Monthly Archives: February 2020

Supporting a Charity

Supporting a Charity

Make a Difference by Supporting a Charity

Last Friday I was at the annual quiz night for a local charity Oakleaf, who provides vocational training for those suffering from mental health issues. It was rewarding to hear about some of their successes in helping people get back into work.

I can’t say as a team we did particularly well! But we did have some fun whilst raising much-needed funds for the charity.

Today’s workforce is looking for meaning or purpose in their work, and supporting a charity is potentially one way to contribute to this. Giving back creates a positive mentality. It also fosters pride and loyalty.

Getting involved in social and charity initiatives doesn’t have to be all consuming; . you can donate either time and involvement, or money, or both. Usually, giving time is more rewarding than giving money.

If you don’t already support a charity, here are some of my thoughts on what to consider.

Choosing a charity

Identify a charity that you would like to do something for as a team.

It’s important your chosen charity reflects your values, as well as something that resonates with your team, and hopefully your customers too. It might be a charity with special meaning for one or more of your team.

Get the team together, have everyone pitch a cause and pick the one you want to support. It’s important that you make it personal, and that you make it count.

Set your own Charity Challenge

Consider what you’re willing to commit to doing for that charity.  Put it on the agenda for your team meeting and discuss the kind of support you could give, and for how long.

How much time, money or resources are you willing to invest; will any involvement be during normal working hours; how long will you continue your involvement (you may consider changing the charity of the year or every 2 years).

It might simply be a case of raising money, through traditional activities such as a sponsored event, a ‘bring-and buy’ sale or even just ‘tin-rattling’ around the office. If you’re inclined to be more creative, then look for more imaginative way to raise money.

You may have skills that are scarce in the charitable organisation, but easy for you to apply.  For example, updating technology, coaching people, providing work experience opportunities or coaching staff members or project planning.

Perhaps you could elect a team member to contact your chosen charity and ask what kind of help would be appreciated.

Do Something as a Team

Volunteering and fundraising events are a good way to get everyone working together as a team, potentially, alongside other departments.

It might be challenging to get everyone together if you are a 24-hour/7 day operation, but even if you cannot get all your team or all your direct reports together, see if collectively you can involve everyone in some way.

You may decide you’re only going to commit to one or two activities a year, such as Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan coffee morning.

Remember, that this is about involving your team in something meaningful, so if there isn’t anyone in your team who wants to take up any of the tasks involved or has the time, there is little value to the team in you as team leader taking this on alone.

I don’t know what will work for you and your team, that’s up to you, and no one should be forced to get involved.

PR for your charity

For many smaller charities, one of their biggest challenges is awareness. You might still be pleasantly surprised how easy it can be to gain publicity in your local newspapers or on local radio.

Write a press release, concentrating on topical relevance of what you’re doing. Email or phone your local newspapers and radio stations. Contact specialist publications relevant to your organisation or the charity your challenge will benefit.

This activity could easily be done by just one person, so consider whether you want to encourage a number of people to get involved or if you’re happy for one person to volunteer.

Proud personal moments

Recognise and celebrate with your team members those who are involved in other charities outside work, particularly when they have made a significant contribution to their charity such as volunteering, taking part in a sponsored event or fundraising.

Maintain momentum

Keep your charity appeal alive with a regular review, updates or progress charts. This doesn’t have to be done by you; ask for volunteers in your team.

Celebrate your wins and give recognition for achievements along the way.

Share your activities with your customers and suppliers too; it all helps raise the profile for your charity and demonstrates your values to your customers.

Involve your suppliers too, they may even be prepared to sponsor your activities or donate prizes or gifts.

Have fun

I’m a great believer in having some fun at work. Allowing people to have fun at work all helps with employee engagement, productivity and staff retention, all of which has a positive knock-on effect on your customers’ experience.

Doing something for charity is a great opportunity to do something fun but with a serious intent.

Going it alone

Even if you have no team, or you have little buy-in from the team for supporting a charity, there are plenty of ways you can still contribute to a good cause. For example, I donate to an organisation called B1G1, which allows me to make small contributions to any one of a wide number of projects every time I work with a client, all of which add up over time.  https://www.b1g1.com/businessforgood/ BM09064

Action

If you only do one thing…

What difference could you make? Find a cause that resonates with your team and involve them in that cause.

p.s.  One other way to have fun is through fun activities. Here are 38 Activities to Engage your Team in Customer Service


Premium Products

premium products

Can I have that in a nice glass, please? Presenting a premium product

Whenever we’ve dined in nice restaurants in Italy, my husband and I have noticed you can normally tell how much someone’s spent on their wine by the size of the wine glasses; it appears that the more expensive the wine, the bigger the glass!

