Behaviors speak louder than words—3 service reminders for leaders

Follow The Leader on BlackboardI remember advice someone gave me when my kids were little, “Pay attention to your behaviors—because your kids are always watching you.”

That has turned out to be very good advice over the years, and I find the same is true for leaders in organizations.  Managers can only get away with so much before their team members are going to start believing their leader’s actions more than their words.  When it comes to serving customers, I have found the best managers are the ones that not only praise and acknowledge their employees when they serve their customers well, but are also role models of the behaviors they would like others to emulate.

A case in point

A perfect example of this happened recently when I went with my college age son to open an account at a bank.  His primary bank did not have any branches where he is going to college, so this was going to make it easier for him to access his money (all $250.00 of it.)  Once we sat down and he explained his situation to the young woman helping him, she proceeded to explain the various options available to him as a college student with limited funds.  After agreeing on the type of account that would best fit his needs, she then asked if he was interested in opening a credit card.

At first he said “no,” explaining that he didn’t want to be tempted to spend money he didn’t have. But after we discussed it for a few minutes and I shared that I thought it was a great way for him to start establishing credit, he agreed and the young woman started processing the credit card as well.

Now, I could stop at this point with the story (it had already been a very nice experience) but what happened next was what really impressed me.  You see, at that moment, another woman walked into the cubicle, introduced herself to my son (not me) and said, “I am the Branch Manager here and I just wanted to thank you for opening an account with us today.”

She then went on to tell him that she overheard our conversation about whether or not he should open up a credit card, and she complimented my son for his consideration of NOT getting a credit card—she was impressed with his thoughtful decision instead of just rushing into opening a credit account.

She also went on to praise the young woman that was assisting my son and told him that he was in the best of hands with her taking care of everything.  I was impressed to see that the Branch Manager—while acknowledging me as she spoke, was really there to welcome my son (a new customer).

3 takeaways for leaders

So what can we learn from what the Branch Manager did that day?  Here are three takeaways that I found valuable for leaders:

  1. Be a good role model of the behaviors you expect from others in the workplace and demonstrate them through your actions.
  2. Be a cheerleader for your team members—acknowledge their efforts not only to them, but to the customer.
  3. Always remember to thank the customer for their business and don’t let their age discount them as a customer.  Customers have choices and when they choose to do business with you, you want them to know you appreciate it.

I know my son felt special and taken care of by all of people at the bank starting with the Branch Manager.  Remember, people are always watching when you least expect it, so make sure your behaviors are following your good intentions.

About the author:

Kathy Cuff is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.  You can read Kathy’s posts as a part of our customer service series which appears on the first and third Thursday of each month.

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