Category Archives: Better Leaders

6-steps-to-dealing-with-Customer-Complaints

6 Steps to Dealing with Customer Complaints

In an ideal world, your customer service skills mean that there are no complaints. However, it’s important to be prepared to handle them if they should occur. Strong customer-oriented professionals have a positive attitude towards complaints. They see them as an opportunity for improvement and a chance to rebuild and strengthen the relationship with the customer. Research tells us that less than 5% of unhappy customers will make a complaint. Most of the 95% who will not complain, will stay away and will tell others of their problems. Apply these customer-orientated tips in dealing with complaints to create a positive outcome for all involved:

  1. Listen actively

Allow the customer to explain the problem as they see it. Ask open questions to ensure you understand their concerns and that the whole problem is on the table. Allow the customer to let off steam if necessary and don’t take this personally. They will feel better and you may pick up valuable clues as to the real issue. Repeat back what you have heard to check you have heard it correctly. This also demonstrates that you are taking the complaint seriously.

  1. Apologise and empathise

To the customer, you are the organisation. Apologise promptly and sincerely on its behalf. Even if you are not responsible for the problem, you are sorry that it has happened. Show that you recognise and understand the customer’s feelings. Use the customer’s name frequently to connect with them at a personal level and choose words that accurately reflect their mood. Don’t react emotionally, make excuses, blame the customer or others in the organisation, bureaucratic procedures or suppliers. Remain ‘Above the line’ at all times. The customer is not interested in your problems or excuses, just the solution. Recognise that through your attitude, you can affect the customer’s behaviour.

  1. Take responsibility

Use positive language, focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Take care not to over-promise. Involve others if you need more authority to solve the complaint. If possible, offer several solutions and involve the customer in choosing the right solution for them. Stay calm, positive and in control of the situation. Remember, always take a complaint professionally, not personally.

  1. Thank the customer

Complaints are your opportunity to improve and to strengthen relationships. A sincere expression of appreciation to the customer will reassure them that you are taking the matter seriously, that you value their custom and that you welcome their feedback.

  1. Follow it through

Set the action plan in place immediately and check that it is completed as promised. If you have agreed to a deadline, stick to it. Keep your customer informed along the way. Share the experience with others in your team so that they can learn and develop their own skills in dealing with complaints. Use the complaint as a catalyst to suggest or set in place systems, policies or actions that will prevent the problem occurring again.

  1. Go the extra mile

Look for further opportunities to prove your interest in your customer by providing a little more than they expected, try to think outside of the box when coming to a solution for the customer. Follow up to check that they are happy with the resolution of the issue. Keep in touch through letters and emails to ensure the relationship continues. See complaints as an exciting opportunity to improve performance at all levels and to reduce complaints in the future.

Most organisations have a formal procedure for handling complaints. Ensure that you are aware of these procedures, or work with your team to prepare one if it does not exist. Whether you are the first point of contact, or become involved at a later stage, the most important ingredient to success is your attitude in handling the complaint. Bringing an ‘Above the line’ approach to the process, communicating with empathy and by applying the following steps, will ensure that a positive outcome can be achieved for all concerned.

Developing-a-‘Be-of-Service’-Attitude

Developing a ‘Be of Service’ Attitude

“Customer Service is not a department. It is an Attitude.”

Multiple research reports show that customers were willing to spend more with a company that they felt provided an outstanding customer experience and excellence in customer service. Learning more about the skills, attributes and knowledge required to become customer service professionals is only one part of your development journey. This effort will only pay dividends when you also develop your genuine ‘be of service’ attitude. Excellence in customer service is actually 80% attitude and 20% skills and knowledge. The right attitude provides you with the approach you need to use your skills and knowledge to your full potential.

Further develop your ‘be of service’ attitude by applying the following strategies to customer interactions:

Have Confidence

Projecting confidence gives the impression that you are able and willing to help a customer. Confidence comes from ‘knowing your stuff’ and believing you will be able to tackle any challenge that comes your way. For customers, competence is a signal that lets them know that the person they’re working with has the requisite skills and abilities to complete their transaction or resolve their issue.

