Better customer service through effective time management
Being able to manage and prioritize is an important skill when serving customers. Planning events, activities and tasks on a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily basis, that is, prioritizing time, can be rewarding from the point of view of allowing you to be more proactive in preparing to face situations. Such planning can reduce your need to be a crisis manager. It’s important on and off the job because if you don’t manage your personal life well, you can carry personal stress into the workplace. This is not only inefficient; it is also unfair to your employer, peers, co-workers, and outside customers.
After scheduling key events and tasks using some form of scheduling system (eg, time management software, calendar or written scheduling system, or electronic scheduling device that can download information to your computer), review the information regularly to avoid forgetting something.
One way to manage events, instead of them managing you, is to create a list of activities each day and assign a value to each one based on its importance. The key is to be consistent and prioritize each day. Some people make planning the last activity of their workday. When they get to work the next morning, they’re ready to go instead of wasting time getting ready.
Guidelines for setting priorities
Three guidelines can help you determine which tasks to do first. These can help you create a realistic and achievable list of daily tasks. As you learned when you read about setting goals in other chapters, goals must be achievable. Use the following standards as a guide when setting priorities.
Judgment. You are the best judge of what you can accomplish on any given day. You know your strengths and what needs to be done. When selecting priorities, remember that those that have the greatest impact on customers and others should be placed at the top of your list. On the other hand, don’t put so many priorities on a daily list that you won’t meet them. If this happens, you may get discouraged and give up.
When you find that you have higher priorities than time, you may need to ask your boss for help or guidance. Many times, simply asking for help helps build your relationship with others. They feel respected and trusted by your gesture, as long as you don’t abuse their help or appear to be offloading your tasks on them. Also, consider other resources you might use to accomplish tasks (for example, technology, outside vendors, or customers).
Relativity. Assigning priorities is a matter of relativity. Some assignments and projects are easily graded higher than others. It should be guided by the question “What is the best use of my time?” Many people fill their daily schedule with frivolous or easy tasks and with tasks that they like to do. This produces an empty feeling of accomplishment. They may get a lot done throughout the day and enjoy doing it, but they haven’t added much value to customer service or helped achieve organizational goals. Keep in mind when setting priorities in the workplace that your primary focus should be on your customers and the activities that support them.
Moment. Reality and deadlines have a way of dictating priorities. The start time of a project or task can also set priorities. Once a task begins, there must be enough time to finish it. If this is not possible, you may need to reprioritize or seek help.
Be realistic about the time it will take you to complete a task. Be sure to schedule that time, plus a little more, on your daily planning sheet. Also, consider your peak time period for performance. In general, each person has a period of the day when they have more energy and can do more things. Take advantage of your peak period and schedule high-priority tasks during that time, if possible.
To set up your own priority system, list all your pending activities and then group them according to their level of importance. How you assign value to a task is not that important as long as you use the same format every day. Many people use an A, B, C system and others use a 1, 2, 3 format. Here are the suggested criteria for assignment:
Priority A-Must do or critical items. Some things must be done because of management directives, local, state, or federal regulations, importance to customers, timelines, or opportunities they provide for your success or advancement (for example, state tax reporting, actions requested by a client or application for a position in the organization with a specific deadline for submission).
Priority B-I should do it. Items in this category are medium value. Although they can contribute to customer satisfaction and improve performance, they are non-critical or time-critical (e.g., mailing an unsolicited information kit to a customer about a new product or developing a proposal to change a product). existing system or process).
Priority C-Well done. This is the lowest category and includes tasks that are not a direct link to customer satisfaction. They can even be fun or interesting, but can be skipped or left undone. Postponing or scheduling such priorities to a slower time frame will likely have little or no impact on customer service (e.g., meeting with team members to brainstorm ideas for more efficient cubicle design, cleaning up old emails or neatly lining up products on a shelf).
Note: As you check your email and voicemail messages at your scheduled times throughout the day, prioritize them and add them to your to-do list.
The key to effective time management is having a plan and working on that plan. If you control your time, both you and your clients will benefit from your efforts.