The CVSN Summit was a dynamic event. It was clear to me that the members of CVSN understand that creating a strong culture is critical to their long-term success and growth. I believe we left the conference focused on creating the best, brightest, most informed and best educated people in the industry. This focus will help to get us to where the puck is going not to where the puck has been.
I wanted to recap a few key points we discussed. They are business leadership basics that our team at 3SIXTY Management Services can help you to hone and transform your business. They are elaborated on in my book TIGHTEN THE LUG NUTS: The Principles of Balanced Leadership.
A Balanced Leaders Helps Others Anticipate Opportunities
In my view, leadership is about building a bridge to our future. You give your team the opportunity to help build that bridge by communicating and educating each one of them on your vision and strategy.
In the service business, people are your most important asset. The time you spend with your team members is an investment in the future, not an expense or burden on your time. You cannot successfully grow your business without an investment in your people. This can only happen with a complete, robust and articulated vision, strategy, training and communications plan and it starts with you as the leader.
Leaders should pay close attention to these key behaviors:
⦁ Be approachable. Part of how we communicate and act is how we garner people’s respect, trust, etc.
⦁ Be adaptive to your environment. How you talk to a front-line employee is different than how you would communicate with a customer or board member. Your need to understand your audience and adapt to their needs. Whether individually or in a group setting, if people look confused ask for their feedback or confirmation that they understand.
⦁ Be passionate. A leader needs the ability to inspire others. Great leaders all have self-confidence. This needs to come across in your communications if you are trying to motivate your teams.
⦁ Be prepared to listen. At times the best form of communication is the ability to listen and react. A leader should always solicit feedback and most importantly do something with that feedback. A best practice is to meet with all of your front-line staff on a quarterly basis, share company information with them, listen to their thoughts and act upon any concerns.
⦁ Provide follow-up. At the conclusion of a meeting senior management should provide a written recap of what questions / concerns came up. As the leader, your expectation is that every issue is addressed.
Balanced Leaders Focus on Service
The biggest differentiator between you and your competitors is the superior customer experience you provide. During every customer interaction your reputation is on the line. While you may need to communicate in a variety of ways to reach your customers – through social channels, email, text, a portal, by phone or in person – the key is to be authentic and attentive to their needs.
⦁ Your Priority is Customer Satisfaction. Whether on the phone, in person or via electronic communication, you need to ensure your team genuinely interacts and connects with customers to ensure a positive experience and exceed expectations.
⦁ Actively Listen to Customer Needs. Consistently demonstrate to customers you are in tune with their needs and are operating in their best interest. Customers know what they want but may not always explain it in a manner which is clear to you. Do not rush customers, allow them at their own pace to discuss what they need. Once customers have expressed their needs confirm your understanding with them to ensure communication is clear.
⦁ Build Strong Relationships. In addition to providing value, the foundation of strong relationships also includes being fair to customers and following through on your word. Make sure your team knows to ask for assistance from others when necessary to ensure proper follow through and response.
⦁ Learn the Products and Services You Offer. Part of providing a superior customer service experience is being knowledgeable of the services you offer. Ensure your team takes the time to really learn your business so they can effectively communicate to your customers the services and value you provide.
⦁ Be Responsive and Effectively Resolve Problems. If a problem occurs, allow customers to fully explain the issue and convey empathy. If the fault lies with you or the organization, take ownership of it and apologize. Take the initiative to resolve problems in a timely and effective manner.
⦁ Remain Positive. Always show respect for your customers even if you find yourself in a challenging situation. Demonstrate professionalism and keep communication positive.
⦁ Express Gratitude. Expressing appreciation can go a long way. It can be as simple as thanking customers for their business and loyalty. Make sure they know you are grateful they chose to do business with you.
Remember, someone is going to be the best, so why not you and your team? Make sure you are tightening lug nuts in your control as you lead by example.