Monday, July 18, 2016

Life Lessons From My Kitten - Life Lesson #1

by Donna West

Life Lessons From My Kitten

Reagan (Ronald Reagan West) came into my life when he was nine and a half weeks old, and quickly became the center of my world.  Today at 12 weeks old, and 3 pounds I am reflecting on some of the things I have learned from him already.



Life Lesson #1

Repetition is how we learn - Reagan already knows his name, no “Here kitty, kitty” for us, I want him to come when I call his name!  Whenever I walk into the house I call “Reagan, come here, Reagan.”; and he magically appears; dashing toward me.   When he wakes up from a kitten nap, I say, “Hi Reagan”, when I set down his food bowl, I use his name.  And now, he pretty much responds whenever I say Reagan.

Lesson learned - When we have new team members come on board we need to tell them all the things we want them to know – but we also need to repeat the important things.  Just like Reagan is overwhelmed with SO many new things to learn about in his young life, so are our new employees.  Repeat the important things and they will learn faster.

Hugs,
Donna



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Last week's item, a pastry blender,  is used to make baked goods like pie crusts, biscuits and croissants. It is used with flaky baked goods that require butter to be cut into the flour mixture.  Many cooks still swear by this good old-fashioned method.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Verify Verify Verify! (continued)

By Donna West

Verify Verify Verify! (continued)

Verifying telephone numbers – all telephone – numbers is imperative. To give our customer an incorrect telephone number will mean that he or she can not return the call. Imagine that you have your own small business, and you have been trying to bring on a new client for weeks. Every time you call it is just not a good time for your prospective client to talk. Now, imagine that you are on the road and that prospective client calls and leaves a message with your answering service that he would like to use your services and asks that you call him back right away. You are so excited! This will be a real feather in your cap if you can get this new account. You eagerly pull over, write down the number and dial the phone. Now, imagine your dismay when you are told you have the wrong number. Your service did not verify the number and now you can’t get back to this person in a timely manner. Your frustration would be huge – perhaps enough to fire the answering service that could not do their job properly!

Verification is SO IMPORTANT! While it is absolutely necessary to verify the spelling of the name, and the full telephone number; it is also a good idea to verify the important points of the message. It gives callers a feeling of confidence that their message will be handled properly when the agent reiterates the general message. “Mr. Edwards, you would like to confirm your appointment with Ms. Govins for 2:00 PM on Wednesday and you would like her to know that you will be bringing your portfolio with you for that meeting. Is that correct?” When you have confirmed the message and verified the name and number you are on your way to pleasing the caller, the customer, and your boss.

Our JOB is to be sure that our clients have 100% accurate messages, and that starts with verifying every name and telephone number, and even every message we take. Your job is to make sure this happens!

Hugs,
Donna



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Last week's item was a slide projector.   Sharing photos with family and friends once meant handing out stacks of pictures, or gathering in one room with the lights turned down and watching the scenes appear on the wall or a drop down screen as the host clicked through the slides one by one.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Verify Verify Verify!

By Donna West

Verify Verify Verify!

What are the two MOST important things to do when taking a call on behalf of our customers? Of Course, it is verifying the spelling of the name of the person calling and their telephone number. The third most important thing is to verify the message. Verify, verify, verify. As a supervisor it is your job to make sure that the agents on your shift take the best, most accurate messages possible. Quality is everything. Hopefully these words will help you help your agents.

Verifying – sometimes we can be so tempted to skip over that step. Especially if we are busy and you see that there are calls waiting, or when we are about to go on break and just want to be done with the call. It may seem silly to verify the spelling of Baker, or Blake, or Peters or Thomas, to say nothing of Smith and Jones! Look at it this way, by spelling the name to the caller you are going to impress them with your carefulness. We all like to hear our names, and it is flattering when someone takes care to be sure it is spelled correctly. When the name is a more difficult one, spelling it is more important, and the use of the phonetic alphabet, such as ‘C’ as in Charlie and ‘T’ as in Tango will eliminate confusion and help assure you have not made a mistake.

It is always a good idea to indicate the gender of the person calling, especially if they have a name like Cameron, or Pat. If our client is originally from this country they probably recognize that Aaron is a man’s name, but if they are new to America they may not realize that Donna is a female. It always helps to give our customers every bit of information we can to assist them in reaching out to potential business. Our job is to help our customers grow their business.

Hugs,
Donna




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Last week's item, a bed warming pan, was designed for moving up and down the bed before someone got into it. Before that it was common to use a hot stone or brick heated at the fireside as one way of carrying warmth from the hearth into bed

Monday, June 27, 2016

Reason 4 – Poor team leaders that cannot coach and do not work well with the team.

By Donna West

Reason 4 – Poor team leaders that cannot coach and do not work well with the team.

