“Asking Affirming Questions to Keep Your Customers”

Companies that deliver great service and keep their customers ‘Ask Affirming Questions.’7Slight_Logo

If you ever want to read a really good book some day read, “Awaken the Giant Within” by Anthony Robbins. Robbins teaches us that the quality of our life is based on the questions we ask ourselves–the problem is we ask bad question.

In another great book, “Psycho—Cybernetics”, Maxwell Maltz teaches us there is something in us to help us find the Continue reading

Big Picture Thinking

Hello Friends,

Here’s is another YouTube clip on why you should be signing up for my latest open workshop “Leading Service Teams” coming March 19-20 in Minneapolis.  http://bit.ly/1l6uzA9

Customer service, managing others and time management were three of the top five areas of interests to learn more about, according to recent surveys.  This makes sense; ultimately the level service you provide to your customer will depend on the culture you create for your employees. 

“Frankly speaking, I found the Training programme very educative and highly rewarding.”

Globacom (Nigeria)

On March 19th and 20th, in Bloomington, MN, I will be conducting my two-day managers and supervisors workshop called, “Leading Service Teams” (LST). 

 What’s at the core of LST is to make the participants better, more effective communicators so they can engage employees to take ownership of the customer service message. 

 “The lessons on MBA remains the most beneficial of all, with MBA you can get virtually anything resolved.”

E-Tech Complete Solutions Limited

Some key topics discussed are the Maturity Ladder, Tyranny of the Urgent, Mutual Benefits Agreement, Public Praise and much more.  Also, you will learn the “Seven Slight Edges” to great customer service and how to coach them to your team.  There will be discussion, role playing, group work and team building exercises.

The fee for this insightful and rewarding workshop is $149.00.  Materials are provided.  There is a limit of 30 participants. 

 “…this is the first training I have done had with the company that made sense and applied to my job. Thank You!”  Avaya 

Get more done, with and through your team by attending this workshop.  March promises to be a great learning experience.

 Please, feel free to contact me with any questions.

Thank you.

Mark

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

Exceptional Service is the ‘Necessary Evil’

When you take an average customer service training workshop you spend much of the time in the session looking for ways to practice exceptional service.You look for different ways to attempt to separate your company for the competition and how to shine when you make a mistake with the customer. And to the degree of how well you deliver the service – it may be perceived as exceptional.

But delivering exceptional customer service may be a losing effort. Exceptional service is what I call the necessary evil – we have to do it, if we don’t our competition will. But there are three issues with exceptional service.  

First, let me paint a picture. If I own an auto repair station, and you own an auto repair shop, and you’re my competition, and you hear after doing business with me I’m washing the cars of my customers. Can you start washing the cars of your customers? Sure you can. If I hear you’re filling the gas tanks of your customers, can I start filling gas tanks? Of course I can. That’s a big problem with exceptional service; it can be duplicated. 

Duplicating our competition is easier than ever, all I have to do is go to your website and look at the services you provide. If I see something you’re doing that I’m not, all I have to do is copy you. All you have to do is come to my auto shop and look around, maybe have a car serviced there and you will know what types of services I’m providing. Then you can decide if you want to duplicate them.

Here’s another problem with exceptional service. If I’m filling the gas tanks for my customers or if I’m washing the cars before I return them to my customers, can that be expensive? That’s a big problem with exceptional service – it can be expensive. Companies that focus their energy on providing exceptional service to their customers run the risk of violating the ‘slight edge’ of economics. Especially small businesses in tough economic times, you have to be careful about where your money is goes. Providing exceptional service can be expensive.

Another evil to exceptional service is this. Let’s say, after getting my car fixed, I say to you, “Hey, I just got my car fixed at that dealership and when they were done, they washed my car for me.  Pretty cool, right?” You may say, “Well, they should wash it, with the high prices they charge.” 

You see, exceptional service suffers from a problem of perception. What I perceive as exceptional, you may not have the same view. Just because we proclaim to be practicing exceptional service doesn’t mean our customers will perceive it as exceptional.

