How to Greet Customers


Effective Criticism with a Compliment Sandwich


Moment of Truth for Business: Answering the Phone

3 Surefire Customer Connectors


“A relationship is at the heart of every transaction.” Jack Mitchell, “Hug the Customer”

Regularly use these 3 connectors and people will be describing you as “… a great conversationalist.” As well, they’ll leave you looking forward to the next time they’ll be doing business with you. You will have lifted their spirits.

The 3 Connectors

1. Use their preferred name– Don’t call me “Richard”, Only telemarketers do that. Anyone who knows me calls me “Dick”. Yes, “Richard” is my given name, but I don’t use the name except when necessary. Learn, remember and use the customer’s preferred name and make sure everyone else on the team does the same. Use of the wrong name is a disconnect for you and your business.

If the customer has an appointment, it’s easy to check the records beforehand for a refresher. Use all the technology and gimmicks you have to assure that the information is easily available to everyone. To assist others on your team, when handing-off the customer to another staff person, do it by name. It sounds like this- “Dick great to see you again, our Vice President Mary will assist you from here.”

2. Know their passion– Learn, remember and ask about the customer’s current passion. What’s their biggest interest right now? It may be a hobby, grandchildren, a sick relative or a new car. “So Dick, how’s that new grandson, Lincoln, doing?”

3. Avoid telling your own story– Once you ask about my passion, whether I’m an introvert or extrovert, I’ll have plenty to say. This is not the time to tell me about your similar passion or experience. Don’t make the conversation about you. Focus on the customer.

If you do these three connectors well and regularly, you’ll create a personal magnetism and trust that other people will be attracted to.

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

There’s a Hero in You!


“I think a hero is any person who is really intent on making this a better place for all people.” Maya Angelou


Could you be a hero, the one who runs into the burning building and saves the trapped child? Even with great intentions, not everyone could do it. It takes…

commitment to the cause, mastery of the skills, and strength to perform the task.

Burning buildings aren’t the only places where heroes are needed. Relational fires can also do a lot of damage and can burn and scar victims. A hero here can also save a life.

Being a hero in the midst of a relational fire requires you to have the same 3 elements as in the blazing building. First of all, it takes commitment to the cause. If, in the midst of a fiery disagreement you recognize that the most important goal is to save the relationship, then you’re well on your way to saving the day.

Alternatively, if you’ve determined that the most important outcome is to win the argument, or have your way, then you’re not likely to be the hero. In fact, you are more likely to add fuel to the blaze and increase the damage.

Relational challenges are also like the fire emergency in that once you’ve decided what you want to accomplish, you then need to trust your mastery of the skills so you do and say the right things, avoid the flames, and lead the victims to safe ground. To be ready when the challenge comes, you need to develop mastery of the skills before the fire starts.

Relationally, this means learning to listen with empathy, speak with compassion, confront with sensitivity, forgive with grace and apologize with healing. Here’s a free video on how to apologize with healing. With these skills mastered, you will have greater confidence in your ability to walk into the heated debate. But do you have the fortitude to actually do it?

You can have a commitment to the cause, mastery of the skills, but fail in fulfilling the mission if you lack the strength to perform the task. In the fire story, if you enter the burning building with a weak back and little upper body strength, the odds of being a hero are slim. You’re more likely to be knocked down by the heat of the fire, become dazed and have to be rescued yourself. The same is true in relational challenges.

If you enter the fray with poor self-esteem you’re not likely to be the hero. You won’t have the strength to stand strong and perform the task. Your ego is likely to crumble under the first hot blast of criticism. To perform like a hero you’ve got to have enough confidence to set your own needs aside. You want your focus to be on the goal of saving the relationship. My earlier post may be helpful to you.

So, first take care of your personal stability, then learn the skills, and wait for the next fire. Be the hero!

