One of my clients had recently started experimenting with how he responded to customer requests. His customers were co-workers —people internal to the company. He had been finding himself increasingly annoyed and impatient at their requests, and he wanted to change that.
To his credit, he knew most of the annoyance he felt was simply because his customers didn’t understand what they were asking, and it was going to take more effort than he wanted to exert to explain the situation, deny the request, or whatever. It didn’t help that he got the same types of questions repetitively, even if they were from different people.
Taking a Step Back
When he realized people were not getting up in the morning plotting ways to annoy him, he took the situation into his own hands to reduce his annoyance. And he got an unexpected benefit in the process.
Whenever he received an email that made him sigh or roll his eyes, he chose instead to pick up the phone or even go visit the person if possible.
In our coach/client relationship he was learning about taking a coaching approach and how to ask good questions to draw people out, get at what was really on their minds, and to have more productive discussions. He soon found that this approach stood him in good stead with his customers.
A Different Approach Pays Off
With the more personal touch, he learned more about their situations, which enabled him to read their needs better. Instead of just shooting off an email, he took a little extra effort to get to know them better. They in turn got to know him better and what his group was capable of. They started asking better questions, and making more reasonable and productive requests.
He modeled this approach to his team and they all started taking a more personal approach. His group was soon able to get at their customers’ true needs, and sooner.
So much so, when the time came for customers to decide between his group and other options to meet their service needs, they requested my client’s group. The demand for his group grew so much over time, he was able to justify four more positions.
Now, from a big picture business perspective, you might say creating overhead is not the goal, but at the same time, it depends on the cost and quality of service.
There is No Substitute for a Human Touch
From my perspective my client learned an invaluable lesson as a leader. Whenever possible, take the opportunity to make a deposit into that repository of trust with people who count on you, with people you “lead,” in whatever capacity. You could say he led his customers to a more productive use of everyone’s time in this situation.
When, as a leader, have you taken an extra step to create a human connection, and what was the result?
Photo credits: Microsoft Clipart
Originally posted at Mary’s blog: www.reimaginework.com