In this episode of the Bakersfield Business Mastermind, we talk about your HR needs in 2021.
Join Dr.’s Juanita Webb, Scott Thor, and Justin Hiebert as we discuss the changing landscape of Human Resources, California compliance, and employee engagement in 2021 and beyond.
Dr. Juanita Webb
Dr. Juanita Webb is the founder and president of J. Webb Consulting, a professional human resource consulting firm, and is a certified HR professional (both CA and Federal), along with numerous other affiliations and designations. She is highly skilled in executive coaching, investigations, HR best practices, training, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and succession planning. Licensed in California as a private investigator/qualified manager, Juanita conducts training and investigations and is often retained as an expert witness regarding harassment/discrimination/retaliation issues. In addition, Dr. Webb advises organizations regarding drug and alcohol testing policies and issues.
Do you know your biggest HR needs in 2021? If you don’t reach out to Juanita Webb or Justin Hiebert to talk about what you need to do to stay in compliance.
Connect with Justin and the #NextSteps Community
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Years ago, I worked in a local print and ship store. When I was hired, part of my training included some of the standard customer service training. This included ideas like, “service with a smile.”
As you can imagine, during the holiday rush to ship packages the lines are long. Additionally, nerves are frayed, anger is simmering, and spending additional money to send gifts (at an often higher price than anticipated) is often met with some resistance.
Despite all of our marketing campaigns to let people know the last day they could send packages and still have them arrive before Christmas, it never failed that we were swamped on Christmas eve.
Suddenly, it’s six pm, and right before we close a customer would come in wanting to ship gifts to their family.
“I’d like it there overnight.”
After calculating the size of the box, the need to package everything, additional insurance, and the overnight charge, the expense was usually well over $100.
At this point, one of two responses would usually happen.
The first person would say something like, “That’s what I get for waiting. Let’s do it.”
The second person would berate me for being a victim-preying, money stealing, Christmas-ruining, greedy, evil-minded cashier.
And if I was really lucky, I would hear about how much more educated, rich, or important they were than me.
Three Steps Towards Better Service With a Smile
Providing great customer service is never an option. It can, and should, always be done. Even in the midst of the difficult and unreasonable customers (here’s looking at you, Karen), our obligation as success-oriented individuals extends into the way we interact with others.
Service humanizes relationships between the customer and the company … Service is your company’s ability to maximize customer satisfaction.*
Marcus Whitney’s six core business value is about the service we provide our customers. Whether you are trying to solve a product issue or a customer problem, world-class customer service is a must.
This is even more true today as the world deals with the economic hardships of COVID. How a business responds to its customers is more important than ever.
The idea behind providing service with a smile is about much more than a physical action. It is about an attitude and a mindset to help you solve and resolve a situation.
Here are three core concepts to take with you on your customer “service with a smile” journey. More than that, think of these as a good-better-best situation where each of the below points builds on the previous.
1.) The Customer is Always Right … Except when they aren’t.
Dealing with an irate customer can be difficult. The person standing before me, cursing me out on Christmas Eve is but a tame example in many people’s books.
And we’ve often been led to believe that the customer is always right. Which is true.
Except for when it isn’t.
I am (nor have I ever been) any of those things that the customer accused me of. In fact, I love Christmas. I geek out over it more than almost anyone else and would love to have it go on even longer.
For reference, we started singing and listening to Christmas songs in October this year.
So how do we understand this rule? By separating the customer from the problem.
Where the customer is always right is specifically in regards to an issue or a problem that needs to be resolved. In my case, it was the need to get the gifts to their family safely, quickly, and for an agreeable price.
Overnight is $109. Two-day shipping is $79 and will get there the day after Christmas. Standard shipping is saying three to five days and is $29. All of these come with tracking and insurance. Which option would you prefer?
If I can give them options, and let them know they have choices in the matter, we can find a solution that works for everyone. Many times, they’d opt for the two-day shipping and the out of, “I sent it but the crazy shipping company can’t get it to you on time sweetie.”
I can live with that.
2.) Am I Doing My Best To Engage This Person and Solve Their Problem?
Going beyond a simple problem-solution type of answer, we can also look at the person and see the need, fear, or worry they are bringing to the situation.
More than giving them a list of shipping options, I can also say something like:
I see that Christmas is really important to you and that you really love your family. I’d like to help make Christmas special and get your gifts there as quickly as possible. Let me see what I can do.
Now, instead of just three choices, I’ve affirmed their humanity, the fear they carry of ruining Christmas and honored a core aspect of their identity.
Think of the difference in the answer to these questions:
Did I solve the problem? It’s a yes or no answer, with very little insight.
Did I do my best to engage this person in solving the problem? Now there is tremendous potential for reflection, growth, and future action.
