Customer Service: Nth Degree Mindset

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There is so much talk about customer service yet so little of it sticks. Every business, every leader, every single one of us, has good intentions. None of us go to work saying, “Today I am going to plan to disappoint a customer when I interact with them. Let’s hang up on them. Avoid them. Get their order wrong. Misinterpret them. Let’s just be average and kind of ‘blah.’ That is where most of us end up really. In the Valley of Blah, we don’t quite fail or flob, however, we are far from memorable. Being memorable requires you to understand those critical “Moments of Truth.”

ServiceNMoments of Truth are those customer points of intersection. A great culture helps. At the Outside-In® Companies, we have a value “Service to the Nth Degree” and our goal is to go above and beyond expectations. We provide service without boundaries, limits, or governor. Just push service as far as you can. A good culture helps an employee trust that they can serve without barriers. The company system supports and rewards those customer service behaviors! Have you ever had an experience where a cashier or customer service representative indicates that they need manager approval and the manager never comes or arrives in what seems like an unacceptable time frame? All of this for a simple product return or change in your purchase! That’s a poor business system at it’s best.

We think empowering employees to think to the Nth Degree is just part of the answer to providing an Outside-In® experience. This enables us to create Nth Degree moments that are spontaneous and authentic.

However, the real magic in creating Moments of Truth is to think about those key moments of interaction with your customer. How can you save them time? Speed up the process? Enhance the experience? How can you make that moment memorable and ensure every customer experiences that Moment of Truth? Our goal is to make Outside-In® and Nth Degree a repeatable thing. Full of great in the moment Moments of Truth and planned Moments of Truth.

The sky’s the limit to Nth Degree service thinking. The key is to take each part of your business and brainstorm how to be more Nth Degree. One of the ways we practice our Nth Degree value as a team is to partake in charity work for our community. We have a charity of the month program where each month we fundraise and donate our time and services to a charity in need.

Try and pilot it. Measure it. Operationalize. Then repeat!

Here’s to Nth Degree moments!

BCA Featured in Delaware Business Times

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Coaching helps executives redefine strategies and plan for future business succession
By Christi Milligan, Delaware Business Times

Delaware Business Times featured Barton Career Advisors’ success in helping client Stacey Altemus through her career transition. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It’s been a good [year] for Altemus, too. After various tests administered by the Barton team helped pinpoint her interests, they looked at her options, which ranged from nonprofit work to yoga instruction. Ultimately, she decided to become a financial advisor – a role that has long held her interest. But it also required that she get her license to sell insurance and recommend annuities, and a job search in a market that was sometimes uncomfortably unresponsive.

“They helped me not be discouraged,” said Altemus. “They kept me busy with tasks and homework and they validated that I had worthwhile skills.”

Read the full career coaching article here.

3rd Annual Holiday Infographic

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Happy Holidays from Placers & the Outside-In® Companies!

We looked back on our year through mint, gold & rose colored glasses. Take a look at our year in numbers through our 3rd Annual Holiday Infographic!


Dress to Impress: What to Wear to a Job Interview

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First impressions are key when landing a job. We are often asked how to dress for a job interview because society isn’t as formal as it once was. Our Placers team compiled this list of tips and tricks when it comes to presenting yourself for an interview and putting your best foot forward:

Do some research. Investigate what the company environment is and mirror that image. If you are interviewing for an executive or managerial position always wear a suit. Keep it simple and don’t overdo it with accessories, makeup, or perfume/cologne.

“Dress for the position you want, not the one you have.” The age-old adage provides eternal wisdom when it comes to dressing to impress. Absolutely no jeans. Do not wear jeans to an interview even if the person who is interviewing you is wearing them.

Don’t forget good hygiene and groom yourself. You could have the best outfit on but if your hair is messy or your facial hair isn’t trimmed that’ll be the first thing the interviewer notices AND what they’ll remember. Be sure to clean up and present yourself as if you were going to a dinner party. One of our recruiters said that a huge pet peeve of hers is unclean fingernails. Make sure you’re squeaky clean from head to toe!

Tuck your shirt in. Even if you’re interviewing at a company with a laid back culture, be sure to tuck your shirt in. It helps you look clean cut and organized, rather than that “just-got-out-of-bed” look.

Sit up straight. Body language is a big factor during an interview. Be aware of your posture and where your hands are and make sure you smile and make eye contact.

Remember that it is important to feel comfortable yet polished during your interview. When you’re comfortable and put together, your confidence will shine through and set you up for success!

Selling Yourself “Short” as a Sales Professional

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Being in Sales has an incredible upside. Unlimited earnings (or at least more variable pay opportunities than most of us!), flexibility in your schedule (try to find a sales person on Friday afternoons that is not with a “client”), and the opportunity to travel (living out of your car still counts as travel). However, all of these have a natural “dark side”. In fact, everything listed above is a sales stereotype. Some good in them as many folks romanticize the “idea of being in sales”  and some find it repulsive. Why?  Because the behaviors of sales people support the stereotypes—don’t be one of them! Sales is about targets and quotas of activities, contracts signed, and widgets sold. Have these things in abundance and you have freedom and control. Off plan? Well, plan to loose all of that freedom and the

One of the biggest areas of weakness in salespeople I observe is that they always and often seem to go for the immediate sale. Close the deal now. I know it is a small one, however, I have to book revenues and keep up with my targets right? However, I find that it takes just us much work, effort, time, and investment for just about any sales situation. And for some reason this is one the hardest things to change in salespeople. I personally think fear, trust, and the anxiety of waiting make it hard for some.

So why not sell larger deals if it takes the same amount of time and energy?

  1. ID-100261332Perception/Trust. We all perceive that larger customers take too long, even more time than our sales plan will tolerate.  What if I put all of that time in and the deal falls apart?
  2. Skill. Sometimes larger deals get missed. The salesperson does not know how to approach or engage the customer that requires more then booking the order. They don’t know their product or service once they get “off script” from their training.
  3. Earning the right to be disruptive and to challenge. Most sales people I know are afraid to challenge, ask questions, and make recommendations that are off the script or fall outside of the proposal.
  4. Fear of not meeting short term quotas.  If you take on too many long term meetings how will you ever meet this month or quarter?
  5. Believing that sales is “only” a numbers game. Sales requires numbers and effort. However there is something to be said for balance, efficiency, and getting better at sales.
  6. Big deals get others on the team involved. All of a sudden a salesperson needs to get a team together and possess skills in project management, resource allocation, problem solving, solution architecting, and much more than just relationship management.

Larger deals do take time. When they come they are game changers. Be patient and realize larger customers challenge what you know and make you better. So that the small ones seem easier.

Don’t believe me right? Most don’t. That is why sales is so hard. It is hard to believe and trust.