Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cooperation in a Competitive World

To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, “Competition is the royal road to success.” 

However, businesses and organizations that are known for their cooperative efforts rather than their competitiveness do better on most scales of success: faster growth, increased profits, stronger sense of public trust, and longer sustainability.

Cooperation in a competitive world is difficult to understand and even more difficult to execute. Can you have both … can your business or organization be cooperative while remaining competitive in the world today?

It may not be easy, but it certainly is worth it. From the corporate board room to the pee wee football team, cooperation can be encouraged in a number of ways.

Place your highest priority on doing your best.  Doing your best and winning are two different things. One requires focus on your own performance, while the other requires a focus divided between you someone or something else. Concentrate on you or your team’s top performance as your ultimate goal so you can maintain focus on things you can control.

Be patient and allow ample time. Cooperation takes more time than going solo. If being cooperative is your intention, known that it doesn’t happen quickly. It may seem like a “waste” of time to go at a slower, cooperative pace. But if you consider how much time disagreement, failed negotiations, resentment and misunderstanding can take, cooperation isn’t such a waste of time after all.

Share the leadership responsibilities and rewards. When there is an increased sense of ‘ownership’ by all members of a group or team, the environment is more cooperative and typically more productive. Delegating or having team members select which parts of a project they will lead creates instant buy-in from more of your team, and buy-in is necessary for

Reinforce and reward team efforts. Rewarding individual stand-outs might make one team member more competitive, but praising the entire team promotes everyone’s cooperation and, in the long run, everyone’s success. Maximize a productive team by recognizing group efforts that require the input, energy, and cooperation of your team, department, or committee.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

GETTING the best customer service

A majority of our shopping memories – both positive and negative – comes from the experience we had in customer service.

Customer service can be a make-it-or-break-it factor in a shopping experience turning out fabulous or frightening. The focus of “good” customer service is usually on the person giving the service; we rely on the salesperson, store clerk, call center employee, or service manager to GIVE good customer service.
But, as a customer, your role on the receiving end of customer service is important, too! How can you increase the likelihood of GETTING good customer service? Here are a few ideas:

Be nice. A polite demeanor and positive attitude will set you apart from other shoppers. A study done by Penn State University found that customer service representatives were cursed at, belittled, or threatened on the average of seven times  a day. If you are a customer that is NOT cursing, belittling, or threatening, but instead sharing a warm and friendly presence, it will likely be noticed. And possibly rewarded.
While being nice might increase your chances of getting good customer service, it’s simply the right thing to do – after all, didn’t our mothers always tell us to “Be nice!”??

Be honest. Tell the truth when speaking with a customer service professional. After all, they’re in a position to help YOU; lies or half-truths make that a nearly impossible. If you are returning or exchanging an item that is damaged or malfunctioning, say so. If you are returning or exchanging an item that you simply don’t want or had buyers’ remorse after purchasing, say that, too. Getting good customer service requires disclosure and honesty on behalf of the customer; telling a lie or covering up the truth can almost guarantee that in that moment or later on down the road, you’ve set yourself up for a poor customer service experience.
You want to be on the same team as the clerk, the cashier, or the salesperson. So act like a team by sharing the same goals, advocating for each other, and being honest.

Be vocal when things go well. Complaining to other customers around us, telling your friends of an awful experience, posting a ‘rant’ on Facebook or Twitter … these are all ways we are vocal when things don’t go our way as a customer. If we were wronged or offended by a customer service experience, we make sure to spread the word.  

I wonder what would happen if we were just as vocal when things go well? What if we raved to other customers around us, told your friends of your fabulous experience, and posted ‘kudos’ on Facebook or Twitter every time things went well? Or, what if we were in the habit of sharing our appreciation directly with the employee and his or her manager? Being vocal on the positives of customer service could set a tone for consistently great customer experiences.