Transferable Skills

In this ever changing economy, you may find yourself without a job. Like me. Despite my great experiences, I have a big dilemma, my specialized skills/job title doesn’t have many job openings. So I haven’t been able to find a job with similar tasks. When looking for another job, you may also have to rely on your transferable skills in order to find employment.
Here’s your assignment, look at this worksheet and follow their instructions on filling it out. The referenced worksheet may be useful when looking at one job, however, if you are like me, you are applying to many jobs. I suggest making a master list. Using an editer of your choice (MS Word, Excel, Open Office, etc.) make two columns: Skill and Experience/Achievement. Under skills, type the skills that would have from that worksheet. Under Experience/Achievement, write one sentence about an experience or achievement associated with that skill. Make sure the experience/achievement starts with a past-tense verb. Use this master list when comparing your skills to the job requirements of a prospect job, making your resume, and cover letters.
 Here’s an example of what it can look like:

Master Transferable Skills List
Skill Experience/Achievement
Train Created procedural manual and trained employees on procedures.
Audit Records Audited financial records on a monthly basis.

  
As for me, I went from electronic banking to daycare part-time while I look for full-time employment. Here’s my example:

Skill Experience/Achievement
Assess situations Listened to customer to assess their needs
Coordinate Activities Coordinated employee activities, financial projects, and community fundraisers

Make your Master Transferable Skills List and change careers! Have fun!

Appropriately Apologizing

When is it okay to apologize? You don’t want to look incompetent, you do not want to admit you were wrong in some situations, and it may not have been your fault. I am open to discussing this matter. In my opinion, there are some situations where you need to apologize, just not pathetically. Remember, this is just my opinion and company policy supersedes my opinion.

COMPANY’S FAULT
About a month ago, I listened to a customer service call where the customer was transferred to many different people and put on hold for what seemed like forever. It wasn’t this next employee’s fault, and it was unfortunate that the previous employees could not help this person. But now he can! He did not apologize, the company may seem incompetent. That’s not the image we want to portray, the company is a professional, upstanding place of business that relies on repeat and loyal business. One way to handle this is with empathy. For example say, “Wow, it sounds like you’ve already spent a lot of time with us and your time is important so let me take care of you quickly.” Follow through and don’t over promise too please. You don’t want to make matters worse.

THEIR FAULT
What if it is the customer’s fault? Let’s say that the customer made a mistake but doesn’t know it yet and is very upset. Maybe they didn’t know/missed a policy or fee change. Keep in the back of your head before you speak these things:

  • We are all human
  • Don’t be insulting, not too defensive
  • Use a kind tone and words

 Last thing you want to do is to sound condescending. Here’s an example of what I’d say, “I understand your frustration, you received a fee for _______. However, there was a policy change on _______, and a fee is to be assessed when ______.” From there you can determine if a courtesy reversal is appropriate. Being flexible and understanding can go a long way in turning the situation around while standing firm on policy and keeping the customer’s business.

HOWEVER
It is not appropriate to

  • Pass the buck
  • Be rude, duh
  • Beat around the bush (so many idioms)

Lessons Learned:

  • Over apologizing makes the company look incompetent
  • Use empathy
  • Stand firm when appropriate
  • Be flexible when able
  • Don’t be condescending

Thank you big lil brother for your assistance with this.

It’s an employee’s world?

Is it an employee’s world? Or a consumer’s world? Maybe even an employer’s world. 
First of all, if you are a job seeker, this is an employer’s world. Especially during this lovely recession. That’s another topic for another day.

On several occasions, I have received horrible customer service from employees who treat their customers as if it is an “employee’s” world. How I came to this conclusion is when I feel like I am inconveniencing the employee by shopping or needing their assistance. In better situations, I have been treated as if the survival of the company depends on my business. This is obviously ideal.

So, as an employee or business owner, what shall we do to inspire a mindset of a “consumer’s world”?
Treat your business as if the survival of the company depends on your customers. There are other factors involved (like employees (teamwork), and other business decisions) but that’s for another time.

In my own hobby business, I have a product that I offer to business owners to resell at their shops. On some part, I call the shots, (like pricing based on how much business they give me and my operating costs). However, if I only offered what I wanted to offer when I started, my business would have died a year ago. By offering a product that better fit the shop’s clientele, or even just whatever they wanted, my business was able to continue. Lesson learned, be flexible.

Being flexible is also applicable to customer service positions. When you are with a customer, keep this in mind, “If it weren’t for customers, I wouldn’t have a job.” Or you may receive less hours, due to less business. Or a less likely chance of a pay raise because of a decrease in operational efficiency. Be flexible, be understanding, be patient. Flexibility is also shown when making business decisions. Making approved exceptions, like waiving a fee, can secure loyalty of a customer.  

