Category Archives: Respect

Customer Service Checklist

And here we go again…

Any veteran Expect The Exceptional reader out there will know that customer service is one of the most common topics discussed. This could be because in so many businesses,  customer service is dying as a focus on short term profits overpowers building customers for life. Today we take a look at things from the business owner’s side of things and provide you with an editable template that can be used to evaluate your team and their treatment of your clients.

One of the best pieces of advice that I can provide to business owners is to set the expectations for superior customer service from the very first moment that you interact with your candidates. Throughout your entire business there needs to be a consistent message of how crucial your patrons are to your business. This information needs to be present in job ads, needs to be addressed in the interview process, and should be a key component of your training process, weekly meetings, and work reviews.

The following checklist should be a good start to getting your customer service up to the levels you desire if you aren’t currently there. Please modify as required to make this more applicable to your individual business. This checklist can be used for quarterly reviews with your team, and you can also get a little more complex if you wish to create some quantitative metrics. This will allow you to compare employees across your network, and will also give you valuable data that can be used for training and evaluations.

Check out some of

  • Customer Interaction 
    • Greets customers in a friendly and professional manner at all times
    • Services all customers the same regardless of their age or appearance.
    • Makes suggestions based on customer comments.
    • Makes eye contact with customers.
    • Appears engaged and interested in what the customer is telling them.
    • Minimizes any wait time.
  • Brand Awareness
    • Confidently explains the company’s products and services.
    • Has a good working knowledge of the company’s goals and objective
    • Is able to explain the features and benefits of each product.
    • Understands how to match specific products and services with particular customer needs.
    • Shows a passion and enjoyment of the company’s products and purpose
    • Goes above and beyond to demonstrate your competitive advantage over your competitors
  • Diffusing difficult situations
    • Acts within the chain of command in conflict situations
    • Understands who can authorize actions or changes
    • Remains calm during conflict situations
    • Acts to diffuse or alleviate the situation
    • Applies best practices effectively and offers different problem-solving options to customers to ensure they are pleased with the outcome of their interaction with your business
    • Resolves customer service issues in a fair and equitable manner
  • Attitude and behavior
    • Displays professionalism in their appearance, timeliness and interaction with customers
    • Is a team player who is prepared to listen to and help their colleagues
    • Shows an interest in wanting to continue their education and excel further in their position

You could also collect comment cards from your customers, or have them submit a simple online survey after an interaction with your business. This is usually very helpful as typically it is the customers at both ends of the satisfaction spectrum that will take the time to provide feedback, whether it be good or bad. All of this data is extremely valuable and can be used to steer your ship in the direction you desire.

This might sound daunting if your business is not currently known for it’s excellent customer service, but this is something that can be changed. This will also allow you to differentiate your business and take your immediate revenue and long term success to new levels. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and start making changes today!

Have any customer service tips that set your business apart from the competition? Have a favorite business who take exceptional care of their customers? Please share them in the comment box below.

Our personal favorite here at #ExpectTheExceptional is Southwest Airlines. These guys are pioneers in their field, aren’t prepared to go against the grain, and put their customers at the top of every priority list they create. The company culture is incredible as any of you who have flown with Southwest will attest.

Company culture at Southwest Airlines

Until next week, be safe, make the most of every opportunity that comes your way, and Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do.

 

 

 

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Honesty in sales SHOULD be the norm

When you work in retail, or any service industry, it is easy to forget why you are there.  In high school, I worked at Victoria’s Secret.  It was a fun job, but like most retail locations, it did become a little repetitive.  Day after day, I refolded the same table of underwear that people continuously destroyed.  Occasionally I had the pleasure of helping a man who was looking for – it pains me to even type this word – “panties” (ick!) for his wife.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved helping those men!  Especially the older ones; it made me feel happy that the love was still alive after many years of marriage.  But since I brought it up, here is a public service announcement: Men, please, I beg you – do NOT use the “p” word.  It is gross.  But I digress.  The point is, I would at times forget that the reason I was working there was to help people with their shopping and make sales.  I’ve never been great at sales; I actually realized that at VS when a young college student came in looking for a teddy for a gag gift.  I could not stomach selling him a $75 piece of lingerie for a GAG when the man could have gone to Walmart to get something for ten!  I also had the “pleasure” of working at a for-profit university as an admissions advisor, which can be translated into “high-pressure sales” advisor.  Once again, I found myself sending people away to the community college down the road to receive the same degree at a much, much, MUCH lower price.  Probably not what my employers were hoping for, but while my sales skills were lacking, at least I can sleep at night knowing that I was truly helping the customers.  That is not something that can be said for all sales associates.  Often, you will find someone utilizing hard-core sales techniques without the best interest of the customer in mind.  Think about your experiences at car dealerships – most of mine have involved this kind of salesman.

