The Reveal

I was recently at a Reveal Party (this is a way to announce what the gender of a baby will be with those that will be important to this child’s life). The get together was at a home in the country with horses saddled up, a Kubota to ride and acres to walk and take in the view. There was a large black box hung on the back porch with a white question mark tempting every one of the event to come. Old, newly made friends and family gathered together in different areas with roars of laughter coming from different areas. The group was diverse and everyone was having fun. Conversations were with anyone from 4 to 75 years of age. The surrounding was picture perfect, the mood was light and people were all there to celebrate. Everyone was looking forward to the main event, is it going to be blue or pink? This was always the conversation starter when approaching someone new. We all gathered together when it was time for the announcement as the happy couple released the cord and pink balloons, streamers and glittery things poured on their heads!

It was such a great day and enjoyed by all. Although this was a personal gathering, you can say that this was a successful, well planned event with a goal in mind for everyone to take time to share and be excited together. People have always fascinated me as I hear of where they come from, where they have been and what they want to do. Everyone has some information they want to share and people to share it with. With a little thought and participation, the concept of a reveal can be used anywhere to connect and celebrate.

We all know that work can sometimes get monotonous , so why not liven it up and get excited again? Let’s have a Reveal Party! Get excited again about enjoying the company of your company. It is as easy as 1-2-3. One, find a common goal. Two, select a venue. Three, a reveal. It does not have to be work related, this is time to get creative! Our company reveal is the “Best Burger in Town”. We picked 5 favorite local restaurants and once a week we go to lunch in groups of 2 or 3. When we return, we will give a score of 1 to 5 for each restaurant. Our reveal at the end is the “Best Burger in Town”.

Seeing that black box with the white question mark is sometimes all you need. Take the time to enjoy each other and get to know the people that you spend just as much time with as you do with your family. Enjoy the company of your company and build a better team!

The Fake Smile

Only those who know you, recognize it. It is a disguise to protect you and mask your true reaction. It is frequently used when facing a loss; whether it is a job, a promotion, a loved one, your youthful appearance or even your hair.

Recently, I had a fake smile day. I found myself dreaming most of it and not getting much done. I am a "Doer" not a "Thinker", so checking off a list at the end of the day has always been important. This day, I allowed myself to dream. Dream of what could have been, should have been and what I still want to be. I allowed my dreams rather than my actions to be a better part of the day. It made me cherish existence a little more when I was able to snap back to reality.

I started my day with a fake smile and somewhere along the way. I felt the smile and allowed it to be real. I set this feeling free. It is a not a great day, but I challenge myself to make it a good day, because I realize that life is a gift and a dream can make it even better. If you can use the fake smile long enough, it may evolve into you actually feeling like smiling. And if you take some time to dream, you may find a reason to smile.

Information Gap

I put my fingers in my ears and sing La La La La to keep from getting information I do not want to know. Or, I just hold out my hand and repeatedly say stop it, stop it, stop it, in hopes of drowning out sounds. I use these tactics when I do not want to hear an ending of a movie or am in a haunted house. Probably not the most mature response, but it works when you are on the spot. Effective, sometimes funny, but not the right etiquette for work.

Over a phone conversation, it’s hard to gauge interest and engagement. You cannot tell if your clients have their fingers in their ears or their mouth partly open trying to find a point to interrupt. Are you answering their question or are you giving your answers?

Good way to test it is to stop talking and listen. If they have called, then they have something to say. If it is more than one request, then have a means to write it down without interrupting them. Once they finish speaking (there will be silence for a couple of seconds), I go over the points or questions and answer them one by one, making sure that they have received a complete understanding and a clear answer before moving to the next one.

Did that answer your question? Does this help to understand how it works? Is this the service you were looking for? Do you have any questions on what we just reviewed? I find this a more of an effective way then interrupting or answering before you know the question.

As Judge Judy says, "You have one mouth and two ears for a reason". We are all experts in our fields. To be better influences, determining what they know versus what they need takes the power of listening.

Where We Came From

I have a two year old granddaughter. It has been fascinating watching her grow from a fuzzy bean on a screen to actually having a dialect with her. Although I have raised two children I was so focused on feeding, cleaning, teaching, manners and trying not to totally mess up their psyche, that I missed some of the small stuff. With my granddaughter, I get a "do over" without all the worry.

The other day she was being fussy and I was trying to figure out what she wanted. Do you want to color? Your "nanimals"? Ellie (the elephant)? Juice? How about a snack? Everything I suggested was wrong! Then my sweet angel threw herself on the floor of the kitchen and started flailing her arms and legs. I believe that this is the age where our bodies are a cross between human and beast. I stepped back and let her go at it… I can do that, because I’m "Dama". She would cry and look at me every once in a while, when I would look at her she would cry even louder not knowing what to do with my reaction or rather my non-reaction to her tantrum.

