Author Archives: Caroline Cooper

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/


Hello, I’m Caroline

build rapport

Build rapport using names

Do you remember the TV series Cheers? And the theme tune “… where everyone knows your name”

Using someone’s name is a powerful way to build rapport.

According to Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”  “… any person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.  ….we can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering the name.”

This is true, not just for customers, but your team members too; in fact, anyone you speak to.

However, sometimes it can be challenging to remember names. I remember about 20 years ago, the company I was working for at the time ran a series of Roadshows. At the time I was a management development executive at our international training centre. This meant that over the course of the year I would meet hundreds, if not thousands, of managers attending training.

Because I knew so many people I was asked to help with registration at each event, and because so many of those attending knew me, they made a beeline to me expecting me to remember them too. But when you have thousands of people registering at each event, it’s quite a challenge remembering everybody’s names, and some people got quite offended when I couldn’t remember who they were!

I learnt a little trick to get around this, which I’ll tell you about in a moment. But in the meantime, here are my other top tips for helping you and your team members remember and use people’s names.

  1. Start with your team, greet them by name, and use the name they want to be known by. So, if they have a preference to be known by their middle name, use this. Never shorten or abbreviate their name unless they ask you to. So, Andrew doesn’t become Andy, Christopher doesn’t become Chris, and Deborah doesn’t become Debbie, unless that’s what they request.
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  2. Repeat it. How often do we ask someone’s name and then instantly forget it? So, listen with intent, and then immediately repeat their name. This not only helps you to committed it to memory, but allows an opportunity for the other person to correct it if you’ve got it wrong or missed pronounced. If the pronunciation is a little tricky for you, always ask the other person, whether you’ve got the pronunciation correct. It’s far less awkward for both of you to correct it now than on your fourth or fifth meeting.
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  3. Can you spell that please? Spelling someone’s name incorrectly can feel insulting, so check the spelling if you need to. Even relatively common names often have more than one spelling; Cathy or Kathy, Iain or Ian, Philip or Phillip.
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  4. Formal, friendly or familiar. It’s difficult sometimes to know whether to address the customer as Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms. or use their first name. The rule of thumb is to follow their lead; how they introduce themselves.
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  5. Personalise your automation. Have you ever had a letter that’s addressed to you personally on the envelope, but the salutations reads “Dear Sir or Madam”. With technology today there should be no excuse not to address emails or letters with someone’s name (or at least the name they have given you).
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  6. Create a memory. If you can create an association between someone’s name and a characteristic or relate to a famous person. For example, my husband is terrible at remembering names and when he first met my parents this was no exception. Their names were Liz and Phil. So, I told him to just think of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip!.
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  7. Tags, cards and badges. Spotting name badges on luggage tags, payment cards or name badges at corporate events can help; a word of caution, don’t get too clever with this! Check the name their tag, card or badge is the one they want to be addressed by.  If you know which customers you are expecting remind yourself of their names (and personal preferences if you know them) before they arrive.
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  8. And what of employee name badges? They can make it easy for the customer to engage with and remember the people who have served them (as well as a level of accountability). But it’s a very individual decision, and what best suits your business and your style service. A name badge should never be a substitute for a personal introduction from a team member to a customer.

Take action

If you only do one thing – encourage your team members to use customers’ names, so they feel valued and important. Set the example and help make your team also feel extremely valued and important by always addressing them by name too.

And that little trick I discovered on registration? Thankfully, all the name badges were arranged in alphabetical order by people’s surnames. So, I’d always greet them with a cheery smile and ask how they are; and then ask absentmindedly “sorry, just remind me of your surname again”. It seemed forgetting their surname was acceptable, and when I found their name badge, hey presto, I was reminded of their first name too, and could then use this as I handed them their badge.

related article: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/creating-rapport-with-your-hospitality-business-customers/

 


Someone could have told us

service culture Team huddle

Make briefings part of your service culture

Have you noticed how often in successful sports teams you get to see the whole team huddle together for a quick team talk? Is this just something that’s relevant to sports?

No, of course not.

When I’m consulting with businesses assisting them with upping their customer experience or developing their customer service culture, one of the common themes that comes up time and again is the frustration that arises from poor communication.

Often this might be something as simple as a product or service which isn’t available, so customers are let down.  Perhaps it’s a particular customer who has special requirements, who might need some specialist treatment or VIP attention. Or maybe it’s something completely out of your team’s control, such as roadworks or severe weather, but that impacts customers.

Whatever the reason, your team need to be in the know. What’s happening and what you’re doing to add value for customers, or offering to minimise any negative impact. No one in your team wants to look unprepared or be caught unawares.

So just how do your team members get kept abreast of what’s happening day to day in your business which can have an impact on them and your customers?

In our haste to get on with the day ahead it’s tempting to rely on email, bulletin boards or a WhatsApp group. But there’s a problem with this… they tend to be one way, and little or no opportunity to question or clarify. You lose the ability to judge people’s reactions, or even know for sure it has been read.

A simple 10 minute “Buzz Briefing” at the start of each day or shift plugs this gap.

