Sorry, Verizon, this is not warm and fuzzy customer service. In fact, this is not good customer service at all.
What do you see wrong here? Is this the type of impression your organization is giving its customers, donors, members, community, and/or employees? What customer service lessons can be learned from this example?
Yes, you read that correctly. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People People.
With a nod to Stephen Covey who passed away earlier this week, I decided to come up with my own list.
Why People People? As I thought through different circles of professionals I’m privileged to come into contact with, a common denominator is this notion of people people. According to Dictionary.com, a people person is “an outgoing, gregarious person with good communication skills.” Every profession has them, but I would contend that people people are found more among those who work with membership and customer service, events and meetings, travel and tourism, and education.
So what makes for highly effective people people?
Habit 1: Listening To solve a problem or provide assistance, a highly effective people person will listen. They ask insightful questions and gather information so they understand your request or need fully. They are resourceful and know how to connect you to people, ideas, and/or guidance. They don’t have to have all the answers and will tap into knowledge that they do not possess. Listening is a critical component to effective communications skills and an essential building block to both writing and speaking.
Habit 2: Engagement Just as listening uncovers real needs and hopes, engagement is what enables a people person to pull disparate ideas and people together. An effective people person is engaged with you in a conversation as if you’re the only one in the world (we all know a few). They are fully engaged. When they leave the conversation with you, they are fully engaged elsewhere. These moments of complete engagement provide illumination for the other moments, and in time, concepts and people are pulled together. The people person is quick to make introductions at a party or a conference, not just to be polite, but because they see the potential impact of dynamic, new connections.
Habit 3: Service Highly effective people people are more likely to volunteer or serve in some capacity. Maybe it’s the additional opportunities to connect with their peers or perhaps it’s the sense of continual learning. It could be a sense of gratitude or indebtedness. The common thread though is that of connecting people and ideas and resources.
Habit 4: Ownership Highly effective people people see problems and seek resolution. While perfectly fine to delegate or seek assistance, the people person will follow up to ensure that the request or need was satisfied, either internally or with the customer, client, or member. They see their responsibility beyond the scope of their daily tasks or job description and will want to know that its conclusion was beneficial to the individual and to the organization.
Habit 5: Responsiveness The first step in ownership is responsiveness. People people are not satisfied with just meeting the minimum requirements. Let’s say the company policy is to respond to an inquiry within four hours. Where possible they are responding within 20 minutes because they know how vital this is to a customer service relationship. They are motivated by their own frustrations at a lack of service or a bad experience elsewhere. Because people people are highly social and communicative, they know that people talk. The people person wants to make sure that what is being said about them, their department, and their organization is positive.
Habit 6: Timeliness While very similar in some regards to responsiveness, timeliness is different. Responsiveness says, “I see your need. I acknowledge your pain.” Timeliness seeks the full resolution of the need or the request. Responsiveness is what happens in the first moments. Timeliness is ongoing with various checkpoints. Think about it from the perspective of a medical emergency. Responsiveness is being first on the scene. Timeliness is getting the proper care in the hours and days afterward. The highly effective people person (as mentioned in Ownership) wants to see the resolution to its conclusion. It’s not enough to place the immediate call in response, customer loyalty is won or lost on the timeliness of the entire process.
Habit 7: Transparency Highly effective people people live in a world where they believe most eyes are on them. While it has the downside of being a bit egotistical, its positive spin is that (as mentioned in Responsiveness), it brings an inherent accountability. The people person knows that people talk. These people may not talk to the people person’s boss, but they’re talking- in coffee shops, on golf courses, while shopping. They’re talking on email and Skype and Facebook and Twitter. The people person understands the connectedness of the world today and the rapidity with which ideas are shared. They know that things come to light with smartphones, cameras, and recording devices. Highly effective people people operate within this and want what is being said to be positive (Again, see Responsiveness).
What 8th habit or other habits do you see in highly effective people people? What other professions or industries benefit from having highly effective people people? Who are the most highly effective people people you know?
I present to you “The Greatest of Great Ideas in Less Than 180 Seconds”: the best of the notes, quotes, tweets, posts, and questions from ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference. I have organized these topically rather than by session or chronologically. I have put in bold ones that resonated with me, my personal favorites.May the content below inspire you to more great ideas!
On presentations and learning:
- The brain craves meaning before detail.
- Give people three reasons they need to do something. Short term memory can’t handle more.
- Think visually and tell stories to be remembered.
- Retention goes up to 65% when just an image is used. Telling stories is underused.
- The story is for your audience, make sure they care about what you’re talking about.
- Talking trumps listening, cut presentation content in half and provide time for discussion.
- Provide bite-sized education: 10-minute segments are best.
On innovation and creativity:
- CEOs and senior management must be open to innovation from any level.
- Innovation like jazz often happens in the spaces between the notes.
- Innovation is not about products and services; it’s about experiences.
- The overhead projector appeared in the bowling alley 30 years before it appeared in the classroom. We’re slow to innovate.
- Sell dreams, not products.
- Dream bigger! As Steve Jobs said, in crazy there is genius.
- Creativity is found in connecting disparate concepts. Connect ideas and fields: Steve Jobs modeled Apple stores after the Ritz-Carlton experience.
- There is no magic toolbox for innovation. But uncover opportunities. Then act.
On leadership, opportunities, and competition:
- Visions should be bold, concise, crisp and have a deadline.
- Besides identifying new business opportunities, associations have to identify current ones that are no longer relevant and eliminate them.
- FedEx redefined overnight service. How are you redefining your market?
- If we hypothetically created the competitor that puts us out of business- what would we do differently?
- In a global economy you compete with everyone from everywhere for everything.
- Think big, start small, and scale fast!
- Collaboration is too often something we are weak at internally which is why we have trouble collaborating externally.
- It doesn’t have to be your program you’re promoting. You may need to collaborate with others to better serve members. What collaboration could occur so we can achieve our goal?
- Inventing it all yourself is too slow and too expensive. Do you have the capacity to make the right connections?
- When you plan, do you collaborate to paint a clear picture? What does your preferred future look, feel, and sound like?
On the role of associations:
- Association web sites need to focus on benefits and information to members- not about who and what the association is.
- If we closed our doors, would they notice? What would members not be able to do for themselves? Innovation comes to life when you think differently.
- Associations should not want members; they should want engaged, empowered, and active citizens.
- We don’t always have to be education providers, we can serve as curators and provide value to our members.
- If an association does not build the capacity to innovate, its very existence is thrown into question.
- You have to conceive of your brand as having an impact beyond your potential membership base.
- 75% of association executives believe their members use smartphones, but only 28% of associations have a mobile strategy
- In Japan buildings are painting giant QR Codes on top of roofs so they can be seen by Google Maps.
What would you add to this list? What are your key takeaways? What blog posts on Great Ideas have you gotten additional insights from? (Feel free to provide links below.)
I’d like to thank Amanda Batson, Bob Vaez, Jamie Notter, Devin Crosby, Abby Myette, Maddie Grant, Tobin Conley, Walt Tracy, Kim Howard, Linda Eller, Jane Lee, Lowell Aplebaum, Sarah Albright, Stacy Copeland, Scott Oser, Nancy Fisher, Mark Dorsey, Staurt Meyer, Nora Burns, and Carmine Gallo for their tweets, comments, and contributions to my understanding.