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Countdown: Skill #6 Emotional Intelligence

Countdown: Skill #6 Emotional Intelligence

In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 skills critical to your success as a Freelancer in the growing upheaval of the worldwide job market.  Today I’m going to discuss Emotional Intelligence, #6 in the series.

 

Emotional Intelligence is Important Because?

 

It is one of the essentials of leadership (there’s that word again).  Yes, as a future Freelancer, you are expected to be a good leader.  Part of your job will be the bringing together of disparate groups who need to get along if your projects are going to succeed.  In order to do this, you need to develop your Emotional Intelligence skills.

Emotional Intelligence (also referred to as EI in this post) is linked to your own success.  Studies show 90% of top performers are high in EI.

Emotional Intelligence also leads to personal happiness and achievement.

 

4 Core Skills Comprise EI

Self Awareness

Self Awareness is defined as the ability to perceive our own emotions and your reactions in given situations.

What gets you excited?  What angers or frustrates you?  How and when do you show your emotions?  How does showing your emotions affect others? In what ways?

Knowing how you react emotionally in any given situation and staying aware of those emotions as they happen is the key here.

Self-Management

Here is the best definition of self-management I have found. It’s the first two lines of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If”.  “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”

Self-management is the ability to stay calm, cool, and collected.  Not allowing others to derail, distract, or disrupt your leadership in any given situation.

Social Awareness

Social awareness is the ability to pick up on how other people feel and why they feel that way.

It’s also developing a high sense of empathy which is the ability to understand the other person’s situation.  Add to this, the ability to meet the needs of clients and customers.

 

Relationship Management

 

Relationship management is bringing it all together.  It’s the ability to listen to all sides, using your awareness of  your own and others emotions to reach agreement. It’s applying creativity to a collaborative decision so that decisions are made from the bottom up. It’s also using clear communication to resolve conflict and build lasting bonds.

Relationships develop over time by frequency and depth of contact with others. The idea here is to build networks of individuals you can use to further your Freelancing practice, and better serve your clients.

 

Where Can I Learn About Improving My EI?

 

If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know the first place I always start is with books.  Start with Amazon, your local bookstore, or your local library.  One excellent book on the subject I found is Ian Tuhovsky’s Emotional Intelligence.  It’s an excellent guide to understanding and improving your EI.  There are also some nice freebies at the end. I’ve included a link below if you’d like to order this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)

Check online for courses.  If you Google “Courses in Emotional Intelligence”, you’ll find everything from University Courses leading to leadership certification to seminars to free online training.

 

When Should I Start?

 

Today!  The upheaval in the world job market is already underway.  Software technology and robots are replacing people at an ever increasing pace.  Forbes estimates 50% of the labor force will be Freelancers by 2020 ( http://bit.ly/2tfLsjq ). This is good news for you, but only if you act now so you are ready to take advantage of the shift.

One more thing.  If you’d like to read the full text of Rudyard Kipling’s Poem IF, click here ( http://bit.ly/2irfa3X ).  Ladies I apologize in advance for the poem’s tilt toward the male gender.  Kipling wrote it in 1895 when social norms were far different

 

 

 

Countdown: Critical Skill #8 – Service Orientation

Countdown: Critical Skill #8 – Service Orientation

In my original post in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 critical skills you will need to prepare yourself to succeed in the coming upheaval in the job market.  Today I want to discuss number 8 on the list, Service Orientation.

 

 

Why is Service Orientation so Important?

 

Service Orientation may be the most difficult of the skills to describe.  Yet in many ways, it is the most important of the 10 skills even though it’s number 8 on the list.  As a Freelancer, you don’t just want clients that are satisfied; you want clients that are loyal.  What’s the difference?  Loyal customers call you first.  Before they talk to anyone else.

 

What is Service Orientation?

 

Service orientation is a customer first approach.   It’s a mindset.  This isn’t a skill to be practiced; it’s a lifestyle to be lived.

