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a blog by Don R. Crawley

Keynote Speaker on
IT Customer Service and Compassion

Bringing humanity into the world of technology

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One of the four traits of the customer service masters is the ability to treat all people with respect. Sometimes, it may seem difficult to do that, especially when you may not like or respect the other person or when you feel that person has disrespected you in some way. In Viktor Frankl’s landmark book Man’s Search for Meaning, he says that the true measure of an individual lies in his or her ability to maintain a sense of dignity in all circumstances. In other words, even when we’re treated disrespectfully by others, it’s up to us to rise above the fray and act in a respectful and dignified manner. Perhaps we are setting the example for others through our actions and behavior. You can continue reading just below the video.

Here are six ways to show respect for others:

  1. Be punctual. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at 2:00, be there at 2:00. If you find yourself frequently saying things like “Sorry I’m late, the traffic was awful” or “Sorry I’m late, there was a train blocking traffic” or “Sorry I’m late” followed by any other excuse, you need to leave earlier. We’re never late because of traffic. We’re late because we didn’t leave early enough. Lose the excuses and start leaving earlier! My son had a football coach who told his players, “If you’re not fifteen minutes early, you’re late!” Good advice!
  2. Compliment the achievements of others. It’s important to be sincere in this. We’ve all gotten better at spotting phonies. If you’re not really impressed at what the other person did, you can certainly be excited that they’re excited. Here’s an example: My wife doesn’t care a thing about computers or networks, but when I come running upstairs excited because I got an IPSEC VPN tunnel to work between two disparate devices, she gets excited for me. She doesn’t give a rip about IPSEC VPNs, but she cares about me, so she shares in my excitement. Your customers and end users are important to you, too. Share in their excitement.
  3. Be sincere and authentic. As I just mentioned, we’ve gotten pretty good at spotting phonies. Avoid using a lot of the typical business clichés, but you can say things like “It’s good to see you.” or “I’m glad to help”. Avoid automatic apologies. If you find yourself automatically saying “I apologize” to your end users, especially over and over, that’s a sign that it’s become a cliché and insincere.
  4.  Do what you say you’ll do. It’s really pretty simple. Just do what you say you’ll do. If you’re not going to be able to do it, whatever it is, don’t say you will.
  5. Lose sarcasm. Sarcasm is off putting. It’s condescending and there’s really no place for it in human relationships. It’s fine if you’re a comedian on stage, but otherwise don’t do it.
  6. Be polite. Say “please” and “thank you”. Follow the rules for being a good listener. Be gracious in your dealings with your fellow humans. Remember, this applies to everyone. One of the ways to measure a person is in how they treat people who have nothing to offer them.

I recently had the honor of working with a group of IT staff in the country of Oman. One of the people in my group pulled me aside during one of the breaks to tell me that Omanis are taught at an early age that each one of them represents the entire population of Oman. Think about it. If you meet only one person from Seattle, that person’s behavior is a reflection on the entire population of Seattle. Whether it’s justified or not, it’s often true that we form an opinion based on a single experience. If we, as IT people are rude and disrespectful, we run the risk of people forming an opinion of all IT people as being rude and disrespectful. On the other hand, if we’re polite, helpful, and respectful, we go a long way toward having people see all IT people as polite, helpful, and respectful.

For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills

Bring my one-day IT customer service training seminar onsite to your location for your group, small or large. Click here for the course description and outline.

Customer service book for IT staffPick up a copy of my IT customer service book The Compassionate Geek: How Engineers, IT Pros, and Other Tech Specialists Can Master Human Relations Skills to Deliver Outstanding Customer Service, available through Amazon and other resellers.

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