Job Well Done

When someone does a good job, tell them. Please Ring For Serivce

Then, tell their manager.

Not only does it give you a good feeling, but reinforcing good customer service becomes a virtuous circle.

I particularly like doing this when I talk to anyone in a call centre who does a good job. Let’s face it, if you work in a call centre chances are you work long hours and deal with many annoyed, frustrated or downright angry customers. So when I speak to someone who is friendly, professional and helpful I want to make sure they know that I appreciate it.

This week I had to ring a call centre because I wanted to cancel my membership in a car sharing service. The service itself is fine but I never use it and wanted to stop paying the monthly fee. I was hoping to be able to do this online, to avoid the inevitable sales pitch but, of course, they want you to go through the sales team. In any case, I called and spoke to Lloyd, who couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful, in spite of the fact that I was calling to cancel.

At the end of the call Lloyd asked the final ‘is there anything else I can do for you today?’ question, to which I replied ‘yes, I’d like to speak to your supervisor or manager to tell them how helpful you’ve been’. I love doing this. Not only does it reinforce good customer service but it also comes as a pleasant surprise to both the sales person and their manager. In addition, many call centres have points systems, so when you do take the time to provide positive feedback, the sales rep gets a ‘gold star’ and is often rewarded.

Is there a downside to doing this? Yes, sometimes you have to wait on hold for a bit to get the manager on the line, but that time is well spent because not only will you make their day, it will leave you feeling pretty good as well.

I highly recommend you try this the next time you get a nice person on the telephone.

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Summer dressing: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…”Summer dressing: Don't do that. Do this instead.
The rest of this lyric is “Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high”**.  And no where is cotton (rayon, spandex, denim…you name it) higher than in summertime.

Before I begin, I would like to make a few things clear:
This is NOT a post about: how you dress for a picnic or a night out.
This IS a post about: our work lives and the perception of professionalism.

Strip down to the ‘bare’ essentials: DON’T DO THAT
When the temperatures and humidity start to soar the temptation to rid ourselves of all (or almost all) our clothes is understandable. The mere idea of being constrained in long sleeves, closed shoes or trousers is enough to make us hot and bothered.  However tempting it is to don your shorts and flip-flops and head to the office, don’t.

DO THIS INSTEAD: Find a balance
I know it can be tricky to find a balance between keeping cool and looking professional but trust me, it’s worth it.

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Overload your ‘To’ address field: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Too Many Cooks (or in this case, recipients)

Cooks?
What have cooks got to do with anything? What am I talking about? Well, here is what I’m talking about: ‘too many cooks spoil the broth‘.  In essence, this means that if too many people are involved, no one knows who is meant to do what: “have you added the salt, do I need to add the salt? I’ll just throw a little extra in to be safe”.

The same thing happens when you include everyone in the To box when addressing your emails. If you pile everyone into the To box then those you are writing to don’t know what their role is meant to be: are they meant to reply? reply all (this requires a whole post of its own!)? ignore it? wait until someone else replies first? HELP!

Mass all your recipients in the To field: DON’T DO THAT
When you lump everyone in that one box you generally create confusion, and here is what happens (or doesn’t happen) as a result:

  • No one knows who is expected to act
  • No one replies (because they are waiting for someone else to do so)
  • Some people reply, but forget to ‘reply all’, so only you get the information
  • Some people do ‘reply all’ but forget that they are speaking to everyone, and inadvertently cause offense
  • Everyone replies, at the same time, with differing ideas and opinions – leaving you to sort out the ensuing mess

There are other scenarios but we haven’t got the time. So, instead of being the architect of the above (or worse):

DO THIS INSTEAD: Clearly address your emails
The genius of email is that it offers up terrific options to organize your audience. This not only helps you sort out who needs the information but also helps your audience understand their roles. Couple this with a clearly worded email (letting every one know their part) and you will be on to a winner.

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‘Hey!’: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

HEY!

Relax, it’s 2016
Yes, yes it is, and life is generally less formal than it used to be – which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, there are times when a lack of formality can lead you down a path that impacts your professionalism.

