Monthly Archives: August 2019

Hello, I’m Caroline

build rapport

Build rapport using names

Do you remember the TV series Cheers? And the theme tune “… where everyone knows your name”

Using someone’s name is a powerful way to build rapport.

According to Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”  “… any person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.  ….we can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering the name.”

This is true, not just for customers, but your team members too; in fact, anyone you speak to.

However, sometimes it can be challenging to remember names. I remember about 20 years ago, the company I was working for at the time ran a series of Roadshows. At the time I was a management development executive at our international training centre. This meant that over the course of the year I would meet hundreds, if not thousands, of managers attending training.

Because I knew so many people I was asked to help with registration at each event, and because so many of those attending knew me, they made a beeline to me expecting me to remember them too. But when you have thousands of people registering at each event, it’s quite a challenge remembering everybody’s names, and some people got quite offended when I couldn’t remember who they were!

I learnt a little trick to get around this, which I’ll tell you about in a moment. But in the meantime, here are my other top tips for helping you and your team members remember and use people’s names.

  1. Start with your team, greet them by name, and use the name they want to be known by. So, if they have a preference to be known by their middle name, use this. Never shorten or abbreviate their name unless they ask you to. So, Andrew doesn’t become Andy, Christopher doesn’t become Chris, and Deborah doesn’t become Debbie, unless that’s what they request.
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  2. Repeat it. How often do we ask someone’s name and then instantly forget it? So, listen with intent, and then immediately repeat their name. This not only helps you to committed it to memory, but allows an opportunity for the other person to correct it if you’ve got it wrong or missed pronounced. If the pronunciation is a little tricky for you, always ask the other person, whether you’ve got the pronunciation correct. It’s far less awkward for both of you to correct it now than on your fourth or fifth meeting.
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  3. Can you spell that please? Spelling someone’s name incorrectly can feel insulting, so check the spelling if you need to. Even relatively common names often have more than one spelling; Cathy or Kathy, Iain or Ian, Philip or Phillip.
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  4. Formal, friendly or familiar. It’s difficult sometimes to know whether to address the customer as Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms. or use their first name. The rule of thumb is to follow their lead; how they introduce themselves.
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  5. Personalise your automation. Have you ever had a letter that’s addressed to you personally on the envelope, but the salutations reads “Dear Sir or Madam”. With technology today there should be no excuse not to address emails or letters with someone’s name (or at least the name they have given you).
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  6. Create a memory. If you can create an association between someone’s name and a characteristic or relate to a famous person. For example, my husband is terrible at remembering names and when he first met my parents this was no exception. Their names were Liz and Phil. So, I told him to just think of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip!.
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  7. Tags, cards and badges. Spotting name badges on luggage tags, payment cards or name badges at corporate events can help; a word of caution, don’t get too clever with this! Check the name their tag, card or badge is the one they want to be addressed by.  If you know which customers you are expecting remind yourself of their names (and personal preferences if you know them) before they arrive.
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  8. And what of employee name badges? They can make it easy for the customer to engage with and remember the people who have served them (as well as a level of accountability). But it’s a very individual decision, and what best suits your business and your style service. A name badge should never be a substitute for a personal introduction from a team member to a customer.

Take action

If you only do one thing – encourage your team members to use customers’ names, so they feel valued and important. Set the example and help make your team also feel extremely valued and important by always addressing them by name too.

And that little trick I discovered on registration? Thankfully, all the name badges were arranged in alphabetical order by people’s surnames. So, I’d always greet them with a cheery smile and ask how they are; and then ask absentmindedly “sorry, just remind me of your surname again”. It seemed forgetting their surname was acceptable, and when I found their name badge, hey presto, I was reminded of their first name too, and could then use this as I handed them their badge.

related article: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/creating-rapport-with-your-hospitality-business-customers/

 


Someone could have told us

service culture Team huddle

Make briefings part of your service culture

Have you noticed how often in successful sports teams you get to see the whole team huddle together for a quick team talk? Is this just something that’s relevant to sports?

No, of course not.

When I’m consulting with businesses assisting them with upping their customer experience or developing their customer service culture, one of the common themes that comes up time and again is the frustration that arises from poor communication.

Often this might be something as simple as a product or service which isn’t available, so customers are let down.  Perhaps it’s a particular customer who has special requirements, who might need some specialist treatment or VIP attention. Or maybe it’s something completely out of your team’s control, such as roadworks or severe weather, but that impacts customers.

