Whether you call it customer service or public relations, at the heart is good communication. These “Nine Nifty Tips” are a good review of what it takes to put people at ease and make them feel welcome in your office or school.
- Be a good listener. Ask questions and concentrate on what the individual is really saying. Listen to word choice, tone of voice and most importantly how they feel. Beware of making assumptions by thinking you intuitively know what someone wants, thinks or feels.
- People react with emotion, not logic. They are not always good at telling you exactly what they are looking for. A good place to start is by assuming good intentions and asking three questions BEFORE you respond to anything. That will give you time – and them – a chance to reflect a bit before continuing the conversations.
- Make people feel important and appreciated when they visit or meet with you. Treat them as individuals. Use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Most people are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance. Your words and actions should be congruent.
- Help people understand your system. Take time to explain how your system works and how they can simplify interactions with you. For example, do you prefer a call or email, and what do they prefer in response? But be careful that your communication preferences don’t reduce the human element of your organization.
- Know how to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. Deal with problems immediately
- Give more than expected. The support and involvement of parents and the community are key to student success, so think of ways to elevate the experience someone has when they interact with you above what they may experience elsewhere.
- Return phone calls and emails as soon as possible. If you have promised to call someone back with information, but you don’t have the information yet, make the call anyway just to inform the person of the status. This is an easy way to build trust and show your commitment good communication.
- Follow-up with a personal note if and when appropriate. This can be done via email, but a personally-written note that is mailed to their home or office will leave a lasting impression.
- And lastly, appreciate the power of “Yes.” Always look for ways to help. When someone has a request (as long as it is reasonable) look for every way possible to tell them you can do it.