Pinnacleceo's Take

Experiences put to paper…

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

A Follow Up on Make It Personal Please!

Last week I posted an article encouraging everyone to make it personal, to find someone to compliment or do a little something beyond the job description and…do one of these things on purpose. (If you have not read “Make it Personal…Please!”  on my blog site, please do so and it will set the stage for the story that follows.)

I did have a few comments and for those who shared, please continue the quest with me to keep the personal approach alive and well. With that said I had to share a personal story that happened to me just a few days ago and it all began and ended when I told someone “you do such a great job!”

The other day I went into an establishment that I go to regularly and I ran into the janitor of the facility. He seemed to be upset about something and I discovered he felt unsure about how to handle a situation with his employer and should probably start looking for other work.

Now I personally know the owner of the establishment and he is a very good person, so I did a little double duty. I told the janitor that I hoped he would reconsider and that if he had an issue, he should approach the owner and work it out.  Then I did the personal approach and said  “besides that, you do such a good job that everyone would miss not seeing you around”. I concluded my comments with this: “I also believe that in today’s world, if you have the opportunity to get up and come to work in the morning, to be gainfully employed, you are blessed!” I meant it.  I know several people my age looking for work!

That did it because the next time I went in, I saw the janitor again and he could not wait to tell me that he had cleared up the misunderstanding and was happily working again.  He told me that he appreciated me telling him how he would be missed and then he stated that choosing to leave would have been a huge mistake.  He concluded by saying: “And I need to appreciate what I have.” Well put don’t you think?

From a few words of encouragement the following took place

1. A person felt worth

2. A job was saved

3. A misunderstanding was resolved

4. A new approach to work was discovered

A pretty good return on investment if you ask me!  Now I know this will not always be the case but I say again, how difficult was my task?  If it impacts just one, that should justify the effort!

So there you go. One more example of how the small on purpose, sincere personal approach can make a huge difference in someone’s life. So help me keep it going, let’s keep it going

Make it Personal…Please!

Allow me to veer off the normal path and discuss something that has been brought to my attention time and time again over the last couple of weeks.

It seems to me more and more every day, we are losing the “personal touch” approach and are automating almost everything. Case in point: Last week I contacted a company and I was greeted by an automated voice that instructed me to SAY who I was.  The next few minutes went like this:  Automated Voice: “If you are a representative say representative”

Me: “Representative”.

Automated Voice:  “Pardon?”

Me: “Representative”

Automated Voice: “I’m sorry, if you are a representative say representative”

Me: “click” (I realize that I may speak with a little southern draw, but seriously…)

 

 Now please don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes you must automate… I understand this and I would be hypocritical if I said we don’t use automation, we do; but the point I want to make is that if you must automate, then the next steps forward to dealing with you MUST be taken personal. I know you get this point here. If, however, you choose (choose is a BIG word here) not to, and clients experience what I experienced, I feel you may be in BIG trouble!

 

This is what I would like each of us to do: Create a “pay it forward” approach if you will, and begin to make things personal…on purpose, not just in our business dealings, but in everything we do, a new commitment to valuing people.   Here are a few simple yet effective ways to get rolling:

  1. Pay someone a sincere compliment:  Yes that’s right, on purpose find an opportunity to sincerely brag on someone. Your spouse, a colleague or friend will do nicely.  I recently had coffee with a great friend of mine and I could tell he had experienced a very exhausting day.  We started conversing about an event he performed at over the weekend ( He is a great sax player…see I just paid him another compliment). He said he performed it solo without any music and stated that it would have been better with accompaniment. It hit me right then to pay him a sincere compliment. I said “You are such a good sax player, that anything you did would have sounded great”.  A big ole’ smile came across his face; but it was much more than the smile, this little comment seemed to recharge his battery too.
  2. Let someone go ahead of you. I told you this was off the beaten path…but just do it. For example, instead of rushing ahead to block the car merging onto the freeway, let them in. This concept is simple enough, no further explanation needed right? Okay, moving on.
  3. Do something above the job description: I know we are busy and can’t always take the time to do the little extra BUT to really make it personal, culturally, as an organization, when we can, we go above and beyond the stated job description. For example:  I recently told the story of the sprinkler man who stated he would not leave you until you were completely comfortable on how to use your control panel, or the attendant who actually put my cream in the coffee at the drive-up window. Finally there was the bank teller who completed my application for a new product for me and all I had to do was sign on the bottom line.
  4. Call a customer or client to check on them: If you have just encountered a client or customer that has made a recent purchase, call them to check and see that all is going according to plan. I have a physician friend who after seeing a new patient for the first time, would call them that evening to see if they got their medication in good order and expressed to them he hoped they are feeling better soon. WOW! Just a simple follow up is all that is needed here

