Monthly Archives: December 2013

A flawless customer experience

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me

A flawless customer experience

See things through your customers’ eyes

Take a step from behind your desk, counter, office, or wherever you use as your base to conduct business and take a look from your customers’ perspective.

At every step…..

Think about every touch point on your customers’ journey; starting  from finding out about you e.g. through search engines, directory listings or review sites, making enquiries via your website, phone or calling in, booking, ordering, visiting, etc, right the way through to follow up, after care or repeat purchases.

Take that step back and detach yourself from your business and review every stage as a customer.

Better still ask others to do this; start with your team; you’ll be amazed what they pick up on. Even better, enlist the help of a mystery shipper. But PLEASE don’t get defensive or make excuses. If something doesn’t work well, fix it!


five keys to 5 star service

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me…

five gold keys to 5 star service

Star white

I believe there are five things that make up 5 star service:

Defining and sharing your customer service values

Define the type of experience you want your customers to have and work backwards. Ask yourself what you liked them to feel, say or do as a result of doing business with you, based on what’s of importance to your customers. Once you’re clear on this it’s a lot easier to determine all the things that need to be in place to enable this to become a reality.

The customer journey

Review your customer journey from end to end starting at the point your customers first hear about you. Get into their shoes and look at everything from their perspective; it’s the little things that can make such a massive difference to a great, mediocre or disappointing customer experience.*

Trusted team

Empower your team and encourage them to use their judgement to do whatever is best for your customers. Provide them with the relevant skills, knowledge and confidence to meet your customer service values.

Great leadership

Be the perfect role model for your team by demonstrating how much you value your customers. Give them the relevant support, tools, resources and training to meet your customer service values.

Systems and resources

Make sure everything’s in place so everyone your team can meet your customers’ expectations consistently. Not just your exceptional employees, even your average ones should be able to deliver outstanding service every day. (More on this on the seventh day of Christmas!)

* Review your own Customer Journey with my Customer Journey Audit Checklists 


Save


Tell your story

On the fourth day Christmas my true love sent to me… Whats your story

A story 

Everyone loves a good story, you just need to read the pages of Hello magazine, or even our own trade press to see that we like to hear about what goes on in people’s lives behind the scenes, and get a feel for the real person.

And for any business telling your own story is a great way to engage with your customers – be they existing or potential.

Hopefully your perfect customer is the type of person you want to spend time with, because you have an affinity with them, share a passion, or like to engage with them.

 

Telling your story is an ideal way to communicate to your customers what you have in common, and what is different about your business.  Everyone talks about identifying a USP (unique selling proposition) but some business owners find this a challenge.

Telling your story makes it easier as even if your business is almost identical in every other way to half a dozen other businesses in your town or area the one thing that will make you different is the story behind you, your team and your business. And because you’re talking about you, it’s so much easier to be authentic.

Your story provides a great way to grab people’s attention. It creates a less obvious or blatant way to build your credibility and customers’ trust in you. You are starting to build a relationship, demonstrate empathy and create that sense of belonging for your customers. It’s also a great way to share information, and educate your customers.

Describe what you do, who you are, what is important to you, and following on from yesterday’s post, what makes your business different, what makes you the best in your market or your area or your price range.

Don’t be afraid to go into detail; all good stories give detail. The more detail you give, the more compelling the reading, providing it’s in tune with your ideal customers’ needs and interests. Reflect back on all the things that customers ask you about – the history if the building, the origin of the name, what’s the story behind a peculiar feature.

Here are some more examples of being different and how telling a story can help.

If you are a restaurant and all your ingredients come from local organic farms, or even your own kitchen garden, describe this, maybe even a little bit about the farms, and the gardeners. If you go up to Smithfield to buy your meat tell people why you’re prepared to get up at an unearthly hour and what you look for in your choice, and what makes it so delicious. One hotelier I know even rears his own pigs – the perfect story especially when combined with photos of the pigs running around!

Whatever type of business you are, if you’ve made efforts to reduce your carbon footprint, detail your goals, what steps you’ve taken so far, the support you’ve had, the changes you’ve made to your systems, purchasing, equipment, and training, and some of the challenges you’ve faced. Tell them about the quirky practices or products you are using, and what customers might see around them as part of your mission. What has been the impact to date, and what are your plans for the future?

Don’t forget the individual personalities that truly make your business unique. What are their stories?  How did any of you end up being where you are today?

And the best bit about these is that your team can tell their own stories, to bring them to life.

 

So, what’s your story? Write up your story to include: what you are selling which is unique, what makes you different, and your passions and values to reflect your identity.

