Remove the blinkers, SEE your opportunities
One of my clients is an international company that believes in providing legendary service to its customers. The people who work in its call centre are empowered to decide how to handle any customer problem without asking for permission. Having that type of empowerment has dramatically increased the company’s Net Promoter Scores (uncovered through customer surveys) and driven both incremental profits and revenues.
But the company’s challenge is finding potential employees that have a passion to serve the customer. Too often, people quit their jobs, but continue to show up everyday just to collect a pay cheque.
So when it came time to hire, my client enrolled me to help them to find people who excel at serving customers. I took the HR director to a local mall in search of the next superstars. We walked in and out of shops trying to find someone who was engaging and friendly. I figured it would be easy to find a large pool of candidates considering retail work requires these qualities. Boy, was I wrong.
For three hours we walked and shopped. By the end of the day we only found two people. It’s not that the other people we encountered were rude or unfriendly, but they didn’t stand out. In fact, outside of the blasé greeting, every experience we had felt very transactional.
We represented a huge opportunity, but what baffled me is that so few people could look past their current station in life to recognise it. This made me think about how many opportunities people may have missed out on because they were looking in the wrong places or weren’t looking at all. How many opportunities have you missed out on?
I’m not just talking about a new job. How many client opportunities passed you by without you even being aware of what was happening?
Although it may be too late for those missed opportunities, it’s not too late to find new opportunities in your life today. Here are a couple ways you can be sure not to miss them:
- Remain present. The fact is opportunities are everywhere. Most people look for a waving flag or billboard that says, “Hey you! Here’s an opportunity!” When they don’t achieve what that wished for or expected, they blame it on bad luck or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s never a perfect time for anything. Opportunities are out there, but sometimes they’re just hidden under the surface. To see them, you might need to change the way you think. Instead of thinking opportunities will hunt you down, be on high alert for them. People also make the mistake of using past experiences or failures to predict future outcomes. You can’t let the past cloud your vision. Instead, live in the present and look at every moment and every encounter as an opportunity. Think about the opportunity the shop workers had right in front of them. Here we were, standing steps away, ready to offer these employees a 50% increase in their current pay without working nights or weekends. Unfortunately, they were so immersed in the rut they currently live in that they missed the opportunity. Start looking at every interaction as a chance meeting that could change your life. It may not be for a new job, but could lead to a customer, friend, referral, or even a significant other.
- Focus on the messages you project. Out of the two people who received an interview, only one of them took the time to follow-up afterwards. Why is that? Maybe they decided the job wasn’t for them. Or they could have been afraid of change or afraid of success. We won’t ever know, but even if it wasn’t a fit at the moment, you never know what the future holds. This shop worker’s path could cross ours again. Following-up, as simple as it sounds, is a lost art. We live in a world of instant communication, but taking just a moment to write a short handwritten note or leaving a thoughtful voicemail goes a long way. When you follow-up be brief but also be specific. Stay away from the standard, “It was nice to meet you…blah blah blah.” Instead, try something a bit more unique like, “When we met yesterday it was refreshing to hear how you….” Make follow-up communication about the other person and focus on the topics that were discussed. Your goal is to stand out from all the noise by being genuine and unique.
I have spent the last 20 years studying why people do what they do. What I’ve found is we’re pretty simple creatures. We all crave appreciation and want to feel important. When a person helps you meet these basic needs, there’s an immediate attraction. You can’t help it because it’s hardwired into our system. When you can communicate in a way that meets other people’s needs and speak to them the way they need to hear it, you’ve not only differentiated yourself from the noise, you’ve unlocked the opportunity presented to you.
Begin today by looking for ways to be more approachable. Take all the positivity you have to offer and radiate it from the inside out.
When you remain present and focused on projecting positive messages, opportunities that once seemed far and few between quickly begin to appear everywhere.
By Brian Parsley