Do Not Do List

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Do not doWhen I was growing up, I suffered from an inferiority complex where I always felt like I wasn’t good at anything.   This stemmed from the fact that I grew up in an environment where academic results were a key indicator of your love and appreciation.   I was told day in and day out that I was not smart and would never amount to anything, that the family convenience store would be my future because I wasn’t capable of greater accomplishment.

When people tell you something so many times, at some point it will be like a fact or reality to you, because it was repeated so much and programmed in to your sub conscious mind.   You start to behave and act the way that reinforces what was expected of you.   During that time, everything seemed normal, but the daily struggle of coping and feeling worthless continued to dominate my daily life.   I often questioned why I bothered going to school when my outcome was already confirmed. Why suffer and take those exams to then yield the same result?

Looking back, I would say that I didn’t know better.   I was not equipped to discern that I could influence the outcome. In my junior year in high school I turned things around and started believing in myself.   My teacher encouraged me and gave me the nudged to prove that I could accomplish more.   It is by no means that I figured out that I was smart, because I’m still not to this date. However I realized that I can do more than what I was programmed to believe in.

Back then, I started a proving-myself list. It is similar to a do-not-do list in that I list the names of people who doubted me and aim to prove that I can get it done. Each time I prove to someone that I got the job done I will cross out that name.   It took a while to see results, but I was patient and focused.   It is my laser-sharp focus and consistent results that helped me get to where I am in my career.

Over the last twelve months, I’ve focused on my do-not-do list. You might ask: what is a do-not-do list? A do-not-do list is a list of things that you’re currently doing or behaviors that you’re currently exhibiting that are holding you back. It is causing you to get stuck, thus failing to reach your full potential.   By raising your awareness and proactively stopping those actions and behaviors, you’ll slowly move in the right direction and achieve your dream.

So, what’s on my list?   I’m sharing a piece of myself—this is tough one.   The top two items are self-limiting belief and procrastination.   What do I mean by self-limiting belief? My lack of confidence in myself often affects my ability to try new things and pursue new opportunities.   When a new opportunity arises, I often talk myself out of trying or putting my name in. Not sure why, but since I’m aware of this behavior, I in turn challenge myself as to why. It is a difficult challenge to build up one’s confidence, but through baby steps and continuous progress it can be achieved, but it’s difficult to make the behavior go away.   The second one is procrastination.   Many times I will say to myself that I will do it tomorrow, even when I planned to do the task today. There is always tomorrow, isn’t there?   Then tomorrow comes and I get really busy; I’ll do it again tomorrow.   I’ve committed to blogging once a week. Since April, I’ve completed 22 weeks to date, an amazing accomplishment in my mind, but along the way, I almost missed making the weekly post twice.

I’ve taught the do-not-do list to many people at work. To date, many of the folks who attended my class shared with me their perspective and progress.   They said that it made them realized that they have something to work on and understand why they were stuck to begin with.   Awareness it the gift of making this list; once you’re aware of it, you can decide to work on it. I’m proud to say that many of them are doing something about it.

As you read this post, what would be on your do-not-do list? How will that list shape your future? I’d like to hear your perspective.   Writing is a labor of love, if you like my post, share it with others. If you disagree, share me your perspective.

Who is your client?

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client-relationshipsIn Mirriam-Webster’s a client is defined as a person who engages the professional advice or services of another. Another definition of client is customer.   In my early twenties I often thought of the client as the end client. By that I mean, if a company is a bank, the clients are the people who do business with the bank.

In my thirties, as I spent more time in the workforce, I started to shift the concept of client to people I interacted with or served on a daily basis. What this meant was that in the various departments that I interacted with my business partners, operations partners, are my clients.

In my mid to late thirties as I embarked on my leadership journey, my concept of client was everyone that I interacted with, including those people who worked in my organization.   As a servant leader, you aim to add value to others. In order to achieve that you need to shift your focus from self to others.   It is a difficult process, because in the age of instant gratification, the focus is often on self.   However, in order to achieve the shift, you need to slowly transform yourself by improving your awareness.   This process is difficult, but the reward is great.