Whatever the reason, your team need to be in the know. What’s happening and what you’re doing to add value for customers, or offering to minimise any negative impact. No one in your team wants to look unprepared or be caught unawares.

So just how do your team members get kept abreast of what’s happening day to day in your business which can have an impact on them and your customers?

In our haste to get on with the day ahead it’s tempting to rely on email, bulletin boards or a WhatsApp group. But there’s a problem with this… they tend to be one way, and little or no opportunity to question or clarify. You lose the ability to judge people’s reactions, or even know for sure it has been read.

A simple 10 minute “Buzz Briefing” at the start of each day or shift plugs this gap.

As the name suggests it’s your opportunity to create a buzz for the shift or day ahead.

It’s your chance to update everyone on anything that affects that day’s operation. Plus, it’s your opportunity to get feedback from your team on things that need attention, to answer their questions, or listen to their ideas.

All key ingredients to a positive service culture.

Here are 11 ideas to ensure your buzz briefings create a buzz for the day ahead…

  1. Getting the whole team together-  if numbers and logistics make this possible – is ideal, but otherwise by department.
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  2. Hold your buzz briefings at the same time each day
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  3. Be prepared – plan what you need to cover in advance
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  4. Start with an open question or attention grabber, and ensure you have everyone’s attention
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  5. Aim to gain eye contact with everyone, and pick up on any looks of confusion, questioning or disagreement
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  6. Keep them brief (maximum 10 minutes)
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  7. Conduct them standing up
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  8. Encourage participation – ask questions and encourage their questions, listen to ideas, ask for examples or to share their own examples, stories or suggestions
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  9. Keep them light-hearted, but with a serious intent
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  10. Make them a daily habit, so they run even when you’re not there
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  11. Even on your busiest mornings make sure these briefings still happen – it’s generally on the days that are your busiest that things go wrong, and in many businesses it’s on your busiest days when you have the best opportunities for making a good first impression with new customers or increasing sales

So, what the heck will you talk about?

Every business will be different, but here are some of the topics you may want to cover:

  • Specific customer activity in the business today, such as (VIP) visitors, new business or projects
  • Impending deadlines and progress towards these
  • Customer feedback
  • Any other activity happening in the business  or surrounding area that could affect customers, e.g. maintenance or road works, items in the media relevant to your customers, competitor activity
  • Staff shortages, and cover of responsibilities
  • Questions or suggestions your team may have about operational issues that could have a bearing on the level of service
  • Feedback on any customers’ queries or comments
  • Team members’ observations, feedback or questions from a previous shift
  • Recognition for success or achievements from the previous day
  • Home in on one aspect of customer service you particularly want the team to focus on

These actions ensure your team are not only fully briefed and competent, but also confident and enthusiastic to deal with any customers’ requests, queries or concerns.

If you aren’t already holding daily briefings you may find there’s a reluctance – “we don’t have time for these!” But treat them as an investment in time; they will invariably save time later, by preventing things getting forgotten or deadlines being missed.

Make them a habit – part of your service culture – so they run even when you’re not there.

Take action

If you only do one thing. Next time you have an important message to share with the team gather everyone round and deliver the message in person rather than sending a blanket email.  Notice what happens when you deliver the message in person and encourage a two way dialogue.

Related posts: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/hotel-leadership-regular-update-meetings/



How to Handle Complaints ~ Will you have to ask a manager?

Handle Complaints

Are your team confident to handle complaints?

Last week I met up with a friend in my favourite local coffee shop. Being the school holidays they were busier than normal, and we both expected that, and it was fine.

What wasn’t fine was that the usual smiling, happy and efficient service was gone, and the normally delicious coffee was lukewarm when it finally arrived.

I know I talk a lot about consistency. And at a time of year when you’re busier than normal it’s just as important as it is at any other time of year.

Just because you’re busy or you have temporary staff, don’t let this be an excuse for a poor customer experience or inferior customer service. Your regulars don’t care! Busy or not, whether it’s the school holidays and you’re rushed off your feet, or half your team are taking time off, your customers expect consistency.

And if you’re welcoming new customers through the door (which was the case for my friend), naturally you want them to get a great first impression.

But, it’s inevitable from time to time you’re going to get unhappy customers, and when you do your team need to be prepared.

