I would like to tell two very different stories about customer service that have helped shape my own philosophy.
Story One: Steve
In January 2018, I took my son to Lismore for a cricket carnival. Most of the families who had travelled from the Illawarra stayed at the one hotel. As it was January, it was hot. At the end of each day, we would return to the hotel, and parents and kids would get in the pool to cool off. The last day of the carnival was no exception with regard to the weather. It was well on its way to 35 degrees as all the families checked out of the hotel, filled up their eskies with ice and headed off to the final match. We knew the game would finish around 2 pm, during the heat of the day, and we all knew we had a long journey back to Wollongong that afternoon, a prospect we were not looking forward to. As the match got underway, I received a message from the owner of our hotel inviting us all to come back to the hotel for a swim in the pool to cool off before we started our journeys home. This lifted our spirits considerably, and after the match, some of us took the owner up on his offer.
Thank you, Steve, from the AZA Hotel in Lismore. You are a champion.
Story 2: ‘Trish’
Story two goes like this. A couple of years ago, based on a recommendation, I enlisted the services of a web designer. For the sake of this story, let’s call her Trish. While my initial engagement with Trish was positive, I soon found myself chasing her for updates on progress. She was very quick to send invoices and indicate that she wouldn’t commence work until I had paid the invoice, but not as fast to respond to support requests. At one stage Trish admitted she had forgotten to complete some work for me as she was about to close down her business and go and work for someone else. She then finished the job and sent me a note advising I had one-month after-sales service, after which I was on my own. I did have a couple of issues with the site and contacted Trish. To one of the inquiries I received a short response with a link to a tutorial and to the other I received no answer but eventually observed the issue had been resolved.
Needless to say, I do not recommend Trish and at one point actively discouraged a peer from using her. I now recommend someone else when it comes to web design.
For Steve, it cost him nothing other than a little bit of his time, access to some change rooms and the laundering of a few extra towels to make a bunch of kids and adults very happy. The effect is that he has people recommending him and his hotel for many years to come and repeat business.
For Trish, she closed down her business to work for someone else. Time invested in knowing what her clients needed, rather than seeing them just as a source of income, could have generated the same effect as Steve’s action.
If you are in the business of providing a service to customers, there’s a good chance a cost-efficient, or even cost-neutral way exists of ‘going the extra mile’ for them, demonstrating you have a true customer focus. For me, as a coach, that focus is demonstrated by being available. If my clients want to talk to me in between formal sessions, then I allocate time to do that. I also check in with them when I know they have something important going on that we have discussed in the session. The feedback I get is that they appreciate knowing they are supported and that I am there for them when they need it.
How do you value add to your customers? Please leave your comments below and share your tips for making your clients feel valued.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of leadership, coaching or mentoring, or maximising your potential, then please feel free to contact me at Campbell Leadership Solutions.
I was talking to a client this week about taking the perspective of others.
I’ve written about this before … twice.
At one point he gave me an example that drove it home for me. It was such an obvious example of the importance of taking other’s perspectives that I can’t believe I hadn’t heard it, seen it, or thought of something similar before.
He told me the story of the airline hostess and the passenger.
If you’ve heard or read this one before then bear with me, please.
I don’t know how many flights in a day a member of an airline’s crew does but the way the story was told to me this particular hostess was not on her first. She was tired. She had been dealing with passengers all day, and she was a little irritated.
The customer had rung the attendant call bell and asked for something. Not being completely on her game the hostess had been a little short with the customer.
For the customer, this was her first flight … ever … and she was very excited about it.
Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of both those people. How would the behaviour of each have impacted on the other?
Imagine the enthusiasm and expectations of the passenger.
Imagine how much the hostess must have been longing for home after a long day at work.
What might you have done in either of their situations?
There are many interpretations of this story and many different scenarios you could apply this type of situation too:
- The experienced lecturer and the eager student.
- The restaurant waiter and the patron who has had a booking for a month for this particular restaurant.
- The tired parent and the excited child.
What examples do you have?
For me, this brought home, again, the importance of taking other people’s perspectives. We deal with people every day, and we have an opportunity to leave a lasting impact on people. This was reinforced as I listened to the Tim Ferriss podcast interview with Adam Robinson this week. They talked about how “Suffering is an excessive focus on ourselves.” When we focus on others, we are the happier for it. And when we take other people’s perspectives we learn, and we develop our ability to deal with complexity by expanding our world view.