Stop being a shrinking violet, get out there and tell your story!

Save


Make your customer service different

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me green fish

Something different!

One of the easiest ways to stand out and differentiate yourself in a crowded market is through your customer service and the experience you give your customers.

I always think it’s a good idea to start by defining the type of experience you want your customers to have. Then it’s so much easier to work backwards to identify about all the things you need to do to enable that to happen.

I like to think of this is your customer service BRAND.

BRAND prompting you to define:

What you do Brilliantly

What you want to be Remembered for

What makes you Amazing

What gets you Noticed

What makes you Different

What can you do to be different in the way you care for your customers?

It’s easy to be tempted to just copy what your competitors are doing. But assuming you know what’s important to your customers you can start to tailor what you do to meet these needs. Certainly look at what your competitors are doing. But then home in on things that they don’t do well, and find a way for you to do these brilliantly and make you stand out over and above them.

Do a little brainstorming. What types of unusual or unique approaches might appeal to your various customers? Never mind the norm for your industry; be brave and break the mould.

It might only be one thing that makes you stand out but the clearer you are on this the easier it will be for you and your team to ensure you focus on this and get it right every time so you can consistently excel and stand out in this area.

Want to discover what else you can do to improve your customer experience and customer loyalty?

Book a free 20 minute call with me and come away with 3 things you can do in January to:

  • Get your customers back in the New Year
  • Increase customer spend
  • Get your customers talking about you and referring you to others

I’m offering just 12 appointments. To schedule your call go here and I’ll follow up with a questionnaire to get the ball rolling once you’re appointment is booked.

https://www.timetrade.com/book/ZJR9N

 

Save


Say thank you!

 

Thank YouOn the second day of Christmas  my true love sent to me

…. a thank you

I’m sure you wouldn’t dream of not thanking a friend or relative for the gifts they gave you at Christmas.

But what of your customers?

If you’ve not done so already, now might be a good time to show your customers your appreciation of their business over the past year, show them that you value them and use this opportunity to show you care.

If you’ve not already been in touch with your customers over Christmas do something for them now.

Say thank you for their business, ask for their feedback, and reward their loyalty. What can you offer them that’s exclusive to your existing customers; a ‘members only’ access, previews, special privileges, fast track options to save time, or deals to save money? You only have to look at the high street sales today to see how everyone loves a good deal!

Even better if you can personalise this to your customers’ preferences and interests.

Don’t wait till the New Year, do something right now while everyone else is sitting back.

It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time when others waste time”  Henry Ford


On the first day of Christmas…

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…

Smile

 

A great big smile!

Christmas Eve didn’t get off to the best of starts: no power, a tree down outside our house blocking the road and floods. Thankfully – for us at least – everything was restored to normal by the early hours of Christmas morning. Not so for our neighbours who are still without power, as are lots of other homes nearby; maybe you’re one of them and my thoughts are with you.

So what is there to smile about, you might well ask? It struck me over the last couple of days just how much people pull together in such situations. Despite the situation everyone seemed to be in good cheer and thankful that things weren’t worse.

If people can remain so positive in such is situations why is it there are so many who seem to spend their whole time moaning and being miserable? We’ve all met those mood Hoovers, who seem to be able to suck the life, happiness and enthusiasm out of any situation.

What has this to do with the customer experience?

I believe behaviour breeds behaviour. So the more upbeat, happy and positive you are the more upbeat, happy and positive your team will be. And the more upbeat, happy and positive they are the better the customer experience and the happier your customers will be too.

Smiles are infectious…. So get a smile on your face and watch it bring a smile to everyone else!

Want to discover what else you can do to improve your customer experience and customer loyalty?

Book a free 20 minute call with me and come away with 3 things you can do in January to:

  • Get your customers back in the New Year
  • Increase customer spend
  • Get your customers talking about you and referring you to others

I’m offering just 12 appointments. To schedule your call go here and I’ll follow up with a questionnaire to get the ball rolling once you’re appointment is booked.

https://www.timetrade.com/book/ZJR9N

 

Save

Save


How to really wow your customers

I know I talk a lot about wowing customers, but this has to be the best example I’ve seen (well, this Christmas at least)

.

Enjoy!

.

 

You might not have the budget of WestJet Airlines, but what tiny bit of magic can you create for your customers this Christmas? It doesn’t have to be on this grand scale, but what they did here was listen, personalise and surprise their customers to create a wow customer experience.

 


Plan next year’s (Christmas) marketing NOW!

Is that a misprint? NO! You really should be thinking about next year’s Christmas (or next busy season) now!

