Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The 5 Worst Phrases To Hear From Customer Service

The 5 Worst Phrases To Hear From Customer Service


teen shopping

Associated Press

Customer service is an art.

Fiona Adler, CEO of Australian customer review website womo.com.au, knows what gets shoppers really upset.

"There's no doubt that customer service can be difficult," she says.

"Things inevitably go wrong, service staff are not always in the best mood, and there are also some customers that can be (a lot) more challenging than others.

"But no matter what happens, there are some things businesses should never say to customers."

These are the five terrible sentences that no shop assistant should ever say, according to her:

"I don't know"

No-one can know everything about the product or service, but a question that stretches you a bit provides an opportunity to do something extra for the customer. "I'm not sure, let me find that out for you" is better, or try "Wow, that's a great question. Let's find out."

"There's nothing I can do"

In some cases this may be true, but saying this is a sure way to disappoint your customer. Think of some ideas that the customer could try or that you could help with. If you've already done that, re-iterate the options the customers can choose from. There are always other options.

"That's our policy"

If you want your customers making voodoo dolls in your image, then keep saying this because that's the response you'll get. This phrase has no place in your customer interactions. It's a cop-out and it only infuriates customers because it implies that it's too bad and they should have read the fine print.

"It's not my fault"

Customers don't want excuses and are not interested in hearing you blame your supplier, manufacturer, colleague, delivery service, or computer system. What they want is someone to help find a solution. Be that person. Try: "I'm so sorry but our delivery hasn't arrived. What I can do is organise an express delivery to your home as soon as the stock arrives."

"It's your fault"

It should come as no surprise that accusing your customer of causing the problem does not pave the path to customer loyalty. Often this is said fairly subtly, but the customer still hears what you're saying. Instead of "I know you've been waiting for half an hour, but you arrived late for your appointment," try something simple along the lines of: "I'm so sorry about the wait, it shouldn't be too much longer. Would you like another latte?"

Adler recommends listening, being empathetic and finding a real solution.

Customers are more savvy than ever and will check reviews.

"A good reputation is a sure way to attract lots more customers," she says.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

6 Things Really Productive People Do

6 Things Really Productive People Do

By Kevin Daum

Have you noticed that some people just seem to accomplish tons and still appear happy and relaxed? Here are six tips for becoming more productive.

Productive woman working while on a treadmill


People often ask me, amazed, how I manage to do so many things. Aside from writing two columns every week, I speak regularly, travel, create videos, manage my business, write books, consult with five companies, network, socialize, cycle, run, read, cook, sleep six to seven hours a night and have dates with my wife. Oh yeah, I watch a lot of television while hanging out with my dog as well.

Okay, I know it sounds ridiculous. But accomplishing my preferred futurerequires this level of activity. I have the same 24 hours in a day that you do, but I have made specific choices that allow me to make the most of every day, and still feel happy and relaxed. Perhaps these tips will help you make the most of your time as well.

1. Pick Your Priorities Okay, I know it sounds ridiculous. But accomplishing my preferred future requires this level of activity. I have the same 24 hours in a day that you do, but I have made specific choices that allow me to make the most of every day, and still feel happy and relaxed. Perhaps these tips will help you make the most of your time as well.People often ask me, amazed, how I manage to do so many things. Aside from writing two columns every week, I speak regularly, travel, create videos, manage my business, write books, consult with five companies, network, socialize, cycle, run, read, cook, sleep six to seven hours a night and have dates with my wife. Oh yeah, I watch a lot of television while hanging out with my dog as well.

Make choices about the activities in your life. With most endeavors, you can either go deep or go wide. Focus on spending time that for you is fun and productive. If you like big families, have them, but recognize up front that kids require time and you'll have to choose a lifestyle that supports quality time with them, for you to feel satisfied. I chose the life of a consultant because I like to work with companies, but don't want the life of a big company CEO. My choices are based on the lifestyle I want.

2. Go For Efficiency

You don't do everything well. The things you do well usually give you greater joy and require less time. Don't take on something with a steep learning curve if you don't have the available bandwidth. Design your life to meet your wants, and recognize when to say no to opportunities that are outside the scope of your desires. Live your life by design, not default.

3. Integrate Your Activities

Many people go crazy trying to figure out how to spend time with friends, family, work, play, etc.  Stop trying to balance time between them all. Find ways to enjoy them in a combined manner. Build your social life around people in your work environment. Find people in your company who share common interests and develop your career around the people and activities you love. If everything is out of synch to the point where you feel pulled and stressed, a change is likely imminent one way or another.