Think Positively

Our thought process and how we choose to think is reflected in our attitude. Every situation or moment has dual ways to look at it. It is up to you to choose how you would like to react to the particular scenario. Even if the situation is challenging and taking a toll on your patience, you will have to try and find out the tiniest positive aspect present in it. Setting the tone for a positive interaction can help to guide the way to a successful customer experience that will result in a favorable outcome for your customer.

Keep an Open mind

Being open-minded typically makes us more adaptable to a unique work environment or a challenging situation. It gives us the ability to consider alternative approaches to problem solving, to take risks and look for opportunities. Taking the time to consider all possible outcomes of a situation, the good, bad and in-between allows us to reframe the situation and think about it with an open mind resulting in a positive solution for the customer.

Take Ownership

Bring an ‘above the line’ attitude to all of your customer interactions. This approach means taking personal responsibility and ownership, being proactive and solution focused. Consider the difference between a customer service representative who takes no responsibility and one who acknowledges the concern and communicates a willingness to find a solution. We all know which person we would rather deal with and we also know which interaction will enhance the customer experience.

Remember, attitude is everything and whether your attitude is good or bad, it is this attitude that people are going to remember more than anything else. The good news is that you control what attitude your customers will remember. With a genuine ‘be of service’ attitude you are able to make full use of your skills, knowledge and attributes to meet the needs, wants and expectations of each one of your customers.

Can you can implement some of these strategies to develop the right attitude for business success and a ‘Be of Service’ attitude in the workplace?

Importance-of-Effective-Communication-and-Relationship-Development

Importance of Effective Communication and Relationship Development

Leadership roles vary considerably, with variances in titles, organisational structure, industry type, working environment and a myriad of other differences that exist in our workplace today.  However, even though the titles and position descriptions may vary widely, in reality there is one common denominator and responsibility for all leaders.  They all depend upon the fundamental need to work with and through other people.

Generally, leadership involves gaining commitment from those you lead so that they understand their part in the overall vision of the organisation and are committed to achieving its success.  Leadership involves the ability to communicate, to persuade, to encourage and to inspire people to take meaningful and productive actions.  Leadership involves developing trust through positive and open relationships.

Peter Drucker said, “Leadership is not rank, privilege, title or money.  It is responsibility”.  To achieve the best results with and through others, all leaders must be willing to take on the responsibility of developing effective communication and relationship development skills.  Leaders who develop these skills and work effectively with and through others, produce the most outstanding results.

The importance of effective communication across all levels and organisations has never been as profound as in today’s fast changing diverse and multicultural workplace.  Effective communication and relationship development is the lifeblood that flows through the organisation’s arteries keeping it functioning, healthy and alive.  The pace of modern business means that people are sending and receiving more messages, instructions and other types of communication than ever before.  People are also under greater pressure to understand and implement new processes and changes whilst being expected to fulfil higher standards.  At the same time team structures are changing frequently, requiring new team member to be brought up to speed as quickly as possible and new relations developed for optimum performance. Customer relationships can also be made or broken by communication.

You and other members of your team and organisation share a unique relationship based upon common goals for the organisation.  Effective communication binds all of the members of these complex relationships together enabling everyone in the team to achieve the desired outcomes.

Constructive communication and persuasion saves time and effort, encourages co-operation and reduces stress.  Developing these kills enables you as a leader to prevent difficult situations, communicate team goals, foster self-esteem, generate mutual respect and enrich the relations that underpin a positive working environment conducive to high performance.  In other words, good communication and relationships improve the productivity and performance of the team.

On a personal level, communication is the first interaction when meeting new people.  It builds and maintains relationships.  In fact, the quality of communication is typically the underlying reason for all relationships succeeding or failing.  Communication is the glue that binds friendships together and fosters caring family relationships.

The fact that organisations require effective communication skills from all leaders and managers cannot be over emphasised. 

Everything they do involves effective written and verbal communication with others at all levels within the organisation to achieve a number of primary objectives:

  • To gather information
  • To impart information
  • To provide instruction
  • To provide data throughout the various levels of the organisation
  • To provide feedback
  • To praise and discipline
  • To train
  • To control
  • To enable emotional expression
  • To engage, empower and motivate

As a leader consider the impact your communication has on the relationships within your team.  Engaging and motivating your people to perform at their best requires meaningful communication.  However, the first step in developing effective meaningful communication is to understand that it is a two-way street and, as the leader, you must be sensitive to and aware of other’s needs and perspectives.  Too often, average leaders adopt the approach that “people need to do what I say as that’s my role”.  In today’s world, where employees are volunteers, they choose to work within organisations where they are both wanted and appreciated, that old school attitude barely achieves average results.

