Articles tagged "Customer Service"
If I were to ask each of your managers to rate how well they and their teams are being served by other departments within your company, which of the eight options listed below would they choose?
What do you do when the contract that's just been signed with the client, is no longer in their best interest or yours? Renegotiate the contract. Change the contract. Rewrite the contract to fix the real issue and achieve a better win-win scenario. Right? It seems like an easy enough solution, but why doesn't it happen as often as it should? Why do so many project managers avoid renegotiating contracts?
They don't realize what their real jobs as project managers are.
Project managers are supposed to deliver what clients want, have requested, and need (in the clients' opinions.) Too often though, project managers abide by the old adage, "The customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer." By doing so, project managers fail to provide their expert guidance and instead allow clients or customers to determine what they believe is in their own best solution. All too often, what the clients believe they need is wrong. The clients don't have expertise in identifying the root causes and appropriate fixes. The project managers do - or should. Yet many project managers prefer to stick their heads in the sand and simply implement the project plans step-by-step according to the predefined plans, budgets, and schedules. Success! Wrong.
Clients expect project managers to be their guides.
Clients expect project managers to be their partners in developing their solutions. Clients expect project managers to be the experts in identifying better ways to reach their objectives. Clients expect project managers to be professional, upfront, honest, and communicative. Clients expect project managers to foresee needed changes, identify effective fixes, and provide cleaner paths to solutions. Clients don't want to be blind-sided by issues that were known weeks if not months before by the project managers. Clients don't want their project managers to simply plug away at punch lists with no real thought about what they're doing or how to do it better. Clients don't want machines; they want partners.
Project partners work for mutual gain and don't hide from that fact.
The most effective project managers understand their roles as project managers is to be partners, consultants, and guides. As such, they provide the needed expertise in helping their clients to understand the rationale for better ways to address the contracted issues. They don't run from changes or the opportunities to renegotiate contracts. They look forward to them because a better solution will result - for everyone. Effective project managers have no fear in communicating clearly about needed changes or about their need to bill for services. If changes are needed, there's a reason and the project managers are the guides to explain why. Project managers don't need to run from the explanations, project managers just simply need to explain: Why the changes are in the clients' best interests and why the changes may result in additional fees. There's nothing to hide if the project managers have been doing what is expected. There's nothing to hide if the project managers do their real jobs instead of just doing what the contracts say.
Copyright MMXIV Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
As we draw close to Christmas, I thought I'd share this article from my archives as it reminds me of a special person. It also causes me to focus on how important each person we come in contact with is...
I received an email from Jackie, a former client, the day after Christmas. Her e-mail informed me a gentleman, who had attended one of the training programs I presented to her organization, over two years ago, had died of lung cancer. She wanted to tell me about Al's passing, because my program had made an impact on him. Jackie also knew my memories of him would make me smile; they did.
I only worked with Al and about 40 of his co-workers for two days, but I remember him clearly. He was a portly man, with a great smile, and a wonderful attitude about life. When he participated in my training program, he was one year away from retirement. However, unlike many other employees at that stage of employment, he still participated willingly in the training program. He wanted to learn whatever he could to become a better person, a better employee, and a better support to his customers. Al was THE person in this particular training group who was the target of many jokes - and he loved every moment of it. Of course, because he was kind and supportive of what I was sharing with his group, there were good-natured cat-calls thrown his way including “Teacher's Pet”. With each one, he'd just smile and laugh along. Whenever he could make someone else smile or laugh – a colleague or customer – to Al, that was an opportunity not to be missed.
I thought I'd share Al's story with you in the hopes that you take a moment to ask yourself, "How will my colleagues, employees, customers, vendors, and others remember me when I no longer work here? Will they remember me and smile? Will they consider the time they knew me to be of value to them? Will they remember something I taught them? Will they be inspired to do something I used to do? Will they help someone else because they remember how I helped them? OR, will they remember me, shake their heads, and forget me?"
As leaders, if we run through these self-reflection questions, we may be become even better leaders. If my employees remember me and smile, they must have liked me as a person because they could tell I liked THEM as people too. If they consider the time they worked with me as VALUABLE, I must have helped them to achieve something good or to improve in some way. If they remember something I TAUGHT them, I must have helped them grow as professionals and people. If they aspire to emulate me, I must have been a solid ROLE MODEL for them. If they help someone else because I HELPED them, I must have ‘been there for them’ when they needed me. However, if they simply shake their heads and easily forget me, I didn't fulfill the true responsibilities of my job: I failed to lead people, I only managed resources.
Thanks Al. You can still make me smile.
What's your legacy?
Copyright MMIII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
Do the unthinkable -- be your own customer. Take a critical look at your organization one afternoon and walk through the front door as a first-time customer would.
