More proof that FUN is not frivolity - but can be used as tool of engagement.
More proof that FUN is not frivolity - but can be used as tool of engagement.
Do you have a book inside of you? Have you thought about what it might be like to see YOUR book in the bookstores and on Amazon.com but didn’t know how to start? Have you wanted to get your book published but feared rejection letters? I’m about to show you…..
HOW I GOT MY VERY FIRST NON-FICTION BOOK CONTRACT WITH A MAJOR PUBLISHER THREE WEEKS AFTER SENDING OUT MY PROPOSAL AND RECEIVING NO REJECTION LETTERS.
Donna Cutting, Certified Speaking Professional
The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service
Since John Wiley & Sons, Inc. published The Celebrity Experience I have met a lot of would-be authors. There are so many people with great ideas and wonderful expertise who would love to be published authors, but think that their dream is just too big to realize.
A few years ago I was working a 9-5 job making a very small salary. While my husband can testify I often exclaimed “I should write a book,” I never in a million years believed I could get it done.
Today I am a published author of a successful business book, I have a thriving speaking, consulting and training company, and I travel the country (and someday the world) helping leaders develop their employees to deliver Red-Carpet Customer Service.
You may have heard about hopeful writers who could paper their walls with rejection letters. This did not happen for me. Two weeks after sending out my proposal I signed with a fantastic agent, and one week later I had a book contract with a major publishing house who gave me a $15,000.00 advance to write The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service.
While I cannot promise you that will happen for you, I give you the EXACT steps I took to make this happen for me, and some tips that will give you an edge when approaching agents and editors about your non-fiction book.
And I’ll do it for only $7.
· The benefits of publishing with a major house over self-publishing
· How getting a non-fiction book published is different than getting a novel published
· Why you must be PASSIONATE about your book
· How to build a platform that will make you irresistible to book publishers
· The most important ingredient in your book proposal
· Why most book proposals get tossed aside and what to do to ensure yours won’t end up in that pile
· When to listen to the experts
· When not to listen to the experts
· The best way to find an agent and publisher
· How I found my publisher
· The elements included in my winning book proposal
· Dozens of incredible resources that will help you on your way to getting your non-fiction book published
· 25 plus things I have learned that will help you on your journey
Why keep that dream of having a book published on the shelf? If I can do it, you can too! This e-book, “How to Get Your Non-Fiction Book Published by a Major Publisher” will tell you exactly how I did it.
Imagine, soon you could be walking into a bookstore and seeing your book sitting on the shelves too!
Get your copy of “How to Get Your Non-Fiction Book Published by a Major Publisher” for only $7 right now.
I've had the great pleasure of getting to know Steve Gavatorta, the author of a new book entitled The Reach Out Approach: A Communication Process for Initiating, Developing & Leveraging Mutually Rewarding Relationships. Steve, who has worked with such Fortune 500 Companies as GlaxoSmithKline, Warner-Lambert and Eastman Kodak, was gracious enough to give me an interview.
Donna: How has communication in the workplace changed since the advent of the internet? Has this had a positive effect, a negative one or both?
Steve: This is a great question and there are several subtopics that can manifest from it. The internet has greatly sped up our ability to communicate, interact and really opened new doors and methods to conduct business – with that said, I believe the effects have been both positive and negative. I will not touch on all of them at this point but will focus on the one I am most passionate about and to be honest, I think most important.
I think the question regarding what type of effect the internet has had depends on your definition of communication – I would focus more on “effective communication.” Meaning has the communication served its purpose, reaching a goal or objective – has it been effective?
Regarding “effective” communication, my focus is on the base element of effective human interaction and that is the “human being.” Are we effectively interacting with another human being for effective communication? Are we connecting with them? Do we understanding them and their needs? Are we listening to them? Do we have a two-way dialogue or a one way monologue? Simply said, we cannot secure positive results if we don’t understand others with whom we are attempting to communicate. I think this is often lost when we rely too much on technology to communicate.
