This One Leadership Skill Will Send Your Credibility Soaring

doctor-phone

Guest post by Alain Hunkins

My twelve year old son, Alexander, just got braces on his teeth.

In case you don’t remember or never had them, braces hurt the first few days.

A lot.

Alexander is a trooper, and knew that the pain in his mouth would eventually subside.

But that first afternoon, he was extremely uncomfortable.

Later that evening, around dinner time, the phone rang.

It was his orthodontist, Dr. DeMaio.

He was calling to see how Alex was feeling, to see if he had any questions, or if there’s anything he needed for support.

I was beyond impressed–I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe he actually called Alex at home.

My general experience with doctors has been less than stellar- long stretches in waiting rooms, followed by rushed visits to get me in and out as quickly as possible.

With his prompt and warm follow up, Dr. DeMaio put himself head and shoulders above any other medical professional I’ve ever worked with.

His empathy skills were incredible–he knew what Alex was going through that night, and wanted to offer whatever help he could.

Not only was I impressed, I became an unpaid salesperson for Dr. DeMaio.  I’ve told this story to dozens of people.

This one simple leadership skill- following up–sent his stock soaring.

FOLLOWING UP

I’m always amazed how few people make the time to follow up in business relationships.

On a personal level, if I think (just off of the top of my head) back over the last three months I can think of two landscape architects, one asphalt contractor, a web designer, and three junior consultants who didn’t follow up with me.

Why don’t people follow-up more frequently?  Consider these four reasons:

  1. They mentally categorize it separately from the relationship.

You could say people forget to do follow up.  We could use the excuse that we’re all so busy, with a million things to attend to.

I think that’s an easy out.  The reason following up falls off the to-do list is because it never makes the to-do list in the first place.

If people book an airplane trip, they don’t forget about it.  It becomes a priority.  Following up needs the same level of focus and attention.

2. They think “If they need something, they’ll call me.”

This assumption is just not true.  According to research, a typical business hears from 4% of it’s dissatisfied customers.  96% don’t voice complaints, and 91% will never come back.  If you’re waiting to hear from others,  you may be waiting a long time.

Following isn’t just about keeping in touch–it’s about staying informed.   What do people really think of  you?  80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service, but only 8% of people think these same companies deliver “superior” customer service.  When you follow up, you have another touchpoint to get real-time, first-person feedback.

3. They don’t want to be nags.

There is a point where  you can follow up too much.  However, most people never cross that line.  If you’ve got some self-awareness, you can be intentional and considerate with how and when you follow up.  If you start with the mindset of “How can I serve?”, you’ll come up with brilliant ideas on how to best follow up.

4. They think no news = bad news.

Your customer/colleague/key stakeholder hasn’t called you for a week.  What thoughts go running through your head?

  • They hate the direction the project is going in.
  • They want to make a change.
  • They are upset with me.

All those thoughts are your own personal hallucinations.  The fact is, if you haven’t heard from someone else, what is true is that no news is no news.  You need to go and find out.

Here’s the big takeaway:  if you’re proactive and follow up, you’ll stand out from the crowd and your credibility will soar.

What other techniques/advice do you have to follow-up?  Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.
Source: Alain Hunkins

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Author: Alain Hunkins

Alain Hunkins leads personal and professional development trainings for individuals, teams and organizations. Over the last two decades, Alain has facilitated for over a thousand groups, ranging from at-risk youth to Fortune 500 executives. He moves between the educational, artistic, not-for-profit, government and corporate worlds. His corporate clients span nearly every industry. Companies include: Reckitt-Benckiser, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Citigroup, United Technologies and Coach. Alain is currently Senior Facilitator & Vice President, Business Development for Eagle’s Flight. His work has taken him to nearly every state in the USA, as well as Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Belgium, Britain, Ireland, Spain, Egypt, France, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, South Africa, and Taiwan. Alain sharpened his facilitation skills as an Educational Consultant in New York City, developing programs on many subjects, including Conflict Resolution, Networking, Customer Service, Communication, and Leadership. Alain earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College and his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee Professional Theater Training Program. He is a certified Leadership Challenge & MBTI facilitator, as well as a certified co-leader for ManKind Project International, whose mission is to help men lead missions of service in their families, communities, and workplaces. A native of Queens, NY, Alain calls the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts home, where he faces his greatest leadership challenge yet: raising his young children, Alexander & Miranda. Alain completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 1995.

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