Leadership Lessons ezine by Mark Sanborn
April 1, 2011
IN THIS ISSUE: The Customer Isn’t Always Right (and What to Do About It)
Tips for Creating Teamwork. We take many things for granted. We’ve heard certain sayings so long and so often and they sound good so we accept them as true, even when they’re not.Here is a favorite example: The Customer Is Always Right. Whoever first came up with that one never met very many customers.
If you have contact with customers you know that this saying just doesn’t ring true. Sometimes customers are rude and demanding. Occasionally they are just plain wrong.
So where does that leave us? Well, the customer may not always be right, but they are always “the customer.” Since I believe in the power of and essential need for superior service, I define the customer like this
“The customer is someone who has paid to be treated with dignity and respect whether or not they deserve it.”
In other words, when we take someone’s money and they become our customer, we either need to treat them well or give them their money back.
Here are three ideas for dealing with customers, even when they aren’t right
1. Maintain your sense of humor.
I asked one of my early mentors the secret of being successful in business. His advice was direct: First, be willing to put up with your customer’s problems, complaints and grief. Business is about being paid to deal with other people’s problems. Secondly, he said, “Remember what I tell my salespeople: They have my permission to tell a customer where to go–as long as they hang up the phone first!”
Frank Clark said, “The next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.
2. Turn it into a challenge.
It’s easy to be nice to nice customers. The challenge is to be nice to customers who aren’t.
Treat difficult customers as a challenge. See if you can convert them with kindness.
Many years ago I had a client that operated an airport service center for general aviation customers. They had a pilot who was a regular customer but who was always a grump. They formulated a strategy to make him smile. They had a plan to amuse and delight him. They gave him inexpensive but thoughtful gifts. Eventually they won him over. But just as importantly, they had fun doing it.
3. Take your work very seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously
According to a Sioux Indian saying, the first thing people say after their death is, “Why was I so serious?”
There is absolutely no reason not to have fun when serving customers, even when it becomes difficult or challenging. Quality, accuracy, timeliness and value are all serious aspects of great customer service, but they can be achieved and even enhanced with the appropriate spirit of fun.
Remember, if you’re not having fun-enjoying yourself and your work-your customers aren’t having fun doing business with you.
The customer isn’t always right, but if you take care of him or her even when they’re wrong, they’ll notice and keep giving you their business.
|Tips for Creating Teamwork|
|1.Share the decision-making. It is common for leaders and managers to micro- manage and simply tell employees what to do. However, if employees are given responsibility and allowed to make important decisions as well, teamwork is accomplished and the company is better for it. When employees feel their input matters, they work harder and are typically happier.2.Allow regular employees to be marketers. Creating cross-functional teams containing a variety of different employees can help with marketing and research efforts. Not only does this make the employees feel valued but also the team can be an effective marketing tool, offering different perspectives than the typical marketing professional.3.Create a way for employees to evaluate managers. It is beneficial for team leaders to evaluate their members, but it is also important for members to have a forum through which to evaluate their leaders. Furthermore, employees should have a way to bypass direct supervisors in order to speak with the next executive level about problems or concerns.4.Throw out therulebook. Eliminating unnecessary reports, signoffs, and guidelines is a way to promote responsibility and trust within employees. Doing this decreases the corporate feel and encourages a place of community in which communication takes precedence over handbook policies and procedures.5.Emphasize employees’ best skills. Just like our ancestors, the hunter/gatherers, it is effective to focus on one’s best skills. There were no hunter/gatherer job descriptions; if you had good eyesight, you became the game spotter. If you were a fast runner, you chased the game. The most successful teams use the best attributes of each member, combining them to make one powerhouse team.6.Don’t always rely on memos, voicemails, or e-mails. In today’s culture, face- to-face communication is nearly eradicated thanks to e-mail and voicemail systems. But in some cases, genuine, real-time communication is vital. If you need to communicate something sensitive or urgent, make an effort to speak with the team member in person, or at least on the phone, to ensure the message is received and understood7.Reexamine beliefs about competition. To make teamwork possible, we must reexamine our beliefs about competition. Alfie Cohen, a researcher on competition found that optimal productivity not only did not require competition, it usually required the absence of competition. Cohen found that in the workplace when people started working together, rather than working against each other, productivity increased dramatically.8.Harness healthy forms of competition to make teamwork work. One way to increase self-esteem among team members is to get them to quit focusing on how they compare to others and start focusing on how they compare to their own individual potential. That will eliminate the anxiety that hampers performance in the workplace.9.Learn from healthy role models. Start seeking out healthy role models for employee teams to examine and follow. Rather than a sports team, which is the typical teamwork role model, find more applicable teamwork approaches used by businesses, nonprofit organizations, as well as the arts, science and public sectors. Keep a file of newspaper and magazine articles about their successes, or arrange to interview someone from the organization.
10.1Form groups to study role models. Once you have targeted some healthy role-models, involve all of the people who will be affected. When GM’s Cadillac engine plant in Lavonia, Michigan, decided to go to a team concept, they pulled together a group of union officials, management, and hourly employees. That representative group studied other successful teams for over a year before putting together their own operating philosophy.
11.Create a teamwork laboratory. Choose an area of your organization on which to focus, such as marketing, administration, or conflict resolution. Quantify the current level of performance by asking questions about the effectiveness of the employees and tasks. Determine a timeframe in which to implement teamwork strategies, and then evaluate the results.
12.Start small and build. It is wise to choose a section of your company to test a new teamwork approach. Once you have completed the trial process, assess the effectiveness. When you have proof the approach will work, then you can implement the strategies throughout the rest of your company.
|How To Build Your Legacy|
|According to Barna Research, only 1 of 4 Americans has a life philosophy. Fewer still have a notion about the kind of legacy they want to leave.
Our culture is obsessed with success. We assume that if we become really good at what we do, we will earn the material benefits and accolades that come with success. But Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, points out that our goal in life shouldn’t be just to “be good,” but rather to “be good for something.”
If that “something” is limited to merely personal success, our impact on the world around us will be limited. To put it another way, don’t confuse resume skills with leadership skills.
The difference between your resume and your legacy is:
What You’ve Accomplished What You’ve Contributed
The Money You’ve Made The Difference You’ve Made
The Impression You Leave The Impact You Had
Self Improvement Helping to Improve Others
What you learned What you taught
Are you just building a resume or preparing to leave a lasting legacy?
Sanborn & Associates, Inc.