1. When clients don’t understand you, talking louder doesn’t help. They are either confused or distracted, not deaf. Keep in mind many people wear multiple hats within their companies so it’s easy for them to lose focus. If a call becomes challenging take a deep breath, rephrase their question and then ask them to let you know SPECIFICALLY what part they didn’t understand so you can get back on the same page. The word specifically is magical and helps make the call more efficient. My most challenging thing to conquer years ago was when people asked if they needed to right-click or left-click when using their mouse. TORTURE. I even had someone who had converted from DOS ask if they can bring the mouse home for them to practice using and they didn’t even have a computer at home!
2. Fess up if you don’t know something. If you don’t know the answer to a question say “That’s a great question, I’m not sure but can check it out or have someone who does know get back to you.” Faking your way through a response because you’re worried about not knowing something will actually do more harm than good. Clients don’t care how much you know they just care that you care and are trying to help them.
3. Food makes friends. Unless you want to be shunned you must bring goodies into the office when you have…
… a birthday.
… a baby.
… a new house
… an anniversary.
… leftovers from little Susie’s christening.
… you are starting a crazy diet and want to get rid of the sugar and carbs from your pantry.
In the past I have brought in fun things like a cake designed after one of the mobile software products I managed, cupcakes with swimming teddy bears on them, pretzels that spelled out the company name, and a chocolate fondue buffet. Whatever you do though don’t try to bring in healthy foods, people freak out. Stick to the rules and you’ll do just fine. This picture was from my 30th birthday when we didn’t have quite so many mouths to feed and it included some Gluten Free muffins. And ew, looking at this picture I just realized that those coffee flavorings are STILL in the kitchen from 2006. I’ll be tossing those…
4. Have a work / life balance. It’s totally cool to come in early, stay late and put in extra effort. In fact management loves that stuff. But, be sure to listen to your body and don’t take on unnecessary stress. If you feel something isn’t working or someone isn’t pulling their weight talk to someone who can make a difference rather than complaining to your peers. Overdoing it leads to stress, stress leads to frustration, frustration leads to binge eating and then you’ll get fat and be miserable. OK so that might be a bit dramatic but you get my point. Going to your manager with constructive feedback and ideas will make the lives of you and those around you a happier place to be. Also, if you need time off from work TAKE IT, that’s what PTO is there for and your mental health is important.
5. Link arms. Find someone that you look up to or respect that you can bounce ideas off of and collaborate with. Someone who has achieved what you’d like to. This doesn’t mean turn them into your complaining and dumping ground. Be a positive Patty, not a Debbie downer. I used to take on extra work, then complain about it, then was told to stop doing that, and then I would just do it again anyway. I recognized my pattern and worked with other senior reps I respect and brought ideas and suggestions to my managers. I also worked on my own personal development outside of work and managed my stress not only for my career sake but for my own health since stress is a trigger for many people with autoimmune disease. Things have been super ever since. Kumbaya.
6. Pick up the phone after 2 emails. It looks something like this:
Email 1. A client emails and you reply.
Email 2. The same client responds with another question…
At this point, unless you are willing to bet $100 that you can resolve their question with no further emails PICK UP THE PHONE. Please. I promise you, this will be my most valuable tip to you and the number of frustrated clients will magically start to drop once you start following this recommendation. I get it that things get crazy and it may seem that shooting a quick email is best, but sometimes hours or days of back and forth pass when you could have just gotten it all straightened out with a quick call. Also, if a client is already frustrated to begin with hearing your smiley voice will help make them feel better and also build better relationships. You can also use this advice with your colleagues. If you don’t get a response from email or chat, pick up the phone or try some good old-fashioned get your butt out of the chair and go to their desk.
7. Your Mom/Maid/Significant Other does not work with you. OK maybe your sister, brother, sister in law or girlfriend might work at the same place as you but unless they are going to clean up your messes for you please take care of that stuff yourself. It pains me to even write this one. My friend Nicole is the office manager at my full-time job and she busts her butt to make our office look cool. I’m shocked by how many messes I see in the office or in the building shared bathroom. If you bring in food, set a google reminder to take it home if you think you’ll forget it. If you spill in the fridge or drop toilet paper in the bathroom pick up after yourself. Phew – it feels good to get that one off my chest 🙂
8. I am begging you, please stop replying to all. Your company email is not Facebook folks! Keep the replies to a minimum. For those that are already inundated with a ton of emails it becomes a distraction to receive 50 more in a reply to all response. A simple reply to the original sender will suffice and even sometimes that isn’t necessary unless they have specifically asked you a question. Also, by stopping the reply to all it helps to prevent you from accidentally replying to all with a customer on the thread by mistake. I’ve done that years ago and it’s awkward.
9. Communication is a 2 way street. If you’re feeling disconnected with what’s going on, where the company is headed, or who all of these new faces are that are popping up around your office – reach out! When I first started in the industry you could just stand up and talk to anyone in my current company (There were less than 30 people there) but you can’t do that when there are almost 200 people. Utilize an internal company blog, google chat, your company website or try some more of that old-fashioned getting out of your seat and walking over to someone to say hello.
Random Fun Travel Fact:
- In the past 9 years I have traveled to the following places for work: Washington, California, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Florida, Toronto and Australia. Driving through Virginia smelled like boiled chicken. Keep an eye out for some travel experiences from traveling Aunt Danielle.