By Natasha Kwachka
The last time you called a customer service line, what was your experience? Were you greeted by an eager representative ready to help solve your problems? Or did you yell “CUSTOMER SERVICE” into your phone repeatedly until you heard “I’m having a hard time understanding you, let me get you to a representative” and were forwarded to a queue? Is this, the elevator music and the robotic voice reassuring you every three minutes that you’re next in the queue, the customer experience of the future?
While some believe Artificial Intelligence will replace everyone, others question if customer service can ever be replaced. I came across this article that explains the perils of trying to replace customer service with automation. Take a look, and let us know what you think!
By Aimee Johnson
Projects = that vague, looming, hanging over your head, stressful, time consuming thing we all dread, but are faced with in our personal and professional lives on a regular basis.
I have a tendency to allow myself to spiral or think of the next project I need to complete before I even have a chance to finish the current project at hand! This causes unnecessary stress and can negatively affect the quality and desired outcome. I refer to this as “The Raven Effect” as raven’s are attracted to shiny objects and can become easily distracted. Yes, that’s me – a raven. See what happened there? Ok, back on topic.
Here are five things to get you off on the right foot:
- END IN MIND – Start with what you want to accomplish, defining your desired outcome or goal. Many of us have heard of the phrase “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” Well, in this case, it should be about the destination.
A well-established objective will help you and others stay on track, hold each other accountable, and reach your desired outcome on time and efficiently.
- SET MILESTONES – Once you’ve established your “End in Mind,” the next step would be the plan. What needs to happen prior to the completion of the project? Who needs to complete what? What steps need to be prioritized? Are additional resources needed? Setting a sequence or determining what can be completed simultaneously can move the project along and reduce delays. It is also a good idea to establish due dates and/or expected timelines to complete starting with the goal of when you would like or need the project to be completed.
- WRITE IT DOWN – Accountability can be one of the most difficult and uncomfortable components that can make or break your project. A great plan is a great start, but if you are not willing to hold yourself and/or others involved accountable, you may never reach completion. Worse, in my opinion, you might produce a poor product.By writing down the project and associated plan, you are making it real. This is your contract and commitment to the project. Don’t be afraid of accountability. It shouldn’t be negative. If used properly, accountability can be a very useful tool to develop skillsets, increase productivity, and improve outcomes.
- MEASURE & REEVALUATE – Don’t be afraid to say an idea or plan didn’t work or needs to change – make necessary adjustments for the benefit of the desired outcome. It is better to address this early on, make the change, and move forward with the next steps.
- ATTITUDE – A positive attitude goes a long way when tackling a project. The project should be worth the process so enjoy yourself and have fun! Be realistic and kind to yourself and others working on the project. We all have strength’s and opportunities that should be embraced and cultivated. Don’t stress yourself out if things don’t go as planned or adjustments need to be made. Be flexible and stay positive! This will make it more enjoyable!
If you feel yourself straying from your plan or becoming “The Raven”, refer to these five items to help get and keep you on track!
By Blanche Sheppard
Working in a collaborative office results in one of the most valuable aspects of a team – sharing knowledge and resources. As a team, you not only lean in when you need help, but also contribute to one another’s personal growth by sharing articles and books you find interesting or helpful.
In our office, Natasha mentioned a book called Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni, recommended to her by someone who called it “life-changing.” Our internal book club is reading another book by Lencioni called The Ideal Team Player. I enjoyed both books, but I focused on one particular theme from both: the necessity of being willing to learn from everyone on your team. Understanding how your employees view the company’s biggest opportunities can be eye opening.
Further personal development research led me to this article from the Harvard Business Review. “Fix the Process, Not the Problem” reviews how a paper company turned around from certain disaster to success by drawing upon the ideas and problem solving of all of their employees, not just the top brass. Sirkin and Stalk describe the company’s evolution from putting out fires to preventing the sparks.
by: Jessica Carlson
Something that I struggled with in the past is having multiple tasks and prioritizing to make sure that I am able to meet my deadlines. One way that I have found to help me keep organized and on task is “Time Blocking.” It sounds simple enough, right? Setting aside a certain amount of time each day is a good start. Nevertheless, with everything else going on around you it can be difficult to stay focused. Here are a few strategies I discovered help me keep on track:
- Set your own deadlines. Even if you are working on something that does not necessarily have a specific end, you can set a goal to get X amount done by Y time. You would be surprised how watching the clock can keep you focused.
- Limit how much time you are spending on tasks. Staring at the same spreadsheet for 8 hours can really fry your brain. Set aside 90 minutes at a time to work on one project. If that means you have to come back to it later in the day and work on it again, that’s ok. You will get twice as much done in the same amount of time over a longer period than if you tried to do it all at once.
- Minimize interruptions. Close out your email, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and/or close your office door. Set aside specific times each day to check and respond to voicemails/emails. Even brief interruptions can throw you off; studies show that it takes around 25 minutes to get back to the original task you were focused on after an interruption.
- Take breaks. I know, it sounds counterproductive. However, working without breaks can lead to a decrease in productivity. Non-stop focus on one thing for hours can leave you drained. You should take at least 15-20 minutes for each 90-minute time period spent working to feel re-energized.
If you are trying to increase your productivity, think about ways you can work smarter, not harder. Your calendar is probably full, so step back and resist the temptation to put in longer hours and pack more into your already busy day.