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Posts Tagged ‘Customer Service’

You may have heard recently about a Texas-based attorney who ended up doing an entire Zoom call as an adorable kitten.  The Zoom call was actually a court hearing with a judge.  The attorney accidentally signed onto the call with a cat filter and could not figure out how to turn the filter off.  He eventually proclaimed “I am not a cat” to the judge, who replied “I can see that.”  The video went viral and the attorney was mortified at first, but then realized that we could all use something to laugh at during these stressful times.

The point here is, like it or not, technology is now playing a huge role in the way we relate to each other.  It is important to keep growing and learning these different ways to connect. 

Video calls have taken the place of door to door and telephone sales, meetings with a co-worker and our team, and even building stronger ties to family and loved ones who are not geographically close.  It was on the horizon, many of us avoided it, procrastinated, or even used excuses, but the pandemic, like a wave brought it to our front door.  So, where are you in all of this?

Were you an early adopter or a laggard? If you are in business, believing things will go back to the way they once were, time to wake up and realize “we’re not in Kansas anymore”.  Virtual technology is here to stay. Do not be left behind just because things seem intimidating to use or you feel it will not be the same as in person.  

I have to admit, I surprised myself. Turning our in-person training to virtual seemed like it would not produce the same results and I would use statements like, “I can’t feel the energy of the group”, “I will look horrible on the camera”, “They’ll never participate the way they would in a live session”. Well, I have been proven wrong. VERY WRONG! While it took extra effort learning how to create engagement and interaction, and learning the formula for balancing chats, polls, discussions and activities, I can honestly say, for our typical training, it is the way to go. 

Do not get me wrong, leadership or team retreats, off-site sales meetings, team building interventions will still be more impactful in-person because you cannot make up the conversations that take place on the breaks, the restaurant or even the bar.  For the most part, if done right, virtual training is the new reality as will be team meetings versus conference calls, many sales meeting and even family connections.  We encourage you to educate yourself as much as you can so that you can keep up with these new and exciting ways to communicate, build relationships and increase productivity.

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Roy Davis and Mary Anne Wihbey Davis

Mary Anne and Roy Davis celebrating award

Wiley announced that Dallas-based business Davis Success Solutions is a 2019 Diamond Award winning partner for Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team®. This achievement is in recognition of the company’s continued commitment to improving organizational culture and teamwork.  Typically, this award is announced and given during the April MindLab Conference.  Due to current circumstances, the conference is rescheduled for October 2020 and award winners were notified in advance.

 

“We are proud to partner with Davis Success Solutions in their mission to enrich people’s lives by building better workplaces and high-functioning, cohesive teams,” says Susie Kukkonen, Vice President of Channels at Wiley. “We are honored to have them as an Authorized Partner.”

 

This is the fifth time the Davis Success Solutions has won the Diamond-level award.  The Diamond designation recognizes the Roy Davis’ commitment to building better workplaces with the help of Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team® proven workplace assessment-driven solutions from Wiley.

 

Davis Success SolutionsAbout Davis Success Solutions
Davis Success Solutions (DavisSuccessSolutions.com) is committed to providing professional training solutions and resources with outstanding support. The company focus is delivering workplace performance improvements that align with the professional development goals of organizations and individuals. It has been that way since the beginning of Davis Success Solutions in 2004.  With his extensive management and training experience in various industries and professions, Roy Davis has a proven track record of helping organizations improve communication, processes, productivity and ultimately their profitability and efficiency.  Owner and president of Davis Success Solutions, Roy has almost fifteen years of experience using DiSC®-based tools. Roy Davis, in collaboration with his wife Mary Anne (Wihbey) Davis of Peak Performance Solutions, deliver client-focused solutions and engaging training to their customers throughout the United States and internationally.  Both are certified Everything DiSC® training facilitators and accredited facilitators for The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team®.

 

Roy Davis says, “I find my partnership with Wiley is an increasing factor in my business success.  Offering Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team® training programs and profiles has been of great benefit to my customers as well. I look forward to similar success with the PXT Select® hiring and placement tool. I am proud to receive the Diamond award for three years straight [2017-2019] and for a total of five times.”

 

Peak Performance SolutionsAbout Peak Performance Solutions

Peak Performance Solutions (PeakPerformanceSolutions.com) is committed to “moving individuals to action” through training and advanced learning. Mary Anne (Wihbey) Davis is president and owner of Peak Performance Solutions.  She is an internationally recognized sales and management consultant and trainer.  Her company provides multiple business training and coaching options for her clients, including customized workshops.  Mary Anne is also the author of “The Sales Messenger: 10 Lessons for Sales Success in Your Business and Personal Lives,” which went into a third printing in 2018.

