The Granny Lesson

My mom and dad have seven grandchildren. Three live in the US and four live in Ireland. The ones who live in the US live relatively close to my parents so they see each other often. The grandkids in Ireland, however, don’t have the benefit of being with my parents much. But, that hasn’t affected their relationship. The kids Skype with my parents on a weekly basis so that they can see and speak with each other. It’s as good as living down the street.

One of the last times my mom went to Ireland, my youngest nephew, who was three at the time, saw her in the airport and went running up to her and gave her a huge hug. He knew who she was and was thrilled to know that his granny was going to spoil him for the next week or so.

I have channel partners all over the Americas. We email often and have good, productive, email exchanges. However, it’s the phone calls and in person meetings that are the best. We can relate to each other and there’s something about sitting in a room with someone and hearing their voice that changes a relationship. Words written in an email can be taken so many different ways so if you don’t have an established relationship, then words can easily be taken the wrong way. When you sit face to face or hear a voice over the phone, you can get the tone of the voice and can really get a better understanding of what the person with whom you’re speaking, really means.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have built strong relationships with my channel partners over the phone, and of course email, that when we meet face to face, it’s like we’ve know each other for years, understand each other and give each other hugs. (For the record, I don’t suggest hugging people you don’t have a relationship with and if you’re unsure about it. A smile and handshake will work just as well.)

My challenge to you,  get out of the email rut, stop texting, walk over to someone’s desk, pick up the phone or hop on a plane and meet someone face to face. The bond that you build can be as strong as my nephew’s and my mom’s.

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Start With Turning on the Faucet

I have all sorts of blog ideas stuck in my head and some I’ve even put in draft form, but I just haven’t written a full one in a while. I have time blocked out every evening to write, but every evening I find something else to do and move the calendar slot to the next night. I love writing but for some reason, I am fantastic at procrastinating when it comes to writing.

I just got an email from IMPACT and it was a list of quotes to get someone past the writers block. This one in particular, got me motivated enough to writing something. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour, Author.

Everything I write doesn’t have to be perfect, ground breaking or even interesting to everyone. I have to accept that and move on. As I write this, I realized that the same thing applies to my relationships to my partners, coworkers, friend and family. You don’t have to have a reason to talk to someone, just talk. Start by saying “Hi, how are you?” or “Hi, how was your weekend?” and the water will flow.

We get so caught up in our daily to do list that sometimes we forget to be human. I have to talk to this person about this, and that person about that. How about talking to someone just because you want to, not because you need to? Crazy concept, but when you go to someone for the heck of it and not because you need something, you might actually build a two-way relationship and get a lot more out of the conversation than you ever thought you would. Stop thinking about what you need from someone and start thinking about him or her. People aren’t action items, so make sure not to always treat them that way.

Turn the faucet on and the water will flow, relationships will build and in the end you’ll get all the water you need.

Check out the IMPACT blog here which will give you some quotes to get you writing…it worked for me.

Would You be a Reference for Me?

Last week I had 5 people ask me to either be a reference for them or write an endorsement for them. I was more than thrilled to do it for all five of them! They all offer great services and one was for a great girl that worked for me years ago and I’d hire her again in a heartbeat. As I started to write the endorsements and the written letter of reference, I started to think about each one and how they all excelled at different things (as they should because they are all in different areas of service) and the strengths for each of them. I realized a few hours later that I had spent about 30 minutes on each one. I was thrilled to be the voice of the customer for four of them, and the voice of the former boss for the other. As I mentioned, they are all talented and offer exceptional service.

What I realized though, was that I last week I was no different than our customers. We, as reference professionals, are always looking for customers to speak on our behalf, to provide quotes or to speak to a prospect. No big deal, right? Well, not so fast. I was able to write the references when it suited me, which happened to be late at night. Can our customers do reference calls at 10pm? Probably not. I’m also just one person with no major demand to be a reference. Our customers probably have multiple vendors every week asking for a reference, all which take time, and all which will cut into their work day. Finally, my name isn’t on the line if someone doesn’t get the very same service as I received. Our customers not only put their name on the line, but their company’s name on the line. There’s a lot more riding on a corporate reference for the one giving the reference. And, if the reference is posted publicly, if the solution doesn’t work out as expected, then the reference giver has egg on their face.

Remember that your customers probably have tons of folks asking them for references and that each request will take some time, time that more than likely will have to be taken out of their normal, busy and hectic work day. Remember, your customers are people too.

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional

#crlp How do you move customer reference approvals along?

Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional is a blurb to get you thinking. You can find content here on this blog or at Twitter under the hashtag for Customer Reference and Loyalty Professionals #crlp.