Follow the P.A.I.R. Method of Customer Service for More Success

happy-customersWe hear a lot about customer satisfaction, servicing the customers’ needs, and being customer centric.  But what we are finding out, these terms mean different things to different people.  Without a clear understanding of what service means, all parties involved will be disappointed.

When we discuss service in our company, we focus on P.A.I.R., realizing that the buyer and seller need to be coupled in order to achieve mutual success.

Proactive– the key to being a star in the service world is to anticipate what your client is going to need.  You need to truly understand who your customer is, what they like (dislike), and how you fit into their lives.  Then make sure you have what they want ready when they want it.

Attentive– paying attention to your clients’ needs is another important skill to establish a culture of good service.  You need to “tend” to your client.  Listen and interpret what they say.  Focus on your customer when they have a concern and follow up with them even if you think the matter is closed.

Interactive- the best companies know that the client experience needs to be interactive.  You need to take the time to talk with (not at) your customers to understand how, when and why they use your product or service.  You also need to provide tools to help them learn about the ways your product or service helps them live better.

Responsive- reacting to a situation and turning it into a positive experience is another key service feature.  This could be as simple as returning a phone call, email, or tweet.  The key is that your customer receives a response.  Respond promptly within an established timeframe (ideally within 4 hours) and discuss the situation in layman’s terms to ensure your client understands the resolution.  Too many times, one side is disappointed because they do not understand what they agreed to.

The P.A.I.R. method of customer service works with internal and external customers.  It is vital to understand that you need to service your colleagues with as much or more vigor than your customers.  Without your company working cohesively, there is no chance that you will deliver on your promise to your customers.

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How to Deal with a Difficult Boss and Be Happier at Work!

Are you reevaluating your career right now?  If so, you are not alone.  Most people take stock of their current job during the fourth quarter.  It is only natural as companies are finalizing budgets and year end projections, people look to see what opportunities are available to them inside or outside of their company.  Job interviewing raises during the fourth quarter as companies are getting ready to start the New Year with their new budgets and new people.  When you consider that 69% of the work force leaves their company within five years and that the average tenure in a company is 1.7 years that is a lot of people changing jobs.

According to a Dale Carnegie Survey, the top two reasons for leaving a job are a difficult boss and being unhappy.  While every situation is different, these two almost always go hand in hand.  You inherently want to be liked by and to like your boss.  When that doesn’t happy, you become frustrated.

Assuming that you like the company, are fairly compensated/treated with respect, are challenged in your position, and like your colleagues, here are some tips on how to be happier.

  1. Communicate better with your boss.  Just as you want to be liked, so does your boss.  Talk to her.  Remember to keep it professional.  Constructive and frank discussions about how you prefer to be managed may make a huge difference in your relationship.  Many times “the boss” does not realize that they are acting in a destructive manner.
  2. Avoid the office gossip.  Your colleagues can cause unhappiness by complaining about the boss.  Stay above that fray.  Don’t go along with the crowd here.  It may end up damaging your reputation- you never know who is within earshot or who may break confidence.
  3. Stay focused on your job.  The best way to get away from a bad boss is to get promoted.  Make sure that your work is impeccable.  On every team, there is a star performer.  Make that your short term goal.
  4. Look at your small wins.  Many times, people feel unhappy because they are not getting the “big hit”.  Days feel routine and boredom sets in.  Take a different approach.  Look at every day as a set of mini challenges.  Did you expedite a shipment for a customer?  Win.  Solve an office issue through insight?  Another win.  Have a good conversation with the boss?  Triple win.  That’s a good day in my book.
  5. Adjust your playlist.  Studies have found that the music in your office affects your mood and attitude towards work situations.  If you need to be mellowed out, try some classical music.  Need a boost, maybe some Top 40 may help.  Music selections work.  Give it a try.

Dealing with a bad boss and being unhappy puts you in a tough situation.  However, by trying the advice given in this article, you may be able to cope better.  If not, you can always look for a new job.

Don’t Under Manage Either!

Last week, I touched on the dangers of being an “over manager”.  This week, I wanted to discuss the flip side to that- what happens when you “under manage” your team.  We have all had that type of manager- super confident that they put the right people in the right seats on the bus.  They spent all day “doing their work” and not a lot of time with their team.

When you truly have a high functioning team that needs little day to day supervision, the results can be spectacular.  Your team is motivated to succeed and you simply need to guide them in the right direction.  Your confidence in them is at an all-time high and their faith in you as a leader is not questioned.  You are able to focus on the big picture, knowing that the team will handle the tasks necessary for success.

However, you must remember that you needed to help the team get to that level and that there is a delicate balance to keep them operating at their peak.  Winning teams have losing streaks and without an artful leader, things can devolve in a hurry.  According to an article in the Rochester Business Journal from 2005, only 10% of managers were considered highly engaged with their team*- and we can guarantee that number hasn’t increased.

