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Staff - Customer Service - Tips for Better Service


Tip 1: 15-5 rule. Here’s one simple method for improving the morale and atmosphere at your school or building: practice the 15-5 rule. When you are in the hallway, acknowledge customers or coworkers by making eye contact at 15 feet. When you are 5 feet apart, smile and extend a friendly greeting.

Tip 2: We have all had negative experiences with companies and organizations. In the past, when you approach a company representative to describe your problem, did you feel as if that employee listened well and tried to deliver an acceptable resolution? In a large school district, with thousands of children and futures at stake, we will all encounter impassioned parents/ guardians who are concerned, frustrated, or worried. Here are some general guidelines to follow when you encounter such a parent/ guardian.

Allow him or her to vent. Identify the problem. Make every attempt to satisfy. Show concern and respect (what if it’s your relative). Avoid placing the blame. Don’t take it personally.

Tip 3: All New Albany-Floyd County School Employees speak at least two languages—the English language and body language. Research suggests that as much as 93 percent of a person’s daily communication is nonverbal. We all have moments in which our words and body language offer conflicting messages. Work on good eye contact, sitting up straight... Your ability to communicate in a positive manner might be just what someone else needs to improve his or her difficult day.

Tip 4: Employees in the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation are strongly encouraged to answer all incoming calls on or before the third ring. Avoid using the speakerphone to answer incoming calls. And, if you have to place a customer on hold, which is often necessary, ask the call for permission. Try making transferring a last resort. When transferring a call, make every effort to provide the caller with the extension or correct telephone number beforehand. Make sure you are transferring the call to the right number. Most of all be patient and kind to the caller when you receive a transferred call.

The voice checklist
• do you speak with one clear voice?
• do you have the information you need to tell the story?
• is the one clear voice cranky? Negative? Hostile?
• what could help?

Answering the call
• answer the phone with a smile in your voice
• do not let calls go to voice mail; if they do, call back within 5 minutes
• own the problem
• redirect phone calls AFTER listening to an issue

When you transfer:
• tell them so/ask for permission
• give your extension and name
• stay on and introduce

Hold please…
• ask for permission—and wait for the answer
• say how long
• apologize if longer
• 20-30 seconds is the limit
• 7 minutes of 'hold time' feels like 20 minutes of 'brain time'

When faced with a screamer:
• don't interrupt
• be willing to help
• stay neutral
• confirm what you have heard

Watch your language…
If I hear that language again, I won't be able to help you—unless we can find a different way to communicate I am going to have to hang up. Excuse me, but I do not have to listen to that kind of language and I am going to hang up right now –then do it.

Pen and Paper
Always have pen and paper by your telephone to make notes, if necessary, when speaking to your caller. It's also a handy backup if you need to refer to it at a later date.

The 4 things you need to address in your greeting are:
• Welcome your caller: Good Morning… Good Afternoon…
• Announce who you are an who you work for: New Albany-Floyd
County School Administration Center,
• Introduce yourself, Carol Smith speaking…
• Let them know you're here to help them, how can I help you…

Your school or building will be judged on your telephone manner, so it is very important that the first contact the caller has is with someone who is courteous, happy, and ever so willing to help. Your greeting will also confirm to them they have called the right number by announcing your firm's name in your message.

Tip 5: Greet everyone who enters the door as a VIP. Greet them soon. Ask how you can help them. If they are here for a meeting, call the appropriate person they are scheduled to meet or want to see and politely ask them to wait until it is time. Don’t send them off by themselves to get lost in a building. Come and greet the people you are meeting and do not make them wait. Respect everyone’s time.

Tip 6: Cell Phone Courtesy: According to a recent University of Michigan poll, a majority of cell phone users acknowledge that they get irritated at other people for using cell phones in a public place. Here are some useful tips to help promote courteous cell phone use:
• put your phone on “silent” and let your voicemail take your calls
during special events or business meetings.
• put others first. The people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.
• if you are expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time.
• don’t be guilty of “cell yell.”
• Don’t discuss private matters in public places.

Tip 7: Use the rule of 12 for e-mail: electronic mail is a quick, easy, and convenient way to instantly link up with people around the globe. To ensure our messages don’t confuse or alienate others, it’s important to practice basic e-mail etiquette. Here are twelve simple e-mail rules to keep you connected and make sure every communiqué is clear, polished, and professional.