We have to practice exceptional service, if we don’t, our competition will. But this necessary evil can be easily duplicated, can be expensive and a large percentage of our customers may not perceive what we practice as exceptional.

“Faith”

Companies that deliver great customer service have faith. What do I mean by faith?  Having faith means, believing in something you have no proof of. We think that smiling, making eye contact, and using the customer’s name will bring them back but, we really don’t know it does. But, we do these things because we have faith that it will bring them back.

So many times participants leave my workshops with some great ideas that will allow their company to deliver outstanding customer service and separate them from their competition. Of those who do put their ideas into action, many, after a few weeks or months of not seeing the results they had hoped for, drop the idea. 

Having faith is about measurements; you need to put things into place that demonstrate you are on the right track. If you develop a new customer service performance standard and you don’t have any signposts to help make sure you’re getting the results you want, you are very likely to stop doing it. 

If you ever want to read a really good book someday, read “The Game of Work” by Chuck Coonradt. In his book the author gives you methods of how to measure, or keep score, of how you are doing. The key is to put something, anything, into place to help you keep score.

Let’s say your Big Picture is to live a healthy lifestyle. And to do that you’ve decided to put yourself on a diet and exercise plan to lose ten pounds. What measuring tool would you use to let you know you’re on track? A bathroom scale, right? No scale and you will have to use other, less accurate methods like notches on your belt. Or worse, you won’t have anything to go by. If this happens, you are very likely to stop pursuing your goal. 

The scorekeeping method you use is best if it is (1) Objective; there is nothing subjective about the bathroom scale. Make sure your signposts are specific. (2) Self-administered; ask your staff what measuring method they would like to use on themselves. You will be helping the staff take ownership of the idea by valuing their input. (3) Dynamic; use two or three methods of measuring. Allow the employee to compare current performance with past performance. 

Keeping the faith is all about measurements. Don’t let good ideas die on the vine. Have the courage to take action on your idea. Use signposts to make sure you’re on the right path. Give feedback to nurture the actions and help the staff take ownership of the idea. 

Don’t become frustrated if you don’t get immediate results. Remember, unsuccessful people take forever to make a decision, and then change their minds quickly. Successful people make decisions quickly and are slow to change their mind. 

“Ask Affirming Questions”

Companies that deliver great customer service Ask Affirming Questions.  If you ever want to read a really good book someday read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.  It’s an old book but a very relevant book today.  In his book Maltz teaches us that our bodies are designed to look for the answers. That there is something in us that drives us to look for answers. Some may say it’s God, some may say it’s DNA but, Maltz calls it the ‘servo-mechanism.’  He says our bodies are designed to look for the answer to the questions we ask it.  The problem is that we ask it bad questions.

 Think about this, maybe you’ve done this, I know I have.  You’re sitting at your kitchen table and you have all those bills spread out in front of you. Maybe you’re paying by phone, maybe online or maybe the old fashion way, you’re writing out a check. And when you’re done you look into the registry and see there’s still some month left at the end of the money!  And you ask yourself that very bad question, “Why am I always in debt?”  Or, “Why can’t I get ahead?”  Or, “Why do I live check to check?”

 Our bodies are designed to look for the answers.  So, when you ask a question like, “”Why can’t I get out of debt?” Your mind is answering, “Well, your credit cards are maxed out, you only pay the minimum, and everyday on your way to work, you stop and buy a $6.00 latte. 

 When you ask yourself, “Why am I so fat?”  Your mind answers, “Well, because I’m like the average American, and sit around everyday watching four hours of television eating cheese puffs.”

 Here’s your hint, most affirming questions start out with, “How can I” or “What can I.”  So it’s not, “Why am I so fat?” it’s “How can I lead a healthy lifestyle?”  Or, “How can I eat right everyday?”

 The rephrasing leads to reframing in our minds.  We begin to look for solutions instead of looking at the problem. 

 Companies that deliver great customer service are continually asking their customers, “How can we help?”  “What can we do for you?”  “How can we do better?” 

