The fourth article in the Radiating Customer Services Series.
One of the key ingredients to Radiating Customer Service is to project a positive customer attitude. Our attitude is not something that can be bought. It’s ours and how we project it makes all the difference in our relationship with our customers. This article focuses on two things: 1) claiming the importance of your work as customer service representative, and 2) managing your attitude.
The importance of your work, a positive image, and personal self-esteem coupled with personal knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, values, attitudes and habits (KSAE’VAH), bring the “I” factor to customer service.
The importance of my work
The ‘I’ factor is really you at your core self. How the “I” aligns with your work is critically important to your success. Alignment with work really comes about when you see yourself fully alive in mind, body, and spirit and steer yourself with a personal focus (purpose), a sense of discipline and sound interpersonal relationships. You then can have a sense of passion about yourself and your work and contribute to the organization’s strategies, structure, culture and values. (Based on the work of Stephen Covey)
Once your “I” recognizes the “power” you have within yourself, which comes from a deep spiritual connection to a spiritual source, and how that connects with what you do, then purpose, passion and values become truly alive for us in our everyday action. When this occurs, you can then move from just “doing the job,” to being “fully alive in my job.”
The sense of pride and accomplishment comes from doing the best work you can do – no matter what the job happens to be. A sense of confidence comes from having product knowledge and the skills to do the job.
We are who we are because of our KSAE’VAHs all of which may be strengthened or weakened by what we do, who we associate with and what we say. Studies show that people respond positively when they encounter a positive attitude, respect and self-regard. To become a “star” in customer service we need to be knowledgeable and skilled in our work and to err on the side of positive values, attitudes and habits.
Our feelings make a difference in the customer service profession and the quality of our work. Sometimes we are reluctant to talk about our feelings and the significance they have in our daily activities. We need to understand that our feelings are easily telegraphed to others, just as we pick up the attitudes and moods of others. We really can’t hide them.
We all have bad days and they affect the way we approach our day. When we are in a bad mood sometimes we have a tendency to try to hide it and not tell others what is bothering us. The reality is that the way we feel is often telegraphed to others through our demeanor and body language. We think we are camouflaging them, but we are not. People often see through the façade.
Bad moods don’t go away automatically we have to work on them. We can talk to a trusting person about them and garner their support as we work through difficult moments. Other times we may need expert help. Don’t be afraid to seek ‘help’. Other times, we can deal with them ourselves by facing them head on and reinforcing our own mood behavior. The first step towards dealing with mood swings is viewing ourselves as ok.
First, Feel good about yourself.
Our success in dealing with others comes from our success in dealing with ourselves. We can give positive vibes if we feel good about receiving positive vibes ourselves. We can compliment people if we can handle them ourselves. The reverse is true as well if we are uncomfortable receiving compliments we will be uncomfortable giving compliments. Take the time to:
Second: Add a Smile
A smile is a simple thing to do. It doesn’t cost us much yet enriches those who receive it. A smile takes a moment to give and nourishes relationships in business and in friendships. Often customer service personnel meet people who are weary, seem discouraged, sad or troubled. They can recognize this because of the customer’s body language or from their tone of voice. A warm smile brings those people comfort and a bit of cheer. The customer service representative can give away a smile freely and adds value to the person receiving it.
Sometimes our customers are too tired to give us a smile, give them one of yours. Sometimes we are too tired to give a smile, turn to a colleague and receive a smile from them.
“A smile of welcome calms a worried or harassed customer.
A smile reassures customers that a problem can be solved.
A smile leaves a pleasurable glow when people take their leave”
Third: Present a Professional Image
How we present ourselves relates to our self-confidence, attitude and feelings of self-worth. Simply put, how we project ourselves outwardly reflects who we want to become inwardly. If we have a sense of low self-worth we project ourselves accordingly; if we have a high regard of self, we project that demeanor. Customers want to deal with customer representatives who project themselves as knowledgeable, positive and helpful. Here are seven hints to presenting yourself appropriately:
Remember: It’s not your customers job to remember you, but your job to make sure they don’t have a chance to forget you.
Pilot to co-pilot please run down the check list before we take off!
Before a pilot takes off down the runway, he confers with his co-pilot who runs down a check list to assess whether everything is in order before take off. Here is your check list before you pick up the telephone or step in front of a customer.
Thanks for reading,
Richard P. Fontanie
Author: Sherry Knight, President and CEO Dimension Eleven
When you present you may know exactly what it is you want to say and hopefully you have practiced your presentation a number of times. You might think to ask.
Tami is not too tall and quite thin – wispy some might say! Yet when she takes the stage in front of an audience she’s bigger than life. Why you might ask do we see her differently than she really is? It’s not difficult, much of it is how she moves towards her audience and how she presents herself.
