“Own Your Time with These Three Tips”

547319_10200992160829791_2136443215_nYou must adapt the mindset that you own your time. It’s yours to control, to protect, and to nurture. If you don’t take ownership of your time, someone else will—you’ve heard that before and it’s true. If you don’t nurture your time—tend to it—it’ll fade away and be wasted. Owning your time requires you to protect it from the outside intruders that want to take it from you—mostly in the form of interruptions and unproductive meetings. Continue reading

Are You Asking the Best Questions?

One of the seven ‘slight edges’ is Ask Affirming Questions. If you ever want to read a good book someday, read “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. In his book he teaches that inside each of us is a ‘servo-mechanism’ that looks for answers. He writes that our bodies are designed to look for the answers to the questions we ask. The problem is we ask bad questions. Have you ever sat down at home to pay your bills and when you were done you realized there’s still some month left at the end of the money? And you ask yourself really bad questions like, “Why am I always in debt?” Or, “Why can’t I get ahead?” Our bodies are designed to look for the answers, so if you ask “Why am I always in debt?” your body will think, “Well you’re maxed out on your credit cards, you only pay the minimum and every day on your way to work you stop and buy a five dollar latte.”

As a company leader, do you look into your sale reports and ask, “Why are sales so low this month?” Or, “Why isn’t marketing generating more leads?” Or, “Why don’t we have more referrals?” Our bodies are designed to look for the answers. So when we ask bad questions we come up with bad answers—answers that look at the problem and not at possible solutions. Instead, when you don’t like what you see for sales, ask affirming questions like, “What can we do to generate more referrals?” Or, “What does marketing need to create more leads?”

The rephrasing leads to reframing—it changes the way you look at the situation. You start to look for the solutions to the issues. 

Listen to the questions you ask yourself. Listen to the questions your staff asks themselves. Are they affirming or non-affirming? Do they look at the possible solutions or the problem? Start to change the approach you have when dealing with your issues or trying to achieve your goals. 

“Your Greatest Time Management Mistake”

What do you think is your greatest time management mistake? Allowing interruptions? Procrastination? Undisciplined meetings? Actually it’s none of these. 

The greatest time management mistake you make is all in your head, it’s deception. Too many leaders allow themselves to be deceived into losing valuable time.

I mean two things when I say deception. First, we deceive ourselves about our own level of importance. I believe you will have 4 to 7 things that only you can do, your highest priorities. But, because of deception, many leaders get wrapped up in their own importance and feel the number of things they are in charge of is much higher.  

Another way leaders deceive themselves.  Let’s say, your boss says, “I need you in that meeting today at 3:00.” You think, “Well, if the boss says I have to be there, it must be important.” But when you go to the meeting you find out it has nothing to do with you.  It’s because you were deceived into thinking, if the boss says be there, it must be important. Being deceived by your belief system will have you working on tasks that are unimportant.

Deception will steal your time.  Make sure you are working on tasks that you and only you can do.  Don’t get hung up on minor tasks.

Exceptional Service Maybe Hurting Your Business

If a customer has to expend extra energy to have their issue resolved, they are less likely to be loyal. However, if the customer doesn’t have to put too much effort into resolving their issue, they are more likely to be loyal. This according to a 2010 published article in Harvard Business Review titled, “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.” 

But, if you have been following me for the past fifteen years–whether through my blogs, newsletters, seminars or webinars–you know I’ve said this already. And I didn’t need to survey 75,000 customers like HBR did. 

I have long said that exceptional customer service is ‘necessary evil’–we have to do it, if we don’t our competition will. But there are three problems with exceptional service that makes it an evil. 

First, exceptional service is easily duplicated by the competition. If I’m your competitor and I hear about or witness a service you are providing, that I’m not, can I copy you? Sure I can. And now copying our competition is easier than ever, all I have to do is go to your website and surf around. And, an unexpected problem from being duplicated is that we are constantly raising our own bar. What are the services you are providing that your competition can easily duplicate? 

