Five Ways to Achieve and Maintain Resilience

By Jan Ferri-Reed

With so many demands and pressures on us every day, it’s easy to feel like a rubber band. Each stressor we experience pulls the rubber band tighter and tighter until it finally snaps. However, if you are resilient, you can add elasticity to the rubber band, bouncing back after each stressor. What exactly is resilience? Resilience is the physical, mental, and emotional state that allows you to be ready to handle any unexpected things that come your way. When you incorporate these five strategies into your life, you will achieve resilience.

1. Eat smart and exercise regularly
When you are the most stressed is precisely the time for proper nutrition. Plan ahead for proper food choices and find ways to exercise. This may even involve walking a longer distance from the parking lot to your office or climbing the steps rather than taking the elevator.

2. Don’t allow people to sabotage your life
Identify the saboteurs in your life and avoid or set limits with them. Saboteurs may be friends that drain you with their negativity, or they could be family members that are too demanding of your time and energy.

3. All work and no play…
Find the time to change your environment and to do the things you enjoy. Play and relaxation provide a catalyst for creativity and problem solving with a new perspective.

4. Reward yourself after a challenge
Keep a positive goal in mind as you tackle those tasks you dislike. Reward yourself with a treat or a break.

5. You’re allowed to say ‘no’
While you certainly want to perform at your best and make a good impression on clients, co-workers, and managers, realize that you’re not “super human.” It is healthy to recognize your limits and to adjust priorities.

Increase Your Resilience Today
In order to increase your resilience you need to be proactive. Realize that if you are stretched too thin, you will experience burnout. Take care of yourself and you’ll feel relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to cope with the ongoing struggles and stressors of everyday life. The result will be a happier, more satisfied you!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: www.KEYGroupConsulting.com or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.


Seven Secrets for Giving a Presentation that “Knocks Their Socks Off”

by Dr. Jan Ferri-Reed

You know the feeling. It’s that sense of dread that settles in the pit of your stomach. It’s a clammy feeling that envelops your hands. It’s that sense that somehow your designer shoes have been turned into a heavy pair of leaden boots.

You’ve just agreed to give a big presentation and you’re asking, “What have I gotten myself into?”

Even experienced speakers sometimes feel a flurry of nerves before a big presentation, so you’re not alone. But the pros also know a few secrets for giving a dynamic, memorable presentation that quickly dispels mild “stage fright” once they begin speaking.

Their overall strategy is to deliver a dynamic presentation that galvanizes an audience and leaves them “standing in the aisles?” Following are the seven secrets used by speaking pros that can make that strategy a reality.

Secret 1:  “Profile” Your Audience
You can’t wow your listeners if you don’t understand their needs. To begin, what are the overall goals of the speaking event? What outcomes does the sponsor hope for from your presentation? You need to understand who will be in the audience, what they may already know about your subject, what they want to learn from your presentation. Also try to find out as much as possible about the speaking environment itself. Will it be a large auditorium or a more intimate meeting room? Will you be able to use a sound system and PowerPoint equipment? Will the dress be casual or business? The more you know about your speaking environment the more comfortable – and confident – you’ll feel.

Secret 2: “Grab” the Audience’s Attention
The first 30 seconds are critical. You need to begin the speech by making a
personal connection with your listeners, which demonstrates that you understand their needs.  An anecdote or personal example may prove effective. Some speakers like to use attention-grabbing stories and facts. When you start strong you signal the audience that a strong presentation is coming.

Secret 3:  Sell It, Don’t tell It
Strictly informational speeches tend to be boring. The persuasive format presents the content as a way of solving a problem or achieving a goal. It transforms your speech content from a subject that is “nice to know” (maybe) to a subject that the audience “needs” to know.

Secret 4:  Make It Colorful
Don’t go overboard with the“facts and figures.” That’s the sure sign of a potentially drab presentation. In addition to personal anecdotes and stories, pepper your presentation with famous quotes, “fun facts” and props to help hold their interest.

Secret 5:  Animate Yourself!
Professional speakers know that small gestures and monotone deliveries tend to get lost, particularly with larger audiences. Learn to use vocal variety — volume or tone of voice — and body language to add interest to your presentation. You should try a variety of delivery techniques and rehearse frequently, possibly using video. The camera adds a powerful learning dimension to rehearsals and we all know that practice makes perfect.

