What Ever Happened to Customer Service? (Part 2)

Whether you’re in business or a consumer, you can relate to the following statements:

  • “Delivery on grand pianos is always extra. So, do you want to take it with you?”
  • “I’m not sure about that question. You can call our tech support in India, if you want.”
  • “The estimate we gave you could be much more depending on lots of other factors.”
  • “That item may or may not work with your current system. Does that answer help you?
  • “We’ve never had a problem with this before. You must have done something stupid.”
  • “You say the instructions for assembly were in Spanish. Is that a problem?”
  • “We are the experts and have been in business for years. We don’t make mistakes.”
  • “If we did happen to make a mistake, it’s probably just a simple misunderstanding.”
  • “In order to lower costs and improve service, we dropped our customer-care division.”
  • “I’m new here and don’t know much about the product line. Can I help you anyway?”
  • “The price our phone tech quoted for your furnace didn’t include parts or service.”
  • “We don’t carry the top-rated one anymore. But this one is way cheaper and better.”
  • “I’m sorry we lost your order. But we can have it ready a week after your event.”
  • “The person you spoke to is no longer here. I guess you’ll have to start all over again.”

Isn’t it sad and rather pathetic? As a former business person and marketing consultant, I used to counsel companies on how to provide better customer service. The problem is, we are so used to being abused and ignored, when we receive even a tiny shred of service, we are thrilled and giddy with excitement. It shouldn’t really be that way. We should expect minimal standards and demand such when we make a purchase. But, as long as we take this negative treatment, the businesses these statements represent will continue their appalling ways. Consumers unite and don’t settle for lousy service. Boycott those firms and help put them out of business. Fighting back is our only option to attempt to recapture the lost art of quality customer service.

Experience and Skills Being Undervalued At Work? What Can You Do?

Job hunting isn’t the only time to present your accomplishments. If you are someone who has spent a few years building your career, or even working at the same company, have you ever felt like your boss or your peers aren’t appreciating the value you bring? Do you ever think your skills and experience just aren’t getting recognition?

When I met Carol, she seemed to be at the peak of her frustration with her career. She had been overlooked, or outright denied, pay increases and promotions. She saw others with less experience, and fewer skills, moving up, having opportunities to work on the interesting projects, and getting the work she felt she had earned. She did not understand why her boss and peers didn’t credit her for her contribution to the organization. She was worried that she was experiencing discrimination, due to her age or gender. She felt victimized.

In my prior corporate career, there were times when I felt just like Carol. I assumed that because I worked for my boss, he should know what I did. Because I worked with my peers, they should know what I was capable of. Then I noticed that the people who got the interesting work did three things I was not doing. As Carol and I talked further, we discovered that she wasn’t doing them either. In fact, many people I speak with who have an established career or work history, often overlook these three (3) critical actions, and end up frustrated like Carol and me.

I wholeheartedly believe you are responsible for your career. If you want to thrive at your company, in your job, your career, in addition to doing a good job, you must be continually doing these three (3) critical actions.

1. Present your accomplishments.

Meet with your boss at least yearly or even quarterly to inform her about your accomplishments and contributions. I recommend you maintain a Master Accomplishments List** the list of projects you worked on, problems you solved, help you provided, and contributions you made. Keep a written record of your contributions to the company.

Present this list to your boss at least once year. If your company doesn’t do performance reviews, schedule your own with your boss. Send her a copy of your Master Accomplishments List** from the last 12 months. Then discuss the items with her. Make sure she knows what you’ve done. Remember, your boss is super busy with her own challenges and concerns. It is very likely she will be more focused on what problem she needs to solve this week, and will not always remember what you’ve done throughout the year. It’s up to you to make sure she knows.

2. Talk about your strengths and skills.

Many of you have heard me say that one of the most important keys to loving your job and thriving in your career is to use the strengths you enjoy using. So make sure you tell your boss and your peers what these strengths and skills are. Don’t assume they already know. Tell them what you are great at and what you love to do. Work this information into conversation at meetings, over lunch, or at the water cooler.

3. Tell them what you want.

Get clear about what you want to do, then tell your boss the kinds of projects you’d love to have an opportunity to work on. Ask him what you need to do to get those opportunities. I vividly remember the day one of my peers was promoted over me. I felt I was more qualified than this person was to do that job. I felt slighted and overlooked. When I told my boss how disappointed I was, he told me he didn’t know I wanted the promotion. It took me a whole week to go back and meet with my boss and ask, “How can I get promoted? What do I need to do?” From that moment on, he helped and supported me. One year later, I got promoted. It was a revelation to me that I all I needed to do was tell him what I wanted and ask for his help.

You can’t expect your experience and skills to speak for themselves. You must talk about them. You must present them. I learned that by consistently taking these three (3) critical actions, my skills were recognized and valued by my peers and my boss. Carol learned to do the same, and is now working on projects she enjoys and getting paid what she knows she’s worth. How about you? Are you taking these actions consistently? I encourage you to make plans to take these actions today.

** Master Accomplishments List