost art. Nowadays, we tend to say "Hi”, “Yo”, or even “Sup”. “hello" is actually one of those pay it forward words. If we want to, we can even stretch it to two words - "Hello Matt”, “Hello Pam”, “Hello Dave”.
If you look at the basic rules of hospitality and customer service, the word “hello" is at the top. Hello is customer service.
The next time you pass by somebody today, remember to say “hello”. Say it like you mean it. Add a smile to it. I bet that the person you give a cheerful “hello” to will even pass it on to someone else. It may even make them smile. Isn’t that what customer service is all about?
The telephone and customer service, Part 2
Last week, we talked about the importance of presenting a professional image, both in person and on the telephone. Since we use our phones so much every day, I thought it would be good to add a few extra customer service tips for when we make those outgoing calls:
- When calling a customer back, always identify yourself properly by providing your name, and your campus/department.
- If you are leaving a voice mail, slow down when you are reciting your number. It’s good practice to repeat the number a second time.
- Avoid leaving long winded messages.
- Be aware of confidential information when leaving messages.
- Be aware of people around you when talking on the phone. Someone next to you might overhear confidential information.
The telephone is such an essential part of our jobs. We can make a positive impression to our customers by using it to enhance our level of excellent service.
The telephone and customer service …
Presenting a professional image, both in person and on the telephone, is important for all of us in public education. The telephone is an essential part of the contact we have with customers. Here are a couple of tips for making sure our service level equals our customers expectations:
- Speak clearly and use your normal tone of voice when answering a call.
- Listen to what the caller has to say.
- Avoid distractions and stay focused on the current call.
- Never eat or drink when you are on the phone.
- Always ask the caller politely if you can put them on hold.
By taking care of our customers over the phone, we make them feel well welcomed and appreciated. That’s essential to great customer service.
TASB Winter Governance & Legal Seminar …
I will be presenting two sessions this year at the 17th Annual Winter Governance and Legal Seminar sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards.
A School District Guide to Successful Media Relations
- Building a great relationship with the media is vital for every school district. How do you do it? There are unique challenges that exist in every market with every type of media outlet. It’s important to promote your district to reporters in a positive, consistent, and credible manner. Using topical examples, participants will be led through a study on how the media influences the public’s perspective on education and what strategies you can use to be successful.
The Clarity of the Message
- How clear is your message? How important is it to get your district’s message across? Every school district has a story to tell and our communities want to hear all about them. How you communicate the message with your stakeholders is equally as important as what you communicate. From planning and listening, to trustworthiness and media relations, you’ll learn that the messages you send should be a planned effort that keeps everyone focused and on target.
Communicating with co-workers …
(This is the third of three customer service messages that reflect on internal customer service, a vital component for any healthy organization. I hope you enjoy them.)
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 the organization to run smoothly.
Last week I mentioned that a key factor to the success in dealing with internal customers is communication. Some tips we can use to improve our communication skills with co-workers include:
- Give your co-workers the gift of undivided attention.
- Show interest in what people are saying.
- Be patient not to interrupt or jump on people’s small mistakes.
- 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.