Monthly Archives: June 2016

Perceptual Positions

percetual positionsBy the time you read this thankfully all the campaigning will be over and we’ll know one way or the other.

There’s been a bit of a difference of opinion in the Cooper household. Hubby and I have homed in on different merits for and against remaining/exiting the EU!

Seeing things from different perspectives extends far beyond which way to vote in the EU referendum. When I’m coaching managers to get the best from their team or training staff in dealing with customer complaints encouraging them to see things from other people’s perspectives is such an important part of resolving difficult situations.

One technique uses that of perceptual positions, which helps you imagine what difficult situations look like when viewed through others’ eyes, in other words to imagine what others perceive by imagining that you are that other person.

This involves looking at it from 3 different perspectives

  • First position is your natural perspective. You are fully aware of what you think and feel regardless of those around you. This is of course the perspective we find most familiar. But as you focus on it you may only then start to realise what is important to you and what you want from this interaction. You will probably become more aware of what you believe and value, and more likely to be assertive about your own needs.
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  • Second position is about stepping away from our own position and imagining what it’s like to be the other person, experiencing the situation as they would.Some people are very good at considering others’ needs and concerns; for others imagining second position can be a completely alien view. When you are really in their shoes everything you do or say makes perfect sense to you.
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    When you do this well you start to get a sense of what the other believes and values; what is important to them, and a better understanding of what they want. And the better you get at this the more empathy and rapport you create. You might even be able to predict how they might respond in this situation. You are certainly in a better position to offer better customer service to a customer support to a team member.
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  • Third position is an independent position where you act as a detached observer noticing what’s happening between two other people. I like to think of this as the ‘fly on the wall’ or ‘The Consultant’s perspective’ What is important is that this position is an impartial insight into a situation.Imagine you are watching and listening to each of the people involved as they communicate without getting involved yourself, without having to feel their feelings and emotions.
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    From this new perspective, you more likely to get an overview of the situation, the bigger picture. You can start to notice patterns and become aware of similarities and differences between the parties involved, and you’re better able to analyse the situation logically with less emotional involvement. What’s also important is you can start to see yourself as others see you.
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    From this position what advice would you give ‘first position’?

When to use Perceptual Positions

It can be particularly useful when you are dealing with a situation where you are having strong negative feelings towards the other party, or do not understand their actions.

For example:

  • When a team member is acting in a way that you find destructive to the task in hand, or negative towards others in the team.
  • In customer service training to illustrate how to handle an angry and (to our mind) unreasonable customer

It doesn’t just help in negative situations, it can also help clarify the way forward in for example sales situation when it will help to see things from the clients’ positions or in a consultant position to see the situation better and help the client achieve their outcomes easier.

It works best when you physically change position when moving from 1st position to 2nd position and then 3rd position; e.g. in 2nd position move round to sit or stand when the other person would normally see or stand when you meet with them, and when the ‘fly on the wall’ stand up and physically look down on the situation.

The real learning comes by stepping out of first position to explore second and third positions and see what light it sheds on a situation.

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Hit the ground running

Holiday coverYour first day in any job can be daunting. It’s all new and can feel a bit lonely. Hardly the best place to be to give your best.

So whether you’re taking on seasonal staff for the summer or full timers you want to do everything in your power so they can get off to a flying start, and have them start paying their way.

If all you do is give them a uniform and tell them to get on with it, they could be doing more harm than good.

Everyone needs a thorough induction with good support and direction.

Here are my top 10 basics to cover with any new member of staff, whether for the holiday season or at any other time of year.

  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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. Your customers don’t care whether they’re new, temporary or a trainee; they’ll still expect a consistent level of service and care.
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  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.
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  6. People can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Ensure a thorough product knowledge – what does your establishment offer – times of service, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff taste dishes, explain what accompanies what products, or anything that’s normally sold together, what it should look like, what prices include and what’s extra (especially with packages or promotions).
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  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 a more experienced staff member (and who that person is).
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  8. Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed.
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  9. Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.
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  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.


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What’s your commitment?

This week is customer service week.

thank-you

Customer Service Week, which is always the first full week in October, is an opportunity to raise awareness of customer service and the critical role it plays in running a successful business.

For a businesses it creates the perfect opportunity to raise awareness within your own team of their vital contribution and to remind customers how much we appreciate their business.

So what have you been up to to demonstrate your commitment to delivering great customer service and a great experience for your customers?

Here are 10 ideas you could use…

  1. Have some fun and celebrate with your team in recognition of their contribution to delivering a great customer experience
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  2. Remind your team of your customer service values and ask for their ideas on what else you can be doing to keep those values alive
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  3. Hold a brainstorming session with your team and/or key suppliers to identify ways to add (even more) value for your customers
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  4. Review your customer journey with your team and what ideas they have for making improvements
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  5. Run a fun quiz with your team to see how much they really understand about your business, your customers, your products and what adds value for customers
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  6. Pick up the phone to your most recent customers and ask for their feedback and what they think you can be doing to make your service even better
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  7. Send a thank you card to your most valued customers to simply to say thank you to show you appreciate their business
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  8. Invite some of your customers to a team event or out for lunch
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  9. Tell your suppliers how you appreciate their contribution and thank them for their support in ensuring your customers get a great experience
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  10. Enter your organisation for customer service awards relevant to your industry

So, what have you done this week to demonstrate your commitment to delivering great customer service?

Of course none of these ideas are limited to customer service week. So, hey, don’t worry if you’ve done nothing this week to mark the occasion. Pick one of them and do it next week instead. I’m sure your team or your customers won’t mind when you show your appreciation, just so long as you do it!


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