I Left Post-It Notes of Praise On Each of My Employees’ Computers. Here’s What Happened Next.

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When I managed a small call center in Tulsa, I was always looking for creative ways to motivate my employees. One evening I was working late and I picked up Bob Nelson’s 1001 Ways to Reward Employees book from my bookshelf. One of the tips in the book was called Post-It Note Therapy. The concept was simple. Write a note of praise on a Post-It Note for each of your employees and stick the note on their computer monitors.

So, I did it. I sat down and wrote out praise for each of my employees and I left the notes on their monitors. Then I went home.

The next morning I had an out of office meeting and I didn’t make it into the call center until early in the afternoon. The second I stepped into the call center, I felt an energetic vibe that startled me. There was movement, smiles and warmth and mostly an amazing energy. What was the deal?

After taking in the scene for a few seconds, I went to my office. I opened my door to find my computer monitor covered with Post-it Notes! Every one of my employees had written me a note of praise! I nearly cried as I read the heartfelt praise. I had forgotten about my Post-it Note Therapy from the night before. I went out into the call center and saw Post-It Notes everywhere! My employees really got into this therapy. They praised each other and even praised people in neighboring departments.

If you’re looking for a genuine, yet super easy, way to praise your employees while upping the energy in your work team, consider Bob Nelson’s Post-In Note Therapy. The investment of time is small and the rewards are potentially huge.

 

How to Motivate Customer Service Professionals (Live webinar)

April 27, 2017 – 1pm ET – 2:00pm ET

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These Are the Interview Questions You Need to be Asking Customer Service Representatives

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IMPORTANT NOTICE: The information contained on this site is meant as general information only. It should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice.  

There was a time when customer service departments/jobs were solely reactive. The job was to answer questions and resolve problems. But increased competition and higher expectations from customers have led companies to require customer service professionals to take on a more proactive role.

Customer service representatives are spokespeople and even sales people in addition to problem solvers. Customer service professionals have great influence on customer loyalty and purchasing habits. Therefore, the hiring, selection and performance of customer service professionals is of extreme importance to the overall success of organizations. We have prepared a selection of interview questions to equip you to hire capable, right-fit employees for the critical customer service role.

The following questions are designed to elicit specific examples of the core competencies of successful consumer affairs professionals. All questions are open-ended and call for the candidate to offer an illustration of their performance in each of the core areas. You should take detailed notes on the responses during the interview so you can go back and review in greater detail.

I’m going to share with  you 7 categories of great interview questions. Consider setting the interview up like this: “I’m going to ask you some questions and what I’m looking for is specific examples that illustrate how you have responded to specific situations in the past. I’ll be taking notes as you talk, but you keep going. Feel free to take your time and think about responses before answering the questions.”

1. Customer Service 

Clearly, any candidate for a consumer affairs position must have a customer service mindset. This includes anticipating customers’ needs, completely answering questions, having a positive attitude and understanding that the customer is the reason you are in business.

  • What does giving “excellent service” mean to you?
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty to serve a customer.
  • What do you like most about being in customer service?
  • What do you think is likely to be the difference between success and mediocrity in this position?

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How to Forecast Call Volume In a Small Call Center Like A Pro….Without Spending a Dime On Software

Man with afro hairstyle working at his desk

I’m working with a small call center in a large city-county library system. One of my main focuses for this library system is to improve the overall efficiency of the call center and to drastically improve the customer experience that is delivered through the call center. One of my recommendations for improvement in this contact center is for my client to begin using a tool to help the library forecast call volume and to use this forecast data to better schedule for coverage.

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Motivate Your Employees Like Fans Motivate Their Sports Teams

woman working at a computer

Managers can learn much about praise from the sports industry. Critical to the success of any sports or corporate team is praise. Here’s how coaches and fans motivate athletes and (and what you can learn from them!):

Cheer your team. Perhaps professional athletes would play simply for the money, but can you imagine a basketball game with no fans and no roaring cheers? It wouldn’t be the same without the fans. The cheering of fans energizes athletes. Fans cheer to motivate, encourage and show support for their teams.  Athletes, like your employees, are motivated by both money and praise. Never assume money alone is going to motivate and keep employees.

Praise progress, not just results. Football fans don’t wait until a touchdown to cheer. They cheer when their team moves the ball to first down and when the opposing team is stopped on third down. Many managers withhold praise until the goal is accomplished and some only give praise during an annual performance review.

Point out the positive, even when your team misses the mark. In an interview after a loss, coaches always state what their team did well, highlighting the effort and talent of their players. Coaches summarize things the team could have done better and quickly point out the strengths of the other team and they do this without slamming their team.

Here’s a creative idea you might want to try. One day I got my entire team involved in praise. I sent an email to the group and asked each employee to take a few moments to leave a note for a fellow employee stating why they appreciated them. The next morning I had 12 notes from employees thanking me!  The notes kept coming throughout the day and every employee took the time to thank every one of their co-workers. The department buzzed with energy the entire day.

Everyday you should look for opportunities to praise your team. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers.