None of the things described above can be found in the specifics of the job description, and none of the activities they performed were HUGE undertakings. They each made a personal choice to go above and beyond and create a HUGE impact on my perception of them AND their organization!

 This list of ideas can go on and on and it is a PERSONAL choice.  As I stated at the beginning of this post, based upon my recent experiences, I believe we are losing little by little; the personal approach and I want to in some small way, remind us of the benefits to valuing people in all areas of our lives.

And speaking of benefits…When we make it personal, we get a sense of satisfaction equal to that of the one we valued! When you see that smile light up someone’s face, or that look in their eyes when they experience the “beyond the job description” service and finally when you hear it in their voice “Thank you, I really appreciate what you did”; it doesn’t get much better than this and I PERSONALLY never want to forget this.

 So thanks for allowing me to veer off a little.  My challenge for you and me is to go out and the first opportunity you get; make it personal PLEASE.  Feel free to share your comments and experiences. It would be great to hear from you.  Let’s do all we can every day to keep the personal approach to business and to life alive and well.

A Six Step Approach To Influencing Decision Making in Your Favor Part Two

Welcome back!

The C.L.I.E.N.T  Promotion System

The purpose of this system is to help identify opportunities to promote and validate the decision to choose you and your organization time and time again.  Regardless of what you do, the greatest measure of success is the ability to gain valuable business and keep it.  To be perceived as the provider of choice regardless of what else is out there.  To be so regarded by what you do, that those you serve have embedded in their minds that they have no reason to look elsewhere; they are yours for life!

Here we go!

Communication: Clearly how we communicate with those we serve impacts their decision. Are we proactive or reactive?  Proactive initiates and prevents, while reactive defends and repairs.  Communication can be difficult. People communicate in many ways, both verbally and non-verbally.  The little things you do without saying a word such as eye contact, a friendly smile, your energy level when you see me, all impact decision making! A proactive approach to communication is the first critical step to influencing the decision process.

Listening:  Don’t you wish there was a magic pill you could take that would insure you never missed a critical element to a conversation?  Unfortunately there is none BUT, you can greatly influence the decision process by being a great listener…on purpose.  Here are a few tips for great listening:

  1. Listen with your eyes:  When a client is talking to you, telling you about their plans, dreams or problems, you validate to them you are listening not with your ears, but with your eyes.  You see physically you can be in the same room with someone, but mentality, you are on a Caribbean island enjoying the ocean breeze.
  2. Restate their statement.  Once your client has told you their “story”, restate the highlights.  Such as “So what I have heard you say is that…” and tell them what they told you.
  3. Listen on purpose.  I can’t tell you the importance of this attitude.  No matter the topic or your interest level in it, listen like you mean it.  If you need validation of this concept, please go to my blog and read my post on “Learn to Listen to Stories About Cows”.  Being a good listen on purpose changed my life and it can change yours!

Identify: Now that you have heard what the situation is, and you have a great knowledge of what you provide, you can now identify the best solution to meet the desired needs and wants.  I know you know this but as a reminder, when identifying the right solution, focus on the benefits of making the person’s life better as described in part one of this post rather than the features.  As one person we worked with put it, “Lead with benefits and the features will follow nicely along”.

