Awesome Daycare. There is no way I could be productive at work if I didn’t love my girls’ daycare. It’s a very cozy setting, they love their teacher, learn a lot and most of all they are safe and very well taken care of there.
A couple of other good signs – they have no problem saying bye to me in the morning and it usually takes at least 15 minutes to get them to leave in the afternoon.
Supportive/flexible environment. This goes for my work and home environments. I have been blessed with employers and clients that understand I am a mother. And part of this is that I may not be in the office from 8-5 every day, but I will also work at midnight if I have to in order to finish a project.
At home I don’t keep things rigid. I try to enforce a bedtime, but otherwise our evenings are unpredictable. We may go to the park or mall after the girls leave daycare, or we may play at home until dinner is ready. We may have a spa night, do a project or have dance-offs (mostly the girls and daddy… my two-step doesn’t make the cut…).
Smartphone. Through email, social media (mostly Facebook and Twitter) and actual phone calls, I am available to both colleagues and family easily. I am able to organize my life, keep to-do lists, write articles, work on projects, research ideas and the list goes on.
Low-maintenance style. I wear my hair natural because it’s versatile yet extremely easy to maintain. I wear very little make-up (lipstick and a little eye shadow with mascara is the norm) and I have my jewelry separated into weekday and weekend looks.
For clothes I gravitate towards materials that are easy to maintain and I try to choose pieces that will go well with many looks. I will admit that shoes are my weakness, so I sometimes get a little crazy here, but I keep a pair of black heels in my trunk in case of emergency.
“Your best ideas are hidden behind logical thinking.” This is what I tell myself when I’m having mental block on a creative project. And here’s how I fight it.
I brainstorm for five minutes. Then I choose the most outlandish, unrealistic idea. Instead of focusing on why it can’t work, I think of the success I’ll have if it DOES work. Then I make a plan.
This encourages me to think differently, creatively, not so much logically. And when I’m finished I usually have a few nuggets that I can actually use. After all, it’s easier to reel in an idea if needed.
Here are three ways you benefit from talking to your customers regularly:
Things mentioned in casual conversation may spark a great value-add opportunity. This opportunity can be a service that you offer and your client forgot or never knew you provided. It can also be an opportunity for you to offer a referral. It may even highlight a new service that you could provide with little or no effort, but that may be a lifesaver for your customer.
Your conversations can serve as informal research. You can learn everything from true competitor pricing (not what’s posted on a website) to industry news (how it’s really affecting them) to stereotypes and/or urban legends that you may need to address.
You may learn of other places to reach your target market. For instance, regional events and hobbies are a great way to connect with your customers. Unfortunately it is difficult to figure out which regional events are worth a second look without some insider information. And you may never know that your customer loves bird-watching unless he mentions an upcoming trip in a conversation.
Your emails say a lot about you. And while we all can overlook a sporadic typo, ignoring email etiquette can not only damage your perception, it can land your email in the “deleted items” folder.
Here are two posts to get you on the right track. The first, How To Improve Your Email Etiquette, is from Marci Alboher, Working the New Economy’s Blog.
The second, Sending Emails That Get Read, is a post I wrote about a year and a half ago.
It’s more than the annoyance of prompts for an account number, zip code, phone number, pin number, birth date, last five digits of a social security number and your bra size (okay maybe not that one but you get the idea).
It’s the false sense of hope once a customer service rep answers. For a minute, customers believe that the rep has power to resolve an issue. They believe that the person will be able to listen to an issue and come up with a human-based answer, not an automated, scripted one.
However, customers soon realize the rep is just a live version of the automated help maze. They see that the person on the line has little to no power, because they are not trained to use their judgment to make a decision. They must rely on scripts and cookie-cutter answers for questions that are not cookie-cutter.
If your company is going to hire people for customer service, empower them to make decisions (Zappos is my favorite example of this). If you don’t feel your reps can handle making decisions, then hire new people with competent judgment skills. Stop giving your customers a false sense of hope when they hear a person. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to your reps that have to deal with irate customers.
Here are other things you can do to improve the customer service experience:
- Don’t ask customers to repeat the information they just entered into your automated system.
- Use a CRM (customer relationship management) system to record your customer’s history. That way your customers won’t have to rehash previous problems or conversations with other reps.
- Insist that all reps are nice to clients (And no, this is not a given. I’ve had reps hang up on me and I was not irate).
- If you are going to use a survey to evaluate your efficiency, use questions that will offer productive feedback. Instead of “Were you happy with your service today?” try “What part of your experience could have been better?”
- Hire happy people.
- Monitor what people are saying about you online (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
- Don’t use generic answers (e.g. Our policy states…).
- Find reasons to say yes to customers’ requests.