Each year after that, I made progress in shifting my focus.   I start my day by thinking how I can add value to people around me.  Realizing that everyone is my client, I need to ensure that I do my best in servicing them. However, does that mean that I will be stretched in 10 different directions? Of course the answer is “NO”.

Here are some of my suggestions on how to ensure you’re providing a good service:

Be accountable – be accountable for your actions. Make sure to take ownership of your process and ensure that you see things through, that it gets done.

Focus on relationship – be aware of people’s needs and how you can help them.   Be a partner and don’t push people around.   If you have the bandwidth to help, help one or offer to help.

Priorities is key – while the need to serve everyone is crucial, you need to understand the priorities. Not all requests are alike; some are more important than others.

Focus on the end result – putting a smile on people’s faces is ultimately what we want to achieve. Focus on doing your best to delight your customer. When we enable our immediate customers, they can in turn help their customers.

Differentiation is the key – the key to market movement is differentiation. How can you differentiate yourself from everyone else? Do you want to be known for better service, best price, etc.?

If you keep in mind that the people you interact with are your customers, chances are you’ll do your best to delight them.   Remember that if you help them, they in turn can help someone else.   Go ahead and delight your customer. Put a smile on their face.

Customer Service :-)

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customerWhen I think of customer service, the company that comes to mind is Amazon. I’ve been a customer of Amazon and they always meet my expectations.   As I write this post, I remember Jeff Bezos quote: “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” That is indeed true. The same is true when a customer is unhappy with your service; they tend to tell 10 more of their friends than when they are happy with your service. So bad service experience is shared 10 times faster than good experience.

The key to good customer service is company management. If the management takes good care of their people, their employees will be happy and their customers will ultimately benefit by having a more engaged and meaningful experience. Their employees will be committed in servicing their customers and attend to the customers’ needs.

On April 18, I visited a Japanese restaurant in Allendale. This restaurant was recommended to me by a co-worker of mine.   I was excited to tell my nephew who is a big fan of Japanese restaurants.   There were 7 of us as my sister-in-law was here for the Easter weekend.   As we entered the restaurant, we noticed that it was packed.   We decided that we would wait, because we want to see how good their food was.   The lady asked how many people were in our party. My wife said “7”.   She looked at the back of the restaurant and told my wife that they didn’t have a table for 7. My wife countered that they could separate us and the lady said, “No, because that’s too hard”. We all walked away disappointed with the way they interacted with us. Who in their right mind would turn away 7 paying customers?   Not to let her ruin our night, we decided to head to our favorite Japanese restaurant, Kumo, in Ridgewood.

Upon arrival at Kumo, we were greeted and ask how many in the party.   We waited for about 15 minutes as they prepared the table.   As always Kumo’s staff gave us a great experience, not to mention that the food is great. As my daughters said, it is our favorite restaurant.   The key difference between the two restaurants is that one tries to accommodate the customer while the other thinks about their own convenience before their customers.   Ultimately it left a bad experience with us and we will not be returning anytime soon.

It does not take a lot to keep your customers happy.   Listening and taking care of them are key. If you do put yourself in your customer’s position and think how you want to be served, you will always make the right decision.   Delighting your customer will go a long way.   It will also help promote your business through word of mouth.     As Jeffrey Gitomer said, “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”

customerserviceWe all have customers in our life. The people we interact with at work are our customers.   Our family or children are our customers.   It is essential that we learn the right way of engaging our customers, because it is essential to our success.   The next time you don’t feel like it and are having a bad day, just think of how you want to be treated and let that be the way you treat others.   Remember, those who master customer service will ultimately have a great career and achieve success, while the rest will continue to wonder what happened to them.   I’ll close this post with Stew Leonard (CEO) quote, “Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule 1.”

Bad Customer Service

Will Lukang, CLDC, CSM, PMP

We always have fond memories of my sister-in-law’s annual Easter visit.   It is that time of year in which we invite a couple of our friends with little ones to participate in Easter egg hunt.   A tradition that we look forward to, because it gives us the opportunity to connect and catch up.

Every year, my girls are excited because some of their female cousins will come for a visit and spend time with them.    It is their bonding time.  This year the big thing for them was manicure and pedicure.  As soon as they arrived, they texted me to see if they could have manicures and pedicures, in this case we obliged and let them enjoy the weekend.