It’s the third and final article in my mini Christmas series, for businesses who have peaks of activity at some point in the year, whether that be in the weeks leading up to Christmas, over Christmas and New Year itself, or any other time of the year.Getting ready to market next Christmas now

So if you’re a retail, leisure, or hospitality business already in the thick of Christmas activity, a health and wellness business anticipating a hive of activity as those New Year’s resolutions kick in, or a professional services business who recognises everyone leaves things to the last minute to get renewals, repairs or returns done on time to meet their end of year deadline here are a few considerations to help you with your marketing next year.

As Christmas (or whenever your busy period falls) looms nearer, your marketing for next year is probably the last thing on your mind. But now is a great time to be building up material to use for next year.

What better way to promote your Christmas/New Year/peak period events, promotions and activities than to give people a taster and show them what they’ll get, whether that’s having fun and celebrating at your venue, seeing your business and team looking their best in all their Christmas splendour, or hearing feedback from your happy customers?

So at the very least, here are some things to do now.

  1. If your business is all about the venue take photos of your business in all its Christmas splendour while the decorations and Christmas tree are looking their best – don’t leave it until half the needles have dropped off, or the light bulbs have gone out.  Keep an eye out for a clear, frosty morning and get outside with your camera to take some shots of a wintery scene. Or if it’s a product you provide capture details or samples of your handiwork so you’ve got something to show next year’s customers of just what you can offer.
    .
  2. If your business is somewhere people come to celebrate or relax get some video footage of parties or people enjoying themselves – best when guests/visitors have just arrived, and had time to relax with their first drink, but don’t leave it until the tables are strewn with empty glasses. (Obviously always check with customers that they are happy for you to record, and secondly for the footage to appear on your site.)
    .
  3. Record details of what you’ve delivered customers and so you can prompt them next time around, so they (and you) don’t forget anything. And you can deliver a consistent service which is at least as good as, if not better than this year.
    .
  4. Capture feedback from your customers; ask people for testimonials that they would be happy for you to use in next year’s marketing, find out what they liked and disliked and make a note of what you’ll repeat or build on for next year and what you’ll add or do differently. Do this now while their emotions are still running high from their experience, not in three weeks’ time when everything is back to normal.
    .
  5. Keep tabs on your costs to ensure you have an accurate picture of your expenditure and profit margins.  If you run events or promotions include post costings for each event, to take account of uptake, wastage, and actual spend.
    .
  6. Take stock at the end of the season, and learn from your successes and failures to build on this for next year. Don’t kid yourself you’ll remember; you won’t… so make sure you record all this in as much detail as possible and file it where you can find it easily and make sense of it when it comes to planning next year!
    .
  7. Get feedback from your team, and involve them in the review process by asking for their ideas. What worked well for them, where did they struggle to meet customers’ expectations, what can be improved on the next year, what should be done differently to ensure the customer experience is still a great one even when you’re busy.
    .
  8. Follow up with your customers to show your appreciation for their business.  Take this opportunity to remind them of what they enjoyed and tell them what you have planned for the year ahead to sow the seed for further business throughout the year or at the same time next year.
    .
  9. Recognise and reward your team accordingly if they’ve put in extra hours or effort to make your busy periods a success, so they’ll be happy to do the same again next time.
    .
  10. Take the time to celebrate your successes and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

 

So if you want to capitalise on your existing business and keep those customers loyal and coming back next year, start planning NOW.

And if you missed the first 2 articles you can find them here:

Are the days of the Christmas card numbered?

A customer is for life not just for Christmas

And if you’re recruiting extra staff for your busy season you might find this one useful too: Seasonal staffing

 

If you’d like some help with your customer retention and how to keep your customers interested enough to come back next year and stay loyal to you, set up a call with me here

 


A Customer is for Life, not just for Christmas

How to make the most of busy periods and still keep your customers coming back in January and February… and well into Next Year.

 

Here’s the second article in my mini Christmas series.

 

If you’re expecting to be busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas, or over Christmas and New Year itself this has been written with you in mind.

But most of the points are equally applicable to any business at any time when you experience peaks of activity. So if you’re a leisure, retail or hospitality business already in the thick of Christmas activity, a health and wellness business anticipating a surge of interest as a result of New Year’s resolutions, or a professional services business who recognises everyone leaves things to the last minute to get renewals, repairs or returns done on time to meet their Christmas or end of year deadline – here are a few ideas you could be mindful of to continue to meet your customer’s

And even if your busy season isn’t until Easter or the summer, the same principles still apply…expectations.

