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Ronelle Ingram's "Service with a Smile"

 

Turn Your Customer Service Department into a Major Profit Center

Read on and I’ll show you how it’s done!

 

Let’s take a moment for an honest, candid assessment.

Is your customer service department running at peak efficiency?  Are your technicians properly trained, confident, happy, and highly motivated?  Are your customers pleased with the service they get from you? 

Or is your department awash in management problems, customer complaints, and low morale?   Do you spend inordinate amounts of time dealing with “tough” customers?  Do emergencies erode the time you need to spend on management issues?

 

Do you realize that it is absolutely possible to turn your customer service department into a well-oiled, efficient organization that actually makes a profit for your company? 

I’ve spent the last three decades working in the customer service field.  During that time, I have handled every conceivable type of service-related problem.  I’ve learned how to schedule my time for optimum efficiency.  I’ve discovered how to build and maintain a skilled, motivated staff that gives the customers what they want and deserve…and still manages to make a substantial profit. And, perhaps most telling of all, I haven’t had to replace a technician in more than six years.

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Now I’d like to share that knowledge with you.

I wrote my book, Service with a Smile to give you a whole new approach to your role as a customer service professional.

In the customer service business, we often work under some amazingly illogical “rules.”  In my book (and in my Special Report and DVD - Order now), we’ll look at that conventional wisdom, filter it through my three decades in the business, and come up with a new, improved system for dealing with the trials and tribulations of life in the customer service world.

Before we go any further, let me say that in my 30 years as a customer service professional, I have found that the vast majority of customers are delightful people who only want to receive what they have paid for and do their jobs in the most harmonious way possible.  We all love that kind of customer and routinely bend over backwards to make sure they get what they need.

One of the most important things we need to realize about these “good” customers is that they deserve our full attention. 

They are the people who pay our salaries, allow our companies to flourish, and make our lives easier and more fulfilling.  They are entitled to good value and professional service.

Remember this…

As a customer service professional you have a responsibility to ensure that your customers get fair treatment and that your company makes a fair and reasonable profit.  That is the simple balance that we all must achieve – no matter what business we’re in.  And that is exactly what Service with a Smile will teach you.

 

 

Of course, it’s not always easy to achieve customer service harmony.  Sometimes a very small minority of difficult customers can take up a completely disproportionate amount of time and energy. 

Is the customer really “always right?”

We’ve all been told that “the customer is always right.”  But you and I (and anyone else who’s been in the business more than a week) know that the old saying is not really true.  The fact of the matter is that some customers are far from “right.”  Sometimes they make unreasonable demands.  They waste your valuable time.  Sometimes they try to bully you into giving them something for nothing.  Sometimes they’re just plain difficult human beings who take out their frustrations (often unrelated to your product or service) on you.

Why do they treat you that way?  And what can you do about it?

The first question is fairly easy to answer.  You happen to be available…and they’ve been trained (just as you and I have) to assume that as a customer service professional, you have to act as if they are always right and do practically anything to make them happy.  Of course, if they are interested only in abusing someone (as the result of whatever misunderstanding or resentment or fear they might be struggling with), there is a good chance that they will become even more unpleasant.

 

Read more about handling tough customer service problems in my book Service with a Smile. Add my Special Report How to Handle Tough Customers to your order for today's limited time offer.

 

The second question – what can you do about it? – is a bit more complicated to answer.  The reality of the situation is that you need a special set of skills to deal with these situations…and you need to have a personal system that prepares you and backs you up when customer service gets especially difficult.

Service with a Smile gives you
powerful skills!

That’s what Service with a Smile is all about…giving you the skills to recognize potentially difficult situations, defuse them, turn “bad” customers into “good” customers, and help your technicians do their work in the most efficient manner possible.

Here are some important skills you must acquire to achieve optimum service efficiency:

  • Recognizing unreasonable customers when you encounter them.
  • Rewarding and retaining good customers (and there are lots of them out there looking for quality goods and services).
  • Saying “no” in a professional, make-it-stick fashion that leaves no misunderstanding and no hard feelings.
  • Keeping difficult customers from wasting your time and your company’s resources.
  • Managing your schedule efficiently to allow time for managerial chores as well as for the think-on-your-feet, roll-with-the-punches responsibilities of good customer service work.
  • Dealing with crises.  I know, sometimes it seems as if all management is about dealing with crisis…but it doesn’t have to be that way. 
  • Reviewing and rewriting business plans.  It’s easier – and more important – than you might imagine.
  • Building a staff of dedicated, happy, motivated employees.

Let’s look at the last item on that list. 

The first step in building a better service department is to have better employees…and the best way (really the only way) to accomplish that is to start with better people.  It’s quite simple: good people make great employees.

