March 2020
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The Leading Edge
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How to Look Incompetent to a Customer

 

How to Look Incompetent to a Customer

Here's the story of a company that tried its best but ended up losing the confidence of its customer. Your company can be committed to customer service excellence, it can be committed to delivering quality, but if your staff don't know their stuff, you will lose the confidence of your customer. Our storyteller is a middle-aged man from British Columbia.

The other day I bought an over-the-range microwave online from a major big box store and was amazed to discover how little the company's staff knew about what they were selling. Now, I didn't expect the customer service rep to understand how microwaves work, but I did expect him to know what extended warranty was applicable from the list of those available on their website. After consulting with his supervisor, he eventually came back with an answer. And, taking his advice, I promptly purchased the suggested warranty along with the oven.

Once the microwave arrived the accompanying paperwork prompted me to register my warranty with the insurance company. This was a problem because the insurance company's site did not recognize my product code. Before I could contact a real person at the company, I got an email from the big box store stating I had purchased the wrong warranty. Not pleased, I called them and agreed to purchase the higher priced warranty that they told me was applicable. A few days later I received yet another email from the store announcing that the insurance company had informed them that microwaves were in fact not covered by extended warranties.

As you can imagine I was none too happy as by this stage I'd wasted a great deal of time on something that should have been simple.

This catalogue of errors occurred due to a lack of knowledge and training – the big box store employees and even their concierge department lacked sufficient knowledge. Lack of knowledge was obvious all the way through. There was a catalogue of knowledge gaps.

  • How was this man able to purchase a warranty on an item that could not be covered, in the first place?
  • Why were the several choices of warranty with insufficient guidance? Wouldn't it be easy to list which warranties are applicable to a specific product and even easier to list those products on which no warranty is available?
  • Why did the customer service rep not know microwaves were not covered?
  • Why did the supervisor not know this?
  • How did the person in the concierge department not know this?

Dozens, if not hundreds of other customers must have been through this experience. The waste of their time, and that of the company's staff must be considerable.

In all fairness, we should add that our buyer in this case reported that the staff he dealt with were all friendly and helpful, not to mention apologetic every step of the way. It was a lack of knowledge, not a lack of customer care that made the company look as if it didn't know what it was doing. This is a case of a company shooting itself in the foot for no good reason.

Whether your business is small or large, you and the people who work for you need to be knowledgeable about your company and the products and services you sell. If not, you're going to look foolish in the eyes of your customers and worse, you are going to appear incompetent.

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How to Look Incompetent to a Customer

 

Eight Tips for Better Goalsetting

If you are not setting goals for your company, or for that matter yourself, you may be missing out. Goals are important if we are not going to just drift through our lives, or see our businesses stagnate through lack of attention or focused direction. There has been a lot written about making goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-dated (or time-bound) but this simplistic acronym doesn't tell the whole story and can lead those involved to under achieve. The biggest problem lies with the "realistic" part of the acronym. Sure, it's no good setting goals so high that they are demotivating. If no one believes they have a chance of reaching them you will fail to get buy-in from those involved, but at the end of the day one person's "realistic" is another's challenge. Setting stretch goals makes sense; they can be motivating and rewarding in their own right. The bottom line is, be careful about trying to over simplify goal setting. Here are seven ways you can help ensure your goals will deliver on their promise and move your business forward in exactly the way you desire.

  1. Consider who is setting your goals and question their motivation; if it's you, do the same and ask yourself the same question. What is it that you want to happen and why? If you reach your goals what will your company look like, and why exactly will that be beneficial?
  2. It's all well and good to make your goals SMART but consider whether they are also wise? Stand back and be sure they will move your company in the right direction. Are they going to achieve exactly what you need them to achieve both in the short-term and long-term?
  3. When you set goals do other people in your organization have to set their goals based on yours? And then do their subordinates have to set their goals based on those manager's goals? If so, be aware of the skills required by everyone in the chain, and also whether they will all be as motivated and passionate to achieve their individual goals.
  4. Set stretch goals. Consider what you want or need the outcome to be. What will make a difference? While goals should be attainable and realistic, they should not be EASY to attain.
  5. Set goals you are passionate about. Don't think of goals as resolutions – you're not trying to lose weight, you are trying to take your company to a new level.
  6. Set tight deadlines. The further out the deadline, the less likely it will be that either you or your employees will reach the goals that are set. Tight deadlines focus attention.
  7. Set aside time to work on your goals. If you haven't enough time, then break your goal or goals into several objectives and delegate some of the tasks. If you're a single-person business you may need to hire a sub-contractor, or enlist help from family and friends.
  8. Broadcast your goal or goals widely. The more people who know you are working on a specific goal the more people there are to keep you honest and on track. And potential help.

Goals act like a road map; each destination is a step toward a greater goal. The key however is to be smart when setting and working with goals – and we don't necessarily mean SMART.

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How to Look Incompetent to a Customer

 

Coach's Corner - Thoughts on Taking the Initiative

Being prepared, showing up and doing something are three important elements to ensure success in our work life.

Be Prepared!

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." Benjamin Franklin

When we start to take the initiative in doing things, we need to ensure that we are prepared for the job at hand. Coupled with the right attitude, there should be a thoughtful plan of action. We need to think about the various aspects of a project including the steps and processes needed to complete it.

We need to ask ourselves, what is the outcome we are looking for? How does it fit with our plan? How will this benefit the company?

Showing up!

"Showing up is not all of life - but it counts for a lot." Hillary Clinton

To experience success in work and life, oftentimes the notion of simply showing up is a crucial factor. Showing up means more than just being there in person, it means showing with a good attitude and having a commitment to doing what's necessary. Once we have shown up in the right frame of mind, we can start to tackle the challenges we face in doing the job.

Ask yourself, how am I showing up for work? Am I giving it my best effort? How positive is my attitude?

Just Do It!

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Ancient Chinese Proverb

Whether it's a uncomfortable phone call we need to make or a crucial conversation we need to have, there are some questions we need to ask ourselves. What's holding me back? What are the consequences if I don't make the call or have the conversation? Am I procrastinating? If so, why?

Too often we get stuck and feel unable to move ourselves forward. After questioning our reasons for being stuck, we sometimes find there is no good reason for not making the call or having the conversation. It is then that we need to "suck it up" and take that first step. Make the call, schedule the conversation, or do whatever was being avoided. Usually we will find it wasn't as bad as we expected.

When taking the initiative we need consider these three points—being prepared, showing up and doing—in whatever we are working on.

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching

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