Back to the Basics in Service – Communication

Another “basic” of customer service is communication.  We can have the smile, we can make sure we follow through and deliver to our customer, but if we don’t provide communication to the customer – we still are not keeping our organization “healthy” as it relates to service. Recently, my husband and I had some work done on our house.  The workers were professional, friendly, and they did their job with the utmost care and quality.  The problem was that anytime we had a question or concern, it took 2-3 calls or emails (and many days in between) to get a response. 

Think about your team. What are your communication standards for your service professionals?  How long does it take for people to get back to your customers?  Does your team anticipate the most frequently asked questions and provide those answers proactively?  How thorough are you training your team members to communicate the correct facts and information for your customers?

And don’t forget communication within your organization.  Are your separate departments talking with each other?

Good communication is the lifeblood of good service. So get back to basics with your service – teach your team to smile, follow through on their promises, and communicate and you’ll have a healthy service culture!

Clearing the Clutter

My husband and I have begun a remodeling project and this affords me another opportunity to clean out my clutter in my home office.   For some of you – organizing and de cluttering projects are motivating and fun.   I envy people like you and you can probably skip most of what I will be talking about in this blog. For the rest of us, these types of projects are hard to start, difficult to continue, and even harder to finish.  Here are three things I’ve done to keep me motivated.  Perhaps these will help you:

  1. Think how I’ll feel when I create space
  2. Commit to doing 5 minutes a day
  3. Break the task up into smaller chunks

The next 3 blogs will share some practical actions with each of these tips.

The Daily Discipline of Investing in yourself

The Chick-Fil-A  Leadercast that was held on May 4th of 2012 was all about choices – and how the choices we make will determine the leaders that we ultimately become.  John Maxwell, leadership expert and best-selling author and author of his latest book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” (which will be released October 2012), talked about the choice we make every day on self-improvement. 

I have been thinking of these two issues:  the value of daily discipline and the benefit of intentionally pursuing self-growth.   Let me talk about one of these – the value of daily discipline.  My next blog will focus on the importance of self-improvement. John Maxwell says that the law of diminishing returns comes to play when we aren’t doing something daily.  “We don’t do what we should do – it is less likely that we will do it.”

Anne Ambrose, a pioneer in televised physical fitness and one of the nation’s most successful wellness authorities, (and graduate of California State University, Long Beach – Go Beach!) – recently was quoted in the Spring 2012 issue of Breach Review (the magazine of California State University, Long Beach),  “I make sure I get a good 30 minutes of exercise every single day, getting my heart rate up, stretching and toning.  It could be fast walking one day, yoga the next day, or using light weights.” 

What can you do on a daily basis to increase your effectiveness at work and your vitality in your energy and life?   Reading Anne’s quote, I’ve decided to increase my exercise activity from 3-5 times a week – to every day!   What about you?

Reading the Classics

I recently attended the Festival of Faith &Writing at Calvin College – a gathering that brings together authors, publishers, readers, and academics – for conversation and celebration of religious writing.  To familiarize myself with some of the authors who would be attending, I read some of the books on their recommended reading list – and found myself enthralled and moved by the stories that I read.   And that is one way that you can start your journey of stories – read stories on issues that you have an interest in.   And don’t forget the value of reading classical literature.   

Elda Rotor, Editorial Director of Penguin Classis, spoke at the festival on the topic of “Why Read Classics” shared how reading classics “invites us to see a world in a new way.”  She said that, “Literature makes us smarter and makes us “us.”    Many of us who have read classic literature would relate to her comment that classic books have changed us, and as M. Roter says, “they become a literary soundtrack to our lives.” 

Don’t know were to start?  Get the Free APP – Penguin Classics: A Complete Annotated Listing!


Getting Ready…

Does this happen to you?  You have a project to do.  Let’s say for the purpose of our example, it is a writing project.  You have it on your to do list.  And then you say, “I need to get some of these smaller to do’s done first.”  Or, “I need to get my desk clean.” Or “I actually am not in the mood for writing -  I need to “get ready” to write!    What happens? You never get to writing!

 I can think of every excuse – not to do what is good for me – my business – my clients. 

 This “getting ready” tendency may be something we all deal with, isn’t it?   Unlike a quick to do list, these longer-term projects some time, some effort, and uninterrupted concentration.  We don’t get that immediate gratification and yet, truth be told, if we don’t do some of these activities, we may not be as effective as we would like to be.     If you suffer from the “getting ready” mentality, here’s an idea:

 Hold yourself accountable.   There is something powerful when we tell others – either through writing or through spoken words – what our intentions are.    I have an accountability group of two other professional speakers where we create our goals with specific target dates.  Your accountability may be with a friend, a co-worker, a spouse, a significant other. 

