I can remember my mother in the kitchen, her apron covered in flour from making her famous apple pies for the town carnival, telling me “honesty is the best policy, Matthew” after I sent a baseball flying through a neighbor’s window and ran away.
That is to say, it would be quite a memory if it ever happened. Truth is, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen my mother make a pie, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t own an apron. The sage advice mentioned above however (from Leave it to Beaver or not) still holds true: honesty is the best way to make positive impact, even in bad situations.
Bart (the Managing Director of CAI-U, lest we forget) asked me to hold weekly meetings on Customer Service for our Administrators. I’m glad to say we don’t have a lack of good customer service, rather the opposite; but he wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page. He chose me because of my extensive background in employee/customer interaction, and I was very glad to help.
No, really. I was!
The concept that drew the most discussion was the concept of honesty. It’s something that comes very naturally to us in life outside of work, hopefully. Generally speaking, we don’t make promises we can’t keep, and don’t tell lies to our loved ones or friends. For some reason however, this concern for honesty dissipates in the workplace.
I don’t mean to suggest every interaction at work is dishonest. What I mean is this: don’t say what you can’t do. Telling a customer you’ll address their problem right away and then going to lunch is dishonesty. Having a message on a company website that says ‘24/7 customer service’ but not answering a phone call is dishonest. Saying ‘I can’t help you with this problem’ when you can is dishonest. You get my drift.
A hallmark of CAI University and CAI as a company is the importance of honesty. We may not always get it right the first time, but we admit our mistakes and work quickly to resolve it. CAI-U as an organization doesn’t fault its team members for messing up, but it does hold them at fault for not helping to learn from that mistake or help resolve it.
In customer service, this translates to caring about the customers. Granted, the majority of the people who take our courses I have never met in person, but treating them as if they were colleagues is a must. Part of treating them with respect and helpfulness is being honest and up front. If we know there is a way for them to get a better experience with CAI-U (even if it isn’t our standard operation or method), we’ll share that information. If we can work out a reduced cost or a special discount, we’ll do that, too. What we won’t do is tell a lie for the sake of a purchase. In the end, the money we’d make from doing so wouldn’t equal the benefits of having a happy, satisfied student.
Personally, it’s great to be part of CAI-U because of this philosophy; it doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth after talking to a student or potential student. I know that I can stand behind what I’m saying because I’m being honest, and I truly think that translates to the people I talk to.