Secret 6:  Engage Your Audience
Try to avoid talking “at” your audience or speaking over their heads. You can use rhetorical questions to keep listeners thinking about how your topic relates to them. Another professional technique is to take audience polls and use interactive activities to keep listeners involved throughout your presentation.

Secret 7:  Close with a Bang
Audiences tend to remember presentations that end on a powerful note. Start by giving them a succinct summary of what you told them – tied to your presentation introduction – and make a strong call for audience action. Remember … this isn’t just a passive information session. You should always try to compel your audience to put your information into action.

Also, professionals know that most audiences are on the speaker’s side from the very beginning. No one wants to be bored listening to a dull, seemingly endless presentation. And you don’t want your audience feedback forms coming back with mediocre comments on the value of the presentation.

When you approach a speaking opportunity with the goal of “Knocking their socks off” and you work hard to relate your content to the audience’s needs, you’ll not only gain a round of enthusiastic applause, you’ll be providing timely and important content delivered with enthusiasm, style and impact. That’s a win-win for everybody!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: www.KEYGroupConsulting.com or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.


The Keys to Engaging Your Employees to High-Performing Employees

The recession proved to be a worrisome challenge to Debra Kraft, a regional marketing director for a large media company. Her organization sells advertising and publishes coupon mailers across a five-state territory. When the economy began to shrink the organization’s advertising sales volume shrank along with it and she was forced to lay off staff. But Kraft was proud of the way her remaining workers persevered and kept the mailer afloat through those tough times. http://newsblaze.com/story/20100607200925zzzz.nb/topstory.html


How to lose your best customers in three easy steps

As the customer service team filed silently into his office for an emergency meeting, John Tedesco was fuming. As the vice president of operations for a large West Coast distributor, he was proud of his firm’s reputation for outstanding customer service. Now he was afraid that reputation was about to evaporate. http://www.industrialsupplymagazine.com/pages/Management—How-to-lose-your-best-customers.php


Three Ways Leaders Can Help Millennials Succeed

By: Jan Ferri-Reed

In the next few years another 40 million millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 2000, will flood the workplace and shake things up. Their other brethren from the first wave of this generation, the 40 or so million millennials who were born between 1980 and 1990, are already on the job and raising eyebrows as they encounter older generations.

It’s not surprising that younger workers would be a source of new conflict. These millennials grew up in a radically different world from their baby boomer parents and thus bring a different set of values and expectations to the world of work.

That doesn’t mean millennials can’t become productive, functioning team members. Given the right approach, organizations can integrate members from all generations smoothly into a synergistic, high-performing team.

Many leaders, however, think the millennials lack the type of commitment to the organization that characterized their parents’ generation. In contrast, today’s millennials seem willing to jump ship for the greenest pasture available.

In addition to a lack of commitment, they frequently are perceived as possessing a sense of entitlement out of proportion to their status. After even a short time on the job, many youthful personnel expect promotions before they’re considered ready by older co-workers or management. Many millennials seem to lack the same work ethic that earned so many of their baby boomer parents the mantle of workaholics.

Despite the apparent shortcomings of millennials, they may represent an exciting new opportunity to reenergize the workplace and boost productivity. Over the last few years we have worked with numerous clients to help them manage multiple generations in the workplace effectively. We’ve found that intergenerational conflicts and communication breakdowns aren’t insurmountable. A different approach for orienting and developing novice staff members can help energize teamwork and enhance communication.

Your Secret Weapon

Although these youthful employees may appear supremely confident and self-assured, that doesn’t mean they’re resistant to feedback. In fact, one of the unique characteristics of millennials is their hunger for feedback and input.

These are also the “trophy kids”—children who received awards just for showing up and recognition just for participating. As a result, they are used to positive reinforcement and may tend to resist harsh or negative feedback.

Although millennials eagerly welcome feedback— and even seek it out, they don’t handle negative feedback very well at all times. It’s really a matter of how you shape your feedback to this generation, not a matter of whether they’re willing to accept it.

There are three things leaders can do to assure these millennials will achieve success on the job, despite generational differences:

  • Give them the big picture.
  • Help them find the “me” in team.
  • Mentor them on career-building behaviors.

