Act with Courage

Do you realize that most of us will live our entire lives never knowing whether or not we are a coward? When was the last time you acted with courage? And I don’t mean a bungee cord or tandem parachute jump–life is not supposed to be a pursuit of catastrophe. I mean the kind of courage that requires a commitment, not a momentary beat down of a fear. I mean real courage like running your first marathon or making a commitment to being debt-free or writing a blog two or three times a week?

The reason we don’t act with courage is because failure feels ten times as bad as success feels good. Cowards are self-centered people, they are concerned with how they will look if they fail. They are concerned about what other people will say about them if they fail. Courageous people have no regards for self. They know and understand, if they fail they will learn from the experience. They will ask themselves, “What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What can I do better or different the next time?” They know and understand that failure doesn’t mean stop, it means get up and try again. Courageous people can accept failure–they can’t accept not trying.

Ask me about my 60-minute webinar recording, “7 Slight Edges to Keeping Your Customers”

$77.00—no usage limit.

mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com 

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. You need to build your courage muscle–you need to start out small. Go for a walk every day. Ask your boss for that raise. Ask that man or woman you’re interested in out for a date. Start building little ‘wins’ and then you can turn up the courage level. Quit smoking, turn off the TV and spend time with your spouse, say no to going out with your friends and put the money your save into your savings account. Then you’re ready to take the next step towards a greater level of courage. Quit your job and pursue your dream job or start your own business. Start training to complete your first marathon. Take those blogs you have been writing and turn them into a book.

Courage requires us to feel uncomfortable. Courage requires us to get past ourselves. Courage requires personal change.

It’s time to start acting with courage—you’ve put it off long enough–you deserve to act with courage. It’s time to sacrifice who you are for who you want to be.

Mark

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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.

“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.

“Can You Be Trusted With the Test of Money?”

The “Slight Edge” of ECONOMICS says to earn more money than we spend. Something else to keep in mind about money, or revenues is that it is both a test and a trust. Money is sometimes referred to as currency. That is to say it is a current, it flows. And when we disrupt the flow, we limit the flow of revenues to us. It’s a test because we have so many choices of what to do with our money. Forgetting to save some of it and/or use some of it for debt reduction is a failure of the test.
Money is a test because we are being asked to do the right thing with our money. Save it, invest it, use some to reduce debt or pay bills that keep our lives functioning, like rent or mortgage.
When we use our income to buy vacations, buy new cars, buy too many nights out on the town, or live beyond our means, we fail the test.
Money is a trust because what we do with our money impacts so many other people, our lifestyle and our goals. When we fail the put our income into a 401k plan we violate the trust of our future. When we fail to reduce our debt we offend the trust of living within our means.
The best advice I can give to strengthen your ECONOMIC muscle is to keep a money log. For one week out of every quarter, if you feel it’s too difficult to do it every day like me, track every penny. This is not a big deal, it’s easier now than ever. Just pay with a debit card and look at your statement. Or keep all of your receipts. And, of course, there’s an app for that.
I’m continually surprised by the feedback I get from followers who take up this task. I hear things like, “I never knew how much I spent on lunch.” Or, “I was surprised by how much of my money goes to Starbucks.”
Remember money is BOTH a test and a trust.
Mark
Mark Isaac
Owner/Trainer/Author
Gorman Business Consultants
mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

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

Money is both a Test & a Trust

Money is Both a Test & a Trust
The “Slight Edge” of ECONOMICS says to earn more money than we spend. Something else to keep in mind about money, or revenues is that it is both a test and a trust.
Money is sometimes referred to as currency. That is to say it is a current, it flows. And when we disrupt the flow, we limit the flow of revenues to us.
It’s a test because we have so many choices of what to do with our money. Forgetting to save some of it and/or use some of it for debt reduction is a failure of the test. (MORE BELOW)

Leading Service Teams; Coaching the 7 Slight Edges

January 16-17, in Bloomington, MN from 9: am until 4: pm. The fee for this two-day event is $349.00, $299.00 if you pay in before the end of 2012, includes all materials. The session will be filled with discussion, exercises, and strategizing to engage your team and keep your customers.

This new, two-day, open to the public seminar will give you the skills to coach and communicate with your team so they are fully engaged in the service message. Here is more of you can expect to gain.

• 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
• Manage 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 as an effective leader

Money is a test because we are being asked to do the right thing with our money. Save it, invest it, use some to reduce debt or pay bills that keep our lives functioning, like rent or mortgage.
When we use our income to buy vacations, buy new cars, buy too many nights out on the town, or live beyond our means, we fail the test.
Money is a trust because what we do with our money impacts so many other people, our lifestyle and our goals. When we fail the put our income into a 401k plan we violate the trust of our future. When we fail to reduce our debt we offend the trust of living within our means.
The best advice I can give to strengthen your ECONOMIC muscle is to keep a money log. For one week out of every quarter, if you feel it’s too difficult to do it every day like me, track every penny. This is not a big deal, it’s easier now than ever. Just pay with a debit card and look at your statement. Or keep all of your receipts. And, of course, there’s an app for that.
I’m continually surprised by the feedback I get from followers who take up this task. I hear things like, “I never knew how much I spent on lunch.” Or, “I was surprised by how much of my money goes to Starbucks.”
Remember money is BOTH a test and a trust.

“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

 

Save some money, put your customers to work.

The airlines make their customers do it, gas stations make their customers do it, some grocery stores make you do it, and even restaurants make you do it.  And by ‘it’ I mean, serve yourself.   Self-service is on the rise in almost every service industry; asking customers to pump their own gas, get your own food at the buffet, or perform any other task employees once did can save your company money.  In the airline industry passengers prefer to use check-in kiosks to check themselves in and choose their own seats rather than deal with an airline employee.  But the trick is to make sure this self-service approach improves the customers’ experience. 

 Quality Customer Service vs. Exceptional Customer Service;

In this 25 minute audio and power point presentation you learn the difference between Quality Customer Service and Exceptional service.  Why Quality service is more cost effective, creates a positive work environment and gives you a better competitive edge.  And we will show you how exceptional service may actually hurt your business because it is the necessary evil.

If you would like this free training tool, click and send qualitymodel@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

 Privacy Policy; Your information will not be sold or rented to any third party company and is exclusively for the exchange of content-rich training between you, your company and Gorman Business Consultants.

Time Management Matrix;

In this 45 minute audio and power point presentation you will learn where your time goes.  Pin-point what are your greatest time wasters?  Identify what are the things only you can do.  And what are the things other people can do.   

If you would like this free training tool, click and send timematrix@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

Maturity Ladder;

In this 45 minute audio with power point presentation you will learn how to assign tasks to the right person based on their level of maturity.  From there you will be able to give the best feedback to ‘grow them up’ the ladder.  All leading to a positive, mature, work environment.

If you would like this free training tool, click and send maturityladder@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

 Mark

mark@gormanbusinessconsultants.com

612-308-3065