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  • feedwordpress 12:35:19 on 2019/03/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Karen Friedman,   

    How to Make Your Customers Sparkle 


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    My husband and I have been loyal to the same dry cleaner for nearly three decades. Run by a husband and wife, we’ve discussed local issues, cars, the weather and then some. The owner’s son and our son are the same age and went to school together. We refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. Sparkle because their business is called Sparkle Cleaners. Yet, recently it occurred to us, that after all these years, we don’t know their real names.

    I find this a bit embarrassing. How can you interact with people for so long and not know their names? It would easier if we recently met and couldn’t remember their names. Or, if we saw them infrequently, perhaps we could just ask them. Since that’s not the case, asking would be very awkward not to mention insulting.

    I recently read an article suggesting that forgetting someone’s name can send a signal that you aren’t interested enough to bother remembering them. A psychologist quoted in the article says it’s like telling someone they’re a zero.

    Now I really feel bad.

    So, I started to think about how this spills over into the work world. For example, my husband isn’t very good at remembering names even after he’s met people a few times. How does that make someone else feel? At work, could he be perceived as not interested or not paying attention?

    Interestingly, he’s not alone and the experts agree it’s not his fault. Psychologists say name recall isn’t a strong suit for everyone. Because names are random and not always associated with something visual, some brains struggle to remember them. Mix that up with health issues, lack of sleep and whether or not you were fully attentive all play a part.

    At work, people can be less forgiving than in social circles. Even though you felt like you were paying attention while someone was speaking, clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow says it’s likely you weren’t really listening to what was being said.

    “You were looking at them, observing them, noticing them and your visual senses were overriding your auditory senses,” says Klapow. “You heard the name, but it didn’t commit to memory the way the person’s facial features did.”

    Not to mention how busy our brains are. They get so full of information that we push the so called less important things aside.

    What happens if you don’t work at freeing up space in that brain to remember names at work and get to know a little about your colleagues? For example, where did they grow up? Do they have kids? Hobbies? Where did they last work? What types of projects are they interested in?

    This is far more than small talk. It signals that you are genuinely interested in team members, employees, customers and others you may interact with. There is a difference between asking prying questions and personal questions. Prying questions about intimacy, family problems or your financial picture can be too personal. Questions that help you learn about someone’s likes, dislikes and interests help you learn about people. Taking an interest in colleagues can help build trust, rapport and foster a sense of community at work.

    That seems to be true at Sparkle Cleaners. I’ve noticed those who work there seem to care about me. If I have a tough stain, they want to know how it happened and then they go the extra mile to remove it. If a button is missing on an article of clothing, they sew it back on without charge. Even in the heat of summer working in unairconditioned shop, they never complain. Instead they enthusiastically ask about our family, activities and how we’re holding up in the heat.

    They can certainly teach us a few things about communicating in the workplace.

    Attitude

    A good attitude goes a long way. Being friendly, pleasant and helpful even on a tough day is a lot nicer than greeting people with a cranky scowl.

    Extra Mile

    Tackling an extra task, staying late or taking time out of your jammed schedule to help someone else and not expecting anything in return shows that you care. It also tells colleagues and customers that they are a priority.

    No Excuses

    It’s easy to complain about circumstances or make excuses for why you can’t get something done. It’s more rewarding to accept responsibility and put the emphasis on your customers.

    As a leader or owner, you’ll benefit from increased business and referrals. You’ll also reap a great deal of respect because you’ve respected others by prioritizing their satisfaction. That makes them feel valued.

    As I was writing this article, I decided to take my own advice and make the Sparkles feel more valued too. So, I drove to the dry cleaner. They were surprised because I had just been there so there was nothing for me to pick up. That’s when I came clean. I told them after all these years, I was embarrassed that I didn’t know their real names.

    They introduced themselves as Young and Sung Suh. As we started talking, I learned they named their business Sparkle because they want to make your clothes sparkle.

    I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t asked and listened. When you communicate and take an interest in others, you also gain a better understanding of your customers and colleagues. 

    Young and Sung Suh do far more than make clothes sparkle. They make their customers sparkle as well.

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  • feedwordpress 20:26:55 on 2019/01/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , Karen Friedman, , Pickleball   

    What Pickleball Can Teach You About Business 


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    I play pickleball. For those of you not familiar with perhaps the fastest growing sport in America, it’s a cross between tennis and ping-pong played on a badminton-sized court with a tennis style net that’s about a quarter of the size of a tennis court.

    However, this is not tennis, not even close. Unlike tennis, it’s played with a small, solid paddle and plastic whiffle ball. And, unlike tennis that typically requires reserving court time and bringing others to play, pickleball is a meet up game. That means in communities where people play, there is open court time. You don’t have to know anyone and don’t have to bring anyone. You just show up and play.

