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24 Seconds that Will Change Your Life

This post originally appeared on my blog in July 2014. It has been shared thousands of times on social media, Huffington Post and on my site as well. I welcome your comments below.

Life gets complicated. We all have the same 24 hours each and every day. And it’s up to us how we spend our time. We need to invest our time wisely in order to maximize our day and yet, no matter how good we are with time management, we never seem to have enough time to accomplish what we set out to complete when we wake up in the morning. Putting one more responsibility on your daily to-do list may not seem like a practical thing to do, and yet, what I am about to share is so simple that even the busiest person can carve out 24 seconds for it.

People Skills 101 teaches us the importance of building connections. Without relationships, all business will come to a halt. You might have an amazing product or service but without solid relationships, you have no business. And on a personal level, without connecting with others, life will be far from happy. So my 24 second task is designed to help build, strengthen and solidify existing relationships. It is fast, effective and reliable. And best of all, it requires no prep, planning or practice. Ready?

Take out your smartphone. I know you have one. Some of you are reading this blog on your smartphone (according to Mailchimp, 32% of you are actually reading this blog on your smartphone). I only have 24 seconds, so do it now. The clock is ticking. Pick any name on your contact list. It does not need to be a client, anyone will do. Send a text message saying the following:

“Just thinking about you. Hope you are having a great day.”

Hit send. Boom. 12 seconds. Repeat it one more time. Task complete, 24 seconds. And done. If you are fast at texting like my son Adam, you may even be able to send out three or four text messages in the 24 seconds you’ve allotted. 

Here is what happens when you start this practice. Sometimes, you will get nothing in return, and that’s ok. Many times you will get back a response saying thank you and wishing you a great day in return. But every time you send a message like that, you are making the receiver of your text smile, feel good and be happy. I am confident I do not need to tell you the importance of happy people in your life. Happy is contagious and if done right, happy will be paid forward. Ultimately happy will come back to you, guaranteed.

Make it a practice to pick two or three contacts during your day to send text messages to while you are standing in line, pumping gas, or having your coffee at Starbucks. Try not to repeat the names too often since your goal is to be random. Approach this task to spreading happy, not to gain business. If some of these messages are being sent to customers, you are proving (12 seconds at a time) that you are a human being, with feelings. Important rule of this practice -- You cannot text about business, unless the response from the recipient involves business. 

Switch up your message. It would not be unusual for me to send a message saying, “I love you. That is all.” or “Thanks for being in my life.” or “My life is better because you are in it.” If that doesn’t sound like your voice, build your own set of messages that work well. Under no circumstances should you send this message as a group message (don't automate this practice -- I want you to stay human please).

I’ve been doing this for over 15 years, and many days I send out much more than 2 messages. I know that as a result of my messages, others have adopted this as a way to spread love, happy and good vibes as well. I now get messages daily from friends, clients and others telling me to have a great day. Plenty of times those messages come to me when I am in a tough spot in my day or when I have had a challenging moment. 

Twenty four seconds wisely invested can change your life. Want to try this out? I am happy to be the recipient. Feel free to invest 12 seconds and send a message to me. 410-340-6861. I will return the love, I always do.

I am passionate about my message and ask that you spread this message on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I would love to get text messages from around the world wishing me a happy day and I wish the same for you too.

Want to find out about other simple to adopt techniques that can change your life, check out my Business Building Bootcamp by clicking here.  I am available to present my programs to your group as well. You are welcome to message me or email me at doug@dougsandler.com

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4 People You Must Follow If You Want To Get the Most Out of You in 2017

As a fan of the four business leaders I note in this post, I follow each of them because of their vast knowledge and their attention to fine detail. But what I love most about all of them is their sincere desire to do the right thing, consistently. These four leaders are kind, sincere, genuine and willing to lend advice and information, even when they have no financial stake in the game. These qualities make them far more than good business people...they are good people. Period.

Since following them, I often referred to their posts and advice to help move my business forward.  Recently, I asked all four a question: When making decisions, how do you feel about the importance of doing the right thing? The email I drafted was simple, and I knew, with certainty, my question would get amazing responses from them. I asked Judi Holler, Rob Jolles, Shep Hyken and Marty Wolff to help with this week's post. Here are their responses:


Your brand is not what you say it is, it is what your market says it is. Get the most out of your brand and follow Judi Holler. Judi has been a friend for the past several years and I have been a fan of her video posts and Friday Fab Five emails for quite some time. Not only is she a great writer, Judi is an incredible speaker as well, bringing her improv speaking style to the stage nationwide.

The world is WAY too connected and if you are naughty, we will find you out. If you really want to earn trust, if you really want to have a great life and build a great business ... you have to show up and you must do the right thing ... every time.
— Judi Holler

I was originally introduced to Rob Jolles without fully knowing the tremendous impact Rob would have on my life. Rob not only helped me outline my book, Nice Guys Finish First, but he wrote the foreword for my book, has helped me launch my speaking career and most importantly, proven to me that hard work, dedication and doing the right thing is always in vogue. His BLArticles (Blog/Article) are bi-weekly lessons in business and life. Not only will you enjoy his writing, but you will find yourself putting into practice many of the ideas Rob writes about.

