Margo Chevers
Northeast Leadership Enterprise
PO Box 281
Wales, MA 01081

Is Your Attitude Worth Catching?

STOP the BS (Bad Service)

The Power of Managing Customer Expectations

Leadership for the New Millenium

Margo Chevers Blog

Monday, March 06, 2006

It's not what you say

It’s not what you say,
It’s how you say it.

It’s not what you do,
It’s how you do it.

It’s not what you know,
It’s how you use what you know.

A lot of importance is placed on saying, doing and knowing the right thing. Yet, I have noticed that it is more a function of you as the individual that makes the meaning of the words come through. Or it is not what you choose to do, but the attitude you have toward what you do that makes it exceptional. Or even, the simple fact that you use the knowledge you gain.

In my training programs I emphasize the fact that the knowledge the particpant gains is only the beginnning of the process. It is up to them to use the information in the correct manner that will make the difference.

In fact, it comes down to personal responsibility.

If you have something to say, say it with conviction and passion.

If you have something to do, do it to the best of your ability and with the care and attention that will please not only you, but anyone who comes into contact with what you do.

If you have knowledge, don't be afraid to use it. Having knowledge and not using it is worse than not having the knowledge to begin with.

You make the difference in everything you say and do. Dare to make that difference.

Friday, September 09, 2005

We can help the victims of Hurrican Katrina

Here we are, almost weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast. Most of us have watched in horror as we realize the enormity of the devastation that descended upon the Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans area. The need for services has made most of us open our pocketbooks and make generous donations. But, there are many who will not make a donation because of their fear that the funds will not be used as they think they should. Even those who have made their donations, it won’t be enough. This is not a need that can be taken care of with our one-time donations. I was thinking about how these families will be displaced for months if not years. They have no homes, no jobs, no possessions - in other words, they have nothing. Rebuilding their lives in strange places will take most of their energy and physical resources. We can help them. My thought is, if every city and town in the United States adopts one or more families and each resident of those cities and towns will donate $1.00 a week, we can help in an on going way to help these refugees get on their feet. $1.00 a week is not going to break anyone. Most of us spend much more than that without even thinking. In fact, we probably don’t even know where we’re currently spending that $1.00. That’s less than a cup of coffee, or the Sunday newspaper, or certainly a pack of cigarettes. The administration of the funds could be through local community banks. We’d have the opportunity to get to know who the donation is going to, and they would know who was making the donation. We could, without pain, take care of these people’s needs and give them the support they need to get their lives together. We’re lucky. We didn’t lose everything we own. We didn’t have to go through the repercussions of this past week where we didn’t know what happened to our homes or our loved ones. If you believe my idea has merit, write to your congressman, call a radio talk show, tell your pastor, call your town officials, write a letter to your local newspaper. Let’s get together and take care of our fellow citizens. We would want them t

Monday, August 29, 2005

Service that should be standard expectations

Rarely do I have such a fantastic experience of service while making a purchase, that I am compelled to comment on it to the sales associate. recently, I had that kind of encounter. I went to Home Depot in Wilbraham, MA to check out refrigerators. I was just there to check out the models, capacities and the prices. There was a sales associate who asked me if I needed help. I told her that yes, I did. She then asked me what my needs were, what color I was looking for, etc. She then asked the dimensions of the opening the old refrigerator was in. I told her I didn’t know, I thought they were all standard size. She assured me that was not the case and many people purchased units that wouldn’t fit into the existing space. She showed her knowledge of her product in many ways. She knew capacities, features as well as advising me that if I bought an energy saver model, I might be eligible for a rebate from my electric company. She then made copies of the models specifications that I was most interested in. She acknowledged the fact that I had two children with me, addressed comments to them, even though they are both babies, and I thanked her and went on my way. When I got home and measured the opening, you guessed it, the models I liked wouldn’t fit. I was so grateful she had pointed out that I needed to measure. I went back to the store with the measurements in hand a few days later. A different sales associated was on duty and when I told him I had measured my existing space, he said he couldn’t help me because all the models they had were larger than my opening. Then, miraculously, the previous sales associate came up to us, recognized me and the babies and asked how we were. The sales associate who had just told me there were no refrigerators in the size I wanted, asked the woman if she could help me. Immediately, she went to the computer to check to see what was available. After much searching, she found one that was the size I needed, with the features I wanted. I told her I’d take it. She then said that she’d give me a coupon for 10 percent off. That was a $100 savings. She told me how to use it at the cash register, she explained how to get my delivery charge rebate, how it would be delivered and put all my paper work together in a neat, paper-clipped document. I profusely thanked her for her help. She had gone above and beyond. Just yesterday, even before the refrigerator has been delivered, she sent me a note and a coupon for an additional $100 rebate on the refrigerator. She was pleasant, helpful, knowledgeable, created a sense of importance and comfort on my part and went out of her way to help me save money. That is service that is over and above what most retail store clerks offer.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sales lesson 101

