customer experience

What To Do When The Customer is Wrong

The only problem with the concept, “The customer is always right,” is that sometimes they’re wrong.

If you’ve been in any kind of customer-facing position, I know you’re with me.

Sure, there are many, many circumstances where the only choice is to bite your tongue and concede, for the good of the customer experience.

But some wrong is just, well…wrong.

It takes confident humility to stand up to a customer when they’re doing something unethical, immoral, or discriminatory. Winning Well managers know that the MIT (most important thing) at a time like that is to stand clearly on the side of right.

Rick, the retired Amtrak conductor I met on my Southwest flight did just that.

When Employees are More Important Than Customers

My assistant conductor, Loretta came to me and said matter-of-factly, “There’s a guy in the second car, who refuses to give me his ticket.”

“Does he have a ticket?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure he does.”

“Why won’t he give it to you?” I continued, now sensing an undercurrent of hurt beneath her frustration, as the color drained from her dark skin.

“Well, I have a theory.”

“I’ll be right back.”

I approached the old, balding man, “Hi Sir, the other conductor said you refused to give her your ticket.”

He laughed, “Oh, I’m happy to give it YOU. I just won’t give it HER.”

“Well then, you have a problem. You see Loretta is the only one who takes the tickets. But since yours is the next stop. I’ll take it this time.”

“Oh no, I’m getting off in Albany.”

“No sir, you are getting off at the next stop. And if you refuse, I’ll be happy to make a phone call to get you some help getting off.”

I then held the train at the next stop and explained the situation to the agent at the ticket window. He could feel free to refund his money, but under no circumstances was he to sell the meanie a ticket.

Winning Well Karin Hurt and David DyeRick sent a clear message to Loretta, her peers and all the customers watching the spectacle. Loretta’s dignity is what mattered most. Bigotry, even from a paying customer, was completely unacceptable.

Rick was Winning Well.

When the customer is wrong. Say so.

Everyone is watching your next move.

When to Break the Rules

I’m sitting next to Rick, a retired railroad engineer, on a delayed Southwest flight from Tampa to Baltimore. It’s been a LONG week of serial cancelled flights, and other travel frustrations. I’m wearing the same suit I wore in Detroit on Tuesday because I never did make it home between gigs.

Rick doesn’t seem to notice the wrinkles, as we begin swapping travel nightmare stories.

It was the middle of winter and the train was headed through a really rural section of upstate New York. The snow was coming down so hard you couldn’t see the sky, when the train stopped dead on the tracks—serious engine trouble. After several hours of waiting for help, it was clear we had a very long night ahead of us.

The café car ran out of food. The passengers were one Snickers bar short of a riot.

Jeff (whom Rick proudly pointed out he had trained), went to the café car attendant and said, we’ve got to solve this problem—people need to eat. Please give me some cash, I’m going to find food.

Jeff then trudged through the snow to the Kentucky Fried Chicken and said he needed 159 chicken dinners.

The kid behind the counter looked panicked, “Look, man, I want to help and I’ve got the chicken, but I don’t have enough staff to cook all that!”

Jeff smiled, “No worries, I used to work at a KFC. Let me just wash my hands and come back and help you.”

I can only imagine the eruption of applause as Jeff returned smelling of grease and salt, and began handing out free chicken.

It’s hard to be cranky with a drumstick in your hand.

Many customers took the time to write Amtrak with commendations. Amtrak fully supported his out of the box thinking.

Two weeks later his boss wrote him up for having his hat on crooked.

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Frontline Festival: Leaders share about favorite apps, technology, and productivity hacks

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival gives tips about favorite tools and technology. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about how to take a complete break from work (i.e. for vacation.) There are two ways to participate…either submit a blog post on the topic, or your 1-2 sentence answer to the question. Click here to participate! Now on to our topic for June:

What tools do you use to stay productive?

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited has used the task/recurring task functionality in Microsoft Outlook for many years. She loves how she can set up task reminders to pop up on the appropriate days, can easily change dates to defer tasks, can batch tasks into categories, and can drag an email into task format (this helps keep her in-box clean too.) She also uses Google reminders for the occasional on-the-fly “thing to remember” to pop up at a designated time. Follow Beth

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership  has been tracking his productivity for around fifty years now. Here’s what has worked for him consistently over that half century. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC shares that one of her stress saving tools is Evernote. “This application has a free component and I use it daily. How does it serve me? It puts all my information in one place, easily labeled and organized so I can find it! Follow Michelle.