With that said, I think with the advent of the internet we have lost a lot of the personal side of human interaction which I believe greatly affects communication. Yes, we may be communicating more via email, text messaging and Social Media sites. But is it really valuable communication that touches emotional chords? Can a sales rep be more effective with a client in person or via email? Can a manager be more effective with a subordinate in person or via email. I think “not” in both cases. In addition, I think our increased communication via “technology” is whittling down our skills at human interaction and hence effective communication. Sure there are many times when it is sufficient to send an email. I just think the lines are becoming way too blurred. In fact I have plenty of hard facts to validate that point.
Donna: How do these changes affect employee engagement?
Steve: Personally I think many organizations are putting the “art of effective communication” on the back burner in lieu of other methods of communicating. I believe that email is being used way too much and not enough face time and one on one interaction is occurring. And I believe that is the case not just internally in organizations but also when people interface with customers. This, in my view waters down any interaction, or as you say engagement – and that is both from an employee perspective as well as customer interaction as well.
To verify my point and the one in the previous question, I recently saw the results of a survey in T+D Magazine that asked the following question (and had the following results):
“Why does senior management have a hard time connecting with employees? The results are as follows:
So there you have it…too much email and too little communication. Technology like email is good and has its purposes, but can be overused as well.
In addition to emailing too much I want you to also think how those messages can get misconstrued as well – this leads to a disconnect in effective communication. I mention this point often in workshops and speaking engagements and I just see the heads nodding in agreement on how messages get misconstrued as nearly everyone has experienced it. So for the folks who have teams, or a staff it is imperative to realize these points when communicating with them.
Donna: Give me three strategies for better communication in today’s workplace?
Steve: In my book The Reach Out Approach: A Communication Process for Initiating, Developing & Leveraging Mutually Rewarding Relationships, I list a 3 step process for effective communication. These 3 steps apply to anyone who wants to become an effective communicator.
Step #1 Initiate: This means making a sincere approach in understanding the needs and wants of each person you communicate with – your team, manager, customer, anyone you interact with on a daily basis. This also includes how you communicate with them, motivate and manage them. To be able to take a unique approach with people with whom you interact with, you must first take the initiative to first and foremost understand them. As Stephen Covey says in his wonderful book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek first to understand then be understood.”
Step #2 Develop: Once you’ve taken the initiative to understand the needs of each person you communicate with, you should develop a plan of action on how best to communicate, motivate and manage them. The way you approach each person should be tailored to their respective needs, wants and style. Thus it is imperative that you develop a solid action plan for each one of them. The best way to communicate is to appeal to their styles and you do that first and foremost by understanding them, and developing a plan of action to connect.
Step #3 Leverage: Lastly, using the plan you’ve developed, you then use it to leverage your relationship to ensure success. With the knowledge you gleaned in Step 1 and the plan you developed in Step 2, you can now leverage those relationships and people to maximize workplace performance, employee and customer satisfaction – Leveraging effective communication can and will be a differentiating point for people and organizations since so many are poor at it. Those who can leverage to their benefits will reap great rewards.
Donna: Do people have different styles of communicating? How can knowing about these styles help us build better teams?
Steve: Absolutely! This point is the fundamental element of everything I train on and speak about, it is my passion.
If you think of it don’t we all have unique DNA, fingerprints? Of course we do, so why wouldn’t that also apply to how we communicate as well? We all differ in how we communicate, how we are motivated, how we deal with change, risk taking and conflict. So leaders, managers anyone for that matter who can realize their own styles as well as those of their employees, customers and adapt are going to be most successful.
I have quote after quote from great leaders who subscribe to this philosophy and believe it is a significant contributor to their success – as individuals and with their teams.
As an example, the great football coach Vince Lombard said, “he needed to know how to motivate and communicate with 40 men, 40 different ways.” Vince Lombardi knew that each of his players was different and it was incumbent of him as leader and coach to understand this and tailor his approach accordingly.
When I conduct workshops I use an assessment to help identify the styles of the participants. The assessment provides a score that identifies four base communication styles. I then teach participants to understand the four styles and their specific style as well. Then I help them learn to read the styles of others with whom they interact with so they can adapt their style for effective communication.
