Monthly Archives: September 2019

Customer Service Week ideas

Customer Service WeekCustomer Service Week

This week is customer service week, and today is Customer Experience Day. Don’t ask me why the two events ended up falling in the same week, but it’s a good opportunity to raise awareness of customer service and the critical role the customer experience plays in running a successful business. For you, it creates the perfect opportunity to raise awareness within your own team of their vital contribution and to remind customers how much you appreciate their business.

Will you be doing anything to mark the event?

Over the past few days I’ve been sharing tips on LinkedIn on some ways to demonstrate your commitment to delivering great customer service and a great experience for your customers. (If we’re not yet connected on LinkedIn please drop me an invitation here so we can get connected now.)

In case you missed them here’s a summary of those ideas…

  1. Give recognition to your team members who go the extra mile for customers. Whether it’s a thank you card, a hand written letter or a small token gift, it’s the thought that counts.
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  2. We all know businesses who give incentives to new customers but do nothing to reward long term loyal customers. Reverse this thinking and demonstrate your appreciation of loyalty.
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  3. How can you add some GLUE, i.e. Give Little Unexpected Extras (by the way, this principle goes down well with team members as well as customers).
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  4. Your team are often much closer to your customers than you are. Get them to reflect on each stage of the customer journey and ask for their ideas on what they’d change if it was their business.
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  5. Review all the positive feedback you’ve received from your customers in the past couple of months; it lets you know what they like best and what they appreciate, and gives you great insights into what you could do more of to delight customers. (Great recognition and motivation for your team too!) If you’ve not collated any feedback pick up the phone to your most recent customers and ask for their feedback and what they think you can be doing to make your service even better.
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  6. Be proactive and pre-empt what customers might want, what questions they might have or challenges they might encounter, and offer solutions before they even ask! Think beyond your own products and services; your aim is to take away the headache of solving their problem.
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  7. Everyone likes a freebie! Offer your customers the chance to sample what you offer before they buy, just like they do in the ice cream shops… Or invite your regulars to preview new offerings before they go on sale, e.g. A tasting session of your new menu. It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate you care about your customers opinions, and get some valuable feedback.
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  8. Look for ways to save customers time and effort. If that means introducing a premium or fast track service you are at least giving customers the option; you may be surprised how many take you up on the offer.
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  9. Thank your suppliers to show you appreciate their support and contribution to ensuring your customers get a great experience, and ask them for any ideas to improve your CX.
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  10. Have some fun! Play CX focussed games, do something to entertain your customers, or challenge your customers in a fun way e.g. a photobooth or selfie contest.

Naturally, these ideas aren’t limited to customer experience day or customer service week. Creating a service culture isn’t a one off activity, so don’t panic if you’ve done nothing this week to mark the occasion. Pick one of the ideas above and do it tomorrow and pick a couple more to carry over to next week.

Your team, your suppliers and your customers don’t mind when you show your appreciation, just so long as you do it!

Take Action

If you only do one thing, say thank you to your team for their contribution to creating a great customer experience.

P.s. If you’d like some ideas of activities to engage your team in customer experience and service skills here are 38 activities

Related Customer Service Week article: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/just-like-any-other-week/


Customer Journey Improvements

Customer Journey

Why not do something about it (i.e. the customer journey) then!

I’m just back from a walking holiday in Spain. A good hotel with great food. But so many niggling things that let it down.

Whilst out walking it might be OK to take the scenic route, but as a customer you want things to be as straight forward as possible.

For example…

The breakfast buffet was a good spread, but everything was awkward to get to. One particularly annoying thing was to open the table top fridge to get to the milk and fruit juice you had to move other items from in front of the fridge door. And there was nowhere to put anything down as you did so.

I mentioned this to one of the restaurant staff, who responded “Yes, I’ve always thought that too!

That left me thinking “So, why not do something about it, then?

Because he probably didn’t see it as his job. No one had ever asked for his view, so he just assumed it wasn’t important.

Such a waste!

So often your team members hear first-hand from customers of your short-falls and their frustrations.

Although customers might tell you where you can improve the customer journey from their perspective, failing to ask your team members first is a massive lost opportunity in three ways:

  1. You miss out on a fresh pair of eyes (and ears) on what the customer sees, hears or experiences. Encourage constructive criticism; it’s amazing what team members will spot as opportunities to enhance or modify a customer touch point to give a smoother or enhanced customer experience.
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  2. It helps your team members to engage more readily with your customers. When they’ve experienced everything first-hand for themselves they are able to appreciate what’s important to the customer at that touch point, and can relate easily to them when discussing or describing any aspect of your service or products.
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  3. When your team members spot for themselves how to make improvements, any changes aren’t seen as a criticism; rather it gives them a sense of ownership over the changes. That way it’s easier to get buy-in and a commitment to making the changes happen, and keep your team engaged.