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
~ Paul J. Meyer

For David Dye of Trailblaze  Evernote is the first app he installs on a new phone, tablet, or computer. It is an extension of his brain! The other “tool” that helps stay productive: exercise–preferably a good hike in nature. He’s always more productive afterwards. Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture shares: The apps I use daily are proven tools that maintain my sanity and enable promotion of my concepts. They include Nozbe (a cloud-based brilliant task manager), Evernote (a cloud-based “memory enhancer” – for notes, photos, and more), Tweet Jukebox (a terrific quote scheduler that will soon add Facebook and LinkedIn to Twitter posting), Sucuri (website firewall and anti-malware), WPTwin (backs up and restores my various WordPress sites), and SurfEasy (a private VPN that enables safe WiFi use, even in countries where social media is “blocked”!) Here’s a link to learn more about these and other tools I depend on.  Follow Chris

Ariana Friedlander of Rosabella Consulting recommends starting your day by identifying your Big 5 tasks for the day and keep them front and center.  These are the things you need to check off the proverbial list in order to fall asleep knowing you got the important stuff done. Follow Ariana.

I think I have over 60 apps on my iPhone. I use six.
~ Gordon Smith

As an entrepreneur with many projects on the go, Patrick Hankinson of Hello Focus grew frustrated with current tools on the market, finding that none of them really kept his team focused, becoming harder to manage as the team grew. He followed the adage, “Scratch your own itch” and created Hello Focus.  Follow Patrick.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management   Improvement  has found that taking advantage of all the great ideas among leadership and management bloggers is very important to his continued productivity and success. He feels would be greatly disadvantaged in doing so without an RSS feed reader. Follow John.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog says, “I’m sure that everyone has wonderful tools, apps, and technology to offer that they use to be more productive, but I’ve got something else entirely that is probably my biggest secret and tool. Quietness and meditation. If I forget to find quiet time, if I forget to slow my mind and breathe, if I forget to spend time in peace and meditation, I am simply not as productive. Or as happy. Follow Lisa.

Boundary setting is really a huge part of time management.
~ Jim Loehr

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation  takes the productivity concept of “batching” to the next level with “Theme Days” and explains they can help provide focus and a sense of accomplishment. Follow Jennifer.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  shares: “Two of my favorite apps that help to manage my productivity are 1) Evernote: I keep everything in there and it’s at my fingertips; and 2) I’m also a huge fan of Rescue Time. You can’t change where you spend your time until you know where it goes. It’s an eye opener!  Follow Alli.

Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence shares “My team uses Basecamp for every project, and using Basecamp helps us stay focused to deliver what we’ve promised. We can easily track progress, find files, and share helpful information with others. We also use Slack for in-the-moment communication and team building. These two apps are critical to our work success.”  Follow Becky.

Each minute is a little thing, and yet, with respect to our personal productivity, to manage the minute is the secret of success.
~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates recommends an environment that enhances productivity, with visual and auditory stimulus that aligns with getting things done (it may require headphones.)  Follow Shelley

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute  finds Hootsuite to be her favorite application, using it to organize her social media life. Follow Artika.

Unless otherwise stated, quotations are sourced from Brainyquote.com.

 

 

 

 

 

One Common Interviewing Mistake That Will Cost You the Job

My phone rang. Colin was exasperated. “Karin, I thought I NAILED the interview. The owner seemed pleased with all my answers, and I had great stories for all his behavior-based interview questions. But I just got an email from him saying that although I was qualified,  he was worried about my passion for training!!! You KNOW how passionate I am about training– it’s my life! I was energetic throughout the whole process. Where could this have gone wrong?”

I had an inkling, but probed further. Sure enough, Colin had made one of the most frequent and well-intention mistakes that so often tank a solid interview.

He appeared desperate.

When asked if the training job was not available, if he would be willing take a call center manager job for a few years. Wanting to appear flexible and interested in learning the business he said, “sure.”