Be fooled into foregoing formalities: DON’T DO THAT
Recently, a short video was doing the social media rounds. It showed a group of young reporters receiving a briefing in the White House press gallery. During their briefing, President Obama made a guest appearance: he sauntered in, relaxed, smiling and carrying his cup of coffee.

When the group was invited to ask questions, one young women started hers with, ‘Hey’.  If you’ve seen the clip, you’ll know that President Obama, ever the diplomat, responded with a smile and a ‘Hey’ in return. HOWEVER, look closely, that smile is one tight smile.  In this situation, some (teeny tiny) leeway would have been granted because of this person’s age and inexperience, and nerves, but it still impacted how he responded.

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RSVPs: Don’t do that. Do this instead

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

R.S.V.Ps

Who doesn’t love a party?RSVPs: Don't do that. Do this instead
I suppose that’s a loaded question because some people don’t actually ‘love a party’. But there the invitation sits: on your mantel, in your inbox, lurking in your voicemail.

So, whether you can’t wait to arrive, and out stay your welcome (that’s a different post), or you want to make a brief appearance and leave early, you need to reply to the invitation.

Neglect to RSVP: DON’T DO THAT
These days the idea of letting your host know that you are (or are not) going to attend an event – an event to which you have been so graciously invited – seems to be something that people think is ‘optional’.

It’s not.

I repeat, not replying is not optional.

Whether it’s a wedding, an office event or a backyard BBQ, if you’ve been invited you MUST reply.

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LinkedIn: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

LinkedInLinkedIn: Don't do that. Do this instead.

Six degrees of separation

LinkedIn is a fabulous business tool in so many ways, not least of which its ability to create powerful connections. That’s why it drives me nuts when people initiate those connections in the most anonymous way possible.

Sending the ‘standard’ LinkedIn request: DON’T DO THAT
We’ve all received it, it reads:

Hi Hilary, I’d like to join your LinkedIn network.

And that’s it. No background, no context.

When I receive requests like this, unless I know exactly who that person is, I ignore them, and I know from conversations with others that I’m not alone in this.

Now, I will admit that it is partly to do with the way LinkedIn operates. There are times when you click the ‘Connect’ button and the next thing you know LinkedIn is telling you that the request has been sent. If you are me, you then find yourself yelling ‘Argh!’ at the computer.

So, if you want to really grow your network on LinkedIn in a meaningful way:

DO THIS INSTEAD: Personalize every request
If you want to make sure that people will pay attention to your request, then include a note, every time.

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Seeing etiquette through a different lens (it’s not always about which fork to use)

WindowThere are occasions, when telling people that I provide training on the subject of Etiquette & Protocol, that they look at me like I have an extra head.   Every now and then I can even see their internal dialogue written on their face: ‘that’s so old-fashioned’, ‘she’s clearly living in the past’, ‘oh no, she’s going to critique everything I say and do’.  This last one is the most common; at a recent event the host of my table looked up as I approached and exclaimed, more-or-less in jest, ‘great, I’ve got the etiquette expert!’ (I don’t by the way, unless asked.)

I put these responses down to the fact that many people equate etiquette with ‘rules’ – rules that govern our every move, and get us into trouble if we don’t follow them.

Yes, there are rules when it comes to etiquette and protocol but though they can seem frivolous, they are actually very helpful.  Many stem from common sense and are in place to help us navigate business and social settings; some are driven by interacting with other cultures; others, leftovers of bygone eras, fading into the past.

However, I believe, firmly, that etiquette is so much more than simply a set of rules.  You can take your pick of words and phrases: etiquette, courtesy, civility, polite behaviour, consideration for others – but when it comes down to it, all of these ensure that we carry out our daily interactions – be they business meetings, hosting an event, or passing someone on the street – in a thoughtful, kind manner, which, in turn, shows others that we value their time and attention.

I don’t view the ‘rules’ as being stiff, old-fashioned directives.  I see them, instead, as the tools we use to give us the confidence and freedom to interact with others under any, and all, circumstances.  Sometimes it is about which fork to use – and if you know which fork to use you can ignore your place setting and pay attention to your guests.

And, the great thing about knowing the rules is knowing how, when and where you can break them.

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