Put your team into your customers’ shoes to experience as much as possible of the customer journey, to see everything from a customer’s point of view. This helps them put the whole customer experience into perspective.

Of course, there’s more to the customer journey than just what they experience whilst with you, such as everything that happens leading up to the point of purchase (awareness, decision to buy, etc.) as well as what happens afterwards (e.g. staying in touch, recognition of loyalty).

Customer Journey mapping means reviewing the experience your customers get at each stage on that journey.

What do you want them to feel at each point, and how well do you achieve that? Help your team understand the emotions you want to create for your customers at key touch points on the customer journey.

Although you might think the most obvious people to ask about the customer journey from a customer’s perspective are your customers, involving your team (including back of house staff) can be just as enlightening.

And, because it’s easy to become oblivious to what we’re involved in every day (and sometimes quite protective) it helps to mix up departments to review other areas of your business they might not directly work in every day.  Even your newest team members can give you a fresh perspective, and even your most experienced team members can learn something new by experiencing another department.

Often, it’s seemingly simple things. The layout of counters forcing customers to backtrack or double up – wasting time and effort; poor directions or signage – meaning customers get lost or miss things altogether (often impacting your sales too);

Of course, it may not always be possible or practical for team members to experience everything, but even if you sell high end products or exclusive services there will still be plenty of opportunity to get a sense of what your customers experience, particularly the various touch points your customer experiences before or after doing business with you, which can so often get forgotten.

But even if you offer a luxury service or product, this can also provide a perfect opportunity as a treat for deserving members of your team, whilst still providing a learning opportunity.

Take Action

If you only do one thing: Ask your team if they were a customer what one thing would they want to change?

p.s. If you’re a hospitality of tourism business here are some tools to help with your customer journey improvements, and tap into those all important opportunities for great reviews and repeat business.


Glass half full or glass half empty?

employee engagement glass half empty

How employee engagement impacts

When you get home from work how long does it normally take to sense what sort of mood everyone is in?

If you’ve said “almost immediately”, you’ll find the same is true in the workplace.

That is, everyone’s moods are evident to those around them – be they their manager or a colleague.

I’m sure we both can relate to the type of person who constantly looks at the downside of everything; the type of person who drains your energy and your enthusiasm; the ‘Mood Hoovers’ who suck the life out of everything.

Not only is this draining for the team, but generally it’s picked up by customers too, and is bound to have an impact on a customer’s experience.

But have you ever wondered whether or not you have others in your team who have this impact on their colleagues?

We often hear of managers complaining about the lack of employee engagement; but have they ever stopped to think about whether they are the cause of it?

Our physiology certainly influences our feelings and the feelings of people around us. So, if we mooch around all day with shoulders dropped, hands in pockets, we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re smiling, animated and making eye contact.

Certain emotions or un-resourceful states will certainly have a knock-on impact on everyone around them – colleagues and customers alike. Being irritated, flustered, impatient, worried, angry, bored, frustrated, resistant, confused, tired or distracted all rub off on others.

But, when we focus on the positives it has a positive impact on others too. Smiling and laughing can rub off on others to help make everyone feel good and happy.

What’s more… it’s infectious…

If you want your team to be enthusiastic, flexible, motivated, interested, confident, energetic, happy, welcoming, and friendly this has to start at the top.

Want to know how this can happen?

Related posts: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-engage-new-team-members/



Continuous improvements

continuous improvement

Making Continuous Improvements

When I’m working with clients on developing their service culture and refining their customer experience, it’s inevitable it’s going to involve making changes.

It’s often been said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”,*

These changes usually involve changes for team members too.

Sometimes though, this presents a problem.

People generally don’t like change, particularly when they’ve been doing a job in the same way for years.

One of the objections I hear time and again is:

“But, we’ve always done it this way”

Can you imagine if Formula 1 teams took that attitude? It would mean a pit stop would still take 60 or 70 seconds instead of the 2-3 seconds it takes today!

Of course, these changes don’t happen overnight, they are incremental, but if you need to make changes you need to get buy-in.

There’s a multitude of reasons why people are reluctant to change. And it’s not an unusual response to be wary of change, even when it is about continuous improvements. Whilst some might rise to the challenge you’re just as likely to have people who’ll resist any change to their old comfortable way of doing things.

One of the first things is to explain why. Why the change. Not why it’s important from a business perspective, but focusing on the benefits from the team member’s perspective – the “WIIFM” i.e. what’s in it for me?

What they really want to know is how it will impact them.

We might believe the benefits are obvious. But they will often focus on the negatives first.