 

Give Them the Big Picture

The key to providing the “big picture” to millennials lies in understanding what they need to know, rather than what you want to say. Given their limited experience, these fledgling employees need to comprehend how their efforts fit into the overall goals of the organization. If explained properly, the organization’s mission statement can be a rallying cry for motivating these fresh workers.

They want to contribute to their organization, and they often have a high opinion of their ability to do so. As many managers have learned, youthful employees expect to be heard. When they encounter entrenched procedures and static rules, however, they very quickly become frustrated and lose motivation.

When they understand how the different parts of an organization interact and how each department’s role complements the overall operation, they feel like a contributing part of the entire team. Roles and responsibilities that may have seemed arbitrary or unnecessary take on new meaning when your newest team members grasp how the cogs turn together.

Help Them Find the “Me” in Team

Millennials are not averse to being team players— far from it! Perhaps no other generation has as much experience performing as part of a team—from youth soccer (and other sports) to team projects in the classroom.

Today’s newest labor force members also are used to being part of teams in the form of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other forms of social networking. They may not understand the skill sets necessary to work in a collaborative environment, however. The starting point is to understand the team’s strengths and weaknesses. A strong sense of team members’ skills, attitudes, expectations, and experiences enables leaders to determine how to help younger workers contribute best.

Millennials are well prepared to work in a collaborative environment, so long as leaders give them the terms of engagement. In fact, they could lead the way to the workforce of the future with their skills in technology and willingness to collaborate in a virtual environment.

Mentor Them on Career-Building Behaviors

One area in which beginning workers may be deficient compared with older employees is career management. Unlike their older counterparts, they may be “green” when it comes to social expectations, boundaries, limits, or acceptable behaviors.

Some millennial employees think nothing of ignoring the “chain of command” or speaking with senior managers as though they’re on the same level. Not knowing the organization’s culture or informal rules could leave them prone to committing career “suicide.”

The only way to avoid a faux pas like this is to clue them in as soon as possible. It may be hard to help younger personnel appreciate the value of form over function, but they’ll probably appreciate the focus on their career prospects.

In the long run, millennial staff could become the most creative and productive employees. By helping them settle in now, managers can assure that the contributions, promise, and payoff of the newest generation of workers won’t be lost.

Jan-Ferri-ReedJan Ferri-Reed is a seasoned consultant and president of KEYGroup®, a 30-year international speaking, training, and assessment firm and co-author of Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It. She has presented a variety of programs to a diverse range of organizations across the globe, focusing on creating productive workplaces and retaining talent while increasing the bottom lines. For more information, contact her at this address.

Reprinted with permission from Journal for Quality and Participation ©2012 American Society or Quality.  No further distribution allowed without permission.


Selling in the Financial Services Industry is Tougher Than Ever

By Chuck Sujansky

Managing a high performing sales team in the financial services industry is more challenging than ever. Your top producers have to build strong bonds of trust with customers who’ve been battered by a tough economy and frightened by industry scandals over the past four years. It’s challenging for any sales team to establish themselves as trusted personal advisors with their clients in this type of climate.

To make matters worse, sales managers are expected to recruit, hire and train a sales force that functions smoothly That’s easier said than done when the turnover rate among employees in the banking and finance industries is 16.5%, which is more than 8% higher than the turnover rate for employees overall.* To add to that challenge, the US Department of Labor expects the employment of financial services professionals to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2014.**

How can managers keep their sales machinery humming in this type of demanding and challenging environment?

Do You Have the Tools to Boost Sales Productivity?

A high-performing sales team is like a well-oiled machine, with all of the parts meshing smoothly and working together to get the job done. Yet even the best sales teams, like the best machines, sometimes break down and begin functioning poorly. Unfortunately, you can’t send your sales team back to the shop to fix what’s broken. In that respect sales teams are far more complex than machines.

Unlike a machine, though, your sales team isn’t composed of interchangeable parts. Each member is an individual with unique needs, varying skills, distinct motivations and critical knowledge. Your job as sales manager is to forge these individuals into a cohesive unit that remains intact and focused upon achieving their goals.

But first you must minimize the risk of losing your key salespeople, a potential problem whether the economy is stagnant or growing. A sales team that begins losing key parts won’t function like any type of machine, well-oiled or not.