Have you ever had one of those days when your hairdryer caught on fire and then your truck wouldn’t start because it’s old and it was way too cold last night? Then your employer comes back from vacation and finds everything that went wrong within the first few hours you started work that morning? Put you in a bad mood huh? Well, that’s not the customer’s fault. When they come in, they only need to see the person who will facilitate their transaction. I bet you’ve heard they saying, leave it at the door, huh? I hate to sound like a broken record, but really, “leave it at the door.” Now I understand that this is harder than it sounds sometimes. Trust me, I have found out about deaths, been coached in front of customers, been yelled at, and been in relationship fights before work, and it has pushed my buttons. If you have to, go take a break, sit in your car, collect yourself, drink a glass or water, splash your face with water, touch up that makeup, put a smile on your face, and get back in there and give your best. Remember, your employer hired you to do the best job possible from 9-5, and you represent the company, so take care of that customer. Your customers need your services, not to feel the wrath of which is not their fault. 

Summary
To inspire “a customer’s world,” keep these things in mind:

  • Be flexible
  • If it weren’t for customers, business would not progress or even survive.
  • Leave your problems at the door

Adjectives of a Great Employee

As I refresh myself on the interviewing process, I was reading some sample interview questions so that I could practice my answers. I came across one question that I think every employee/job seeker should answer for themselves and also some examples I think are relevant.

Name 5 adjectives that best describe you as an employee. Here’s a great list to help you brainstorm

……………………………………………….

I’d like you to take it a step further and describe an experience and/or how that word relates to you.

………………………………………………..

Here are some examples of adjectives I think makes a great employee and some descriptions…. Yes, some of these adjectives describe me.

  • Willing – Eager to assist everyone.
  • Able (competent) – Being trained (and seeking training), and using my knowledge to take care of customers to satisfaction.
  • Productive – I believe in not only making my hourly wage well paid, I believe in keeping myself busy to help prove my work ethic.
  • Receptive – Watching internal and external customers and being able to read their expressions, tone, and everything else they are saying to determine their needs and wants from me.
  • Approachable – If you look and the part (professional, smiling, genuine) you will be successful.

You should put your list in your job folder and rehearse it, as you prepare for a job interview/review.

Willing and Able

DISCLOSURE: This blog is meant to help you relate to the situation. Names, places, and specific details will not be used.

When I worked in at a local big credit union in Sacramento, one of our ratings was called “Willing and Able.”

WILLING:
One day, at a recent job, a teller displayed “unwilling but able.” The able part I know is due to her being trained. The unwilling part was due too her being “too busy.” Unacceptable. We were short staffed, had many tasks and traffic was high. A customer walked in, no acknowledged them. Phone rang, no one answered. The supervisor asked an employee to post a transaction for her, the employee snappped, “I’m too busy with the daily deposit.” Even though, the deposit can wait and can be picked right back up when finished with the important item: the customer.

In the customer/member service world, the customer/member comes first ALWAYS. It is VERY important to display willingness to assist them. After all, if it weren’t for customers/members, we would not have jobs.
This also is relevant to internal customer service. We spend 8+ hours a day with each other. Lets at least be willing to help each other out and be cordial with one another.

ABLE
According to Google, able is defined as:

Adjective

  1. Having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something.
  2. Having considerable skill, proficiency, or intelligence.

Being trained and being competent is the key to being able. By absorbing the knowledge gained from training and experiences, you will be able to perform all tasks you’ve been assigned. My suggestion to all employees is, after you are trained in the basic functions of you job, reflect on your weaknesses, big and small. Determine what knowledge and experience you may need to correct the weaknesses and make them your strengths. Read handbooks, instruction manuals, policy and procedures. Attend workshops, webinars, college classes. This will not only increase your “able” factor, it will also show your employer dedication and great work ethic.

Greeter’s Greetings

FIRST SITUATION:
We were shopping for meat at a local grocery store where their employees are REQUIRED to greet and help any/all customers. A meat cutter pushing a cart of meat past us and said, “Hello, how are you, let me know if I can help you.” He said this so fast and pasted us so fast, that it didn’t sound like he meant it. Within 5 minutes he said the same line to us 5 more times and treated everyone else around us the same.

SECOND SITUATION:
As we entered the big box store we were immediately NOT greeted by the greeter. She gave the “I don’t care smile.” What do you get paid to do again, oh yeah greet people.

What should have happened:

  • Smile
  • Give a greeting that is believable
  • Remember who you talked to in order to properly follow-up
  • When you do greet and follow-up, don’t make it robotic, make it different each time

    Customers can read you as much as you can read them. Don’t be fake, it will show, don’t be bored, it will show.