 Companies that deliver poor service ask the upset customer questions like, “What’s wrong?”  Or, “What’s the problem?”  If you ask an upset customer, “What’s the problem?” what are you going to hear?  But if you ask, “How can I help?” what are you going to hear?

You see, sixty percent of the public will terminate a relationship with a company based on a bad customer service experience.  And the problem is they don’t tell us, they just leave.  Developing the skill to ask affirming questions in your marketing pieces, in your frontline employees, and in your customer surveys will keep the customer close and communicating.

 I believe the next big wave in customer service will be, making it easy for customers to complain. If we can get the customer talking to us we build better, more profitable, relationships.  And the way to get them communicating is by asking affirming questions.

 The first step in developing this skill is to start observing the kinds of questions you are asking. Listen to the quality of questions you are asking yourself and listen to the people around you.  Make sure you’re all asking affirming questions that look for solutions.  Remember, it’s not, “What’s the problem?”  it’s “How can I help?”

 Then, through effective coaching, get everyone practicing this powerful tool.  

 

“Be of Service”

Here’s a question for you, don’t over think it, it’s not a trick question. What does Harley-Davidson Manufacture? Motorcycles, right? OK, here’s another, this one is the trick question. What does Harley-Davidson sell? Now if your answers may be more like, the open road, bad-boy image, or American style. What does a good realtor sell? To some it may be the American Dream, for others it may be an investment.  What does a good travel agent sell?  For you it may be rest and recreation. For me, when I’m talking with my travel agent, I know I’m going someplace to earn some money.

 

You see, companies that deliver great service, don’t talk about what their product or service is, they talk about what their product or service will do for the customer.  More specifically, they talk about how their product or service will help customers reach their goals or fix their problems; how it will serve. 

 

How your product or service will serve the customer is how you can differentiate yourself from the competition.  If you’re a home builder, and you talk about the homes you build in terms of brick and mortar, you’re going to sound like every home builder.  If you’re a banker, and you talk about your IRA programs as being an investment for the future, you’ll sound like every other banker. Speak in terms of how these things serve, and you find your customers are loyal because they feel you understand them.

 

To the customer, when you speak in terms of being of service, you sound different than your competition.  The average company, the company that delivers poor customer service, will talk about their products as if it is the very thing we’re buying, we’re not.  We’re buying what the product will do for us.  And in this age of commodity and competition, many times the only way the average company can differentiate themselves is by price, a lower price.  When in fact, according to a Harvard study, companies that deliver great service, have a 15 to 20 % cost advantage, they get to charge more.

 

You can use a simple formula to help create your message.  Research (R) the target market; read trade journals, visit their websites, talk the people in the industry.  Uncover issues (I); ask them and yourself questions like, “What needs and goals are my customers trying to meet?”  Or, “How can my product help my customers?”  Then craft your message (M); write it so it directly addresses your customer’s needs. This RIM process will help you to describe quickly, the problem you solve and the goals you help achieve for the customer.

 

All of your communication with customers should center on how you are of service to them.  Emails, brochures, advertisings, signage, all should state how you are of service.  This is not the attitude of, “What’s in it for me?”  It’s the attitude of, “What’s in it for you?”

 

Being of service is the most rewarding of all the “Seven Slight Edges” because it helps to meet our desire to leave a legacy.  When we help our customers to meet their needs and goals they will always remember us and be loyal to us.  And when they return time and time again to do business with us, we will strengthen our legacy, a legacy of service.

