Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

 

July 30, 2018

Jeff MowattBy Jeff Mowatt

You know the scenario… your workday is running smoothly and manageably when suddenly you find yourself dealing with one customer in front of you, another on the phone, while a third arrives with just a quick question. When organizations bring me to conduct customer service seminars, I find this is one of the most frequent challenges frontline employees ask me to address. While there are no absolute rules for juggling customers (you need to adapt to your workplace’s business realities), here are five tips that we find work well for our clients in reducing stress and boosting customer loyalty

1. Remember, this is good

Having lots of customers wanting to do business with you is wonderful. It means you and your organization are in demand. The obvious solution to juggling multiple customers is just to hire more people. Of course that’s oversimplified, and may make no economic sense, especially when there may be only one or two rush periods during the day or week. When you see more customers arrive, don’t let them see you sweat. Take the professional approach and broaden your smile, even though it may be slightly forced. Keep in mind the adage of L.L. Bean who said, “Customers are not interruptions to your work, they are the purpose of your work.

2. Don’t make things worse

One of the most frequent gaffs in frontline service is when a customer needs to ask a question but the employees are preoccupied — talking with each other. Even more aggravating is when the staff congregate to socialize while customers are left to fend for themselves. The place for employees to chat and hold meetings is in the staff area, not in front of customers. When you’re on the floor, make yourself visible and available to customers. Of course, that also means not interrupting your co-workers who are talking to customers. If you need to talk to a coworker who’s taking care of a customer, give your colleague a quick nod, then let him/her come to you when they’ve finished with the customer. If you absolutely must interrupt, then excuse yourself and apologize to the customer for the interruption, and as you leave thank the customer for their patience.

3. Walk-ins take priority over phone-ins

If you already have a visitor in front of you when the phone rings, the visitor gets priority. The visitor took the time/spent the gas money to arrive in person. Unless you have callers with genuine emergencies, don’t interrupt a visitor to pick up the phone. That’s what voice mail is for. If you must take the phone call, ask the visitor’s permission, explain that you want to focus on them, so you’ll quickly take a message and get back to your conversation. Then tell the caller that you are with another customer but will look into their request and call them back. That way, even if the caller insists on immediate service, the visitor sees that you are at least trying to make them the priority

4. Acknowledge walk-ins right away

If you are on the phone or face-to-face with a customer when a visitor walks in, acknowledge the visitor immediately with eye contact, a smile and a quick, “I’ll be with you in just a few minutes (or however long it will be).” By acknowledging the visitor, you are conveying that you are aware of them and that you are working quickly. And it tells the person in front of you that you have other people waiting. Usually, they’ll get the hint that you need to wrap up.

A common challenge is how to politely interrupt a phone caller to acknowledge a walk-in visitor. Here’s a quick tip: say the person’s name. “John, excuse me. I just had someone walk into my office, may I put you on hold for a moment? Thanks.” Beginning with the person’s name gets their attention immediately without being rude.

For new arrivals who have just a quick question If it is indeed quick, that’s great; give them the 10 seconds they need and then get back to your first person. If it’s going to take more than 10 seconds then tell the person, “That’s going to take a few minutes to go over, so I’ll finish taking care of this person, which will take me about x minutes, then I’ll be happy to help you. Meanwhile, if you’d like to sit, grab a coffee… Thanks.

5. Address chronic staffing/line management issues

In #1 I pointed out that hiring more staff may not make economic sense. However, when customers constantly get the impression the organization is disorganized, understaffed or uncaring about customers’ time, that’s a problem that requires more than just having staff work faster. Managers need to either hire more staff, consider moving phone calls to a call centre, or implement line management practices. Speaking of which, you’ll find tips on handling waiting lines by clicking on my related article, “Yes, I Mind Waiting”. Meanwhile, be thankful that business is so good. Here’s hoping that this helps makes managing multiple customers less frustrating for everyone concerned.

This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease by Hall of Fame motivational speaker Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com. Watch for more articles from Jeff in future issues.