Better home life means better job performance!

So…how do we arrange to have better people?  Well, first of all, let’s not focus only on an employee’s behavior and activities during the workday.  Instead, let’s look at the bigger picture. Let’s try to help that employee improve his or her entire lifestyle.

 

Service with a Smile helps you teach your employees how to have a better life outside of work.  If you can show them how to become better parents, spouses, siblings, and community members, I promise you that their job performance will improve dramatically. 

 


In my book you'll find even more stories about how I personally helped my employees to improve their home life and improve their work performance!

I simply can’t overstate how important that is.  If you have an employee who goes home to bill collectors, an unhappy spouse, and delinquent children…there’s a very good chance (almost a guarantee, really) that employee will not be working at peak efficiency when he’s on the job.

 

Ten Rituals for Success

Let me open up Service with a Smile and give you ten ways (find them on page 183) to create a better life and become a better person.  I regularly share these with my colleagues and have found them to be very effective, relatively painless, and full of rewards.  Feel free to pass them along to your co-workers.

  • Give thanks to someone for something each day.  Some cultures call it prayer.  Others believe it is just politeness.  Conscientiously acknowledge something worthwhile that is happening in your life.
  • Read (anything) for ten minutes each day.  Keep your mind stimulated.  Learn something new.  Reading allows you to have an educated conversation with someone else.  Knowledge will impress your friends and co-workers.  More importantly, knowledge will increase your self-respect.
  • Laugh out loud.  Children and animals are enormous sources of humor.  When you discover you have done something foolish, laughter continues to be the best medicine.
  • Listen to music.  Melody helps to connect the brain with the heart.  Loud or soft, fast of slow, music helps filter the day’s happening into useful experiences.  Singing out loud or playing an instrument gives you bonus points.
  • Give something away.  Sharing your time, wisdom, money, or material possessions will increase your self-respect.  Something you have will probably be enjoyed and cherished by someone else.  The person who gives ultimately receives the most in return.  As Anne Frank wrote, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”
  • Live on a budget.  Structure is good for the human soul. Being monetarily disciplined gives you more freedom in the long run.  Having money to spend, rather than spending money, makes life much easier.  The difference between an emergency and an inconvenience is money.  You must have money in order to spend it.  Financial freedom is created one dollar at a time.
  • Get rid of clutter.  If your car doesn’t fit in the garage, take a long look at your priorities.  What do you have stored in your garage that is more valuable than your car?  Less is more.  Purify your life by freeing yourself of clutter.  If you have not used something in one year, you can almost certainly get along better without it.
  • Write something every day.  Keep a journal.  Write a story.  Writing sharpens your mind and clarifies your thoughts.  Putting a wish into written words is the first step to achieving the wish.  Writing can create your own history of thought and purpose.  Re-reading your words later creates your own history.
  • Write a thank you note.  E-mail and phone calls are appreciated, but a thank you note is cherished, saved, and remembered.  A note that is mailed, slipped under a pillow, packed into a lunch pail, or left on a car’s windshield becomes a gift of caring
  • Exercise.  A healthy body will enable your mind to function at its highest level.  Good health is the foundation for a strong heart, even temper, and high spirits…all things that will serve you well in any endeavor, but especially in the customer service business.

You'll find many more great ideas like the "Ten Rituals for Success" in Service with a Smile. Don't miss a single one - Order now.

 

 

It’s our job as customer service managers to be sensitive to employees’ needs.  There comes a time in every employee’s life when personal matters diminish his or her focus and energy on the job.  It might be a birth, a death, accident, or something as simple as relatives visiting from out of town.  Personal responsibilities sometimes overshadow work responsibilities. 

Every person deals differently with life-altering situations.  The birth of a child can be a time of great joy.  It can also create havoc for a new parent.  A sleep-starved technician on a three-hour drive to a remote location can be headed for disaster, both for him and for your company. 

I spend a lot of time and ink in Service with a Smile discussing how you, as a service manager and a friend, can help your technicians through the rough spots in their lives.  I’ve found out, during the last three decades, that by being sensitive to employees’ needs, you can ultimately help them make better use of their work time. 

Harness the power of shared knowledge!

I have also discovered a simple truth about groups: a group becomes a “team” when all the members of the group are sure enough of themselves and their contributions to be able to praise the skills of others.  Once that happens, techs start sharing their expertise with their colleagues and your department reaches a whole new level of efficiency and morale.

“Peer-to-peer” education – what I call “teaching to learn” – is one of the most effective ways to turn your group of technicians into a highly skilled, motivated, relaxed, and confident team.  In Service with a Smile you’ll learn how to put together seminars and workshops that your techs will enjoy and profit from enormously.  And best of all, these weekend sessions are voluntary, which means you won’t have to explain a lot of time-and-a-half overtime expenses.