On April 7th we were deciding which place to have our dinner and my nephew reminded us that a new restaurant named Aoyama just opened on Thursday that week.    There is something about supporting your local business and I’m passionate about it, therefore it was not hard to make such a decision.

So, Aoyama it was.  We went at 6:30 PM to try to beat the mad dinner rush.  We arrived, and with minimal waiting, we were seated, in spite of having a party of eight.   The restaurant has a great ambience and the first impression was great.   They took our drink orders then later our meal orders were taken by 6:45 PM.

By the time we realized it, it was 7:30 PM and none of our food had been brought out.    Meanwhile, we saw some of the people around us, who came in later than us, being served.   We asked the waitress and she indicated that she would check and it was coming out.

Around 7:45 pm, four dishes came out, but the noodle soups for my girls were still not ready.  Also, two other sushi dishes were not served.    At that time, I asked the waitress for a word with the manager.  The manager did not approach our table until 8:30, at which point we had waited almost two-hours.   He explained that they were really busy and he was very sorry.  When I explained that we had waited almost two hours, he declared that there were two other groups that had the same issues.  I was shocked by his response. What was the benefit of telling me that we were not alone and I was in the same boat as two other groups?    That’s not the way to do customer service.  I mean, highlighting your deficiency will not make your customer happy.   I was only asking for an explanation why orders were served to people around us, but he had no answers other than “I’m very sorry.”

By 8:45, one of the noodle soups came out.  At that time, my 6-year-old said, if we ate at the other Japanese restaurant we would be long done.    I was expecting the other noodle dishes to come out soon.  But I found out they had not been prepared it at all.   We can cook the same noodle soup at home in 30 minutes. Why did we wait over two hours for their noodle soup?  I gave them too much credit to do the right thing and they messed up the chance to have a good customer experience.

One other sushi dish came out and the other was forgotten.    Once they found out they forgot to fill the other, the sushi chef did not do anything.   Overall, we all rated Aoyama in Wyckoff a 0 star.  They don’t deserve to have any star because they don’t know how to treat their customers.

I learned the following about how not to treat your customer;

1)      Sorry is not an answer/solution for all mistakes; actions need to be taken.

2)      Telling your customer that we are having the same problem with other customers does not make your customer feel good.

3)      Paying customers deserve your attention.

4)      When you failed to fill an order, make up for it by delivering the dish.  Not doing anything is the worst thing you can do.  Because it is tantamount to ignoring your customer.

5)      An unsatisfied customer will tell 10 more people, while a satisfied customer might tell one or two of their friends their experience.

6)      If you’re in the restaurant business, starving your customer is not a good thing, especially if they’re children.

7)      If you want repeat customers, you need to provide a good user experience

8)      Lastly, treat your customer the way you want to be treated.

In spite of this experience, we continue to support local businesses, because it is important to help them sustain their business.    My hope is that the managers of Aoyama have learned their lessons and rectified their issues, because we hope to one day give them a chance again in the future, as everyone deserve a second chance.

Customer Service – Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Will Lukang, MBA, PMP, MASCL, CSM

In this economic situation companies have a tendency to focus on cutting back and reducing expenses to make their business profitable.   But there is a saying “penny wise, pound foolish”.  While it looks like you’re making progress by seeing incremental expense reduction, you could be missing the big picture, which is what your company’s value proposition is – what  your company is all about.

 

This week I witnessed this first hand while a friend of mine dropped off his car for service.  The customer representative at the counter for loaner cars asked him which insurance company he has.  Upon hearing the name of the insurance company, the customer representative says, “I’m afraid that I cannot provide you with our loaner car, but we can provide you a Budget rental car and you have to pay for the insurance.” I was surprised by what just transpired because the purpose of the loaner car is to let your customer experience driving the newer cars, thereby eliciting interest to possibly make a future purchase.   The representative explained that they had an issue with the insurance company that led to their decision. The insurance is $36 per day.  From my perspective, for such an amount, they decided to sacrifice the client experience and took away the opportunity for the client to drive one of their vehicles.

