Consultant gives county employees refresher course on courtesy

February 17, 1997


Staff Writer

If you find county employees going out of their way to be courteous and cheerful, you might have Richard Ginck to thank.

Ginck, a business consultant with his firm Sales Synergies and a former sales manager for Philip Morris, has given four free seminars in customer service to about 50 county employees.

The employees learned pointers ranging from the importance of having a cheerful tone of voice to how to deal with angry citizens and how to cut off overlong conversations without hurting a caller's feelings.


"I was trying to figure out a way that I could help the county," Ginck said. "As the old saying goes, government is for and by the people. I just thought about that and said to myself, `When was the last time somebody tried to help the government?'"

Ginck said he hoped the training helped citizens and employees.

"I hope I'm equipping them to deal with problems a little more effectively with less trauma for both parties," he said.

"I think that the seminars gave county employees a new outlook on a lot of things, for example what ring of the telephone do you pick up on - two rings for you is three rings for the caller," said Norman Bassett, county training coordinator.

Among Ginck's tips:

  • Impressions count. "Their perception of you will be their perception of the government."
  • When meeting someone in person, try "mirroring" their gestures and activities without mimicking them. "People like people who are like them," Ginck said.
  • Sit up straight and smile when answering the phone. You'll sound more attentive and cheerful, and put the caller at ease. "It's hard to be angry at somebody when they are talking to you all warm and fuzzy."
  • When taking messages, don't just take down a name and a phone number. Find out what the person wants to talk about and when they can be reached. Don't promise that someone will call back. Instead, say that you will deliver the message or ask someone to return the call.
  • Remember that most communication comes from body language and tone of voice, not from the words you say. "It's not what you say, it's how you say it."
  • If you must put someone on hold, ask permission and wait for an answer - the caller might prefer to call back later.

"It's my hope that what I've done will act as a catalyst that maybe other small businesses will contribute to all levels of government," Ginck said.

Employees at a seminar Monday said they liked it.

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