Monday, August 22, 2016

Make It L.A.S.T. (part 2)

Picking up where the last post left off, here's the other half of my notes from the workshop. I didn't and still don't wholeheartedly agree with the rep's insistence on apologizing to customers. (As one of the managers back at the bookstore used to tell me, "This is our house", and I'm especially not going to grovel for a customer if I didn't do anything wrong. Yes, customers are people but so are we, and another human being is just another human being). But again, I don't work directly with clients, and that in addition to my being somewhat jaded from having worked retail probably makes it easier for me to be less perturbed about it than my colleagues can afford to be. That said, I also understand the importance of doing what's necessary to foster and maintain good professional relationships. So I'll let it slide. 
  • Appropriate responses (cont'd):
    • Be the bridge! Even if you're the intermediary, give customer something concrete to hold onto/look forward to
    • Willingness, cooperation, understanding (method + result; put these in, get these same things out)
    • Don't break up the unity of the team by making "they"/"them" (one of your associates) the bad guy
      • Ask questions, confirm and communicate "our" goals
    • Use "stumped under pressure to get answers" situations as learning opportunities 
  • Handling difficult people: Dos and Don'ts
    • Don't over-promise. You want to under-promise, over-deliver
    • Let them finish! When you interrupt an angry person, all they'll do is start over!
    • Don't panic! (Confidence! They don't need to know that you're lost or unsure)
    • Having a difference of opinion is okay, but handle it with mutual respect
    • Keep asking questions until you're confident and comfortable that you understand what they need and know how to respond
    • Neutralize a situation by repeating back (paraphrasing) and summarizing what they've said
      • The line between understanding and condescending is very thin
    • You can't know how to make it right until they tell you, so ask how you can help them!
    • Preparation; roleplay; skill practice
    • Assume the problem can be solved
    • Use simple language/ avoid jargon
  • Making relationships last
    • L (isten) - A (pologize) - S (olve) - T (hank)
    • Don't make assumptions, even if you've heard it all before
    • Apologizing for a mistake doesn't have to mean that you're taking personal responsibility; it's about covering for the team and making customer feel valued
    • Find something to thank them for!
      • Apologizing may be a weakness in certain cultures, but every culture appreciates "thank you"
  • Personal action plan (commitment for the next 21-30 days):
    • Manage annoyances due to interruptions/misunderstandings with patience + positivity
    • Don't make assumptions, and if you do, don't act based on them
    • Re-route your thinking instead of shutting down

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