This means that when you order wine and are left with the same boring wineglasses, as in the original table layup you feel as if you’re being a bit of a cheapskate, and it has a negative impact on the customer experience.

It’s not just Italian restaurants that can leave you feeling this way; there are lots of occasions when customers can be treated differently, leaving them feeling a little inferior. This affects the customer experience, which in turn will influence how much more they are likely to spend, their willingness to come back, the type of review they might give you, and their confidence in recommending that business to others.

Here are 3 situations which come to mind.

Low margin promotions – upgrades to premium

The objective of many a promotion is to bring new people through your doors, whether that’s through a third party such as Secret Escapes or Red Letter Days, or an internal promotion. In many cases these will be low margin, or maybe even at a cost for the business, which is normally seen as part of your marketing spend.

Of course, that investment is wasted if any new customers you have attracted fail to spend any more than the basic price or have such a mediocre experience there’s nothing to compel them to come back again.

What your customers experience when taking up these promotions should be just as good as anyone paying full price; if not, you probably blow the opportunity to sell them anything at full price at a later date. If they don’t get a wow first impression, forget the upsells, the return visits or the glowing reviews.

It’s imperative your team understand this too. Ensure they give the same warm welcome to these customers as they would for anyone else and be particularly conscience of the language they use; the last thing you want customers to feel is second-class.

In fact, it might feel contra to our instincts, but look for ways you can add even more value. What are the little extras you can offer which are low cost to you, but have a perceived high-value to your customers? For a very minimal additional cost you might be able to upgrade a customer to a premium product, which – once they’ve experienced this once – they want every time in future.

Wanting alternatives – offer a premium product

At the PUB20 Show earlier this month, there was quite a big focus on no or low alcoholic drinks. I sat in a talk by James Morgan from Nine Elms who stated “all guest deserve a great experience”. I quite agree; I’m not tee-total but neither am I a big drinker; the most I ever have when I’m out is one glass of wine, and if driving, not even that. But sometimes I feel non-drinkers get a poor choice.

There are so many reasons why somebody might decide not to drink: they’re driving, reducing their calorie intake, workplace regulations (banning lunchtime drinking), religion, pregnancy. One might argue that if you don’t want to drink why would you go to a pub or wine-bar? You probably go along as that’s where all your mates are, in the same way as when people go out to eat, if you’re vegetarian or vegan you don’t just eat vegetarian restaurants or vegan restaurants.

Forbes research has suggested that 86% of customers will pay more for a better experience. So, in this instance, rather than offering a drinks menu that feels like it’s an inferior product, why not upgrade to a premium product and served in a way that reflects a premium product.

I know when I’m out and drinking if all I have to choose from is a sweet fizzy post-mix drink or a glass of sparkling water, served in a chunky tumbler, I feel a bit left out, and probably end up nursing that drink all evening. Whereas if I have a premium non-alcoholic cocktail served in a quality glass with a beautiful garnish, I’m far more likely to keep pace with my friends and join in on each round.

Result? I’ve had a better experience; you’ve sold more drinks and probably each of those drinks with a far bigger margin. Win-win.

I’ve used the example of alcohol v. non-alcoholic drinks, but the same principle  applies in all kinds of situations: food offerings, pillow menus, quiet areas, express lanes, it’s all about choice.

Customer error

As a customer, we all make mistakes from time to time. Not intentionally of course, we might end up arriving 30 minutes late for our booking. Or we hadn’t realised we needed to pre-order a particular item. Or we’ve ordered something that is not quite what we expected because we’ve mis-read or misinterpreted the description.

This isn’t the time to blame or argue with the customer, even if they are in the wrong! It’s actually an opportunity to shine…  To empathise with the customer and help find a solution. Start with what you can’t do for them, but then say what you can do to help.

It might mean offering them an alternative – even an upgrade of the original request to a premium product, at no extra cost to them. This might feel counter intuitive, but it might even mean referring them to a competitor. But you’ll be remembered for leaving the customer with a solution and a positive experience rather than making them feel even worse than they do already for messing up!

If you only do two things:

  1. Always look for the win-win – Remember you want your customers to have a good enough experience that they want to come back. Give them the perception of a premium product even if it’s just putting it in the ‘nice glass’.
  2. Train your team so they know the options, when to offer a premium product and how to present it so it feels premium


10 ways to show your team some love

show your team some love

Show your team some love

Do you remember as a teenager how important it was to get at least one Valentine’s card? And how awful it felt if you got none! Did this mean nobody loved you?

Maybe these days we don’t need a wad of Valentine’s cards to know we are cared for. But we do all like to be told in some form from time to time. And it’s no different for our team.

