As Fall Business Picks Up, Use Customer Care Expert’s Tips to Stay in Control

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Autumn is almost officially here, and in most industries as the leaves fall business picks up. JoAnna Brandi, publisher of the Customer Care Coach®, says this is the perfect time to get a grip on what Stephen R. Covey refers to as your "Q2" list � things that are "important, but not urgent" � so that you�ll be well prepared to stay on top of those items while taking on the fast-paced challenges fall brings, enabling you to keep improving your customer care.

"As kids go back to school and adults get serious about work again, it’s very easy to drown in the fast pace and extra workload," says JoAnna Brandi, publisher of the Customer Care Coach®. "My advice: Before things get hairy, assess the items on your Q2 list and plan for how you’ll take care of them. This is critical if you want to maintain and, better yet, improve your customer care standards and the profitable loyalty you can get in return."

The "Q2 list" Brandi refers to is a concept developed by Stephen R. Covey, renowned author of books including "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." In his book "First Things First," Covey categorizes activities into four quadrants, and Q2 features "activities that are important, but not urgent."

He writes, "This is the Quadrant of Quality. Here’s where we do our long-range planning, anticipate and prevent problems, empower others, broaden our minds and increase our skills though reading and continuous professional development…prepare for important meetings and presentations, or invest in relationships through deep, honest listening. Increasing time spent in this quadrant increases our ability to do."

Brandi agrees, and believes that early September is a great time to reflect upon the way you do business and to identify what is and isn’t working to help your organization build loyal customer and employee relationships.

She says, "The dog days of summer are over, the fog of vacation-mind has lifted, and now you can key in on important issues, planning thoughtfully how you’ll address them as business gets busy. This will prevent crises that can impact your customer relationships during the busy time of year." To that end, she offers the following checklist to get you thinking about the responsibilities you have that are important, but not urgent:

1)    How are you managing your energy? Are you taking care of yourself – getting enough rest, eating well, exercising and drinking plenty of water? Don’t laugh, says Brandi. "These things are important to you personally AND professionally. Take care of yourself, so you can be your best at work and at play and have a firm, healthy foundation for when work gets busy again."

2)    Did customer needs change over the summer? Have you taken the time to ASK them if their needs have changed? This is the perfect time to pick up the phone and have some short, friendly conversations to find out how they feel about your organization. A great question to stimulate their thinking is: "Is everything about doing business with us perfect in your eyes?" Chances are they’ll say no, which will give you a great opportunity to learn about gaps in your service or problems with your product.

3)    Are your employees knowledgeable about what they do? When was the last time they received training to update them on industry trends or your product lines? When was the last time they received customer care or communications training? Have some informal sit-downs to discuss such issues, or to book some more formal or ongoing training to keep them at the top of their game.

4)    Are your processes up to date? Review your hiring process, conflict resolution process, and your methods for measuring customer loyalty. Then read some great new business books, making notes of simple but effective ways you can improve processes, creating more loyal employees and customers.

5)    Get organized! Says Brandi, "Nothing says stress relief at work like a clutter-free, well organized work space. Get yours together, and encourage your employees and co-workers to do the same!"

To subscribe to Brandi’s free, bi-weekly newsletter, visit http://www.customercarecoach.com. To find out if your customer care is exquisite, take her QUIZ at http://www.customercarecoach.com/public/quiz.asp

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