3 Ways to Escape a Gasbag


Gasbags? The extreme gasbags are the verbal terrorists of our social world. They’re friendly and peace-loving, but they do take hostages for up to an hour or more.

Their primary mission is to talk, whether you want to hear what they say or not. They do at least 80% of the talking in any situation, and often see themselves as “…friendly…” and having the “…gift of gab.” They will often answer questions directed to others and, if you pause for a breath, they will complete your sentences for you. Once they get your ear, you’ll be held hostage for an extended period of time. Eventually, you’ll become desperate for a way to escape.

Here are 3 ways to gracefully gain your freedom:

1. Tag Team– This is where you divert the focus of your abductor to a nearby victim with a comment like, “Joe, you gotta hear what Marv has to say.” Marv’s attention and verbal onslaught shifts to Joe and you’re free to quietly slip away. You can apologize to Joe later.

2. Exit Stage Right– A gasbag doesn’t pause to breathe. He’s mastered the art of speaking on an inhale or an exhale. Neither is he likely to ask for your thoughts. So, if you’re to speak, you must look for an opportunity to snatch the mike from him. Keep in mind that this isn’t so you can give your side of the story, but so that you can engineer your escape. The gasbag isn’t really interested in what you think, anyway. Here’s how you get the mike.

Try a touch on the shoulder or elbow, or a searching glance over the gasbag’s shoulder, this can cause the talker to briefly pause. Now you quickly take control of the mike and begin speaking. As you talk, you also start to move toward an exit, but don’t stop talking or take a breath until you’ve either disappeared from sight or said something like, “Sorry, I’ve got to run.”

3. Buddy System– This is prearranged with someone else who has learned to recognize when you’ve been “captured.” They then either call, text or interrupt you with something that “…needs your immediate attention.” You say to your captor, “Marv, sorry, but I need to tend to this right away.” The release is reluctantly made.

These techniques are short term solutions and don’t deal with the heart of the problem.

Gasbags are usually well-intentioned people who don’t have a clue that their verbosity creates relational tensions that hinder them socially and keep them from leadership positions. Excessive talkers aren’t seen as an asset on decision making boards and committees. As a caring friend you can help your verbal buddy. Here’s the best long-term solution.

Develop a caring and honest relationship with the individual so that you can have a frank dialogue about the talking issue. Unfortunately, such candor, even between close friends, is rare and seldom done with confidence and sensitivity, but it can be done. Learn more here….

Of course, there will be those times when you’ll sense that this person who is going on and on has a need that calls for you to sacrifice your time and really listen to them. Effective listening is a great way to show love and caring.

But maybe you’re the gasbag. How can you tell? Ask a loving friend who’s a straight shooter if he thinks you talk too much. If in the subsequent conversation, you do most of the talking, you’re a gasbag.

I hope that I didn’t go on too long with this piece. You don’t suppose I could be a gasbag, do you?

Get Stable or Get Hurt


“…you will be able to go from an individual hoping for a future to an individual making your future happen.”…”It’s your time; It’s your turn.” – Dr Phil

Might it be time for you to stop trying to fix everyone else’s life and instead stabilizing your own? You’ll never be able to live up to your potential, without a reasonable degree of …

Personal Stability – If you’re not on solid ground as a person, you’re starting from a position of imbalance that limits your ability to think about others and can be unsettling to those you’re in relationship with or to those you are responsible to lead.You become unpredictable to those around you.

Without PS, you will be blown around by the needs of your own aches and pains, the opinions of others and your own unsettled and negative thoughts. Check out your PS. Consider your health in each of these areas- body, mind and spirit.

Body How are you feeling? What do your health numbers tell you? Have you had a good physical in the past year and, if you have, are you working toward the goals that your Doc pointed you to? Are you exercising regularly? Do you have an accountability partner?

Mind- Is your attitude confident and positive? Do you have any unresolved issues that are sapping strength from your ability to think clearly. Do you sleep well? Don’t be shy about getting help. Consider counseling. Your health care plan may provide coverage. If not, seek out a trusted friend.

