Make Customer Service A Priority With Best Practices

Make CustomerIf you run a business of any size, customer service is a key component of your success. Unfortunately, most businesses are good at paying lip service to customer service, but come up short when it comes to actual delivery. Think about most of the customer service experiences you’ve had yourself when dealing with other companies.

Sometimes you get lucky and have a genuinely good experience, but is that the norm? It isn’t for most people. You either get the guy who says his name is Bob but has an accent so thick you can barely understand him, and who isn’t actually empowered to fix anything, or you get customer service agents who are professional, but sound entirely wooden. They sound like they don’t really care and are just marching through a script.

Here’s a secret: They probably are marching through a script. Managers listen to their customer service employees calls, and they’ll actually get fired if they deviate from the script.

This represents a golden opportunity for you, as a business owner. If you can get your customer service right, you can really make yourself stand apart from the crowd. Here’s all you have to do in three simple steps:

1) Empower your employees – When a customer calls, it’s not to say hi. It’s because something went wrong with the product they bought from you. They don’t want to have to escalate up the food chain three or four times before they get their issue fixed. They want to make a call and talk to someone who can fix it right then. Make sure your customer service people are empowered to do just that.

2) Personalize the service – Call your customers by name. It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

3) Limit your use of the dreaded “automated operator.” This technology is responsible for more bad corporate reputations than just about anything else. Your customers don’t want to have to spend ten minutes navigating through a complex, multi-tiered menu system before they get a real person on the phone. They want to call and start talking to a live human being. Give them what they want.

If you do these simple things, your reputation with your customers will soar.

Is Goal Setting The Key To Taking Action?

Is GoalThe short answer to the title of this piece is a resounding yes! There’s more to it than that, though, and we’ll go into the particulars below.

The problem with taking action in the absence of a clearly defined goal is that you’re just staying busy. Sure, that will fill up your day. But your actions won’t have much, if any, payoff because they’re not focused or directed by the presence of a goal.

Before you leap into action, ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” How will the action you’re about to take help you? What goal will it push forward? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you have to ask yourself why you’re bothering with the action in the first place.

The first step, then, toward taking massive and meaningful action, is to figure out what you want to accomplish. Set a specific goal, and write it down.

Once you’ve got your main goal clearly spelled out, start breaking it down into highly granular sub-goals. Give these tight timetables and specific steps you can march through. Make a list from those things, and then you’re ready to start taking action.

When you do it that way, you’re being smart about it. The action you wind up taking will be tightly focused and directed toward your sub-goals, which feed into your main goal, and that’s how you move the needle. That’s how you get things done.

If you follow this basic approach in everything you do, you’ll find yourself getting more done, more efficiently than you ever have in your life. In a world where most people are stressed out and super busy, you’ll be able to knock down your daily “to do list” in record time, and have some time left over to relax and enjoy yourself. It’s hard to argue with that.

Get Motivated With These Simple Steps

Get MotivatedSome days, it’s just hard to get moving. Everyone goes through it. Everyone has days that feel as though they’re in a movie playing at regular speed while they’re stuck on frame advance. It’s just hard to get anything done. Motivation is the missing piece, but how does one get motivated if they just aren’t? It’s easier than you might think. Here’s what you do:

1) Start. It doesn’t matter what task you have before you, just start. Go through the motions. Your mind’s version of muscle memory will take over, and before you know it, you’ll find your rhythm again.

2) Get up and move. Maybe the problem is that you’ve been staring at it too long. You need a break in order to shift your perspective. So take five, or even fifteen. Get up and move around. Clear your head. Even when you intentionally try not to think about whatever problem you’re working on, your subconscious mind is still chewing on it in the background, and this is often where your best flashes of insight and inspiration come from.

3) Remind yourself why. You’ve probably got a grand plan, right? If you don’t, make one. Give yourself a large, long term objective to work toward, and write it down. Any time you find your motivation flagging, open up the document you’ve saved the notes about your dream on and review them. This is quite often all it takes to find a new surge of energy and enthusiasm for the task at hand.

