Monthly Archives: July 2019

Marking Milestones

engage your team

Engage your Team (and customers) by Marking Milestones

Can you remember what you were doing on the night of 20/21st July 1969?

I can, as I’m sure you can too if you are my age or older, as, like billions of others, I was sitting with my brothers watching in awe as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to set foot on the moon.

Watching the events relived this Saturday was still tense even though we knew full well the mission was a success.

Marking milestones in your business is a great way to engage both your team members and your customers. They don’t need to be as momentous as the moon landings; simply recognising any small personal milestone, proud moment or a significant event shows you care.

Here are some moments you may wish to mark to engage your team and/or your customers

Celebrate and share business successes

  • At the end of the year remind your team of all your achievements over the past 12 months and create a buzz for the year ahead. What milestones have you achieved as a business and individually? What were the highlights? Engage your team by recognising their contribution. Team members are more likely to be loyal and work harder for a business they believe in.
    .
  • Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, won a significant piece of new business, or achieved an important milestone. Share the success with your team (and customers if appropriate). Recognise and show your appreciation for those who have contributed to this success. Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, or those in non-customer facing roles.This can be a great morale booster; it’s a great way to thank them for helping get to this point and to gain buy-in for the potential work it will involve over time.
    .
  • Don’t forget key anniversaries for your business; it’s a great way to remind your team of your heritage and the values your business is built upon. Even if you’re not long established as a business track back to key moments in your own background (particularly relevant if you are a family run business), or research the history of your building or area, or key historical dates in your industry.

Proud personal moments

  • Recognise and celebrate with your team members those important moments outside work: arrival of their first grandchild, child’s graduation, a significant fund raising activity for charity, a personal achievement such as passing their driving test.
    .
  • Make a note of the key dates in their world – significant birthdays and wedding anniversaries; remembering these can make that person feel that little bit special on their special day.
    .
  • Remember 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.

Celebrate non-work events

Be aware of other celebrations happening elsewhere which may resonate with your team. Such as:

  • Sporting success, such as those this month – we’ve seen Cricket World Cup, Wimbledon, Formula 1 GP, Women’s football.
    .
  • Charity events such as Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan Coffee Morning (27th September 2019).

Marking the occasion

It’s good to have the milestones marked on the calendar, but even better if you do something to celebrate.

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

  • A simple card to mark the occasion is a pleasant surprise, and adds a very personal touch, particularly when hand-picked and hand-written.
    .
  • Allow the freedom to have some fun; this doesn’t mean being unprofessional, but looking for opportunities that create a relaxed and enjoyable place to celebrate in keeping with the occasion.
    .
  • 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.
    .
  • If it’s an occasion to be shared, will taking time out for coffee and cake to celebrate the occasion be a more appropriate way to engage team members than taking everyone down to the pub?
    .
  • When your team members are celebrating a personal milestone extending the treat to be shared with their loved one(s) not only makes your team member feel good but shows your appreciation of the support given by their friends and family.
    .
  • It may be that the best and simplest way to help team members mark a special occasion is giving them the opportunity to knock off early, so they have more time to celebrate with their family and friends.
    .
  • External awards are a great way to give recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated an award is a great booster.

Inviting your customers to celebrate

Marking milestones with customers is a good way to stay on their radar.

  • Many of the above ideas work well for customers, or 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 you’re a hospitality or leisure business, the most obvious things to celebrate are birthdays and anniversaries.
    .
  • Capture your customers’ birthdays, anniversaries and special dates on your database (with their permission of course) and then invite them back to your venue to celebrate, and receive something special of value to them. An easy win is to invite wedding couples back for their first (and subsequent) anniversary.
    .
  • 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).
    .
  • Keep your eyes on your local press for businesses winning awards or celebrating their own anniversaries, and send them your congratulations.
    .
  • Don’t forget anniversaries for your own business; it’s a great way to blow your own trumpet!

Take action

If you only do one thing:

  • Look ahead for the next month and identify the milestones you might mark to engage your team and/or customers to show them you are thinking of them.