Let’s look at this a little closer. Before she ever gets near the stage she has found out the colour of the backdrop. If you are presenting in a school classroom your backdrop may be a green board or a white board. Thus, you would not want to wear green or white or you disappear into the background.
Once I saw a Ted Talk with a very polished presentation from a very knowledgeable woman, or at least from her head. All we could see was her head – the background was black; her suit was black and she had black hair. Do your homework and find out what colour will be behind you.
Then, choose a contrasting colour for your outfit. There is nothing much you can do about your hair but you can about your clothing.
Some people choose a look that becomes part of their brand – think Johnny Cash and his black or Patricia Fripp who always wears hats when she presents. To make it easy on myself I often refer to a colour wheel so I can look for contrasting colours without having to worry about making an error. And, for all those out there who have been colour coded – remember, there are generally tones of every colour for every season.
Have a look at the internet, there are so many colour wheels to look at – choose the one that works best for you to see what colours go best with which colours and which ones contrast.
Tami also strides to the front of the room when she is introduced. She looks like she is excited to see her audience. She moves fast, she shakes the hand of her introducer and then she turns to you, her audience.
She turns forward, she plants her feet shoulder width apart, she looks throughout the room – from one side to the other and begins. Everyone sits and pays attention waiting, waiting, waiting.
Why does she stand with her feet shoulder length apart? Because it gives her more stability – se will not be knocked over by a puff of wind, an unnecessary challenge or something strange happening like a loud noise from the close by kitchen. As well, the audience recognizes this strong person can accept any question or comment from the group. Nothing will phase this presenter.
Perhaps this presenter wants to turn left or right. When this is needed, move the feet in the direction you want to face, not just the body.
To make a point you will at times want to lean into your audience. Standing strong allows you to lean forward enough to bring your face closer to the people immediately in front of you. Your stance is solid so as you lean slightly forward to make your point there is no possibility of you losing your balance.
When you want to show fast movement, you might move across your stage quickly and choose words that suggest speed (hipitty-hop, zoom, accelerated). Or if you want to suggest slowness you might put one foot in front of the other very slowly with language implying slowness (turtle speed, snails’ pace, creep along).
Sometimes you will need to walk up and down steps to get to the stage or to leave the stage and get close to your audience. Once again it is important to keep the balance – thus the need to keep your feet shoulder length apart as you climb or descend.
Do you sit while you deliver? Some do. This is fine – best though if you sit in a higher chair or stool than your audience is. If you are already on a stage above your audience your choice of a seat may be negligible.
If you are a tiny person you might consider sitting in your chair at an angle. You will take up more “space” and as such you will appear to be a bigger presence.
If, however, you are a large person, you might want to sit facing straight forward as you will take up less space. Tall people and those with a large girth may want to be conscious of their impact on some people in their audience.
In presenting we often focus on the topic and the content. This is only a portion of your presentation! Equally as important is the WAY YOU PRESENT. That is why you want to pay such close attention to how you are presenting. The way you present and carry yourself can quickly undo the content which may be strong and help people a great deal. You may remember the words, “It doesn’t matter what you say as much as it matters how you say it.” There is such truth in those few words.
Do you use props – things like glasses, flip charts, slides or displays? Glasses are great props! You can remove them, point them, look intently over them at a critical time. These gestures have impact. Your listeners are focusing on everything you say and do so do it with intent – what is it you want your audience to take away from this?
Many use flip charts – remember to write or print if you are not a great writer – ahead of time you may want to take a ruler and draw light pencil lines on the pages so you can write in a straight line. Write with dark colours such as black and blue and light colours such as reds, yellows and oranges for impact. Remember, red bleeds – be very careful what you have behind the page you are writing on. Always stand to the side of the flip chart when you are writing. Do not stand in front of the chart as people cannot see what you are writing and if you speak, your voice will go into the chart paper rather than out to your audience.
Slides are helpful. They help to reinforce what you are trying to say and sometimes you might put in cartoons or fun sayings or pictures that relate to your topic; yet lighten the situation. One thing to refrain from doing is to put something on your slide that cannot be read by the person sitting the furthest away from the screen. Always ensure you have the screen angled slightly towards the audience – this prevents key stoning – a strange way for the page to look.
Displays are great – for small groups of people. This is the epitomy of a visual – thus people WANT to see it. So, if you have a large group a display is probably not your best bet. Displays have different purposes. Some need to be to scale and thus you will want to address the scale. Others are there for the creative element and you will want to explain the creativity that went into the display.
Regardless of the type of display you choose to show ensure a few things:
Your stance is important, right from the beginning to the end. Pay attention to your body and how it can assist you in building your story.
And, above all, have fun with your presentation.