4) Plan ahead. It’s hard to lose motivation if you’ve got a solid plan in place. Once you finish all of today’s work, start mapping out tomorrow’s. Pay special attention to the way tomorrow’s work fits into the grand design you have in mind. Then, when you wake up the next morning, you won’t have to worry about not being motivated. You’ll just get up and automatically be ready to begin.

5) Take time for yourself. Sometimes, your lack of motivation stems from the simple fact that you feel overwhelmed. Make sure to take some “you time” every single day. It doesn’t have to be much. Even fifteen minutes a day will be enough to recharge your brain, but it’s something you need, and nobody’s going to give it to you. You have to take it for yourself.

Try these simple motivational tactics on for size. You will be amazed at the results.

Discovering Your Destiny Can Be A Reality

DiscoveringDo you feel as though you’re just existing and floating through life, waiting for something to happen? Have you put all your dreams on hold because you’re so focused on the things that are keeping you awake at night? Could it be the dead end job or the endless parade of bills?

That’s a predicament that a lot of people find themselves in, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can find your destiny and begin making it a reality. Here’s how:

First, dare to dream. Take some time for you, and give yourself the space you need to sit down and honestly think about what it is you want out of life. Don’t take “I don’t know” as an answer. It’s not an answer. You have hopes and dreams. You have desires you’ve put on hold, possibly for years. Dust them off and review. Are your old dreams still relevant, or have they been replaced by something else?

Give some serious thought to that, and write down your dreams. That’s the first step toward making them real. Then, armed with a clear vision of what you want out of life, engage in some blue sky thinking. If money and time weren’t obstacles in your way, what would it take to make your dreams come true?

Money and time actually are important considerations, of course, but this gives you an unimpeded view of where you want to go. Once you know that, it’s a simple matter of getting creative with the resources you’ve got and putting them to best use.

Discovering your destiny and having the courage to follow your dreams can literally be life changing. It takes both courage and commitment to develop a plan and start pursuing something you have dared to dream. It’s daunting, and because of that, few people do it. Be one of those few. Take control of your own destiny. Make your own future.

Three Qualities Of A Leader

three-waysLeadership is one of those traits that most people find difficult to quantify. Everybody knows a great leader when they see one, but when you ask people to explain what specific qualities make a person a great leader, that’s when you get the “deer in the headlights” looks. It’s just hard to explain. This article will hopefully make it easier to explain, and help you become a better leader.

Conviction – Great leaders have a clearly defined plan in their minds, and the will to stick with it. It goes without saying that everyone who has ever put forth an idea has been met with resistance and detractors. Those are people who will go out of their way to tell you how flawed your plan is and how wrong you are. Great leaders have thought through all the angles and are more than capable of defending the reasons behind the decisions that drive their plans. However, they’re also smart and humble enough to recognize when someone presents them with a genuinely better alternative. They have great conviction, yes, and that can be inspiring, but they’re also in tune with who they lead, and they understand that there’s no way they can plan for every contingency. Conviction or no, they’re willing to let someone else demonstrate a better way. It just has to be proven definitively.

Empowerment – This was hinted at in the section above about conviction. If a leader is willing to allow others to show them alternatives that might prove superior, then he’s also got to give them the space to explore and experiment. That means no micromanaging. That means providing the vision, then giving their team the tools and the space to explore new ideas and stuff they haven’t thought of.

Presence – Great leaders have great presence. Always. That means being visible. That means being physically there, leading from the front. You don’t just delegate assignments and duck out. You roll up your sleeves and get in the mud with the rest of your team. This is what creates respect, and even if your team doesn’t adore you, when they see you wading into the thick of it with them, they’ll respect you, and they’ll follow you.

Improve Your Time Management With These 5 Tips

improve-yourIt seems as though we never have enough time, doesn’t it? No matter how carefully you plan your day, and no matter how hard you try to get everything done, you just always seem to run out of day before you run out of things to be done. Below, you’ll find five tips you can put to use right now that will help take your productivity to the next level. You’ll find yourself getting more accomplished in less time, and you’ll finally start getting a handle on things. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Power of No – Most people hate to say no. We instinctively try to be as accommodating as possible, but this can really drag your productivity down. Think about the law of supply and demand here. There’s only so much of you. If you start making yourself less available, not only do you have more time to do the stuff most critical to your day, but you also make yourself more valuable.