The High Cost of Sales Turnover

Sales people are more vulnerable to turnover than most professionals. Their sales skills are often easily transferable to organizations outside your industry. And within your industry you have to be concerned that your competitors aren’t trying to lure them away. According to Profiles International:

  • 50% of organizations are dissatisfied with new sales representative they hire
  • 19% of sales representatives turnover voluntarily each year
  • 16% of sales representatives turnover involuntarily each year

There are three major reasons for this turnover: unclear goals, a lack of communication and poor management. Very often the fundamental problem is simply a poor fit between the requirements of the sales position and the skill, knowledge and motivation of the people hired to fill the position. But replacing key sales people costs money in terms of recruiting, hiring and training expenses. There is also a price to be paid in reduced productivity and poor morale among the remaining sales staff.

Your challenge is to employ the tools necessary to fix the problems. And if you’re like most sales managers you probably don’t have a lot of time to turn things around either. You most likely have to get things back on track quickly!

So how do you quickly get a handle on each sales team member’s knowledge deficiencies, skill gaps, and motivational challenges? How do you establish a plan to develop each sales person and get your team moving in the right direction?

The Right Tool for the Job

The sales manager’s best tool for improving sales performance is the Profiles Sales CheckpointTM. This 180-degree information-generating tool enables sales managers to evaluate each sales representative, pinpoint their development needs, and align their sales priorities with the company. It provides managers with the information critical to improving productivity, increasing employee job satisfaction and reducing turnover. As the team’s manager you’ll learn whether each sales person:

  • Takes an Entrepreneurial Approach
  • Understands Prospects
  • Develops Appropriate Solutions
  • Prospects Proactively
  • Manages Selling Processes
  • Closes Sales
  • Manages Sales Relationships

You will also receive helpful, practical and immediately applicable coaching techniques and suggestions to fit each sales person’s developmental needs.  The Profiles Sales CheckpointTM is a powerful informational tool that can transform a poor-performing team into high-functioning sales machine!

Results that Count

Instruments like the Sales Checkpoint have been used by thousands of organizations to train and motivate their sales teams. The tools proved a validated system for diagnosing issues and creating strategies for improving sales performance. The results speak for themselves: ***

Ciba Vision employed Profiles International assessment tools to build a dynamic sales team of 45 representatives that took a product line with annual sales of $1 million to $2 million within two years.

The Canadian division of a personnel staffing firm reduced turnover among branch sales managers from 600% to less than 9% over several years, the lowest turnover rate in company history.

Cincom Inc. launched an initiative to identify the best traits of successful sales representatives and screened sales team members for their degree of “job fit.” After a two-year period the revenue in one division of Cincom grew by 300%, with a significant reduction in turnover.

Obviously the results of implementing a structured development program are unique to each organization. But without question using validated assessment tools are the most effective way to get results that count.

For a limited time only, we are offering our FREE report.  Click Here to Receive a FREE Sales Checkpoint Management Report (partial)! 

As a sales manager you know you need information to get the most out of your sales team. To learn more visit www.KEYEmployeeAssessments.com.  Our new website provides a detailed look at tools that can transform every work group into a high performance team. As you’ll see we believe in productive, fully engaged workplaces that attract, retain and leverage talent.  It’s time to start getting your sales team back on track!

Click here to learn about the Sales Checkpoint assessment and other assessments that can boost your sales productivity with a healthy return on investment.

* Source: Compensation Force (www.compensationforce.com/2012/09/2012-turnover-rates-by-industry.html)

** Source: — U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Training Administration      (http://www.doleta.gov/brg/indprof/Financial_profile.cfm)

*** Source: Profiles International

Charles-SujanskyChuck Sujanksy is the CEO of KEYGroup, an international training and consulting company. KEYGroup consultants partner with business leaders to find unique solutions to unique people problems while providing a return on investment through assessments, executive coaching, leadership development, and training. For more information on how KEYGroup can help your organization contact Kelly Hanna at Khanna@keygroupconsulting.com.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.


Developing “Thick Skinned” Customer Service Reps

By Jan Ferri-Reed

Obviously an employee who’s sufficiently thick skinned can deal with demanding customers in a calm manner without taking the conflict personally. But being “thick skinned” requires more than just a calm demeanor. “Thick skinned” employees also possess a range of skills and competencies. These are successful at acknowledging the problem, demonstrating empathy to the customer and finding solutions. But to accomplish those goals your frontline customer service reps must also possess a specific set of skills. The Profiles International Customer Service Profile pinpoints six crucial behaviors for successful customer-facing employees:

1. Trust – This means accepting that your customer’s motives are honorable. Reps who lack a fundamental sense of trust are likely focus on the validity of the problem rather than a solution, making your angry customers even angrier.

