Yesterday, I presented my synopsis of the terrific book Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson for a corporate client in Dallas. In the midst of the presentation, we had some energetic conversation about this quote:
If you’re constantly staying late and working weekends, it’s not because there’s too much work to be done. It’s because you’re not getting enough done at work. And the reason is interruptions… you can’t get meaningful things done when you’re constantly going start, stop, start, stop.
Instead, you should get in the alone zone. Long stretches of alone time are when you’re most productive. When you don’t have to mind-shift between various tasks, you get a boatload done.
During alone time, give up instant messages, phone calls, e-mail, and meetings. Just shut up and get to work. You’ll be surprised how much more you get done.
I have presented this synopsis a few times, and the idea of “alone time” is one that resonates. We all live in a world of constant interruptions. And the advice from this book, which I have followed by carving out “chunks of time” for work, is invaluable.
Later in the discussion, we talked about customer service. I observed that there has been no shortage of customer service programs and initiatives and training and haranguing for decades, yet fewer than 10% of companies are actually rated as providing excellence in their customer service.
One of the participants stated that it is tough to get in the “alone zone” when your job is a customer service job. In other words, customer service is, by its very nature, one interruption after another. But as I thought about it, I decided that, in fact, this provides the exact approach we all need to take.
If your job is customer service, then you, and the individual customer with an issue at hand, need to be totally alone – that is, you need to be totally focused on this customer and his or her situation. You, the customer service professional (and we are all, in moments spent responding to a customer, expected to be a customer service professional) need to give undivided, uninterrupted attention to that specific customer until the issue is resolved. No hurry – no hassle – total attention to one customer at a time. Alone zone – together, you and one customer.
It reminds me of the great advice once given by a radio personality (sorry — I do not remember which person said this): “when you are on the radio, always picture one individual listener.”
So, when you work in customer service, focus only on that one, single, individual customer – one customer at a time.