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Good gravy, how much business do we leave on the table because our amazing customer service …isn’t?

Here’s the scenario…

I’m heading over to a local mall near my house because I’m going to be traveling for the next few weeks and got the bright idea to do my Valentine’s shopping in advance.
Valentine’s Day is a big deal in the Hoffman household. I have always tried to make it special for my wife, 3 daughters, and 1 son. So, I am ready to spend some money today. I’m excited!

As I approach a jewelry store in the mall, the gentleman behind the counter greets me with a heartfelt welcome.

“Good afternoon, sir. Come on in. How do you find yourself on this fine afternoon?” (Wow, what a great welcome! He is relaxed and obviously in a good mood. My defenses drop.)

“Just doing a little Valentine’s shopping.”

“Well, you’ve come to the right place,” he responds and introduces me to an associate to help me.

Dottie smiles. She is obviously in the same good mood.

“Come on over here, sir, and let me show you what we have that might make this Valentine’s Day a little special.”

Wow, a mind reader! She knows exactly what I’m looking for. How awesome is that?!

Dottie proceeds to ask me what type of stones I like. I tell her that my wife has been requesting onyx, lately. (My wife loves onyx.)

Dottie informs me that they do not work with onyx very often because the stone is too soft for a lot of jewelry. However, she wants to show me some very beautiful pieces that they just brought in for the holiday.

And… we’re off! A litany of choices that are, in fact beautiful, but may or may not be appropriate.

Dottie is a chatterbox. We proceed to cover almost the entire shop! Option after option of necklaces and rings that all appeals to Dottie. Every example shown is followed up with the well-worn phrases, “How do you like this piece?” … “How does this one strike you?” … “Do you think she’d like this?”

Dottie, this is such a classic mistake! We’re just playing darts with blindfolds on!

I realize that I have spent the entire time trying to put together the package that would make everyone I was shopping for happy… in my own mind. Dottie doesn’t even realize there are multiple people that I’m buying for, so of course she’s not helping. And I could tell she, too, is getting a little weary. (Maybe she’s decided she’s spending too much time with someone that she thinks, “isn’t going to buy anything”, and wants to move on?)

But, I’ve got money! I’ve got goals! Come on, Dottie!

She’s giving me the presentation, but not OWNING the conversation. Other than ONE question about stones and me mentioning my wife, Dottie completely misses the opportunity.

If she spent just a few moments asking more questions about my specific desires, what a different experience this would be. I am buying for four women of different ages and different tastes – would she show me different combinations if she knew that? What have they liked in the past? Should they match? What’s my price range? Where should we focus; rings, necklaces, bracelets? Did I want to get a piece of jewelry for my son as well? Holy cow, there’s an opportunity here for the ASKING.

Hmmm. Dottie, you little pistol, I’m exhausted. Dottie’s worn out.

I end up saying, “Thank you very much, but the hunt must continue,” and so, I leave. There are many other options in the mall.

Brilliant? No. Common? Yes. Fixable? Very!

It’s time to start OWNING the conversation.

That doesn’t mean bestowing your knowledge and showering me with options. No! When you are a problem solver in a sales or customer service encounter, take control of that crucial part of the problem-solving conversation that says, “Before I talk about me, let’s talk about you!”

It’s amazing how solutions and sales will appear when you use your ability to ASK questions and LISTEN to fully understand the customer’s side of the story…FIRST!

This situation is NOT a jewelry store issue. Anytime we find ourselves in a position to solve a problem, we tend to act a lot like Dottie and overshare our knowledge. But, we can keep kissing those customers goodbye, if we’re not paying attention. The answers are right in front of us if we just own it – guide the conversation by asking questions and listening for the true wants and needs.

How much money are you leaving on the table and how many problems are never solved correctly because we never find out what the real concerns are?

You’ve got to OWN IT, Dottie!

(BTW… I did finally find another jewelry store, where a completely amazing version of “Dottie” asked so many questions, that it turned into a one-stop shop for the whole holiday. I am happily going to blow the family away this year! Whooda man?!?!)

Town East Mall Santa Owns It!

You survived another round of holiday mayhem.  Give yourself a WHOOO!

As the dust settles on the holiday experience you may, like me, have the residual impressions from encounters in the market place that have been seared into your memory like a seal in hot wax.