    It’s also incredibly addictive. Picklers like myself, will go to great lengths to rearrange their schedules to be available for those meet up times. Additionally, some people, especially retirees play every day. I would if I could, but I’m not there yet, though I do play often. My husband has started calling himself a ‘pickleball widower’. He plays a bit too, though I’m more of a pickleball addict.

    There are a lot of nice players in my group of neighborhood picklers. Robin takes her time returning the ball, strategically aiming for the far corners. Gary is tall, so he’s worked on perfecting his lob shot. Greg is very safety conscious, clearing leaves and debris from the court and always arrives early to squeegee away any puddles that may be left over from the rain.

    Then there’s Andy. Andy is a nice guy, but he hasn’t mastered the art of the game, specifically the dink. That’s a pickleball term for trying to position the ball just over the net, which can give you an advantage. Instead, Andy continually slams the ball, sometimes yelling ‘kill it’. The end result is many missed points and lost games as he hits the ball into the net or out of bounds.

    Andy reminds me of the guy at work who makes his own rules. Instead of focusing on a long-range goal that includes teamwork, strategy and the basics needed to maximize outcomes, he is short-sighted and focused only on the moment at hand.

    When you concentrate on ‘I’ and not on ‘we’, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

    In pickleball, advanced players will tell you to prepare for the slam by keeping your paddle up. You have no way to return a fast slam if your paddle is below the net or down by your knees. At work, you need to prepare, plan and anticipate the needs and reactions of prospects and clients or you’ll be caught off guard.

    In pickleball, experts will tell you instead of making the game more complex by trying to slam winning shots, keep it simple by going back to basics, such as getting it over the net. At work, it’s not that different. As your expertise expands, you will become more valuable to those around you.

    In sports or in business, it’s natural to focus on our selves. We want to develop skills to improve our game or get promoted at work. However, we shouldn’t do so at the expense of our teammates or co-workers. When we focus on executing shots more effectively on the court or in the boardroom, we have a better chance of hitting them where we want them to land.  

    Comparing sports to business is hardly new. You can google endless articles, books and videos on the subject. However, the excellent examples I see inside corporate meeting rooms every day is not that different from what I used to observe when my son first played soccer.

    He was four years old and his team played against a girl who lived across the street. They were best friends and wanted to be on the same team but were not. She used to tell him that when she grew up she was going to marry him. (she married someone else). On this particular day as my son’s team was moving in one direction and her team was moving in another direction, their eyes met, they grabbed hands and began skipping down the field together. When you’re four, it’s cute.

    We can also learn from these four-year old’s, specifically what I call the three C’s.

    Collaboration

    Collaboration, interaction and building relationships with the other side goes a long way. When you interact with people who are different than you, you’re exposed to new ideas, insights and opinions. This can stimulate productivity, enthusiasm and unique approaches to problem solving.

    Characters

    Every office has a cast of characters. Some are leaders while others follow. All have different backgrounds. What’s most important is to respect their quirks and personalities. We don’t all approach issues the same way. There isn’t always a right and a wrong, but there are other ways to accomplish goals.

    Communication

    The importance of communicating on the field or in the office can’t be understated. Communication allows colleagues to build trust, credibility and permits people to speak openly without fear of being judged. The more we communicate, the more approachable we appear.

    Whether playing pickleball, soccer or negotiating a deal, to do it right takes hard work, preparation and perseverance. As we know, it doesn’t always go smoothly. It’s okay to hit hard and slam it out of bounds once in a while. And, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win.

    However, in order for us to score points, we have to rely on others.

     
  • feedwordpress 00:46:43 on 2019/01/07 Permalink
    Tags: Karen Friedman, , , , slide presentation   

    Quick Tip #84: Ditch the Slides 


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    What? Present without my slides? Not realistic. Not possible. Not how they do it at my company! Let’s learn how to turn slide filled presentations into message focused conversations.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:39:21 on 2018/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: , Karen Friedman, satisfaction,   

    Lessons Learned at UPS: Keep Calm and Carry On 


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    2:11 p.m.

    I went to the UPS office to ship a small package before 3:00 p.m. which was the last pick up of the day. One woman was being waited on and there were two other people in front of me. However, the counter clerk appeared efficient, so I assumed the line would move quickly.

    Assumptions can be dangerous.

    The woman being waited on said she didn’t want to send her package through UPS. She just wanted to know what it would cost so she could compare it to other services. The employee was trying to determine a price but needed to enter information into the computer to be accurate. She didn’t have the information he needed and became irritated at him. Still trying to help her, he Facetimed with his supervisor. The supervisor couldn’t fix it, so he called a technician who promised to be at the store within ten minutes.