2. Tact – It’s important for your customer service reps to be able to state their positions without being offensive or rude. The bottom line is this … how you say something to a customer can be just as important as what you say, especially when emotions are running strong.

3. Empathy – You want your customers to feel that your organization cares about their experience. Even if your customer service reps can’t help their customers they need to at least acknowledge the customer’s situation and frustration.

4. Conformity –Some organizations require their reps to carefully follow rules and guidelines. That means appointing reps that possess a higher degree of conformity. On the flip side, reps with lower levels of conformity may be more inventive, unconventional or independent. Having the right fit in your customer facing departments can be crucial for creating outstanding service.

5. Focus – You customer service reps are responsible for maintaining a high focus on satisfying their customers. Highly focused people tend to stay on the task regardless of distractions and they’re usually more effective in meeting customer expectations.

6. Flexibility – Highly flexible reps tend to explore new approaches to doing things and are more adaptable, accepting and open-minded. Less flexible reps may prefer repetitive tasks and are better suited for customer interactions that involve routine tasks and procedures.

At the end of the day customer service reps that possess a thick skin are more likely to function well in stressful situations. Fortunately, there are tools you can employ to help your customer reps “develop a thicker skin,” just by making sure they have the skills and strategies necessary to make your dissatisfied customers happy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: www.KEYGroupConsulting.com or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.


It only takes a moment to win (or lose) customers

By Charles Sujansky
As printed in Industrial Supply Magazine

The customer at the other end of the manager’s phone line was irate. Very irate. “I just can’t believe the way your employee spoke with me over the phone,” she said in an agitated voice. The manager of the branch, Janis Keller, knew she had to stay calm if she was going to resolve the problem. Taking a deep breath, Keller replied evenly, “I’m really sorry we upset you, Mrs. Verdi. Please tell me what happened so I can help fix the problem.” As the angry customer’s story unfolded Keller became more and more frustrated.

The customer had received a phone call that morning from the company’s accounts receivable office claiming that the woman’s payment was past due and demanding an immediate payment. In fact, the customer had made the required payment on the precise date it was due. Once the employee re-checked her records she discovered that the customer’s payment had been erroneously posted to the wrong account. It was a simple mistake and easy enough to rectify.

But instead of correcting the mistake and apologizing for the confusion, the employee told the woman she should have written the correct account number in her check’s memo line. The customer was left fuming and finally contacted Janis Keller to lodge her complaint.

After promising to look into it, Keller hung up and let out a long sigh. She’d joined the company over 25 years previously as a CSR and had worked her way up to branch manager. She knew the customer, a very sweet older lady named Mrs. Verdi, quite well. She also knew how hard the company had worked over the years to get and keep customers like that. Now, with the industry more competitive than ever, it was getting hard to attract and keep new customers. Keller knew that the company could ill afford to lose steady customers

In today’s competitive business climate, retaining customers is more critical than ever. Those organizations with a reputation for excellent customer service are the ones that tend to thrive in bad times. By the same token, those companies saddled with poor customer service are more likely to struggle or go under when the going gets rough.

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that customer service is, for most businesses, the key to maintaining a competitive edge. However, customer relationships can be extremely tentative. It may take years for an organization to build a positive, productive and profitable relationships with customers, only to have one of those relationships destroyed in a mere moment. While it may not be impossible to win back an offended customer after a bad encounter, the chances are that customer could be lost forever!

But customer service isn’t just a relationship issue, it’s also a bottom line issue! Recent research shows that organizations with superior customer service tend to out-perform their competitors by up to 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth. In other words, the customers of top organizations buy more items, spend more money, return for new business more often, and stick around longer. Simply increasing an organization’s customer retention by a mere 5% typically results in a profit swing of between 25 to 100%!

