Saturday, June 24, 2017

What Is the Best Way to Maintain a Strong Friendship?

June 24, 2017 1
What Is the Best Way to Maintain a Strong Friendship?

Just because the majority of us have friends does not mean that we are being the best friend that we can possibly be. As in many other roles, being a good friend takes time and effort, and it is something that we should all continue to practice each day. Every relationship is unique, but there are a few steps to being a true friend that seem to translate well across the board. If you notice that something has been left off the list, please leave a comment at the end with your advice on how to be a true friend.

Listen to What Is Being Said

It sounds so easy, but so many people have difficulty just listening to their friends. One of the ultimate signs of respect is just showing your friend that his life was important enough for you to listen. I cannot think of much worse than unloading a whole story to my friends only to have them ask me basic questions afterwards indicating they never heard me in the first place. Valuing a friend means taking the time to hear what they have to say. Hear your friend's questions, and take the time to ask follow up questions to make the picture more clear. By the end of the conversation, your friend will feel better knowing that you care enough to know what is going on in his life.

Be Loyal Regardless of the Situation

Nobody likes a back-stabbing friend...nobody. Do not become a person that smiles in your friend's face and then talks badly about them when they are not around.Not only does this have the potential to blow up in your face later, but it also shows other people that you cannot be trusted.

Being a true friend means that you are there whenever your friend may need help. No matter how much time has passed between conversations, a true friend is one that will be there immediately if called upon in an emergency.

Sacrifice for the Good of Others

Good friends know that there will be times when they need to set aside their own personal gain for the benefit of their friends. There will be moments where you may feel like celebrating but your friend just needs to stay in and vent over a problem at hand. Knowing when to sacrifice the moment in order to be there for a friend is a huge part of taking a friendship to another level.

There will be nights when it looks like you may be able to get a full night's rest, but instead you end up consoling a friend over the phone for hours. Sure it can be hard, but it's worth it months later when your friend thanks you for what you did for them. Or better yet, when they are there to return the favor when you are in a time of need.

Offer Advice Without Being Demanding

Try not to just sit there in silence when your friends need you. Be a reference point for them. You may have knowledge of certain subjects that they are unfamiliar with, or you may have already dealt with certain issues that they are going through now. Give your friends some food for thought and then let them make the ultimate decision on their own.

Just remember that there is a fine line between giving someone advice and telling them what they should or should not do with their lives. Give your friend some possible options and then respect them enough to let them make a decision with that knowledge.

Be Supportive During Good and Bad Times

As a friend, this was always one of my favorite things to do. Support does not just mean offer financial help. It also means to be there mentally and emotionally for the people you love. If you know that your friend has an important race coming up, make it a point to be there to cheer them on. Have a friend making a presentation? See if you can be in the audience so they can have a familiar face to look out upon during their speech. Overall, just remember the little things that your friends are involved in, and see what you can do to help them out.

Keep in Touch When Possible

It may seem like friends are supposed to talk to each other every day, but I have found exactly the opposite as I have gotten older. My closest friends and I talk sporadically over the phone and by computer, but we never seem to miss a beat. We have learned how to communicate with each other without smothering each other in the process. We respect each other's space and right to grow as individuals without feeling like extra space could tear our friendship apart.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Book Review - Duke Sucks: A Completely Evenhanded, Unbiased Investigation Into the Most Evil Team on Planet Earth

June 11, 2017 0
Book Review - Duke Sucks: A Completely Evenhanded, Unbiased Investigation Into the Most Evil Team on Planet Earth

“The best thing about hating Duke University is that you never have to explain yourself.” - Ian Williams

March 31, 1986.

That was the date the last time I ever cheered for the Duke University Men’s Basketball team to win a basketball game. They played against the Louisville Cardinals in the NCAA championship game that day and ended up losing, but I was cheering for them all the way. Pervis “Never Nervous” Ellison ended up having the game of a lifetime for Louisville, and I was actually bummed that Duke lost.

I’m not sure what happened since that day, but there are only two other sports programs that I hate as much as Duke now…the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Yankees. I once told my sister that I hate Duke so much that it makes me physically ill to watch them play on television. My heart rate increases and my stomach starts to feel nauseous as I hear the announcers gush over how good they are and as the refs give them every call during the game.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about them that drives me crazy because virtually everything about them drives me crazy. Their fans come across as overly-entitled. The players always seem to get the benefit of the referees’ whistles. Coach K is simply obnoxious. And the television networks seem to think everyone wants to watch 95% of their games on national television.

No matter what the reason is, it simply comes down to the fact that I hate Duke.

A few years ago, my sister sent me a package not long after March Madness was over. I opened it and pulled out a copy of Duke Sucks. I remember calling her and telling her that I loved the book…and this was before I’d even read a page of it.

Once I finally got around to reading it, I couldn’t stop. It was as if the authors of the book had been in my head at some point. They pulled out every reason a person could possibly hate the Duke basketball team, and tried to back it up with as much evidence as they could. Reading it was like a dream come true.

Some of the arguments put forth for disliking the team range from Wojo’s annoying floor slap to the Blue Devils’ notoriously easy non-conference schedule. Sprinkled in are some funny stories that only a true Duke hater (or UNC fan) could appreciate. One of my personal favorite chapters was titled “Charge #17: Duke Gets More Calls Than a Mumbai Customer Service Center”.

