Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Contagious Customer Service

When writing a new book entitled Contagious Customer Service, it never ceases to amaze me the plethora of examples that one can gather about the state of customer service in most places these days. Whether it is over the phone or in person, merchants seem to be too busy to assist, to short on patience to listen, or too caught up in the bottom line and "NEXT" mentality to take the time to treat each customer as an individual special contributing member of their balance sheet. Has it become a lost art to actualy give a darn about your customers or is it only at the highest markup of establishments that one should expect to be treated well, mainly because one is paying though the nose?

The bigger question is why to we accept it? Why do we say "okay, I'll come back" when a merchant is obviously frenetic working on another customer's deadline, but has legitimately and accidently overcharged you by $6000? Why do we tolerate rude phone service folks and raise our own blood pressure followed by a request for a supervisor? Why do we do it? What if we just didn't do business with those who didn't treat us the way we expected to be treated? what if we lowered our expectations? Why should we have to? I have seen clerks at 7/11 pay more attention to a friendly service level than some of the service vendors I utilize - not all mind you, but some. And then there is my friendly neighborhood Kinko's ( in which I can go in any day or night and get a greeting and most of the time it's by name. (I'm in there a few times a week)There is the woman on the phone with Bank of America who bent over bankwards to assist me with an erroneous charge and then there is the rep at the large phone company that sounds like Squint that makes the life of the woman who runs my office a living nightmare because of their constant system issues, lack of customer focus and lack of interest in changing apparently.

It's a mixed bag and part of it is why we do so much Customer Service training and business, but at what point do we all throw our hands in air and cry out for something a little better than "what do you want?"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What is Leadership?

Recently, I read a training curriculum that defined leading as:
"Using rapport to achieve the results that you want."

While I found it an interesting definition, it also seemed to lead one to believe (no pun intended) that leadership is about making connections, building rapport, and forging relationships with others. That does seem to be key in all leadership, doesn't. Unless you have become a leader by accident, meaning you have been promoted without being given the skills to actually lead others, you have the duty to make a connection with others as soon as you assume the posistion. If you have been promoted into leadership because you are one of the last ones left, the only one who wanted the job, or the one who has been there the longest, then your primary duty is to learn as quickly as possible how to lead people, while also striving to make a connection with those you have been given the privilege of leading.

Learning the job and making the connection - that will enable you to build trust and rapport - not to mention - quite a following.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Push or Pull Leadership

It has been said that a true leader is lifted up by those following the leader. Are you being lifted up or are you pulling all those you have the privilege of leading along? If you rose through the ranks in an organization, chances are you were lifted up by those you interacted with and made an impression on. If you landed in a new leadership role with no previous experience in that culture, chances are you were lifted up by those in other companies or other positions to have the skills and knowledge you needed to land this new role.

If what you are doing is pulling others into your following, you may not be leading with the right skills and knowledge. The key is to insprire, motivate, lead, guide, and direct others in a way that focuses on their own personal and professional development. This focus will likely gain you the "lift up" that you are looking for. Any other focus, will keep you in a position of pulling others along with you, which is somewhat like trying to push water - highly ineffective.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Did you come in with a Contagious Attitude this morning?

Every day is an opportunity for you to impact those you lead. There are those times when you come in from the parking lot and those you work with are alreay in the office and they can tell just by looking at you walking up to the door, that you "rode your broom into work today". If that is what they perceive before they talk to you, what do you think happens to thier mindset, confidence, and focus? Everything you do and say is contagious and has a "rub-off" affect on other people. Before you walk into work tomorrow ask your self these questions:

1. Am I in a mindset that is what I want to receive from those I lead?
2. Will my demeanor create discussions among employees that I want to have duplicated?
3. Is what is affecting me really that bad or something that I can change by focusing on it while I am at work?

We all have lives, or at least we should and if you don't, now would be a good time to go get one. And in those lives, things happen that are contagious, yet if they cannot be effectively dealt with at work or resolved through worry while at the office, then why bring that into the office and spread it around. This is not to say that you should "check your feelings at the door" as this can also be deadly. It is simply saying that if you are enthusiastic and excited about your work, that will spread. If you are distracted, or burned out, or less than excited about a project, that, too will spread. Which would you prefer to be surrounded by?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Leaders Action Steps

Staying on task in our busy environments can be a challenge, for sure. But, leaders who are on purpose and leading intentionally (instead of merely because they have a title) follow a few simple steps to stay on task and keep those they have the privilige of leading on task as well.

Recently, I finished "The Secrets of VITO - Think and sell like a CEO" and on page 179 there are a few action steps that CEO's take to lead with purpose on purpose. They are:

1. Write an Easy to Understand Mission Statement - this is a statement that simply answers the question "what are we all about?"

2. Constantly Ask Yourself "What can I learn from this situation that will help me move forward in my goals"

3. Stay Flexible Forget about attaining perfection; move past setbacks. (easier said than done for certain!)

4. Move Past Fear During tough times, successful CEOs push past the rest of the crowd.Everyone feels fear. The trick is to control it, recognize it, and put it in its place. (As my friend Jack Canfield is fond of saying "Feel the fear and do it anyway")

5. Be Persistant Every CEO interviewed for this book (see above) developed a knack for coming back, again, and again, and again, to the tasks necessary to attain their goals. (AND SO CAN YOU!)

Lead with purpose!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Leadership and Success... go together!

"Success and the ability to lead others - that is, getting them to do things they wouldn't do if they were not led - go hand in hand. "
Dr. David Schwartz - The Magic of Thinking Big

This is why we focus our efforts on helping people with Success...Intentionally and Leadership...Intentionally, our two new courses for 2007. Success, both personal and professional, does go hand in hand with leadership, both professional and personal. In order to be a success at the office or in your career you have to lead yourself and others effectively and to greater achievement. In order to be a success personally, you have to do a good job of leading those voices in your head. We all have them and yes, we talk about and to them!

I just finished reading The Magic of Thinking Big and if you have not taken the opportunity to read this book, now is the time. Amidst your goals and dreams and cleaning out of closets (physical and metaphorical) that happens this time of year, take the time to invoke new ideas, new skills, and new knowledge into your world. A training of the brain, if you will. Learn how to be a Success...Intentionally! Want to know more... check out
Happy New Year!