 

Mary Anne added, “Coordinating with Davis Success Solutions on Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team® has allowed me to offer even more options to my client base.  Participating with Roy in the MindLab conferences and associated awards program, along with receiving Wiley certifications, have taken my company to a different level from when it was started in 1994.”

 

About Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors®

Everything DiscEverything DiSC is the leading suite of DiSC®-based workplace training and assessment solutions. These advanced applications combine online assessment, classroom facilitation, and post-training follow-up to create powerful, personalized workplace development experiences. With a global network of independent Partners, Everything DiSC solutions are used in thousands of organizations, including major government agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

 

The Five Behaviors of a TeamThe Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team is the result of the partnership between Wiley Workplace Learning Solutions and Patrick Lencioni, author of The New York Times best-selling book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. This team development program improves team effectiveness and productivity through the understanding and application of The Five Behaviors: Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results. This unique learning experience helps individuals and teams build effective work culture through communication and collaboration.

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Teamwork DiSC“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  This simple statement from the classic movie Cool Hand Luke is truer in our workplace than we want to admit.

We live in a culture where employee engagement and productivity are rapidly decreasing, while business competition, customer expectations, and new technology are on the rise. While there is no quick-fix or easy-button to transform your company, I have found that the simple solution is still the right one. A successful company or business team must have effective leadership. Now more than ever, being able to manage an effective team is vital to the success of an organization.

This post and the next will cover 5 simple tips to keep in mind when you are building and managing your team.  The first two tips contained here will be on culture and communication.  The final three tips will follow in the next post and they will be on trust, accountability, and recognition.

Tip #1 – Create a culture that celebrates individuality. Your job as a leader is to help identify each person’s unique skill set and how they can best utilize it to contribute to the success of the whole team.   The fastest way to demotivate your team is by trying to force them to fit in to an environment that does not allow them to operate in the manner most effective for them. Great leadership is not about bossing people around. It is about inspiring them and guiding them towards a common goal. You will pull leaders forward when you encourage them to believe in themselves and what they bring to the table.

Tip #2 – Communicate effectively. In order for your team to maintain a result oriented mindset, there must be an open dialogue for their ideas. People want to feel valued, heard and respected, not just prioritized.  As a leader you must be intentional with your words. If you want your team to be in alignment with your vision, you should adequately articulate information, priorities and long-term goals.  Do not shy away from the difficult conversations just because they are uncomfortable. Even when the content is unfavorable, people tend to be open and receptive when you create a safe space, speak with grace and ask for their input.

The golden rule, while well intended, does not apply to a cross cultural, cross gender, and cross generational workplace. Today it is about invoking the Platinum Rule:  Treat people and communicate with people the way they want to be communicated with.  We use Everything DiSC Workplace to change cultures. This generational tool helps bridge the gap between learning style, communication, and personality differences that can cause petty annoyances.

Please come back for tips three thru five next week.

 

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handshakeYou have heard the term “Relationship Marketing.”   So what is it?    In this short post, I will provide you with a few tips that have helped me gain clients, win friends, and manage to stay self-employed for 21 years.

Below are my Five Tips for Building Sales Relationships that Last a Lifetime

  1. Networking Meetings:   Forget about yourself completely.  Show a genuine interest in the people you are talking with or sitting beside.   Make people feel important.  This is a proven way to win friends and influence people and it is not out of style yet!
  2. Questions:  Learn to ask questions that build on the prospects needs and buying motives versus trying to tell people what you do and how well you do it.  Open-ended questions engage people more than the Yes/No type.  Eventually people will ask, “What do you do?”
  3. Give of yourself:   Volunteer!  Give your time and resources to the events where your prospects are.  This will create visibility for you.
  4. Become a Connector:  Look for ways to connect people within your network.  During conversations, listen for opportunities to help people meet others that may fill their business or social needs.
  5. Stay in contact:   Keep in touch with contacts and past clients through phone calls, notes, cards, and even little gifts here and there.  I love to give books.    I once had a client say to me, “I have not done business with you in three3 years and you keep sending me a gift.  Thank you!!!”    When another client was laid off from a high-level job,  where he received many vendor holiday gifts, I was the only one he said sent him a gift to his home and it made him feel so special.

