Monthly Archives: October 2018

Just a different type of skill…

 

At last week’s Independent Hotel Show Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality suggested we stop talking about low skilled and high skill staff.

I agree.

Everyone has skills, it’s just that different jobs require different skills. It takes a certain type of skill to run a busy bar, calm down an irate customer, service a bedroom in 30 minutes. These examples are in the context of hospitality, but whatever your industry I’m sure you’ll see the same principles apply.

Sadly, it’s often only when these people leave that we miss what they bring to the team. (….could that lack of recognition be the very reason they leave?)

When we don’t see individual skill strengths there’s a tendency to demand all-round competence in a job.  As a result, development focuses on areas where a person is least capable with time and energy spent on working towards average performance.

Imagine what would happen if you were to focus on people’s strengths.  You could help them go from strong performance to real excellence in their areas of greatest ability.  How much more motivated would team members be if they could focus on what they’re best at?

Of course, in reality we can’t always let people just do what they’re best at, but we can at least make sure that they’re not always under pressure to improve what they’re worst at.  A great team will have a balance of abilities and strengths so that people can contribute their best and don’t have to excel at everything.

Identifying people’s skills and strengths enables you to capitalise and build on these. This recognition means the team member can take pride in that skill. And knowing where you have strengths in the team can also help to identify ways to bridge any gaps you have elsewhere.

And in most cases

…the tasks people are good at are those they enjoy more, excite them and keep them engaged.

So, here’s an exercise you can carry out with your team to recognise their strengths.

First, make a list of the members of your team and consider each one personally:

  • What is he/she really good at?
  • What does he/she love to do?
  • When do you see him/her working really well?
  • What is his/her greatest talent?
  • What do you like or value about this person?
  • What do other people in the team value about him/her?

Now look at the team as a whole

  • What is your team’s greatest achievement to date?
  • What is the team really good at?
  • When does your team work best?
  • What do other people value about your team?
  • Why do you enjoy leading this team?
  • What are your team’s greatest strengths?

Having completed this exercise are there any strengths you’ve identified that you can capitalise on to bridge any gaps elsewhere?



7 Reminders

Yesterday I attended the Visitor Attraction Conference in London. There was an excellent cross section of speakers, but in recognition of National Customer Service Week this week I thought it pertinent to pick out some of the observations and insights into the overall customer experience.

In a visitor attraction it is more than ever about the experience – how you leave the visitor feeling before, during and as a result of their visit. But I believe all of the points below are equally relevant in any business, be that hospitality, leisure, retail or professional services.

In fact, the experience your customers, visitors, patients, guests or clients receive might be the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors.

So, what were the points re-iterated yesterday?

Here are 7 customer service principles I was reminded of:

  1. Everyone wants value for money. This doesn’t mean cheap. There are plenty who are willing to pay higher prices providing they still see it as good value. So it’s not about discounting, but adding value.
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  2. Customers’ expectations are changing. Everyone wants an instant response, be that a confirmation of booking, returning a phone call or responding to a comment on Twitter. What are the things your customers expect as standard e.g. Wifi in public places? Customers want to share their experiences with others. Is your product ‘Instagram-able’? Let them do your marketing for you.
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  3. Customers want authenticity. This translates into helping your team members take pride in what they do and have the okay to be themselves; to say and do what they think best to meet customers’ expectations, not work from a robotic stilted script.
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  4. Make it easy for customers. Simple things like checking your website gives you all the information a customer needs to take the next step – be that placing an order, making a booking, phoning or travelling to you. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to miss key information such as how to reach you by public transport or the correct postcode to use in their sat nav to reach your entrance rather than a dead end!
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  5. Create a loyal following of local ambassadors. Involve them, invite them to see what you’re up to and if relevant to your business, offer them some incentive to use your facility, services or product. This is easy to do for a B2C business e.g. in the visitor attraction world that might mean offering a free ticket if they bring 3 friends or family along to your attraction. If you’re a B2B business, you could do something along similar lines for neighbouring or complementary local businesses.
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  6. When customers give you feedback, particularly via Social Media whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, it pays to acknowledge it: thank people for the compliments, express concern for criticisms. Not just for the sake of the customer commenting, but to demonstrate to others that you care.
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  7. Acknowledge and thank people when they’ve done business with you. This is important at the end of the ‘transaction’, but even more powerful when you thank them at the outset for choosing you in the first place. (By the way in visitor attractions when visitors are thanked when they leave it has been shown to have a 20% rise in recommendations.)

Of course, all the above can only be delivered with an enthusiastic and engaged team, and backed up by regular inspiring, engaging and memorable customer service training, so your team have the confidence and skills to meet these ever more demanding customer expectations.

Action

If you only do 1 thing:

Discuss these 7 points at your next team meeting and get your team’s perspective on how well they think you do as a business on each of these points.