Monthly Archives: September 2018

My Thank You to You

Until 6 pm on Tuesday 2nd October (BST), you can get my entire DEVELOPING SERVICE SUPERSTARS training system for HALF OFF.

It’s a ready-made customer service training programme, covering all the customer service training basics you need and including over 9 hours of transformational input.

So you can now turn your own team into Service Superstars to deliver a truly memorable Customer Experience to wow your customers, get them talking about you… and coming back for more!

Here’s where you can grab your copy for nearly £200 off

I’m holding this special sale as a way to celebrate National Customer Service Week (1-5 October) and as my THANK YOU for reading this Naturally Loyal training newsletter and blog.

Here’s where you can grab your copy and save 50%:

https://www.naturallyloyal.com/customer_service_training_materials-bonus/

Try My System for 50% And Get These Free Bonuses:

Bonus #1

A 60 minute webinar & Q&A to get you set up and get the best out of your training and to answer any questions you have to make it truly memorable. This will be recorded so even if you can’t make the live webinar you’ll have access to it afterwards. 

Bonus #2

Exclusive email hand holding support to really get you started and for any one-off emergency queries related to the training

PLUS….

Bonus #3

For the First 5 people to register I’ll include:

An extra 30 minutes one to one mentoring session to answer any questions you have on getting the best from your training

This powerful training material could potentially end your customer service training problems forever!

WHEW! That’s a lot of goodies…and you get it all FREE when you try my entire system for 50% off.

Go here right now and claim your copy and mentoring session before they’re all gone!

Or copy and paste this link: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/customer_service_training_materials-bonus/

 


Ignore what she told you

I occasionally get asked to deliver one off training workshops. There’s nothing wrong with a one-off workshop providing it’s not just a sheep dip or tick box exercise, and everything else is in place to support delegates once they get back to the workplace.

I’m sure you, like me, can think of occasions when you’ve attended training, a seminar, or workshop, and returned to work the next day and carried on exactly as you did before. You’ve probably seen this happen with colleagues too.

It’s such a waste!

Not just of precious training budgets, but of people’s time and talents.

One of the reasons one off training can fail is when not everyone in an influential position is bought into the messages.

 “Ignore what she told you.  I know that’s what they told you on the course, but that’s not the way we do things in this department”.

Not only is this confusing, it can be very demoralising, and certainly not good for maintaining employee engagement.

Let’s look at this in the context of customer service training.

Is it that important?

Your team will fail to see its relevance if you’re saying one thing but doing another. For example:

  • You’re stressing the importance of customer service and to keep the customer happy, but all your metrics are centred on the bottom line and profitability.
  • On the one hand you’re saying how to treat customers, but on the other your team get to hear or see a poor attitude to customers from supervisors or managers.
  • When you’re stressing the importance of their commitment to the training, it’s important your team see that commitment coming from the top.
  • Reinforce the company’s commitment to customer service by getting involvement and endorsement from senior management for the training.

Varying standards

It’s easy for different managers to have different expectations and different interpretations of the standards you expect.

  • The more clearly you have these defined (and documented) in behavioural terms the easier it will be for everyone to be consistent and know exactly what’s expected of them.
  • This is particularly important when your team work shifts, and may report to different managers or supervisors at different times.
  • This is just as important for support functions as it is for customer facing departments if you want support functions to support your customer care focus.
  • At the very least everyone in the management team needs to be able to define these  (and be a role model) to set expectations, ensure consistency, and avoid any mixed messages.
  • And, of course, ensure whoever is delivering the training knows your standards and expectations too

Recognise and reward good service

Acknowledge when you spot great examples of good practice. This helps reinforce messages, demonstrates to everyone what good service looks like and helps bring the training to life.

  • Recognise and reward staff who go the extra mile and give exceptional customer service.
  • Share successes and results so everyone recognises the impact.

I’ve used customer service training as an example here, but these principles hold true with any training, particularly any behavioural skills training.

Having the capability to deliver training and coaching in house is one way to alleviate some of these challenges, but that’s not always possible.

So if you only do one thing…

Before you embark on your next piece of training, check that line managers and all those in influential positions are brought into the standards and principles you are teaching and expecting from your team members.


Fed up of waiting?

I guess – like me – you’ve probably encountered that rugby scrum at foreign airports.

This was us last weekend, queueing for security – or so we thought!

The departure hall was chaos. The supposed queue for security weaved in and out of check-in queues, and to put it mildly, it was a shambles.

At first we joined what we thought was the end of the queue only to be accused of queue jumping. We eventually found the back of the queue, and waited patiently, watching the queue get longer and longer behind us. Finally two airport staff started to put out barriers in an attempt to mark the snaking route of the queue.

However, to our dismay and frustration, everyone who had been behind us in the queue was now suddenly in front of us, and we were at the back of the queue again. You can imagine, we were not too pleased!

None of us like to be kept waiting. We always think of the 101 things we could be doing instead. Whether it’s waiting in a queue, being put on hold, waiting for a slow web page to load, waiting to part with your hard earned cash, or waiting in for a delivery …  Any of these situations can try our patience. And so often these moments are a customers’ first or last impression

So why do businesses think it’s acceptable to keep their customers waiting?

I don’t just mean long delays; sometimes it’s just short waits that can aggravate us. Such as waiting for acknowledgement of a phone call, booking, an enquiry, or merely your presence – you know those moments when you approach the counter or enter the room and it takes what seems like an eternity for anyone to look up and make eye contact, let alone finish their conversation with their colleague and give you a welcoming smile.