To avoid under managing your team, make sure you constantly:

  1. Check in with each member of your team.  My rule was ten minutes with every person every day.  It enables you to ask questions about their challenges and how you can remove their roadblocks.  By talking to them instead of emails and texts, you get a feel for their attitude, enthusiasm and frustrations.
  2. Give honest feedback.  Not every team member is an expert in every facet of their job.  By being involved, you can see where they need to improve.  Remember the lessons you learned from Situational Leadership- manage the tasks as well as the person.
  3. Check with the key groups your team works with- i.e. other departments, customers, vendors, etc.  You need to know how your team as a whole and your individual team members are performing in the eyes of the stakeholders that influence your success.
  4. Raise the bar.  Discuss during your team meetings how things can go better.  Solicit their input and achieve buy in on the new ways to accomplish your goals.  It may be a communication technique or a new report to review.  Whatever it is, make sure you are keeping complacency from creeping into your team.
  5. Admit mistakes.  Even the perfect team may have members who are not a good fit.  Make sure you identify those individuals and make the right efforts to save or replace those people.  Nothing kills a team like bad chemistry- just ask Chip Kelly.

Being a leader is hard work.  You need to delicately balance over and under managing to get the most out of your team.  Focus on the right balance and you will be a super leader.

* Avoiding the perils of hands-off management, Candace Walters, Rochester Business Journal, 01/28/05

Are You an “Over Manager”?

There is a delicate balance between being on top of your team and over managing.  And knowing the difference will dictate your team’s performance.  The Situational Leadership model developed by Ken Blanchard states that you manage people based on their proficiency in individual tasks and as they gain expertise in each task, you give them more freedom only in that task.

However, as a manager, you tend to manage the whole person and fail to see the broad range of strengths and weaknesses your team members bring.  You tend to focus on a one attribute or deficiency and manage all of their skills to that one skill level thus under managing or over managing a person or situation.  Both are equally as bad, but today we are focused on over managing your team.

To avoid over managing your team, you need to have:

  1. Trust- you need to believe that you gave clear and concise direction and that your team will follow that direction to achieve the desired outcomes.  There are many different ways to achieve the goal.  Your job is to make sure your team doesn’t stray too far, not dictate how every move needs to be made.  Your team may need to change their mini courses of direction to avoid issues, yours is to steady the ship and reach your destination.  Without having mutual trust, your team will never reach its fullest potential.
  2. Respect- by over managing your team, you are showing them that you do not value their skills and abilities.  You need to understand that your team has a variety of work experiences.  This variation in backgrounds actually works to your advantage.  They are able to see a situation from more vantage points and bring new ideas to the table.  By keeping a lid on their ideas, questions, and visions, you are showing them that you do not respect them as individuals.  This is a sure way to lose your team.  People will accept a control freak who listens, not one who doesn’t want input.
  3. Confidence- to be a leader, you need to know that the direction you gave is sound, that your team members are competent, and that you are going to achieve your desired outcome.  There is no room for wavering because wavering means you need to get more deeply involved.  That lack of confidence either in your team’s ability, the task at hand or yourself will cause you to ultimately micro-manage because “it won’t be done right unless you do it”.  Now you created an environment where mediocre performance is covered up by you.

At the end of the day, it is really hard to manage a project without being in someone’s business.  There is a weak link in every chain.  Your goal though is to make sure you are giving good direction, are there when your team needs you, and know that with those two things in place, good things will happen.

“Always Do the Right Thing”

Da MayorThat was the advice from Da Mayor in Spike Lee’s classic movie.  Variations are given thousands of times by parents, teachers, coaches, and clergy every day.  In some ways, it is the simplest way to guide your moral compass.  So why is it so hard to do in business?

There are plenty of reasons- stress, not enough information to make a sound decision, personal aspiration, greed, fear- to not do the right thing.  But to be a leader, you need to follow Da Mayor’s advice in your decision making every time.

To always do the right thing, you must have the following leadership attributes:

  1. Conviction- if you do not totally believe in your decision, you are opening yourself up for failure.  You must have total personal buy in that your decisions are right- even if the results end up being bad.
  2. Fairness- to do the right thing, you must treat your team and your situations in a just manner.  Perform neutral reviews and remove any prejudice from your decisions.  That will ensure fairness. Also remember that fairness is not equality.  Everyone does not need to be treated the same, but they do need to be judged the same.
  3. Confidence- to always try to live your life by doing the right thing takes great personal faith in yourself.  You need to be able to handle the results of your actions- both positive and negative- and know that you made the decision for the right reasons.  You need to look yourself in the mirror everyday so make sure your decisions are guilt free.

Wavering while making tough decisions is a sign that you may be lacking these traits.  To be an “elder” in your office community, you need to make decisions based on what you believe is right and accept its consequences.  That is one of the best lessons to learn as your grow up in your leadership roles.