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“It was raining money.  Our only regret was that it took so long to implement the ideas you presented in the seminar we attended.  We generated $14,000 of revenue the first month we used your “End of Warranty” form.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge and increasing our bottom line.”

Tom Skerl, V.P. Sales
North Coast Business Systems, Cleveland, Ohio


High morale and a relaxed workplace atmosphere have another benefit.  As your service department’s expertise and motivation increases, so does the likelihood of industry awards, recognition, and increased status.  It is simple human nature to want to be associated with a strong, secure, industry-approved company.  Customers choose one company over another for a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle reasons.  Service with a Smile offers solid, real-world advice on how to position your department as an industry leader:

  • Learn how to harvest practical benefits from industry competitions and awards.
  • Find out how to get FREE advertising.  You’ll be surprised
    how easy it is!
  • Discover the true value of small corporate sponsorships and donations.
  • See how to make sure your awards and recognition within the industry also find their way to the mainstream press.
  • Initiate a system that allows your customer base to hear about your successes.

It is common knowledge among marketing experts that a customer’s tendency to buy a product or service grows exponentially if he or she has seen the product portrayed in a favorable light by the media.  That’s no surprise.  What might be surprising, however, is the ease with which you can position your service department to gain that limelight.

 

About Ronelle Ingram

Ronelle definitely knows whereof she speaks when it comes to copier service and customer service departments.  She entered the office equipment industry as a copier field service technician, the first female graduate of Savin’s full-line copier technical school.  Her involvement with NOMDA (now BTA) as a national trainer and speaker lead to a flood of requests for written explanations of her training programs and service management philosophies.  She is now one of the industry’s most sought-after speakers on customer service issues.

Through the years she has been recognized with many professional and personal awards for service and education.  She has served on numerous boards and has become a well-known speaker for many industry organizations.  All the while, Ronelle has worked fulltime as a technical service director.  She writes and speaks about what it takes to create and sustain a profitable office equipment service department.

Ronelle’s Awards

  • Max Lowe Award – Outstanding field tech in the nation 1974
  • Employee of the Year 1980, 1984, 1987
  • NOMDA Train the Trainer Grand Champion Presenter 1985
  • BTA Western Region Educator of the Year 1992-1993, 1997-2004
  • NOMDA Pat Merrit Top Instructor in the Nation 1993
  • Mita Gold Medal Dealership service award 1993-2004
  • BTA Western Region Volunteer of the Year 1994-1995
  • FKM Manager of the Year 1995
  • BTA Volunteer of the Year 1998-1999
  • FKM President’s Club 1998-2004

 

Service with a Smile gives you solid, real-world, been-there-done-that advice on getting media recognition for your service department.  It’s often just a matter of keeping a steady flow of press releases and announcements in front of the appropriate journalists and publications.  Each award, every intra-departmental promotion, every industry recognition is an opportunity to show off your department to current and potential customers. Order now

 

$100 Million-Worth of Opinions

Not long ago, I attended a panel discussion presented by six high-level purchasing agents who were in charge of acquiring office reproduction equipment.  As a group, they oversaw more than $100 million in annual purchasing budgets.

As you might imagine, I listened intently to what they and their millions had to say.

One of the things they agreed upon was that company representatives need more training.  Buyers of goods and services expect salespeople to know more than they do.  The idea was that if the guy selling me the equipment doesn’t know enough to answer my questions, then he definitely doesn’t know enough to be awarded my business.

This is particularly true in customer service.

The key to customer satisfaction is living up to your customers’ expectations.  The level of expectation you exhibit as a fast-food restaurant customer is considerably different from that which you manifest as a patron at, say, the New York Plaza’s Garden Room.  It’s human nature to have preconceived notions about the cost and quality of anything we buy.

Under promise…and over achieve

When a service department deals with customer satisfaction, expectations are actually more important than execution. 

Customers who are accustomed to a two-day response rarely complain if your tech arrives within eight hours.  On the other hand, customers who were told in writing that they have a guaranteed four-hour response time are often outraged if the tech arrives in four hours and twenty minutes.

Changing and reinforcing expectations can make an enormous difference in your business.  Don’t disappoint your customers or employees by saying one thing and doing another.  Form a plan (see page 63 in Service with a Smile for more on expectations and execution) and stick with it. 

The best advice I can give you is to “under promise” and “over achieve.”