A similar problem plagued Joe, a Director level succession planning candidate who came to me for coaching.

He had applied for several VP jobs: VP of Care, VP of Sales, VP of Marketing and always made the last round, but never got the job.

When I conducted interviews with key stakeholders to get underneath what was going on, everyone had a similar taste in their mouth about Joe.”He doesn’t seem to know what he really wants to do–besides have the title VP behind his name. When he interviewed for the care job, he gushed about how passionate he is about customer service, and how this is his dream job. He almost had me convinced, until I heard he was equally zealous about the sales role. We need a leader with a passion for the role, not just a passion for power.”

Yikes.

4 Ways to Let Your Passion For the Position Shine Through

Of course you want to appear flexible in an interview. But too much flexibility makes you look desperate–like the guy working his way down the bar trying to land a date. “I’ll settle for this one” doesn’t make you an attractive match.

  1. Know What You Really Want
    This might sound really obvious, but trust me, I’ve asked “Why do you want this job?” in so many interviews–and it’s a surprising stumper. If “to make more money” or to “be promoted” is the answer, even if you say something different, any interviewer worth their salt will see right through. Know why this job matters to you and be able to articulate your reasoning well.
  2. Have a Plan
    Of course it’s perfectly possible that you’re equally qualified for several positions. Before starting LGL, I made a career of dramatic cross-functional moves within Verizon, but I didn’t apply for them all at the same time. If you are highly interested in several roles, be able to explain the strategic value holding each of these positions now (or later) will help you contribute now, and in the future to the company. If you’re interviewing externally and your answer to “Where else are you applying?” looks as random as the fruit on a slot machine, you had better find a way to connect the dots.
  3. Do Your Homework
    The key is to really do your homework and be able explain why your skill sets add the most value for THIS job at THIS company. You can’t do that without really knowing what THIS job and THIS company is all about.
  4. Be Authentic, But Have a Filter
    I had another millennial call me to tell me he was in jeopardy of not getting a role because of how he answered the question “Where do you want to be in 15 years?” Well, the fact that he wanted to own his own business in 15 years was TMI (too much information) at this point for his interviewer who got all worried about “loyalty.” The sad part was, this guy WAS TOTALLY PREPARED to work there for 10 years. “Well, I’m not sure about 15 years, that’s a long time. But I would love to talk more about what the next decade could look like for our partnership.” Authentic AND intriguing.

There’s nothing more frustrating that watching the good guys lose the opportunity because of a communication breakdown. Avoid this common mistake and let your passion for the position shine through.

Winning Well Karin Hurt and David DyeIf you have not yet checked our David Dye’s and my latest book, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide To Getting Results–without Losing Your Soul, you can download the first few chapters for FREE here, as well as take our online assessment. We also have a recently released our new Winning Well online course. Please contact me at karin.hurt@letsgrowleaders.com to learn more about how we can help your team through keynotes, workshops, or online programs.

What Your Team Is Saying Behind Your Back

Have you ever talked about your boss behind your back? If you haven’t complained to at least someone…you’re a saint. Call me. I’m sure you’ve got some wisdom we can share here at LGL.

For the rest of us… you know… right? Just like you’re complaining about that boss who (you might even like a lot of the time) has behaviors you wish they would improve–SOON.  And chances are you haven’t told them.

Here’s the real deal. No matter how wonderful you are, I guarantee you, your team is talking about you (in some way that would surprise you) too.

How do I know this? Well, in addition to all the barrage of stories I hear from the companies I work with, the classroom full of MBA students who attended my Managing Difficult People elective all have one thing in common. Despite the advertised name of the class, guess who 100% are there to talk about? Yup. You guessed it. The inapproachable “jerk” who is their boss. As we dig in, he’s never that bad. #justsaying #letmehelp

That’s the spirit behind Winning Well. No one leads in a soul sucking way on purpose.  David Dye and I are on a mission to help you (and your bosses and your direct reports) lead better.

Sure it’s hard. You and your bosses are sandwiched between all kinds of competing priorities. And it’s tricky to think about how to do it right.

But it can also be made much easier by learning some extremely practical tools and techniques (this is a 2 minute video).

