Training & Development

Quint Column: It’s not bragging, it’s managing up

Quint Studer.

Every company wants its customers to feel that the person taking care of them is qualified. They want the product to meet the customer’s needs and the company to stand behind its product.

The skill of telling a customer that your employees, co-workers and company are up to task on these things is often called “managing up.”

This means an employee positions themselves, their product and their company well. Too often when an employee hears they need to let the customer know how skilled they are, they balk in fear of coming off as a bragger or a self-promoter.

This is even more confusing now in the era of social media. Celebrities and many politicians often self-promote to a consistent extreme. That kind of self-promotion can cause people who are already uncomfortable talking about themselves to double down on their reluctance to discuss their own skills, their products, their company’s good qualities and the talents of their co-workers.

But when it comes to taking care of a customer, promoting this way can be great customer service. Why? It helps the customer feel more comfort overall, because they feel they are in the hands of a knowledgeable employee who is knows the product well. They feel the product will meet their needs and that the company can be trusted.

If the art of managing up is not explained well, an employee may feel uncomfortable doing it.

I recently spoke to a large group of real estate brokerage owners at a conference led by Navy Federal Credit Union. These were real estate professionals who have earned to opportunity to serve the thousands of members of Navy Federal. In this endeavor, the first contact a member will have is with a call center. The call center professional will then match the caller to an agent they feel will best meet their needs.

The better the call center explains why that agency was selected, the more likely that person is to follow through.

We’re going to connect you with broker Mike Smith. You’ll be happy to know Mike has more than 25 years of experience handling your type of transaction in your particular market and is excellent at guiding you through the process. He’s the area leader in this type of transaction and has won 12 regional awards for his success and his service.”

If the call center contact merely said “We’ll connect you with Mike Smith,” would the impact be the same?

That is the kind of promotion that can move the needle and set you and your company up for success. Here are some tips to have employees manage up without having them see it as bragging:

— Don’t be shy sharing your knowledge and skill set. It is not bragging. It reduces customer anxiety and builds trust.

— Share key facts about the product. This creates a sense of comfort that the product is the right one.

— Explain why the company is a good one. This helps the customer have more confidence in their purchase. Share the mission or history of the company. It builds the notion that “I can trust them.”

— If you need to hand a customer over to someone else, share that person’s skills and knowledge. This will take the customer from feeling dropped to grateful to get them to the right person. For example, an attorney can explain that while they can be helpful, there is another attorney with great expertise in this area.

The more you can do to position yourself, your products, your company and the co-workers well, the better the customer feels. The better the customer word-of-mouth is, the better the company will do.

It can be effective outside of work, also. Let people know the positive aspects of your neighborhood and community. After all, you choose to live there. This attracts more people, leads to more tax revenues, which can be spent on better education, safety and infrastructure.

Everyone wins.