    At this point, the woman chastised the employee, said she didn’t understand why he couldn’t understand what she was saying and stormed out of the store.

    2:31 p.m.

    Next customer. This man gave the UPS clerk a package sealed in a United States Postal Service (USPS) envelope. The clerk explained that it couldn’t be sent in a USPS envelope from a UPS office as they were two different organizations. Clearly irritated, he began to give the worker a hard time. Once again, calm, polite and patient, the UPS man tried to find a solution and asked the customer if he had ever sent anything from UPS before. This way, he explained, he could look the account up in the computer and see what he could do. The customer responded, “let’s just pretend I have.” More explaining from the clerk. More defiance from the customer.

    2:50 p.m.

    Enter the UPS delivery man. He came to collect packages for his final pick up of the day. The woman in front of me interrupted the man in front of her to ask the clerk if she could get her package onto the truck. I said I had also come early to make sure my package went out today.

    The defiant customer turned toward me and exclaimed “are you blaming me for the delay?” Not wanting to end up as a post on social media that might go viral, I calmly said I wasn’t blaming anyone and just wanted to get my package out. The insolent customer muttered something to the clerk and stormed out of the store. The clerk thanked her for coming.

    Two down. One to go.

    3:04 p.m.

    The woman in front of me was returning a pair of shoes. Easy. I’d be waited on in no time. So, I thought. She originally purchased the shoes in a size 7 she told the clerk. Those were too small she continued, so she ordered them in an 8. They were shipped to her boyfriend’s house in another state, but her boyfriend broke up with her. She thought he loved her, but it turned out he has mental problems. He’s a mental health counselor, but in her opinion, he is the one who needs counseling. Anyway, she continued explaining to the UPS person behind the counter, she’s returning the size 8 because she thinks they are too big, but she’s not sure. They fit correctly at the toe, but her heels kept popping out. She wants to make sure that the return package shows her address and not the ex-boyfriend’s address.

    3:12 p.m.

    She also wrote a note explaining the situation that she’s included in the package. Would he like to hear it? Well, she’ll read it to him to see what he thinks. When she was done, she asked him if he thought it sounded okay. He nodded.

    At this point, I wasn’t sure whether I was really awake, or I was having a bad dream.

    3:22 p.m.

    The delivery driver returns. The shoe woman leaves. My turn. The clerk asks me if I’ve ever shipped from UPS before. I reply, “let’s pretend I have.” Not understanding my attempt at humor, I provided the information he needed, and he quickly completed the transaction.

    3:29 p.m.

    More than one hour later, I finally leave the store.

    Talking does not equal communication. Yet, many of us provide too many details, tend to over-explain, send long wordy emails and deliver hour long presentations that could have been presented in fifteen minutes. The results, especially at work, could be significant.

    If you’re not fully attentive, you may miss an email with important information. If you’re too busy talking and not listening, you may botch an important deal. If you’re too long winded, you could blow a job interview because you’re rambling, instead of making key points. Besides, according to author Joseph McCormack, our brains can’t handle it.

    McCormack says the human brain has the capacity to absorb 750 words per minute, but the average person can only speak 150 words per minute. That means an extra 600 words are floating around in there which gives us more time to tune out and get bored. So, if we’re chastising a worker, babbling to a clerk or taking too long to get to the point, chances are that person isn’t really hearing us.

    What’s the fix?

    Time Testing

    In our programs, we challenge people to present information in different time increments. For example, if their presentation is thirty minutes, we ask them to deliver it in thirty, twenty and even ten minutes. The results are typically astounding. Speakers start honing in on what’s important, eliminate unnecessary details and command attention for longer periods of time.

    Hit the Headline

    Since attention spans start dwindling after ten seconds, it’s important to grab attention as soon as you speak. Like a great headline that draws you in, your first few words should do the same. Make your most important point as soon as you start talking.

    Preparation

    There are many reasons people ramble including nerves, trying to impress and being unsure of how to draw others out. In business however, we observe the lack of preparation techniques. That’s not to say people don’t prepare. They do. But, instead of trying to cram ten pounds of information into a two-pound bag, learning how to effectively use message models will help even the most seasoned presenters condense information.

    Back to the UPS office. Perhaps the real communication lesson learned is from the UPS clerk. Attentive, calm, resourceful and patient. He was also outwardly non-judgmental, which is difficult when people appear hostile. He showed us that it’s important to take all kinds of communication seriously, but not personally. He barely talked. He just listened, which signals he understood their frustration even if he couldn’t fix the problem to their satisfaction.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:59:24 on 2018/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: , Karen Friedman, , , story   

    Quick Tip #83: Opens and Closes 


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    Nailing your opens and closes will help you turn boring talks into brilliant ones. Learn how and why so you can engage listeners and command attention.

     

     
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