Successful leaders of today are sensitive to the needs of their people, understand what motivates them and use their communication skills to align the needs to their team member’s goals with the goals of the team.  They know the value of building respectful and positive relationships.

During the September to December 2018 quarter, The Leading Edge will provide tips and ideas on how our readers can develop their leadership through improved communication and relationship development.

I encourage all leaders to set a goal to commit themselves to improve their communication skills and build stronger and more positive relationships at all levels.      

Grant Sexton
Founder and Chairman

LMA-and-LMI-FINAL

Building Real Leadership – That Works | Breakfast Seminar

When it comes to leadership – what used to work before, simply isn’t working now and certainly won’t work in the future.

Following on from his international 2015 – 2016 presentation tour “Broken Leadership”, Randy Slechta, CEO of Leadership Management International (LMI) will present the next chapter in the evolving changes in organisational leadership capabilities – that work.

One of the world’s foremost authorities on leadership, Randy will draw on, and share, leading international and local research to provide attendees with insights into:

  • Why most current leadership practices are faltering and / or failing
  • Creating a new Real Leadership culture and mindset to capitalise on current and future changes and opportunities
  • Ensuring the success of young and first time leaders – your leaders of the future
  • How to capitalise on individual and organisational capabilities
  • Developing agility, adaptability, resilience and creativity across the organisation to seize tomorrow’s opportunities
    today.

As an accomplished international speaker and CEO of LMI, Randy regularly addresses and meets with business and political leaders worldwide to develop strategies to capitalise on current and future business trends.

Click the links below to book online now and access a special discount for LMA clients and Participants.

Melbourne: 29 October  |  Brisbane: 30 October  |  Sydney: 31 October

More Information on the speaker – Randy Slechta

7:15 am registration for a 7:30 am start and finishing at 9:45 am 

——————–

About Randy Slechta – International speaker and CEO of Leadership
Management International (LMI)

Since becoming CEO, Randy has led LMI to 20 years of double digit sales growth and worldwide expansion, to where it now has representatives in over 70 countries and its programs are marketed in 25 different languages.

Randy has degrees in Psychology and Business. He is also a best-selling co-author of The 5 Pillars of Leadership with LMI’s founder Mr Paul J Meyer which has already been translated into 8 languages.

About LMA

Leadership Management Australia (LMA) has been creating exceptional results through people for over 45 years.

LMA is an Australasian business that works with organisations to boost their bottom line by developing the leadership of their key people and improving their employees’ performance and productivity. Our courses have already enhanced the leadership skills, team dynamics, performance, productivity and sales skills of over 130,000 people from thousands of organisations across Australia and New Zealand.

About LMI

LMI’s mission is to develop leaders and organizations to maximise their full potential, whether it be on a personal, family, or organizational level. Backed by over 50 years of global experience,
they offer a number of products and services supported by a proven system that can make a measurable impact on both individual and company performance, as well as the profitability of your business.

Their products and services are accessible in more than 25 languages, and they rely on independent representatives to make them available in over 70 countries.

LMI

Tips-to-Help-Leaders-Understand-their-Impact-on-Others

Tips to Help Leaders Understand their Impact on Others

American author and management expert Kenneth Blanchard once stated: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” The best leaders are those who understand how they influence others and are able to manage that effect strategically.

The goal of any leader should be to affect people in a positive way for the betterment of the organisation. A really good leader needs to understand how their behaviour and their leadership style affect others and learn how to deploy both to get the best out of their team.

Understanding the effect you have on others is a kind of emotional intelligence. A good leader should view emotions as a useful source of information to help one make sense of and negotiate interactions with others. Leaders who can use their own and others’ emotions to navigate an organisation’s social environment are going to be more powerful than those who are “out of touch” with social cues.