Educate: Time to take action.  This part of the promotion system clearly communicates what the next steps are to fulfill the need.  This is where you ASK to make the decision.  Educating reinforces the benefits as identified above and details what happens next.  This is what you can expect from me and here is what I need from you to get this started.  It is important to know that you must ASK and not ASSUME. A proper education will facilitate this.

Networking: Once the decision is made and your client is satisfied with your performance, you earn the right to ask for introductions to others.  The most overlooked opportunity is a referral. If you believe that what you offer including you is as good as it gets and you prove this, you are granted permission to ask to be introduced to others to influence their decision making process in your favor too!

Thank You:  These are not mere words, this is reassurance!  Thank you means that not only did you get a great product or service, but you also purchased a culture that will value you from now on.  No matter who you encounter from our company, anytime, anywhere, we will treat you as priority number one!  This reassurance does more for the final piece of the decision making process-Would I do the same again?- than any other.  This gives the client a sense of security and confidence in their decision!

 

So there you have it. Great proactive communication, listening on purpose to find out what matters creates the opportunity to identify  a solution for a need or want.  This allows us to educate on what happens next to get started (Remember we have to ASK) to finalize the decision process. Now that we have a happy client we earn the right to network, to gain introductions to other decision making opportunities to influence in our favor. And finally, with the deal inked, we reassure our client that this is not the end, this is the beginning and no matter who you come in contact with at our company, you will feel valued. This is because Thank you  is more than words…it is our validation to you that we truly want you as our client…a regular customer that chooses us time and time again!

 

A Six Step Approach To Influencing Decision Making in Your Favor Part One

There are a lot of buzz words we use in business, especially when it comes to promoting and selling products and services to the marketplace. I have noticed of late that customer service is being viewed more as customer experience.  I like this because I believe it encompasses the entire process from the moment the customer is encountered until the event is complete.

Now you can call me “old school” if you want, but I also believe that every person who experiences your organization’s customer experience, has a little video camera turned on inside their head and is recording every detail that occurs for playback later.  They do this for a very specific reason, and their review is critical to your success!

The Decision Process: Each of us goes through a series of events when choosing a solution. 

  1. A Discovery for a need or a want: Something triggers us to determine that we need or want something to make our life better.  A need is just that, a necessity, such as medical care, shelter…the basics.  A want is something we desire because we believe if we have it, it creates a better life or lifestyle for us. I.e. That new convertible would be so cool, driving down the highway with my hair blowing in the breeze! You get the picture.  Regardless of need or want; a discovery has taken place and it is time to take care of it.
  2. Evaluate: What are my options?  Who offers what I am searching for? Are their more advantages with company A over company B? Who is easier to work with?  These are a few thoughts that come to mind when evaluating choices.
  3. Research and Recommendations: Now that I know what and who are available, which is best for me? It is time to research the companies and the products by gaining feedback from others. Questions such as: “What was your experience like” or “Who did you use”, or,”Who would you recommend?” are a significant part of the process. A key note regarding this point is that most of the people we inquire are those whom we highly value and trust and more often than not will take them at their word unconditionally!  This is critically important for you…more on this later.
  4. Selection: Choice made.  The trigger is pulled, I have signed on the dotted line, I am yours!
  5. Review: Would I do the same again? The final piece to the decision process is the review. It is here that the playback button referred to earlier is pushed and reviewed to determine when the need or want arises again, will I choose you again…or someone else.

I would hope that as you are reading through this sequence of events above, you are thinking to yourself how you and your organization address each of them for you see; all five can be influenced in your favor!

In part two of this post, I want to share with you a simple six step formula I created over the past 25 years that is designed to help you influence the decision process in your favor.  But, before I do, I want to lay the ground work that formed the process .

 

Customer v. Client:  A customer is defined as one who purchases goods or services from another.  A client is defined as a regular customer.

I found this most interesting when I looked up each of these words in the dictionary.  The customer definition is listed as a noun (person, place or thing) and the client definition was listed as an adjective (action).