The whole point is this: by understanding each others styles and adapting to each other is a great tool for opening communication lines. By understanding the communication dynamics of teams, you can better learn how to communicate, manage and motivate them. Again, the same approach as noted by Vince Lombardi.
As I said in the first question, you need to realize the base element of effective communication is the human being. The realization that we are interacting with someone else who may be different than us…sees things different than us, communicates different…is motivated by different things…once you understand this base element, you can then take the next step to become an effective communicator. If you disregard it, you are destined to be ineffective.
Thanks Steve! You can learn more about Steve Gavatorta at his website.
Until next time,
So, you've launched your new red-carpet customer service initiative! Fantastic!!!! Now, do you have what it takes to keep it alive?
This article by Dennis Snow is right on the money when it comes to what it takes to make a Red-Carpet Commitment instead of launching a Red-Carpet Flavor of the Month.
Dear Celebrity Readers,
(Yes, I mean you)
The team at Donna Cutting Presents, Inc. and The Cutting Edge are launching a Celebrity Experience Paparazzi Photo Contest.
Here's how it works: You send us your .JPG photo of you reading Donna's book -The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service. At least once a month, we will choose the most creative photo, and post it on this blog, along with a link to your business website. Winners will also receive a Blockbuster Video Card compliments of the team at Donna Cutting Presents, Inc.
The first winner, shown above, is Heidi Caswell, owner of RememberGreetingCards.com and ConnectSimply blog. Thanks, Heidi, for your terrific photo and for being a fan of The Celebrity Experience. Your Blockbuster Video Card will be in the mail to you shortly!
Now - it's your turn! Grab your copy of The Celebrity Experience and your camera, and snap away. Get creative with poses, locations, etc. - the most creative photos will be chosen! Send your photo, a little caption or message to go with it, to Mary Collazo, our office manager, at Mary@donnacutting.com.
Check out this fantastic video montage, created by Cathie Dodd with Tears of Joy Video.
Head on over to the Tears of Joy video website to check out their February photo contest! Very cool prizes, including some Academy Award memorabilia and a free copy of The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service.
While you're there, check out some of the video montages on the site. Cathie and Julie do an incredible job putting your images, favorite music, and video clips into a montage that your family will treasure forever.
And be sure to watch for our post next week regarding our very own Celebrity Experience Paparazzi Photo Contest!
If there ever was a time to pay attention to the experience you give your customers, it's now! We live in a world of commodity - people have many choices as to what to buy and who to buy it from. That, alone, is one great reason to deliver a service experience that will create customer loyalty.
Add a bad economy to the mix and people are choosing to buy less and demanding more in the way of service.
A recent study done by Harris Interactive (and sponsored by Right Now), found that 87% of those surveyed stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service. That statistic is up almost 20% from 2006, when it was 68%. Additionally, 84% will often tell others about their bad experience, and 22% will and have blogged about their bad customer experiences. (Up from 13% in 2007).
On the other side, 58% of those surveyed said they will often or always pay more for a better experience in a down economy. When recommending a company, 58% said outstanding customer service was more important than low price, and top quality products and services.
Truth is, we need those exceptional experiences more than ever. The news has been so bad lately, that we're worried, upset, depressed. Why wouldn't we want to frequent your restaurant, your store, your business if we're made to feel good while we're there? When you make people feel like they belong and you're glad to see them - in other words, you give them a red-carpet welcome - they want to come back - and they bring friends.
True, they may not spend as much today as they would have yesterday. However, the economy will turn around and when it does, you'll be ahead because of the experience you've been providing for your customers all along.
So while you, along with the rest of the country, may be declaring war on your company expenses - customer experience should NOT be one of the casualties.
Here's the good news! Courtesy costs nothing! Red-carpet service, when you get right down to it, is about making the customer in front of you feel important and special. Often the best customer experiences have nothing to do with money that was spent, and everything to do paying attention to your customer.
Here are 10 ABSOLUTELY or ALMOST FREE Red-Carpet Tips that, when consistently applied, will have your customers feeling as if they got The Celebrity Experience.