But, as we all know, outstanding customer service is about much more than numbers. An organization’s customer service mission is also the bond that brings together workers and management. When we talk about an organization’s “brand” we are often talking about how delivering an outstanding customer experience comes to characterize the company’s culture. Legendary customer service examples such as IBM, Ritz-Carlton, Apple, Nordstrom, Federal Express, and Zappos not only inspire their customers, they also inspire their employees! When customer-facing employees understand and are committed to their mission they deliver outstanding customer experiences. As author Peter Drucker wrote, “The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.”

But what exactly is an “outstanding customer experience?” Experience is simply an interaction between an organization and a customer. And every point at which a customer comes into contact with your organization is an opportunity for a “customer experience,” whether that experience is good or bad. Each phone call, letter, e-mail, Internet visit, or face-to-face interaction is a chance to either win or lose a customer.

When we say “it only takes a moment for a customer to be won or lost,” we’re really talking about three different types of moments. At it’s best that interaction could be a “moment of magic,” when that customer’s expectations have been met – or exceeded – with pride, efficiency, and warmth. But all too often a customer’s needs are instead met with a “moment of mediocrity,” in the form of indifference, ignorance or carelessness. Even worse, that customer interaction could also prove to be a “moment of misery.”

We’ve all heard nightmare stories about people trapped in “customer service hell” or frustrated callers being placed on “ignore.” These moments of misery are dangerous to your organization’s existing customer base. They also potentially threaten future business when these stories are retold with relish at backyard barbecues, or go “viral” after being posted to the Internet by angry customers.

Clearly many organizations have a vested interest in improving customer service. But it’s not like customer service managers can wave a magic wand and go from “worst to first” overnight. Achieving the highest levels of customer service can be a daunting challenge. So what can you do to make sure your customers always have a moment of magic?

First, be sure to hire employees who have a natural propensity for customer service. Obviously indifferent workers or poor communicators would seem to make bad choices to fill a customer service position. But there is more to analyzing a prospective employee’s customer service skill set than relying on their word for or it or trusting your gut feelings.

One of the most effective means of pinpointing your employee’s customer service orientation is through assessment tools. Well-designed and validate instruments can paint a very clear picture of the skills and values each candidate brings to the job. Only by looking at the each person’s strengths and weaknesses can you make sure your customers will be dealing with a dedicated, customer-driven staff.

The Customer Service Profile assessment is a powerful tool that measures six behavioral characteristics that are crucial to quality customer service: trust, tact, empathy, conformity, focus, and flexibility. A careful assessment of these factors can help you select the best customer service candidates from your available pool. In addition, the assessment compares the candidates’ customer service perspective with that of managements’ perspective.

Second, make sure your workforce is fully engaged. This too can be determined through a well-designed and validated assessment too. Research has shown that engaged employees are competent, motivated and loyal to the company mission. In the average company 19% of workers (fewer than 1 in 5) are considered loyal employees who can be counted on to win customers over day in and day out with a spirit and enthusiasm. Loyal employees engage in dramatically different behavior from ordinary workers and produce dramatically different customer results, such as superior retention of customers and fewer complaints.

Engaged employees may even help avoid the erosion of profit margins. In an age when customers drop products switch brand loyalty at the drop of a hat, many customers will gladly stick with a brand that offers superior customer service, even you the product is somewhat more expensive that competing products.

In addition, engaged employees maintain longer, closer relationships with customers, which also drives more referrals and lowers customer acquisition costs.

In the case of Janis Keller and her clearly disengaged employee, the problem was more immediate. After speaking with the employee’s immediate superior, Keller called the angry customer back to apologize once again. Keller had the employee take the assessment and her skill set was suited to a different position in the company so she was transitioned there. The company also launched a program to reinforce the organization’s mission and customer service standards.

The old expression goes “live by the sword, die by the sword.” In the modern context of our competitive corporate climate we might modify that expression to read “live by customer service, die by customer service.” For those organizations that ignore customer service or remain ignorant of their image among customers, the price of poor service may be too high to endure. It only takes a moment to win or lose a customer, so make sure that your employees are dedicated to creating moments of “magic” for your customers, and not moments of mediocrity or, even worse, moments of misery.

Charles-SujanskyChuck Sujanksy is the CEO of KEYGroup, an international training and consulting company. KEYGroup consultants partner with business leaders to find unique solutions to unique people problems while providing a return on investment through assessments, executive coaching, leadership development, and training. For more information on how KEYGroup can help your organization contact Kelly Hanna at Khanna@keygroupconsulting.com.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.