3.) Go Beyond Your Customer and Into the Community
The final step in the service with a smile growth journey is to think beyond the walls of your business and the experience in the community. The exponential growth of sites like Google Reviews and Yelp show just how damaging a bad review can be.
More than solving the problem, more than honoring them think about what it means to be a part of the community.
How does your customer service change if you think about the businesses on either side of you? What about those that haven’t heard of you yet but would be likely to buy from you? How does your response change if you had to publicize it to your email list?
When we think about larger implications, especially those of how we want to be perceived and received in the community, it can change our responses.
Go beyond solving the problem. Go beyond doing your personal best. Instead, strive to make the entire community better through the experience.
That’s world-class customer service.
Eight Core Concepts
This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.
We’re continuing our look at Marcus Whitney’s Book Create and Orchestrate by examining what it means to have a strong sense of business operations.
If you missed any of the previous posts, don’t worry, links are at the bottom.
At its core, the purpose of operations is the indefatigable elimination of risk in the business.*
The Structure Of Business
The United States has a dizzying array of tax codes, legal standards, and licensing requirements for businesses. I’m not a tax professional, and I understand very little about the different structures and benefits to each different type of business entity.
What I do understand, however, is risk mitigation and people management.
Yes, creating the right entity matters.
Of course, you need to have insurance, file the proper paperwork, and utilize the right tax incentives.
But above all, it’s the measure of people’s development, conflict resolution, and personal investment that really shapes the future of your business.
Effective Business Operations Includes Substantial People Development
Years ago, I was coaching an individual that often touted his own leadership capabilities. He was convinced that both his ideas and his methods were right. It came as an absolute shock then when he was passed over for a promotion.
To hear that he didn’t play well with others, handled criticism poorly, and was developing a negative reputation in the organization truly came as a surprise to him.
Early on he expressed his anger and frustration. Everyone else’s inability to see his greatness was offensive. It was then that I asked him a fundamental question about his leadership.
“Great leaders produce more leaders. Who are other people you’ve developed that would identify you as their main source of influence?”
He sat in silence for several minutes, ultimately unable to come up with a single name.
He was slowly beginning to realize the difference between ordering others with tasks and leading people effectively.
To his credit, he took the insight seriously and began to change. His method and approach to interacting with others improved greatly. He led his team more effectively and radically improved his leadership capabilities. As a result, his overall business operations improved. His happier (and more well-developed people) made for a better culture, which made for a better customer experience. Everyone won.
Your Key Three Takeaways
To effectively grow your business operations and, as a result, your overall business, you must, as they say, play well with others. Ultimately it will all come down to how well you invest in the people and culture of your organization. Here are three things for you to practice this week:
1.) Think Through the HR Logistics
One of the reasons businesses call me is because they sense that a change is needed in their HR policies. People are leaving. Customers are unhappy. Turnover is high. What’s going on? Most times, the business owner hires an employee but then stops the conversation. Outside of the occasional business meeting, there is little to no talk of promotion, a pay raise, or leadership development. If this is you, your business operations are in need of a serious overhaul. Start with people. End with people. Develop people at every step along the way. Think through those logistical questions and treat your employees with respect, trust, and goodwill. It goes farther than you think.
I almost wrote, “Don’t criticize.” It’s not that people don’t need to hear good, constructive feedback, it’s that it’s so often done poorly. Coach your people through problems. This gives them the opportunity to listen and learn from their mistakes by applying critical thinking to their own actions. The most effective way to change behavior is through good, insightful coaching.
On the positive side, be generous with public praise. I once worked with an employer that openly refused to praise their employees.
“I give them a paycheck, why should I praise them for doing their job?”
The short version of that story is that employee turnover was extraordinarily high and morale was constantly low.
Praise frequently and extravagantly.
Let someone know when they do a good job.
Better yet, make sure others know it as well.
3.) Win Relationships, Not Arguments
Several years ago, mired in a personal conflict with someone else, I learned a very harsh reality: If I win the argument but lose the relationship, I’ve lost everything.
I’m sad to say that I lost everything. My moments of weakness, poor leadership, and even worse conflict resolution ability cost me a friendship and ultimately a job. As a person in charge of business operations, this decision haunts me.
From that moment on, I was determined to never let it happen again. Since then, I’ve never been disappointed. Even when it means swallowing my pride or allowing the other person to be right (even if factually I am) it’s always been worth the extra effort and energy to win the relationship.
As a business owner or other leader, be sure to win relationships. With your employees, your customers, your superiors, and your community. Sacrifice the idol of always needing to be right and instead work towards always needing to be loving. Demonstrate grace, compassion, and empathy as a leader.
Eight Core Concepts
This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.