After a few minutes, she stopped. She laid quietly on the floor with her arms still covering her eyes. I bent down and gave her a kiss and asked if she was alright. She nodded yes. I said , "Are you done?" She nodded her head again and reached up for me to hold her. I wiped her tear stained face and saw her sleepy eyes. It was almost nap time. I took her to her bed and lay down beside her while "Violet the Bear" played soothing bedtime music. She went fast asleep. That was what she wanted.

I have had a few days like that. I am not sure what exactly I want or need and just need to escape for a moment and regroup. What a joy it would be to throw myself on the ground and flail until "Dama" can figure it out. But of course I can't, my mother raised me with manners. And…..I prefer not to become "(whispers)the crazy lady down the hall".

Sometimes you do just need to vent. Other times, you need to take a breather. And at other times, someone else will have the answer. As an adult, we don’t have the luxury of tantrums (and those adults that do, are avoided at all costs). Yet, it is fun to think that at one point in your life, you were two years old, doing a bad rendition of the break dance.

Duck Theory

I have always tried to look at every situation with a resolution, rather than a problem. It is the “Duck Theory” that I adopted long ago from my sister, who has always been my best mentor.

The premise is that when you see a gaggle of ducks swimming, you see this beautiful motion of them gliding through the water effortlessly. But, if you were to turn the picture upside down, then you would see that the legs are quickly rotating and maneuvering to keep up, slow down, turn, trying to keep up with the group or get ahead. The mechanics to create the movement are two entirely different pictures.

It is the same in business, customers should only see above the water, the smooth action of a forward glide. They do not need (and normally do not want to know) the mechanics behind it. They just need to know that you understand they have a problem, and yo’ you’ll solve it.

So what if all problems do not have a solution? Some needs just can’t be met. I admire those that go above and beyond. The "Heroes" that we remember. Olympic competitors don’t just work out, they focus on what workout is best to enhance their skills and stay focused for four years to compete against the best. They don’t say the word "can’t" for 4 years or even longer. Survivors don’t quit, they are the ones with the remarkable stories about how their resilience got them through a tough situation. My answer is never say "never".

When the duck theory is applied, you supply the effort so customers are effortlessly rewarded.

Turn It Up

I have a mirror on my desk with the saying, “Smile! They can hear it in your voice.” I keep it near my phone as a reminder of my duty to try and make the person on the other end of the line feel just a little better.

Your environment and the people you interact with plays a large part in how you look back and say it was a “Happay, Happay” Jack day or a “Hey, I ‘m Like Aretha Franklin, I don’t get no R-S-P-E-C-T” Si day (This is a Duck Dynasty reference, for those of you that are not part of the 11 plus million viewers). The reality is that you are the one in control. Smiling can change your mood and the whole day for you, your colleagues and your customers.

When a smile is not enough then music helps me. If I have a tedious job, turning on a little Josh Weathers and with a few raised eyebrows and some twirls with my pointer finger, a project is turned into a concert. Or, if I need to clean my house, then a turning up the volume with some Rolling Stones gets me bopping through the house, making it feel more like a dance rather than a chore. If I need to paint (as in a room not a Picasso) then Andrea Bocelli helps my one hand maestro my way through the project. Whatever your genre, try it.

Turn it up and smile.

To Better Assist You, Please Hold

I am amazed how often our customers are surprised to reach a real person on the first ring when calling AccuConference.

In this automatic world we live in, the "To better assist you, press 1 for billing, press 2 for account information, press 3 for sales, etc." is fooling no one. If you have to think about what button you fall into, your needs have already been minimized. It is especially cumbersome when you have to press * to repeat the options again.

Technology upgraded and offered us voice recognition "to better assist you." Well my mother was born and raised in Portugal. She does not have the ability to form the T-H (THA) sound. Voice recognition technology "assists" her into eventually yelling, with her heavy accent, the number TREE, TREE, TREE and then hearing "We’re sorry, but we did not recognize your response."

When a customer reaches out by phone, having an automated system that does not guide them properly can make the first, second, third…impression one that is remembered, but remembered poorly.

With most automated systems, if you continuously press 0 enough you may get lucky and get an operator to assist. But, those systems are catching on to this workaround and now you hear, "We’re sorry, but that is not a number we recognize." And worse, is when you choose a number that is not recognized and you hear the words "Goodbye"!

Unless you are the only game in town, then keeping the human spirit as your greeting is still a priority. At least it is here. When the company started in 2002, answering the phone on the first ring with a real human was a top priority, and it still is. At AccuConference, we answer the phone without making you wait.

This post was written by Debbie Vaught, an account manager here at AccuConference.