Many commission-based sales jobs will cause the salesmen and women to feel added pressure to seal the deal, which may in turn force them to lose sight of the full purpose, helping customers and making the sale.

Chances are, if you are looking out for the best interests of your customer, that sale will make itself because people are far more likely to purchase from someone they can trust.  And if they trust you, then they will most likely return again and again!  So remember your customers, and remember to do the best you can for them.  This is key to building a loyal client base!

 

Different is not bad

The earth is made up of over seven billion distinct individuals.  Everyone has their own traits; some are positive, which can put them ahead of others, and some are negative, and these flaws ensure that no one is perfect.  No two individuals are the same, and this is how it has been since the dawn of time. So why does it seem difficult for some to accept those who are different?

Image result for accepting differences

The other day, I completed a questionnaire to obtain my DISC profile. I have done this before for different work requirements, and it always amazes me how these seemingly arbitrary questions somehow give such an accurate portrayal of my personality and work habits.   There are things that I do better than others, things that I need to work on, and flaws that I would love to change, but at the end of the day need to find a way to embrace as they are a result of the way my brain is wired.  For example, I have never been a neat and tidy person, however I very much like and appreciate and neat and tidy environment; it makes for a more productive day with less distractions, and a generally happier demeanor.  So where is the disconnect?  It seems simple enough – I like it tidy, so I should keep it tidy.  But for some reason, it has never been this way.  I do try, but ultimately there are other things that take my attention away and the goal of straightening up always gets put on the back burner.  So when someone with a completely different brain and personality notices this, they might scoff and boil it down to laziness.  But it really is just a different brain make-up.  I’m not going to get into the science of our brains, as interesting as it is, however I would like to offer a few suggestions for those who work with someone with traits different from your own.  It may seem impossible for the two of you to accomplish anything together, but it might not be.

  1. Take the DISC profile – have your office mates take the profile then share your results as a group.  It might be very eye-opening to realize that the person who you thought was snubbing you every morning at the coffee pot is really just extremely introverted and shy.
  2. Remember no one is perfect – you might be tempted to write someone off because of a trait that you view as a flaw; but maybe instead of a flaw, it’s just different from how you operate.  This doesn’t necessarily make it bad.  And even if it is something that could use some work, remember that you are not perfect either.  Try to be more understanding of others and you’ll probably find that your frustration levels will lessen.
  3. Look at the positive – for every bad trait, there is bound to be a good one.  Try and focus on that next time you start to get fed up with a coworker.  Maybe it seems as though they take far too long to accomplish a task; but possibly it takes a little longer because they have been busy lending a helping hand to others.  Or who knows, maybe they are just spending all of their time on elaborate pranks for the amusement of others.  Also a good thing.Jim's pranks on Dwight:
    Whatever differences you may have, if you look hard enough you should be able to find an admirable quality in everyone around you.  Find a way to embrace the differences in others, and remember that different is not bad!  We can learn from those who are different and work to improve ourselves in the process.

The right way to grow your business

Recently, I wrote about the sleazy sales techniques employed by the sales team at our timeshare resort. My husband is in sales and marketing and is always watching and critiquing other strategies and styles to see if there are things that he can use to improve his job performance.

There are seven sales tips that he took from these interactions and they are as follows:

(1) Be genuine – The designer suit, huge Rolex watch, and aroma of cologne that can be sensed from the other side of town are renowned traits of sleazy salesmen.

(2) Be respectful of other’s time -The time available for you to get your message across to your prospects is limited and this is even tighter if you are working with a family who have young children. This was the case with our family at our recent timeshare presentation. There were clear signs that the salesman had to get a move on including a screaming baby, a 2 year old who couldn’t sit still any longer and my husband who repeatedly said “you will need to get a move on please as the boys can’t last much longer”. All of these signs were ignored and the only person the salesman was interested in was himself.

