You must water the plants


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Several years ago, after presenting multiple half-day training classes over four days, I was disappointed to hear my client say on the way to the airport, “Well, now I can check that off my list.” True to her word, all of the follow-up activities we energetically discussed over meals during the week fell by the wayside as her attention shifted to the next priority on her list.

Without follow up, training employees is like throwing seeds on rock: It doesn’t take root or produce much fruit. In one well-known Stanford University study, in the absence of follow up, within 30 days participants forgot 95 percent of what they were exposed to during a training seminar.

Contrast the above client experience with the following message I received last Friday from a client, Paul, who did follow up:

“Steve, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve kept your customer service message alive throughout the year. From May – July we invited all employees to do a 6-week, self-paced training program that I put together, based on the session that you did for us last February (I already told you about that). It was voluntary, but I am happy to say that we had an 80% participation rate, and we set up an award for the Division(s) with the highest participation rates. Two Divisions achieved 100% participation, so they won a nice lunch out. Then, in August, we ran a fun customer service contest where we had employees submit their best customer service stories. The seven winners got cash prizes, and their stories were distributed (via email) to all employees. We categorized their stories based on the customer service behaviors that you focused on during our Annual Sales Conference in February.”

There’s a saying in the world of training and development: “You must water the plants.” Not only is it important to have fertile soil (open minds, receptivity) in which to “plant” new ideas, those new ideas and behaviors, once taught, must be revisited, nurtured, and honed into improved performance.

Otherwise, the lessons, like seeds on rock, will not take root. Over time, they will simply dry up and blow away.

Don’t settle for ordinary. Choose extraordinary. (It’s always a choice.) Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.

Watch the 90-second book trailer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.


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