Do More Than Just Survive, Strive!

With social distancing, how do we engage when we have to stay physically apart from one another? It is essential that we pull out our somewhat dusty customer service skills, and start to apply them to all of our interactions—be it customer, vendor, or co-worker.

I have been sitting in my house for more than eight weeks now. I am not able to go outside. No friends, no family! This is definitely a time that I wished I had a pet or a child (the only ways you can go for a walk here in Spain). 

Overall, it hasn’t been so bad, thanks to Netflix and a few good books. But it undoubtedly has disrupted my normal life. I am a reasonably social person, and living in the south of Spain, socialization is part of the fabric of life here. Everyone knows about our famous “Tapas” (think three to four Costco samples) and our cheap wine and beer. We are encouraged to get out and be a part of the community. We don’t shake hands—it’s all hugs and double kisses. We go to the grocery store every day, then the bakery, then the cafe for a break before we head to the butcher. Life here is about getting out and about. 

As we speak with our customers and potential customers, it made me think about how we engage others in general. With social distancing, how do we engage when we have to stay physically apart from one another? It is essential that we pull out our somewhat dusty customer service skills, and start to apply them to all of our interactions—be it customer, vendor, or co-worker. It doesn’t take much of an effort!

Add Pleasantries to Your Greetings

This is always a pet-peeve of mine anyway, but when we don’t start our e-mails with a proper and polite greeting, it can come off a bit harsh and doesn’t follow conventional letter writing etiquette in any case. You know what I mean by this:

Bob:

instead of

Good morning, Bob!

See what I mean? It also can be worse than that. Those of you who don’t include any greeting at all, well, that’s just a shame!

Ask Someone How They Are Doing and Mean It

Maybe you are someone who doesn’t want to know how someone is doing, or doesn’t want to listen to others’ problems, but that is just bad business, and, well, a bad human being. Care about the people you work with. Take the time to connect with them. Maybe you are the only person they get to chat with that day or at least the only different person besides their family. So talking with someone else is like an “adventure” for them.

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. You can have some fun with this one. A sense of humor is a necessity in tough times, so don’t be afraid to be a good distraction for others.

“Have you seen yet?”

“How have you been doing with the quarantine?”

“I know you normally run every day—are you still able to get out there?”

It doesn’t matter what type of questions. They can be simple, but let fellow humans know you care about them. It’s not all business!

 I am not just talking about in-person or telephone, either. Make your e-mails more pleasant. Add some joy. There is nothing worse than those dry e-mails. You can add some personality and human spirit to your written conversations, too.

 I hope you have a great weekend! It looks like it is going to be a sunny one, at last! Let’s hear it for Vitamin D!”

It doesn’t take much, but it says a lot.

Just Be Kind!

In summary, start being more kind to others. I know at this time we are all thinking about our jobs, money, family, health, travel, and the list goes on. We spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves, but we have to remember that others have the same stresses. And many others may be dealing with even tougher situations. Up your kindness level, and you will never go wrong. Adjust your tone, be happy and calm, and take time to connect with others. It is that simple.

Not only does this make you a good human, it also makes perfect business sense. Those engagements will not go unnoticed when this is all over. 

As for me, I am off to practice with the man in the mirror because that long-haired, bearded scruffy guy looks like a stranger to me! Stay safe, practice social distancing, and wash your hands!

Kevin James Saunders is a trainer for Oculus Training, a training and mystery shopping company offering sensitivity, sales, and customer service training programs around the world. For more information, call 888.OCULUS4 or visit www.oculustraining.com. You also can connect with Oculus on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @oculustraining or reach out via e-mail at peoplecare@oculustraining.com.

 

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