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PORTER: Time off can help customer service

Some days just aren’t for customers.

I know what you are thinking. This guy’s giving expert advice about providing great service to customers, and now he’s saying to run from them.

Relax. What I want to share with you are some tips on how to give great customer service even when you aren’t interacting with customers. This column is about down time, taking time off or whatever you might call it, and I think you’ll agree we all need it from time to time.

The secret of time out is knowing when you really need it. So I want to leave you with some time-tested tips. And I’ll tell you a real life business story about my good friend Jim to illustrate these tips.

 

Tip 1: Be self aware

My business friend Jim was the master of self awareness, and I witnessed this every month or so.

Coming into the office early in the morning, I would be preparing for an important call or big presentation. As a senior person in our company, Jim would often also be in the office doing similar preparation.

One morning, however, I found Jim for the first time in his golf clothes with golf shoes in hand headed out the office door. When I asked why he was off to play a round of golf with a major customer presentation later that morning, he looked at me with a smile and replied, “William, some days just aren’t for customers.”

Over the years my friend Jim had found the keys to self awareness. That being the case, he knew when it was good to take time away from customers and go back to the well. He also knew he could give his customers the hundred per cent they deserved upon his return.

So know yourself. Know how you really feel and be self aware. Customer attitude leaders I have met have honed self awareness to a high art.

 

Tip 2: Know when your attitude is slipping

Just as my business buddy Jim knew what worked for him in taking time away from customers, he also knew when he wasn’t at his best. A distracted comment. A disinterested nod. I have found that customers are really quick at picking up on you not giving your best effort.

Some days, no matter how good a game face you put on, you are just not giving customers your best, and they know it. Better to find a way to be less visible and be great at customer service another day.

In summary, to be an attitude leader, just remember this important phrase from my successful business friend Jim:

“Not every day is for customers.”

 

William Porter has published books on customer experience and employee engagement and speaks regularly at business schools. Contact him at bpwilliamaporter@gmail.com.

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