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Putting the Focus on Professional Communication

Putting the Focus on Professional Communication

Putting the Focus on Professional Communication

Every business is feeling the pinch of fewer skilled workers available to fill vacancies and a frustrated public that’s losing patience with wait times and more. If ever there was a time to differentiate yourself from your competition, now is it.

Start by encouraging your employees to remain confident and professional throughout every service encounter. While customers may continue to vocalize their frustration, even overshare personal disappointments, the most skilled service teams focus on positivity to deliver professionalism.

There is one communication skill every customer service professional must have: a professional follow-up email. Below you’ll find a practice activity for use as a development tool to writing better communications. 

Top 5 Tips for Correspondence

  1. Keep it clean – avoid using colored text or backgrounds
  2. Be straightforward – avoid using “emoticons” in business correspondence
  3. Know your Vision – avoid including a “slogan” or “quote” in your signature line, unless it speaks to your organization’s vision statement and branding
  4. Who needs to know – avoid sending a “reply all” unless it’s meaningful to all
  5. Watch your tone – avoid using all caps and excessive exclamation points!!!

 If you lead a team of customer service professionals, don’t hesitate to use the Professional Correspondence Activity in interviews, during team coaching, or for individual development.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com

Engaging Partners to Achieve New Heights

Engaging Partners to Achieve New Heights

Engaging Partners to Achieve New Heights

Within any organization, one product tends to be the entry point for the customer relationship. What sets a great manager apart from an average manager is coaching front-line teams how to ensure that this first interaction is not the sole experience the customer has with the organization.

Partnerships within the organization can lead to creating deeper relationships that add financial value and create cultural synergy throughout the organization.
You can improve customer experience impacts with these best practices for “engaging partners.”

  • Set realistic goals for the type and quality of interactions originated by staff and their business partners. The initial focus of these goals should be on activities instead of outcomes to establish the right behaviors.
  • Hold staff accountable by including partnership conversations in regular performance reviews and coaching interactions.
  • Regularly invite business-line partners to join team meetings so that they become part of the sales culture.
  • As staff becomes more comfortable with partnerships, managers can look for opportunities to coach them on increasing the quality and effectiveness of customer interactions that have the potential for partnerships.

Finally, every organization needs to provide training for staff to understand 3 essential things about the business:

  1. What products and services are available to customers?
  2. What does the ideal customer for each business line look like?
  3. How can customers benefit from working with the business line?

To actively promote a culture of partnership, managers must know the answers to the three questions above and encourage staff to individually reach out to each business line—as partners. This proactive outreach can help staff members increase their own knowledge and begin to build relationships that provide tremendous value to customers.

Business lines outside of the entry point for customer relationships are more likely to gain customer referrals when they can build solid partnerships with staff. Referrals work both ways. Strong partnerships within the organization can bring a broader offering of capabilities to each customer and increased revenue possibilities for the company.

For a sample training worksheet on Engaging Partners, excerpted from our Service Excellence Workshop, email krisr@cf-pm.com or visit the contact us page on www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Prioritizing Initiatives in Human Resources

Prioritizing Initiatives in Human Resources

Prioritizing Initiatives in Human Resources

In 2020, Human Resources professionals were asked to manage workloads and priorities they never imagined. As the demands of a world-wide pandemic radically altered the workplace and workforce, HR professionals supported critical system upgrades, annual benefits reviews and more. The role of Human Resources is increasingly imperative to the organization’s success.

Perhaps your organization has relied on HR to do more than its fair share. After all, in most organizations, it is responsible for the following:

  • Recruiting and Staffing
  • Health and Safety
  • Training and Development
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Labor and Employee Relations

Certainly, recruitment, staffing, training and employee relations are areas where managers rely heavily on HR to support their individual and workgroup success. But, who helps HR prioritize this support as opposed to its other important responsibilities?

Your leadership team can quickly assess four significant areas that impact your organization’s culture and ultimately, its financial success. Using Center for Practical Management’s Assessment Tool, the organization can identify gaps in its support of critical Human Resource functions and create a groundswell of energy and enthusiasm for key initiatives.

Moreover, you can benchmark your organization against our other clients to see how you compare. The Assessment is free. If you would like to learn more about our training programs and consulting services, please visit our website www.cf-pm.com.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com. Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company

Why I Write in Pencil

Why I Write in Pencil

Why I Write in Pencil

Recently, while on an airplane traveling to a client, a seatmate (before the times of social distancing) asked about the #2 pencil in my hand. Why don’t I use a pen? What about a mechanical pencil? What’s the deal – are you just a “kid at heart?” 