Here we go again! Something new to learn; it will mean more work; I’m too old to change; it’s too complicated; we tried it before and it didn’t work, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it;

Help your team realise what they will gain from continuous improvements. Will it make my job easier? Will it make things quicker so I finish earlier; Will it free up time to focus on other things that are important to me? Will it mean fewer complaints? Will it mean more tips? Will it make my job more enjoyable? Will it make me more confident? Will it give me more pride in the job I do?

I can’t

If, even when we’ve sold them on the idea of changing you still can’t guarantee you’ll get buy in. Look out for and listen for hesitation. If they believe they can’t do it find out why. https://www.naturallyloyal.com/i-cant-do-that/

Take action

Next time you ask someone to change the way they do something and they turn around and say “but, we’ve always done it this way” give them a compelling enough reason to change and the support they need to do it the ‘new’ way.

Remember old habits die hard, so continue to encourage, support and guide them whilst they embed their new habits

p.s. * Whilst writing this post I was curious to find out who actually said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Was it Einstein, Mark Twain or Ben Franklin? Well, it seems there is no evidence of any of them saying it!


Normal (Customer) Service is resumed

customer service as usual

Normal (Customer) Service is resumed.

Is it back to business as usual this week?

Whether you’re drawing breath at the end of your busiest season, or just back from your well-earned summer break it’s all too easy to drift back into things without much focus or purpose.

Which inevitably has an impact on employee engagement, productivity and customer service.

If you’ve been flat out all summer now’s the time to take stock and review, whilst things are still fresh in your mind. What went well, what didn’t go so well and what can you learn from it?

Here are 7 ideas to re-energise and engage you and your team to get you back into the swing of things and on a roll now it’s business as usual.

 

1. Celebrate

If your team were working hard right over the summer let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.

If September marks the mid-point of financial year now is an opportune moment to review progress.

Summarise and share your successes and highlights from the last 6 months, and recognise your team’s contribution to these.

Give recognition and praise where it’s due so it creates a buzz amongst your team for the remainder of year ahead!

 

2. Near misses

It’s inevitable there were occasions when things didn’t go according to plan or mishaps happened. Review some of the things that have not gone to plan over the past few months. Listen to your team and flush out any other potential risky situations, particularly if they have the potential to impact the team or customer service.

Rather than dwelling on the negatives, reflect on what you and the team have learnt from these events.

Even if you think it was a one off and unlikely to happen again your team might be aware of other ‘near misses’ or situations that are an accident just waiting to happen!

Agree what steps you can take to avoid them or minimise their impact, so they are confident they will be better prepared next time!

 

3. Set mini goals

It can often feel as if you’re not achieving much in the first few days or weeks back at work, or when you’re recovering from a busy period.

What short-term projects or goals can you set which eases everyone in gently, but still enables them to see some results within the first few days back.

This can help focus attention back onto the job in hand, and get everyone back into full flow as quickly as possible.

 

4. Take stock

A knowledgeable team not only gives them confidence, it enables them to make decisions and help build trust with your customers.

Take time to review and share your plans for the remainder of the year ahead, share up-to-date product information, what’s happening in your industry, with your competitors, or anything in the press.

It can feel a bit flat if it’s back to business as normal; give your team something to look forward to.

 

5. New challenges

The new school year is a good time to take stock of the team’s development needs.

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you should let them stagnate. A bored employee is unlikely to put much enthusiasm into delivering wow customer service.

Schedule 1:1 reviews as early as possible. Discuss individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans, and how you can add variety, set new challenges or stretch them.

Identify and utilise people’s strengths, providing further development where needed to bring out the best in these areas.

 

6. Fresh perspectives

Customer Service is continually evolving, and there will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.

Review your entire customer journey and all the various touch points your customers experience.

When people have been away from the business for a couple of weeks, or even a few days, they often get a fresh perspective and see things in a new light.

What ideas have your team seen on their holidays or days out which they’ve appreciated and which could be applied in some way in your business?

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.

Give individual team members responsibility over specific moments on the customer journey; this gives a sense of pride and ownership. And with ownership comes the desire to get things right. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise.

 

7. Play from a 10

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, which if we think it’s going to be tough getting back into the swing of things the chances are it will be.

Not just for you, but for your team as well.

It only takes one person resent being back to work after a fantastic holiday or quality time with the kids, to rub off on everyone else.  If we’re smiling and happy, confident,  enthusiastic and energetic it might not always rub off on everyone else, but it’s a better bet than if you’re down and resenting being back at work!

So whether you’ve just had break and gearing up for the new term, or just taking stock of your summer season, don’t let anyone’s post-holiday blues get you down.

Take Action

If you only do one thing – take some time out this week to sit down with your team and reflect what lessons you can take from the past 3 months which can help you get the best from the next 3 months.

Related article: Freshen up your Refreshers:
https://www.naturallyloyal.com/customer-service-training-ideas-refreshers/

Customer Service Training Ideas: 38 Activities: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/28activities/