10 more ways to engage your team and show them some love

3 Things to get your team enthused this week



Going the extra inch – Exceed Expectations

exceed expectations

What a fabulous weekend we had for sport! Although we did have a conflict in the Cooper household, which resulted in Formula 1 in one room, and tennis in another. Sorry, if you’re a cricket fan, that didn’t get a look in!

Thinking back, is there anything we can learn from Federer and Djokovic in that brilliant Wimbledon men’s final?

Here are 3 lessons I believe we can take away that relate to customer experience, and one aspect we probably want to avoid.

1. You’re only as good as your last experience

In Wimbledon, you’re only as good as your last match.

If you don’t win you simply don’t get through to the next round.

Likewise, in the customer’s eyes you’re generally only as good as your customer’s last experience. So, get it wrong once and you need on average 10 positive experiences to outweigh the negative experience.

To build trust your customers should be getting the same level of service each and every time they visit you so they won’t be disappointed on their second, seventh or even 70th visit.

2. You have to keep training

To keep delivering to such a high standard they have to train.

Not just every so often, but all the time. Always looking for incremental improvements.

It’s the same being at the top of your game with service. You have to train your team, not just as a one off, but ongoing, always refining their skills and your processes. You need to – not just meet expectations – but exceed expectations, so with regular customers this means continuous improvement.

3. Establish routines, rituals and habits

To keep playing their best they have their own routines and rituals.

The same applies in your business, to deliver a consistent level of great customer service and customer experience you have to have systems in place that help create habits, otherwise no two days will be the same and no two customer experiences will be the same. Have systems, routines or rituals for your team to follow, whoever is on duty…. Not just your exceptional team members, even your average ones should be able to deliver outstanding service every day.

4. The extra mile or extra inch?

These guys gave it their all.

So, I doubt either could sustain this level of performance day in day out.

This is where your customer service differs.

Everyone talks about going the extra mile. And of course it’s good to exceed expectations, but it doesn’t have to be massive. Whilst going the extra mile is good, just going the extra inch or two can make a difference and still leaves you with more in the bag to pull out next time!

Simple things such as getting back to people quicker than anticipated – speed always impresses, including something you thought they’d like just because you know it’s their favourite (the fact you’ve remembered this will of course earn you bonus points), or any of the little unexpected extras I talked about in last week’s blog, or in the video here

If you only do one thing

Delivering what you’ve promised is a given. But what can you and your team do to exceed expectations? Go the extra inch; not massive leaps; but aim for Consistency +1%.

That way you’ll always have something left for next time to impress those regulars!


Don’t ruin the surprise!

giving surprises

It’s my birthday today, and my husband is away, helping out a friend in France. I think it’s the first time in our 34 years of marriage we’ve not been together for at least some of the day on my birthday.

When the phone rang yesterday morning, I answered it with my normal greeting “Good morning, Caroline Cooper”. So the call didn’t exactly get off to a good start when the voice at the other end said “Is that Clive Cooper?”

When I went on to tell her he was away, she proceeded to tell me she was calling from an Interflora florist about the delivery of flowers for today; completely ruining the element of surprise!

To add insult to injury, she wasn’t allowed to discuss it with me (despite the fact that the flowers would be addressed to me) as I was not the person who had ordered them. Oh well, I just hope I’m not disappointed when they arrive!

Rather than ruining surprises we should be creating them instead.

That’s what GLUE does.

GLUE stands for Give Little Unexpected Extras, and this is a concept which works equally well for your team as it does for customers.

  • Giving little unexpected extras means firstly that you give something, so you’re not necessarily expecting anything in return; it’s not intended to be reciprocated, it’s simply being generous.
  • Little, means it doesn’t have to be anything lavish, it could be as simple as a thank you card. It’s not a big deal, but is actually something that means something to the individual.
  • It’s unexpected, so that means that not everyone is going to get otherwise is no longer surprise.
  • And it’s something extra, something over and above what you normally do, offer or include

So let’s think of a few examples:

  • It could be that one of your team members are about to go on holiday, they’ve put in extra effort over the last few days so as a thank you, you give them the opportunity to go home a couple of hours early to get sorted and packed.
  • It could be as simple as putting a little thank you card in the post, to a customer saying we really appreciate your business, or to a team member saying thank you for helping out or going above and beyond on a particular project or event.
  • It could be as simple as this, you see it’s raining, and the customer doesn’t have an umbrella, so you find them an umbrella to see them on their way.
  • Or a customer mentions something you don’t normally stock, but you go out of your way to find it for them
  • Gift wrapping or packing something with a personal touch or greeting because you notice it’s for a special occasion
  • Including something extra just because you think they’ll appreciate it due to e.g. the weather, time of day, who they have with them.

