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Can-Do Thinking – it does make a difference!

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The diversity in people will always fascinate me! And when it comes to Customer Service, the differences can be particularly striking! As you probably know yourself, it’s the people involved (not the specific ‘product’) that makes the service memorable – in either a positive or negative way!

When travelling interstate and checking into a hotel the night before the start of a workshop I’m facilitating, I invariably ask for access to the room we’ll be using the next day. If the room is free, I can check the room setup, ensure materials sent ahead have arrived and unpack my training kit of goodies. I especially want to pre-write some flip charts that we will need in the first session before morning tea.

If the designated room isn’t available, I ask if paper (and stands if possible) can be brought to my room so I can complete the charts before going to sleep.

Now consider these two examples of service delivery by employees at different hotels …

Hotel #1:
On asking about access to the workshop room, I’m told this is not possible. A further frustrating five minutes of questioning on my part reveals this employee has no idea how (or apparent interest or intention!) to help me.

Hotel #2:
The same opening question from me – but this time met with very different responses! Although the room was unavailable, this time it was the service provider who took the role of proactive questioner, determining my specific needs and considering beyond my immediate requests. Within 5 minutes, paper and stands arrived at my room, complete with complimentary biscuits and coffee!

What a difference a person can make! I was so impressed, I wrote about this on my feedback sheet when I checked out and asked that my thanks and compliments be passed on to the relevant staff. I soon received a letter from the hotel manager, thanking me for my comments. He mentioned he was pleased to hear this story, as new staff are trained to have “a Can-Do Attitude and Solution-Based Thinking”.

What a wonderful idea! I have subsequently related this story on many Customer Service Workshops with participants clearly getting the message and relevance to their work roles.

My personal ‘Ah-Ha’ came many months later when I was going through a particularly demanding time. Suddenly I realised this ‘Can-Do’ Attitude need not have exclusive application to Customer Service. I could apply this thinking to countless day-to-day situations that I found challenging to deal with.

So whether we apply these ideas to our personal or our business life, consider the benefits of these strategies:

  1. Shift your thinking to explore what you can do. It seems our brains have become well trained in focussing on what we can’t do.
  2. Express regret or apology for the fact you can’t meet the initial request. Before stating what you can do, it is useful to acknowledge the importance of an issue and the possible disappointment or frustration the other person may be feeling. (“This seems important to you, so I’d like to see what else I could do that may help.”)
  3. Throw away the excuses and lengthy explanations. Your client doesn’t want or need to know these. The only potential beneficiary is ourselves as we attempt to banish guilt and responsibility. The client does want to know what can be done now. (And if applying this to yourself, your brain and body will respond positively to the excitement of possibility rather than remaining stuck in the negatives.)
  4. Ask questions, be curious and think beyond the immediate moment (especially from the client’s perspective). This is akin to the old motto ‘Under Promise, Over Deliver’. In my second hotel example, if I’d been told coffee and biscuits would be provided and then they didn’t arrive, I’d feel let down. But without the promise of these treats, their unexpected arrival certainly went beyond my service expectations!
  5. Spend whatever time it takes in sorting out what may be helpful to your client (or yourself). This may well be the first and last chance you have to make a lasting positive impression on this person – and all the people they will talk to about their impressions of your company.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can or you can’t … you’re right!”

So, do you believe you can?

© Sandi Givens, 2012

Permission to reprint this article is welcomed provided the following:

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