Monthly Archives: January 2020

Planning ahead

planning aheadPlanning ahead for the season

I love a bright frosty morning like today’s, don’t you?

But the damp cold weather we’ve been having does nothing much to tempt us outside. And probably isn’t bringing you a flood of passing trade either.

Rather than letting it get you down, make the most of quiet periods, by planning ahead. Take the time to put things in place so you are in a stronger position to capitalise when things pick up.

10 Actions Towards Planning Ahead

Here are my top ten things you could be doing this week that won’t cost you anything but your time, but will certainly go a long way to planning ahead for the coming season and towards your success in 2020.

  1. Set some specific goals for the year.  If you’ve not already done so, take some time to identify what you really want to achieve in 2020, and establish your plan to do this. You know you can’t do this alone, so share your plans with everyone who has a part to play in achieving them, and get their input too so they feel involved.
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  2. Review your staff structure and resources in light of your plan.  Do you have the right people in the right roles to achieve this?  Will you need to hire or develop certain team members to get to where you want to be?
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  3. Take stock of your products and services. What tweaks could you make to improve them to give added value for your customers – something of high value to them, but with minimal effort or investment on your part? Ask your team for their ideas too, they’ll often spot opportunities you miss.
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  4. Where can you generate more profit without compromising on quality or the customer’s experience?  Does your sales mix reflect the high profit items, or are you selling too many of the lower profit items? If so does this reflect a need to train your team how to upsell?
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  5. Review your website; it might be your customers’ first direct touch point on the customer journey. Does it accurately reflect what you are offering and present it in a way that entices your ideal prospective customers to read on and take some action? Is it user friendly and intuitive for customers to follow? Does it make (or imply) any false promises?
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  6. Take the customer journey: involve your team in looking at every aspect of your business from your customers’ perspective.  Draw up a list of areas that need attention, priorities and allocate responsibility amongst your team.
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  7. Now provides a great opportunity for staff training.  Are all the team up to date on all product knowledge, not just in their own departments, but in all parts of the business.  Your customer feedback, customer journey and an analysis of your sales mix may help flag up where knowledge is lacking.
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  8. Plan your promotional activity for the whole year, so you can start collating ideas towards each of these promotions.  This includes reviewing your Christmas promotions, whilst they are still fresh in your mind and making notes of how you can improve on this for next Christmas.
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  9. Get your customer data up to date.  Get in touch with all your existing customers to remind them how much you value their custom by giving them an offer that reflects this, i.e. something you know they will value.
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  10. Review all your customer feedback, whether this is directly from customer comments or feedback forms, or from such sources as TripAdvisor. What can you learn from these, and what are the areas that need attention?

Planning ahead with your training

If training is on your action plan here are some resources to give you a head start: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/customer_service_training_materials-hlt-2/

Take Action

If you only do one thing: Ask each of your team members for their ideas… What would they change if it were their business?


Conscious competence and how to move beyond it

conscious competence

Developing unconscious competence

When we learn we start at unconscious incompetence, working through conscious incompetence and conscious competence towards unconscious competence.

Last week I was reviewing progress as a result of some training I’ve been conducting with some managers – helping them get the best from their team, who are all customer facing. I love working with junior managers who lack the experience of managing people, as it is so rewarding when they start to see the results.

In this instance these results just weren’t coming fast enough for their manager! He was expected instant changes. I reminded him Rome wasn’t built in a day!

There were two things we needed to take into consideration to reach the level of unconscious competence:

Having the resources

In this instance the training flushed out a number of resources that were needed for them to do everything they wanted to implement, some of which required time and others needed sign off.

Although you might believe people have everything they need, their perception may be different. And if they believe they don’t have the time, tools or authority to put their new skills or knowledge into practice it becomes a barrier. And the longer it takes to remove that barrier (be it real or imagined) the less likely your training will be put into practice.

So ask them to identify anything that might stand in their way, and resolve any obstacles promptly, otherwise it implies it’s not important.

Moving from ‘conscious incompetence’ to ‘conscious competence’

During training you normally established the standards or process, set expectations, and hopefully people have had a chance to practise their skills in a safe environment.