(3) Be in a business that you are passionate about – The two people that we spoke to were clearly working from a script and there was no originality to the content of their presentations. There was no passion for the position and you could tell that this was purely a job for both men. Their scripted style did not allow for interruptions by children, or changes based on their clients’ personalities.  A passion for your work allows for more off the cuff conversation and makes room for personalized techniques.

(4) Provide value to your potential customers – We spent approximately  75 minutes in the sales office and at the end of things we hadn’t learned anything new. The topic that we were told the talk was going to be about hadn’t even been discussed with our sales representative. An event that we thought would be very helpful and allow us to make more of our investment in the timeshare, ended up costing us 75 minutes of our vacation. However, it did provide us with some great material for these blogs!

(5) Be honest – Over-promising and under-delivering is a frequent event in the sales world. The salesman will do whatever he can to get the customer in the door, and then the poor operations team are left to pick up the pieces. Let your prospective customer know what you can and can’t do, but be sure to help them find the solutions that they are searching for. Lies and deceit can only get you so far before things start collapsing on you, and at this point it is very difficult to recover.

(6) Don’t over do it – Just because someone doesn’t buy your product or services, doesn’t mean that they won’t recommend  you to their friends and family. It might just be the wrong time for them right now, but this won’t stop them from telling people about you if they see value. If we had been treated correctly at our sales presentation, I would have been more than happy to make referrals. However, due to the miserable experience that we suffered, the only thing that we will be doing is telling people NOT to look into this company.

(7) Relax – Make it a two way conversation, not just you feeding information to your customers. You might have the best product in town, but if it doesn’t mean anything to the consumer, you are just wasting your breath and everyone’s time. Your family passes to the local amusement park might be the best for value in town, but if the person sat opposite you doesn’t have children, the chances of success are fairly slim. Find out more about the person you are conversing with and see if your product can help solve a problem that they are currently experiencing. My advice here is to act in a similar manner to my 2 year old son. Ask question  after question until you get the information that you need to present your business.

Image result for selling ice to an eskimo

Sales is a very difficult position to succeed in, especially if you are on 100% commission and under extreme pressure from your superiors. When possible, follow the 7 steps above and you will hopefully experience more success and enjoyment.

Check out this link for some more tips!

 

 

Working for a family company

Between the two of us, my husband and I have worked for six family-owned/operated companies. We have had a mixed bag of experiences, from very, very bad to very, very good.  It takes a special person to run a family business; the person who can do this successfully has to be adept at distinguishing between business and family; they must feel strongly that nepotism will not help their business grow; family business owners must take their company and all employees seriously, as well as treat everyone equally, for better or for worse.  Finally, running a small, family-owned business allows for some freedom and flexibility, and it is always nice when an owner uses that flexibility to allow their employees to put their health and families first.

As I mentioned above, my husband and I have both had very negative experiences working for family companies in the past.  Both of us have worked for owners who place their inexperienced and under-qualified children in important places.  We have both worked for owners who play favorites at the expense of their company’s well-being.  We have both worked for people who have no business running a company, yet they do and they are making their employees’ lives miserable, day after day.  There were many days at my husband’s old job that he would express a desire to work for a large corporate firm, as then he would know that things were being done by the book.  Additionally, he would not be asked to call his 32 year old co-worker every morning to make sure he was awake and would get in to work on time (that actually happened).

On the other hand, we have both worked for amazing family-owned businesses, including those owned by our parents!  We had the opportunity to watch our parents run a business, treat employees with respect and not give their children handouts.  We learned from them the correct way a family-owned business should operate and have used that knowledge to find our ways into a company that shares similar values.

Royal Services is a family-owned and run business.  Unlike our past experiences, this company is organized, professional and fair.  Royal remembers the important things in life, such as family and health, and their compassion causes their employees to work harder and do their very best every day.  They are not a huge company, but they are large enough to create work for people all over the country.  They treat their employees and contractors with the utmost respect, and while it might be easy to pass work off to the many people working for them, they are the first ones there in the morning and last ones who leave at night.

