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Customer Service: 5 Ways to Boost Professional Development

Posted on March 02, 2016 by Phyllis Gillman

Networking for Career Growth

We all have personal and professional aspirations. In fact, as the year kicked-off, you may have scribbled down a list of resolutions you hoped to complete. Or maybe you met with your manager and established work-related goals you’d like to master as an individual and with your team. 

But with so much going on, how can you balance what you've already got on your plate with the improvements you strive to make as a professional? In this week's Candid Customer Service, Phyllis offers her two cents on developing as a professional with simple adjustments in how you spend your time.

Professional Development & Networking

As you balance a demanding career with your personal life, you might feel like you have very little time for professional growth, classes and learning. While we all feel overwhelmed with what’s currently on our plate, there are so many ways you can improve your customer service skills, build your technology expertise and grow as a professional. 

Networking events, customer service books and publications and professional associations can be great ways to learn from peers and hone your skills. But there are countless small steps and improvements that can also make a big impact on your career development. Here are some of the easy ways I strive to improve without exhausting all of my resources and time:

1.  Connect and Network

This week marks one of the biggest technology events for Vertafore customers, NetVU16. Whether you’re here in San Antonio, connecting with other insurance industry professionals, or you weren’t able to make it to the event this year, you can still learn and engage. Many large events, like NetVU16, offer event livestreaming as well as on-demand video, white-papers and downloadable information that is helpful to you even if you couldn’t attend. 

Have a big event you wish you could attend? Do some research about what resources are offered during and after the event for people who weren’t able to make it. Sign up for relevant webinars (some of which are also available on-demand) and learn on your schedule, at your leisure. 

2.  Networking Everywhere You Go

I seem to meet new people everywhere I go. I find that I can learn something exciting from many of the people I encounter. With just a smile or some friendly words, I’ve stumbled upon people I have a lot in common with, still keep in touch with and receive important insight from. 

On a recent flight, I met a woman who is the president of a professional women’s association in my area. We continue to meet up and connect over coffee. Sometimes there is great value in turning off the electronics and tuning into what’s going on around you. You never know who you’re sitting next to on your commuter bus, in line at the grocery store or at a child’s extracurricular event. You don’t have to attend a fancy business event to network, there are interesting people around you constantly. 

3.  Start an Office Lunch and Learn 

Look around you. It’s safe to assume you have some gifted team members. Look at some of the strengths you and your colleagues have. Is Jenny excellent at excel? Is Tom a talented wordsmith? Host a brown bag lunch and learn session with your co-workers once a month and share your strengths with each other. You will all become more efficient employees and it can be empowering to share your expertise and talents.  

4.  Look for a Medium That Fits Your Lifestyle

Choose some learning opportunities that coincide with your lifestyle. 

Do you have a lengthy drive to work? Look for service related podcasts. Ride public transportation? Grab a customer service book to read a couple days a week. Spend time waiting on the kids at practice? Join related LinkedIn groups and ask questions and read short, relevant articles posted by your peers and industry influencers. 

Check out a couple of Phyllis’ favorite Customer Service podcasts: 

Focus on Customer Service: One of my favorite service podcasts, Focus on Customer Service interviews and discusses customer service related topics with various representatives for brands that are known for their customer service. Some of the brands whose customer service expertise is featured include Southwest Airlines, Shutterbox, Modcloth and Twitter. 

Crack the Customer Code: A customer-centric podcast focused on the delivery of exceptional customer experiences to promote loyalty, retention and advocacy. 

5.  Become an Expert in a New Skill (every year)

Focusing on one skill can help you make great strides in a specific aspect of your job. Choose something you’re particularly interested in or need extra practice at. For the next year, work on becoming an expert in that skill. 

From social media to public speaking to specific computer programs, delving into one topic can give you the focus you need to truly master it. Take online courses, watch how-to videos, read books, listen to podcasts and webinars and seek out help from someone who is talented at that skill. Before you know it, you’ll see marked improvement and it will be time to pick a new skill or program to ace. 

Enjoy my twice-monthly tips and tricks? Subscribe to my newsletter here and get Customer Service tips and best practices delivered right to your email box. 

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As a 27-year customer service veteran in the insurance industry, Phyllis Gillman has spent more than her fair share of time helping clients and customers. In her long stint in the industry, she’s answered over 702,000 phone calls.


You can stay updated on Phyllis’ favorite customer service tips, tricks and trends by subscribing here.





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