I had the great pleasure of working in the fine jewelry industry, for almost 15 years. During that time, I learned a lot about what it takes to provide excellent customer service. It takes a lot of hard work, involves admitting when you are wrong, finding ways to resolve issues that seem insoluble and also being a really great listener. Providing exceptional customer service builds trust, loyalty, and positive relationships.
Today, I was trying to think about what I learned – during all of those years – from interacting with many different kinds of people, day in and day out. Then my thoughts turned to how I could (and hopefully do) put those skills to work in my daily life — especially as it relates to parenting.
Hmmmm…I wonder how my children would rate me on a customer satisfaction survey?
You may have heard of tiger parenting, free-range parenting and even helicopter parenting but I have just – this very moment actually – decided to develop a parenting program which I will call Customer Service Parenting!
I know…it does have a catchy ring to it!
Before I go any further, one thing we always hear as it relates to customer service is — “The customer is always right.” Fear not parents! While I certainly don’t believe kids are always wrong – they are still children and have a lot to learn. That being said, unbeknownst to them, my boys teach me things everyday about myself , the world and life — that I never knew before (or perhaps forgot about since becoming an adult).
I stumbled across the article, The Ten Commandments of Customer Service and decided that it provided the perfect customer service tips, to explain how great customer service and great parenting can go hand-in-hand. Let’s get started…
1. Know Who is Boss
Good news, YOU are the boss of your children. They need you to guide them, love them, care for them, set boundaries, and provide discipline when needed. That’s our job as parents. However, we must also keep in mind that just because we are in charge, and just because we are “the boss” — that doesn’t make us infallible.
2. Be a Good Listener
Being a good listener is an important aspect of parenting. I know I often have to remind myself to listen first and react second. I can’t tell you how many times I have misunderstood the intentions of the boys because I didn’t understand what they were saying, or what they were doing. I quickly realized if I had slowed down for a minute – looked them in the eyes – and asked them to explain what they were needing, it would have saved us all a lot of frustration. As in customer service — it is important to identify the needs of your children by asking the right questions, reading their their body language, listening to the tone of their voice and trying to imagine what they are feeling.
3. Identify and Anticipate Needs
The more time you take to really listen and understand your children; the easier it will be to identify and anticipate their needs in the future. As discussed in the Ten Commandments of Customer Service article, a customer’s needs are often times emotional rather than logical — and the same can be said for our children’s needs as well.
4. Make Customers Feel Important and Appreciated
Children who feel important and appreciated are more confident and develop a better sense of self. We must remember to tell our children everyday – several times a day – just how important they are to us. It is also essential that we recognize them for the things that they do — especially when they have the initiative to something with out being asked. Praising their good deeds and wise choices, makes them feel proud and encourages them to repeat the good behavior.
5. Help Customers Understand Your Systems
This is something I learned from watching Super Nanny. She says it’s important to let kids know what you expect from them and what behavior will not be tolerated. This is great because it gives children a general guideline of what is expected of them. If they don’t abide by the “house rules” they get in trouble but they will know why. I often find myself telling the boys not to do something – expecting them to know better – but sometimes they just don’t know. We have not set up house rules yet, but this is something we will be doing soon.
Last summer, bedtime for us became a huge battle. Our boys have always gone to bed very easily but for some reason, things just got really bad. I decided to take Super Nanny’s advice and listed out all of the things that we expected of them at bed time. We also implemented a reward chart and from the very first night it worked! It was incredible!!!
6. Appreciate the Power of “Yes”
This is something I need to work on. Sometimes, it’s just easier for me to say no to things the boys ask because I’m busy, or don’t want to clean up another mess. I am in no way saying to should give in to every whim, want, or whine. However, if we can stop and take a moment to think about what they are asking – and if it’s a reasonable request – you might decide a yes is best. Plus, don’t you just love to see their little faces light up when you say yes to something they really want to do?
7. Know How to Apologize
This is BIG! Parents do make mistakes. We most certainly do! It is very important that we own up to them and let our kids know it. This sometimes involves a heart-felt apology to the kiddos. They will appreciate it more than you know. It’s good for them to see that they aren’t the only ones who make mistakes, that nobody is perfect and that giving a sincere apology can really make a huge difference. It may not fix a broken vase but it can melt away anger and resentment.
8. Give more than Expected
This one is not about material things. This is about giving more of YOU — your time, attention and love. Children are only little for a very short time, why not take the extra five minutes to read them another book, or play catch a little longer, or let them have a little extra time at the park? The dishes can wait! We have those to do for the rest of our lives — but having little ones in the house goes by in a flash. Give you children more of your undivided attention and I promise you will never regret it!
9. Get Regular Feedback
Getting regular feedback from your kids can be a great way to keep communication open. This is especially important when you have older children. Find out what kids feel about the vibe in the house. Are the house rules fair and if not, why? What would they like you to do more or less of? Having a family meeting once a month to discuss these things can be really great for a family! Be sure to really listen to what they say, check in with them to make sure things are going well, and be open to constructive criticism as well.
10. Treat Employees Well
This has to do with you and your spouse. In this customer service parenting scenario you are both the employees. It is your responsibility to treat each other well, provide a united front, and stay connected. With all of the hustle and bustle of our daily life, it is easy to forget why we fell in love and had kids in the first place. We all need to make sure to compliment, love, support, and encourage each other as much as we possibly can. This essential to a blissful marriage and happy family life. Children who know that their parents love and respect each other feel much more secure. So please parents — don’t forget to take time for yourselves. Date nights are so good for you and they are FUN!
So, it seems pretty clear; if we provide our children with the best customer service we can — we will all be so much better for it! We all have room to improve, I’m going to start today!!!
How do you think your kids would rate YOU on a survey?