Q - I have a very good education, excellent communicator with very good listening skills and I believe that I can be the best sales person in the world. I also don't know if what I just said is ignorance or confidence. I think and analyze issues through an open mind whether its regarding business/work or my personal life.
I am going through serious frustrations and setbacks at work and in society, and when I give my opinion or try to change something I just make enemies. Example: when I got back from the training I was required to give my feedback about the training and yourself and here is what I said:
"Jeff has enabled me to start focusing on what I can influence (my performance and attitude towards work) and stop focusing on what I cannot influence (managerial decisions and attitude).I also learned from Jeff that I should create my own ways of getting around frustrations and hassle in order to achieve"
I was attacked by my direct manager saying " we asked for your feedback not a complaint and that there is no one training program that can totally change your attitude".
I work under people whom I believe are not qualified and don't enjoy the perspective and mentality I do. I have achieved nothing and I'm still a worker bee!
Jeff, I am upset and don't know what to do because its impossible for me to work around these every day frustrations forever. I am in conflict with my self. tell me what I should do? how do I become what I want? I want to be a very successful business man making huge amounts of money! and then show people and teach them my experience just like yourself.
A - Thank you so much for your email. Remember when we talked about the animal and the human brain, it's your choice how you look at the situation you are in. Have you looked at getting into the HR and/or the training area, as you say you would like to be able to teach people?
Are you practicing your presentation skills with groups outside of your company? Remember you can do anything you set your mind to. While you are at work and doing the job that you do, remember to do it great, that's the sign of a winner. To be amazing even when things are not going so well. It's easy to be happy when everything is going well, it takes much more discipline and character to be amazing even when things are not going so well.
Another thing about living a happy, well-balanced life is to not take things personally. Do not let the upsets, and anger of other people affect you. It just means that something is going on in their life which is causing them to act a certain way. It really isn't personal. When people are operating from their animal brain it is impossible for them to behave in a gracious manner. They are coming from survival and will do anything to survive.
When you operate from your human brain, which means, acceptance, understanding, empathy, love, compassion and joy, you do not have to 'take on board' the stuff from other people. You can let it go by without allowing it to 'stick' to you.
Remember to affirm your day every morning. Look in the mirror and say, "Today I am amazing!" Do it every morning, and you will find yourself operating more and more from your human brain. Another good strategy is to envision yourself leading the life you want to lead, surrounded by the kind of people you enjoy being with. Only talk about what you want and you will find yourself having opportunities that will bring more of the things you want into your life. I hope this is of some help to you.
Q - How do you handle negative comments by customers due to negative media coverage?
A - That’s an interesting one, because the media is the media and so we have to take them with a pinch of salt. At the same time we are also aware of what’s going on in our industry and/or with our company. Rightly or wrongly, whether you agree or not with the comments, your job as a representative of your company is to remain neutral. First of all here are some don’ts:
- Don’t take any comments personally.
- Don’t defend yourself or your company.
- Don’t get caught up in any argument.
Here are some Do’s:
- Do take a breath and release any negative thoughts you may be having
- Do say, “I understand there is some media coverage right now, and my job is to help serve you better, how can I help you today?”
- Do keep an objective and open mind and remember that you are there to help serve your customer.
Q - We are a monopoly and our customers don’t have that option. How do we put your theories into practice?
A - We should provide great customer service whether we are a monopoly or we’ve got 8 million competitors Monopolies often call me in because of the results of customer surveys and focus groups—they know they’re not providing great customer satisfaction, and their goal is always the same: to create a service oriented business model that works on all levels for everyone involved.
When you are in a monopoly the only thing an angry customer can do when they aren’t happy is complain and that is obviously a problem. We’ve got to start looking at how many complaints we are getting. We have to stop the complaints coming in because if I can’t go anywhere else for the same service I’m going to become an awkward and miserable customer and I’m going to put all that energy back onto you. And that’s not great for anybody. So the more I can defuse the situation of the complaints we all win.
For you at the sharp end, become an agent of change: The great thing about a monopoly is that it’s made up of human beings and human beings are always on the front line for creating change. So change your thoughts from, “I work for a monopoly and I can’t serve customers the way I want to,” to “I work for an amazing company and my job is to be of service and today for this customer, I am going to be the best that I can be.”