 

Think about Nordstrom’s.  They became famous because their gift wrapping department would wrap gifts purchased at other stores.  Or, Disney, whose “cast members” sole function is to make sure their “guests” enjoy themselves.

 

I spent 20 years training Mortgage Loan Officers how to build a business based on personal referrals from Realtors, builders, and previous clients.  Service orientation was the most important quality determining their success.

 

Here’s what it takes to develop a loyal client.

 

First on the list is a high degree of empathy.  Put yourself in the client’s shoes. You need good listening skills.  Find out not only what the client wants, but why they want it.  Have patience.  Be sure you hear them out.

 

Be interested in your clients as people.  Find out as much as you can about them. Why do they love their industry? How did they come to be involved in your project?  Where do they go from here?  My experience is most people love to talk about themselves, especially if they are passionate about their work.

 

Practice exceptional follow through and follow up.  As a Freelancer, you may be acting as a go-between for two or more clients.  Make sure all are not just satisfied, but pleased with the outcome.  Make follow up calls a week, a month, a quarter, and even a year after completion.  It’s a good way to get feedback on your project in order to improve your performance the next time.  It’s also a great opportunity to ask for more business.

 

My father was a commercial builder. He made constant follow up calls to clients with finished jobs.  If something was wrong with one of his projects, he didn’t care how long ago the job had been completed.  He’d fix it.  No charge.  Guess why his clients called him back again and again?

 

People like to do business with you when you can make it easy for them.  Here’s a hint.  Don’t make it easy, make it effortless.  When I was in mortgage banking, our Loan Officers would get a referral from a Realtor.  They’d interview the applicants, and if they were qualified, the deal closed in 10 business days.  Do you think Realtors liked sending us business?

 

Where Can I Learn About Service Orientation?

 

That’s actually a hard question to answer. When you search online you will find a lot of sites that are IT oriented.

The best sources appear to be books. Jeffrey Gitomer has a great book titled Customer Satisfaction is Worthless.  Customer Loyalty is Priceless. In it, Jeffrey has a lot of simple, direct strategies to build customer loyalty.  I have included a link below if you’d like to purchase this book.  (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate).

 

Then there’s practice.  You can start now.  We are all involved in situations every day where we can strive to make sure those we come in contact with are pleased with the results.  As I said before, this isn’t a skill it’s a lifestyle.  Start today to put the other person first.  You’ll be stunned at the results.

 

 

Social Styles 5-Learning About the Amiable

Social Styles 5-Learning About the Amiable

Why are Social styles important?

 

In my previous posts on Social Styles, I have stressed the importance of understanding these styles.  Your ability to communicate with these different styles of people will make a huge difference in the profits at your bottom line.

Today, I want to discuss the last of the 4 Social Styles, the Amiable.

 

What is the Amiable Social Style?

 

Amiable are, well…amiable.  They are very people and question oriented. They are easy to get along with.  They are friendly listeners who enjoy personal contact.  They place a high priority on getting along with others.

 

Amiable have soft, pleasant voices.  Their speech is slow.  They have open and eager facial expressions.

 

They take time to establish relationships. They believe progress comes from people working together.  They like to make progress at a slow, steady pace.

 

Their natural tendencies are coaching and counseling.

 

Their motivators are seeking approval, being included as part of a group or team, and having a positive impact on others.

 

Amiables have much in common with Analyticals and Expressives, but are diametrically opposed to Drivers.

 

What does the dialogue of an Amiable sound like?

 

Remember that Amiables are ask directed.  This means you will need to ask a lot of questions.  You have to be patient.  Amiables want to build relationships first. They may not seem concerned with the time spent or deadlines.

 

Here are some other things you can expect:

  1. They want you to show them personal support.
  2. Give plenty of verbal and non-verbal feedback.
  3. They are interested in questions relating to long-term goals.
  4. They may suggest you talk to others. If they do, follow up. Not doing so may kill the relationship
  5. They want assurance as to who you are and what you believe
  6. You are expected to be open and honest
  7. You will need to sell yourself to an Amiable before they make any decision

 

How do you approach an Amiable?

