Slow and steady wins the race

Because you have the ‘vision’ and you want to get there faster it can lead to you leaving the team behind.

Topic – Creating ‘sticky’ customer service

Mentor – Jaquie Scammell

  • As a leader you are responsible for the people who are responsible for your customer service
  • Ask – don’t tell. Develop – don’t direct
  • Areas to work on to develop a service culture

Property Management Matters with Tara Bradbury – Let’s talk about fees.  A touchy subject but it does not have to be.


Kevin Turner: Good morning and welcome once again to our guest mentor this week, Jaquie Scammell. Now, Jaquie is the author of a book called Creating A Customer Service Mindset. And yesterday we did focus very much on empathy, walk a mile in my shoes. Today, this portion that we’re gonna talk about is all about questions. And you tell an interesting story that I’d love to dig a little bit deeper on and that is the story of the tortoise and the hare and where you see each of us fitting into that.

Good morning, Jaquie, how are you?

Jaquie Scammell: Good morning, Kevin. Well, thank you.

Kevin Turner: Tell me about slow and steady wins the race.

Jaquie Scammell: Yeah, well, I think questions is just gold in service. And I love to think about the simple fable of the tortoise and the hare which I hopefully, most of the listeners can relate to. And I think [inaudible 00:00:47] definitely the hare. The person as the leader that’s just determined to get results, to win the race, to get the outcome. And we tend to sort of rush off and we take the quickest, shortest, route because we’ve got the capability and the skill. But of course, the fable reminds us that the hare who doesn’t rush and just takes one step in front of the other goes from meeting to meeting and-

Kevin Turner: The tortoise you mean, don’t you? Not the hare.

Jaquie Scammell: Sorry, sorry, the tortoise [crosstalk 00:01:21]

Kevin Turner: Yeah. You did that as a test, didn’t you? To see if I knew.

Jaquie Scammell: Just making sure you’re paying attention.

Kevin Turner: Yeah, I’m paying attention.

Jaquie Scammell: Yeah, good, good. The tortoise, he deliberately takes one step in front of the other and … He or she. And just with that steady progress of practising  each day … Which by the way, things on the outset like the longer route actually gets the best results. And as we know, the tortoise gets over the finish line just in front of the hare. And what I love about this story is it reminds us that asking really great questions as leaders of our teams and our customers might feel like a little bit more effort initially. It might feel like the slower way to go about getting information. But it’s certainly the most progressive route.

And I went to this beautiful part of Greece a few years ago, Kevin. I was doing a road trip. And I think of this as a metaphor when I think about questions. There was the beautiful mountains, majestic mountains all around us. And we had an option to go through a tunnel, which was of course the quickest, shortest route, or to go around the tunnel and take in the sights and the scenery and experience and learn things that we might [inaudible 00:02:42] if we’d gone through the tunnel. And I think that’s a great metaphor thinking about questions. We learn so much when we ask great questions, both of our teams and of the customer.

Kevin Turner: Yes. And you know sometimes when we take on the role of the hare, we race ahead because we’re so excited about where we want to get to, Jaquie. In doing that, with that speed, sometimes we leave the team behind because then … We gotta make sure that we take … Move at their pace so that they can come on this journey with us.

Jaquie Scammell: We sure do. There was a saying that I wish I’d learned earlier in life because I think it would have helped me and that is that people support things that they help create. So when we … When we ask questions of our staff, it really is the best way to develop them. And you’re right, we don’t want staff to feel completely dependent on us. We want them to continue doing things when we leave a room, when we go home for the day. And the best way for people to be inspired to keep doing those things is to get them to learn, ask questions, and develop them as they go.

Kevin Turner: You make two really strong points in this particular area of the book which is, I think, mindset number two, questions, where you say, “Ask, don’t tell, and develop, don’t direct.” That’s a management style that elicits this kind of support coming from the team, Jaquie.

Jaquie Scammell: That’s right. When we … When you direct staff, you’re giving them orders, you’re teaching them to become dependent on you, you limit their creative thinking and they potentially can’t think of problem solving on the spot because they’re always looking for you to give them the answers. You know, leaders don’t have to have all the answers, do we, Kevin?

Kevin Turner: No. That’s right. Actually, it’s much more powerful to know the questions to ask than the answers. The answers … In the role that I do here, I don’t have to know the answers, I just need to know what questions to ask you, Jaquie.

Jaquie Scammell: That’s right. And it’s a long term game developing staff, but … It’s not a short-term solution, but it is certainly the sustained way of teaching people to think for themselves, enabling greater creative thinking and problem solving. And it actually does improve in encourage engagement across the board.

Kevin Turner: Before I let you go today, Jaquie, can I just ask you what are the areas that we need to work on to develop a service culture?

Jaquie Scammell: So we’ve gotta listen more. And the best way to listen [inaudible 00:05:07] is to really be present. So we spoke the other day about empathy and about really watching and observing people, the nonverbal cues, that listening, really listening to our staff is a key part of hearing what they’re not saying and hearing where there’s opportunity to grow them and to give them some quality feedback. The second thing I would say is trust the process of questions. Again, don’t be misguided by the fact that asking quality questions … And when I say quality questions, I mean open questions. Questions that start with who, what, when, why, where, or how. And make sure that those questions really lead to conversations where you can sake more knowledge and build more rapport with people. And the third point I would ask is if you are running … Well, I would suggest is if you are running short for time and you’ve gotta run into a meeting quickly, the best prep you can do for any type of conversational meeting is think what’s the best question I can start this conversation with and just watch how that conversation flows.

Kevin Turner: Yeah, absolutely. And on page 85, you give five excellent examples of questions. I’ll just share one because I’d like people to get the book and really read it and learn it as I’ve done. But one of the very powerful questions, how do you think the customer felt in that interaction? You’re talking to someone … And you gotta be finding it from them just how much knowledge they’ve got of what they’re doing, Jaquie.

Jaquie Scammell: Yeah, that’s right. And then if you can just get an employee for a moment. Get that part of their busyness and just get them to reflect on, “So how do you think that customer felt as they walked away from that interaction?” And it might feel a little bit awkward at first, but I think if your intent is clean, you’ll get to a really great conversation, hopefully from learning.

Kevin Turner: Yeah. Tremendous, Jaquie. Thank you so much. My guest is Jaquie Scammell. Jaquie back tomorrow. And a reminder, once again, that book is called Creating Customer Service Mindset. Available at all good bookstores or just go and google it online. Tomorrow we’re gonna talk about energy when Jaquie comes back. Talk to you then, Jaquie. Thank you.

Jaquie Scammell: Thanks, Kevin.

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