4. Actively Manage Time-wasters

Social media, family, friends, employees, co-workers and general whiners all under certain circumstances can suck precious time from you if you let them. Budget your time for necessary activities. Make a choice to limit non-supportive interactions that don't energize you. As for social media, it can easily be a black hole for time and productivity. Use it appropriately and sparingly as a tool to support your endeavors and social needs, but lay off the Farmville.

5. Be an Active Learner

You would think learning takes more time from you, but actually there are always new tools and new ways of doing things that can save you time on mundane tasks freeing you up for your priorities. Always be looking for a new way to gain back an hour here or there. Just try it and dump it quick if it starts to drag on.

6. Lighten Up

No need to beat yourself up if you can't do all the things you want because you are handling other stuff that needs attention. It happens. The world won't come to an endin most cases just because you left a few things undone. Celebrate progress and keep refining toward a happy productive existence. This is why making lists and crossing off items is a staple in any productivity handbook. Every completion is a small victory that adds up in a big way.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Life Advice By Space Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield

The following life advice was shared by Canadian Space Astronaut “Col. Chris Hadfield”, who believes you can achieve anything if you stay passionate and persistent in following your dreams.

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

Life Advice By Space Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield


How To Properly Define Your Passions & Purpose by Porter Gale

Over the years, I’ve worked with many companies and found the ones with lucid and succinctly described visions are more likely to succeed than those with unclear or highly complex visions. Yet as individuals, we often don’t take the time to clearly articulate our own passions or purpose. To help you define yours, I’ve created a simple test that I call The Funnel Test.

The following is an excerpt from Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success and Happiness in the Digital Age by Porter Gale, former VP of Marketing for Virgin America.

Define Your Passions & Purpose With The Funnel Test

The Funnel Test To Define Your Passion & Purpose

Step 1: Define your three greatest passions or a succinct set of words that clearly define your core interests

You can put a high priority on any type of passion, from family to fitness or education to the environment. For example, I watched my mother build a network based on her passions of volunteering, family, and fitness when, after having lived her entire life in Minnesota, she moved to California to be closer to her family. Within sixty days of arriving, my mother joined a master’s swim team, found a group of women who played tennis at the park, and became an alternate in a golf foursome. If you can find activities, work, or relationships that combine two or more of your core passions, you are likely to hit the jackpot and be more effective in and excited about your actions and activities.

Next, grab a pen and make three columns, one for each passion. Make a commitment to improve, particularly where your involvement is limited. Let’s say that if you’re passionate about photography, make a commitment to go to photography exhibits several times a year and find online communities about the topic. For example, two of my goals are to take an improvisation class as a way to nurture my interest in storytelling and to go on weekly hikes with friends to support my passion for health.


Step 2: Define your desired tone

How you want to present yourself to the world? What is your authentic voice? Are you quiet and reserved? Witty? Bold? Irreverent? To use the example of my mom again, I’d define her tone as reserved. She’s understated and is more likely to listen first and talk second.

Now fill the space below your passion circles with a selected word for your tone. Like a funnel, where the contents flows from top to bottom, envision all of your actions being influenced by your tone. Remember, simple is good.


Step 3: Define your core purpose in twenty words or less

What do you want to accomplish in life? And work? Write what is in your gut, and look at the passion words in your Funnel Test. Your goal is to write a phrase of fewer than twenty words that describes your purpose. My recommendation is to keep this as simple as possible. Some brands and companies do this, and it also happens to be a valuable exercise for self-reflection for any individual.

Fred Reid, the founding chief executive officer of Virgin America, shared with me how the airline’s purpose, “To create an airline people love”, was born: “I had written it on a paper and had thrown it into the trash. I initially thought it was too simplistic, but that is what we wanted to do. Can you imagine? Have an airline people loved?” After some deliberation, Reid and the founding team kept coming back to the simple phrase and decided it was the perfect mantra for the start-up that faced a complicated uphill battle prior to liftoff in 2007.

Sometimes we have to make sacrifices or take baby steps in the short-term to help us get to where we want to be. However, if you don’t even know where you want to go, it will be even harder to get there. Once you’ve defined your passions and developed a focused network your networking efforts will be more effective and authentic.  Use this test as a filter to help you guide your activities and meetings.