Quality Customer Service; a Free Training Tool for You

It’s all about Quality Customer Service and here’s why. What I’m writing about today are the benefits to the company, the employee and to the customer when you practice Quality Customer Service.
For a free 25 minute power point presentation of me explaining what Quality Customer Service is about, please follow this link.
https://sevenslightedges.webex.com/sevenslightedges/ldr.php?AT=pb&SP=MC&rID=103746767&rKey=abe50d5d19e64fdb
When companies practice quality customer service the first thing they have to do is communicate and build trust. When company leadership has a long track record of not listening to their employees, or worse, not following through on their suggestions, building trust can be a real dog fight. Companies have to make it easy and rewarding for their employees to communicate with leadership, no different than communicating with your customers.
When management opens communication and acts trustworthy the long-term, big picture rewards for everyone are many. Management builds a relationship of mutual benefits with the workforce. Managers and workers can make improvement a part of their jobs. Fear is eliminated for the environment. Workers make suggestions out of a sense of pride in their work. Employees are engaged in their work. Customers sense the positive environment and enjoy doing business with them.
Exceptional service can be expensive, easily duplicated and not perceived as exceptional by many customers.
Simply put; dump exceptional service and commit to quality service.

The “Slight Edge” of Economics

Companies that deliver great customer service practice the ‘slight edge’ of Economics. When I say economics I mean the skill, and it is a skill that you can learn, of earning more money than you spend.
When we fail to practice good economics we are unable to focus on another ‘slight edge’ Big Picture Thinking. We can’t see our goals because our vision is blocked by the stress that poor economics causes.

The best tool I can recommend to help master the skill of economics is a expense log. For one week out of each quarter of the year, track every penny you spend. You can use a credit or debit card and review the receipts. Or you can get receipts from each transaction. Or, there’s an app for that.
After the week, sit down and evaluate where your money went. Are there some expenses you can cut?
Doing this for one week is the least you can do, I challenge you to do it for a full month. Or, for a full year, like I have for the past 6 years.
We can’t fix it until we are willing to face it. track your expenses and take the time to look at it objectively.
Thank you.
Mark
mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

“Switch Your Focus Away From Your Customer”

Companies pushing the ‘exceptional’ customer service mind set are misguided in their focus.  As I have written several times, exceptional customer service is necessary evil.  It’s evil because it can be easily duplicated by our competition, it can be expensive, and to some of our customers, it won’t even be perceived as exceptional. 

I have also written, over my 24 years of being a customer service expert, that exceptional customer service is necessary.  It’s necessary because it’s in the customers face, it’s something they can touch and see.  Also, if we don’t deliver some exceptional service, our competition will. 

The key to exceptional service is to steer your effort away from constantly trying to find newer and better ways to deliver great service, stop wasting your time.  This is what I call the ‘more-ness’ factor.  Our American mind set has led us to always looking for ways to do it more, faster, better.  You can come up with the latest and greatest customer service idea, but if your service provider is in a bad mood or poorly coached by their supervisor, the best ideas will fail.  And, as I feel with exceptional customer service, I think we’ve maxed out, it’s time to stop trying to beat our competition with exceptional service and switch our focus to quality customer service. MORE BELOW

 Leading Service Teams Workshop

January 16 &17, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Create a service culture, engage your employees, and grow revenues for your company. Here are some other exciting things you will master.

How to create a service environment

How to coach the service message

Help your team understand, they can ‘create a customer’

Build candor between you and your team

Practice quality service over exceptional service

End the necessary evil of exceptional service

Keep more clients

Reduce employee turnover

Build an army of engaged employees

Build more referral sources

Develop real world applications for each of the “7 Slight Edges”

How to manage your time like a true leader

 Ultimately, the level of service you provide for your customers will depend on the culture you create for your employees.  Quality customer service switches your focus from the customer to the employee, helping them to be engaged, and it builds open and honest communication. 

While having well trained managers and supervisors to create this type of candor is important, it is only one step in the process.  First, leadership must make the commitment to quality service.  This isn’t a 180 in how you deliver service now; as I wrote, you need to practice some exceptional service.  And, if you are already delivering exceptional service, the change is actually easier because you don’t have to worry about that aspect.

Next, you have to switch the focus of your frontline team from SOLVING problems to PREVENTING them.

Only through an investment of training into the managers and supervisor and then to the frontline team will you be able to help everyone understand that they can and must help to ‘create a customer’ for the company.

Thank you.

Mark

mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com