Text? Call? Email?

Ponder this.

If an admin successfully completes a task using a completely different approach than yours, is it wrong?

If an employee brand new to the workforce delivers a message to a senior executive via text rather than email, is it wrong? Why is it wrong? The message is delivered, right?  How would the new employee know that it is or isn’t acceptable to text instead of emailing co-workers unless it was pointed out to them their first day? Perhaps the executive prefers text? No way for you to know unless you have worked for this executive or have first-hand knowledge of his or her preferred method of communication.

Customer service taught me (and my many years in this career) that others just might not see things from the same perspective that I do. They may not have learned how to respond to events in the same way.  This employee perceived it as the fastest way to get a message to another staff member. This person thought they were awesome! to be so speedy to get the message out. It did not occur to this employee to actually call the executive because that is not the primary means of communication for this person. They text their family. They text their friends. Why wouldn’t they text their coworkers, too?

The staff member receiving the message was taken aback because the complete content and intent of the message did not get conveyed in that format. Miscommunications ensued. Disdain made a grand entrance.

I suspect this exact kind of scenario is why communication and business writing are two major segments of the Certified Administrative Professional® certification exam offered through the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

I encourage more experienced workforce peers to keep this in mind and to try to remember how long it took you to learn something so well, you did not have to think about how you did it. It comes to you automatically, almost as if you are on auto-pilot.  Think how much the workplace has changed. When I joined the workforce I had a lengthy orientation, not just about the organization but also on how to do my job!

These new-to-the-workforce employees are not only learning their job, they are learning what it means to work in an office culture, one that may be far more formal than they understand. Do not let them make awful get-shown-the-door mistakes if you can see it coming.  Do not demean these coworkers over their lack of experience.  Share the stories of mistakes you have made. In my opinion, empathy is the best way to engage and teach the newest members of the administrative professional workforce.

 

 

 

DC LAN IAAP Event- 5/24/16

Best Practices: Working with Boards and Committees

This event for DC LAN IAAP is open for members and non-IAAP members, and is an IAAP approved program for 1 re-certification point.

REGISTRATION – http://bit.ly/DCLANMay24

When: May 24, 2016 | Time: 5:30pm – 8:30pm | Where: Nixon Peabody, LLP – DC

Agenda:
5:30 to 6:15pm Networking Dinner and Program introduction
6:15 to 7:15pm Diligent presentation from Ray Judge
Quick break 7:15 to 7:30
7:30 to 8:30 pm Working with Board and Committees Overview
8:00pm to 8:30pm  Closing

Location Notes:
Intersection of 9th & H
Closest Metro Stop
Chinatown/Gallery Place — Yellow/Green/Red Lines
Easy to find garage parking/ pre-pay — Utilize parkingpanda.com

NOTE: Cancellations must be received 48 hours in advance to accommodate catering requirements. Any concerns regarding dietary restrictions, please email Kemetia.

Open to members and potential IAAP members.  For more information about IAAP visit www.iaap-hq.org

AN Director: Kemetia Foley, CAP-OM (kmkfoley@gmail.com)

Insights from the Receptionist Desk – Part 1: Communicating by Telephone

I’ve been in the admin field for a long, long time. I’ve been at my current desk for the past six years. What I’m about to tell you is no big surprise to anyone– People do not know how to communicate by telephone.

I don’t know if phone communication challenges are driven by so many people communicating via text now, or if people calling an organization are so used to NOT having a human being answer the phone — let me just say, it’s pretty disheartening.

Rather than document the myriad of astonishing calls I’ve answered, deciphered or directed, I think I’ll just share a few suggestions for getting assistance quickly when calling into a business. These suggestions are based on many years of phone answering experience.

1. Do some research to confirm that you have the correct phone number and the correct company. If you’re not sure the number is correct, it is perfectly acceptable to say to the receptionist, “I’m not certain I have the correct number, but perhaps you can help me.”

2. Always say Hello or Good morning/Good afternoon. Then follow the next three (3) steps.

  • Give your name- full name and company if you’re calling on behalf of your company. (My name is Jeff Carambe from ABECED.)
  • Ask for the person you are trying to reach (May I speak with John Lemon, please?) Or, if  you are not sure which person you need to speak with at the company,
  • Explain quickly (and we’ll cover this later) why you are calling this company– What’s your purpose? (I’d like to speak with Mr. Lemon regarding his May congressional testimony.)

This makes it very easy to provide the caller with assistance.  Any competent receptionist is going to be so grateful that you –> YOU know how to communicate when calling into a company!

At this point, the receptionist will connect you through to the line of the person you are calling. Now, suppose you immediately get voicemail Do the right thing!  Leave the same information plus your contact phone number or email on their voicemail. REPEAT your phone number twice so they don’t have to replay the message. Follow the prompt on the voicemail! Meaning if you want to speak with someone on staff, zero out to the receptionist and ask him/her if there is anyone else on staff that might be able to address Jeff Lemon’s testimony on the Hill.  Lastly, if you are on a deadline– leave that information on the message as well as letting the receptionist know.

