TASB Summer Leadership Institute
If you are in San Antonio or Fort Worth for TASB’s Summer Leadership Institutes, I hope you attend one of the three workshops I will be presenting.
Customer Service is Everyone’s Job!
- Thursday, 3:15 PM (6/19 in SAT, 6/26 in FW)
- Board members and administrators know that community support is contingent upon the way public schools are perceived. What makes people proud of their schools? What type of message does district staff send when it comes to dealing with their customers? This workshop looks at the importance of customer service and explores key strategies such as: attitude, personality, image, and rapport building. You’ll leave realizing that great customer service is a choice … a choice every district should make.
The Clarity of the Message
- Friday, 11:15 AM (6/20 in SAT, 6/27 in FW)
- 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.
A School District Guide to Successful Media Relations
- Saturday, 10:00 AM (6/21 in SAT, 6/28 in FW)
- 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.
Receiving your degree in customer service
Good customer service is a skill. It’s a skill that can always be improved upon with practice, by watching other people, and even by reading quick messages like this one. Over this past year, 35 customer service messages were sent out. 36 if you count today’s. Which one do you remember? Which one gave you a better insight into how we can better serve our customers?
To me, one of my favorites was was one that went out in February “Never forget that co-workers are customers too”. Maintaining amiable relationships with coworkers makes for a much more enjoyable workplace environment. Just as we should do whatever it takes to satisfy an external customer, we should always make sure our co-workers are rated #1.
This will be my last weekly customer service message for a while. Consider this one a graduation message! Just like our students, it’s time to take a break. Even though there is work to be done over the summer months, it’s a different kind of work. Enjoy your time off if you get any. Remember: the first day of the 2014-2015 school year will be here before you know it!
Planning summer time in-service?
Please visit my web site to explore the listing of keynotes and workshops that I have available. Workshops are available on customer service, media relations, crisis communications, and school PR.
Working with interruptions …
Interruptions at work are a daily occurrence. How we deal with those interruptions plays an important role in what our level of customer service is capable of becoming. Interruptions can disturb our focus or thought process. As customer service providers, its important to be able to multitask.
Prioritize and set a timetable for yourself. Customer contact is usually at its peak first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. You may have ten tasks that need your attention today. Categorize them in order of importance and urgency. Begin punching out your list once the rush of customer contacts lessens. Making a dent as soon as you can frees up the time you need to deal with your customers at the end of the day.
E-mails can drain away your time if you don’t watch it. Instead of keeping your e-mail open all the time and responding to them instantaneously, set fixed times during the day to check and respond to e-mails. You will find that keeping such a system will provide more time for you to accomplish those items on that task list.
How do you deal with interruptions? Do you have any other suggestions? As you go through the week, take time to focus on ways to make interruptions work for you, instead of against you.
Living today with a happy 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. It all happens because you have an attitude that is happy, and it shows.
Remember … the customer is always right …
In business, no matter how unreasonable or angry a customer may seem, in principle the customer is always right. In the school business, our customer is king as well. Customers are the people we provide our service to. It is always vital for us to do our best so that each customer experiences the finest service and receives maximum satisfaction.
It doesn’t matter if the customer is a parent, a community member, a student, or a fellow employee - top notch customer service is what we need to deliver. It’s especially important as we wind down during this very busy month. Keep smiling, make the customers your priority, and remember that our customers are king.
Step up your game …
I’m sure you’ve heard this expression before. So many times we hear it in a sporting situation … “that player sure needs to step it up!” In that connotation, it seems like its a negative expression. How does it become a positive affirmation?
When we think about our work in the school business, we all know that May is one of those months that at times tries our patience. All those end of year events: exams, graduations, class parties, concerts, playoffs … the list goes on and on. When times gets hectic, people (including ourselves) may become more abrupt, sassy, presumptuous, and even disrespectful.
When it comes to customer service, all of us need to step back, take a deep breath, and remember those simple things that will guarantee an easy way to step up our game. Our Five Rules for Great Customer Service provides us with a benchmark that is always useful and timely, especially during the month of May.
- Rule #1 – Keep customers the priority.
- Rule #2 – Over-deliver when possible.
- Rule #3 – Offer choices.
- Rule #4 – Be access-approachable.
- Rule #5 – Use logic not emotion.
I am going to take time and review these a lot this month. I know that I may slip from time to time, but I’m always going to go back to the basics to keep my customers happy. Deciding to step up my game is a choice I’m going to take seriously. How about you?
During the past week, I’ve had a lot of problems. My biggest problem was with the use of the phrase “no problem”. For those of you that know me, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people say “no problem” … especially in a simple customer service setting.
- At the coffee shop … CLERK: Here’s your order. ME: Thank you! CLERK: No problem. ME: Ugh!
- At the grocery store … CLERK: Here’s your receipt, you saved $3.42 today. ME: Thanks! CLERK: No problem. ME: Double ugh, but thinking what an effort it was to rip the receipt from the cash register and hand it to me!
- At the restaurant … WAITER: Here you are, one sweet tea. ME: Thank you. WAITER: No problem. ME: No response, but thinking about what an effort it was to actually bring me exactly what I ordered!
How did such simple things become a “problem” in the first place? Is “no problem” a big problem in the customer service world? When you think about it, the phrase contains two negatives. Good customer service tells us that we should never say “no” to a customer and that a customer should never be considered a “problem”.
I am going to spend some time this week making a concerted effort not to use the phrase “no problem” in all those simple conversations. Instead, I’m going to try to say some of the other stand-by phrases like:
- “you’re welcome”
- “my pleasure”
- or “glad to help”.
I am going to save “no problem” for the really big stuff.
- Stuck on the highway … ME: Thank you for stopping and helping me change my flat tire. STRANGER: “No problem”. ME: Thinking, this guy was all right!
Have a great week ahead. Thank you. You’re welcome.
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.