Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Language of Really Remarkable Service: Part 1, The Bad News

"Who is the voice of your company, and what are they saying to your customers?"
-- Janet Bartman

In the previous post (below) readers learned how to be as memorable as seeing a purple cow in a field of ordinary brown cows. We discussed the wisdom of learning from business leaders outside your industry. By looking to rainmakers in other industries, their greatness may inspire your greatness in ways your competitors are not thinking about.

So now, you are positioned for greatness. Your messaging is reaching potential customers and you are "a stand out" in the field. New customers arrive. Let me ask you: "Who is the voice of your company, and what are they saying to your customers?" Have you listened?

First, the bad news. Today, in most companies, there are more relaxed communication standards, and this may not meet the level of professionalism you would want your best customers to experience.

Example: I once called and asked to speak to the president of a major bank, and a high-level executive secretary replied, "okey-dokey." While not the end of the world, it set a tone in my mind as a first impression.

Are you self-employed? This is a true story and I shudder whenever I think of it: A few years ago, I called a professional contact on her cell phone during business hours, and her husband answered. When I asked to speak with her, he replied, "She's in the john, honey." Consider your family as an important "voice" of your company and have them participate in your commitment to the language of remarkable service.

Think how often you hear casual slang like, "yeah," "uh-huh," "ok," "sure," "you betcha," or "no problem?"

During the workday, every employee acts as the voice of your company. Have you ever listened to the conversations and client interactions across your entire organization? Take a walk around. Take a note pad along. Do this on a Monday morning and a Friday afternoon.

Who is the true voice of your company, and what are they saying? Are you hearing a consistent professional tone down one hallway and around the corner to the next? Does anything stand out in contrast? Personal outbursts? Gossip about customers while business is occurring with other customers within ear-shot?

How about cursing? It is just my opinion, but cursing is not a privilege like an executive parking space. Nor is it to be used at work the way someone may jokingly bully their siblings or sass their friends. Your workplace is not the same place as the corner bar. During business hours, do your employees understand they are the ambassadors of your company's brand?

Continue your stroll. Are you hearing conversations that exude a calm, professional and informative demeanor? Or do you hear sharp-toned excuses like, "No, I can't do it today" or sarcasm like: "Well, that's just not going to happen!"

Don't despair. The good news is, you can raise the bar by discovering the language of remarkable service. Since virtually no one else has upgraded these skills, you will definitely set your company apart in the minds of your clients and reap the rewards (at least for a few years, until I tell the world on Oprah!)

When I discovered that there is a language of really remarkable service, I discovered you can change an entire company by changing one little word. My next post will reveal what it is.

Janet Bartman is the Communications Director for a large professional membership organization in Spokane. She welcomes your comments.

Next Post: Part 2. "Yes, you can change one little word."

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