I am in the process of buying a new car. This is not a task I enjoy, but it is a necessary evil since I need reliable transportation to travel to my clients. I stopped into a dealership to look for cars. When I walked into the dealership, I looked around to see who was waiting on customers. After what seemed like a very long time, a young gentleman approached me and asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted to buy a car. He pointed to another gentleman who was seated in front of the windows (supposedly to see when customers come into the dealership) and told me he was a salesman. I walked over to his desk and to my amazement, he didn’t even stand up, tell me his name, or shake my hand. I stood talking to him for a few minutes before he decided that when I said I wanted to buy a car, I was serious. He showed me a few cars, I decided on one I liked and asked to take it for a test drive. We went back in for keys and while he was doing that, I went to wash my hands. When I got back, someone approached me and asked if I needed help. I said no, I was waiting to take a test drive. He asked who my salesperson was, and I had to honestly say that I didn’t know his name. At that moment, my salesperson walked up and overheard me saying I didn’t know his name. Then, he stuck out his hand, introduced himself. I guessed it was better late than never. The whole time we were taking the test drive, he kept up a strong, aggressive sales pitch about the vehicle. When we got back to the dealership and I asked the price, he said he had to talk with his manager. The pressure was brought to bear almost immediately. The business manager and the salesperson both teamed up to try to get me to make a decision right then and there. Asking if I liked the car, the price, the deal, why I wouldn’t make a decision on the spot. Although I was extremely interested, I didn’t feel I had enough breathing room to make a decision, plus the fact that I didn’t like the pressure tactics. So I told them I had to think about it. The salesperson gave me his card and I told him I’d call him the next day. When I called him at 9:15 in the morning, he wasn’t in yet. When I asked what time he was due in, I was told he was due at 9AM. I gave the phone numbers where I could be reached and waited to hear from him. Finally, I decided to try another dealership. When I drove up on that lot, it was like I had landed on a totally different planet from the first dealership. Out in the lot, there was a young woman who as soon as I got out of my car, introduced herself and asked if she could help me. I told her yes, I was looking to buy a car. I told her the car I was interested in and she showed a few to me. I told her of my interest in one of them and we went for a test drive. She was personable and gave me space to think while I drove. When we got back to the dealership, I told her I was in a hurry since I had a lunch date with a client. She said, no problem, she just needed a little bit of information and I could stop in on my way back from lunch. Bottom line, I bought my car from the second salesperson. She made a great first impression, always called me back, always responded to my questions, didn’t pressure me, and respected my desire to be in charge of my time and decision. It is now almost a week after I first looked at a car. Do you think that first salesperson has called me back yet? No way. He lost a sale. I keep wondering what his reaction would be if he learned that I bought a car from another dealership. He would probably blame me and say that I was playing games, or couldn’t make up my mind. If he knew, would he learn from this experience? That’s the whole point. We should constantly be learning from our experiences. In this instance the lessons are: First impressions mean a lot. Always stand, shake hands and introduce yourself. Don’t pressure your customer, let them feel as though they are in control of the buying process. And then follow up, follow up, follow up. Statistics tell us that most sales aren’t made until the 7th call. Don’t make the same mistakes this gentleman made.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Getting commitment from employees