1. Make Eye Contact and Smile: Acknowledge your customers when they arrive. Think "red-carpet arrival!" You don't have to chase them around like paparazzi (as some commissioned sales people are prone to do) to make a person feel welcome. A simple smile and a warm greeting should do the trick. Sometimes, all a customer really needs to know is that you know they're there. If you've got a long line, a simple smile and "I'll be with you shortly" goes a long way.
Consider this: A woman walked into two similar businesses within the same week. At the first place, she was all but ignored. Although she was the only customer in the shop, no one even acknowledged that she was there. At the second place, she was greeted warmly at the door and, although she was allowed to enjoy her shopping without interference, she received a friendly hello from each employee who passed her.
Which store do you think she's likely to go back to?
2. Know and Use Your Customers' Names: When you consistently and sincerely remember and use the names of your customers, is when you start making them feel like "part of your club." Take the bank teller, Jerry, who not only knows his customers by name, but he knows their dogs' names as well! (The dogs know him too - he provides them with treats!) For each customer, a trip to the drive-through window feels like old home week - and a chance to catch up with Jerry.
Fireside Lodge, of South Lake Tahoe, CA boasts that their customer is "a guest for the first time, a friend for a lifetime." That's what it's all about!
3. Look Fabulous: If the Fashion Police showed up at your door right now, would you get a citation - or be arrested? First, take a look at yourself and your team. Is everyone who represents you well groomed, and dressed in a way that fits your brand? Now...take a look at physical property. Start with the rest- room. Stop reading this article right now and see what it looks like right now. Is it sending the message you want to communicate? What about the rest of the property? Include the 'back stage areas' in your survey.
Then, think about how behavior "looks." Two staff members complaining about another staff member in front of customers are not wearing the brand well!
Get your team committed to looking fabulous in every way, and you'll be ready when the fashion police - and your customers - come calling.
4. Anticipate the Details: True star treatment is about answering your customer's questions before they are asked, and anticipating and taking care of every little detail. Don't you just love the server in your favorite restaurant who has your big glass of ice tea, and favorite steak sauce on the table before you even sit down because she saw you come in? You probably tip her better too!
Star treatment is provided by John Wood, CEO of HUB Plumbing and Mechanical in Boston, MA when he realizes that people don't want to open their front door to strangers, and sends an email to every customer with a photograph of the plumber who'll be coming to their house.
Star treatment is provided by Donna Spears, Richmond, Indiana Realtor, when she greets her clients at the airport with freshly-baked cookies and bottles of water. Also, when she notices the lawn of her client's new home has been 'let-go' by the previous owner, and she arranges for it to be mowed before they ever arrive.
Star treatment is provided by Sherral Krytus, a manicurist and nail technician who works at Bleu Salon and Spa in Valrico, FL when she provides umbrellas for customers whenever it rains. Expensive? No. Yet - it's a little detail that people appreciate and remember.
If you work in a place where people are often asking for directions, take a tip from the housekeeping staff of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and get to know those "lost" signals. When you see someone sending them out, don't wait for them to ask you - proactively offer to help.
5. Escort and Entertain: And while you're at it - don't point to where they need to go. Take them there. Yes, some people in some jobs in some positions can't do this. For instance, if you are a security guard who can't leave your post, you may have to learn to give excellent directions without actually taking the customer to their desired location. However, many times we point because we're choosing our own convenience over the customer.
Whenever possible, escort the customer to where they want to go, and engage them in friendly conversation along the way.
One hotel customer was floored when the desk attendant came out from behind the counter, escorted him to the elevator, and handed him her card. That kind of red-carpet service costs nothing - and it's priceless.
6. Own the Problem From Start to Finish: Is there anything more frustrating that having a question or problem and being bounced from one "customer service rep" to another? If you really want to WOW your customers, the next time one of them comes in with a problem, question, or complaint, stick with them until the problem is resolved. Don't send them somewhere else. Don't tell them you can't help them. Don't hide until they give up and go away. Do everything you can to resolve their problem. If you must send them to someone else who can help better, fine. However, stay involved in the process and follow up until you know the customer is happy.