Next time you are looking for a new company to work for or do business with, keep in mind the dynamic at the workplace.  Is it a small, family-run company?  That can be a huge positive!  But make sure your next question is whether or not they treat their employees with respect and fairness, as these are the kinds of companies that will last.

Not another sales presentation…

My husband, two boys and I made the 3 hour 15 minute trip south to Branson for Labor Day weekend this year. We have visited the town on several occasions and keep returning as there are lots of things to do, it’s a relatively short drive from our home in Kansas City, and we really enjoy being at an exceptional resort that is well maintained and has plenty of activities available to entertain all members of the family.  We love that we own a timeshare with Wyndham and can experience a weekend getaway at a moment’s notice without worrying about a dirty room, poor service or an unsafe location.  However, while we are owners and not required to attend sales presentations, they offer many incentives for us to listen to a speech for an “hour” during our vacation, and despite almost every single experience being negative, we continue to get sucked in time and time again.

timeshare

 


This article about timeshare presentations is hilarious if you don’t mind a little bit of language.  My favorite sentence:
“Will, our sales associate, came over and met with us. He was a gangly, mid-20’s asshat from Dallas who looked like he was cut out from a business casual ad with dork scissors.”
www.ruthlessreviews.com

And for even more hilarity, check this one out:

“I said hell yes I’d like to take just one hour of my time to hear about an exciting way I could save money on future vacations. I mean, it sounded pretty awesome to me,” Jones said.

The promised one hour presentation turned into a two and a half hour adventure once Jones arrived at the all inclusive Global Sun Grand Resort. Jones expressed gratitude that she would be privileged with more time in the company of such esteemed individuals.
sarcasticnewslive.com

 


On our first Wyndham vacation together, we went to Las Vegas and had an amazing time.  The incentive to sit with a sales representative and listen to his schpeel was a meal at a nice restaurant, so we thought “Why not?”  It was actually a great experience, the man did not try to sell us anything, simply educated us about new locations we could visit, as promised when we made the appointment.  After that, our experiences have all gone downhill.  Again and again, we check into our room and are offered something seemingly awesome – a one hour meeting in exchange for dinner certificates, Visa gift cards, sometimes with a meal included at the meeting, sometimes all of the above.  Again and again we tell the person that no, we will not attend because the one hour meeting always ends up being two or more hours and we do not want to spend that much time of our vacation being sold to when we most certainly will not be buying anything.  Which prompts them to say “Oh no!  We promise it will only be ONE hour, and the purpose of this meeting is to teach you about something new and awesome that you don’t already know about!  No selling involved!”  Inevitably, we agree because their offer seems too good to pass up on.  And inevitably, we leave feeling angry and saying “NEVER AGAIN! NEVER!”  Labor Day was no different.  As current timeshare owners, our experiences are not as bad as what was portrayed on the famous episode of South Park, where the characters are held at gunpoint during their presentation.  However, sales people will be sales people, therefore we get to experience a little of the cliché pressure whenever we choose to attend.

south-park

We arrived at the meeting with the boys in tow (they wouldn’t allow just one spouse to attend this “educational” meeting about website reservations – that should have been our first red flag).  The young man who sat us down at his desk was very new to the game.  He was trying to play it cool, low pressure, just shooting the breeze until the required hour was up.  I mentioned the website changes we were supposed to learn about and he had no idea what I was talking about (red flag number 2, ignored). We did learn a lot about his life, and he about ours.  We shared laughs and told horror stories about our past sales meetings.  As we were closing in on an hour, the boys were beginning to get restless, I was getting extremely warm and my husband was trying to wrap things up.  Just as we thought we were about to be dismissed to collect our gifts, he mentioned something about a VIP package; upon seeing the blank looks on our faces he immediately realized he probably should have been doing his job the whole time.  He left the table to get a senior representative and that is where things went sour.  Our first guy bailed, and the new guy began the hard sell.  When my husband pointed out we had been there an hour and were ready to go, without purchasing anything new, the man completely ignored him.  When we pointed out our fussy children ready for naps, we were again ignored.  Finally my husband got stern and told the man that we were leaving.

As we left, we discussed how little the operations and sales teams worked together.  There is clearly no communication, and while they have different intermediate goals in mind, would it not suit them to work together on the ultimate goal, bringing people back to your place of business, and creating evangelists at the same time?  Ironically, one of the things the salesman was “educating” us on was the four things that Wyndham owners have requested to change – one of those was the sales meetings.  Yet there we were, in another sales meeting.

