Disappearing Customer Service

In this age of technology, where we have all of these devices that are supposed to improve our ability to communicate, one this seems to be certain.

ITS NOT WORKING!!

The ability for people to return phone calls is on the decline!

At the end of the day, regardless of what you do for a living, it is a customer service business.  If good customer service is not given, customers will go elsewhere! TWEET THIS

How many times have you called someone, left a message and not gotten a return call.  Then when you do get that return call, you get an apology that sounds like this. “I’m sorry, I have been so busy lately”.

BUSY IS NOT A GOOD REASON TO IGNORE YOUR CUSTOMERS.

In a previous post  “The email Awakening” I shared a story about a time when I slipped into this habit.  The email I got from a customer that quickly brought me back to the reality that we are all in the customer service business.

Customer Service

Three Rules to Remember:

  1. Make sure your customers know you care.
  2. Return phone calls in a timely manner.
  3. Free enterprise means customer are free to go where they want.

Whether Doctors office, Lawyer, Pod-caster, blogger, Sales rep, Principal, retail specialist, receptionist, garbage man etc.  ask yourself this…

What can I do to make each customers experience better.

L.L. Bean Guide to the Outdoors

I picked this book up at a used book sale for a dollar. I am a fan of L.L. Bean clothes but this book shared so much more than what I’m used to seeing from L.L. Bean.   

Besides the practical guide to outdoor skills, it also shares the story of how the company was started by Mr. L.L. Bean. 

His desire to create a hunting boot that would keep his feet dry turned into a business built in only selling outdoor products that were field tested by the avid outdoors men and women who worked for him. There are several stories of manufacturers that were turned down to be a part of the  L.L. Bean product catalogue but with suggestions for improvement from the company, the products became better and they were added.  

This book was published in 1981 and is a combination of the original Outdoor Guide published by L.L. Bean along with the stories behind he company. I’m sure there are resources for used copies of this like I found. 

Of course its available on Amazon

Not bad for a guy who only finished the 8th grade. 

The email Awakening!

I got an email today from one of my best customers and it was like cold water being thrown on me.  The email consisted of seven words and are as follows:

Too busy to even talk these days?

  
 Hmmmm…  With so many ways to communicate, I had responded to his voicemail with an email or maybe a text, but either way the lack of spoken words was the issue. Of course his email prompted an immediate phone call.  I started to evaluate how I respond to my customers and potential customers. Was the smartphones ability to text, email, or tweet taking away from what is so important in the world of sales. Relationship!!!  People do business with people. 

 As the pic above says, it’s a matter of priority. Don’t get caught I the trap of letting your media communicate with your customer. So much emotion gets lost or mis-interpreted in emails or text. Actually speaking with people is far better any day. Evaluate your method of communication and see if you need anyone in your life (work, family, friends, God)  need to send you the same email I got. 
  

How to create an environment of CALM!!

How often do you loose it with your kids and yell.  Unfortunaltely, I do it more that I’d like.  So to continue on the same path as my recent blog on patience, but this time talk about what our kids hear when we do that vs. what we are trying to say.  If you really want to have an eye opening experience, ask you kids what they think when you yell.  You Probably wont like the answer  I think that we communicate so much better at work because we have to plan out our answers. How many times have you written and re-written an email so you can convey the exact message with the right amount of emotion but ensuring your point is made?  Everyday?  Maybe we need to take some time before we answer our kids/wife at home. If you have teenagers, (as I do) you may be thinking….IMPOSSIBLE!!!  But it’s all about practice.  As we were all taught, practice makes perfect. Do we practice patience. Interestingly enough, this came up in our adult Sunday school class and the term “manage” was used as it relates to anger. My immediate thought was we trade out the term patience for anger because it sounds better. We prefer “I lost my patience” vs. I got angry. Second, I liked the term manage. Just like my point earlier, practice, we can use the term manage as well. If we want to be honest, we would say “I need to do a bette job managing my anger”.  

  
These are things I think about because I need to be thinking about them. If I can put it in words and in practice I will do a better job as a dad and husband with patience. Let me know your thoughts. Comment with suggestion, thoughts etc.  

Disconnect and plug-in

Does that even make sense?  Stay with me and you’ll understand.  How often do I find myself looking atmy  phone between the hours 5pm and bedtime.  More than I want to admit.  So how do we change that habit.  Well, it will take a conscious effort and a plan.  Here is my plan…   

 When I walk in the door, Im going to plug in my phone in my bedroom.  Typically this is the area in the house I spend the least amount of time after I get home.  So what is the benefit of this Disconnect from my phone?  Well to piggy back again on a prevoious blog, preparing for time with my family, is one thing we all fail to do.  At work, we plan to be successful, we schedule meetings, send deliberate emails about specific events or projects.  Same thing at home.  Plan to spend at least 10 minutes with each child before bed and ask open ended questions.  It will be awkward at first, but over time it will become normal.  There was a time in my life that I would take one day each month and one of my daughters and I would go and do something fun where we could talk.  I used the day of their birth to mark these days.  This is someting I read about on Tony Dungys allprodad site.  So for example, my oldest daughter was bon on the 10th of Oct.  So on the 10th of every month, we would go get ice cream, or starburcks.  Nothing elaborate, but meaningful.  But, because I havent made that a priority, that has fallen by the wayside.  My challenge to myself is to bring that habit back.  If your kids are old enough to be home alone, you can add your wife to the mix.  But regardless of how you schedule, make it something you plan.  Put it on the calendar.  Send a calander reminder to you kids.  Discounecting from our phone / tablet will help us plugin with our family.  

