Monthly Archives: May 2018

Mixing Things Up

“Talking it through in our group I’ve now got some brilliant ideas.”

“It was great talking to others and realising they have the same challenges”

“I now have a better understanding of xx department, and know what I can do to make both our lives easier”

“It was great to get someone else’s perspective, as I’d not seen things that way before.”

These are typical of the comments I get from delegates on my workshops.

I can guarantee I will always get at least one delegate (if not nearly all) on every workshop I run saying that meeting other people or mixing with people in other departments was an invaluable part of the workshop.

Why?

  • It generates new ideas (in fact the very same happened to me this week when I was a delegate – and came away with a cracking idea from another delegate – more of which you’ll learn at a later date).
  • It gives a greater understanding of each other’s roles, and the demands on them so people and departments become more supportive of one another
  • It helps build relationships and connections, helping team members to understand each other better, knowing what’s important to them and how to get the best from them
  • It helps each other identify where their strengths and expertise lie, so where they may be able to support one another
  • It reminds everyone that ultimately they are working towards the same goal

But…

It doesn’t need an externally run workshop to enable these things to happen.

There are plenty of things a business can do internally to get team members and departments working well together, exchanging ideas, supporting one another, and generally creating a harmonious team.

Here are just a few…

Mixed meetings and briefings.  Mix departments to work together and share best practice and see others’ perspectives. Proactivity mix people up to sit with people they don’t normally work alongside, otherwise everyone just gravitates to towards their own team or their buddies.

Upskill and cross train people to cover other’s responsibilities so people are confident their job still gets covered when they are sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload. (Upskilling also demonstrates your commitment to your team, and shows people they are valued.)

Set up job swaps so everyone has a greater appreciation of each other’s roles and create teamwork and a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary, rather than passing the buck.

When there are special circumstances, such as working on a big project define responsibilities to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort.

Get rid of rotten apples. It only takes one or two negative people to get in the way and spread their negativity onto everyone else and drag them down to their level. Deal with them or get rid of them before they make everyone else’s life miserable.

Social events. Finding something that appeals to everyone’s tastes, personal commitments and pockets can be challenging, so never force people to attend.

Involve your team in organising the event. However, be careful this isn’t seen as a chore, or you will undo all the goodwill you’re trying to achieve.

After-hours team activities in the workplace can open up accessibility for those who can’t or won’t otherwise get involved. Cookery classes, wine tasting, talent contest; anything that taps into the interests or expertise of your team members.

Personal Development. Offer extra-curricular activities through suppliers open to all team members. For example, if you are a hospitality business you might ask your alcohol supplier to organise a gin tasting, or a cocktail making demonstration or competition.

Social Media. Set up a private Facebook Page or WhatsApp group where your team members can chat, share ideas, ask questions.

These are just a few ways you can get your team talking to one another. If you’d like to talk though more ideas specific to getting the best from your team set up a call with me here.



Mapping the Journey

improve customer service

Earlier this week I attended a customer experience seminar. We had some excellent presentations on how to improve customer service, including one on what went on behind-the-scenes for the London Olympics in creating such a memorable visitor experience through the Games’ Makers (in which – I am proud to say – I played a small part).

One of the sessions was on customer experience journey-mapping. As the name suggests this is looking at everything on the customer’s journey from the customer’s perspective, and should include everything that happens leading up to the point of purchase (awareness, decision to buy, etc) as well as what happens afterwards (e.g. staying in touch, recognition of loyalty), as the before and after is still very relevant if you want to improve customer service

Mapping the journey is one thing, but then review the experience your customers get at each stage on that journey. What do you want them to feel at each point, and how well do you achieve that?

Of course, the most obvious people to ask about the customer journey from a customer’s perspective are your customers.

But failing to start by asking your team members how to improve customer service is a massive lost opportunity on three counts:

  1. Firstly, you get a fresh pair of eyes (and ears) on what the customer sees, hears or experiences. It’s amazing what team members will spot as opportunities to improve customer service or modify the customer touch points to give a smoother or enhanced customer experience.
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    Your customer facing team members will invariably hear first-hand from customers of your short-falls and their frustrations.
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  2. Secondly, when team members spot ways to improve customer service it gives them a sense of ownership over any changes, rather than being seen as a criticism.
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    So you’ll get employees engaged and get buy-in and commitment to making the changes happen.
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  3. Lastly it helps your team members to engage more readily with your customers.
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    Because they’ve experienced everything first hand for themselves they are able to appreciate what’s important to the customer at that point, and can relate easily to them when discussing or describing any aspect of your service or products.
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    This is just as relevant for back of house staff too.

Because we can become oblivious to what we’re involved in every day (and sometimes quite protective) it helps to mix teams up a bit. Even old hands can give you another perspective by experiencing another department.

Often it’s seemingly simple things that can improve customer service. The layout of counters forcing customers to backtrack or double up wasting time and effort; poor directions or signage, meaning customers get lost or miss things altogether (often impacting your sales too);

Build it into your induction process as new team members will be experiencing things for the first time, giving you a fresh perspective.

Of course, it may not always be possible or practical for team members to experience everything but even if you sell exotic holidays or exclusive wedding dresses there will still be plenty of opportunity to get a sense of what your customers experience, particularly the various touch points your customer experiences before or after doing business with you, which so often get forgotten.

But you might be in a position to use the exercise as rewarding activity. If, for example, you run a hotel, having your team members stay at the hotel (and have access to everything your guests do) might be a treat for them, but gives you the opportunity for feedback too, so it’s a win-win.

How often do you put any of your team members in your customers’ shoes and ask for their ideas on how to improve customer service?



Congratulations!

If you’re anything like me, you love having an excuse to celebrate. Today happens to be my wedding anniversary, and at 33 years I think that’s cause to celebrate.

Marking special occasions is a great way to engage both customers and team members. Recognising a personal milestone, proud moment or a significant event shows you care.

What’s the occasion?

The most obvious things to celebrate are birthdays and anniversaries. Not just personal anniversaries such as a significant wedding anniversary, but maybe noticing the anniversary of the date each of your team members joined your business or your department. If you’ve a large team you might decide to celebrate the anniversaries of everyone who joined in the current month. This is a great excuse to bring people together who might not normally work closely together.

For business customers congratulate them on a significant anniversary in their business, or the anniversary of when you started working with them (and this helps to reinforce your relationship).

And of course, don’t forget anniversaries for your own business; it’s a great way to blow your own trumpet!

Recognise those important and proud moments for your team members outside of work. The arrival of their first grandchild, passing their driving test, their child’s graduation, gaining a qualification, making a significant contribution to a charity e.g. through a fundraising event, running a marathon, etc.

Celebrate and share your business successes. Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, and thank them for their contribution. Celebrate that special deal or contract you’ve won. Pass on the recognition you’ve received from an important customer.

Cheers

Celebrations don’t need to be lavish. What’s more important is that they are sincere and will be appreciated by those you are congratulating.

Recognise that some people love the limelight, others hate it. Sometimes a quiet “congratulations and well done” is all that’s needed and will have more impact than any over the top celebration.

For a customer a little unexpected gift (which might also be an excuse for them to visit again, but ensure it is something they will value, not just a blatant promotion for more business) can make them feel special and appreciated.

If it’s an occasion to be shared will taking time out for coffee and cake to celebrate the occasion be more appropriate than taking everyone down to the pub?

And it may be that the best and simplest way to help team members mark the occasion is giving them the opportunity to knock off early, so they have more time to celebrate with their family and friends.