Unless your team feel valued and loved they’re not likely to share much love for your customers either

So…

What can we do to show our team some love?

Here are 10 ideas you can use to show your team some love so they in turn show your customers some love and give an all-round great customer experience.

Not just for Valentine’s Day, but any day.

1. Know what’s important

Understand each of your team members and what’s important to them. Recognise there are things which may seem insignificant to you, but can mean a lot for others.

What are the things they enjoy? What are the things they’re proud of, be that in or out of work. Express an interest in what they do away from work.

Never under estimate the value sitting down in private with each of your team on a one-to-one basis. Schedule these in advance and stick to your schedule; nothing smacks more of I’m not valued than constantly cancelling these meetings.

2. 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.

3. Pay attention

Listen to your team’s feedback, ideas and suggestions. Show them you value their opinion: ask for their advice or suggestions on matters that affect them or where they may be able to present a different perspective.

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.

4. 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, and use these to get feedback from your team on any customers’ comments, or discuss any questions or suggestions that arise about operational issues.

Keep your team up to date with the bigger picture: what’s happening in your business, in your industry, and with your competitors.

5. Invest in your team’s development

Provide development opportunities to tap into their strengths and keep them stretched. Not everyone wants to progress but it doesn’t mean to say they don’t want to be stretched given opportunities for new challenges. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers.

Give everyone an opportunity to learn something new; it’s a win-win as the business will benefit too. Add variety, set them a challenge and trust your team to make decisions to do what’s best.

6. Promote teamwork

Upskill and cross train your team to cover other’s responsibilities so everyone is confident the job still gets covered even when they’re sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload. This also promotes a greater appreciation at each other’s roles as well as making it easier to create a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary rather than passing the buck.

It doesn’t have to be all about work. It’s difficult to please everyone but if you can find something that appeals to everyone’s tastes, personal commitments and budget, social activities is a great way to bring the team together. Even if this is simply some after hours team activities in the workplace that taps into the interest, talents or expertise of your team.

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.

Every business has its times when things go wrong, so 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 or your management team used the same criteria for awarding 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. Recognise and reward success

Recognise those who go beyond the call of duty. Give public recognition when you receive positive feedback from a customer.

Share your good news to give everyone a boost and recognise those who have contributed. Make any rewards meaningful; not everyone is motivated by the same things to consider what’s important to the individual.

Have some fun. You might be dealing with serious subjects but 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!

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. Send a handwritten letter or a thank you card when they’ve gone the extra mile; a physical letter or card will have 10 times more impact than an email.

These ideas can go a long way towards creating staff loyalty which in turn will contribute to customer loyalty.

Take Action

If you only do one thing: Make a point of saying a sincere and personal thank you to everyone in your team at some point today, or if you don’t see them every day, then at least once this week.

Help people feel loved from day 1

Help new team members feel loved and card for from day 1 by ensuring they get a thorough induction into their role and your business.

Here’s a tried and tested template to get you started. 



Hang on to your Talent

hang onto your talent

How to Hang on to your Talent

The one thing I hear over and over is how challenging it is to get and keep talent. Don’t follow this lead if you want to hang onto your talent…

It upset me to hear what had happened to my friend’s daughter. She had what seemed like a lovely opportunity at a local 5 star hotel. But when I asked how she was getting on my friend told me she’d left. Why? Because they kept messing her about. She’d been given her schedule for the weeks over Christmas and New Year and she’d planned her family Christmas activities around this.

So, when they told her they no longer needed her to work on the days she’d been scheduled but they did want her to cover on other days this meant cancelling family commitments.

She is young and keen and didn’t want to disappoint her employer, but after several weeks of this, enough was enough. So, she quit. Not only is she now disillusioned with the industry but so are her friends and family.

So sad.

Of course, staff turnover doesn’t just impact you, it has a knock-on effect on the rest of your team and will certainly impact your customer experience either directly or indirectly.

If you are constantly striving to look for new staff then consider why you have a vacancy in the first place. Fantastic news if it’s down to growth; but more often than not it’s down to staff turnover.

If this is the case here are a few factors to consider to help hang on to your talent…

1. Why do they quit?

Staff turnover can be infectious, the more people come and go, the easier it is for others to make the decision to leave. Unless you understand why staff leave it’s unlikely you’ll reverse the trend.

In a perfect world a confidential exit interview is best done by someone other than a line manager. Let’s be honest, if the reason is poor management or leadership that’s behind them leaving, it’s unlikely that you’re going to learn the whole truth if the line manager is asking the question! The saying goes people don’t quit jobs they quit bosses.

