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Customer Service. Good Enough… Really?

September 1, 2021

When it comes to customer service is good enough really enough? Is it just me or has customer service slipped to “good enough”?

My first job was in retail. About three weeks after I started I was “secret shopped”. The head office of the retail chain employed secret shoppers to go to its stores and act as a customer to gauge the level of customer service being provided. I scored quite high on my review. When my manager brought me in to his office to let me know, I remember him saying, “That’s just ’cause you are new. Wait until you are here for awhile.” While we both laughed, I remember thinking why would my level of service slip? If anything, shouldn’t I get better?

My husband and I met at that same retail chain several years later. Previously he worked as a manager in a large retail department store chain. We quickly realized that we shared the same views of customer service. Good enough is not enough. We both worked hard to serve our customers in a timely, and professional manner. As customers now, we are quite cognizant of what represents good service and have high expectations of service providers.

Customer Service Training

During my career I have worked in retail, a call centre, a private sector training company, provincial government and now I am a business owner. In each role, I was fortunate to receive excellent training and resources to enhance and maintain my service skills. From cash handling to telephone etiquette, service skills are essential to ensuring you meet – and sometimes exceed! – customer expectations. In 2014, I earned the Certified Service Manager (CSM) certification with the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service, now known as Citizen First. This designation really supported my career experiences. It is an opportunity to show recognition and professionalize the customer service role. I am authorized to deliver workshops for service managers and front-line professionals based on their Certified Service Manager Body of Knowledge. Visit Workshops & Events for more details.

Upcoming Workshop

Project Management discussion with students at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University

To further support service delivery professionals, I am offering Project Management for Public Service Delivery later this month. Registration is open now! This virtual workshop will provide those in service delivery an opportunity to enhance their skills. You just might make a valuable connection with someone from across the country!

When it comes to customer service, to me good enough is just not enough. It is time to raise the bar when it comes to service. As customers, we deserve it. As a service provider, I strive to deliver it. ~ Carole

Developing a Business Portfolio

August 2, 2021

Why is developing a business portfolio a good idea? A resume’s purpose is to get you an interview. Similarly, the purpose of an elevator pitch is to get you a meeting. Certainly, a business portfolio does both. It establishes credibility and lets potential clients know you are absolutely the right person/company to hire!

What is included in a business portfolio?

A business portfolio is a series of documents that grouped together showcase your products and services, and highlights your work. Items in your business portfolio may include, but are not limited to:

  • Company history
  • Credentials and affiliations
  • Products and services
  • Bio of key team members
  • Client/customer testimonials
  • Photos
  • Successful projects/contracts

Client success story

Carmelita Morgan

I had the pleasure of working with Carmelita Morgan of Carma Yoga with Carmelita Morgan earlier this year. Carmelita was able to secure some funding from TechNL to hire me to assist with the development of a digital marketing strategy. As we worked through her marketing materials and planned an approach to promoting her business, she asked me about developing a business portfolio. We started gathering all the information listed above. As Carmelita has discovered with existing clients, there are funding programs out there that her clients can apply for that support hiring her. Consequently, we decided to include a section in her portfolio with the links and descriptions to the programs.

We developed a business growth plan together focusing on her strategic goals. Once she had a plan in mind, it was time to test the validity of her portfolio.

Last week, Carmelita sent her business portfolio to two new potential clients. One immediately hired her for an event later this week, and both are pursuing the funding opportunities with the goal to hire her for a series of events in the fall. I am so proud of Carmelita for taking the time to develop these important documents that support the growth of her business. She told me she felt much better when she had everything down on paper. It gave her confidence to pursue her growth activities. I am very proud of my client, and friend. She has a fabulous reputation already. These documents help build on that and support her strategic initiatives in a professional way.

If you need some assistance in developing a business portfolio, or other strategic documents such as a business plan, growth plan, or mission and vision statements, do not hesitate to connect! ~ Carole

The Value of Trust

July 2, 2021

I learned the value of trust at a young age. When I was 13 years old, I lost my mother’s trust in me, over what else, a boy. It took a long time for her to trust me again (plus all the regular challenges of raising a 13-year old girl).

Often when I post on social media about my work events I use the phrase, “Thank you to my client for trusting me with their project/initiative/event…” or “Thank you to my client for putting their faith in me…”. (What is faith, if not trust?) Somehow instinctively I know that trust is important and I do honestly feel that trust from my clients when they hire me. Earlier this month I was talking with a potential client. She said, “If I think I should do X, and you tell me I should do Y, I will. I trust you.” It reminded of a call I had many, many years ago in a call centre. I was working for a telecommunications company setting up phone lines and services for businesses. One client told me that she trusted my opinion and would buy whatever I suggested. It was humbling! If I was unethical, I could have sold her anything. She trusted me that much.

Trust is Power

In one of my workshops I teach about Power and Influence. Why do people do what others tell them to do? Some reasons are out of fear (coercive power), for something in return (reward power), because it is the boss (legitimate power), or because someone in the know tells you to do something (expert power). Think of when you call an IT helpdesk. They tell you to click here, type this, enter this, click on that, etc. and you do it because they are the experts.

Another type of power is Reverent Power. Reverent power is based on trust. It means that I will do something you tell me to do because I trust you. I believe you will not hurt me so I will follow your suggestions. This is the type of power that I believe I have with my clients. They trust me. They believe that I will not hurt them. You know what? They are right. This conversation along with my conversation with another person about Carole Magic (see earlier blog post), have really sparked some heavy thinking over the past couple of weeks.

