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Six Steps to Personal Success
John Tschohl
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“Performance begins with how people feel about what they are doing and how they treat the people they are doing it with and for. If you want to be successful, it is critical that you provide superior service.”

Bill Gates did it! So did Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump. They started out with little and achieved success in their chosen fields. While many equate success with money, it is much more than net worth. It is setting a goal and ethically doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

The key to success is superior performance. Superior service is doing whatever it takes to satisfy your customers, your co-workers and your boss. It is providing quality products and services and learning as much as you can about the products and services you provide. It is going out of your way to ensure that the people you work with, and for, have positive experiences when doing business with you.

Surveys show that customers make their decisions on where to buy based on what the organisation does, or doesn’t do, to make their experience a pleasant one.

Sales, advertising, merchandising, location, products and services offered will attract customers once, maybe twice, but it’s the quality of the personal relationship that will bring them back. Co-workers and bosses also make their work decisions based on the quality of the relationships they have with others.

Have you ever been ready to buy something, then left the store because you couldn’t get anyone to wait on you? Have you avoided patronising a restaurant that offers great food but has poor service? Or have you tried to avoid an assignment at work because you don’t get along well with the people assigned to work with you? In the end, price, taste, personal service or importance of the project didn’t matter. What did matter was how you felt.

Feelings build habits and habits drive performance. It follows that good habits drive good performance and good performance drives careers.

Performance begins with how people feel about what they are doing and how they treat the people they are doing it with and for. If you want to be successful, it is critical that you provide superior service.

The Personal Success Plan for Excellence in Customer Service focuses on the six critical ingredients for providing superior performance. They are:

Feel good about yourself.
You must feel good about yourself if you are to make people around you feel good. Your attitudes are communicated to the customer, to your co-workers and to your employer. A positive attitude will give you self-confidence; what you believe, you can conceive. It’s not a matter of how smart you are; it’s how you use what you’ve got that counts. When you know you are doing your best you will feel good about yourself and, when you feel good about yourself, you will feel good about others. Pat yourself on the back. Pump yourself up. Concentrate on your strengths and recognise the importance of the role you play in the organisation.

Practice courtesy.
Everyone has the right to be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect. It shows you care. Often people get so caught up in getting their work done that they don’t take the time to interact with customers and co-workers on a personal level, to recognise them as important individuals. The more you give, the more you’ll receive. Say “thank you” and smile. Apologise without blame. Everyone has feelings; it’s critical that you do everything you can to make those feelings positive.

Give positive, caring communication.
What you say is evidence of how you feel – about yourself, your job and the organisation you work for. Communicating with customers and co-workers on a positive, personal level is an important part of building positive relationships. That communication must be genuine, specific, sincere and timely. Here’s an example: “George, the presentation you gave today was very well done; I appreciate the extra effort.” Avoid plastic or phoney communication that is insincere or false, or crooked communication that begins as a compliment but ends as an insult. An example is, “You look great! You’ve lost a lot of weight. That makes be tough at your age.”

Perform for the customer.
Even with the best of intentions, it’s almost impossible to meet the needs of others if we don’t understand what those needs are. How do you get that information? Ask for it. Listen to the answers. Then repeat back what you’ve heard. When you know what your customer, your co-worker or your boss wants and then provide it, you will create a positive relationship. Do what you say you will do and do it with quality and speed. Keep your promises. If you say you will ship the product on Tuesday, do it. If you say you will complete the report by Monday, do it. Deliver what you promise.

Tune in. This sounds easy but it isn’t. When you deal with hundreds of people each week, you can become desensitised, so it’s important to concentrate on each person you come in contact with. Listen to their needs. Pay attention to them. Anticipate. Read between the lines. Ask questions. Get involved. Listening shows you care and gives you the information you need to serve others – and to serve them well.


Grow where you’re planted. Learn all you can about your products, services and customers. Attend product seminars. Read trade magazines. Take advantage of any training your organisation offers. Seek training outside the company when possible. The more knowledgeable you are, the more capable you will be. The more capable you are, the more successful you will become.

Having good customer service and customer satisfaction requires the commitment of management, supervisors and frontline employees to create and maintain a strong business philosophy. These are all influential factors of any business. Mastering these aspects means becoming more competitive in the marketplace today.

John Tschohl is president and founder of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. An international management consultant and speaker, he has been described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a “customer service guru.” John has also written several books, including Achieving Excellence through Customer Service, The Customer is Boss and Ca$hing In: Make More Money, Get a Promotion, Love Your Job. Visit his web site at http://www.customer-service.com



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Last Updated: 01-02-2007