As we help each of our companies on their journeys to success, there are a lot of lessons each teacherof us have learned along the way. Some have been easy while others have been more difficult, but their end results are helping to propel our arrivals at our goals. We’ve asked company owners and customer service representatives to share with us some of the lessons they’ve learned this year and how each has ultimately brought them more success.

Meredith works for a small company with a wide customer base. The business is very successful and has a bit of a cult following. However, they met a bit of scandal midway through the year as a group of outspoken customers felt the company had let them down with their order deliveries and that they had then been mistreated by the “popular clique” of the company’s followers, which they viewed to be headed by Meredith, the company’s face on social media, when they expressed their displeasure about the mishap. Meredith learned that taking a step back from the social media groups and maintaining more of a professional voice in the groups (rather than participating with abandon) was essential to being seen as a company representative and moderator-when-needed rather than a member who just so happened to also work for the company. She took a break from the groups while several team members jumped in during her absence, then started participating with a bit more personal distance. “It was really amazing. I still enjoyed my job, but it cut down on the drama in the group as a whole when I started reminding myself that, even if it was fun, I was still at work. I think my attitude shift changed the vibe among our customers to something more positive and inclusive. I think our fans think even more positively about us now.”

Anthony owns a company in the tech space. His team is young, energetic, and really knowledgeable about their products. His customers, however, are all across the board. He instituted a short satisfaction survey after the first quarter this year and discovered that many customers felt his team was missing the mark when it came to providing service. Upon closer inspection, he found that “the solutions we were giving to our customers often went over their heads. We were talking to them from our knowledge level, not from theirs. We heard a lot of people telling us that they were calling to get more comfortable with their products, but were actually feeling more confused by our answers. That’s certainly not our goal so we had to change.” What Anthony and his team started doing, was simply asking each customer that called for tech support how familiar they were with that type of product. By getting a baseline feel for each person’s “tech literacy”, they could then adjust the way they’d convey their answers. “I can’t tell you how much happier people started sounding during calls once we started implementing this approach. You can tell now that people are less flustered when we give them answers because we’re speaking their ‘tech language’ instead of just ours.”

Meredith and Anthony certainly have valuable takeaways from their experiences this year and perhaps they are also valuable to you. Looking back, have you had any “aha moments” this year that you wish someone had shared with you? Feel free to share them in the comments!