Try it for a week and leave me a comment on the impact it has on your family.

How to Shift your Perspective

This ties into the patience blog.  Do I ever walk in the door after work with an attitude that matches the crappy day I’ve had?  YES!  Probably more often than I would like to admit.  
Clothes on the floor- Be thankful we have clothes to wear

Dishes on the counter and in the sink- Be thankful we have food to eat.

House is a mess-  Be thankful My wife and I can work, and we have a roof over our heads and we are safe at night.

Kids are running wild- Be thankful I have 3 beautiful daughters with seperate personalities and energy to run and play.

My wife doesnt understand- I Should be thinking…How can I take care of her first, so you have more energy and time.

Perspective is really just how we look at things.  We’ve all heard this:

  

Remember, The things you complain about, someone is praying for those things to come into their life.

So, how do we change it.  

1. Use the drive home to de-compress.  Listen to a positive podcast like The Art of Manliness, Order of Man, or the Good Dad Project.  

2. Listen to some music that will help you sifft out of that stress zone.

3. Walk in the door with a happy, smiling, positive attitude.  Give highfives, fistbumps, hugs and kisses.  Try this, if you your kids are still small, grab one of them, throw them over your shoulder and spin them around.  They will laugh, and you cant help but smile.

4. Bring flowers to your wife for no reason.  Yes, giving is better than receiving and doing nice things for others makes us feel better too.
Understand that I write these words because it is my challange to myself.  These are things that I need to work on.  I know about being a dad with responsibility, kids, a wife, a job and I know that I try to do my best, but I often fail.  The good news is :

I dont have to strive for perfection, but I do have to strive for Improvement.

  

Military Phonetic Alphabet 

Saw this on orderofman.com blog and thought it was worth repeating.  I travel quite a bit and confirmation numbers for hotel stays are always a mix of numbers and letters. So heres the question, have your ever been on a phone call and need to give a number with letters in it (example..VIN number on a vehicle to your insurance agent) to the person on the other end and you struggle through it trying to come up with words to use with the letters like K- Kangaroo, U- Umbrella or D-Dog.   Check out armyalphabet.com for free downloadable pdf’s and flash cards or just keep the image below handy below for reference.
 
  

One interseting thing is that this phonetic alphabet has channged several times over the years.  Originally developed in 1913 and revised in 1927, again in 1938, and then around WWII the version we have today was put in place.  The only letter to never change through all of the variations is X (X-ray).  

Man vs. Male and @artofmanliness

Call it what you want, Hunter Gather vs. Grocery Getter, but as the world changes there is always a desire to rekindle the manliness within.  As a #threedaughterdad, my world is often filled with all things girls.  I love it and wouldnt trade it for anything in the world, but sometimes you just want to sleep in a tent and wake up in the woods, or go fishing, hunting, Kayaking etc. Not saying that these are strictly “manly” activities, but it is something for me that is relaxing.  Recently I have been listening to some of the podcast from @artofmanliness and @orderofman and have found that there is an inate desire within men to step beyond being a male and really feel like a man.  So what does that mean:
-Do we have to have a beard and hunt? (I do both), but this is not the criteria.  Its more about finding things that make you use the instinct you have within you to help you build the confidence, and develop an attitude to live a life that feel fulfilled.
Ive recently read a series of books by Gary Paulsen about the “adventure” taken by one kid/man and it really makes me yearn to spend time outdoors.  In the woods, on the water…. but outdoors.  So as I start to blog about this idea of Manhood, I must say that I am not the prefect man.  But I do try to be a good Christian, husband father, provider, friend, Church memnber and hunter-gatherer.  

As we explore this idea of Hunther-gatherer, I think it is important to look at the definition of Hunter-Gatherer.  

Hunter-Gatherer:

A hunter-gatherer or forager society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals.

So as our society becomes more technologially based, we seem to be so far from Hunter-Gatherer societies.  But,  in our own way we do still hunt and gather.  If you are like me and have a desire to fulfill the manly heritage of those before you, a good place to start:

 The Art of Manliness.  Available on Amazon

Also, check out the Art of Manliness Blog
 

Hatchet

 
If you haven’t read any Gary Paulsen books, your missing some adventurous reading. I just completed the 5 book series starting with Hatchet.  I read them on the Kindle app on my ipad, but also know that the local lobrary has them.  I was so intriqued with this because not only does it paint a beautiful picture of nature, but also because it is a great resource for learning about survival.  It is a quick read and the series contains 5 books.  Here is the complete list of books in the series:

Hatchet

The River

Brians Winter

Brians Return

Brians Hunt