Earlier this year, I spoke at ACCA's annual conference in Washington, D.C. My scheduled speech time was 2 pm, which is the dreaded after-lunch slot. Speeches delivered immediately after lunch must be energetic, lively, and engaging.
The lunch break was from 12 pm until 2 pm, so at 1 pm, I went into the room where I'd be speaking to connect my laptop and ensure the audio was functioning. Then, a few attendees arrived early. After greeting the early arrivals, and with ample time, I took a risk.
There's a Customer Service Jeopardy PowerPoint file on my laptop and I figured that playing an engaging game would be better than small talk. The early arrivals jumped right in. They selected one of the four Jeopardy categories (Words Are Weapons, Adding Value, Sticky Situations, and Problem Solving) and were good sports if their answers were incorrect.
Everyone had fun. Their smartphones were nearby, but these folks were too involved in fun-filled learning to glance at their device. It got loud. Our laughter was heard from other rooms and folks came into my room to see what the ruckus was about.
The new arrivals joined the Jeopardy game too. Before long, the room was full and at 2 pm, I switched back to the speech PowerPoint file and started the session. By then, the ice was broken and the session took on an energy of its own.
The events of that afternoon were a reminder about the power of being in the present. This implies having little or no concern about the past or the future. Just pay attention to the here and now. And, the best way to demonstrate being in the present, to anyone else, especially customers, is to ignore your smartphone.
Service professionals who exists in the present pay more attention to their customer’s needs. Furthermore, that act of being present means that there’s very little energy being wasted on what occurred yesterday and might happen tomorrow. The best listeners are proficient at being keenly involved in what a customer says. Being active and attentive, as a listener, ensures that the message is understood the first time.
Customers will hear and sense a service professional’s tenacity and diligence – both of which are audible over the phone and visible during a face-to-face encounter. Service professionals are urged to invest more time and effort in the present. It’s more fun than the distractions of the past and future.
Today’s fast-paced world, with its frequent smartphone interruptions may catch service professionals off guard. These interruptions are rarely about a present event. On the contrary, smartphone interruptions steal our present attention away from those who we serve. Existing in the present shows others that you care right now.
Therefore, if you want a more fun-filled life and a vibrant career, invest time with people and not with smartphones. Better yet, invest time with folks who share a mutual appreciation for learning through empowered and engaged listening.
Similar to Jeopardy game, serendipitous opportunities for fun relationships and learning abound for those who make others feel understood.