I did call to complain, and they did send us a fruit basket.  Very nice, and much appreciated (#harryanddavid #yesplease).  But when will enough be enough?  When we will we wise up and stop attending the meetings?  And when will Wyndham wise up and think about what their current customers want, as well as potential future customers?

 

Customer service in difficult situations

On several previous blogs I have discussed the importance of customer service and how the people in your front line can make or break your business. Customer service is one of those ideas that is frequently thrown around, but unfortunately not taken seriously when it comes to implementation. Despite the exceptional service that we received on our recent journey to visit my in-laws, unfortunately it is typically the not so good experiences that we hear about when it comes to customer service.

customer service

Can you afford to lose your customers? 

On our recent trip to The UK and Ireland, we found ourselves in many situations where we interacted with the front of house staff, whether it be the server in a restaurant, the cashier at a store, the barman at the local pub, or the flight attendants on our gruelling 8 hour Transatlantic flight.

We were blown away by how incredible the Virgin Atlantic staff were from start to finish. From checking in at O’Hare in Chicago, to recovering our lost luggage, the entire team were exceptional. I could go on all day about how incredible these individuals were but for the sake of time I have whittled things down to a list of 5 moments to share with you.

  1. USA to England check in – This was our first time traveling as a family of four with both of our boys with us. To spice things up a little we also decided to include my parents in the adventure! Checking in with 4 adults, 2 infants, and all of luggage and car seats was never going to be an enjoyable experience but it was pretty close. From interacting with our two boys to wrapping our two car seats in protective packaging and walking them over to the oversized luggage belt, the staff were superb and got our trip off to the best possible start.
  2. Inflight experience – The crew immediately recognized that travelling with young children is far from easy, and were sure to let us know that they were available to help with anything that we needed. Over the course of the flight we made numerous requests for milk, snacks, glasses of water, and even warm towels to help clean our babies up. The flight attendants were attentive and went out of their way to treat every passenger individually and make sure that they were comfortable.
  3. Check in at Heathrow for the return flight – We had a very early start (4:30am) in Dublin and when our flight landed at Heathrow we knew we were going to be cutting it close with connecting to our transatlantic flight. After being transferred to another terminal, going through security and the other formalities, and getting ready to head for the gate we knew that there was a chance that we wouldn’t make the flight. To make matters worse my mother’s bag was selected for an extra security check (due to the presence of a mini bottle of vodka in the side pocket 🙂 ) which meant we lost even more time. Throughout this series of events the Virgin staff stood by our side and communicated with their team to make sure the plane didn’t leave without us. These moments were very stressful as we weren’t really interested in spending 24 hours in an airport with two infants, but the staff diffused the situation and delivered.
  4. Inflight experience – Due to the delays mentioned above my mother and husband had to run to make the flight, and immediately after boarding they were presented with ice cold water and the assurance that they would be helped with anything that they needed. Every member of the staff clearly loves what they do and this happiness and excitement was contagious and visible for all to see. The ladies and gentlemen that took care of us and the rest of the passengers that day worked tirelessly to make sure their customers were happy and had a pleasant experience.
  5. Retrieval of lost luggage and owning mistakes – Upon arriving in Chicago we found that our 2 car seats unfortunately had not been pulled from our first flight of the day. We went to the helpdesk where two young gentlemen got things taken care of and put our minds at rest. We submitted the necessary claim form and were provided with directions to the nearest Target so that we could purchase replacements which would later be reimbursed by Virgin. We arrived home in the early hours of Tuesday August 16th, the seats arrived on the 19th and we were reimbursed on the 22nd. Exceptionally quick turnaround executed by knowledgeable and passionate team members who took complete responsibility of the situation.

virgin-atlantic-1

We know you have a choice of airlines when you fly, and we want to thank you for flying with us” is the cheesy line that most flight attendants regurgitate at the end of each flight. After our experience with Virgin, we know that we made the right choice and will continue to use them for our future travel needs. If you haven’t previously travelled with Virgin Atlantic and they fly a route that you will be travelling, you should check them out, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Until next time, Happy Travelling 🙂