Over the course of the next month, I’ll be celebrating the achievement of writing 20 new BLOG postings!  What about you?

The Importance of Checklists

I wll follow the rulesAs an entrepreneur, many of my days are filled with client commitments, meetings, training preparation, client proposals, writing Blog entries, and doing bookkeeping… I could go on and on.  To some extent, every day is different, depending upon if I’m in the office or working with a client.   However, the more that I work in my business (and on my business); the more and more value I see in establishing and maintaining some sort of routine.  Without systems or processes or “rules”, I can forget important things!  Checklists are also an easy way to remember what needs to be done – even for those tasks that we are pretty comfortable with.   Regardless if you are a small business owner, individual contributor, or team leader, these checklist ideas may help you reduce your stress and increase your workplace efficiency: 

  1.    Write a checklist for those tasks you do frequently.  For example, when I prepare for a training program, I need to do several things, including,  discover training needs, write an outline, create participant materials, develop slides, and design customized case studies. With checklists, I can estimate how long these activities will take – which helps me plan more effectively.
  2.  Review your checklists with others.  A friend and colleague in the training field will be sending me her checklist – I may want to incorporate some of her ideas in my process.  I will send her my checklist!
  3. Update your checklist as needed.  Sometimes certain activities can be automated, or delegated to an assistant or even assigned to a team member, or even deleted altogether!  Other times, we need to add important tasks to our checklists.   Be sure to update your checklist – deleting or adding items as needed.

You can experience more freedom (and carve out more time) when you follow checklists - enabling you to focus on creative brainstorming - something that many of us never seem to get around to doing!

Who are you listening to?

Our lives are saturated with voices – from the media, from the papers, television, ipads, emails, cell phones, friends, family, and our spouse or significant others….I could go on, couldn’t I?  Some of these voices are well-meaning and have our best interests in mind. Some of the voices are impersonal – not for us necessarily – and yet their messages can impact us either positively or negatively.  

If you are not achieving all that you would desire- take a look at – or take a listen at – who you are getting most of your information.  Who are you most listening to?  Even well-meaning people can tell us things that can take us further away from our goals and dreams. 

And if you feel that your thoughts are mostly negative – reevaluate where you getting most of your information.   Bad news sells in the news so if you are spending most of your time listening to the news – you may need to step away from that source.

Be Focused

If you talk with most successful people, you will find that there is a thread of intentionality in their life.  Be deliberate in your goal setting and intentional in your planning.  Most experts in their field have focused their efforts on one topic – and in a year –they have built a credible niche.  As you write your goals for the New Year, think about what goals will truly help you get to where you want to go.  Dream big. What would you like to be doing next year at this time? What goals can help drive you where you want to go?  What are some ways you can be more focused this year?  Perhaps you need to look at your schedule and drop some things out that may be keeping you more distracted than focused. 

As Anthony Robbins said, “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.”

Be Accountable

In November of last year, I joined another master mind group.  I am such a big fan of master mind groups because they provide the needed accountability to help me accomplish what I need to for moving my business (and life) forward.  A master mind group is a community who provide support and accountability.  The individuals don’t need to belong to your industry but who share your intentionality to achieve.  Most effective master mind groups have the following elements:

  • Regular meetings (once a week. Twice a month)
  • Clear expectations (fines for not writing your goals, fines for not accomplishing your goals, fines for missed meetings)
  • Committed individuals who are supportive. 

 From one my master mind buddies:

I just wanted to say how stoked I am to be part of your Mastermind group!  I can really feel it – we are going to move ground this year!  Wahoo!  I so look forward to working with both of you and watching our business explode in 2012!  We are really going to rock!         

 I want you to know that regardless of how 2011 was for you and your business, take a moment today to bless it and let it go.  I wish you a very prosperous, wildly successful and joyful 2012! 

 With support like this – how can we not be successful!

Be Passionate

Think about the last goal that you achieved that you truly were happy about. How much energy and passion did you have around that goal?  It is a lot easier to achieve goals when we have a sense of excitement and passion around them. 

The first step in creating successful goals is to wrap them around your passion and interests.  Certainly, there will be some goals where you just need to achieve them.  But even those – I encourage you to look for creative ways to link your passion, energy, and your interests.    The goals that you have a better chance of achieving are the ones where you are passionate.   Here are some examples of my goals that are linked with my passions:

I want to be healthy and I love to swim!  My goal for 2012 is to swim 4-5 times a week.

I love to read!   I want to be more intentional about reading and my goal is to read 2 books a month.

I love my husband!  We will continue our date nights since this are a practical way to keep our love alive.

How about you?  What are you passionate about?