Let’s have a look at some traits of leaders who understand their impact on others. These people tend to:

  • Ask for feedback on what they can do help their team succeed
  • Regularly and comfortably engage with team members in both professional and casual situations
  • Check in with the team to assess culture and morale
  • Spend effective time with team members teaching, listening and learning
  • Understand the strengths of individual team members
  • Willingly and regularly provide feedback and mentoring
  • Be aware of how their emotional state affects others
  • Maintain their composure and be able to manage negative or emotional situations
  • Proactively seek communication
  • Admit mistakes and show humility
  • Comfortably engage staff in social situations

Time and place

Differences in behavioural style mean that some leaders will be more effective in some situations than others. The best leaders understand their own behavioural styles and work traits and are aware of the situations best suited to their tendencies. That means they are able to tailor workplace situations to suit their management style so as to get the best results from their team.

Know your people

The best leaders understand that no two people are the same. Everyone likes to work and communicate in different ways and the best leaders almost instinctively understand this and tailor their communication and management styles to best suit the person they’re interacting with.

Knowing employees’ work and communication preferences, understanding how they prefer to be managed and how they respond to authority, enables the best leaders to shift how they manage rather than forcing their employees to change to suit management.

Test your people

Consider having your HR team do some psychometric testing across your organisation or within specific teams. This kind of testing can help team members understand their own and each other’s working traits and preferences. For leaders, understanding how your team members prefer to work can offer invaluable insights into how to manage them to get the best out of them.  Profiles International Australia provides The Profiles Performance Indicator™ – a DISC-type assessment that reveals aspects of an individual’s personality that could impact their fit with their manager, coworkers and team as well as their job performance. An extremely powerful tool for motivating and coaching employees and resolving post-hire conflict and performance issues.

following-the-leaders_lead-whitepaper-nov-16-header

L.E.A.D Survey 2018

Following the Leaders or Leading the Followers

Developing Effective Leadership in the 21st Century

New information to help leaders understand what is expected of them in their roles and how best to identify and develop future leaders with confidence and success.

The Whitepaper delves into the most profound issues to emerge from this wave of the L.E.A.D. Survey, issues that implore leaders and managers to invest the necessary time and energy to understand and leverage the leadership potential that exists within their organisations.

Download the L.E.A.D. Whitepaper to view the issues, needs and expectations of over 4,000 employees, managers and business leaders.

Use the form above to download this handy resource, feel free to share it on social media.

Back to LMA library

Spotlight-on-an-LMA-Graduate-–-Christian-Gibbs,-AKD-Softwoods

Spotlight on an LMA Graduate – Christian Gibbs, AKD Softwoods

There are many people being promoted into management roles each year, and the transition from successful employee to successful manager is a difficult one, requiring a completely different skill set. Many are set up to fail by not receiving adequate training but Christian Gibbs and AKD Softwoods in Queensland provide a perfect example of management development that works.

Christian had been in supervisory roles for many years due to his experience in technical roles within the Sawmilling Industry, however he had never received any training or development opportunities in either leadership or his own personal efficiency. He completed the course “The Performance Edge” as part of a broader professional development plan in 2018.

In his role as the Greenmill & Sawshop Supervisor for AKD Softwoods Queensland, Christian oversees the Greenmill and Sawshop staff. The company processes logs and produces mainly structural timber for house framing.

When Christian started the course he found the content familiar but the delivery and application extremely powerful, he said, “The content that is delivered can be broadly described as something we’ve all encountered in one format or another before. However, the beauty of what LMA provides is the format of the delivery and the environment that they foster with the participants. The facilitators and support staff are driving you to really be honest with yourself, and actually implement the tools which are available to us. I found LMA to be a much more interactive experience, rather than the traditional method of education, where someone talks at you.”

The course had a strong impact on Christian due to the unique delivery and interactive experience and he feels that he has grown as a leader and also as a productive person, with increased personal efficiency which has given him the time to be a more productive leader.

The Time Analysis tool, where participants are encouraged to dissect and analyse the use of their time during a work week, was the real turning point for Christian’s performance and the overall performance of his team as it made him realise the value of his time, and the time of his team. As a result, he began challenging some of the tasks that they were performing which were about providing information or which were simply done because that’s what they had always done. As a result Christian was able to reduce his hours of work from approximately 82 hours per week, which was a lot of time spent working at home after hours, down to the current level of 50 hours per week.