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Recently, after a long hard week of training and consulting, I had an image in my mind of a leisurely, decompressing Friday afternoon with a late lunch. I had heard of a new place in Fort Worth, a farm to market with impressive reviews.  Walking in, the atmosphere was what I hoped; quiet and inviting with white table cloths! I will say, upon our first greeting, I lost my positive impression as the hostess looked down on us while walking us to our table. There was no “friendly and polite” in her posture.  I guess it may have been while her restaurant fit our image of class, we did not fit theirs.  Or perhaps it was because after 12 hours a day for four full days and one half day, we shed our business attire for shopping in sun dance square and made our way to lunch wearing jeans.

waiterThe waiter came and took our order for a glass of wine and shared the specials. His service was upbeat and was what we would have expected from the start.  I was disappointed as I thought they might have fish and most dishes except the chicken salad were heavy fare. Not really the light lunch I had in mind, but if I had to, I would eat here. In the meantime, he convinced us to order the tomato soup and a blueberry salad to start.  We did…  the salad came… no berries… I guess they ran out (still good though).  The soup came.  It was cold.  The waiter could see our disappointment and took it back.

At this time, we chose to leave. The waiter could have handed us the bill and simply let us go.  Instead… now pay close attention to what he did and the lessons you can learn. Why? Now I cannot wait to go back and have dinner while there this week with “our waiter, Nick”  because he did this:

  1. He offered us bread with salted butter to go with our wine. It was amazing!
  2. He brought us biscotti cookies with our check (my favorite).
  3. He told us where to go for lunch fish just a few doors down.
  4. He said, “I don’t want to rush you, but they close at 2:00.” and offered to call and say we were on route

Service Lessons for Creating Value

  • Do not judge a book by its cover! We ended up leaving him a great tip and I wrote a great trip advisor review despite the fact I did not formally dine there.
  • When customers are grumpy or quirky – love them anyway! You have no idea what kind of day, week, or life they had.  Maybe they just need your patience.
  • Practice Lagniappe– the Cajun custom of giving the customer a little extra. What is the something extra you can do or give that will make your customers feel special?
  • Even when they do not buy; treat them as your best customer! They will tell people and a time will come when they buy from you!

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6CSRsIs this competitive environment making it more difficult to retain customers?  You can do this by equipping your team with communication skills that allow them to display competence and professionalism.  Training can help your customer service staffs deliver exemplary service as they learn how to make every customer feel like a valued client and increase call-to-close ratios. At Peak Performance Solutions, we offer practical training that fits into your existing service system and will take your team to the next level towards excellent customer service.

  • Art of Engagement – Participants will learn how to communicate their company’s unique advantage over the competition and build a lifetime rapport that will minimize the impact of concerns, questions and objections
  • Service That Sells – Participants will develop interpersonal skills that enable them to build long-term customer relationships, increase sales,) and lessen customer complaints
  • Eliminate the Dread of the Cold Call – Participants learn to reach out to the right people, get their interest, and make the sale

Whether your sales and service personnel are just starting their careers, or could benefit from brushing up their techniques with new skills, the right training can make a big impact.   In addition to training, you may want to supplement their learning by emailing your service staff or managers interesting articles on customer service.  Here are four articles to get you started:  Designing a Process For Customer Service Issue Escalation, Ten Lessons To Increase Sales Success, The Impact of Adapting to Behavioral and Communication Styles for Your Business , and Ten Ways to Offer Better Customer Service.

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meetingIn our previous post on Building Teams training, we introduced three courses to jump start teams and gave some article suggestions. In this post, we will let you know about additional team training you may want to consider.

These two courses may be relevant for most types of teams during different stages of development:

See also previous posts on Improving Meetings and Creative Problem Solving Processes for other start-up courses on specific topics your team may need.

The following additional courses are more advanced concepts and the workshops are designed to be facilitated working sessions with intact teams.  Suggested prerequisite courses for these workshops are listed in the Creative Problem Solving Processes post mentioned above.

An article you may want to check out is Evaluate Team Performance and Determine Training Needs, it includes a link to a form that helps a team self-evaluate where they are in team development.  If you are still unsure about what type of training your team needs, consider the type of team to make sure you offer the right learning opportunities.   Articles you may want to check on different team types for ideas on what skills they may need are 8 Considerations For 3 Types of Teams and Difference Between Self-Managed and Self-Directed Teams.   Or you may want to contact us for a copy of our team building training model, which may help you plan future team training, custom programs, and team-building events.

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Achieve Sales Success

Achieve Sales Success book

In the book Achieve Sales Excellence, we are given 7 rules form a customer’s perspective they would consider “must have” requirements of an effective salesperson wanting to sale to them.  I thought we could look at each of the rules and turn them around from what the customer wants to what it means the sales professional must to do in their role.

Below is a summary of the 7 Customer Rules.