 

The good news here is Amiables are easy to approach.  They are very open and friendly.

Here are several ways to approach an Amiable:

  1. Be relaxed and patient
  2. Make small talk
  3. Ask questions about their personal goals.
  4. Keep a slow, steady pace. Remember people come first.
  5. Don’t try to promote your agenda as revolutionary. Amiables like things with a proven foundation.
  6. Don’t rush your close. Let them come to their own conclusion.

 

In Conclusion.

 

The main take away from this brief outline of the 4 social styles is the need for you to learn to be flexible.  Remember Stephen Covey.  “First seek to understand, then be understood.”  Seek to understand the way your prospect communicates with the world. You will then open the door to show your prospect how you can fulfill his needs.

 

What I have presented in these posts has been the barest of outlines of these Social Styles.  To learn much, much more, I strongly urge you to click on the link below to buy Larry Wilson’s terrific book.

(Full disclosure.  I am a Powell’s Affiliate)

 

 

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles are important because?

In my two previous posts ( http://ow.ly/Zfpn30bKoSK ) (http://ow.ly/1HcK30bYKwv)  we have discussed the importance of understanding social styles.  If you are engaged in business learning to successfully communicate with your employees, prospects, customers and clients is the key to your success.   Knowing your social style and the attributes of the other social styles is vital in building solid relationships.

Today, I want to discuss the Expressive style.

What is the Expressive Style?

 

Expressives are…expressive.  They are open, energetic, excited.  They love to share visions and ideas.  They love to talk about themselves. They like an audience and applause.  They love to tell people what to do.  They are people oriented rather than task.

 

They are risk-takers, competitive, creative and enthusiastic.  They love to get results through people. Relationships are very important to them. They love the exchange of ideas and want to get to know you personally.

 

Their primary motivation is recognition.  They want to stand out from the crowd

 

Expressives want to know the big picture. They want a good grasp of the situation before getting down to the details.  They want to know the essential details, but don’t care about getting too deep into them. They want to collaborate with you on things that support them.

 

Expressives have much in common with Drivers and Amiables. They are diametrically opposed to Analyticals.

What is dialogue with an Expressive like?

 

Here’s what you can expect when engaging with an Expressive.

  1. You should find out about their visions and how they expect you to help.
  2. Find out what other people need to be involved in accomplishing their vision.
  3. Expressives are usually very open about sharing information they think you need.
  4. They like a fast paced, focused discussion.
  5. They are casual about their use of time.
  6. Watch for openings in the conversation where you can slide in questions.
  7. Figure out a way to show support for their ideas and decisions.

 

What is the most effective approach to an Expressive?

 

When approaching Expressives, you need to quickly establish who you are, what you offer, and what they have to gain by working with you.

 

Other things to include are:

  1. Stories about people you both know.
  2. Share “exclusive” information
  3. Reinforce their vision and enthusiasm
  4. Take time to develop a personal relationship
  5. Leave time for socializing
  6. Talk about their goals and ideas they find stimulating.

 

 

In Conclusion

 

Learning how to effectively communicate with other social styles is a simple, yet amazing way to build trusting, solid relationships with your clients. Try it.  You’ll be stunned at the results.

 

Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
Why Customer Service is Your Most Important Function

Why Customer Service is Your Most Important Function

As small business owners, we are all worried about going up against the “big guys”.  Great customer service is the best way to out perform your competition every time.  Here’s a great post telling you how.

How small businesses can deliver good customer service

Satisfied customers remain loyal to you and recommend you to others. Alastair Kight, managing director of GRITIT, offers five simple steps for delivering good customer service

waiter carries tray

Skills can be taught, so it’s more important to employ staff with the right attitude, says Alastair Kight. Photograph: Paula Solloway/Alamy

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About this content

Alastair Kight

Monday 5 November 2012 05.46 ESTLast modified on Tuesday 6 November 201210.53 EST

Customer service is the badge that every company wants to wear because satisfied customers remain loyal to you and recommend you to others. New customers require time, effort and a significant marketing budget to acquire.

