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  • feedwordpress 00:36:42 on 2018/01/21 Permalink
    Tags: , first impression, , , Likeable, ,   

    Quick Tip #74: How to be Likeable 

    Likeable people get far in business and in life. Studies suggest likeability traits outweigh intelligence. So, how can you become likeable?

     
  • feedwordpress 20:20:11 on 2016/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , customer service, customers, doing business, first impression, internet, , , , Xfinity   

    Make it easy to do business with you 

    It was in the crunch of early morning emails when I realized the internet wasn’t working. I immediately started trouble shooting. I rebooted my computer, turned the internet router off and then back on, and pushed a few unnamed blinking buttons on the box. Nothing worked, so I took the next measure. I texted my husband who was away on a business trip.

    Me:                    The internet isn’t working and I don’t know why.

    Husband:         Turn the power strip off, wait a minute and turn it back on.

    Me:                    What about the button that says WPS?

    Husband:         Don’t touch it.

    Me:                    Oops, I already did, now what?

    Husband:         I don’t know, call Xfinity.

    So I did and immediately got a recording saying they were aware of internet outages and were working on it. Then the voice advised me to log onto www.Xfinity.com to check for updates.

    Seriously? Did they really say that after acknowledging that the internet was down? I could probably log on from my phone or iPad, but not everyone has an additional device. If the internet is out, then why would you direct people to your website for additional information?

    Communicating robotically or thoughtlessly is almost as bad as not communicating at all. Part of your job as a service provider is to make life easy for your clients and customers. Given the wealth of competition and options, I would think you would strive for people to tell others how easy it is to do business with you.  When it’s not, it’s frustrating and sometimes, hard to keep your cool.

    As another example, earlier this year we were awarded a contract with a corporation that attempted to simplify complicated billing procedures by hiring a third party to process vendor invoices. However, this required completing multiple forms, submitting pages of documentation, completing numerous questionnaires and being bombarded by e-mails from a variety of different company departments. When we finally received approval to bill through their on-line-system, their system wouldn’t accept our invoices.

    It turns out the so-called simplified process required many more steps, approvals, signatures and actually made the invoice submission even more complicated than the original process. Unfortunately, the client, who clearly has more pressing tasks than navigating a new invoice approval system, had to spend months digging through the corporate maze to file additional work statements so she could continue to work with us and so we could get paid.

    In an effort to shed some light on the issue and help the third party become more customer friendly and efficient, I called and made a few suggestions. Instead of listening or trying to understand my frustration, they defensively rattled off a bunch of IT jargon as an explanation as to why a cumbersome system was necessary.

    If that’s not frustrating enough, when we were directed to re-submit the additional information through yet another new improved portal, the system rejected it again. Back to the phone, a young woman, clearly confused and bewildered, finally diagnosed the problem.

    “You can’t submit the exact amount you’re owed” she observed.

    Now it was my turn to be confused and bewildered so I asked why.

    “You have to round off numbers when you submit your invoice” she answered.

    I explained that when expenses are added to professional fees, numbers don’t always round off evenly. She said other vendors had also complained, but if we didn’t do things the way the system is set up, we’d have to call the client and have them start the entire process over.

    Why would a customer want to continue to do business with us or anyone if it’s complicated and time-consuming? It doesn’t matter that we’re victims of a cumbersome system. To the client, it’s just one big hassle. It’s like calling a customer service number and being asked for your account number three times by three different people after you’ve already punched the number into phone. Annoying. Frustrating. You want to hang up. To me, this says the company’s priorities are out of whack.

    According to a Customer Experience Board survey, meeting and exceeding customer expectations is not enough. The survey found minimal customer effort impacts customer loyalty more than anything else. So, if you want to make it easy to do business with customers or their customers, start by asking how you can make things easy for them?

    Technology is a good place to start. Just because you put an on line system in place to keep up with the times, doesn’t mean you’re making things easier for your customer. Like you, your customers are busy people. They value time. Complex multiple-step technology makes them work harder and robs them of important hours. So how do we make life easier for customers so they want to keep doing business with us?

    1. Pay attention. If numerous customers are complaining, listen. It doesn’t mean you need to throw out the rules and do everything they say. It does mean being flexible so you can make changes that make things better for your customers.
    1. No excuses. Instead of being defensive or making excuses, focus on fixing the trouble and being a problem solver.
    1. Sit in their seats. If the customer is clearly in pain, ask questions to better understand the issues and make them feel their opinion truly matters.
    1. Nix the biz speak. Instead of rattling off internal jargon to sound smart, help customers through the process. That means speaking their language, not yours.
    1. Replace “I” with “you”. When we continually use the word “I”, it’s about you. When we use the word “you”, it’s about them. Focus on the customers needs, not your own.