We make interpretations of events based on our experiences. Those experiences shape how we judge others. Once we have formed judgements, it then becomes difficult to suspend those beliefs and see things from others perspectives. But it can be done.
I’ve talked before about being curious about people. What does that look like? Ask yourself things about the other person like what jobs they’ve had, what their family circumstances might be like, what’s important to them, what might have just happened that has shaped that behaviour.
What other questions would you ask?
There are a couple of points to note when doing this.
- Firstly, come up with multiple options. Your first answer may or may not be correct. A variety of answers gives you more information with which to form your understanding.
- Secondly, consider options that are radically different to your world view. Allow yourself to be inclusive. Have new ideas.
- Finally, prepare to be wrong.
If you follow the steps above you have will have a hypothesis and a mindset that will allow you to engage with people, learn from and about them, and increase your ability to connect.
Curiosity will lead to connections which can increase our ability to build relationships. If we have a relationship with someone then we can influence them. If we can influence them then we can lead.
And leadership is the key to thriving.
So, that is my ramble done for this week. What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or does your opinion lie somewhere in the middle? I would love to get your feedback and your thoughts.
If you would like to discuss the concepts discussed in this article, or any topics relating to leadership, please feel free to get in contact with us here at Campbell Leadership Solutions. We would like to talk to you about how we may be of assistance.
And finally, thank you for reading and leading.
As a kid, I loved reading fiction. Specifically, I liked science fiction and fantasy. Ever since I picked up a copy of ‘The Hobbit’ I devoured anything like it I could find. That habit started to change about 15 years ago. While I would still read a little of this genre, my attention turned to books on military history, strategy and leadership. This was not unexpected noting my recent career. Regular followers of my blog will recognise that this time coincided with my newfound insight on leadership.
Over the last year, my attention has returned partially to the mystical and magical. I now actively try and read a few pages of something that I call ‘chewing gum for the brain’ before I go to bed at night. There are a couple of benefits. Firstly, it stops me looking at a computer, laptop or phone before I go to sleep. I’m sure we can all put our hands on a study detailing the benefits of ‘switching off’ before turning in for the night. Secondly, it takes my mind off work and allows me to immerse in an imaginary world. The neuroscientists will tell you there is a benefit to allowing your conscious mind to have a rest and your non-conscious mind to process all the important things that happened throughout the day.
Please, if you can think of other benefits then share them with the rest of us. I don’t own all the expertise here. Remember, this is just my ramble.
Lately, I have been reading a series of books that you will most likely find in the young adult section of the bookshop. It’s the “Ranger’s Apprentice” series by John Flanagan. My eldest daughter read the first of the series at high school. I read it also so I could discuss it with her. It’s an easy and entertaining read with some good lessons for teenagers along the way. I enjoyed it so much I continued to read the sequels.
A few nights ago, I read the following passage from book six of the series:
It’s certainly had me thinking over the last few days. I’m meant to be working on a blog about bookending your day with planning and reflection, but this thought had my attention, and I decided I needed to get some ideas on paper (or a screen).
When I start with a new client, and I ask them what they think coaching is, we tend to get into a conversation about the difference between coaching and mentoring. The purists will tell you that mentoring is about someone who is on the same path as you, though further ahead, offering advice about their journey in the hope that it might inform yours. While coaching, on the other hand, is about asking questions that allow you to surface new levels of insight and self-awareness to make better decisions about what your goals are and how to achieve them. There is one branch of thought that argues if you are a coach you should never give advice.
For those of you out there who have been coaches and mentors, either formal or informal, I wonder what your thoughts are on this subject.
Personally, I think that, as a coach, I need to work with my client. I need to “meet them where they are at”, a line any coach who has done any level of formal training will have heard. Coaching and mentoring is a collaborative endeavour. It’s about working together with your coachee or mentee to achieve whatever developmental goals they have set for themselves. The thing to remember is it’s not my journey. While I might, indeed I do, learn a lot from working with every single one of my clients, I have to remember, I can only ask questions and help guide. I can’t make decisions for them. Sometimes, the toughest part of being a coach, mentor or parent is about letting your “client” go through individual experiences themselves. It’s our job as coaches and leaders to have the discussions that allow our people to learn from those experiences.