 

OlsonBy Katrina Olson

A recent CEW article by David Gordon caught my eye. The headline was, Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Inhibiting Growth?

As a marketing consultant, writer, and trainer, I recognized the challenges and barriers that David was writing about. We agree on many issues (and their causes) facing electrical distributors and marketers. But I also hear from marketing people all the time that the C-Suite is hindering their efforts which, in turn, hinders the company’s growth.  

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2018 Electrical North American MeetingOn October 29-31, 2018, the AD Electrical North American Meeting drew over 1,000 attendees. This event attracted 151 first time attendees and representatives from over 362 companies in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Attendees benefited from a variety of agenda topics, including: Network Meetings, Emerging Leaders Session, and Country-specific Business Meetings. New to this year’s agenda was a SPA Optimization Workshop led by industry veteran Mo Barsema. In addition, members and suppliers also attended a panel discussion on managing and measuring your digital success.

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Changing Scene

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 EFC Announces 2018 Marketing Awards Winners

2018 Marketing Awards WinnersElectro-Federation Canada (EFC)’s Marketing Awards program recognizes member organizations that demonstrate marketing excellence and innovation within the Canadian electrical manufacturing and distribution industry. Winners of this year’s awards were recognized at EFC’s 8th Annual Future Forum, held earlier this month. (Shown in photo: EFC President and CEO Carole McGlogan with representatives from Bartle & Gibson, winners of the Integrated Marketing Award — distributor under $50 million.)Electro-Federation Canada (EFC)’s Marketing Awards program recognizes member organizations that demonstrate marketing excellence...

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Peers & Profiles

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On a regular basis, our publications profile members of our industry through their responses to a ...
First and foremost, sitting down with Susan Uthayakumar feels more like sitting down and conversing ...
Sales of electrical supplies from full-line electrical distributors capture the geographic ...
Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & Son for ...
Michael Gentile, President and CEO of Philips Lighting Canada, has had a long and distinguished ...

 

 Young Leaders: Taylor Gerrie

Taylor GerrieOn a regular basis, our publications profile members of our industry through their responses to a Q&A. It’s a way of recognizing industry movers and shakers, and helping our readers get to know them better. 

Recently we launched an initiative with Electro-Federation Canada's Young Professionals Network to include profiles of up-and-coming leaders. We provided the list of questions below to Taylor Gerrie, Automation Account Specialist at Gerrie Electric Wholesale Ltd. in Burlington, Ontario. Here are Taylor’s responses.

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Susan Uthayakumar, President of Schneider Electric Canada: Driving Success

Susan UthayakumarBy Owen Hurst

First and foremost, sitting down with Susan Uthayakumar feels more like sitting down and conversing with a friend than conducting an interview with the Canadian president of one of the world’s largest electrical manufacturers. Of course, she exudes the confidence and knowledge her position demands, but equally identifiable are an open and engaging nature.

In a recent sit-down, we learned a little about Susan’s history and what drives her to succeed.

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Looking Back

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The best memory I keep from CEDA is the way that they accepted me when I came into the business. ...
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Looking BackThe best memory I keep from CEDA is the way that they accepted me when I came into the business. The welcome they gave to me, all of them men. (In those days there were not many women in business.) This welcome I will always remember. CEDA has played a very important role in my success.

One year our conference was in Hamilton, Ontario. Mr. Caouillette, our speaker, got lost and instead of going to Hamilton went to Toronto. I think that that was the longest cocktail hour that CEDA ever had… waiting for him to arrive. Certainly that night the head table and everyone were in good spirits.

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Looking BackLooking BackIn the 1930s to 1940s, CEDA’s Western Canada membership was very stable with old line independent companies like Horsman, Ashdowns, Brettell, Marshall Wells, Electrical Supplies Ltd., etc.

Small electrical distributors just were not acceptable for membership as they did not carry the main-line manufacturers’ goods, publish a wiring device catalogue, or employ four to five salesmen as CEDA requested.

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