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This short & informative electronic newsletter is filled with tips for building an effective Union and is published monthly by Janet Stewart.

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Let’s Discuss…Customer Service, Unionized!


Who are YOUR Unions’ Customers? Every Union has many customers, it may not be obvious who they are but after some consideration the number of your Unions’ customers may surprise you.


For a moment, consider who depends on your Union: Your Members, Contractors, Sub-contractors, Employers, partner Unions, communities, associations, stakeholders, family…the list is endless. Because so many people may be depending on your Union, customer service and quality are critical.

 Customer service is an integral part of every Member’s role and should not be seen as an extension of it. Without customers or clients, our Unions would not and could not exist. When you satisfy your customers, they help your Union to grow and prosper.

 A gentleman in one of my workshops once told me that he did NOT have customers…he said that he interacted only with other Members, internal to his Union. I carefully pointed out to him that these very people ARE his customers. You don’t have to serve “members of the public” to be working at an employers site to have customers - think about why your Union exists - whom do you serve?

“Every Union exists to serve its customers!”

 Taking action!

Here are 5 tips for you to help you to provide better customer service - actually - they’re an assignment to help get you started…


Be a good listener.


What: Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what your customer is REALLY saying.

How: Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language. Listen to how they feel. Be careful about making assumptions - don’t presume you know what the customer wants.


Help customers understand your systems and your Union.


What: Your Union may have the world’s best systems for getting things done, but if your Member, for example, don’t understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry.

How: Take time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions. Be careful that your systems don’t reduce the human element in your Union.


Know how to apologize.


What: When something goes wrong, apologize. It’s easy and customers like it.

How: Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as you may dislike complaints, they give you an opportunity to improve your Union.


Get regular feedback.


What: Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve.

How: Listen carefully to what customers say. Check back regularly to see how things are going. Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions. This is an important part of developing strong, positive relationships with your Employers.


Appreciate the power of “YES”


What: Always look for ways to help your customers.

How: When they have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it. (Figure out how afterwards.) Look for ways to make interacting with you easy. Always do what you say you are going to do.

Final thought…Take the 60 second challenge!

 In just 60 seconds you can improve your customer service!


60: Incorporate Customer Service into Your Unions’ Culture: Customer service should be a routine! It doesn’t have to be elaborate to make an impression - a phone call on time or adding contact information in all mailings & on your website so they know how to reach you, is easy and effective.


50: Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Ask yourself how you would like to be treated, and then act accordingly. Remember to be proactive toward your customers as well as reactive to their concerns and questions.


40: Communicate with Your Customers: Keep your customers apprised of the status of new developments. For example, post timely articles that benefit both Member & Employers.


30: Respond to Customers Quickly: Keep telephone hold times under two minutes. (If you need more, take a message and call back as soon as possible.) Use text messaging and smart phone Apps like Heytel for audio messaging.


20: Let Customers Know You Appreciate Them: Thank Members for their participation. If Members regularly visit your Union office, make them feel welcome. If customers are likely to bring children to your office, keep a basket of toys handy. Harried parents will appreciate the distraction, leaving clear minds to focus on the task at hand!


10: Ask Customers for Feedback: Finally, when you sit back and ask yourself how you’re doing, make sure to ask your customers as well. Send them postage-paid response cards. Make a questionnaire available in your Union office. Hire the services of a contractor to conduct phone surveys.

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