It’s not hard to keep customers happy, even though we all know from bitter experience that few companies get it right. All that’s needed is to put their needs at the heart of everything you do. Following these five simple steps will help.

Engage with your customers at every opportunity.

Communication is vital because your customers want to feel valued and respected. They’re also looking for peace of mind that they can trust you will deliver what you promise.

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Tracking the market and anticipating your customers’ changing needs will enable you to think innovatively and stay ahead of the competition. This can be done by:

• Communicating regularly with your customers to understand their changing needs.

• Conducting regular customer feedback surveys so you get an honest assessment of your business from the people that matter.

• Monitoring the wider economy and analysing how changes will impact your customers.

• Tracking your competitors so you understand where you are in the market and how you can differentiate.

Offer clients flexibility, so they get exactly what they want

There’s no point listening to customers if you don’t then give them what they want. One size does not fit all, particularly in a tough economy, and you have to be able to cater for most budgets. Put systems in place that enable your staff to work within a framework, but also give them enough flexibility to offer bespoke packages. This could be, for example, a pay monthly option, or a rebate agreement, which pays a refund to clients when the average number of service visits are not required.

Employ the right people

You are only as good as your weakest member of staff, so you need to hire carefully. It doesn’t matter what the management team promise, you will only deliver when the people at the sharp end are doing their jobs well. At GRITIT, we’re not focused on a candidate’s qualifications or skills because our comprehensive training programme will teach them. Instead we hire people for their attitude, which is far harder to teach. Those with the right attitude are also often the most willing to learn.

In our business, operations staff work under the most extreme conditions, are on call 24 hours a day and they never let our clients down. In fact, they often go beyond the call of duty: this may involve spending extra time, for example, clearing snow that is a potential hazard from areas of a site that are not part of our contract.

Develop your staff

Even if employees join with the right attitude, they may soon become disillusioned if you don’t involve them in your decisions and give them the opportunity to develop.

Making your staff feel valued will help them to give their very best every day which in turn benefits your customers. Some approaches will suit individual businesses better than others, but these programmes have helped us:

• Mentoring: encourage staff members at all levels to mentor newer team members. Not only does it give them pride and drive to unlock other people’s talents, it develops stronger teams.

• Training: put a comprehensive training programme in place so that staff can see how their development will progress step by step.

• Additional opportunities: use regular appraisals to identify other opportunities which will broaden your employees’ skills and add value for your customers.

• Internal awards: public recognition when a member of staff has gone over and above for your clients will encourage others to do the same.

Invest, invest, invest

Investment in staff is vital, but to be able to offer the best in customer service, you must also invest in the best equipment and systems. If you don’t, then you’re asking your staff to keep customers satisfied with one hand tied behind their backs.

Finding the right systems for your business is vital. If you don’t have the skills internally consider outsourcing or recruiting an expert. You’ll need to spend time working out exactly what you need technology to do to support every aspect of your business and then develop a system that’s customised to your needs.

We’ve invested in a pioneering management platform that enables us, among other things, to communicate instantly and effectively with customers and the operations teams, and track vehicles and operators in real-time. Importantly, we can utilise the most up-to-date weather forecasting services and automatically, via weather forecasts, trigger gritting and snow clearance services. These innovations undoubtedly help our staff to deliver an exceptional service.

Customer service has never been more important; in the current climate consumers are shopping around and demanding more value for money. Businesses that thrive will not pay lip service to customer service, but instead ensure that everything they do is based around doing the very best by the people who choose to buy from them.

Alastair Kight is the managing director of GRITIT, the winter risk management specialists.

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To receive more like this you can become a member of the Small Business Network here.

We’d love to hear your views and thoughts in the comments but please remember not to disclose personal identifiable details.

Why Building Customer Relationships Should be #1 on Your List.

Why Building Customer Relationships Should be #1 on Your List.

As Small Business Owners, we all know the importance of customer service and customer relations.  Unfortunately in the “high tech” world in which we live, building customer relations is pushed aside.  Many business owners feel they “just don’t have time.”  

