Accessing your 'inner cat'...
My name is Rafferty Cherry. I have been asked to do a blog by the team at React as they feel I probably have a unique perspective on client focus, being, as you will know, a dog. I would argue that my ‘species’ does give me some natural advantages – though, I am aware, that it also will lead me to have some unconscious bias about the way that other species (e.g. humans, cats, eels) approach customer/client interactions. So, what follows is my highly personal perspective on what makes for great client/customer focus.
I am sure you know that Cockapoos are keen on personal and professional development. So I have been fascinated to have been introduced by one of our associates Simon Eastwood (or Uncle Simon as I know him) to the work of Michael Grinder (‘Corporate Cats and Dogs’, Michael Grinder Associates) on personal impact and charisma. Is it possible to be too dog like? Are there benefits to accessing some of your ‘inner cat’ to gain some gravitas and credibility when dealing with clients?
I am a modern dog (kibble, Dentastix - not just wet). I am comfortable with the idea that every dog should embrace ‘the little bit of cat in all of us’.My take on Mr Grinder’s work is that the perfect place to be in terms of being more charismatic and credible is to balance the ‘party on’ attitude of a dog with the cool professionalism and business focus of a cat. Transferring this over to client/customer focus makes sense. Enthusiastic tail wagging, wriggling on my back on the floor, barking and scratching gets results, but does not, on its own, create an impression of efficient professionalism. Sometimes a quiet purr is required.
But as a proud dog, I have three overarching canine principles that I always apply in my role at React as Reception Assistant. I have been asked to share them here:
The first is unconditional positive regard. I assume that anyone coming to the offices - whether they be the CEO of a major blue chip organisation or someone who has come to fix the light in the toilet – is a FANTASTIC person!How brilliant that someone has come to see us. How amazing that they are interacting with us. What a pleasure it is to engage with them! I would always recommend extending this mindset to people phoning in or emailing too. First impressions count – and you never know what kind of biscuits a person is carrying!
The second principle is making sure that they know how much you care. We all take what we do very seriously at React. We are passionate about our work. I will non-verbally signal this with my body language - vigorously wagging tail, bringing visitors a chewed toy etc. I will also utter some minimal encouragers – things like small whimpers of joy, even a short bark or positive growl (NB for info on non-positive growls see Chris Miksen’s article ‘Dog Behaviour: Aggressive Growls’ in The Puppy Times).
The third is be yourself. I think people can spot when you are not being authentic – they would certainly spot me if I were pretending to be an ‘Alsatian on guard’ for example. Customer service training got such a bad name for itself back in the day when the famous disingenuous “have a nice day” school of service was prevalent. People want to know they can trust you. They want to know you are authentic.
For me this combination of unconditional positive regard, letting your clients know how much you care and being yourself is difficult to argue against.
Be more cat? Hmmm…Yes, a little - but moderation in all things!
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