We all need to be on guard when our inner voice of ethical guidance is countered by another voice that tries to rationalize a set of behaviors that, deep down, we know is not right.
— Rob Jolles

Entertaining, engaging and so very WOW! That's how the world of customer service describes its top expert, Shep Hyken. With decades of experience training and speaking to world class organizations like Eveready, Applebee's, Aetna, Avis and hundreds more, Shep is a man worth quoting and worth knowing. Implementing even a short list of Shep's teachings will put your organization on track to exceed customer expectations.

Jiminy Cricket said, ‘Always let your conscience be your guide.’ That’s all about doing the right thing, which is crucial to building relationships, trust and business.
— Shep Hyken

Marty Wolff is probably one of the most well rounded business pros on the street today. Marty knows marketing, sales, and all aspects of business operations. He has a podcast and blog and shares his insights regularly. If you have a pressing business challenge, Marty is capable of putting his skill set to work or making you aware of the resources needed to get the job done. As a valuable team player, Marty is an incredible utility player and a go-to problem solver.

If you have to have a meeting to decide what the right thing to do is, I suggest you spend that time revisiting what you and your company stand for.
— Marty Wolff

Please share in the comments section below any blogs or people that you follow as well and the impact they have made in your life.

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5 Steps To Better and Bigger Business


Click on the Infographic to enlarge or print out details of 5 step program.

Click on the Infographic to enlarge or print out details of 5 step program.

The statistics are alarming. The numbers show over 40% of all voicemails go unreturned, 33% of complaints on social media go unanswered and a staggering 90% of responded emails don't answer all problems addressed.

Consistent, positive, action steps are key when creating, building and maintaining relationships. These 5 steps will help you create essential habits to build your business.

I have presented these 5 steps (see infographic) to audiences all over the country and the most common reaction I get is, "It can't be that simple!" When questioned whether they are doing the 5 steps consistently, the overwhelming response is, "No."  The power of these 5 steps is amazing.

Regardless of the business, industry, position or level of authority you have in an organization, if you follow the steps I outline, your relationships, your business and the way you are seen by others will drastically improve. I have successfully built my career following these 5 steps, and you can too!

If you need help or additional instructions please reach out to me. Additional information about other lessons, challenges and programs I offer can be found here.  (My Business Building Bootcamp). 

Looking forward to hearing your comments.

It really is that simple. I never knew how much business I would attract by simply being consistent with these five steps.
— J. Stepling

Video: 5 Steps to Better and Bigger Business

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The Sound of Silence

The sound of silence can be deafening and quite possibly disastrous for your business. Are you listening to what you can't hear?

The numbers are alarming. For every one customer that complains, over 25 customers who have had an unfavorable experience with a brand don't complain. Silence, zilch, crickets, nada, nothing. And these same customers are walking out the door with their money,  heading to the competition.  Complacency, due to a lack of complaints is not a good place to hang out.  Check out these points:

No news is good news.  Think again. Regularly survey your customers, ask questions that evoke emotion. Questions with answers like "satisfied" or "expected" provide no real value.  Survey questions that require your customer to defend your brand, will tell a lot about how your customer feels about you. "Please list the top reason that almost stopped you from using us?" Dig for the negative. 

Silence is golden. Silence is costing you money and can result in lots of red ink, bleeding your business of profits. Once you find out how our customers really feel about your products or services, take action to correct the issues that arise. What good is there in finding out problems, if you are not willing to correct them? Now is not the time to get defensive or for paralysis by analysis. Your customer speaks and their words have value to your business.

If a tree falls in the forest... Your customers want to hear from your brand. When you reach out to them, they are providing free advice to you that has tremendous value to your company. The more vocal your customer is, the more value they are providing. Every level within your organization should participate including management, sales, accounting, operations. This is not just about products and services, it's about people relating to people. 

Actions speak louder than words. Don't just rely on your front line to get information. Your customers would love to hear from the company owner, president or partner. If given an opportunity to discuss your products and services in a non-threatening, open and genuine environment, your customers will tell you how they feel. You just need to ask them.

With your help, the silent customer will become an advocate for your brand, shouting great things about your company from the mountain top, echoing referrals, future sales and profits as they go.


 

 

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Myths Busted: Great Customer Service Starts Here

I’m a fan of the Discovery series called MythBusters. Every episode Jamie and Adam (et al.) work to prove or debunk a myth (or myths) through a series of experiments involving trial and error, advanced exploration and communication. What fascinates me is the high relatability factor of the myths they present. It may be a statement of the obvious, but this is why they became myths in the first place. With customer service being my focus, I explored the myths believed to be most prolific in a wide variety of industries for companies big and small and developed a hit list of five myths related to providing great customer service. Following each myth I provide additional insight, personal observations or explanations for common misconceptions.

MYTH - Great customer service starts with understanding the customer is always right.