Stay optimistic, stay productive, and be the best you can be. Stay focused on your purpose, but know there is potential learning in every action.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The 5 "A’s" of Leadership

Here are some great reminders of what it takes to be an effective and respective leader. Author John Baldoni refers to them as The 5 "A’s" of Leadership.

Approachable – Listen to what others have to say. Make yourself accessible to others and invite them to talk about whatever is on their mind.

Accepting – Keep an open mind. Good ideas can come from everyone – managers, engineers, accountants, workers. In fact, many of the best ideas do come from hourly workers because they are the ones working the process of making the product.

Acknowledging – Recognize the contributions of others. Thank someone every day and let them know when they’ve done a good job.

Accountable – Be responsible for yourself and the actions of others under your charge.

Adaptable – Change is not so much an aspect of business as it is business itself. Think about where your organization and your people need to be in the future, not where you are today, and make the adjustments necessary to get there.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The One Thing Your Team Wants You to Stop Doing

The One Thing Your Team Wants You to Stop Doing
December 21, 2012

The other day, on the sidelines of a conference, a bright young manager sought my advice. "I've tried using different leadership styles, but I can't seem to dispel my team's sense of disengagement," he confessed. "I don't understand what I'm doing wrong."

"Why don't you ask your team?" I asked him.

The reply surprised him, but there's no point in complicating leadership. As I described in a previous post, time-tested leadership traits are quite simple to adopt. Yet, as recent reports confirm, there's a growing disconnect between teams and managers. Why?

On a hunch, I decided to conduct a flash survey of my social media universe. "What's the one thing you'd like your boss to stop doing?" I asked on Facebook, Twitter, and HCL's internal social media platform, Meme.

The number of responses that poured in shocked me. Everybody had something to say about that, and seemed to be waiting to be asked. The top pieces of advice:

Don't obfuscate; tell it like it is. That's typical of Gen Y, which wants its leaders to call a spade a spade. "Tell it like it is, stop worrying about hurting people's feelings," said one response. The next was even more direct: "Stop being outwardly nice and be vocal about dissatisfaction with my efforts." A third went a step further: "Let people know where they really stand. They know how to win if we tell them the score."

No rose-tinted spectacles for today's employee; they have the pluck to look at their failures and successes and have little patience for circuitous comments.

Stop telling me what I know. Coach me, enable me, support me... was the message, over and over again. Give us "freedom, exposure, and guidance," wrote a young lady on Facebook, which was echoed on Twitter by "Learn to let go... Create the platform for your team to perform and back them by providing guidance and support."

I could hear my kids' voices in some of these comments. Trying to teach today's Google-bred generation often blurs the lines between student and teacher; the former will tell you a thing or two that you didn't know. It's time leaders moved from being knowledge-providers to enablers.

Don't stray; walk the talk. Megaphone managers have thrived for too long; people now want their leaders to be the change they advocate. They're looking for role models, which was evident in comments such as: "Walk the talk and set me an example. I need to know that we are in it together," and "Do away with the lack of congruence between your actions and your words because I need to trust you."

Mahatma Gandhi's success as a leader is usually attributed to character traits such as vision, courage, conviction, and perseverance, but what's less known is the fact that he always practiced what he preached.

Stop playing favorites. Even if organizations have adopted key performance indicators with measurable goals and outcomes, it is worth reflecting whether they apply to us . A couple of comments: "A horse and a monkey cannot both be judged on the basis of which can climb trees." Or "Reward performance, not sycophancy."

We can all put a name to the employee who steadily rose up the corporate ladder despite weak performance because he was affable and didn't bruise anyone's ego. That was rampant until measurable goals came along, but the bad news is that it still happens. Indeed, the need to measure and be objective cannot be stressed enough.

Don't be a boss, be a leader. There was an unmistakable call for appreciative, empathetic, respect-worthy leaders. "Lead by example, not by rules," wrote one young man on Facebook. "Stop trying to control people...," added another. A third quoted Gordon Selfridge: "A boss inspires fear, a leader inspires enthusiasm."

These aren't isolated cases. As confirmed by the Kelly Global Workforce Index in September 2012, which studied the Leadership Disconnect in 30 countries, less than 4 out of 10 employees (38%) are satisfied with their current management's leadership styles. So if you see a decline in your team's enthusiasm, it may not necessarily be the economy! You may want to check if there's a disconnect between your leadership style and your team's expectations.