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Better Customer Service from Generosity

generosity and hospitality lead to better customer service

I’ve taught many that hospitality and generosity are the roots of quality customer service and I’ve recently had two separate experiences that have added to my thinking.

1. Shannon, IHOP, East Bidwell St, Folsom, California

It’s a tricky balance at a restaurant and rarely well delivered. Don’t pay enough attention to me and I’m not happy. Pay too much attention to me and I’m annoyed. Shannon knows how to do it and I learned a new rule. It’s “one extra visit.”
So, what are the usual visits if you ‘re going to add an extra?
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Essential People you need in your life

Nevereatalone_natlbestseller_cover_1I like lists.  And, I love Keith Ferrazzi and his book Never Eat Alone.  Yesterday’s post on the Never East Alone Blog by Ian Yberra has the following with a link to good descriptions of the first five or so on Kai Chang’s Blog:

"How many essential people in your life?

My friend Kai Chang lists his 16 and a few descriptions on his blog. Here’s the list for quick viewing.

1. Headhunter
2. Computer Security Guru
3. Realtor
4. Criminal Defense Attorney
5. Personal Finance Advisor/CPA
6. Medical Doctor
7. Police/Law Enforcement Officer
8. "The Wolf"/"The Cleaner"039_27431harveykeitelposters
9. The Event/Ticket Connection
10. The Local Celebrity
11. Big Money Guy
12. Local Politician
13. Auto Mechanic
14. Consigliere
15. Mr. Connections
16. Best Friend

It’s valuable to have a list of categories such as these but also make sure you fill them with friends.  Some should be a few people deep just in case your first stringer ends up unavailable.  As Ian said, "How long is your list and Who’s on it?"

Pocast Interview with Andy Forbes

I had a fun and exciting interview with Andy Forbes about entrepreneurship, vision, passion and more at www.theandyforbesfiles.com/.  Please have a listen – it’s available via podcast as well as an mp3 download. It was fun to do and I hope I get to do it again.  Andy is an entrepreneur and currently engaged in a wonderful project at Nuride.  We met at linkedin.com where I’ve had tremendous success connecting with interesting people all over the world. 

Master the short note…updated for 2005

I am a long time, true blue Harvey Mackay fan.  I just read a great post of Keith Ferrazzi’s at http://tinyurl.com/d9k8g  that is the most poignant modern day version of Mr Mackay’s advice. 

Mr. Mackay taught me to be a master of the short note.  A skill I still think is invaluable.  How many hand written notes do you get in the mail these days?  Keith gives a specific example here of how to email a new contact and what elements the email should include.  It’s easy and effective. 

How do you handle the info flood?

Lots of Info out there.  How do you deal with it?  Updates and news bulletins in your email, weblogs, online seminars, continued education, news-feeds, and now pod-casts. 

I try and batch by subject and research area, starting with those things that relate to my primary client list and family first.  Anything after that varies by the idea thread, or occasional distracting URL rabbit hole.  You’ve been down it – 20 sites deep from where you started. 

Tabbed browsing really helps.  Use Mozilla FireFox instead of Microsoft Internet Explorer.  It’ll cut back on your pop-ups and virus vulnerability as well. 

Do you have suggestions?  Need some more info to add to your pile?  A valuable page at Forbes.com that I look at every week is "People to Watch, the week ahead." at http://tinyurl.com/79cgm.

The integrity of the callback

How do people that don’t follow up stay in business?  Have you ever wondered why someone that you’re doing business with can wait so long to return a phone call, an email, thank you for a referral (or not thank you at all – whoops!).  Easy to do AND easy not to do – but it makes all the difference.  Sometimes it contributes so much to your relationship that it’s more important than your capability. So where does the integrity thing come in?

Integrity is not just "being honest," although that has something to do with it. According to Roger Merrill, co-author of many good books about character and quality of life with Dr. Stephen Covey, "Integrity is acting in accordance with your deepest values without compromise."  This means keeping promises to ourselves as well as others.  We all have a "personal integrity account," Merill says.  We constantly make deposits or withdrawals.  Whether our account is in the red or black affects our stress, confidence, creativity and ability to relate meaningfully to others. 

In everyday life this means you have to do what you say you’re going to do.  How many times have we heard that?  I’m pretty sure I heard it from my father most of all.  Calling back is a deposit – it’s an easy one.  So is saying thank you.  So is replying to an email in a timely fashion – even if it’s a short note that says you need to think on the matter and will reply later in more detail.  Don’t wait a week to reply at all!  And, never, never, never, skip hitting reply.  People need to know you got the message.  Even if you just say, "Got this!" – it’s a deposit, and we all need them.

Think you can do better?

Have you ever sat in a restaurant, visited a store or stayed at a hotel and thought, "boy could I do this better!"  Hmmm…well, perhaps it’s just me but my experiences with customer service have made me say this very thing under my breath quite a bit lately.

My family stayed at a cabin on the west shore of Lake Tahoe this weekend.  A nice, private celebration of our wedding Anniversary and Hannah’s first Birthday.  The operation is run like a bed and breakfast without the availability of the owners.  Our local experts to ask questions and provide us with a connection – a sense of belonging – were never available.  What a mistake!  We had other challenges but that’s enough to keep us from coming back.  We didn’t feel like welcome guests.  If we had, we could have overcome the other stuff.

This happens at all manner of business locations.  The businesses that gets my business are the ones where the owner makes me feel like a welcome guest AND I get introduced to his/her other guests.  This should happen where I get my haircut, eat my lunch, or buy my suits.  Will I recommend a place to eat if I know you’ll be treated well and introduced around the room?  You bet!  And, what if the owner comes to your table and says, "Welcome, how did you find out about us?  What do you do?  What kind of folks do you like to meet?"  When I call you (on purpose) and say, "How was your lunch," How will you feel?

We all need to pay careful attention to each and every one of our clients and customers and always consider them as our guests.  At the same time, find out who they like or want to do business with and make the introduction!  Your guests will love that you’re keeping their best interest in your heart and mind.

The 7 Ps: Updated

I originally posted this years ago.  I’ve since learned that the 7Ps have been around for a long time, and repeated often.  The Air Force, the Boy Scouts and countless project oriented companies use this as a constant mantra.

I had the pleasure of attending a Microsoft Live Meeting this week entitled 7Ps: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance“Relationships For Revenue Growth,” featuring speaker Keith Ferrazzi.  Keith is a friend and author of a great read, Never Eat Alone.

[Keith has since published Who’s Got Your Back and has an exceptional blog at www.keithferrazzi.com.]

The meeting was energetic and focused on concepts I evangelize daily in my practice.  I did want to pass along Keith’s reminding me of something I hadn’t heard for a long time but just love – it’s the 7 P’s:

Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

I assure you that the 7Ps are a great acronym to keep in front of you.  Keith was referring to preparing in advance and making the people you meet intentional.  Learn about the person in advance – ways to make a cold call never really cold.  In either case, planning sounds so basic but it is so taken for granted.  Don’t waste your time climbing the ladder only to find it’s leaning up against the wrong wall.