Know Your Why

Simon Sinek talks a lot in his work about knowing your Why. People will buy your product or service if they know WHY you are in business, and not focus so much on the WHAT you are selling. As a business owner, I have been working on articulating what it is I do. What is my pitch story? What is my value proposition? Can I explain my WHY? In one week, two respected people in my network have inadvertently helped me figure that out. I am in business to help others be successful. When I created the tagline on my website, “Making it easy for you to be successful.”, I was thinking of the play on facilitate which is to make easy. I did not really focus on the last part of the phrase. Turns out my instincts were bang on again.

I do not believe trust has to be earned

Maybe it is naïve of me to think this, however, I do not believe you have to earn my trust in you. I make the positive assumption that you are trustworthy and unless you break that trust with me, I will always have faith in you. Consequently, my relationships with my clients are the same. I have to believe that they already trust me or why would they have hired me? I work hard to ensure that they maintain their trust in me. It is not helpful if I feel I have to earn their trust. Consciously or unconsciously, if I have to manipulate my behaviour to earn trust, the relationship just may not be in our best interests.

The value of trust

A picture of a woman in a kayak
Value of trust in a kayak partner
Mom and I kayaking on Deer Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador

Mom and I are good! As shown in this photo, mom trusts me enough to go out in kayak with her! Seriously, the lesson I learned at a young age is an important one. Trust is a gift. It is one I treasure in my personal life, and what drives me in my professional life. If you feel I can help you or your organization be successful, please reach out and let’s explore the value of trust together. ~ Carole

Carole Magic in St. John’s, NL

June 25, 2021

“Look at you spreading Carole Magic wherever you go!” Recently I had the opportunity to facilitate an event with a client in-person in St. John’s, NL. It was both exciting and challenging as it was only my second in-person event since March 2020. Following the session, I connected with Jess Chapman, owner of ethree Consulting and Online Learning. Jess and I met in my early days of starting my business. She is in the similar space as I am, yet I have never viewed her as a competitor. We each have our strengths and have carved out our own unique niches. She was genuinely interested in my event and wanted to know how it went. After I told her about it, and the challenges we experienced in the session, she said those opening words to me.

Carole Magic

A week later, those words are still with me. I have been thinking about Carole Magic. What is it? Why do clients hire me? Do they know something I do not know? Another close friend of mine in St. John’s (who I also connected with last week) told me my aura was glowing bright and positive on the day we saw each other. She often senses my energy when we are together.

Carole Magic on the Irish Loop
Picture of Carole overlooking Tors Cove
Exploring the Irish Loop! Tors Cove, NL

In my business, I am the brand. When you hire Spicer Facilitation & Learning, you get me. As a result, I think this is why Jess’ words resonate with me. I love the idea of spreading my magic wherever I go. When my clients hire me, my focus is solely on their success. My services are hard to describe. It is not like buying a product that you can touch, feel or sense. Consequently, my product is me. Know that I put my everything in to serving you in the best way possible to meet your needs. My energy, magic, and aura all support the facilitation skills I have developed over my career.

If you think I can be of help to you or your organization, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to share some Carole Magic with you! ~ Carole

Is the handshake dead?

June 1, 2021

With restrictions easing and people gathering, I am wondering, “Is the handshake dead?” Navigating pandemic etiquette is ever-changing.

Shaking Hands

I have been taught that shaking hands with someone when you meet them is a sign of respect. Many years ago, a previous employer brought in a professional to take me and my colleagues through business etiquette. We were all seated in a room in a horseshoe layout. The facilitator came up to each of us to shake our hands. I was so nervous! Would my handshake be firm enough? Were my hands clammy?

I automatically stood up when she got to me and stuck out my hand and hoped for the best. After she went around the room, she pointed out that I was the only person to stand when greeting her. Everyone else remained seated while she stood shaking their hands. Turns out my instincts were correct! She taught us to shake hands by connecting firmly but not too much pressure, shake 1-2, then release by gently pulling back our hand keeping it at a level height.

Pitches and Pints Competition June 2019 Pre-COVID days!

Over the past 16 months, I have not shaken hands with anyone outside of my bubble. I am craving hugs. I long for the comfort felt when connecting by touch with another person. Obviously, the handshake is not coming back very quickly. As we move to higher levels of vaccination, and restrictions are easing, the way we greet people will continue to evolve.

Vaccine Etiquette

Speaking of vaccinations, how do you handle the question of “Are you vaccinated?” Do you have the right to ask someone that? Do you have to disclose if you are, or are not, vaccinated? CBC published an article last month on how to navigate this tricky situation. Until the majority of people are vaccinated, it might make someone uncomfortable if you ask them if they have received their shot, especially if they are in a higher priority group due to medical health conditions, or other circumstances. They might feel you are judging them or questioning how they received their shot before you. We must trust that people are following the guidelines on the honour system and not circumventing the process. As gathering sizes increase, it is natural to wonder if people in attendance are vaccinated. You may find your host asking you that question.

Is the handshake dead? Maybe, maybe not. Be sure to watch the video in the CBC article on this topic. Later this month I have a business trip and I am looking forward to facilitating an in-person event, following all health guidelines. I will be respectful of others and their comfort level. I have my first vaccine and will disclose that if asked. If the other person is showing signs of discomfort connecting with a handshake, I will not offer my hand. While it is tricky navigating etiquette in a pandemic, the basics stay the same. Be kind. Show respect. Be genuine in your connections. ~ Carole

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