Other suggestions

1. Don’t belittle or insult the receptionist.Being rude is rude and will not make things move faster or better, or more to your liking.
2 Don’t call from your subway ride, the library, your first-graders playground. Make the call when it is quiet and you can focus. So if you are calling while working from home, you might just want to put Fido in another room for a few minutes until you complete your call. I know you can’t always do this–but try.
3. Don’t ask the receptionist to page a staff member unless it truly is urgent.Like crazy urgent.
4. Don’t ask the receptionist for his/her opinion on an issue you are having w/a staff member, the company website, the policies of the organization or how they like the job. It’s not the receptionist’s role to speak on behalf of the organization that responsibility belongs to the Public Relations team.
5. Never hurts to say –Thank you for your assistance. Never.
6. Remember that some worker bees prefer to chunk block their calls which is why it is always a good idea to leave your contact information. This allows the staff member to return your call when they can respond uninterrupted, and you are respecting their preferred work method without even realizing it!
7. If you are nervous or it’s a complicated issue, SCRIPT your question beforehand. I used to think this advice was complete rubbish. Now I understand and respect how having your thoughts written out ahead truly smooths the way!
8. If you have left a staff member a message but have not had a return call after twenty-four hours, you’ve got a few options to get to a resolution. A)You can email the staff member and use the subject line – Please respond to my inquiry about (Fill in the Blank). B)Call the main number and ask the receptionist if that staff member is out on extended leave or ask for the contact information for another team member in the same department. C) As a last resort, request the supervisor’s contact information to nudge the resolution along.

Not all organizations believe in having a human being answer the main company phone line, but I certainly know that navigating an auto-attendant system can sometimes be more frustrating than having a call transferred several times within a company.

–> Next blog: Insights from the Receptionist Desk Part 2: Communication Challenges – Auto-Attendant Systems and Awful Receptionists

Day 10 Why Customer Service? Countdown to Executive Secretary Live 2015

Every friend of mine has a story (or a dozen) about crappy customer service. Have you ever noticed that when the level of customer service goes above and beyond, it is news-worthy?!

You can find administrative courses on any Office product, setting up travel arrangements, creating team building projects but I’d never seen a course on customer service for administrative professionals. I’m not just referring to call center staff– they are in a very tough class of their very own. I’m talking about what are the keys to defining superb customer service from an administrative professional?

I’ll fill you in on the back story to what prompted me to develop this session when we meet on Day 2 of Executive Secretary Live. In the meantime, I hope you’ll think about how YOU define great customer service. What does it look like, to you?   

Here’s a suggested text to consider written by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness (2006). [It is one of my go-to books and I believe it’s available for Kindle and Nook.]

Eve 12/Day 11- Countdown to Executive Secretary Live

I wanted to provide a short list of people that I admire and learn so much from via social media. Sharing information is a good thing!

1. Kate Nasser /@KateNasser – Kate is one of the first customer service leaders that I connected with through Twitter. She does a 10am eastern tweetchat on Sunday mornings – #PeopleSkills chat. Her web site is www.katenasser.com

2. Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt.  These two gentlemen authored, World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.  They also are the most amazing tweeps- >sharing HELPFUL information, resources and advice via their respective Twitter handles @TedCoine and @MarkSBabbitt.

3. Brian Fanzo aka @iSocialFanz on Twitter. I met Brian through the #Tchat tweetchat on Wednesday evenings, 7pm eastern. Little did I know I was connecting with an unbelievable vault of social knowledge, but someone as excited about social as I am.  His site – iSocialFanz.com.  And, he even loves NFL and NHL as much as I do (albeit a rival team..but that’s okay).

More resources to be posted tomorrow.

In the meantime, enjoy this thought from Vala Afshar, CMO, Extreme Networks — from his twitter feed in the last 24 hours.  I love to follow his posts.  Inspiring!  @ValaAfshar

ValaAfshar_03072015

 

I’m in love with FedEx Kinkos…..

I’m in love with FedEx Kinkos… not all of them, mind you. Just the one I went to in Las Vegas.

So.. you’re confused? Well, I traveled to Las Vegas for a work event…. a week-long work event. Needless to say, I was not as prepared as I would have liked to have been.

The FedEx Kinkos on the South LVegas Blvd (conveniently nearby an IHOP.. I must note) was staffed by one.. that’s right. ONE gal. for the first two hours I was there. I wish I had a video of that time from 7am-1pm. This gal was the penultimate example of great customer service AND efficiency AND calm. Needless to say, her patience was biblical and I will be writing a separate letter to their HQ on her behalf.

Why so great? She made great suggestions, cost-saving and logical suggestions to a non-caffeinated, fairly stressed EA.. and made it all easy. Thank goodness for some real customer service in this country! FedEx.. I hope you really do look out for your good people.