 

First impressions

Over your busy periods you might well have customers coming to do business with you for the very first time. So ensure you create great first impression and a reason for them to return.

Equally you’ll no doubt have your regulars who are coming to you because they know you, like what you do and trust you’ll deliver what they expect. Make sure you don’t disappoint, and demonstrate you appreciate their loyalty.

 

Maintain your standards

Just because you’re busy, don’t let this be an excuse for a poor customer experience, for inadequate service or inattention to detail. Your regulars don’t care!

Busy or not, whether it’s Christmas and you’re rushed off your feet, or your staff are taking time off, your customers expect consistency.  Anything less could be damaging for your reputation and potentially embarrassing for your existing loyal customers, particularly if they’ve recommended you to others.

 

Make customers aware

Customers are far more understanding of the situation if they’re forewarned of any potential changes to your service. For example, if you know that you’re likely to be busy at certain times of the day, make every effort to let your customers know this. If you let them know when the quieter times are, this not only helps them, it potentially evens out the peaks and troughs for you too.

 

Avoid disappointments

When you know something is unavailable or in limited supply, give people as much notice as possible either through your website, when booking or enquiring, prior to travel or on arrival to minimise disappointment.

 

Adding value

Whereas your customers might be looking for a good deal on the basic price, this doesn’t mean to say that people won’t be prepared to trade up to premium services or additional items (as at any time of year). Ensure your team are still in a position to make suggestions and recommendations, but they’re fully aware of what is feasible, and what’s not a practical proposition when you’re busy, so they don’t make commitments you can’t deliver.

 

Keep it simple

Nothing should be competing with your seasonal promotions so don’t plan any other offers or accept other vouchers during this period that undermine your potential seasonal revenue. Make sure your customers understand what’s on offer.

 

Give incentives to return

Have everything in place for the New Year and what you’ll have on offer that’s exclusive to your seasonal customers as an incentive for them to return sooner rather than later. Even if new customers are not prepared to part with their personal details (to add to your database) at the very least have all your information and samples ready covering any special New Year bonuses, offers or packages you’ve lined up just to them, product information, tasters of your services, contact details, etc.

 

Gather data

Of course in a perfect world you’ll also be getting their contact details so you can add them to your mailing list, but ensure you have some incentive for them to do this; maybe a prize draw in the New Year, ensuring of course it’s still relevant and something of value to your customers. Bearing in mind you’ll be busy, whatever you use for capturing details make it simple.

 

Keep in touch

Schedule some time after Christmas to follow up with your mailings. Keep your list segmented so you can keep your messages pertinent and personal.

Show you appreciate their feedback so you can learn from them what worked well, and what they didn’t like, so you can improve on it for next year.

Following up now helps to develop your relationship, and increases your chances of repeat business either during the year or at least at the same time next year.

 

Staffing

Check your team are fully prepared and briefed to cope with the extra potential workload and know precisely what’s available and what’s not.

If you’re taking on extra seasonal staff ensure that they’re doing the best job possible to be ambassadors for your business. Take a look here at my 10 tips for getting the most from seasonal staff.

 


Seasonal Staffing

Just because you’re busy or you have temporary staff, don’t let this be an excuse for a poor customer experience or inferior customer service. Your regulars don’t care! Busy or not, whether it’s Christmas and you’re rushed off your feet, or your manager is taking time off, your customers expect consistency.Ensuring a consistent customer experience from seasonal staff

So if you’re taking on extra seasonal staff ensure that they’re doing the best job possible to be ambassadors for your business.

  1. Teamwork is key. Introduce new staff to the whole team, defining everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort.  Avoid the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.
    .
  2. Don’t leave them floundering or too scared to ask for help. Establish a clear line of reporting, and who to go to for help and guidance when needed – ensuring, of course, that this person will be patient and supportive when asked.
    .
  3. Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them from day one. Clarify basic standards of dress, staff behaviour, time keeping, break allowance, staff meals, security, food safety, health and safety.
    .
  4. First impressions count. Specify your establishment’s standards for welcoming and greeting customers, including the booking procedures if this is part of their role.
    .
  5. What is their role in up-selling, and what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme.
    .
  6. People can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Ensure thorough product knowledge – what does your establishment offer – opening times, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff experience what you offer, explain what accompanies each service and what it should look like, what prices include and what’s extra (especially with fixed tariffs or party packages).
    .
  7. Establish protocol in dealing with difficult situations, customer complaints, and awkward customers.  Define the line between handling themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff member.
    .
  8. Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed.
    .
  9. Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.
    .
  10. Maintain your reputation as a good employer. Treat seasonal staff well, and they will be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season.  Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.