Q - How do I get the reports, surveys and the information I need from customers without being pushy.
A - My emails and phone calls come from me being on top of the situation for the customer. I want my customers to get exactly what they want, and that means I need information. I have to put everything in terms of how it will benefit them. I will say things like, “I know you are very busy and in order for me to give you the (terms, rates, product, service) that you need, I just need a little information. Ultimately, it’s what the customer wants. And it’s called, “So what’s in it for them”. I give them incentive. And I work on this concept all the time. It’s about what is in it for them. So that they can give me what I need
Q - What tips do you have for determining what type of personality the customer is?
A - This often comes with practice. On the phone we can pick up subtle things like tonality. If you are dealing with an amiable person they tend to speak with a quieter voice and will ask questions and want to talk. The expressive is more exuberant and high energy, they also like to get to the point. The driver is more specific to the point and wants results. And an analytical person has the tendency to hesitate because they are analyzing what you are telling them. Whatever the personality, it’s always effective to ‘flex’ your style to match theirs…unless of course they are angry or frustrated!
Q- How do you keep your cool when people are in your face? How do I not take it personally when I just want to relieve the pressure and yell at them and get angry?
A - I can tell by your question that you do not want to yell and get angry, and so here are some tips:
- Take a breath. Breathing is a great way of relieving tension in your body. If you notice—angry people often don’t breathe very deeply, so breathing definitely helps.
- If the situation is really bad, think of having a shield in front of you that will stop their anger coming through.
- If the person is ranting, you can detach yourself for the moment by focusing on something beautiful—a flower or something neutral that will allow you to keep in a peaceful space until they run out of words and you can be of service.
- Think of them as someone in your own family that you respect and is just having a hard time at the moment.
- Use the Golden Rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated—someone has to be first—and that someone is you!
Q - How do I deal with profanities? With foul language?
A - First, do not take it personally. Do not react to their emotion. Remove yourself from the tonality and words they are hurtling your way. How do you do that? By understanding how freaked out, angry and upset your customer is. For whatever reason, your customer is at the point of no return. It doesn’t matter how they got there but they got there and it’s your job to apologize, acknowledging, listening and dealing with their problem. Your job is to give them satisfaction even if you don’t want to and especially if they don’t deserve it.
Q - How do you handle a customer who is tired and angry of repeating their story two or three times before they finally get to the collector to resolve it?
A - That happens a lot, I’m on my fifth call and if I have to say it one more time I’m going to shoot myself. The way I handle it is through truth and honesty. “Sir/Madam this is terrible. If I was in your situation I’d be just as disappointed. I promise that I will take responsibility to help you to the best of my ability, how can I help?”
Empathize with them quickly and then state that I am the one that is going to fix it right now. So tell me the specifics and I promise we will solve it right now. And if you are the person passing on the call inform the customer they’re going to be connected to a person who will be able to resolve their problem and that they will most likely have to explain it again. If you do have to pass them along and their story is long and full of irrelevant details, you can assist them by telling them, what specifics they will need to repeat.
Q - What do you do if you’ve exhausted all your resources and the customer is still not happy?
A - The only thing you can do is be the best you can be. When that’s not working, there’s an old saying you can’t win them all. I do a lot of consulting and I’ve discovered that some customers will never be happy no matter what you do. Now of course, you want to win them all so in this case you can say something like, “Sir/madam, I apologize that you do not feel I have resolved this problem to your satisfaction, given what we have talked about, and what I can do for you, how would you like to proceed?” If you have given them a few options you can always repeat them, “Would you like solution a, b, or c?” The idea is to get them away from being unhappy to looking forward to some kind of solution.
Q - What do I do with a customer who won’t stop talking?
A - You listen and you let them talk until they take a breath, then you interrupt and say, “Thank you for sharing that with me, how can I help you?” Your job is not to listen to someone’s personal problems or a whole list of what is wrong, or right…your job is to find a solution that provides a win-win situation, and that means that you get to win too!
