Monthly Archives: January 2022

Old Habits

old habits

Old Habits Die Hard

If you’ve ever tried to give up smoking (or any other bad old habits) you’ll know just how difficult that can be. Most people really do need a very compelling reason to do so.

But breaking old habits isn’t just confined to ‘bad’ habits. I remember a couple of years ago going back to driving a manual car having become used to driving an automatic. For the first week or so I kept stalling it, simply because I’d got out of the habit of having to use the clutch! Old habits die hard.

And in the same way as changing my driving technique, if some of your processes or procedures have changed, it can take a while for everyone to get used to the new way.

There may be some old habits people have got into as a result of time pressures, poor equipment or simply cutting corners. These too can end up being the new norm, the embedded habits that need to be broken before going back to a previous ‘right’ way.

But even after you’ve shown someone the ‘new’ way of doing something, once they get back to the workplace – the slightest obstacle will send people back to their old comfortable way of doing it.

It’s all too easy for people to revert, particularly if that feels more comfortable, is easier or is quicker.

Human nature says we’ll always take the path of least resistance!

Sometimes you need to break the old habit first.

Here are 6 things you can do to help break the old habits

1. Why

Most of us like familiarity, so without having a compelling enough reason, people are unlikely to put much effort into changing their habits. Most people really do need a very compelling reason to do so, that’s in their best interest, not just yours. Will it make their job easier or quicker? Will it make the task more enjoyable? Will it please customers and lead to more tips or fewer complaints? Will it help their teammates?

If people understand the end result they’re aiming for, this can help clarify why something is right versus why something is wrong. They can often see or feel for themselves that the wrong way doesn’t achieve the result they want and vice versa.

If you’re asking someone to do something in a way that’s doing away with something they took pride in in the past, this can make them feel their contribution wasn’t valued. So be sensitive to this and that your reasoning focuses on being even better, rather than discrediting the old way.

2. What good feels like

What can help is to get them to imagine achieving the new habit and how it feels.

For example, a recent client had got into the habit of putting off taking and making calls to customers who she knew were demanding. So rather than her focusing on the potential negative outcome of the call (which was increasingly likely to be the case, the longer she put off dealing with the customer) I got her to focus on the ideal outcome.

If people can envisage the perfect outcome it helps clarify what’s needed and gives people more motivation to change.

3. What to do differently?

Sometimes there are only subtle differences between the right way and the old habit. Once people know what’s wrong and why, it’s considerably easier for them to grasp the right way; or even to identify the right way for themselves.

Be specific on the tangible and measurable indicators, the differences between the right way and the wrong way. This will make it easier for the other person to realise and measure their own performance and more likely to spot when they’ve slipped back.

Quantitative standards or pointers are easier to interpret than qualitative ones. For example, if you want the phone answered quickly, specify in how many rings. When it comes to qualitative standards, it can be far more open to personal interpretation, so giving examples and/or demonstrations (and of course leading by example) can be helpful, but still be prepared to make the comparison between the right way and the wrong way.

4. I can’t

Look out for and listen for hesitation. If they believe they can’t do it find out why. Is it due to time, resources, authority? Is it due to confidence? Maybe they simply need a little more feedback, support and coaching.

You may believe that they have everything they need, and they are capable, but if they don’t believe so, it’s important you understand why they think this before you can overcome this barrier. Their perception is their reality, so you’ll need to change this perception before moving forward.

The longer it takes to remove that barrier (be it real or imagined) the less likely the new habit will even get started, let alone last.

5. Quick wins

When the old way feels more comfortable, is easier or is quicker, it’s too easy for people to revert; human nature says we’ll always take the path of least resistance!

If someone tries to change their habit, and don’t get results straight away there’s a good chance they decide it isn’t worth the effort. In their mind it’s not working, so it’s too easy for them to give up too soon.

Reduce the risk of this happening by recognising early wins, feeding back on their progress and just how far they’ve come, to encourage them to keep going.

6. Patience

It takes time to establish new habits; to create a new norm, some say as many as 66 times. So, if it’s a task people only do once a day, this might take 2 months or more.

Forming new habits doesn’t necessarily mean you need to retrain people, but they might need a little bit of a helping hand, some feedback and maybe some coaching to keep them on track.

So be patient. Continue to monitor, coach and correct as needed until the new habit is simply second nature.

Take Action to break old habits

If you only do one thing: be prepared to give further coaching, support and feedback until they have formed new habits.

Today’s top tip

Conduct daily buzz briefings to inform the team on what’s happening in your business on a day-to-day basis. Which customers you’re expecting today, when will there be peaks, what’s happening elsewhere in the business, in your industry or locality which could have a knock on effect on your customers?

Related article: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/conscious-incompetence/ ).

Related video: Changing behaviours when people believe they do that already


Customer service training ideas to freshen up refreshers

customer service training ideas21 customer service training ideas to help freshen up your refreshers

If January is a quieter month for you now might the time to address your refresher training, and here are 21 customer service training ideas. Refresher training is important in any area, and customer service is no exception.

Without reminders it’s easy for service to stagnate and standards to slip. Consistency in your service ensures your customers won’t be disappointed on their second, seventh or even 70th visit.

But how can you make this engaging for everyone, especially your long-serving team members who have seen it all before?

Instead of thinking refresher (as some will simply see this as a boring repeat of the same old messages) focus on different aspects of service.

By Creating a culture of continuous improvement, and putting the emphasis on making things even better, it’s less likely to be dismissed as unimportant and repetitive.