I promise you. A little bit of quality leadership development is worth the investment.

If you haven’t downloaded a FREE chapter of Winning Well, accessed the free toolkit, or taken the free online assessment, click here to get started. 

If you just want to talk for an hour (my dime) about why you’re a Winning Well leader or areas you’re looking to improve please contact my awesome assistant, Beth at beth@letsgrowleaders.com and she will get something scheduled.

I know we can help. And we have a wide range of solutions for every budget, including our newly released Winning Well online course.

Ask Don't Tell: 3 Questions That Will Make You a Better Leader

You know that asking the right questions will make you a stronger leader. But it’s hard. Not all questions have the same impact. And it’s risky. You never know what the response will be–which means you need to stay fully present to be helpful.

“When you ask a question you’re giving up some of your power. It means you’re willing to sit in that discomfort for the good of another person’s growth.” -Michael Bungay Stanier

In my continued quest to surround myself and learn from others aligned with the Winning Well philosophy, I had an opportunity to interview Michale Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, & Change the Way You Lead Forever.

3 Questions That Will Make You A Better Leader

1. “What’s On Your Mind?”

Have you ever noticed that’s the prompt that Facebook asks as the invitation to post? It’s so simple. Asking “What’s on your mind?” And then staying quiet and really listening to the answer can be a tremendous gift. Michael shares: “Because it’s open, it invites people to get to the heart of the matter and share what’s really important to them. You’re not telling or guiding them. You’re showing them the trust and granting them the autonomy to make the choice for themselves.”

2. AWE – “And What Else?”

Michael shared that in many circumstances the easy-follow-up, “And what else?” can open the door to deeper conversation. “There are three reasons it has the impact it does: more options can lead to better decisions; you rein yourself in; and you buy yourself time. ” It helps you to stay curious and not jump right into offering advice. The deeper understanding you have of the situation, the more you can discuss viable options.

Let’s play this out.

“What’s on your mind?”
“My boss is such a jerk, he keeps freaking out.”
“Oh, that sounds just terrible. That must be really hard.”
“Yeah.”
“And what else is going on?”
“Well, he’s extra mad this week because I screwed up the spreadsheet.”
“Oh boy, what happened there? (a slightly different version of ‘and what else’).”
“I don’t really know how to do pivot tables.”
“And what else?”
“And I’m not really comfortable with all the formulas.”

And BINGO… you’re down to a solvable problem

3. The Foundation Question– What do you want?

the coaching habitI must say this is my favorite question in his book. Michael shares:

“I sometimes call it the Goldfish Question because it often elicits that response: slightly bugged eyes, and a mouth opening and closing with no sound coming out. Here’s why the question is so difficult to answer. We often don’t know what we actually want. Even if there’s a first fast answer, the question, ‘But what do you really want?’ will often stop people in their tracks.”

Being able to know what we want, articulate it respectfully, and then be willing to accept an answer– know that sometimes it will be “no–is a vital component for having healthy conversation and productive relationships. As a leader, being able to help others identify what they want is a good place to start.

You can learn more about The Coaching Habit and download some additional free tools at thecoachinghabit.com.

How To Create a More Optimistic Workplace

You can’t win well if you’re not optimistic. And one of the most important parts of being a Winning Well leader is inspiring confidence that the scene and results can and will improve–and identifying the vital behaviors to make it so.

Today, I share a video interview with my friend and kindred spirit on the Winning Well journey, Shawn Murphy. Shawn’s book, The Optimistic Workplace, is so completely aligned with Winning Well, that our Kindle version comes with a link to some free chapters of his book.

In this 20 minute interview, Shawn shares a bit about his philosophy as well as practical approaches to making your workplace (or team) more optimistic.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

When a workplace is optimistic you…

  • have hope that something good is going to come from your work.
  • have an understanding of the bigger picture, not just the day to day stuff.
  • focus on what’s possible and what’s right.
  • believe you can make an impact.

“My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.” – Henry Rollins

Optimism starts with confidence that a brighter future is possible, and the humility to know that it’s worth the struggle. David and I are grateful for Shawn and others fighting for healthier workplace climates that lead to lasting results.