    Finally, communicating is not about talking. It’s about connecting. That means being empathetic to your customers concerns, even if you don’t have an immediate solution. Most of us simply want our feelings acknowledged. When someone makes a true effort to understand the customer, that customer feels valued. A valued customer is likely to hang in there with you because ultimately, they believe you will do what’s best for them.

     
  • feedwordpress 21:47:59 on 2016/04/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , first impression, , misinterpretation, negative impressions,   

    Email Sends Wrong Signal 

    The training program went so well that one of the participants e-mailed me gushing about how much she learned. So much that she wanted to get together for lunch to “pick my brain”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but said sure, give me a call.

    I’m not a big let’s have lunch person.  Due to the nature of our business, I’m often not in the office and when I am, I need the time to prepare for upcoming engagements. After accounting for traveling there, lunch time and traveling back, lunch frequently means taking a half day off. However, I didn’t want to turn her down and send the wrong message. She was respectful and told me she valued my time and because she was located an hour from me, she would pick a restaurant close to my office.

    When her assistant emailed a meeting invite several weeks later, I accepted. A few days before our meeting, she cancelled. The assistant rescheduled and she cancelled again. I offered to schedule a call instead. She said she’d rather meet in person. Two months later, lunch was rescheduled again.

    As the date approached, she emailed asking me to find a restaurant in an area about 40 minutes away from my office, which she said would be easier for her to get to that day. Annoyed that she apparently forgot she respected my time and unfamiliar with the neighborhood, I reached out to some colleagues for recommendations, but no one had any.

    Trying to be cooperative, I suggested several alternative places that were closer to both of us. She emailed me back with another suggestion that required even more travel time for both of us.

    My exact response: “Sure, though I think that’s probably further for both of us. Whatever works is fine. See you tomorrow.”

    Yet when tomorrow came, I was greeted with this early morning email:

    “Karen, maybe I have a misunderstanding. Aren’t we a client of yours? I am surprised about how difficult it is to arrange a simple lunch. This is not urgent or pressing. I was hoping to engage you for some services with my team. I don’t think that it’s going to work out at this point. We can let lunch go for now.”

    Dumbfounded, I stared at the email, then read it again to make sure I was reading it correctly. Upset that she was upset, but irritated at her response, I called, got her voicemail and left an apology. Then I emailed her back saying:

    “I profusely apologize and did not mean to make this difficult. I’m happy to meet you for lunch wherever you like.  I was trying to be accommodating by finding something closer to both of us, but clearly sent the wrong message. “

    She never responded. So what went wrong?

    Emails, while quick and easy, have no tone so they can be easily misunderstood. When you talk to someone in person or over the phone, they see facial expressions, hear the inflection in your voice and sense emotional connections to topics. However, a seemingly innocent remark or off the cuff comment that might be funny in person could be completely misunderstood in an e-mail. I recall a client telling me she had worked endless hours on an important presentation only to have her boss suggest it was less than par. She was so upset, she didn’t sleep that night. As it turns out, he had sent her an email suggesting some changes on a certain slide, but she took it to mean he was unhappy with her work.

    A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found people only interpret the tone and mood of an email 50% of the time. That means you might be pleased, but the email recipient perceives you’re not. It’s these types of misinterpretations that lead to arguments, harm productivity and turn people against each other in the workplace.

    Had my fan turned foe and I connected by phone to agree on a lunch place, perhaps our mix-up would have been avoided.

    Yet, in today’s global workplace, phone conversations to schedule meetings are not always efficient. During our email exchange, I was in California. Time difference and schedules would have made it tough to connect and thanks to technology, scheduling lunch no longer requires a phone call.

    Here are five tips to help you avoid unintended email snafus:

    1.    Don’t assume what someone else means. If you’re not sure, pick up the phone and call them.

    2.    Don’t bury the lead. For example, instead of saying: “The client wants the top of this presentation reworked to better reflect the message”, try a different approach. If you said, “You did a great job on this presentation, but the client wants us to work on tightening the very top.” This way the receiver hears “you did a great job” first.

    3.    Consider the relationship. If someone knows you well, they are more in tune with your communication style and less likely to take offense or misinterpret your words. If they don’t, it’s easier for your communication to be misread.

    4.    Consider the person. If you know someone well, you have a better understanding of their personality and what might upset them.

    5.    Re-read. Before hitting send, re-read the email to see if it’s laced with tone or mood that could be misconstrued.

    In my case, perhaps the email recipient sensed I didn’t really want to have lunch even though I didn’t actually say that. Or, maybe she was dealing with other issues and simply took her bad mood out on me. Whatever the case, there is a common expression saying “it takes two to tango”. That means regardless of intent or excuse, we are both responsible for the outcome.

     
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