Regularly fill your head with positive images of yourself, your future and the team around you. Avoid extended relationships with negative people and situations. Watch uplifting movies. Read motivational books. Start every day with an encouraging thought. Need a quick boost right now? Check this out.

Spirit- Have you found a place of peace with regard to your existence here on earth? From a Christian perspective, Rick Warren’s all time best seller, “What on Earth Am I Here For?” has helped many get balance in the spiritual realm. His book set all time record sales levels. Keep asking questions until you find your own place of peace.

Maintaining a high level of PS is an ongoing work, but your fundamental stability is essential if you want to be the best that you can be as a person and as a leader. PS is just the first step on the road to personal fulfillment. My future posts will look at the subsequent steps toward a fulfilling life.

Customers Return for the “ICARE” Hug


“There is only one boss, the customer, and he can fire everybody in the company … simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Sam Walton, Founder Walmart

It’s no secret that great customer service needs to be caring, focused, personal and all directed toward “The Boss”- the customer. Hiring the right staff is, of course, essential, but outstanding service delivery also requires that great staff receive effective training and the people needing the most training are your front line staff.

One of the most important skills for front-liners to have is that of executing an effective greeting of the customer. Here’s my ICARE method that, when properly implemented by the right person, will have customers buzzing about your business and looking forward to their next visit.

  • I – Initiate a warm personal greeting using their preferred name.
  • C – Confirm the purpose of the visit.
  • A – Answer all their questions.
  • R – Repeat their name
  • E – Explain the next step.

This method doesn’t work if you just print it and hand it out to staff. You’ve got to teach it, rehearse it, evaluate and reward it. You don’t have to hire a trainer. Do it yourself. Here’s a FREE training video you can use.

The #1 Key to Remembering Names


A drowning man will grasp at any aid- a pole, a vest, a boat, another person or even an animal, because he’s desperate to know the light of another day. Such passionate drive points us to the #1 key to remembering names. You have to decide that this is a skill that has a high priority for you. Then once you feel driven by your passion to remember the name of that person in front of you, you’ll do whatever it takes to assure that at your next meeting you’ll be able to call her by name. But, it’s still going to take some time and effort. Is it worth the bother?

Your ability to remember names can turn a head, touch a heart, influence a mind or move a body to action. There’s great power in the use of a name. “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language”. – Dale Carnegie.

The amazing thing is that once you’ve aroused your desire to remember names, any method will work. Success here isn’t as much about the method used , as it is about the desire, passion or heart you bring to accomplishing your goal. The drowning man doesn’t care what saves him. He’ll reach for anything available.

There are some amazing stories about motivated people who have accomplished far more difficult things than remembering names. Here’s one of my favorites.

Blurry Vision? Refocus


Why do so many organizations have a blurry vision of their purpose? Or worse yet, no vision at all. It’s a missed opportunity to stir passions and raise sights for the team with a motivational word picture. Blurry visions aren’t energizing and the reason for this blurry picture can simply be a lack of understanding of the term vision.

It’s called a vision statement because it’s supposed to give you a picture. Answer the question, “What’s our greatest possible outcome look like?”. There’s your vision. For the humanitarian non-profit, Feeding America their vision is “A Hungry Free America.” Now that image will stir passions and prompt contributions.

For my own consulting business my vision is to see “…content, dedicated, people, working as a team toward a brighter future.” It answers the question, ” If we hire you, what will the best results look like?”

Note that your vision isn’t the same as your mission, which should answer the question, “What will we do to reach our vision?”. My mission statement says that I’ll provide “… enlightening training, motivating speaking and discerning consulting.” It’s what I do, not the final visionary outcome.

Check your vision. If your statement AIMS, it’s probably a great one.

It should be: A-Audacious, I-Imaginable, M- Motivational and S-Simple.

Want more info? This guy nails it down.