Monthly Archives: December 2019

Maintaining service standards however busy you are!

maintaining service standardsMaintaining service standards when busy

Maintaining service standards when you’re busy is just as important as it is at any other time.

Is a customer any less important to you when you’re busy than when you’re quiet? They certainly shouldn’t be; and from the customer’s perspective, they expect to get the same positive customer experience when busy as they would at any other time.

Here’s my second article related to maintaining service standards during the Christmas Season. Of course, consistency is important at any time of year and everyone in your business needs clarity on your expectations (see https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-get-consistency/ ). 

Whether you’re a leisure, hospitality or retail business in the thick of Christmas festivities, a sporting, health or wellness business anticipating a flurry of activity from New Year’s resolutions, or a tourism business with a Christmas spectacle, your customers – be they guests, members or visitors (or any other term you use to describe your customers) – don’t really care whether you’re busy, short staffed or having a meltdown; they still want to be catered and cared for just the same as any other time of year.

But if you want to maintain your customer service standards, most of the points are equally applicable to any business at any time of year when you expect to be busy or you experience peaks of activity.

7 ideas for maintaining service standards

  1. First impressions count.  Remember, when you’re busy, many of these customers may be coming to your business for the very first time, so don’t let the volume of customers be an excuse to let customer service standards drop. Create a memorable first impression and a reason for them to return.
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  2. Maintain your reputation. Avoid damaging your reputation with your loyal regulars by allowing your normal standards to drop just because you’re stretched. It may have taken years to build loyalty and trust, and this can be broken in an instant. Even more so if they are entertaining; nobody wants the embarrassment of bringing their friends to their favourite haunt, only to have their expectations dashed.
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  3. Be up front. Most customers accept that things can go wrong from time to time. But, they are far more understanding if they’re forewarned. Keep the customer informed of the situation and give them options. Customers will appreciate your honesty which helps maintain trust and keep your customers loyal.
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  4. Don’t over commit. Be realistic about what’s feasible, and what’s not a practical proposition when you’re busy, so you don’t make commitments you can’t deliver. Check your team are aware too, particularly if something regulars normally expect isn’t currently available. What can your team suggest or recommend as an alternative?
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  5. Manage expectations. For example, if you know when you’re likely to be busy, make every effort to let your customers know this. If you let them know when the quieter times are, this not only helps them, it potentially evens out the peaks and troughs for you too, enabling you to maintain customer service standards.
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  6. Avoid disappointments. When you know something is unavailable give customers as much notice as possible – through your website, when booking or enquiring, prior to travel or on arrival – to minimise disappointment. But, offer customers choice and alternatives. Being kept informed is not about making excuses!  It’s about honesty so the customer can make an informed decision.
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  7. Try something new. If something a customer might normally have isn’t available; will it be available later or not at all? What’s the alternative? What can you offer that might be as good as or even better? Take the opportunity to introduce your customers to something they haven’t tried before, or something that could be classed as an ‘upgrade’ (at no additional cost to them, of course). It’s a perfect opportunity to let your customer experience something over and above what they were expecting, so enhance their perception of customer service and value for money.
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So whether your busy season is Christmas, the January sales, or sizzling summer days, the same customer service principles still apply…

Take action

Trust is the basis for building loyalty, and the quickest way to lose this is make promises you can’t deliver. Be open and honest with your customers and brief your team fully so they know what’s available and what’s not.

p.s. If you’d like some help auditing your venue to check it meets your customers’ expectations here are 3 different audit checklists to give you a head start.

https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/checklists/



Keeping your team engaged over Christmas

Keeping your team engaged over Christmas

Keeping your team engaged over Christmas, and keeping your customers happy too!

If you run a business that depends heavily on Christmas trade (or have peaks of activity at any time of year) a lot will hang on how good your customers’ experience during this time.

And if your team are feeling the pressure, if they’re rushed, tired from long days, or just fed up with demanding customers, all of this will be picked up by customers.

So it’s important you focus on keeping your team engaged over Christmas if you want them to impress your customers.

First impressions count.  Remember, when you’re busy, many of these customers may be coming to your business for the very first time, so don’t let the volume of customers be an excuse to let customer service standards drop. Create a memorable first impression and a reason for them to return.

Whether you’re a hospitality, leisure or retail or business already in the thick of Christmas activity, a health and wellness business anticipating a surge of activity as a result of New Year’s resolutions, or a tourism business who may see big spikes in visitors as festivals or shows attract the masses, your customers don’t really care how busy you are; they still want to be loved and cared for.

