Everyone is designed to operate at the highest level, but it all comes down to a personal pHilosophy.
In chemistry, the pH factor is a very complicated issue, but in the world of business it involves a simple but serious ‘position’ taken by managers and staff within optometry practices.
I use the word ‘taken’ on purpose because although every job description insists that all employees should be wonderful, the fact is that a sustained and successful ‘position’ is searched for, acquired and developed by people who want it most… for the benefit of patients/customers as well as for themselves and the practice.
This attitude should relate to everyone the practice comes into contact with, and not just an apparent ‘love’ for customers and a different and lesser feeling for suppliers, the boss, staff and colleagues. I created the pH scale many years ago when I was aiming to simplify the success process in business, so here is an updated version of the scale of ‘positions’ selected and used by business people.
The key to ‘being helpful’ is not to ask permission to ask questions and offer advice.
Pleasant & Helpful
This is the highest and most valuable position to be found, and the qualities of pleasantness and helpfulness are inexorably linked to form a particular demeanour that is very productive.
‘To be pleasant’ relates to a natural inclination to treat everyone encountered in business in a manner that is genuinely warm, respectful, courteous, punctual, reliable and professional. In case anyone misreads this stance as being weak or ingratiating, I should point out that people who ‘take’ on this persona do so for their own good first and for the pleasure of ‘others’ second.
What could be more distasteful or disheartening than for an individual to go through a part or all of their business life with anything less than a warm-hearted approach to people they serve, work with and report to?
Some might ask, ‘well what if such conduct is not returned by others?’, and the answer is that if it isn’t then that is the problem of the ‘others’… not of the person who chooses to be pleasant. Being pleasant is the key to good service, as customers respond well to someone who seems genuinely interested to ‘look after them’.
‘To be helpful’ is a different matter altogether, and although this function is built on pleasantness… it relates to a willingness and capacity to show an interest in the customer’s ‘personal needs’, and to then offer advice on how the best result can be achieved. Although we have come to expect that an optometrist will offer advice without being asked to do so, this sometimes does not happen in other areas of the practice… where, for example, ‘selling’ can generate pathetic questions like, ‘would you be interested to hear about other ideas?’.
The key to ‘being helpful’ is not to ask permission to ask questions and offer advice. People love to be helped, remembering that the customer always makes the second decision in sales, but customers can’t make the second decision unless the sales person makes the first decision…and the first decision involves a recommendation on the best course of action for the customer to take.
Posing and Hyped Up
This second tier in the pH scale resembles a form of service and sales act, designed (and then ignored) by management to sound pleasant and helpful… but it is an irritating sham from start to finish. I can easily tell when I am being served by the ‘posing and hyped up’ variety, because the whole of their repertoire is one long version of ‘have a nice day’! This is OK in McDonalds because the transaction process takes only a few seconds, but in most other areas of business this unsavoury process is patronising and unproductive. This point on the scale also involves the hackneyed and hopeless ‘up-selling’ routine, but thankfully this only kicks in when staff remember to sell, or when they are pressured to ‘get budget’.
Passive and Harmless
At this level on the pH scale the people serving and selling are consistent in that they fail in both areas, and one reason for this is that they look as though they’ve been sucking on a lemon all day… plus they are often stuck for an answer if any one says hello to them. To be with this unfortunate breed is like watching enamel paint dry, and whenever they leave a room it brightens up. The team leaders that these walking dead report to should place a mirror over the noses of team members before a meeting starts… to see if they are still functioning.
Patronising and Harmful
This is the basement area of service and selling, occupied by ‘Basil Fawlty’ type people who feel that serving is equal to being servile… and selling is a one way street that involves winning sales and possibly losing customers. At this level you find arrogance, smirks and small levels of success, because customers can see through this bossy breed with ease. The low-life people at this pit point have more love in them than all the others, simply because they haven’t used any of theirs up yet!
John Lees is a speaker, trainer, consultant and the author of 11 books on sales, marketing, service and leadership. Email: email@example.com Website: www.johnlees.com.au