Anyway, ramble done for now. It’s over to you. What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or fall somewhere in between on these thoughts?
So that we might all learn together, please feel free to leave your comments below. If you would like to discuss this, or any concept around leadership or behavioural change, then please feel free to get in contact with us here at Campbell Leadership Solutions.
Thank you for reading and leading.
p.s. Thank you very much to my nephew, Sam, for the loan of your books. I promise I will return them soon. 😉
I am excited about this series of blog posts called Campbell Rambles. Someone close to me has commented about how she likes the way I ramble on when I am trying to get my thoughts straight around an idea. I’m sure many of you have done the same.
Well, I thought it time to put a ramble or two (or three) into print. These posts are not designed to be the solutions to all your problems, although there will be suggestions along the way. They are merely a collection of thoughts about a particular topic that I have been pondering. My hope is that something in these rambles will generate new thinking and new questions for you.
Disclaimer up front: They won’t be as well structured as other posts, and the grammar will be ‘less than ideal’ to quote a friend of mine. My aim will also be to keep them short so that they are easily digestible. This one will be a bit longer as I introduce the concept.
So, let’s begin.
I saw this quote the other day, and it resonated with me:
I’m sure it’s not a new quote for a lot of people but it was the first time I had seen it, and it’s been present in my thoughts for a few days now. It’s certainly changed my attitude as I go to the gym or for a walk along the beach at home. I am now curious as to what my body can achieve rather than focussing on just “getting fit” (Whatever that looks like).
I don’t know who was the original author of the quote. I’m not sure if they intended any additional meaning behind the message but, if there was some subliminal text it might look something like:
“Celebrate the life that you have. Enjoy it. Don’t beat yourself up for every little mistake.”
What do you think? Am I reading too much into it?
What if we were to apply the quote to our careers? It would then read:
“Your career should be a demonstration of what you can achieve, not something that you do because you have to.”
As I write this, I am aware that many people don’t feel in control of their careers:
- “My boss is a control freak. I don’t have any autonomy.”
- “I have a mortgage to pay. I just can’t go and work for myself.”
These are common objections I hear when I am talking to clients about taking control of their lives. These are the people for whom it’s about “going to work because they have to.” They don’t enjoy what they do, and they feel like slaves to the machine.
I say to my clients frequently that many things are simple but not necessarily easy. I also talk about “growing pains” – the discomfort that comes with change. If you want to “celebrate what you can achieve”, some growing pains are necessary.
There are no easy answers. Approaching the controlling boss takes courage. Quitting what you’re doing and doing what you love involves risk. That said there are some small steps to help you get started and build momentum:
- Engage the services of a coach or seek out a mentor to discuss what your current issues are. You don’t have to make any changes at this point, but another perspective can help;
- Do the sums on what you need to live. Ryan Holiday, author of “Ego is the Enemy” and “The Obstacle is the Way” says “If you don’t know how much you need, the default quickly becomes ‘more.'” When you know how much you need, you can make more informed decisions about what you can do;
- Get curious about what others in your situation have done. Perhaps there are some lessons you can learn from others you can apply;
- Think about where you want to be ten years from now. 20 years. What do you want people to be saying about you when you’re gone? What do you want your legacy to be? Then look at where you are now and figure out what the first small step is that you need to take. Remember, any small step in the right direction is a step in the right direction.
There is another quote that has just come to mind as I write this …
“Freedom is on the other side of fear.”
Get curious about what is holding you back and investigate that. You might find that there is a whole new world that opens up once you can put a name to your fear.
And then celebrate what you can do. If we want to find meaning in our lives, I think we have to get out of survival mode and reflect on what we are capable of achieving. Let’s stop punishing ourselves for the decisions we have made up to this point or the mistakes we might have made. Let’s change the mindset. Let’s show others (and ourselves) what we can do. Let’s start making decisions, that while difficult, may prove rewarding.
I’ve rambled long enough. What do you think?
I hope you enjoyed the first of these Campbell Rambles. At this stage, they won’t be a regular post. I will publish as something I feel important comes to mind. If you don’t want to miss out on them, then head to the Campbell Leadership Solutions web page and sign up as a member of the Campbell Leadership Clan.