Transformation begins with small but mighty changes.

Looking at Culture

It is important for each of us to step back and look at our organizational culture. What does it look like for a customer? Is it friendly and welcoming? Have you considered asking a visitor?

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Encourage Work Friendships

When people start a new job they are experiencing a transition; they’re introduced to a new role, coworkers, and environment. Paying special attention to a new hire’s first several months can positively influence their chance for success with your organization. Consider incorporating opportunities for new hires to bond with current employees and start developing friendships. Having work friendships is important, they help us feel connected and therefore motivated and productive. Gallup research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.

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Commit to Connecting

If the months keep passing and you keep forgetting to connect with customers, use your calendar to establish a cadence for connecting. Set a 30 minute appointment on the same day of each month and use that time to schedule your connections. Then, treat the appointments as sacred events on your calendar. Avoid canceling and adjust the number of appointments each month, as you learn what works best for you.

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How Can You Exceed Customer Expectations?

Start by asking your customers. Find out what their expectations are, and probe customers for ways your organization can improve the customer experience. Your current customers have the best insight into your customer experience, and asking for their feedback will make them feel valued and important. Don’t forget to thank them for their input.

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Lead by Example

Passively deal with a difficult employee by choosing to lead by example. You can’t expect others to act in ways you aren’t willing to yourself, and a positive role model just may be the push the difficult employee needs to change their behavior. Start role modeling by:

  • Using clear, consistent communication at all times.
  • Follow-up while working on projects.
  • Follow-through to meet your deadlines and commitments.
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Unmistakable Recognition

Remember to recognize those providing unmistakable value in your organization. This recognition can be as simple as a shout-out during the next team meeting. Recognizing an employee’s commitment to being unmistakably valuable to stakeholders encourages more of this behavior and mindset across the team.

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Engaged Employees Inspire Loyal Customers

Employees who are engaged are more likely to be enthusiastic and emotionally attached to their work. They are fully committed to the organization and more likely to go above and beyond to provide excellent service. A positive employee experience directly enhances the customer’s experience, after all, it is your employees who create the customer experience. Take action by implementing one recommendation for increasing engagement on your team this week.

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Analyze Your Complaints

Keep track of the complaints you receive and respond to. Every 6 months revisit that list and make note of the complaints that arise the most. Ask your team and yourself if there is a barrier in the process or if there is a change that can be made to decrease the most common complaints.

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You Get To

Stop yourself from thinking you “have” to do something, and start thinking about things like you “get” to do them. This shift in perspective supports a positive and grateful mindset.

For Example: I have to take the kids to school daily. Becomes: I get to spend extra time with my children each morning driving them to school safely in my vehicle. 

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Master Storytellers

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to harvest stories for your organization. Whether the story is from a customer and can be used for marketing purposes, or from an employee and can be used to showcase company values, good organizations make an effort to collect and distribute these stories. Make it your goal to harvest at least 1 story per week.

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Treat Every Interaction as a First Impression

It is often the small things that we remember during our experiences as a customer that form our long-term perception of an organization. Make every interaction a positive one, no matter how quick or seemingly insignificant it may be. You never know when a small gesture will make a big impact.

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There is Always Time for a Smile

Next time you’re rushing to that next meeting, look up and give the people you’re zooming past a smile or a quick hello. The difference it could make to their day, and your own, is bigger than you might anticipate.

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What We Permit We Promote

When you see or hear someone that is not adhering to the standards, speak up. At the same time compliment those that are living the values and mission of the organization and encourage others to recognize values-driven behavior as well. As a leader, you are not only obligated to live your mission, vision and values, you are responsible for ensuring others do as well.

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Get a Team Together

If your organization doesn’t have a peer interview team, determine how you can start assembling the right team for your next hiring process. If you have a team in place, consider adding new tools to make the process a smooth success.

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Utilize AIDET in Many Situations

AIDET® is a valuable tool for all types of interactions. Elements of AIDET® do not have to be delivered in any specific order, nor do all of the elements have to be included in every interaction. You can use AIDET for a brief introduction, to set expectations, or even to reduce anxiety. The possibilities are endless.

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Expressing Gratitude Becomes Contagious

Openly thank employees and provide specifics about why you are thanking them, or send them a “thank you” note. Place a “thank you” sticky note with specific feedback on someone’s desk or computer. Bring someone a cup of coffee from time to time or ask a colleague how you can be helpful to them.

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Serving with Excellence

Movement to excellence is first seen in our interactions with internal and external customers. This means we speak to people in the hall, or as soon as they approach our desk or office area. The tone of our voice is pleasant, and our intention from the beginning is to meet the needs of the customer by listening first, delivering the best possible experience, and providing something extra. This extra may not occur all the time, but often enough that it makes a difference.

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Define Service Standards

Service excellence is about providing high-quality service to both internal and external “customers.” Leaders must define what excellent service looks like. They must also make sure they have best-place-to-work standards that define the way people are expected to behave in their work environment. Does your organization have clearly defined standards in order to deliver aligned services?