BUSTED - Companies that score extremely high marks in customer service go well beyond the philosophy of “ the customer is always right.” Unfortunately, the customer may always think he is right, but in reality, that just isn’t the case. It’s the perception of being right that draws the customer back to a company’s brand to solve a problem, make a demand or request a response. Regardless of whether the customer is right or wrong it is extremely important to acknowledge the query, to be open to the dialogue exchange (face-to-face, phone, email or social), to not get defensive, and to have a clear understanding that although the customer is not always right, being human and understanding their perspective will go far with every exchange.

The most important thing for every human is to be heard, effective customer service is letting your client know you hear them and will therefore do your best to help them.
— Shirley Impellizzeri, Ph.D., QME

MYTH - Great customer service is about being quick to resolve problems.

BUSTED- It’s about great communication. Everything starts with communication. Do not wait until you have all of your solutions lined up, neat in a row and presenting your findings to your customer. Great customer service is about keeping your customer in the loop, staying open and being honest with your communication. Some problems take awhile to resolve, and that is the reality of problems, especially problems that are unique. I can recall a problem I had traveling with Southwest Air from Baltimore to Seattle. The Southwest gate employee explained there was a delay due to not having a complete crew. Rather than leaving it at that, she explained (over the microphone) that the crew scheduled for our flight was flying in from the midwest had a delay, but was about 30 minutes from arrival. As time drew closer, she continue to update us every 5-10 minutes. As we got closer and closer to the time for the crew’s arrival she started to tell us a bit about her experience with these specific crew members. Finally, when the team arrived, we (the waiting passengers) felt like we knew them. We actually applauded for them when they arrived, excited to meet these famed crew members. Although the problem took longer than expected to resolve, Southwest kept the communication open and honest. They took a problem and made it part of a positive experience that I will remember for years to come.

MYTH - Great customer service is about being responsive to customers.

BUSTED - Silence is the customer service killer. I’m talking about customer silence. Over 70% of clients that have a problem or question will not call, post or reach out to your company for information or resolution. Exemplary customer service is about being proactive and reaching out to your customers to find out how their experience has been with your brand. Don’t assume because you do not get a complaint or questions from your customers that all is ok. The philosophy of “don’t stir the pot,” is like putting your head in the sand. A silent customer is not always a happy customer. Routinely reach out to your customers on a variety of channels to see how their experience has been with your brand. This can be a double edged sword. Don’t try to be on every channel unless you plan on having the manpower to be visible on every channel. If you do encounter a problem while communicating in a public space like social media, don’t be so quick to take it private. People are watching your every move. Here’s your opportunity to really shine so don’t go on the defensive. Work the situation to your advantage and the public forum you used to resolve your problem will become your stage for problem resolution.  

 

Excellent service is putting your employees first and building a culture that has them putting the customer first.
— Micha Mikailian

MYTH - Great customer service is about putting the customer first.  

BUSTED - Great service starts with happy employees. A management team that leads from the top down, putting the customer first and having little consideration for their front line has sadly misaligned priorities. A company that puts their employees first, creating a positive work environment, encouraging a positive, happy culture and designing programs that are “employee-centric” will also be putting the customer first. Companies that place importance on employee’s feelings will create staff that are happy and take more ownership in customers’ feelings as well. If you create an environment where you say the customer always comes first, you may be establishing an adversarial relationship between the customer and the employee.  If the customer wins the employee loses. More money spent on the customer is less money spent on the employee. If however, you put the employee first, making them happy, everyone wins, including the customer, the employee and your company. Winning companies, through action, that show the employee comes first (empowerment programs, better training, creative incentives, great work environment), will be rewarded with employees providing great customer service.

MYTH- Great customer service starts with having a governing set of policies and procedures specifically establishing how your company should respond to customers.

BUSTED - While having specific policies established to address customer needs is a good start, empowering your employees to make decision is crucial in providing exemplary service. Emphasize philosophy over specific tactics when engaging customers, getting to know their needs. Management that says they empower their employees yet doesn’t provide enough decision making power to them is putting on a stage show complete with ventriloquist and dummy. I regularly consult with companies, associations and organizations that claim they give their employees power to make decisions but in reality pull the plug when they have an issue with decisions made. It’s important, just like a parent raising a child, you give guidelines to your staff, but that you let them experiment and let them fail (or succeed) on their own. If you have provided proper training, they will recover, handle the issue and most importantly, they will have learned a lesson. Keeping a rigid set of policies and procedures is no better than having a robot on the other side of customer communication. There is no place for robots in customer service if your customer is a human. Human beings have feelings, emotions and needs that do not fit neatly in a policy manual.

Have a myth that you want proven or debunked, please reach out to me in the comments section below and let’s work on it together.  I have a FREE e-book being released in less than 30 days on Providing World Class Customer Service:  Can't Miss Steps to Creating A Great Experience . If you would like to get an advanced copy of the e-book, click the box below and I will send an email to you along with bonus input from over twenty industry experts on the "how-to's" for great customer service.

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