Q - Our IT organization has reached a point where the culture and the environment can be extremely frustrating as you work to deliver a product or service to our customers. As with most organizations our IT organization depends on several different groups to deliver a service to our customers and for several years now these groups have not “worked well together.” But the last year it seems to have gotten worse than that. In the past year it seems that several people in the organization, a few of which are managers, have simply grown angry and are clearly unhappy people. It’s gotten to the point where ANY request of these people or their groups is met with a growl before you can even get the words out. In addition the groups often will lose sight of the customer as they go tit for tat over previous squabbles. The real loser is always the customer, and our organization gets the black eye. How do we even begin to fix this problem? Is there any hope to turn these people into service oriented professionals who smile once in a while? Or is time to clean house?
A - It’s really about you being the poster child! It’s a truism that what you look for is what you see. In other words, once you start looking for trouble you will find it. What about changing the recipe and start looking for all the things that are going well. I don’t mean that you ignore what is going on, or become a ‘heads in the cloud’ kind of person. I mean that you have decided that you work for this company and if you want to stay there you are going to make it the best place that you can, and that starts by choosing your thoughts which turn into actions, which turn into reality. So here are some steps for you to take:
- Be the one who comes into work upbeat even on a Monday morning
- When someone asks you to do something, be the one who accepts it with grace
- When someone is angry or unhappy, mentally thank them, “thank you for showing me a way of being that is opposite from how I want to live my life.”
- When people are squabbling, detach yourself and be a solution provider instead of a problem giver.
- Think of yourself as a change-maker, a grass roots organization of one—you are the one who smiles, who is pleasant and who is amazing
- Affirm your day every morning by looking in the mirror and saying, “Today I am going to be the best that I can be.”
Q - I need a strategy for handling frustration due to the high volume of claims, excessive phone calls and just not being able to do a good job despite my high standards and wanting to service the customers well.
A - It’s an interesting question, because obviously Super Service is about providing excellent service all the time with every customer, however like you said, ‘high volume of claims,’ means that you don’t; always feel you are providing the best customer service that you can provide. So here is something that I think will help you in your struggle: you do not have to exceed the expectation level of your company. What does that mean? Well, in the business world where we have rules and regulations our job is to work within those parameters. If we have too many calls and not enough time, then we can soon start feeling pressure and stress, so our job is to stay professional, and enjoy the moment. Here is a strategy for you:
- Every time you pick up the telephone you are going to think, “I am going to help this customer resolve their problem in …. (you put in the minutes)” then let it go. Don’t look at your watch; just know that what you have decided upon will become reality.
- When the problem is taking too long and you feel stressed, take a breath and release the struggle. Think to yourself, “I am going to go downstream with this customer and we are going to find a solution and a win-win situation.”
- When you come into work in the morning, think of yourself as a professional problem solver. You listen for the problem and you quickly understand the customer’s needs and solve the problem. Time is no longer an issue for you.
- Reward yourself for doing an outstanding job. It is really important to pat yourself on the back for doing a great job. You handle a large volume of calls, you are efficient and your high standards are in concurrence with your company’s vision of delivering Super Service.
Q - Micro Management! How do we get management to get involved from the beginning, and not coming in at the end to put in their 2 cents?
A - This is really a sales job and like all sales it’s about needs and benefits. You need management to be involved from the beginning, but they do not see the benefit. And if they don’t see the benefit, they will continue managing back to front. Off the top of my head here are some benefits to management for getting involved from the beginning:
- Steer the project towards their bottom line goals and/or company vision
- Use feedback techniques
- Productive team who are goal/results oriented
- Achieve more in less time
- Fulfilled employees
- Trained and knowledgeable employees
- Builds trust
- Builds team spirit
- Productivity enhanced
If you have the desire to turn this situation around, then you have the skills to do it. Set up a meeting, discuss the benefits. Important note: no one wants to be made wrong especially management, so it must be done as a sales job—a win-win scenario where everyone sees the potential for a better working relationship and increased bottom line results.
If all else fails, have your management read this:
- Set goals
- Get feedback from your direct-reports on what is needed to meet those goals
- Let them move ahead with their assignments
- Check status from time to time, continuing to ask where help might be needed
- Supply help if needed
- If people under your charge need training, provide training (it requires time and resources in the short term, but it creates knowledgeable employees, equipped to make decisions)
- Believe that the people in your charge can do the job and make decisions if they have the right tools and enough information
- Involve them in the goal-setting process by getting their input on potential obstacles and possible solutions
- Delegate for results – not methods
- Let your people do their jobs. That’s what they’re paid to do.