By Guest Contributor Marcus Grodentz, Member of Toastmasters International
Can you remember when you last experienced notable customer service? We don’t see it too often and when we do, it leaves a long-lasting impression. So, if you’d like to take your career to the next level, look at how you are approaching your work, and how you are serving both your colleagues and customers.
I’d like to believe that all businesses have an agreed approach to customer service and that it is consistent across the business whether it is a large corporation or an SME. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even in organisations which I have worked for, I’ve seen substantial differences in the approach to customer service being provided by the staff.
The power of service
I remember being quite moved by a video featuring the author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek. In it, he talked about interviews he had undertaken with a number of military personnel. These were people who had been awarded medals for saving colleagues in conflict situations at extreme personal risk to themselves. When asked why they had risked their lives for others their answers were all the same.
“Because I know that these people would have done exactly the same for me.”
The military manages to install this ‘esprit de corps’ –strong regard for the honour of the group – into all its officers and other ranks.
Sinek then drew a parallel between business and the corporate world where no one has to risk their lives for another but where such communal spirit is sadly lacking.
I once had a colleague who asked me to deal with a caller with a general query. The reason? Her manager didn’t like her dealing with any telephone queries that were not directly related to her work. It wasn’t what she was paid to do, and it affected the achievement of departmental targets. She was specifically told not to deal with such calls. Not to be helpful.
This, of course, reflected very badly on the company and on the rest of the staff’s morale.
Having said this, there are businesses that do customer service exceptionally well. My wife and I went on a cruise where all the staff had one shared vision – to make our trip as happy and as memorable as possible. And with hard work, dedication and a smile they succeeded.
Whether you work for, or are applying for a new role in, a large or a small organisation, what is the secret to making your manager happy and to making yourself stand out? Let me share some tips for providing great and memorable service that will help you achieve these outcomes.
Gaining an understanding of the goals
Understand your supervisor’s goals, both personal and for the business. Do everything you can to support them. Is it to be the best at what they do? Is it to produce the best product or service or the most efficient product or service?
Supporting your boss in achieving these aims will mean that they have increasing confidence in you. Your colleagues will notice you and what you say.
Be the person who says yes. That doesn’t mean being subservient. It means to be helpful. Be at the front of the line. Offer to do jobs. Then do those jobs to the best of your ability. Help out colleagues and be supportive. Give praise to others. Thank people who have helped you.
But it is important for common sense to prevail. There can be a fine line between showing initiative and overstepping the mark. Saying yes sometimes means giving a caveat. ‘Yes I can do that for you – but not today/ this week’. Give a time frame that is realistic.
Learning – always
If you are new to a job start learning and keep learning. Ask questions. Understand what’s going on. Even if you have been in a job for a while, don’t think you know everything. ‘We’ve always done it that way’ is not the right answer for every issue. Be prepared to look at new and improved ways of doing your job.
Do what you say you are going to do and do it on time. Be there when you are supposed to be. Turn up for work on time or even early. Don’t be late for meetings and don’t keep people waiting. Meet your deadlines. Don’t make excuses.
Reliability creates confidence. People know that you are someone who will do what you say you’ll do. They will know you give honest answers and will provide solutions and alternatives and not just raise problems.
Seeing yourself as a leader
All of these qualities and attributes above add up to good leadership skills. Even if you’re a junior member of staff, you can show exceptional ability to lead which won’t go unrecognised by your employer and anyone around you.
I started my work life as a junior in a newspaper office. My duties included making tea for the entire newsroom. I warmed the extra-large teapot before putting in the tea bags. I made sure all the mugs were cleaned and that the reporters had biscuits. Everyone looked forward to the tea breaks!
Doing the small things well means you’re likely to be offered bigger responsibilities and opportunities for promotion, as well as enthusiastic testimonials by colleagues.
And finally, remember to smile, like the staff on our cruise. We all like being around positive people. You’ll find a service-minded approach will take your career to the next level.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marcus Grodentz is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organization that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org
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