And this starts with your team!

So, here are 11 tips to keeping your team engaged over Christmas, to keep them smiling,  and continue to meet your customers’ expectations.

1. Keep your team informed

A well-informed team not only gives them confidence and enables them to make decisions, it also helps establish trust with your customers. Let everyone know what’s going on in your business through regular staff briefings. When you’re busy it’s easy to let these slip, but it’s on your busiest days that things are most likely to go wrong, so these are the days when your team briefings are most important.

2. What’s available

Ensure everyone in the team knows what’s available and what’s not as part of your Christmas offerings. People can’t sell something they don’t know exists, and they don’t’ want to look stupid if a customer orders a regular item then discover it’s not available over Christmas.

Let your staff sample products and/or services as far as possible, explain what products are normally sold together (e.g. in a restaurant what accompanies each dish) what the price includes and what’s extra. If they have a role in up-selling what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme.

3. Promote teamwork

Play to the strengths of your permanent team, and use them to support your seasonal team. Introduce temporary team members to everyone else in the whole team and define everyone’s areas of responsibility so there are no gaps and no duplication of effort. Avoid any friction that can occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.

4. Common courtesies

Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show your customers.

Keep your commitments; letting people down suggests a lack of respect, but if you can’t do what you say you’ll do at the very least say “I’m sorry”.

Give a simple please and thank you, a sunny smile and a cheerful “good morning”, and a “good night and have a good evening” at the end of their day or shift.

5. Pay attention

Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when things aren’t as they should be, and spot concerns quickly. When everyone is focused on the customers having a good time, it’s easy to miss the tell-tale signs things are not as they should be. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems.

Be approachable, and listen and observe so you can act on any staff concerns before they become a problem. Provide support and be receptive to when this might be needed.

6. Debrief

Get feedback from your team at the end of each day or after each major event, so can you make things go smoother every day.

What went well? What was challenging and where did they struggle to meet customers’ expectations? What can be improved on for next time, or done differently to ensure the customer experience is still a great one even when you’re busy.

Listen to their ideas and suggestions, and show them you value their opinion.

7. Guide and support

Give your team the support, resources and guidance needed to do a good job. This starts with providing clear direction on your expectations and providing everyone with the resources they need (including sufficient time and manpower).

Observe your team in action and give supportive feedback, encouragement and coaching, so you build their confidence and their productivity.

When busy it’s easier for things to go wrong. Equip your team to deal with the unexpected and empower them to handle these situations with confidence.

8. Two-way trust

Lead by example and be a role model so there are no mixed messages. Ensure all your management team use the same criteria for rewarding and recognising the team’s contribution, so people don’t get confused of feel deflated when something worthy of recognition gets ignored.

Play to people’s strengths and demonstrate your trust by delegating some control and ownership. This gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right.

9. Time Off

If your team have to work unsociable hours, long nights or sacrifice personal social lives, be open to some flexibility. Recognise that people may be missing out on family and friends’ events, so help make up for this in some way.

And even when busy it’s important for everyone in the team to have a chance to recharge the batteries; it’s when people are tired and frazzled that accidents happen, or mistakes get made.

10. A simple thank you

The most obvious and easiest thing you can do to show your team you care about them is to make a point of thanking them. Whether that’s a heartfelt thank you at the end of a busy shift or hectic day, when they’ve made an extra effort or used their initiative, or gone out of their way to help a colleague or a customer.

11. Have some fun

It’s the festive season and your team want to have some fun too! People are more productive when they’re happy and relaxed. Laughter is the best medicine and a good hearty laugh release tension and it’s contagious, so will certainly rub  off on customers too. This doesn’t mean being unprofessional, but looking for opportunities that create a relaxed and enjoyable place to work.

Give them a treat to look forward to after Christmas.

When your team have worked long or unsociable hours that had an impact on their personal life, extending the treat to be shared with their loved one not only makes your team member feel good but shows your appreciation of the support given by their friends and family. This paves the way for future good deeds too!

Finally, take the time to celebrate your successes and give yourself and your team a well-earned pat on the back for a job well done.

This all helps in keeping your team engaged over Christmas, and into the New Year.

Take Action

If you only do one thing – Take a few moments today to review how things are going. Ask for some feedback from the team and thank them for their contribution so far.

Related article: Improving Productivity:  https://www.naturallyloyal.com/improving-employee-productivity-of-seasonal-team/