Notice things such as the clarity of your website, the friendliness of your telephone receptionist, the lighting and cleanliness of the floor, countertops, and displays. Notice the arrangement of your information, merchandise, and the responsiveness of the staff. Do you feel comfortable and are you welcomed, or do you feel frustrated and as if you're an interruption?
If you sense anything other than comfort, being welcomed, and pride in your organization, you've got work to do. Because any other feeling you sensed, is also being felt by prospective customers -- and you could be losing customers because of it!
So do yourself a favor. Notice and address the "little" things seen on the other side of your business. You'd be amazed at the "big" changes in new customers, customer satisfaction and retention that can develop.
Copyright MCMXCVIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
"Where's April?" He didn't realize he'd even said it, yet my husband had stopped in his tracks and had basically bellowed the question across the dining room of one of our favorite lunch spots. Upon entering the dining room, he'd done a quick scan to ensure April was there. When he didn't see her, without thinking, he opened his mouth, the question came out, and all the patrons, the other servers, and the chef stopped and looked at him.
"She took the day off. She'll be back tomorrow," the Chef growled.
My husband, Bob, continued through the dining room and joined Gina and me. "Well this stinks. She's not here," he said. "I know. It's Thursday and she's supposed to work Thursdays, " I whined. "So much for our strategy of coming here today because April would be here." Gina grumbled.
OK let me give you some background as to why we three adults were basically acting and sounding like whiny, spoiled kids because April wasn't working that day...
When our various schedules allow, the three of us eat lunch together during the week. It's our time to get out of the office, get away from the computers and phones, decompress, and well... eat. There are a limited selection of restaurants near our office building, so we've honed our favorites down to a handful. One of those is this particular cafe. The food is amazing. Truly. The chef makes incredible sandwiches, salads, soups, and other specials of the day. However, the service is not amazing. It's not even good. It's... tolerable. The chef growls and isn't sociable. The service staff is slow, disorganized, unfriendly, and let me say again, slow. It's not unusual to have to wait 45 minutes for a sandwich. But the food is amazing when it does finally arrive, so we typically select this restaurant when we don't have to rush back to the office.
Two months earlier, we had decided we could "waste" a bit of time over lunch so we selected this cafe. When we arrived and grabbed a table, a new server came to our table within 30 seconds of our having sat down. This shocked us, but then she took the shock factor up a notch because she was friendly. She even asked if we wanted menus or perhaps were already regulars who knew what we wanted. Then she took our drink orders. When she hustled away, the three of us looked at each other rather stunned. THIS was a whole new level of service. But the intrigue continued. She brought us our correct drinks in less than five minutes, and she somehow managed to have our food prepared so she could deliver it to our table in under 15 minutes! Amazing! Needless to say, we enjoyed our lunch and she received a nice tip.
The following Monday, I was traveling when I received a text message from Gina. Her name is April. She works Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I had no clue who or what she was talking about so when I asked, she texted back: The waitress! Her name is April and we got her schedule! Obviously Gina and Bob were at the cafe again and were enjoying lunch because of April.
When I was back in the office the following week, and lunch rolled around the conversation went something like this, "What are we doing for lunch today?" After the typical "Oh, I don't cares," and "I don't knows," I realized it was Thursday so I said, "Hey, it's Thursday! April's working today!" Without another word, the three of us headed out the door for lunch with April. When we arrived at the cafe, April smiled, pointed us to a table, joined us at the table and said, "Hey there! You're back. Would you like your usual drinks? Two waters and I believe you had an unsweetened tea the last time you were here right?" Holy cow this woman is amazing! She remembered me and what I like to drink! As was becoming the custom, she brought us our drinks quickly and again in less than 15 minutes -- our food. As she placed the food in front of each of us, she said, "You're going to love this special today. It's amazing." The food was amazing. It always was, but April was amazing and because of April, this cafe was now amazing.
So here we were, just a few short weeks later, and there was no April. Granted she was only gone for one day, but we all felt deflated. Sure the meal would be good, but we were back to the former level of service. No other wait staff would remember our drinks, no other wait staff would be particularly friendly, no other wait staff would hustle to get our meals to us, no other wait staff would make the experience amazing. They would take our orders and serve us our meals. That would apparently be enough for them. But it wouldn't be amazing for us.
April takes her job seriously. She doesn't do anything terribly difficult or technical. April simply ensures her customers are welcomed, remembered and served in a way they appreciate. April knows her customers expect a great meal. April ensures they have a great experience by doing what her customers appreciate. April is amazing.
So what might cause one of your customers to bellow, "Where's April?" What might cause your customers to wonder where the amazement is in how you service them? How do you train your staff to provide April-like service? What does your staff do to make your customers want to come back time and again. How have you created consistent April-like experiences for your customers?
Where's your April?
Copyright MMXIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com