 Second, exceptional customer service can be expensive. Too many times companies feel they have to ‘giveaway’ products or services to make the customer whole. In truth, if we handle the issue quickly the customer will return with future business for us. We must remember to address the intellectual needs of the customer by fixing the problem and then their emotional needs by saying we’re sorry.

Third, exceptional service has a perception problem. I may perceive the service you provided for me as excellent but someone else may disagree. Or maybe I define great service as a knowledgeable service provider.  But you think great service is a clean environment. If you focus your energies on one and not the other, someone is going to be disappointed. Try as we may, we can’t ‘reach’ everyone. We are always going to have critics, so why spend time and money on something that has a high percentage of missing the target?

Quality customer service is the avenue to follow when considering where to put your energy to keep the customers you have. If you would like to know the difference, send me an email for a gift of my 25 minute webinar recording giving you the details.

 

7 Slight Edges to Keeping Your Customers

The “7 Slight Edges” the seemingly little things that make a big difference in the level of service you provide.  These are from my 25 years of experience working with companies that are great at keeping their customers.

Big Picture Thinking; Companies that deliver great service know ‘why’ they deliver great service.  They know and understand what’s in it for them, for the customer, and for their employees.  Companies that see the Big Picture demonstrate a long term thinking process.

Courage; Companies that deliver great service have courage.  They take action on their ideas to deliver great service.  They aren’t afraid to try new and different things to show customers they are important to them.  Sometimes there are barriers that keep us from going forward and many times these barriers are self-imposed.

Faith; Delivering great service means having faith.  Faith is belief in something we have no proof of.  We may think that standing up and shaking our customers’ hand will bring them back but, we really don’t have proof they come back because of that greeting.  But, companies that deliver great service know that it does, they have faith.

Effort; To deliver great service, companies must make delivering great service the center of daily operations.  It’s the first thing on their mind, not the second thing.  Companies that excel in delivering great service make it their top priority.

Economics; Economics is the skill of earning more money than you spend.  It’s difficult to deliver great service if your focus is on, not the customer but, the upcoming lease payment you’re going to have trouble making.

Ask Affirming Questions; Affirming questions look for the solution, they typically start out, “How can I..?”  Or, “What can I…?”  Companies that deliver poor service and they are faced with an upset customer, ask questions like, “What’s the problem?”  Or, “What’s wrong?”  These non-affirming questions don’t look for solutions.  We need to ask affirming questions, questions that demonstrate that we’re here to help, to look for solutions.  People who deliver great service to the customer don’t ask the upset customer, “What’s the problem?” they ask “How can I help?”

Be of Service; What does Harley Davidson make?  Motorcycles, right?  What does Harley Davidson sell?  If you said things like, the open road, a ‘made in America’ image, or a bad boy style, you would be right again.  Companies that excel in delivering great service don’t talk about what their products and services are, they talk about what they do, how they serve.

Recorded Training Webinar—Unlimited Usage

Training Webinar—Unlimited Usage

I’m excited to announce two new webinar recordings are available for roll out.  “7 Slight Edges to Keeping Your Customers” and “Leading Service Teams, Coaching the 7 Slight Edges” have been wildly popular.  I have led these workshops on a global level and now I’m putting them into a video format. 

For $299.00 you will receive 12 downloadable installments of videos throughout 2014.  Each recording has unlimited usage—train one employee or one thousand.  I will lead your team through the participant workbook complete with exercises, insights and applications. 

7 Slight Edges to Keeping Your Customers” will empower all employees that they are capable of creating a customer for the company.

Leading Service Teams, Coaching the 7 Slight Edges” will give your leaders the skills to coach the ‘7 Slight Edges’ so employees are engaged in delivering quality customer service to retain more customers.

Call or reply to me today.  Sign up to start receiving your videos in January.  Make 2014 the year you engage your employees, keep your customers and grow your revenues.

Thank you.