 

As I returned to work, I pondered on what just transpired that led to that outcome. My friend was not happy with what happened; he felt that loaner service is one of the conveniences that people expect.   For $36, how many customers had a bad customer experience?  Once a customer has a bad experience, there is chance that they will not make any future purchases.    Therefore, is the $36 cost worth losing your customer?   In my opinion the company was being penny wise but pound foolish.   In fact, they’re missing the big picture as to why they are in business. They describe themselves as a luxury line of product, but they don’t provide the level of service commensurate to the image they’re presenting.

 

From a customer-service standpoint, it is important that we make the most of every opportunity we have when dealing with our customers.  We need to ensure that the customer comes away feeling good about how they are treated.   If they are treated well, it increases the chance of repeat business.  

 

That experience taught me one thing.   We need to deliver what we promised.  Each touch-point with our customer is an opportunity to impress upon them that we are here for them.   It is essential to do our best to make sure their needs are addressed and they come away satisfied.  


 

 

Sharing the stage with others (Are you ready?)

Will Lukang, MBA, PMP, MASCL, CSM

A year and half ago, I venture into the world of blogging hoping to wet my toes and see what it is like to share my knowledge and experience.     It took me over six months to muster the courage to jump into blogging.    I blog because I want to share what I know with others, hoping that if there is only one person out there that can benefit from my knowledge and experience, I will have accomplished my goal.

 

Each post provided me a sense of satisfaction that someone out there will read and learn from it and avoid learning things the hard way.   I enjoyed the comments posted and e-mails thanking me and suggesting possible future post topics.

 

Sometimes I have my ducks in a row and I know what to write for the month, but there are times I experience writers’ block and am unable to generate a post for weeks.    It frustrates me that I’m unable to connect with people who read my post.     I have the idea, but I was not able to put things together.  Other times I’m just too busy at work that left me little time to invest in writing my post.

 

One day I was on a conference call with my fellow leadership coach and we were talking about sharing our knowledge and expertise. During that discussion I had a eureka moment that I can offer a guest blogger who can blog on topics that I’m not familiar with. This way I can expand the material on site.  My first guest blogger will feature another leadership coach.  I’ll run his blog at the end of the month.

 

My hope is that, by adding guest bloggers to my blog, I can offer a better experience to the people who read my blog and provide them with an opportunity to learn new things.    For those who reach out to me or post comments, thank you for connecting with me.  I really appreciate it.   Feel free to share your thoughts and comments.  I welcome the interaction and look forward to hearing from you.

Customer Service – Make a positive impression

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, MBA, MASCL

About a week ago, I post a message on one of the appliance merchant’s site to inquire about their program.  The next day I receive a response asking me some questions in order to address my needs.

The next day, I received a response regarding my inquiry and he also mention that I should reach out to the person at the branch to further my request.   I replied to his message and thanked him for his time, but at the same time I mentioned that he could have taken it to the next level by contacting the branch and clarifying the matter on behalf of the customer.    It was a perfect opportunity for him to make a great impression on the customer.

 

My perspective is that every touch point with our customer is an opportunity to make an impression.   When we make a good impression, the customer remembers that experience and it could provide a compelling reason to do business or continue to do business with us.    Therefore, we need to take advantage of each of the opportunities, akin to playing baseball (three tries before you lose your turn) that you want to do your best in each of your at bats.

Every company has to be known for something, some for best quality, best in innovation, best in price, or any other for that matter.   For example, your firm is second best in the quality category, but you have topnotch customer service.  In the end, you might be able slowly increase your market share because of your ability to serve your customer.   Let me reiterate that by no means do I promote that bad quality and excellent service will get you anywhere.    It is important that you have a good service or product in order for you to talk about customer service, because customer service alone is not going to get the job done.

Going back to my point on my e-mail exchange with the customer service person at this appliance merchant, he replied and explained to me why he did not reach out to the branch on my behalf.  According to him, he was avoiding confusion, as it already happened a couple times with them in the past.  Then he said the situation does put everyone in a tough situation.   Nonetheless I was impressed that he took the time to explain to me the situation rather than ignoring my response altogether.   He also apologized and explained that he wanted to avoid the message coming across as being rude.  As a customer, I was glad that he explained himself.  Because of the email exchange and my interaction with their branch folks, I’m leaning toward doing business with them