Queues and being kept waiting are never going to be popular with your customers. Apart from acknowledging and thanking customers for their patience when they have been kept patiently waiting for even a few moments, what else can you do to minimise the impact? 

1. Prevention is better than cure

  • By monitoring your busy times, you can adjust your staffing accordingly (ensuring appropriate training is given to anyone who is redeployed to ‘help out’).  I’m afraid I’ve never quite understood businesses who are inevitably busy at lunchtime, but still schedule staff lunch breaks to clash with their peak times. You wouldn’t expect restaurant staff to have their break at lunch time so why would any other business dependent on lunch time trade do so?
  • If you have self-service areas, or payment machines, help speed up the process by helping customers; you can avoid the time it takes them to read instructions, which might reduce your transaction time by half, thus reducing queues.
  • When you know you’ll experience peaks and troughs of activity triggered by events such as the weather, road conditions, publicity, news coverage – whatever it might be – monitor it and prepare for it.  Even if you don’t have enough space, equipment or outlets to serve more customers at any one time, can you at least have people on hand to deal with any queries, print out bills or act as ‘runners’ to support those dealing with customers?
  • Do customers ever have to repeat information they’ve already given, double back to access things they need, or duplicate processes, which not only wastes their valuable time, but takes more effort on their part?  Just because this is how it’s always been done, isn’t a good enough reason to do it that way!
  • Do you give customers accurate information so they can get to speak to the right person first time around? Or do you have some generic phone number that takes customers through 5 (or even more) options before they can even get to speak to a human being? Give them a direct number next time so as a valued customer they can jump the ‘queue’ to go directly to the right person.
  • Stick to agreed times for returning calls, meetings, deliveries. If you’ve agreed a time or deadline, stick to it.

2. Give customers a choice

  • If there is a delay, does the customer wait, or do they opt for something that doesn’t involve waiting? That might of course depend on just how long they have to wait. When we are put on hold if we’re told we are 2nd in the queue we are far more likely to hang on than if we’re told we are 10th.
  • So let you customers know – is it expected to be a 2 minutes wait or half an hour? Being honest (and not making false promises and under estimating) allows to customer to make an informed decision. If you need to put someone on hold, ask them first if this is OK; don’t just assume they’re happy to hang on.
  • How many times have you waited in for a service engineer or delivery that then doesn’t materialise? If you say a parcel will be delivered or the engineer will call between 12 and 3 make darn sure they do!  Better still, narrow that window down to an hour, or less.
  • At the very least give notice if you can’t deliver your promise. Being kept informed is not about making excuses!  It’s about keeping the customer informed of the situation and giving them options…
  • When you know you have particularly busy periods, let customers know this in advance. This way you give them the option to avoid these times; a win-win, as this helps even out your peaks and troughs.

3. Capitalise on waiting time

“Your call is important to us”. Unfortunately it doesn’t make us feel any better!

  • If people do have to wait, make this as painless as possible. Can you divert people from queues to other options to achieve the same result? Cut red tape and open up alternative channels where you can.
  • Can customers be doing other things whilst queuing which will save time once they get served – filling out forms, reading information that might help with their buying decision, processing payment? At the very least being kept informed of progress and seeing the queue moving.
  • Make waiting time a pleasurable experience by offering your customers something to distract from and compensate for their wait. Share information, offer them a seat, provide refreshments, etc.
  • And if you’re now subconsciously thinking you couldn’t afford to do this every time someone has to wait; it’s time you reviewed your customer experience. Waiting should be the exception, not the norm. (And compare this investment to the cost of losing the customer altogether.)

4. Save your customers time and effort

In the same way that anything that wastes time for your customers can be an irritation, anything that saves your customer time will add value.

  • Review all the touch points on the customers’ journey – where can time be saved; waiting for web pages or images to load, phones being answered more quickly, keeping on top of orders so purchases can be dispatched quickly.
  • Offer an express service, line, process, phone number, etc. for your existing loyal customers. Make them feel special and valued. Even for new customers who are time poor, introduce a quick option that saves time – at a premium price if you need to – you may be surprised how many take you up on that.
  • A minute here, and a second there may not seem much individually, but add them all together and you might save your customers considerably time.
  • Even if the way you do things in your business are “industry norms” can you be the first to break the mould and do things differently. Look at what Metro Bank are doing to change the norms in banking, for example.

However, remember you don’t want customers to feel rushed, so apply time savings sensibly and appropriately.

Never compromise quality for speed.

5. Engage your team

  • Set your expectations with team members. How quickly should the phone be answered? What’s the expected time-frame for returning customer calls? What’s the process for contacting customers if there’s going to be a delay?
  • Never allow speed to become an excuse for staff members to cut corners or make mistakes.
  • Give your team members the relevant training to work efficiently, and provide cross training so people in other departments can support the customer facing team at peak times.
  • Consult with your team to find efficiencies, and ideas on ways to save time both for themselves and customers.
  • Monitor the tools and resources available to your team to ensure these are allowing them to work as efficiently as possible.
  • Listen to your team when they say they are stretched, or when they feel time-frames for dealing with customers are unrealistic. Believing you are under resourced causes stress and frustration for team members, and is bound to have a knock-on effect on the customer’s experience.

It’s a fine balance. Test and review and tweak accordingly.