All these are spontaneous unexpected extras – all of which are tailored to the individual and the situation. They’re simple little gestures that don’t cost much.

They are all things that are low cost to you but which the recipient will really value.

So, make your ‘extras’ relevant, well timed and personal.

Start by giving little unexpected extras  to your team, so they are on the receiving end and they know how it feels.

And then give them licence to give little unexpected extras to your customers.

Take action

If you only do one thing, add some GLUE for someone today – whether it’s their birthday, as a thank you, or simply to let them know you care about them.

Related video: https://youtu.be/aWQtQx8tMtU

Related post: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/employee-recognition/



A non directive approach

non directive

Does your team need your direction all the time?

Have you ever noticed how those people who constantly look to you to solve the slightest problem or to make the easiest of decisions, seem to manage fine when you are away for a day or two, or even a few hours?

Having to deal with every question or every problem your team face can be draining for you and does little to develop your team.

If you’ve always been quick to resolve problems for them it’s all too easy for this to become the accepted norm. But doing this denies team members of the opportunity to think for themselves. By turning things around and getting them to come up with their own solutions leads to an increased awareness of what they are doing and how they are doing it, better buy in and commitment to the solution, increases their confidence and is good for their development.

Of course this approach may not be possible or appropriate in every situation. So when is a more direct response needed opposed to asking them to solve their own problem or question?

A more directive approach may be more appropriate when:

  • It calls for speed
  • It’s a high risk situation
  • When you need to retain full control
  • There’s no debate as it’s a policy or legal decision has already been made
  • When the person isn’t yet capable or had sufficient experience, and asking them may make them feel vulnerable

The downside of being very directive

  • Limits people’s potential
  • Restricts innovation and fresh approaches
  • Gives no ownership or responsibility
  • Provides no opportunity for development and can even make people ‘lazy’ if you always solve their questions
  • It assumes you are right!

A non directive approach has the following benefits

  • Develops people assuming they have the basic experience or knowledge to build on
  • Gives them ownership
  • Helps with problem solving as it can generate more than one solution
  • Allows for continuous improvement as they might find a better way of approaching the situation
  • Gives a sense of achievement
  • Builds confidence when team members come up with their own solutions
  • Takes the pressure off you in the long term as people get used to coming up with their own solutions
  • Means you don’t always need to know the answer!

So the following situations might lend themselves to a non directive approach

  • There is reduced risk, or at least an opportunity to monitor or correct things before putting anything at risk
  • The team member has the appropriate skills, experience or knowledge to work things out for themselves (even if they don’t have the willingness to do so)
  • When there’s a degree of flexibility in the way something can be approached (even if the end result is not negotiable, such as legal requirements or demanding targets)
  • It’s not time critical and provides some time for the team member to think or talk it through

What if the customer is waiting?

Most often speed is given as a reason not to use a non directive approach.  “We can’t keep the customer waiting while I coach them. I’ll have to spell out what they should do.” Or you end up taking over completely and dealing with it yourself.

In this instance use a directive approach initially, then go back afterwards to review with the team member what you told them to do (or how you handled it), and why, and what they could do in similar circumstances to resolve the issue for themselves.

As a line manager team members will still need direction and guidance from you, but to develop them, get their buy in and improve productivity put some of the onus on them to come up with their own ideas and solutions as often as possible. It won’t happen over night, but if you always encourage them to come up with their own answers they’ll soon get used to it.

Action

If you only do one thing – the next time someone comes and asks for you for guidance or has a question turn it back on them and ask “what do you think?”

Related articles

Using the Coaching GROW model