But, often the only way to really hone these skills and develop true competence is once applied on the job. It simply can’t always happen in the confines of the training room.

When we learn anything new we always begin at stage 1 (‘unconscious incompetence’) on the conscious competence learning model, and end at stage 4 – ‘unconscious competence’, having passed through stage 2 – ‘conscious incompetence’ and – 3 ‘conscious competence’.

At the point people finish a piece of training they are somewhere between consciously incompetent and conscious competence. Unconscious competence will only come later.

At conscious competence they still have to stop and think about how they do something; it doesn’t flow naturally. It takes longer and they’re still learning a little from trial and error. Confidence can be low as they get to grips with it all.

Think of it as you were when you first passed your driving test; you probably took things steady, you had to concentrate really hard, not being distracted by tuning the radio, or chatting to your passengers. And you wouldn’t have rushed out to drive in snow and ice or at full speed on a busy motorway.

So, when your team go through any training, allow time for people to practise, to get feedback on how they are doing, and where it’s OK to ask for help or make a mistake so long as they learn from it. This will help them move from conscious incompetence conscious competence if they’re not get there, and then onto unconscious competence.

It might still be on the job, but don’t expect them to be able to put everything into practice brilliantly straight away. If you do you run the risk of losing their confidence

And when something doesn’t work right first time around it’s all too easy for them to go back to their comfortable old familiar ways, and go back down the competency ladder.

 

Take action

If you only do two things to help people achieve unconscious competence:

  1. Ask people if they are missing any resources they need to implement their training.
  2. Allow time and opportunity for people to build up new skills and habits gradually, giving them plenty of time for practice.

Watch my video on creating Conscious Competence – the critical first step to get people receptive to training

If you’re looking for more ideas to help embed customer service training and get your team from conscious competence to unconscious competence here are 38 activities for you to use https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/28activities/



How am I doing? Conducting effective 1-1 meetings

How to conduct effective 1-1 meetingsConducting effective 1:1 meetings

Conducting effective 1-1 meetings is an essential skills for any manager. Never under estimate the impact of sitting down regularly with each member of staff on a one to one basis.

Whether you call them “one to one meetings”, “reviews” or simply “chats” really doesn’t matter; the important thing is that they happen.

And regularly.

But, why would you want to have these if you see your team members every day and give them feedback as you go?

Because conducting effective 1-1 meetings provides an opportunity for a private discussion, to raise points which you may not want others to hear, and for them to raise things they might not want everyone else to hear.

They also provide that window of time to focus on them:

  • not just you telling them how they’re doing,
  • but allowing them the opportunity to tell you how they think they are doing.
  • and to listen to their ideas, questions, concerns and suggestions

Your aim in conducting a 1-1 meeting should be:

  • To motivate your team members to either continue or sustain good performance
  • For team members to feel confident that they have the ability and support to fill any gaps where they need development.
  • It’s an opportunity for them to have their contribution recognised – not just performance, but have their ideas heard.
  • It devotes time to set direction and goals for the coming weeks.
  • The net result should be an enthused and motivated employee who knows what they should be focusing on, and how this will contribute to the business.

Two-way

I often hear of managers spending literally hours preparing for the meetings, then finding themselves having to work twice as hard to get the employee to contribute their ideas and views to the meeting. One to ones are as much for their benefit as yours, so ask them to take some responsibility for the preparation too.

There may be things they’ve done that are worthy of comment, which you are oblivious to; remember you don’t see them every minute of every day they are at work. So ask them to plan what they would like to discuss.

  • Ask open questions to get their ideas on performance and how to move forward.
  • Use the AID* model for feedback: They’ll still want your view on performance
  • Ask for their views
  • Offer support: If there are shortfalls you need to understand why, and then help bridge that gap.

3 core questions for conducting-effective-1-1-meetings

As a minimum you may like to consider these 3 questions:

  • Achievements
  • Shortfalls
  • Focus

1. Achievements

What successes or achievements have you had this month or what have you done this month that you’re proud of?

  • What have been your top 2/3 successes?
  • What have you accomplished towards this year’s goals?
  • What has gone particular well for you this week/month/period?
  • What have you been particularly pleased with?
  • What have they achieved towards pre-determined goals, targets, KPIs, etc.