 “Previously I was caught up in the fact that I was just so busy. In reality, I was inefficient with my time, and working on too many projects at once, with a low completion rate. Being as “busy” as I was, I wasn’t spending the time with my team and understanding their challenges and motivating factors,” he said.

“My base team has seen increased productivity and improved morale, as a by-product of my increased interaction with the team and high level of focus on their wellbeing. We have been able to effectively implement regular performance reviews for the entire team, which has given us an opportunity to really understand what our team members want from the workplace, and where possible to be able to accommodate and develop them professionally as well, whether in the form of more training or simply sharing of operational information which they would of otherwise not been privy to. “

The results have spread further within the company as they prompted the rest of the team to assess some of the tasks they were doing, and the method of how they were structuring their work day. Christian’s team members were able to adopt some of the practices and tools he had implemented as a result of what he’d learnt with LMA. The end result is that the whole team are all far more effective and productive in their roles, with the team realising the results of our productivity.

Recently, the Team Leader in Christian’s team, Dan Wall, has commenced the Success Strategies for Team Leaders & Supervisors course. As his supervisor, Christian now has the chance to act as a Mentor for Dan and is already seeing Dan starting to make the connection with some of the actions and tools Christian previously implemented, and the change in mindset which he’s been using to lift the morale of both our Leadership Team and also their Crew on the floor.

“With Dan undertaking his course with LMA, it is continuing to build on the improvements we have realised as a result of my course completion, and it is capitalising on Dan’s differing viewpoint. He is considering angles which hadn’t occurred to me, and further enhancing our productivity and effectiveness, whilst continuing to really build and nurture the culture of our workplace.“

Discussing his LMA experience, the two main highlights for Christian was the exposure to the other course participants and the terrific facilitator, Nikki Watson. “What I appreciated most about her as a facilitator was her ability to push past the normal “excuses” and really get us to challenge ourselves to take an honest look at the situation and make a decision on actionable steps, rather than excuses about why we can’t complete that task.”

Many of our graduates reference the experience with other Participants as one of the highlights of their course experience as they benefit from the exposure to other people, who are facing the same or similar challenges in different environments. Christian said, “The really satisfying part of the interactions with other participants, was being able to watch them develop as people, and hearing about the win’s they had achieved that week. Being in an environment where you are surrounded by likeminded people, whom are all able to encourage and offer advice on how to capitalise on the journey we were all undertaking, was something really special.”

spotlight-on-LMA-graduate-Sue-O’Rourke

Spotlight on an LMA Graduate – Sue O’Rourke, Flourish Australia

Building her ‘slight edge’ was clearly not enough for Sue O’Rourke as she returns to fine tune her sales skills in 2018 with LMA.

Sue complete her first course with LMA last year – The Performance Edge – and instantly saw the improvements to her productivity and planning.  Sue says, “So many of the LMA tools have helped me on a day-to-day basis improve my use of time –  I use discussion planners for key people I need to share info with, I use my diary so much more effectively now dividing tasks into important/imperative. So many other things!”

“Continuous reflection about whether I am working on a High Payoff Activity, whether tasks could be delegated and implementing strategies to reduce interruptions,” she adds.

Flourish Australia, a charity that supports people with the lived experience of mental health issue, saw the improvement in Sue’s management of one of Flourish Australia’s social enterprises, Figtree Conference Centre, and signed her up for The Sales Edge program in 2018.

Sue’s experience as a mental health worker plus her experience managing her own business assisted her managing the tension between the two goals of the business; financial sustainability given high wages due to lower productivity and supporting our employees with their wellness and transitioning them to open employment. However, the Sales Edge program is helping her build on the sales and growth of the enterprise.

“As a result of what I learned during The Performance Edge in regards to productivity and the sales skills I have fine-tuned in The Sales Edge, I have achieved so many Win / Win goals – purchasing new venue management software to more efficiently handle quoting and venue enquiries and better CRM input. Improved financial reporting was a Win/Win goal I have achieved, as was sending out quarterly newsletters to customers.”

And where to from here for Sue? “My manager had previously done TPE with LMA, hence his suggestion I do it. I have since enrolled the supervisor in our venue in the Success Strategies for Team Leaders and Supervisors (SSTLS) course. So LMA language and tools are becoming part of Flourish Australia.