People buy from people they know and trust is one of the basic tenets of marketing.  The attached article explains why taking the time to build long term relationships with prospects should be # 1 on our to-do list each day. 

HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH: RELEVANCY AND RELATIONSHIPS FOR TODAY’S YOUNG BUSINESSES

Today’s marketing landscape is radically different than it was just one decade ago. It continues to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, keeping pace with the latest technological innovations.

mobile tech

Successful companies have adapted to the demands of this new environment, integrating competitive SEO and social media campaign initiatives into their marketing portfolios. Those who turn their backs on these changes put themselves at a steep disadvantage. However, those who are a bit too eager to go full-tech run the risk of falling even further.

The problem isn’t that businesses choose to embrace the high-tech transformation. After all, in order to remain relevant, a company needs to play ball on the same field as its competition. More often than not, that field is digital, at least to some degree.

Instead, the problem is going digital without a plan to preserve high-quality, high-touch relationships with clients.

A High-Touch Game Plan in a High-Tech World

Get Cultured

As in any relationship, it is important to develop an assured sense of self before committing to something serious and long-term. Companies must know who they are, what principles they represent, and exactly where and how their customers fit into their communities.

A business’ culture determines the way it is perceived by the public. This culture must be developed from within and include employees at every level of the organization. Having a firm hold on one’s guiding ideologies is critical to building and maintaining sincere, lasting partnerships with customers.

Why? Because a company that lacks a cohesive sense of itself generally cannot act with precision or uniformity. This same company will also have a difficult time managing its public image and brand.

When customers are not sure what to expect from a particular business-or when they are led to develop inaccurate expectations-they are taken aback by apparent violations of that business’ compliance with its own values. The same is true when a business tries to reinvent itself without a thorough, well-thought-out course of action in place before any transition is made.

Developing a robust culture takes time, but it is a worthwhile investment that bolsters businesses’ trustworthiness and reliability. Doing so will provide a strong foundation for positive and profitable customer relationships.

Focus on the Future

In the competitive global marketplace, it is easy to develop a form of nearsightedness. The allure of a quick sale often appears more attractive than the somewhat blurry prospect of a partnership that might lie farther down the road.

This nearsightedness can come at a high cost when one-time customers aren’t converted into repeat clientele. This is especially true now, when the prevalence of e-commerce puts even more competitors’ products and services in front of prospective clients. As a result of this, fostering brand loyalty is-as a rule-more difficult than it used to be.

Here’s the bottom line: It is important to invest time and resources in optimizing a customer’s experience before, during, and after a sale. Focusing on a sustainable future, rather than just a lucrative present, is the best predictor of a business’ ability to thrive over time.

Reach Out

Simply because a business only operates an online storefront, there is no rule that its presence must be limited to the digital world as well. There are many ways to remind customers that there are real live people running a website, and that these people are thinking about them.

Tried-and-true strategies from the age of traditional offline marketing still offer plenty of value. Customer appreciation events, notes written by hand (or at least signed by an actual person), distribution of promotional items or freebies, and participation in community events gives businesses a face-and sometimes even a heart.

Get A Little Personal

It’s possible to save money by replacing traditional customer service specialists with automation technology. Alternatively, these positions can be outsourced to third party firms-oftentimes firms that have no genuine stake in the companies that contract them.

The first scenario is problematic because customers want to feel like they’re interacting with real people when they make purchases. The second scenario is little better, as customers also want-and deserve-to feel valued. Part of feeling valued is sensing that a business is grateful enough for their patronage to ensure that they receive expert advice and service from representatives who embody the spirit of the company that employs them.

It is important to create opportunities for customers to interact with friendly, professional personnel. It’s not a bad idea, either, to encourage personnel to stray from highly scripted conversation into the territory of casual chat.

About the Author: Gary Austin is the CEO of ThePenGuy.com, a company focusing on high quality promotional pens and fantastic customer service.

Photo credit: Johan Larsson

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