I pondered these questions for several days. The truth is I write with a pencil because of the following: 

  • I make mistakes. I often do.
  • I can be wrong. I sometimes am.
  • I change my mind. I get to do that.

In the year of 2020, using a pencil was certainly an advantage. None of us could have anticipated how our organization’s strategies and tactics would have to adapt and shift, and how rapidly.

A nimble company can be defined as one that reacts and responds appropriately to a changing environment and remains viable and successful. Consider the following three aspects for your leadership and agility: 

  1. Technology and Tools – Are you able to adapt your use of technology and tools to deliver customer value quickly and incrementally when the current delivery models change? An agile leader invests when and where it’s appropriate to meet the needs of customers and colleagues.
  2. Systems and Processes – Are you continuously evolving and improving the work group, even when nothing is changing? A nimble leader makes quick decisions (even if he/she needs a pencil later) to support the prioritization of projects that continuously improve systems and processes.
  3. Culture and Leadership – Are you leading your work group in ways that are consistent with your values and that of the organization? Does your team know what you stand for? And, most importantly, do you trust the team’s ability to do the work based on the understanding of vision and values? You won’t know if you’ve made a mistake and you won’t know if you’re wrong, unless you make it safe for team members to speak their mind. 

Writing with a pencil allows you to live out truths about your leadership. The pencil allows you to correct mistakes and to shift your course when changes occur. 

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Staying on Track in Times of Change

Staying on Track in Times of Change

Staying on Track in Times of Change

Change is never easy and leading a team through course corrections like staff restructuring or system revamps can certainly present challenges. Typically, when confronted with change, our natural reaction is to worry and stress about what we don’t know or understand.

However, when global events impact our lives (such as today’s Covid19 health crisis), worry and stress become unprecedented. How do leaders keep teams calm? How do they keep them on track?  

To our retail clients and business associates, we know that operational issues to protect customers, communities and colleagues are at the forefront of your daily life. We’d like to offer management tips as you move forward in this time of great change. 

First and foremost, two-way conversations are important. People are dealing with three, wide-ranging emotional reactions to the pandemic: worry, stress, anxiety.  Worry happens in your mind. Stress happens in your body. Anxiety happens in your mind and your body. In small doses, worry and stress can be positive forces in our lives. But, it’s likely you and those around you are experiencing more than small doses at this time. 

Here are some conversation starters to engage others in two-way conversation and help to mitigate stress:

  • What are you feeling with respect to the actions that have been taken to protect you (and our customers)?
  • What makes these feelings an unproductive response? (results in worry)
  • How does resistance impede your ability to adapt? (worry helps people solve problems; resistance means the person is “stressed.”)
  • Why does acceptance of changes in our social lives feel like a compromise to you? 
  • What are the benefits of collective engagement (we’re all in this together) in adapting to change?

Center for Practical Management offers some activities to help navigate the coming weeks:

  • Write the worries down. Research shows that just 8-10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts. Sharing worries in a team setting allows people to know that are not alone; it gives voice to their concerns. 
  • Encourage each other to come up with at least one “next step” or action to take. This can be done in collaboration if working with/on a team.
  • Allow people in your life an amount of time each day for their worry. Once the time is up (say 10 minutes), consciously redirect thoughts. 
  • Stay in the present. Understand that right now most worries are health concerns. However, some people have already moved forward to “what’s next?” This may be worries about layoffs, loss of wages, and investment portfolios. Stay focused on the now. Think forward in two-week increments. 
  • Recognize the uncontrollable. Identify which worries on your list are within your control, not in your control. Again, seeing this on paper can often help you manage stress—turning it to productive action.
  • Resist comparing your stress with others’. Each of us will experience stress differently, including the stress of working from home; not working at all; not meeting goals because customers are staying home, etc. Above all, be realistic with expectations of each other in this time of change. For example, working from home has implications. Is their space at home for this? Childcare options? Ability to limit distractions. 

Leadership decisions now can positively and productively create a very unexpected outcome in the weeks ahead: higher levels of employee engagement through different, perhaps better ways to work collaboratively. 

Stay well and be healthy.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com