Day 43 of 60:
Drama and reality shows... who needs to watch it on TV when you have teenage girls?
Having 5 daughters who went through those "interesting" teenage years taught me some great communication lessons.
Here are the top 3 things my teens taught me about customer service:
1. How you say something can make all the difference in the world. I learned to ask questions instead of "tell" or give my opinion - especially when it wasn't asked for! For example, when one of them would complain about having to help do something, I would simply ask, "How do you think this could be done and still get the same results?" A person cannot be positive and negative at the same time. This question drives the other person to consider options and solutions, which is a positive response. They feel more involved. And although they still may not like doing whatever the task was, they feel like they had some say and do it with much less complaining.
How does this apply to customers or clients? When they have a complaint, ask how they would like you to solve the issue. Then be quiet, just listen. The customer will be surprised at your response. Generally they will be much more reasonable in agreeing to a solution.
2. Set boundaries. If you give them an inch, they'll push for a mile. Learning to honor boundaries and teaching them how to set their own boundaries is a wonderful gift we can give our children. Parents don't have to be (and shouldn't be) doormats. I learned early not to tell our children "no" unless it was dangerous and they could get hurt. The less I said "no", the less they had to rebel against. But we still had rules, curfews, etc. So when one of them would ask if they could do something they knew was outside the "boundaries", I responded, "I'm not comfortable with that. How can YOU tweak it so we're both comfortable?" This put the responsibility back on them to come up with a solution we could both live with. As a result, they learned wonderful life skills: negotiation, problem solving, and persuasion.
Sometimes we have clients or customers who want to push our boundaries - appts after our actual business hours, calling us last minute and expecting us to drop everything in order to accommodate their lack of planning, discounts, etc. Or those annoying people who want us to share all of our information for free... Adopt the phrase, "I'm not really comfortable with that. How can YOU tweak so we are both comfortable?" is a very diplomatic way of maintaining boundaries.
3. Use your ammunition sparingly. You only have so much ammo in your "gun", so be careful how you use it. You could also refer to this as "crying wolf". In our home, we talked and joked in regular voices. Even when I was asking them to help with something, I would "ask" politely, even though they knew it wasn't really an "ask". That was just a polite way of telling them to do it. When I used my "firm" or "loud" voice, they paid more attention because it wasn't overused. I tried to save it for the really BIG things. If you yell all the time, it's like crying "wolf" too often. No one pays attention when it's very important, serious, or urgent.
Our goal as parents is to raise our children to be independent, self-sufficient, and contributing members of society.
Our goal as business owners is to groom our clients and customers to honor themselves and us by following certain rules that will make working together work better for all of us. There are enough people who want to do business the way you want to do business. When you focus on them, you'll build a profitable, sustainable business that makes all of you happy!