Here are a few customer service training ideas to help freshen up your refreshers (or any other training)…

  1. Challenge your team members to come forward with suggestions on how things can be improved, not just for the customer, but to make their lives easier too. Shaving 5 minutes off a task in one area can free up 5 more minutes to spend caring for customers elsewhere.
    .
  2. Add variety. Do something different to what people are used to, to make the sessions interesting or memorable, so everyone remembers the messages.
    .
  3. Stop thinking about training purely as a classroom activity; get creative with your training. Recognise people’s different learning styles and vary the ways you communicate with your team to appeal to different preferences.
    .
  4. Ask the team what training they think they need and how they’d like to learn it.
    .
  5. Make learning a part of the day-to-day activity, by using everyday activities as opportunities for development and where it’s second nature for people to help and support one another, and to learn on the job.
    .
  6. Use short sharp ‘coffee break sessions’ to delve deeper to explore how you can make things even better. What can you do to add more value for your customers and really wow them?
    .
  7. Assign tasks or projects on real business issues to develop team members.
    .
  8. Get everyone’s involvement. Avoid the chalk and talk’ lecture, it’s not as if they are hearing this for the first time. Use team exercises to encourage interaction, get opinions, and generate ideas so everyone benefits from each other’s insights and suggestions.
    .
  9. Use team meetings to direct focus and reinforce messages. Most customer facing roles are ever-changing, and every day there will be specific and individual options, events, and situations.
    .
  10. Use refreshers as an opportunity to give your team up to date product knowledge.
    .
  11. Celebrate and share successes. Remind people of the importance and significance of what they do; everyone likes to be appreciated, and when they hear about refresher training they can see this as a criticism, implying they are not doing things well enough.
    .
  12. Recognise and reward team members who go the extra mile and contribute to exceptional customer service to reinforce what makes a good customer experience.
    .
  13. Act on customer feedback. Ask for direct feedback from your customers so you learn first-hand what they value and where you can make improvements in your service.
    .
  14. Share positive customer feedback. It can be a really big boost for the team. Use it to reinforce good practice. Even for those not involved or contributing directly, it helps illustrate the impact of good service and a great customer experience.
    .
  15. Keep things light hearted when discussing customer service issues; it is a serious subject, but people are more receptive when they are happy and relaxed. Reinforce messages with quizzes and games to add an element of competition and fun.
    .
  16. Add in fun energiser activities and ‘right brain’ exercises. These might seem trivial, but getting your team involved keeps them energized and in a better state of mind for learning.
    .
  17. Take people away from their normal environment (as long as this doesn’t make them uncomfortable or become a distraction); go outside, use music; alter the layout, introduce unusual props.
    .
  18. Use role plays. Despite people’s reluctance they are a great way for people to practise what to say and how in a safe setting. Make these less intimidating by running in small groups with colleagues acting as an observer to give feedback.
    .
  19. Capitalise on people’s strengths, and utilise those with talents in specific areas to share their skills and expertise with the team. This is not only good for people’s development, it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.
    .
  20. Involve your support teams in refresher training, identifying what they do or not do which impacts the customer experience, however minor, and ask for their input on how these can be developed.
    .
  21. Ask your team for feedback on how you are doing in their eyes. It can feel uncomfortable for people to give feedback to their boss, so ask in a more conversational way such as “What could I be doing to make customer service easier?“. Be sure to accept any feedback with good grace, and thank them for an honest response!

So instead of rolling out the same old training, take one, two or all 21 customer service training ideas to help freshen up your refresher training.

If you need help with this, find out how to get this here

or set up a call with me to discuss your needs



Jump start to productivity

Productivity

 

Giving your team a productivity boost

7 ideas to help you and your team get back to full productivity.

After two weeks of late nights and sleeping in late, getting up again at my ‘normal’ time this morning was a bit of a struggle.

And I don’t know about you, but all those plans of stuff to get done or sorted over Christmas didn’t come to much.

I confess, I am the master of procrastination, putting things off until later if there is anything in the least bit more attractive to get done!

Whether you’ve been working flat out over Christmas and new year, just doing the minimum, or simply taking a well earned break, it can sometimes be tough to get back into a routine.

The same applies to your team; it can be all too easy to fritter away the first few days back at work and achieve very little.

So whether you and your team are already back, or taking their break right now after working over Christmas, here are 7 ideas to help jump start you and your team back to full productivity from day one.

1. Celebrate and share successes

Update your team on your achievements for the past 12 months. What milestones has the business achieved, what were the highlights, and what’s been their contribution? Give praise where it’s due to create a buzz for the year ahead!

2. Fresh Focus

It can feel a bit flat if it’s back to business as normal; give your team something to look forward to over the next few weeks and months.

Share your plans for the coming year with your team as best you can, so they feel involved.

3. Set mini goals

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.

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

Put tangible metrics in place to measure success, so people can evaluate their progress. And of course reward their success once achieved.

4. Time for a change?

Time off often gives people time for reflection and can prompt them to start thinking about other options, career moves or even career changes.

Schedule one to one reviews early to discuss individual contributions and where they each fit in with your plans. Ask for their input to demonstrate you value their contribution.

Encourage everyone in your team to have their own goals too. Even if these don’t include working for you long term, discuss how you can help them achieve their goals together. (Watch this short goal setting guide here )

5. New challenges

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you should let them stagnate. A bored employee is unlikely to wow you, your colleagues or your customers!

When reviewing individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans, discuss how you can add variety, set new challenges or stretch them.

Identify and utilise people’s strengths, and give individual team members responsibility over specific activities. When people have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise, resulting in a sense of ownership and pride. 

6. Fresh perspectives

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 over Christmas 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 operation, your service, or to add value for customers.

7. Play from a 10

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

Behaviour breeds behaviour.  So, if we mooch around all day resenting being back at work we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re confident, enthusiastic and energetic.

If you only do one thing to improve productivity in your first week back:

Set short term goals for yourself and everyone in your team, so you have something to work towards this week.

Related post: Productivity ~ Stop those Spinning Plates