Rule #1 – Be concise and respond back quickly (within a day). Follow the KISS rule (keep it short and sweet). Get to the point in a clear manner. Keep paragraphs short - three or four sentences at most. If you find you need to send an e-mail that is longer than a few short paragraphs, revise the message or consider picking up the phone or paying a personal visit instead. If you don’t have an answer, tell them that you will investigate and get back to them with an answer very soon… and then do it.

Rule #2 – Watch your words. Before sending any e-mail, check your message. Ask yourself, “What is my purpose for sending this e-mail?” Anger, enthusiasm, and anxiousness are all emotions that can trigger an itch only an immediate heated reply can scratch. Always consciously choose your words and be sure every communiqué accurately and clearly conveys your message. Be careful about what you say and how you say it because your words can come back to haunt you. Words, especially the written word, can live and be remembered forever. Don’t say something in the heat of the moment that you can’t take back.

Rule #3 – Follow a format. Every correspondence you send is a reflection of you and your organization. Therefore, at a minimum, each e-mail needs to have these elements – a greeting, a skipped line before and after each paragraph, a closing or call for action, and a signature (which identifies you and provides alternate ways to contact you).

Rule #4 – Spell check. While spell check can accurately check for misspellings, it won’t recognize all errors. Before you hit the send button, check every e-mail for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. An e-mail filled with multiple errors is not only difficult to read and understand; it tests the patience of the recipient, who may decide your message has no value and simply is not worth reading.

Rule #5 – Send messages to your outbox first. Disable the “auto send” feature in your e-mail software and, instead, have messages sent to the “outbox” first. This gives you a second chance to review your e-mail for content and intent. If your e-mail is a reply, you will now be able to reread the original message to be sure you didn’t misunderstand the message. When in doubt, seek clarification before responding.

As a rule, always wait at least 24 hours before responding to a heated e-mail. This is often enough time to cool off and think clearly. Reread the message and ask yourself if you misinterpreted the e-mail. If so, at least now you can hit “delete” instead of “send.” Remember to always communicate with integrity and respect.

Rule #6 – Avoid writing in all caps. Text written in all caps is hard on the eyes and is difficult to read. More importantly, all caps in an e-mail SCREAMS at the reader. Better to write in upper and lower case. If you need to draw attention to a word, consider using bold or italics for the emphasis.

Rule #7 – Reply to all sparingly. When you respond to a mass e-mail (a message sent to multiple recipients), determine whether everyone listed needs to receive your reply. If a reply to the sender only is sufficient and appropriate, hit the “reply” vs. the “reply to all” button to cut down on multiple and unnecessary mail.

Rule #8 – Stay current. Just like voice mail, be sure to keep your auto-reply message up-to-date. An outdated auto-reply is as bad as dated voice mail – information that serves no purpose.

Rule #9– Office e-mail is never personal. Unless you own the company, any e-mail sent via your office computer is the property of the employer and is subject to their purview. There is no such thing as personal e-mail at work. Be aware and watch what you say because every message represents you and the organization.

Rule #10 – Stay organized. Attempting to save every e-mail creates clutter. Get in the habit of saving only necessary e-mails and discarding the rest. Be sure to delete messages from your inbox, deleted, and sent message boxes. This will cut down on the clutter and free up much needed computer space. Review periodically so you don’t feel overwhelmed at the sight of months’ or years’ worth of messages. If your box is full right now, commit to reviewing at least 15 messages from each box daily until you are all caught up. Also, be sure to regularly back up all mail boxes, just in case.

Rule #11 – Answer e-mail. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sent an e-mail requesting specific information only to receive a reply with half, if any, of my questions answered. This now requires sending a second message to get the necessary answers. When responding to an e-mail with multiple questions, type your response right next to the questions in a different color font than the original message. This clearly shows your reply and enables the reader to easily match the response to a question and ensures you have answered all of the sender’s questions.

Rule #12 – Be patient. With the proliferation of text messaging, PDAs, and Blackberrys, many people send an e-mail and expect an on the spot response within moments of a message being sent. It’s unreasonable to expect others to drop everything to instantly cater to your every whim. When sending e-mail, be patient and allow a reasonable amount of time to pass before you expect a reply.

Electronic mail can open up doors to you from around the world. Apply these twelve simple e-mail rules and your messages will be clear, concise, and always connected.

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