  1. You must be personally accountable for our results.
  2. You must understand our business.
  3. You must be on our side.
  4. You must bring us applications.
  5. You must be easily accessible.
  6. You must solve our problems.
  7. You must be innovative in responding to our needs.

Let us take a look at rule 1 first and then we will look at the others in future posts.

“You must be personally accountable for our results.”

Everyone wants guarantees today. Your product or service most likely is tied to your customer’s bottom line. In your presentation, it is important to show the Return on Investment (ROI) of your product or service and be able to back it up. Even if it is difficult to predict ROI, you must show them what you can do for them and fully follow up that the product/service did meet their needs and your promises.

Examples:

  • When I talk about how my training program will increase positive work attitudes to a potential client, I must be prepared to state how a good attitude positively impacts their workforce – i.e. less customer complaints, increase in productivity, lower turnover, etc. Once I see they understand this and are beginning to consider the training, I can suggest some timelines and measurements the customer may use to verify that attitudes have improved in their workforce after the training has been held.
  • For any type of company, something as simple as asking for testimonials or participation in case studies after you provide the service or deliver the product can remind your customer what worked for them.  If the sales person follows up along with customer service (or they are reminded of sales reps name during interview), it may also bring to mind how helpful the sales rep was in making it all happen smoothly.  Written or electronic customer satisfaction surveys are easy to send out, yet they seldom provide the data for improvement or relationship building that a personal phone call or in-person follow-up meeting can.

In my next post, we will look at customer rules 2 and 3 of the 7 for sales reps.

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In 1998, the Chally Group did a survey of 80,000 buyers regarding what they look for when choosing a vendor.  Below are the responses:calc_file_money

  • 39% – sales person’s competence
  • 22% – total solution (features/options of product/service)
  • 21% – quality of offering
  • 18% – price of offering

What do these numbers really mean to you and your sales staff?  What brought about these changes from previous business norms?

The sales person is most likely high because in today’s business; it is about relationships, trust, and cooperation.   Part of the rise of the sales person over the other options, which were more important in the past, may also be a result of team-building and collaborative problem-solving heavily emphasized in companies during the 1990’s and into this century.  Business predictions indicate sales competence will continue to be high as customers continue to expect great service.  What could that mean to your business?  A good sales staff means fair sales for your organization.  However, a great sales staff is a true competitive advantage in today’s market.

The other three are still important to potential customers.  As you can see from the numbers, reputation outweighs price – which is why sales training and books on selling now include presenting value rather than reducing price when trying to close.

What could be the reason that total solution not at the top of the list?  With the rapid increase in technology and improvements in manufacturing, everyone now expects to get lots of options for customizing the solution to meet their needs.

What about quality?  Since it became well- known in the 1980’s that better quality was key to keeping customers and higher quality meant less manufacturing costs in the long run – everyone now expects quality.  If customers do not get what they expect quality-wise, next time they will go somewhere else and they will encourage others to go with them.

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Don’t let your thoughts roll off your tongue. They will bite you!

Check yourself, take this quick customer service quiz:

A client cancels a meeting for their professional service. They claimed it was for an unexpected medical appointment. You have no written signed contact nor have you received payment from the invoice you sent this week. You are disappointed. Your response should be:

A.   No problem, I hope everything is okay and let me know a convenient time to reschedule.

B.   Well, now you know why I want payment up front.

I know for all of you professional sales and service reps, the answer is obvious. “But”- I actually heard with my own ears, response B.

I felt badly having to cancel an appointment with a photographer at 6:40 pm the night before an appointment as I wanted a new photo as much as he wanted his pay. So I was actually in shock to hear his response. So much so for two days, his comment continues to linger on my mind. There was no empathy, something all service professionals are trained to convey and worst no sense of professionalism. We all have disappointments as entrepreneurs, sales and service reps. So how do we handle them:

  1. Learn to handle these disappointments with grace. Empathy is part of the role you play, no matter how you feel or how desperately you needed that money.
  2. Grumble and complain to your coworkers, spouse or significant other if you have to, not your prospect or client.
  3. Put processes in place to avoid situations such as a deposit. Payment in full in advance may not seem realistic to a client or the companies CFO.
  4. Learn to be flexible: it pays dividends. Let me give you an example. I have a regular customer who has had to cancel training the day of a training on more than one occasion. It is a financially great day as I have 3 sessions in one day. Our contact states, I am to be paid in full if cancellation occurs within 3 days of training. I have not enforced that and did charge a very small fee for prep time. I have received four direct referrals from this client that led to long term accounts and I know more to come.

In summary, Sales 101: Be easy to do business with and your rewards will come.

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