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If It Isn’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Sometimes when new leaders are getting started in their role, they feel pressure to make changes, get quick results, and prove their worth. The most successful new leaders, however, know to focus instead on building trust and relationships with the individuals they work with and lead. As a new leader emphasize:

  • Learning the organization’s pace and norms
  • Focusing on identifying short term priorities, and making note of focus areas for the next year and the following year
  • Empathy and Compassion. Change often makes people uncomfortable, avoid making sudden changes especially during your first 100 days
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Remove Service Barriers

The number one complaint customers cite is the difficulty of resolving their problems. Analyze your customer service process. Are there obstacles your customers must face to resolve their issue? How can you make it easier for customers to have their complaints resolved?

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Provide Value to Your Network

Who do you know that could benefit from being introduced to another professional? How can you improve your relationships by connecting people or providing them value in some way? Think about what you can do to make a deposit in the emotional bank account of individuals in your network, then act.

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Consult Current Employees

While creating job descriptions or new job roles, ask your current employees for their opinions and feedback. It’s likely that current team members have a unique perspective on what a role will require and what skills the company should be looking for.

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Re-Connect with an Old Friend

Reach out to a colleague at a previous job, an old friend from college, or someone else you’ve lost contact with. Spend time listening and catching up. The sole purpose of this connection is to start rebuilding your relationship. Listen for ways you can be helpful or provide value to your old friend and then follow through.

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Find Ways to Be An Owner

Seek out ownership opportunities within your organization. You don’t need a specific role or job title to be an owner. Adopt a “that’s my job” mindset. Be willing to help and execute in areas other than your assigned responsibilities.

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Design a Gratitude System

While everyone will appreciate a random act of gratitude, to ensure gratitude is a part of the culture, a system must be in place for expressing gratitude. Some ideas include: peer-nominated opportunities for employees who go above an beyond, establishing a gratitude station for thank you notes, ending each meeting with time for gratitude, etc. What system can you establish for your team or organization?

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Service Sets You Apart

Think from your customer’s point of view; what does your organization do to provide its customers with unmistakable value? How do your employees create loyal stakeholders? Do you see room for improvement?

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Standards Guide

Standards of service describe what it looks like when we are living our values. The standards guide employees on how they should treat each other and those they serve. To create standards, start with what the organization’s values and define those values. Next, determine what behaviors and actions align to living those values with our stakeholders. Finally, share the standards with your teams.

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Commit to Mentorship

Becoming a mentor shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a big commitment. Mentors ensure professional development happens at the right pace and the individual has the right tools to succeed. They devote their time, energy, and accumulated knowledge to inspire mentees towards their goals. Before you agree to become a mentor, consider whether you’re able to make the commitment to the relationship your mentee deserves.

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Culture of Care

Employees who feel that they’re cared about by their leader are far more likely to be engaged with their daily work and continue to work for the organization. Listen to individuals, tell them why you value them, and have empathy for their situations.

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Reflect on Service

Gather data from your customers and front-end employees about their service experience with your organization. Listen to the feedback and analyze it to identify themes. Then discuss this information with your teams and brainstorm ideas to improve the experience. Choose 1-3 actions for improvement and decide which team members will own them.

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Satisfaction Surveys

How do you know your stakeholders are satisfied? The best way is to ask. Create a stakeholder feedback survey and distribute it to customers, clients, the community, parents, etc., to gather essential data used for decision making and future success.

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Happy Employees = Happy Customers

Focusing on recognition creates a positive culture to work in, and a positive experience for employees and stakeholders. When a customer interaction involves a transfer to another team or department, tell the customer at least one positive thing about the other department or team member.
For example: ‘We appreciate your patience, John. I want to introduce you to Cheryl, who is going to provide you with support today. She is our best listener and I know you will be pleased with her detailed nature.’

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Harvest Stories

Ask team members to participate in sharing their ‘connect to purpose’ stories regularly – weekly/monthly meetings, all company emails, and during quarterly or yearly leadership development institutes or strategy sessions. Keep a collection of these stories to share with your organization’s newbies and those that need a little reminder of how their work makes a difference.

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Encourage a Welcoming Culture

Have a plan in place for welcoming new team members. Don’t allow them to wander alone on their first day. Let them know where to park, how to dress, what the lunch policies are and, if possible, partner the newbie with a seasoned team member to show them around the office and introduce them to all of their coworkers. Ask your team to contribute their ideas for welcoming new members.

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Recognition Team

Establish a service team of individuals who are responsible for creating reward and recognition programs and ideas for your organization. Individuals respond differently to various forms of recognition. By using a team to create reward and recognition programs there will be a greater variety of them.

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What is Their Preference?

Do your customers prefer an email or a phone call? Do they prefer 1 email a week, or 1 email a month? Learn your customers’ preferences and use the information to ensure they’re engaged the way they prefer.

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Use Strategy to Inspire

Celebrating success maintains the focus for improvement and provides others with stories of success. Listening to the “why” of success during a strategy meeting may provide others with strategy or process improvement ideas.

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Finding Meaning

All of us want to be a key player on a team that achieves something meaningful. Take time today to connect your team to the deeper purpose of the work you do. Reveal a deeper meaning behind your business strategy and actions the team carries out on a daily basis.

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