The second and third reason for losing new employees soon after they come on board have to do with the employee. This last reason, however, has to do with our OWN team leaders and even supervisors! They are also a big part of why new agents leave. If it is VERY difficult to keep new employees, look to the company culture for the answer to the problem. Do you have a clique of people who don’t welcome outsiders? Do you have a leader with a prejudice of any kind?

Are your leaders just poor at giving positive feedback, but never fail to point out an error? Are they patient, do they explain things well? Often we set new people up for failure simply because our coaching and training are not as good as they should be. Do you have schedules completed far enough in advance that people can plan their personal needs around them? Have you made sure that people have reached out to the new comer to make them feel welcome?

Take time to review all of the hints and suggestions we have shared in the past four weeks, and if you are still having issues, share your comments with us. The beauty of a blog is that we can all contribute to solutions

Hugs,
Donna

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Last week's item, a TV Antenna, sometimes affectionately know as "Rabbit Ears", were often placed on top of the television. If the channel wasn't coming clearly you had to move the antenna around until the picture was good. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Reason 3 – The new employee simply doesn’t have the necessary skills to do the job.

By Donna West

Reason 3 – The new employee simply doesn’t have the necessary skills to do the job.

Even though new job applicants are tested and vetted by management, some people end up being hired who just can’t quite handle the job. It isn’t easy to listen, talk and type. It isn’t easy to look up information while someone is waiting on the line. It isn’t easy to remember how to spell difficult words without missing the rest of what the caller is saying. It isn’t easy to maintain your composure when a caller is venting in your ear!

Let’s face it – this is NOT an easy job, and it takes a special person to do it. It requires a keen understanding of people, knowledge of customer service, comfort with the computer and keyboard, the ability to listen and hear what people are not saying, and to condense what they are saying.

Every new agent will take a poor message, forget to verify a phone number (and it turns out to be wrong) or fail to confirm the spelling of someone’s name. But if those things are happening on a too frequent basis – something is wrong. The employee is not moving forward, and you can’t afford to have someone making mistakes. Watch carefully as a new agent gets acclimated to your position.

Hugs,
Donna


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Last week's item was s hoe horn.  Perhaps the easiest thing you can do to care for your shoes is use a shoe horn to slip your foot into  your shoe; whether a lace up or slip on.  Otherwise, over time the back of the shoe (the counter) will break down which will in turn adversely effect the look of the entire shoe; as well as the lifespan of the shoe.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Reason 2 – The new employee has poor work habits or poor interpersonal skills.

By Donna West

Reason 2 – The new employee has poor work habits or poor interpersonal skills.

Our companies rely on teamwork to be successful. If one agent does not pull their weight it adds work for every other person on the shift. Being late, taking a long time to finish a call or leaving their seat frequently are all things that cause issues. These are issues that can be corrected by good coaching and encouragement – remember actions that are rewarded are repeated.

If the new person takes poor messages, thereby causing dispatchers to be at a loss when clients ask questions, or even be the brunt of a client’s anger, it causes resentment. Again, this is a training and managing issue, but if the new agent doesn’t “get it” in a reasonable amount of time, it is best to let them find success elsewhere.

If a new employee seems to have problems relating to the rest of the staff, if they don’t seem to fit into the culture, then the team will not be able to perform smoothly. Give some credence to the actions of you current staff and what they are telling you. Pay special attention to the way they accept the newcomer (and pay attention to whether someone in the current staff is causing problems for new people – not all on-boarding problems are caused by the new person.)

Hugs,
Donna

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Last week's item is a butter slicer (you press the wires down on the whole stick of butter and you get perfect little "pats" of butter.  In these days of health consciousness and portion control you might expect to see more of them in use.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Why do New People Leave?

By Donna West

The costs of employee turnover have been estimated to be at LEAST $4,500.00; and for many kinds of companies (those with significant training programs) that number is probably even higher. It’s hard to estimate those intangible costs.

There are four major reasons that new employees don’t stay with the job they have just taken. As a supervisor if you understand these reasons you can help your employer reduce this very expensive attrition. Spot these problems and you can cut your losses early.

We have four Mondays in June, we will explore one of the four reasons each week.

Reason One - The job was not clearly explained.
Often we “oversell” a position, especially in our industry. What we do isn’t glamorous; it is sincere, steady contact with our callers. It isn’t just “talking on the phone.”

This job requires being ready to take calls exactly on time, and being dependable about the schedule one commits to working. Our agents must sit at their computer, prepared to answer the phone at any minute. One of the biggest deterrents to keeping an employee is that they actually have to adhere to these rules.

Often we really like an applicant and know that they would be an asset to our company, and we tend to downplay the negatives of the job and concentrate on the good things. We MUST keep in mind that we need a complimentary fit. The position has to be right for the employee and the employer.

Hugs,
Donna


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Last week's item is a meat grinder - My mom used it to grind leftover roast beef (or any meat) to mix with mayo and maybe relish, or chili sauce to make sandwich spreads.  She used every scrap of leftovers.  She also used it for fresh meats to make hamburger, etc.