Limit Your Time on Social Media – Social media is a huge time sink, even if you need to be on it as part of your job. Limit yourself to twice a day, no more than twenty minutes at a stretch. By forcing yourself to keep strict watch on the time you spend on social media, you’ll be less likely to get sucked in.

Only Check Email Twice a Day – This is another huge time sink for most people: the feeling that you have to constantly check your email and respond to everything right away. Break the habit. Retrain yourself to check email just twice a day, and limit yourself to thirty minute sessions, both times. This forces you to prioritize your emails and only respond to the really critical items.

Proper Prioritization – Tackle the biggest, scariest task of the day first. Doing that builds momentum, and makes the rest of your day seem like a downhill coast from there.

Live By Lists – Of course, in order to properly prioritize, you’ve got to have a firm sense of what each day holds. That means learning to love lists. Break every item down into one of two categories: “must do,” and “it would be nice to do.” Your must do items go to the top. If any of your “it would be nice to do” items don’t get done that day, move them to “must do” the following day. If you still give them a pass on the second day, take it off the list. They are obviously not that important.

Connect With Others To Inspire

connect-withDo you even remember the time before the internet? Most people struggle to. It has profoundly changed the way we live and work. Our lives are more intimately interconnected and interdependent now than they ever have been in the history of history itself.

Before the rise of the internet, highly centralized “command and control” style leadership worked well, or at least, well enough. Orders came down from on high, and those orders were followed. It was fairly effective, and could even be inspiring on occasion.

These days, though, the world has shifted. If you have an entrepreneurial streak, and are seeking to inspire those around you to rally to your cause and vision, attempting to lead in the old command and control style is one of the fastest and surest paths to failure.

The global web of intricate interconnections has redefined what the phrase “competitive advantage” means, too. It used to mean that if you found a different or innovative method of doing something, the change in your process could reap long term benefits.

These days, comparative advantage has more to do with interacting with people: your peers, your employees (if you’re running a start-up) and your customers. If you want a powerful competitive advantage, then you build a story around your brand, and tell that story often. You spread the word. You engage in meaningful, two-way conversations with your customers, both face to face, and on the numerous social media platforms now available.

Inspiration is now a form of currency. Take a look at Apple, for example. Every company on the planet wishes they had Apple’s customer base. Apple doesn’t have customers, they have fans, who are almost evangelical in their support of the company.

The reason is that Apple inspires. You can too. Share yourself and your story with others. Connect with them, and let them draw inspiration from the stories you share and the conversations you have. You will be amazed at the results.

How Can I Achieve My Goals?

how-can-iDo you feel stuck? Like you’re trapped on a treadmill and just running in place? Like no matter how hard you try, you just can’t make any real progress toward your goals or start making your dreams a reality?

The problem is a lot more common than you think, but there’s good news. There’s an easy fix for that. If you follow the steps outlined below, you will never again feel like you’re stuck making no progress.

1) Write it down – Everything starts with your dream. The end point. The place you want to ultimately wind up at, or the big thing you hope to accomplish. Write that goal down and keep it where you can see it. If you ever get discouraged, take it out and look at it.

2) Get granular – Once you know the end point, outline the various tasks you’re have to accomplish to achieve your goal. Then, break those tasks down into sub-tasks, and keep doing that, going more and more granular until you’re left with bite sized mini-tasks you can accomplish in a single day.

3) Make a list of things you want and need to accomplish in a typical day, and be sure to include as many of the tasks that feed into your main goal as you can. Keep track of all of these that you knock out, so you can visually chart the progress toward your main goal. The easiest way to do this is to keep your goal-related tasks and sub-tasks in a Word document, and bold the items you have completed. In parenthesis next to these, put the date they were completed by.

If you do these simple things, you’ll make steady progress toward whatever goal you have set for yourself. Try it and see. You’ll be amazed at the results.