In this instance when I commented on the poor coffees they were replaced instantly. But I’m sure you – like me – can think of instances when you’ve made a complaint and been told,

I’m not able to do that; you’ll have to ask a manager…

Not only is it frustrating for you as the customer, it’s demeaning for the employee and time consuming for the manager.

What’s the process in your business when a customer has a complaint? Do customers have to ask a manager, or do your team have the skills and confidence to handle complaints, and do their line managers have the skills and confidence to train, coach, and support them, so they can trust their team to handle complaints effectively?

Here are 5 prime consideration for line managers to get to a point where they (and you) can feel confident that anyone in your team can handle complaints positively and professionally, leaving the customer feeling cared for and remain loyal to your business.

1. Mindset

It’s easy for team members to feel nervous about receiving complaints and get defensive when they’re on the receiving end. Encourage team members to think of complaints as a positive thing, as it gives an opportunity to put things right and turn the situation around before the customer leaves.

It’s not uncommon for people to think about the outcome as being a win-lose situation. Instead, encourage team members to look for a win-win, where the customer leaves happy, and we are confident we have retained that customer for the future.

2. Core Skills

Having core interpersonal skills has to be a prerequisite for anyone who is going to deal with customers at any time, but when it comes to how they handle complaints these skills are even more important. Being a good listener, having the skill to ask good questions to understand the customer, the ability to build rapport and have empathy with the customer.

(See 38 Training Exercise & Activities to Engage, Energise and Excite your Team in Customer Service for ways to hone these skills)

3. Knowledge

Team members need to be clear on their levels of authority; give them 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.

On the occasions when you or another manager has to get involved use this as an opportunity for others to learn from the situation, by explaining your approach and why you approached it in the way you did.

Knowledge also extends to the knowledge of your products and services, so it’s easier for them to offer alternatives to the customer. Thinking back to the win-win, looking for solutions and/or alternatives which are of high value for the customer and relatively low investment for us.

4. Systems

The great thing about getting a complaint is that you have an opportunity to put things right. But, it’s also important to learn from that complaint, so you prevent a recurrence (even if the complaint was purely a misunderstanding on the customer’s part – what led to their understanding or perception, and how do you avoid that perspective in future).

Ensure you have systems and processes in place to feedback on complaints and follow-up to prevent re-occurrence, and every team member understands the system.

5. Support

With the best will in the world, your complaint handling training can’t cover every conceivable possibility. Allow your team members to practice, get feedback and coaching on how they handle complaints, and learn from everybody else’s experiences. Listen out for hesitation; when you hear a team member saying  “I can’t…” that might be an indication they are fearful of making a mistake. Talk this through with them to identify any obstacles.

Build confidence; often people know what they should be doing, but just lack that certainty and confidence to do this really well, so give time and an opportunity for them to practise in a safe environment.

Take action

If you only do one thing – Encourage team members to be receptive to any customer feedback and think of the opportunity to handle complaints as a positive thing, and an opportunity to put things right.

Related posts

https://www.naturallyloyal.com/learn-from-complaints/


38 customer service training ideas to keep your team engaged all summer long

Here are 38 of my favourite customer service training ideas, so you can keep your team engaged, fresh and focused on delivering a fab customer experience all summer long

Now we’re well into the summer and – if you run a hospitality, leisure or tourism business – maybe your busiest time of year, how do you keep your team fresh and still focused on delivering a brilliant customer experience?

Even when your team know what’s expected, when you’re busy for whatever reason, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball. But this shouldn’t be an excuse for a poor customer experience or inferior customer service. Your customers don’t care! Busy or not, whether it’s the school holidays and you’re rushed off your feet, or key team members are taking time off, your customers still expect consistency.

With this in mind I’ve just updated and added to my manual of customer service training activities and exercises.

This is a collection of 38 customer service training ideas in the form of activities and exercise, which you can use now – and all year round – to keep your team engaged, energised and excited about customer service.

These are all exercises I’ve used, and my clients have used, to involve their team, make continuous improvements and keep customer service and the customer experience front of mind, however busy.

And until midnight on Sunday you can get this at the very special price of just £7 instead of £27.

customer service training ideas

I’m offering this special price as a way to say THANK YOU to all the people who read this Naturally Loyal blog.

Here’s where you can grab your copy and save £20