 

It is important to note that I am not talking about terminology.  If you refer to those you serve as customers, please continue to do so.  I am talking about a philosophy; the way we view and treat those we serve.  I am talking about the action of influencing the decision making process described above into encore performances time after time!  In order to have regular customers, we must view them as the definition clearly states…a client.

 

Now that I hopefully have your interest peaked, I would like to introduce you to a simple six-step approach to influencing the decision making process and by definition, making your customers valuable clients.  Stay tuned.

Is Choosing You Worth The Price of Admission? Three Performances Tell All

One of my favorite things in life is music.  I grew up with the radio blaring to the classic rock hits of the mid to late 70’s.  It doesn’t get any better.  Sorry guys, no room for discussion on this topic.  Last year one of my favorite bands made an appearance in our city.  As soon as tickets went on sale, I made the dash to purchase; so did thousands of others.  Now here is the question to ponder.  I paid or should I say we paid (or sacrificed) a rather large amount of cash to gain entrance into this event.  What was so special about this that made me choose to allocate my hard earned money to experience such an event?

The belief of an unforgettable performance! I believed that by purchasing a ticket, I would gain entrance into an experience I would never forget for the rest of my life; a chance to relive some great old memories and perhaps create some new ones.  The point is I believed unconditionally the price or sacrifice to be a part of this experience was well worth the output to gain the outcome; then I began to wonder as I always do, does this same level of enthusiasm exist for my clients and my teammates about choosing to work with me?  What kind of performance or performances would I need to demonstrate that validate their efforts, sacrifices and choices were worth the price of admission?  Here are three great performances to consider.

Measurable performance:  A quantifiable value of worth.  I know words matter, don’t get me wrong, BUT I know my worth to an organization or business not by what is said to me, nor by what you feel about me, but what you DO! Point:  When you say “I’ll call you back” or “I will help make this happen” or “I want to thank you for a job well done” DO you? When you express in your mission statement that you are “the community-minded company, are you? You see, you can say this all day but until you demonstrate (DO) it, these are merely words that have no value. 

Optimum performance:  Defined as the best obtainable result under specific conditions. No one is perfect.  We will all drop the ball at some point.  Not everyone works with the same capabilities.  Some have more modern technologies, finer facilities or more capital to utilize.  This is not the point of optimum performance.  This performance takes what is available specifically to you, and maximizes the output to in turn maximize the outcome; to perform at the highest level possible. This performance level creates and promotes and environment for every person at every role and responsibility to perform their best, because they feel valued and they know their contributions matter! It develops chemistry for success!

Chemistry vs. talent: Optimum performance develops a chemistry that provides the right mix of abilities and attitudes to result in greater opportunities versus sheer individual talents alone.  Should you ever doubt the result of great chemistry vs. talent, take a look back at the 1980 U.S.Olympic Hockey Team…enough said.

Ultimate performance: The scoreboard of our efforts.  Ultimate performance is simply this:  The best result possible time and time again.  Optimum performance creates the environment and ultimate performance validates it.  Just as in a sporting event, at the end of the game, you can easily view the outcome from the scoreboard.  Ultimate performance keeps score too; Are clients satisfied with you? Do they keep coming back and give you first opportunity at their business?  Do your teammates or those you lead believe they matter because you recognize them?  Are you growing, learning and moving forward? Finally, does your scoreboard consistently indicate favorable results year after year?

This is the key to ultimate performance.  You see, good teams can have great seasons, but great teams have great careers!  They consistently put themselves in a winning position year after year.  Unlike the scoreboard at a ball game where there is a final set of numbers, your scoreboard is ongoing and as long as you consistently see positive outcomes year after year, regardless of other circumstances, you’re winning!

By focusing on these three great performances, I believe customers, clients and those you work with and lead, will believe as I did when purchasing my concert tickets; the price of admission was well worth it and I will most definitely look forward to experiencing my proven choice again and again.

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