And…LMA have become my customer. They now run many courses out of Figtree Conference Centre in Sydney Olympic Park. Definitely a Win/Win!”

spotlight-on-LMA-graduate-Jim-Mildren

Spotlight on a Manager/Mentor – Jim Mildren – Boral

Jim Mildren from Boral has worked with LMA over many years mentoring many of Boral’s operational staff through our LMA courses. If you’re looking for someone with great mentoring experience, Jim is your man!

As the Concrete Operations Manager – Country North for Boral Construction Materials.  Jim is responsible for concrete production in Cairns, the Tablelands, Townsville, Mount Isa, Weipa. In total, Jim’s area employs 53 staff in total, including 4 direct reports.

“The people I’ve mentored with through LMA have generally been direct reports.  I’ve tried to be a guide and sounding board rather than taking a directive approach as I’ve found that people get a lot from the course when they assess their own attitudes and make their own decisions.”

Jim’s experience mentoring people was generally focused on the Challenge of leadership course. Quite a few front line staff from his organisation have completed LMA programs after his encouragement.  Jim believes LMA courses gives his staff a good grounding in people management skills, but more importantly it teaches people to critically evaluate their own performance and to make improvement plans for themselves.

All of our participants have been able to make improvements to their businesses that more than paid for the cost of the course.  In addition to that we receive the intangible benefits that a more confident manager is able to provide.  I find that my people are more likely to let me know about a solution than a problem.

Jim feels that the best part of the experience is the satisfaction of helping someone get closer to their potential and has witnessed this first-hand time and time again with LMA Participants. 
We tend to have people come through the ranks to our front line management positions and it is a great feeling to be able to assist someone to transition from a hands-on role into a position of responsibility,” he says.

After seeing the benefit Jim’s mentee’s received, Jim decided to enroll in his first LMA course, the Effective Personal Leadership program which focuses on developing personal motivation, emotional intelligence and self-image to improve how you perform, respond and lead. Jim is eager to embrace this new challenge, “It has been some time since I participated in formal study so this is an exciting opportunity for me.”

 

Spotlight-on-an-LMA-Manager-Mentor-–-Clinton-Matthews,-Alspec

Spotlight on an LMA Manager Mentor – Clinton Matthews, Alspec

Over the years Clinton Matthews has been an ideal client; one who understands the importance and value in developing his people, takes a hands-on approach in this process and is a strong advocate for what we do at LMA.

Having been a Manager Mentor for over 40 people through three different programs (Success Strategies for Team Leaders and Supervisors, High Performance Management and the Challenge of Leadership) spanning more than 12 years and three different companies, Clinton knows what he is talking about when he talks LMA.

Alspec is a leading national designer and distributer of aluminium systems for both residential and commercial applications, as the Operations Project Manager Clinton feels that the company has benefitted from the real-time, real-life application of the learnings in the workplace.

“Whilst the process provides benefit to tangible activities applied by the student it also assists myself greatly in identifying my employees’ strengths and weaknesses. The process enables me to better deploy and support them within an organisation so that the employee is able to reach their full potential,” says Clinton.

After initially introducing the LMA process into the Brisbane Operations, Alspec has since utilised LMA nationally for the development of its frontline leaders through the Challenge of Leadership program in that time. This approach has enabled them to standardise their language around leadership whilst providing a supported career path for their employees.

As a result of the training that he and his employees received, Alspec have been able to drive quick and significant changes within the organisation by not only changing the culture for the better but also by developing leaders that are able to become more productive and independent with decision making within the Operational environment.

Clinton highlights the improvements in the area of time management as a key outcome, he says, “Priority and Planning and identification of High Pay Off activities would fundamentally be the most beneficial components for not only myself but my supervisors within a distribution and production environment. I have found that most leaders within such a work environment lack sound skill sets in this area. The LMA process provides the correct tools and training to rectify such shortfalls.”

Talking to Clinton about the value of LMA, he highlights the personal value he gains as well as the professional value, he says, “Over the years I have found that I have had significant success by having the privilege of being able to train, coach and develop in excess of 40 employees in leadership roles. As a mentor I find that for the duration of the course I am able to better understand my leaders whilst building a stronger relationship with the individual as I support them through their personal development within the workplace. It is always rewarding to see junior leaders grow and be promoted within organisations.”