If a mistake is made, own it, and do what you can to make it right. In fact, go above and beyond to not only resolve the issue, but to exceed your customer's expectations. Often times, the great customer service stories people share with their friends start with an error, that is rectified in an above and beyond manner by the service professional.
7. Maintain the 'Illusion of the First Time': Stage actors who have said the same lines, performed the same actions, and worked with the same co-stars throughout the rehearsal process and the run of the play, try to create 'the illusion of the first time' for each audience. The show is the same, but the audience has changed, and they deserve a fresh performance.
Within the context of your job, you may perform the same actions, say the same words, answer the same types of questions hour after hour, day after day. However, for your customer - your new "audience" - it's the very first time. They, too, deserve a fresh performance.
Hey, perhaps you could do your job in your sleep. That doesn't mean you have to. Choose, instead, to bring energy to your work, be present, and have a little fun! Your customer will be thankful and you'll find that your day will go by faster and you might just find a little joy in your job!
8. Say Thank You: These are two words that never go out of style! You can say them verbally, in a hand-written note, on the telephone, or put them on a cookie! Come up with as many creative ways to say thank you, and try a new one each day.
9. Solicit Feedback: Want to know how to give a better service experience? Ask the experts - your customers. The folks over at HUB Plumbing & Mechanical follow every service call up with a 5 question survey asking the customer about their experience. If the customer is unhappy, John Wood, CEO will call the customer himself to do whatever he can to make them happy. (See #6)
Ask your customers this after each visit: "What could we have done to make your experience with us even better?" When they answer, thank them, take notes and make changes.
10. Invite Them Back: You want them back, don't you? Invite them! Let them know how much you look forward to seeing them again. Say it out loud.
When they do come back, start over with #1! Use this down time to work on those red-carpet impressions. You'll build a reputation for treating your customers like stars that will last well into the next economic up-turn, and you might find yourself having more fun to boot!
Donna Cutting is the author of The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service (Wiley, 2008), and the President and CEO of Donna Cutting Presents, Inc. She can be reached via her website at http://www.donnacutting.com.
Copyright, 2009, Donna Cutting. If you would like to reproduce this article, in it's entirety, in your online or print publication, you may do so if you include the bi-line above and the website for Donna Cutting Presents, Inc. Please send us a copy of the issue where the article appears via email or at PO Box 76461, St Petersburg, FL 33734.
It's been a wonderfully crazy week, with 3 speaking engagements, in 4 days, in 2 time zones, all while the blog tour bus continued.
Let me catch up as to where the blog tour has been:
Teresa Morrow and I had a wonderful conversation about the writing process and more.
Here Dr Sally Witt reviews The Celebrity Experience.
Betty Lynch posted my Recipie for Customer Service - Hollywood Style.
The Make It Great Guy, Phil Gerbyshak, interviews me here about red-carpet customer service.
Becky Wyatt, realtor extraordinaire, also posted an interview.
Head on over to Sparkplugging, where I detailed the process I used to get a publisher for The Celebrity Experience.
Over at We Magazine for Women I remind business owners to Beware the Are You Anybody Syndrome - excerpted from The Celebrity Experience.
Due to a scheduling snafu (on my part) we had to postpone my interview on Ladies in Business - stay tuned for the new date.
The Tech Coach for Coaches interviewed me about writing, speaking and customer service.
We made our way over to WriteWellMe where Dawn Goldberg reviewed The Celebrity Experience.
Pam Archer interviews me about the publishing process here.
Over at E-book and Book Reviews, Claudia Meydrech reviews The Celebrity Experience as well.
We headed over to the Fiesty Side of Fifty for an interview with Mary Eileen Williams.
Kirsten Harrell and I talked about Positivity in the Workplace!
Deaf Mom Blogger Karen Putz had a bad experience at Steak 'n Shake, blogged about it, and it was picked up by more than 80 blogs in less than a month. Eavesdrop on our conversation here.
And there are more to come!
Thank you to each and every one of you who have participated in this blog tour! You are all fabulous.
Remember, you can purchase your copy of The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service here.