Plan For Success—And You Will Succeed

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John Tschohl, Time Magazine's customer service guru, has created a six step process for succeeding in your job.

“Success doesn’t just happen; you must plan for it and work for it.”

So says John Tschohl, founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and author of several books on customer service. “The key to success is superior performance,” he says. “That means doing whatever it takes to satisfy your customers, your co-workers, and your employer. It is going out of your way to ensure that the people you work with, and for, have positive experiences when doing business with you.”

Tschohl has developed a Personal Success Plan for Excellence in Customer Service that, he says, will result in increased job satisfaction, promotions, and higher incomes. That plan includes the following six steps:

1.    Feel good about yourself. “You must feel good about yourself, if you want to make the people around you feel good,” Tschohl says. “A good attitude is contagious, but it doesn’t just happen. Pat yourself on the back. Pump yourself up. Don’t wait for others to validate you and your efforts. Concentrate on your strengths and recognize the importance of the role you play in the organization.”

2.    Be courteous. “Everyone has the right to be treated with courtesy, dignity, and respect,” Tschohl says. “It shows you care. Too often, however, we get so caught in getting the job done that we don’t take time to interact with customers and co-workers on a personal level and to recognize them as important people. The most important things you can do is call people by their names, smile, and say thank you.”

3.    Practice positive communication—verbally and non-verbally. “You communicate in many ways, not just with words,” Tschohl says. “What you say, how you say it, and how you look while you’re saying it is evidence of how you feel—about yourself and your job. Communicating with customers and co-workers on a positive, personal level is an important part of building positive relationships. That communication must be genuine, specific, sincere, and timely.”

4.    Perform. “You can be the most caring, knowledgeable person in the world, but if you don’t perform, you will not succeed,” Tschohl says. “If you say you’ll call a customer on Tuesday, do it. If you say you’ll deliver an order on Friday, deliver it. Do what you say you will do—and do it with quality and speed. Michael Dell of Dell Computers said it best: You should under-promise and over-deliver.”

5.    Listen. “Most people are so busy talking or thinking about what they are going to say that they don’t listen to what others are saying,” Tschohl says. “When a customer is telling you about a problem she has experienced or is describing what she is looking for in a certain product or service, listen to what she is saying. Then rephrase what she said to be sure you understand. It shows you care. Ask questions. Get involved. Listening shows you care and gives you the information you need to serve others—and to serve them well.”

6.    Learn. “Learn all you can about your products, services, and customers,” Tschohl says. “The more you know, the better the service you can provide. Don’t wait for the company to provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to provide exceptional service. Take the initiative and learn on your own. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make. Read everything you can about your company and your industry. Take advantage of training your organization offers and seek training outside the company as well. The more knowledgeable you are, the more capable you will be. And the more capable you are, the more successful you will become.”

Mastering the skills necessary to provide exceptional customer service is critical to achieving success. “Mastering these six skills will drive your career,” Tschohl says. “Your relationships with customers and co-workers will improve, your job will be more fun, and you’ll make more money.”

John Tschohl is an international service strategist and speaker. Described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a customer service guru, he has written several books on customer service, including Ca$hing In: Make More Money, Get a Promotion, Love Your Job; Loyal for Life; Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service; e-Service; and The Customer is Boss. John also has developed more than 26 customer service training programs that have been distributed and presented throughout the world. His bimonthly strategic newsletter is available online at no charge.

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