Ultimately, I finished the book in less than a day. I found myself nodding in agreement through the majority of it. There were a few spots that were a little cheesy, but it was still fun to see how much research was put into it. And when I used to struggle to put into words why I hated the team so much, now all I have to do is hold up a copy of Duke Sucks and it does all the work for me.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tips to Improve Customer Service Satisfaction in Call Centers

June 10, 2017 0
Tips to Improve Customer Service Satisfaction in Call Centers

Are you employed in a customer service occupation and looking for ways to improve your performance? Are you the owner of a company trying to become better at interacting with your clients? Below you will find a few basic steps that can allow you or your employees to enjoy more success the next time a customer has a problem.

In today's world, every job has a customer service component to it because everyone wants to make sure that the patrons of their business walk away happy. Whether it be a dentist ensuring a patient comes back for future check-ups or a tech support analyst offering resolutions for a computer issue, we are surrounded by situations that require good customer service.

Consider the steps below the next time you interact with a client, and success will not be far behind!

Be Courteous

It seems like such an easy thing to do especially if you work in customer service, but the number one rule is to be as nice as possible to the customer. Customer service professionals are often the face and voice of a company, so many people will base their impressions of a business off how they were treated by the customer service department. Treat someone badly and the likelihood of there being negative publicity is high.

No matter how rough the day may be, there is no excuse for being rude to the people you are trying to help. You should speak to them with respect, and try to envision what you would expect if you were in their shoes. Another thing to keep in mind is that the customer may be upset, angry, or even embarrassed by even having to ask for help. Try your best not to make that feeling any worse than it already is.

Finally, be sure to wipe the slate clean after each interaction with a customer. There will definitely be moments where you may need to take a deep breath before helping someone else. Just make sure that you do not take out a prior bad experience on someone else who had nothing to do with it.

Listen and Understand

Have you ever asked someone for help, and they ended up not even addressing your problem? Just how frustrated did you feel after they gave you an answer to what they assumed you were going to ask?

When someone comes to you for help, make sure that you listen to their problem and the solution they are expecting to occur afterwards. After they finish telling you the problem, make sure that you can re-word the problem and say it back to the customer.This will show the person that you understand what they are saying, and also allow you to get more details about the problem.

If someone is upset, it is best to let them vent first before trying to offer any suggestions about how they can address the problem. Allow people to have a chance to tell their story, and then let them know what you can do to help them out in the long run. In most cases, people will realize just how upset they sound as you sit back and allow them to speak.

Use Your Resources

One of the most dangerous things you can do as a customer service professional is give someone an answer that you are not sure is the right answer. If it turns out to be false, your credibility and that of the company are in jeopardy.

The way to avoid putting yourself in this position is to use your resources as best as you can before giving someone a definite answer. Your resources can be anything from company documents to memos to training manuals to the co-workers around you. At no point should you be ashamed to ask someone else a question if it means getting the customer the right answer.

Set Realistic Expectations/Time-frames

This is possibly one of the most important aspects of quality customer service. Sometimes there are situations where you just cannot provide an answer right away without researching it, or you may need time to develop a solution. It just is not realistic to expect everyone to be able to solve every problem the minute they find out about it.

With that being said, if you do need to take time to do more research for someone, make sure you give that person a reasonable time-frame for when they can expect an answer. Even if you are unable to find the answer by the end of the first deadline, make sure that you contact your client to let them know your status and how much longer it will take.

If you fail to keep your customer in the loop, they will eventually start to get angry with you because they may feel that you have forgotten about their problem. They may also begin to question your professionalism, and ultimately seek a solution from someone else. In most cases that I know of, people are more than happy to wait as long as they know what you are doing and when they can expect to hear back from you.

Make Sure the Problem Is Solved

Ok, so you understand what the problem is and you have researched an answer. None of this means anything if you do not take the time to make sure the answer given actually solved the problem at hand.

Take a moment to follow up with your customer to make sure that everything has been taken care of to their satisfaction. You would be amazed how happy people are to know that you took the time out of your day to make sure they are OK. And if the problem still remains, it gives you a chance to stay on top of it and work towards an alternative solution.

Go Above and Beyond

It is one thing to give somebody an answer to a problem they may be having. It is another thing to answer their question, tell them why it happened in the first place, and also provide them with tips to keep it from happening in the future. Good customer service workers answer the problem at hand. Great customer service workers find solutions and check to see what else may impact the customer as a result of the solution.

One of the best ways to go above and beyond is to look for alternative solutions. Nothing saves a company more time and makes a customer happier than being able to provide an answer as well as two or three alternative solutions in case the original answer did not work for them. This will allow the client to work down a list of possibilities rather than having to call back or visit the company each time a solution fails.

Take Responsibility for Each Customer

Have you ever checked up on a situation and had someone tell you that it was not their problem because they did not do it? Nothing angers a customer more than someone trying to blame another person or department for a problematic situation. In most cases, people just want their problem resolved without going through an internal blame game.

The best thing that a customer service representative can do in a situation like this is to acknowledge the problem at hand and immediately take responsibility towards finding an answer. Whether that means getting the client to the correct department or just resolving the entire situation yourself, you should always look towards moving the situation to a positive ending without blaming another person.