Related:

The Psychology of Employee Motivation

How to Establish Rapport with Callers in 6 Seconds Flat

 

Female customer service representative using headset and laughing

I just got off the phone with a call center agent who is in fear of losing her job because her supervisor says her tone, attitude and approach with customers is unacceptable. she has exactly 90 days to improve — or she will be fired.

She said she found my blog when she googled how to improve your customer service skills. I wished I could be there sitting across from this young woman, who I imagine is in her early 20s, and coach her. But she’s in Los Angeles and I have a plane to catch this afternoon, heading to the east coast.

I did coach this young customer service representative, over the phone, on how to soften her approach by making sure she doesn’t over-talk customers, by using what I call a “lead-in” and by listening with the intent to understand.

We talked for nearly an hour and then I gave her a complimentary enrollment in my online learning suite. She touched me with her proactive spirit and now I am determined to help her.

After coaching this young lady, I thought it might be helpful to share with you 4 of the tips I shared with her today. Maybe these tips can help your own employees deliver a better customer experience over the telephone.
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Do you want parrots or people in your contact center?

Last October, after I delivered a wonderfully-received keynote in Orlando, I grabbed my camera bag, slipped out of the conference center and visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I’d never been to Animal Kingdom without my family and I was looking forward to just being able to walk around and take photos without the stress of searching for attractions or snacks. The very first photo I took upon arriving at the park was of two parrots.

The parrots were vibrantly colored to the point of taking my breath away. Parrots are not only stunningly beautiful, but they are among the most intelligent of birds. Their ability to mimic human speech surprises and delights children and adults alike. My keynote that morning focused on giving contact center agents the training, support, freedom and empowerment to make “emotional connections” with customers. As I shot photos of the parrots in Animal Kingdom, I thought about how often contact center agents are groomed to be parrots, instead of being intelligent human beings.

Contact Center Agents are often carefully trained with scripts that sedulously echo the company’s pre-planned words. They end up sounding robotic, cold, and not always intelligent. Making emotional connections with customers is nearly impossible when agents use scripts.

As beautiful as parrots are, we don’t want our employees to be parrots. Give your employees the freedom, support, and incentive to veer away from scripts. Encourage them to use their own intelligence, creativity, and energy to connect with customers. Encourage them to comment on things they hear. Hearing a barking dog in the background could spark a few seconds of small talk for the dog-loving agent.

Maybe they could talk about plans the customer has for the 4th of July. Making emotional connections puts customers at ease and it makes the service experience unique and memorable.

Don’t make your employees sedulously echo the words of a script. They aren’t parrots. They are people with energy, creativity, and intelligence. Set them free and I’ll bet your customer experience will burst forth like the vibrant color of tropical parrots.

Imagine sitting in a local coffee shop that’s nestled in a bookstore, and talking over a latte with Myra about ways to help your employees deliver the best possible customer experience, and ways to help reduce stress on your employees as they deal with difficult customers.

Every week, often literally from a coffee shop, Myra gives you ideas that in one way or another are actionable towards improving your customer experience.

Sign up and join Myra over coffee every week.

 

Here’s Why You Need to Let Your Employees Cool Down After a Busy Period

My son cooling down after a family game of basketball Sunday afternoon

I started running a little more than a year ago. The running training program I started with insisted on a 5-minute cool down after each run. Sometimes I’d cool down and sometimes I wouldn’t. I didn’t notice any problems when I didn’t cool down so I really didn’t think it was a big deal. For weeks I ran 2-3 miles with my indifferent attitude toward the cool down. Then one day I ran 4 miles, my longest and most vigorous at that point. I was so proud of myself and I felt amazing. I felt so good that I didn’t “cool down.” After my run, I showered and resumed normal activities. Or, at least I tried to resume normal activities.

Within an hour of my amazing run I was feeling dizzy and nauseous. I couldn’t shake the feeling for hours. It was that day that I learned the importance of cooling down after a run. I now know that physiologically, cooling down helps the body transition from intense activity to normal activity. Cooling down helps prevent blood from pooling in the legs, which I now know can happen after a hard run. This limits blood flow to the heart and brain, and can lead to the dizziness and nausea I experienced that day.

What happens when employees don’t cool down after a busy season?

When employees come out of a tremendously busy season such as a large product recall, holiday season or a new product launch, the mental toll is not unlike a vigorous run. Just because they “survived” the busy season doesn’t mean all is well. I survived my first 4 mile run, but I didn’t transition to normal activity well at all. Provide your employees with a “cool down” period so they can transition into normal business activity.

How do you cool down after a busy season?

Offer paid time off if you can, celebrate accomplishments, award your employees with gift cards, have lunch brought in or bring fun into the office. Get creative. The important thing is to acknowledge the sacrifice and challenge and to provide a transition into normal activity.

Cooling down after a busy period helps your employees de-stress and refresh. Failing to cool down can lead to burnout and low morale. Proactively provide a corporate cool down and you’ll avoid potentially serious problems later on…and your people will be better prepared for the next busy season. (I now cool down after every run!)

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.  ~Ovid