Here’s a brief recap of the some of the issues I share with you in Service with a Smile:

The importance of business cards

Driving service department profits

Maintenance agreement disclaimers

Short-term rentals

Beat the competition with MSDS

Getting confirmations

Crisis management

Profitable parts management

Planning for success

Switching gears: service makes a sales call

Training and job descriptions

Keeping customers

Strategies for savvy sales leads

Service records rewards

Selling telephone technical help

Simplifying forms

Creating real-world budgets

Putting together a service survival kit

The importance of an initial sign-off sheet

Connected copier agreements

Determining cost per copy

Management service pricing

Warranty expiration forms

Calculating profits

Improving your techs’ behavior

Sales leads from service techs

Cell phone usage policy

Handling customer complaints

How to avoid “poisoning” customers

Self motivation

Leadership issues

Exposition/convention etiquette

 

As you can see, I cover a lot in Service with a Smile.  Don’t let the sheer volume of information intimidate you.  The book (as well as the Special Report and the DVD) contains plain English explanations and suggestions that are derived from three decades on the front lines of the service industry.  You will be amazed at how easy it is to take this “insider” information and use it to solve problems, increase profitability, and improve your life.


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Here’s how you can learn my insider secrets for creating happy customers and higher profits. Choose one of the following Limited Time Media Packages, then click on the "Place Order" button. Free Shipping in US!

 

Platinum Package You get: my 350-page book Service with a Smile, plus my latest 24-page Special Report How to Handle Tough Customers.  As part of the Platinum Package, you will also receive my 55-minute DVD Ronelle Ingram Live!

Limited-Time Platinum Package Price: $29.95


Gold Package Service with a Smile and How to Handle Tough Customers.

Limited-time Gold Package Price: $24.95


Silver Package Service with a Smile for just $15.95

 


 

I’m sure you’ll agree that there is a staggering amount of information offered here for a very small amount of money.  I urge you to sign up today.  Let’s get started improving your department’s performance and profitability right now.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Ronelle Ingram

 

 

 

 

"The Techs that are going to keep their jobs are the technicians that have the initiative to learn on their own."

-from Ronelle Ingram Live
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“Your knowledge is universal.  Thanks from all of your Australian friends.  We learn and profit from and enjoy your humor and sweet rewards.  Your hands-on, been-there-done-that approach saves all of us the frustration of trying to reinvent the wheel.”
David Kyle,
of the former BTA Australia

 

 

"I work for the Techs!
My job is to make their job easier."

-from Ronelle Ingram Live
Order today

 

“Your management program helps us all master the science of dealing with field service employees.  I never understood the nuances of dealing with “out of sight” employees.  Thanks for opening my eyes to the subtle management changes I need to use to motivate my outside techs.”
J.W. Bowman,
V.P. Service, Alta Office Systems, Salt Lake City, UT

 

 

 

"In 6 1/2 years I have not
had to hire a technician."

-from Ronelle Ingram Live
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“You have always been my role model.  A female who had done it all: Field Service Tech, Technical Manager, Director of Supply Sales, Writer, Speaker, Humorist, BTA FIX Instructor, BTA Volunteer of the Year, Champion Equestrian, and dog trainer.  Thanks for breaking the ground for all those who have followed your path of success.”
Paige Davison,
Owner, South East Solutions, Key West, FL

 

“Ronelle is by far one of the nicest and smartest ladies I know.  There isn’t a whole lot she doesn’t know something about.  She definitely has become a mentor in my life and I appreciate who she is to me.”
Melissa McEvers,
Channel Supplies Representative, HP Channel Supplies Program, Tustin, CA

 

 

"My Connected Care
Agreement ... is the biggest change
that the industry HAS to make,
in order to go forward."

-from Ronelle Ingram Live
Order today

 

 

 

“Ronelle Ingram has given me the tools to take my service department from a high-stress/low-profit part of our company to a thriving staple that has now made our company the largest copier dealership in the western half of Colorado.  My dealership has become the standard that all surrounding dealers are striving to achieve, because of Ronelle.”
Jamie Gendreau,
Service Manager,
Jamie’s Office Equipment, New Castle, CO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Knowing Ronelle has probably been the single most important relationship I’ve had in my career in the office equipment industry.  I’ve attended multiple seminars given by Ronelle and I always take many practical ideas home to implement in my dealership.  Thanks, Ronelle, for your dedication to the service professional and the industry as a whole."
John Wisniewski,
President, Central Business Solutions, Clifton Park, NY

 

 

 

 

“You learn and are entertained in every seminar led by Ronelle Ingram, and Service with a Smile brings her savvy to book form.  Every office machines professional will glean service tips and advice from this book by Ronelle, who also brands her seminars and writing with a sense of humor.”
Neal McChristy,
former Repair, Service, and Remarketing News Editor at Asay Publishing Network, currently a freelance writer for the imaging industry