I have found that whether I am training in customer service, sales or leadership, the issue of commitment is always brought up. How do you get an employee to do what they say they are going to do, or even what they are told to do by the manager. What is being asked goes beyond just motivating employees. It gets to the crux of what is important to the individual being asked to do something. We all know that if something is of importance to an individual, they will make the time for, expend the energy on and do what is important to them. This translates into the manager/leader creating compelling reasons for the employee to accomplish their tasks. How to do that? Start by getting to know the interests of the individual. When I hosted a television show back in the 1980’s, I asked my local hairdressing salon owner if someone on her staff would be interested in doing my hair and makeup, free of charge, every week for the duration of the show. Of course, I was willing to have this person be listed in the credits. Because she knew her hairdresser’s interests and goals, she immediately told me that Patty Weiss would be the perfect person. Patty wanted to become involved in videos for performers. For the next two years Patty did my hair. Then she got married and moved to Nashville, the music capitol. She pursued her goal and ended up going on the road with Anne Murray. Think about it, for two years, she worked on my hair and makeup, with no financial compensation. She would meet me at 8AM on Friday mornings, she would cheerfully greet me and do the best job she could possibly do. Other employees might agree initially, but after a few months, it would become a chore and their enthusiasm would wane.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Growing as a result of failure

Those of you who know me, know that I am always looking for ways to improve and grow as an individual. This past weekend, I attended a one-hour seminar that was put on by Dennis McCurdy of Sturbridge, MA. It was to give people a taste for his eight-week personal development program. He talked about the usual goal setting, creating a vision, getting rid of our negative self-talk and overcoming our fears. I conduct those seminars myself, yet, I learned more than I expected. Dennis took it one step further than I’d been in the past. He had us attempt to break a one-inch thick board with our bare hands. I wanted to experience as much as possible, so I volunteered to be the first to try. I mentally prepared myself, saw in my mind my hand going through the board, I raised my hand and brought it down hard. The board snapped as though it were a toothpick. I was amazed at how easy it was to do something I thought would be difficult. Then, he took an arrow and told us how we could break it with our necks. He showed how to place the feather end against the wall and put the tip on the soft part of our throat. We were to lean into it until it snapped. He demonstrated and sure enough the arrow snapped. When he asked for volunteers, I was NOT the first to raise my hand. This was raising the stakes. If I broke my hand, that was one thing, but if I pierced my throat with an arrow, that could be fatal. I watched as another participant snapped the arrow in two. I thought, well I might as well try. I got up, set the arrow against the wall, strategically placed the tip against my throat and started to lean into it. I leaned with force and as the other members of the class were telling me it was beginning to bend, I felt a sensation that the arrow was going to crush my larynx. I am a speaker and a trainer. Without my voice, I wouldn’t be able to work. I immediately backed off from the arrow. The class as well as Dennis encouraged me to try again. They assured me that I had almost succeeded. So I tried again. As I leaned into the arrow, again the class gave me the feedback that they could see the arrow bending. I leaned harder and again I felt the sensation of crushing my larynx. I backed off. Although they encouraged me to try again, I couldn’t bring myself to do so. I sat down, convinced I had saved myself from losing my voice. As I processed the experience, I realized that I have experienced this sensation many times. I convince myself that something disastrous will happen if I go ahead and act on an idea I have. I come up with many good reasons why it won’t work. Each one based on what I consider fact. Just like the arrow experience, I feel we many times pull back from success because of the “concrete evidence” we manufacture in our minds. I believe I learned as much from my failure to break the arrow, perhaps even more, than if I had been successful in my attempt. The lesson here is, that we can learn more from our mistakes and failures than we can from our successes. Thank you Dennis for giving me this life lesson.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Customer Expectations

I am constantly amazed at how people who could benefit greatly by giving good service, don't seem to get it. I went to a hair salon last week, hoping against hope that the hairdresser who had cut my hair the previous month was there. My experience with her was outstanding. Well, she wasn't working that day and since it was over an hours drive from home, I took another hairdresser who I was told could do an equally good job. I sat in the chair to have my hair washed. I knew that this was a massage chair from my previous experience. The chair lowered me down to the sink, but it didn't massage me as expected. When she put the conditioner on my hair, I expected a complimentary hand massage because that's what the previous hairdresser had done. Well, this person walked away as though to leave me unattended. She came back a few seconds later and told me that she would massage my hands at no charge. Quite abruptly and without the finesse of the first hairdresser. She then sat me in the chair and proceeded to cut my hair without the care and interest I was expecting. By the time she was done, the tip I was going to give her had been diminished to the bare minimum. Now, if I hadn't had such great service the first time, I might have been more generous. But, the lesson here is, once the customer has experienced a great experience, anything less than that is a dissapointment. My desire to return will only be evident if the first hairdresser is available. Otherwise, I'll take my business elsewhere.