This week we’re bringing some serious experience to the table, speaking with an expert in transforming customer service, employee engagement and teamwork in the IT industry. We love that Kate Nasser loves what she does. She’s here to share her insights on competitive advantage, opportunities for differentiation and weird jobs.
Talentedly: What do you think connects customer service, teamwork, and leadership?
Kate Nasser: The connection among customer service, teamwork, and leadership is great people skills. Whether you are serving customers, interacting with teammates, or influencing others you lead, great people skills make it happen. Empathy, listening, communication, and adapting to personality types, create great service, teamwork, and leadership.
TLY: Management thought-leadership talks about authenticity as an integral part of one’s professional brand. Can people ever really be authentic at work?
KN: Authenticity doesn’t mean letting it all hang out and doing whatever you please. Adults can be authentic at work by blending their needs with others. It shows emotional intelligence and maturity.
TLY: Should companies think about customer service or company culture as a competitive differentiator?
KN: A company culture of true customer focus is a competitive differentiator. Look at the companies whose customer focused cultures have defined their brand — Nordstrom’s, Zappos, Ritz-Carlton. The culture must support the brand else the message becomes nothing more than advertising. Why does this work? Because a brand of great customer service draws customers in by addressing two basic human needs – respect and trust. Customers especially want both when they are spending their money.
TLY: How have issues around teamwork and customer service evolved over the last 25 years?
KN: Teamwork has evolved from “there is no I in team” to “blend your individual talents for great team success.” You can engage employees much better when you appreciate and recognize their individual talents while reinforcing the collective focus.
Customer service has taken several twists and turns over the last 25 years. On the positive side, technology and data provide more information to personalize customer service. On the negative side, many companies became obsessed with metrics, scripts, and control. This was nothing personalized and companies came across as greedy and narcissistic. It is starting to change again with companies now encouraging reps to interact with customers to tap the value of emotional connection.
TLY: Why are teamwork, customer service, and leadership more important today than 10 years ago?
KN: Because of global reach and diversity. Cultural differences, distributed teams, and different generational expectations have made business success more complex. Thus leadership, teamwork, and customer service have become of paramount importance. The more widespread the enterprise and the more diverse its reach, the greater the need for leadership and teamwork for great service.
TLY: What are the biggest hurdles established companies face with onboarding?
KN: Turning onboarding into employee engagement. Sometimes onboarding gets stuck in outlining necessary procedures. That’s simply not enough to orient new employees for maximum performance. To engage employees and tap their talent from day one, have existing teams welcome them actively. Discuss the organization’s culture, the team’s definition of teamwork, and how best to contribute. Without this, new employees are left to infer through trial and error. It’s far better to engage the talent you hired than to let the new hires wander and wonder about the new world they’ve entered.
TLY: What’s the weirdest job that helped get you to where you are today?
KN: Not sure I had a weird job. I did have an uncommon upbringing. My father was in local politics from the time I was two years old. As a result, much was expected of me to act appropriately and to help others. It stuck and has shaped my business and all of my adult life.
Lydia Loizides is serial entrepreneur, technology provocateur and relentless challenger of the status quo. She spends her days as Founder & CEO of Talentedly, a technology company on a mission to help people grow from good to great at work (technology + people = amazing results). The rest of her waking moments are spent running, reading, learning, and trying to prove that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42. You can follow Lydia @lydiaNYC @GetTalentedly, on LinkedIn and the Huffington Post.