But even if your staff structure doesn’t allow for this it is important to find out as much as possible about people’s motives for leaving.

2. Recognition and reward

When someone hands in their notice, if the reason they give is more money look to see how your rates compare with the competition (bearing in mind for some roles your competitor for staff may be in totally different industries). But also look at what benefits your staff are getting that they may not be getting elsewhere and ensure people are aware of everything that makes up their package. And if they don’t value these things, find out what they would value.

What about the less tangible aspects of their package? Recognise and reward performance and achievements. Celebrate and share successes; identify and utilise people’s strengths, training, delegating and giving them control and ownership where appropriate.

Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, e.g. housekeeping is often the most undervalued department, but is commonly the most profitable aspect of a hotel.

Encourage and reward loyalty by conducting regular pay/benefits reviews. Think about incentives that are within reach of any member of staff who performs well. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has an opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills or strengths, or make the incentive tailored to each individual dependent on their role, development needs and aspirations.

3. Career and prospects

If they’re moving for career progression, is this something you could have given them but they simply weren’t aware of the opportunities? What can you do in future to ensure that everyone gets the recognition and development they need for their career progression, so you can hang on to your talent?

Grow from within where possible, and give people the opportunity for career progression as well is enhancing the skills to do their existing job. Consider life skills; such as offering language tuition for English as a second language or other languages that may prove useful in conversing with your customers.

Make use of potential grants through the tourist organisations, colleges, and government-funded schemes, apprenticeships. Did you know this week is National Apprenticeship Week?  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/look-beyond-with-an-apprenticeship-this-national-apprenticeship-week

You won’t be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small business, but having some kind of succession plan in place does at least give people something to work towards. However, don’t make promises that you’re unable to keep.

Make learning and development a part of day-to-day management, so it’s not seen as something that is additional or optional. This goes for both staff and supervisors/managers. Identify those who have an interest in developing their skills and are willing to take on coaching or mentoring responsibilities as part of their own development.

4. Insecurity

Change makes people uncomfortable, and so when another opportunity comes along, they jump at the chance if they feel it has better long-term security.

Communicate what’s happening in the business before it happens, and how this might affect them.

Ensure people know what’s expected of them by having clearly defined standards, and can measure their own performance, and not left in doubt about their contribution.  Be consistent, ensuring the same ‘rules’ apply to everyone. Focus on telling people what you want to achieve, i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it.  This gives people flexibility to adopt their own style (you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process) rather than living in fear of not being able to comply with strict processes.  Provide the appropriate resources (including time), the tools and training to do their jobs effectively.

Training your staff in the mechanics of the business operation puts them in a better position to contribute to cost control and income generation. If people understand how the business makes its money they are then in a position to contribute to this and put forward their own ideas. A win-win for both.

5. What if you are the problem?

You may not want to admit it, but you or your management team may be the very reason people leave. Rather than hide your head in the sand, reflect on what you need to do to change to hang on to your talent. Find out the things that people find difficult or frustrating about working for you or with you, and then figure out a way to change your approach before others decide to jump ship.

How much direction do you provide? Do people know exactly what’s expected of them, and have the resources to meet your expectations? Lead by example so there are no mixed messages.

Ensure that you and your management team are approachable and provide any support when it’s needed

Not everyone will be confident enough to ask for help, so be receptive to when this is needed. Listen to their ideas; they may be able to offer better ways of doing things.

Show an interest in them as individuals, and take time out to talk to them. Listen to and act quickly on any concerns. Identify what’s important to them recognising that with the varied cultures and backgrounds of your staff that their values and priorities may sometimes be different to your own.

6. Keep talking

Communication is a two-way process, not only do people need to know what’s going on, they want to be heard. Daily briefings need to include what’s happening that could affect the operation or the customer experience in any way (e.g. maintenance, staff shortages, unavailable products or services), as well as any feedback from staff on their observations or ideas. Let your team know how the business is performing, and what this means to them.

Give constructive feedback: what have they done well and how it has contributed; where they have fallen short and how this can be improved.

Having a happy and motivated team will not only help you retain your talent and reduce staff turnover, but will lead to better productivity and customer service, maintaining sales and controlling costs.

If you want to hang onto your talent you need to give them what they want.

Take action to hang onto your talent

If you only do one thing, to hang on to your talent, find out what’s important to your team and how well you’re meeting their needs and expectations. One of the most valuable ways to gather this feedback is through anonymous surveys. This is a brilliant platform to do just that…

Get a complete engagement assessment that delivers quantifiable scores and honest feedback, so that you truly know where your company stands and where to focus to make an impact right away.

…And hang on to your talent.