Start on a positive and is an opportunity for the employee to blow their own trumpet.

Of course if these are things you’ve spotted too this is your opportunity to give praise where it’s due, and reinforce their success.

This is a time when you might discover other strengths or successes that you’ve been previously unaware of, so take note and ask for examples if you need to.

Ensure you build on their successes and discuss how they can do more of this or emulate this in future. (See the AID model)

Compliment them, tell them why you value their contribution, focus on strengths.

2. What’s not gone so well?

What disappointments or frustrations?

  • If you had a magic wand, what would you change or do differently?
  • Where have you fallen short against this month’s goals/KPIs?
  • What hasn’t gone to plan?
  • What have you been disappointed with?
  • What have you set out to do but it hasn’t yet happened?

Sometimes people will be very hard on themselves, and even if people have not done everything you’ve asked of them, when they are identifying this for themselves it’s a lot easier for both of you to have that conversation.

How have they gone about this? Something may have given a good result at first glance, but it’s all very well achieving all their targets but not so good if they’ve upset colleagues or customers along the way.

Look at this as an opportunity to learn, so discuss what got in the way and how to overcome this in future. This might need some more support or training from you or additional resources.

3. Where’s the next focus?

What do you feel needs to be your number 1 focus for the coming month?

Alternatives:

What needs to be the focus for the coming week/month/period?

This is your opportunity to look ahead and either set some goals for the forthcoming period or to summarise any development that has been identified as result of the previous 2 questions.

  • What needs to be focused on or addressed, and what support or development do they need to do this

At the end of the meeting ask if they have anything to add.

Summarise theirs and your actions, record and agree next review date.

If there needs to be more commitment or input on their part ask them to do the summarising. This way you know there is at least an understanding of what’s expected over the coming period, and an opportunity to set this straight if their interpretation is different from yours.

If you simply ask the 3 questions on a regular basis over time your team will get used to you asking these and as time goes on hopefully they’ll be more prepared for each question giving it some thought prior to your meeting.

Their preparation obviously doesn’t let you off the hook altogether, but if they are well prepared it will certainly reduce the amount of time needed for conducting effective 1-1 meetings.

See a short video on Conducting effective 1-1 meetings here: https://naturallyloyal.wistia.com/medias/4unqvbced5

If you only do one thing: Find some time in the coming week to schedule a one to one with each of your team.



How to engage and motivate your team

engage and motivate your team Engaging and motivating your team on their return from their Christmas break

When you get home from work can you normally sense what sort of mood everyone else is in? Even when no words are spoken it’s usually pretty easy to tell. Our moods and emotions are usually evident to others from our expressions, behaviours and tone.

I know how difficult it can be to get motivated again after a break. And of course, it can be no different for your team getting back into the swing of things after Christmas.

All of which of course can have an impact on your customers’ experience …and ultimately your bottom line.

So, what can you do to engage and motivate your team?

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you, or any of your management team, 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.

We are all familiar with the “Mood Hoovers”; you know – those people who, when you come into work full of the joys of spring, they comment “What are you so flipping happy about?”, sucking all that energy and enthusiasm from you like a Hoover.

Your physiology certainly influences your own feelings, but can also influence the feelings of people around you too. Which means if people mooch around all day fed up about coming back to work after Christmas it will be difficult to engage and motivate your team, as you’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions than if you’re smiling, happy and generally being positive about being back at work.

Like it or not, your mood – and the mood of your managers – has a profound impact on the mood of all those around you. It influences your team’s attitude, their enthusiasm, their willingness to take responsibility, their confidence in you and the business and their loyalty towards you.

And in turn this certainly influences your customers’ perception of you and your team, their level of engagement and ultimately their loyalty to your business.

Being confident, enthusiastic and energetic might not always rub off on everyone else, but it’s a better bet to engage and motivate your team than if you or any of your managers are down and resenting being back.

Take action

If you only do one thing to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break, find something positive to share with your team and share it with enthusiasm! (…and deal with any Mood Hoovers)

If you’d like more ideas here are 38 Activities to Engage, Energise and Excite your Team in Customer Service