Good or bad, we have a tendency to hang on to the memories of these encounters.  And yes, they consciously (and sometimes sub-consciously) have real impact on whether we will do business there again…

I was spending the day with my 92-year-old father; a WWII veteran, a husband, and father of 9 children (of which I’m number 8!).  We were walking through a mall when I remembered that my 24-year-old son Joseph and I had not taken our yearly picture with Santa.

(Back when my son was 18 years old, he lamented to me that we had never once taken Santa picture… So at that time, I said, “OK, let’s go!”  The result was the start of an annual tradition of funny, awkward pictures with good-hearted Santas going along with our fun.)

So standing in this mall, I suddenly realized, Holy Cow!  With my 92 year old Dad joining us this year, I knew this picture could be truly EPIC!  I called my son to join us.

As we took our turn waiting patiently in line with the other children and their families, it was fun to notice the looks of the others searching for a child in our group.  (I was the biggest child.)

Two observations in this encounter made lasting impressions on me that will impact the way I feel about “this mall”… all because of the people employed.

The first was when I was watching a family ahead of us with their two small children. The youngest was about 1 year old and was sitting on Santa’s lap with no problem at all.  However, her slightly older sister didn’t trust this jolly, perfectly presented Santa.  She wasn’t having any of it and it was clear the photo op wasn’t going to work.

I watched, as Santa gestured to the parents to come take his place on the big chair, so that they could just take a family photo instead.  Santa made sure the uncomfortable little girl was watching, as he made it obvious that he was walking away.  She calmed down and they were able to take a family photo.  But unbeknownst to the family, Santa had snuck around behind the chair and peeked over the back, posing with thumbs up and big smiles!  Wow… such a wonderful surprise when the family saw their picture afterwards!  And such a great way to handle that situation. Delightful!

This Santa owned it. He had obviously been doing this for a long time and had multiple ways to ensure families still got their ‘picture with Santa’, while ensuring emotional outbreaks wouldn’t ruin the shot or result in frustrated parents.

While watching all this transpire, I thought to myself, I like this guy!

When it was our turn, Santa was more than happy to oblige when we shared the fun we Hoffman boys like to have with our photos.  After the obligatory one pose, Santa suggested we do some more poses… he added props, and really got into the silliness of the moment. But then, the real magic happened.

Our Santa noticed the Army Air Corp hat that my father was wearing and he thanked Dad for his service.  Santa then went on to spend at least 10 minutes asking questions and pouring gratitude and love onto my Dad.

Now you are supposed to walk away paying for just one photo.  But before we left, this Santa gave ALL the pictures we’d taken to my father, as a thank you gift for everything my Dad had done by serving in the Army Air Corp.

I was blown away. Not at the free gift of all the photos.  But at how my Dad felt in the 10 minutes we spent with Santa at the Town East Mall in Mesquite, TX.

This Santa owned the moment and took advantage of the time together to make a total stranger feel appreciated and loved.

I know the holiday season is over and it’s been over a month since this encounter, but have I told you about my new favorite mall in Mesquite TX?  It’s the Town East Mall.  I’m writing this blog here right now, as I’m enjoying a cup of coffee.  And, I’ll be hanging out here more often, spending my time and my money, because of the wax seal imprint on my heart that I now have of an encounter with a person who OWNED his role.

I want to be a hot wax imprinter!  I want to be that guy that makes more impressions like that one on the people I work with every day.

Thanks for the amazing gift, Santa.  My New Year’s resolution is to own it more… just like you.

 

CuppaHoff

We all want. Success, better relationships, better job performance are just a few. But what are you DOING to make those wants turn into accomplishments. Let’s have a Cuppa and talk about it…
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Celebrate your team!

June 10, 2014 | Michael Hoffman, keynote address | Credit to AIBTM – http://tinyurl.com/mjyqcek

Michael Hoffman grimaces during his Keynote Address Tuesday as he demonstrates the plight of a meeting planner trapped in an F5 tornado.

With dozens of education opportunities, hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees, AIBTM 2014 may not seem like a rejuvenating day at the spa, but Michael Hoffman sees it that way. In his Keynote Address Tuesday, Hoffman told everyone to enjoy their time in Orlando, kick back and invest in themselves and their teams.
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