Mark

mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com              

651-756-8465

Faith & Customer Service

ImageDelivering great service means having faith.  What do I mean by faith? Faith is belief in something we have no proof of.  We may think that standing up and shaking our customers’ hand will bring the customer back but, we really don’t have proof they come back because of that greeting.  But, companies that deliver great service knows that it does, they have faith.  Companies that lack faith take a long time to may key decisions and then will change their minds quickly when they don’t see immediate results.  Companies with faith will move forward quickly with ideas and change their minds slowly.  Faith is about measurements; you have to put up units of measurements to know you are moving towards your big picture.  If your big picture is to live a healthy life style, and you have the courage to get on a diet and exercise plan to lose 10 pounds, what will you buy at the store to help you know you’re on track, probably a bathroom scale, right?  The scale helps you keep the faith.  If you paint a vivid big picture of what service should be and you have the courage to take action on it, then you need to make sure you put up sign posts, measurements that shows you’re on track. 

Effort & Quality Customer Service

Companies that deliver great customer service make delivering great service the center of daily operations. Not the second thing on their list of things to do. Not a ‘good idea’ of many other good ideas–the center of daily operations.

Effort is about time management, the best use of your time.  Companies that deliver great service knows what matters least should never come before what matters most.  

Because there are so many levels to Effort; coaching, planning, feedback, it would be difficult to cover all aspects in this blog. When clients ask me where they should put their “Effort” first, I say into Quality Customer Service. Quality Customer Service, when understood and applied, will have an immediate, positive impact on the level of service you provide your current and future customers.

For a free, 25 minute power point presentation to help fully understand the difference between quality & exceptional customer service please contact me. mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

When you take one of my workshops you will notice all of them have the word ‘Quality’ customer service and not ‘Exceptional’ customer service in the titles. What’s the difference? Some participants says one is higher than the other, then there is disagreement on which is higher. Some say exceptional is what expected and quality is the best. Some say that quality is the minimum.

Here’s what I teach in my sessions, follow this common example. Ford builds the cars, and they sell the cars to the dealers who in turn sell them to us, the customer. Now let’s say you’re driving along in your great new Ford and you realize the brakes are in need of repair. So you take the car back to the dealer, they fix it and give it back to you. If they do this for a reasonable price and say thank you they delivered customer service, no more, no less. 

Now let’s say they fix the car in two hours, and they do it for a reasonable price. And before they return the car to you, they wash it and fill the tank with gasoline. What, besides dreamland, would that be? I’m sure most of you are thinking that would be exceptional service, and you’d be right.

What makes something exceptional is that the customer can touch it, see it, it’s real. Exceptional service is in the face of the customer.

For a free, 25 minute power point presentation to help fully understand the difference between quality & exceptional customer service please contact me. mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

For this to be a “Quality” customer service experience, the dealer needs to go back to Ford and tell them they’re building cars with bad brakes, stop doing that. The key aspect of “Quality” is prevention; we are preventing this from happening again. Remember, it’s not the mistakes we make that define us, it’s the mistakes we repeat. Companies that have the reputation of delivering poor service repeat the same mistakes, check-out lines are always long and slow, ringing telephones are left unanswered, there’s always a delay at the clinic, and the wait staff is always annoyed. 

Put your effort into quality customer service. Engage your staff on how to make an unhappy customer whole again using exceptional service. And how to communicate the problem so effort can be taken to make sure they are not repeated.

Is There an Effective Leader Personality?

Are effective leaders born?  Is there an effective leader personality?  Is effectiveness a gift like an ear for music?  If the answer to these questions were to be yes, we and the companies we work for would all be in a lot of trouble; being born gifted is something that rarely happens.

I have spent most of my twenty five years as a consultant looking into what makes a leader effective.  I have found that, while personalities, intellects, and temperament may vary from one extreme to another, no, it’s not a gift, effectiveness can be learned.

There are 5 habits an effective leader must learn and practice all day, every day.

  1. The effective leader knows where their time goes.
  2. They focus on their contributions outside of themselves.
  3. They build on their strengths and the strengths of the people around them.
  4. They concentrate on the things only they can do.
  5. They make good decisions after careful consideration.

Being an effective leader is a skill that can be learned. Get your leadership team into training sessions.  Commit to developing their skills, hold them accountable to using those skills. And do it now, the longer you wait the greater likelihood that they will disengage and leave you or worse disengage and stay.

Mark

Mark Isaac

651-756-8465

mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com