Monthly Archives: April 2019

I don’t have the authority

complaint handling

Complaint Handling is an essential skill for customer facing team members.

We’ve all heard it haven’t we “I’m sorry, I don’t have the authority to do that; I’ll need to get my manager.”  It’s certainly frustrating for a customer, but also demotivating for a team member knowing that they can’t resolve the problem even if they wanted to. And of course, this wastes your time too, when you’re called over to deal with the situation.

Here are 5 things to save you time, make team members feel empowered and trusted, and keep your customers happy when complaint handling…

1. Anticipate

Of course, prevention is better than cure, so involve your team in looking for solutions to common issues. Often what’s not obvious to us can be obvious to them.

But in any business there are times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. Equip your team to deal with the unexpected.

2. Train

The more you can anticipate issues the more you can prepare your team to handle such situations, the more confident they’ll be, and the more likely they’ll deal smoothly with anything that crops up.

Even if you can’t avoid the issue, your goal is to minimise the negative impact on the customer experience, so teach them how to do this!

For example: how to minimise the impact of queues, what to do when a customer makes a scene, how to apologise without losing face when they make a mistake on a customer’s order or when something the customer really wants is no longer available.

It’s easy for the team members to get flustered when it goes wrong, so make this part of your training.

3. Agree levels of authority

Establish up front what levels of authority your team members have in any given situation, be that complaint handling or any other situation. Define these levels of authority when training, and give examples of when they need to refer to a manager or get sign off, and when it’s OK for them to make the decision.

4. Feedback and learn

Create a culture where it’s accepted that they won’t know all the answers or always know what to do, so it’s still OK to escalate if need be. There will never be one size fits all when complaint handling. But use this as an opportunity to learn for next time.

5. Recognise

Give your team a sense of ownership and pride by encouraging them to come forward with their own ideas of how the customer experience can be improved and make every effort to take their ideas on board. And when they’ve come up with their own solution to a customer’s problem give recognition where it’s due, then they’re far more likely to do so again!

If you only do one thing

Look back over the past couple of weeks, and review the most common situations when you or another manager has been called to assist with a customer issue. Then agree with your team what’s within their power to resolve these in future.

Then trust them to deliver!

related post:

Are complaints a good thing?


How to Re-energise, Enthuse and Engage Your Team

Engage your teamEngage your team after a busy Easter

I hope you had a good Easter, and if you were open you were able to provide all your customers with a good time and helped make some happy memories.

It’s probably back to business as usual today, but don’t forget to do a debrief. What went well, what didn’t go so well and what can we learn from it?

As a result, you may be planning on more training before your next peak time. If so I have just the thing for you, so you get maximum benefit.

Here are five ideas to re-energise, enthuse and engage your team for the next few weeks ahead

1. Say thank you

If your team were working hard right over Easter (and maybe missed out on family and friends events) don’t forget to tell them how much you appreciate their efforts.

Update your team on your achievements for the Easter period. What milestones has the business achieved, what were the highlights, and what’s been their contribution? Give praise where it’s due to create a buzz for the rest of the season ahead!

2. Near misses

In any business there are times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. Review what’s not gone to plan over the past few weeks. Rather than dwelling on the negatives, reflect on what you and the team have learnt from these events, and ask how equipped they are to deal with these situations if they happen again.

3. Fresh perspectives

There will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.

It’s amazing what your team pick up and the opportunities they see to improve the whole customer experience

Take a few moments this week to ask their views on any opportunities they can see to improve your service, to add value or make recommendations to customers.

4. What’s next

Update your team on what’s happening in your business and your plans for the next few months ahead, so they’ve a sense of purpose and focus.

It’s easy to feel you’re not achieving much in the first week after a particularly busy period. Whilst it’s good to catch your breath, don’t leave it too long before setting new goals. Allocating specific short term projects or goals gives everyone some fresh focus to get stuck in and see some results within the first few days.

5. New challenges

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you let them stagnate. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers!

Schedule 1:1 reviews as early as possible to discuss individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans for the season ahead.

Discuss how you can add variety, set new challenges or stretch them.

Utilise strengths, providing further development where needed to bring out the best in these areas.

Take Action

And if you only do one thing give recognition to the team of a job well done.


related post: Play from a 10

The First Rule of Upselling

London’s taxi service is the best in the world. If you get into a London cab you can be pretty certain the cabbie will know exactly how to reach the address you give him or her. That’s because they have to pass “The Knowledge” before they can drive a London Taxi, something that can take 3-4 years to master.

Although we wouldn’t necessarily expect quite such a detailed knowledge, every customer expects team members to have at least a basic knowledge of their products and services.

Here’s a scenario I’m sure you can relate to…

The other day I was standing in the lunch buffet queue. This was an impressive hotel in the Midlands, where the setting (and prices) suggested we were going to get an excellent experience.

Sadly this was not the case!

Don’t get me wrong – the ambience, interiors and views were fabulous, staff helpful. But there were so many simple things they just had not got right.

Of those, the one that frustrated me most was the lack of product knowledge. At lunch I asked the person at the buffet table (who I assumed was a manager by his suit) had no clue of the ingredients of any of the dishes! And the same thing happened at dinner when I asked the waitress to describe one of the dishes to me.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling rooms in a five star hotel, serving sandwiches in a café or the latest exercise class at the gym, customers want and expect your team to be able to give accurate information on your products and service so they can make an informed choice.

But this is even more important if you want your team to sell, upsell, or cross sell.

The first rule of Upselling

If you expect your team to cross sell or upsell or recommend additional products or services, as a minimum they must understand all the offers, products and services you provide. This goes beyond just a laundry list; it needs to include understanding of the features and of course the benefits from a customer’s perspective.

What’s included in a package, what are the different options, what are your recommendations or suggested combinations? A good understanding of your customers’ profile, needs and expectations will help this process.

Sometimes when I’m working with a business I’m alarmed by the lack of exposure staff have to other departments, and they then wonder why they don’t make any attempts to cross sell.

As examples: In a hotel – have any of your reservations team ever set foot in the spa, or seen first-hand the difference between a standard and an executive room? At a leisure centre – how many of the classes have your receptionists experienced first hand? In a travel business – have any of the consultants ever flown with the airline in question or seen the resort they are recommending (even if only a virtual view)?

Your team can never hope to convey to customers all the benefits of these products or services if they’d never had any first-hand experience, let alone describe them with any enthusiasm or feeling (or have empathy with customers when they’re trying to resolve problems).

You won’t necessarily be able to cover every conceivable angle. Such as, in a restaurant you might not expect every team member to have sampled every wine on the wine list! But they still need to understand the points of distinction and what complements which dishes.

Involve other team members who you know have an interest and passion for the service and/or products in question, who will be more than happy to share their knowledge with others and let their enthusiasm rub off. Your spa manager or therapists will do a better job of describing your treatments than a manager who isn’t involved in the spa every day.

However, help your team put things into context. For example, although your head chef knows everything about your dish of the day, all the ingredients and how it’s cooked, your customer may not be interested in the finite detail or be blinded by culinary terms. What they want to know is if it will satisfy their need – be that something hot and filling, light and refreshing, indulgent and rich.

It’s finding a way to describe your products and services so they sell themselves.

Take Action

If you only do one thing as a result of reading this – test your team members on their product knowledge of the top 10 products or services each might sell, upsell or cross sell. Don’t assume they know; put it to the test!

Need more help with upselling?

Adding Value and Boosting Sales is one of the modules in the Developing Service Superstars Programme. If you need to get your team up to speed with making recommendations and boosting your sales speak to me about a tailored programme or get the full Developing Service Superstars Programme right here