As the name suggests it’s your opportunity to create a buzz for the shift or day ahead.

It’s your chance to update everyone on anything that affects that day’s operation. Plus, it’s your opportunity to get feedback from your team on things that need attention, to answer their questions, or listen to their ideas.

All key ingredients to a positive service culture.

Here are 11 ideas to ensure your buzz briefings create a buzz for the day ahead…

  1. Getting the whole team together-  if numbers and logistics make this possible – is ideal, but otherwise by department.
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  2. Hold your buzz briefings at the same time each day
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  3. Be prepared – plan what you need to cover in advance
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  4. Start with an open question or attention grabber, and ensure you have everyone’s attention
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  5. Aim to gain eye contact with everyone, and pick up on any looks of confusion, questioning or disagreement
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  6. Keep them brief (maximum 10 minutes)
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  7. Conduct them standing up
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  8. Encourage participation – ask questions and encourage their questions, listen to ideas, ask for examples or to share their own examples, stories or suggestions
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  9. Keep them light-hearted, but with a serious intent
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  10. Make them a daily habit, so they run even when you’re not there
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  11. Even on your busiest mornings make sure these briefings still happen – it’s generally on the days that are your busiest that things go wrong, and in many businesses it’s on your busiest days when you have the best opportunities for making a good first impression with new customers or increasing sales

So, what the heck will you talk about?

Every business will be different, but here are some of the topics you may want to cover:

  • Specific customer activity in the business today, such as (VIP) visitors, new business or projects
  • Impending deadlines and progress towards these
  • Customer feedback
  • Any other activity happening in the business  or surrounding area that could affect customers, e.g. maintenance or road works, items in the media relevant to your customers, competitor activity
  • Staff shortages, and cover of responsibilities
  • Questions or suggestions your team may have about operational issues that could have a bearing on the level of service
  • Feedback on any customers’ queries or comments
  • Team members’ observations, feedback or questions from a previous shift
  • Recognition for success or achievements from the previous day
  • Home in on one aspect of customer service you particularly want the team to focus on

These actions ensure your team are not only fully briefed and competent, but also confident and enthusiastic to deal with any customers’ requests, queries or concerns.

If you aren’t already holding daily briefings you may find there’s a reluctance – “we don’t have time for these!” But treat them as an investment in time; they will invariably save time later, by preventing things getting forgotten or deadlines being missed.

Make them a habit – part of your service culture – so they run even when you’re not there.

Take action

If you only do one thing. Next time you have an important message to share with the team gather everyone round and deliver the message in person rather than sending a blanket email.  Notice what happens when you deliver the message in person and encourage a two way dialogue.

Related posts: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/hotel-leadership-regular-update-meetings/



How to Handle Complaints ~ Will you have to ask a manager?

Handle Complaints

Are your team confident to handle complaints?

Last week I met up with a friend in my favourite local coffee shop. Being the school holidays they were busier than normal, and we both expected that, and it was fine.

What wasn’t fine was that the usual smiling, happy and efficient service was gone, and the normally delicious coffee was lukewarm when it finally arrived.

I know I talk a lot about consistency. And at a time of year when you’re busier than normal it’s just as important as it is at any other time of year.

Just because you’re busy or you have temporary staff, don’t let this be an excuse for a poor customer experience or inferior customer service. Your regulars don’t care! Busy or not, whether it’s the school holidays and you’re rushed off your feet, or half your team are taking time off, your customers expect consistency.

And if you’re welcoming new customers through the door (which was the case for my friend), naturally you want them to get a great first impression.

But, it’s inevitable from time to time you’re going to get unhappy customers, and when you do your team need to be prepared.

In this instance when I commented on the poor coffees they were replaced instantly. But I’m sure you – like me – can think of instances when you’ve made a complaint and been told,

I’m not able to do that; you’ll have to ask a manager…

Not only is it frustrating for you as the customer, it’s demeaning for the employee and time consuming for the manager.

What’s the process in your business when a customer has a complaint? Do customers have to ask a manager, or do your team have the skills and confidence to handle complaints, and do their line managers have the skills and confidence to train, coach, and support them, so they can trust their team to handle complaints effectively?

Here are 5 prime consideration for line managers to get to a point where they (and you) can feel confident that anyone in your team can handle complaints positively and professionally, leaving the customer feeling cared for and remain loyal to your business.

1. Mindset

It’s easy for team members to feel nervous about receiving complaints and get defensive when they’re on the receiving end. Encourage team members to think of complaints as a positive thing, as it gives an opportunity to put things right and turn the situation around before the customer leaves.

It’s not uncommon for people to think about the outcome as being a win-lose situation. Instead, encourage team members to look for a win-win, where the customer leaves happy, and we are confident we have retained that customer for the future.

2. Core Skills

Having core interpersonal skills has to be a prerequisite for anyone who is going to deal with customers at any time, but when it comes to how they handle complaints these skills are even more important. Being a good listener, having the skill to ask good questions to understand the customer, the ability to build rapport and have empathy with the customer.

(See 38 Training Exercise & Activities to Engage, Energise and Excite your Team in Customer Service for ways to hone these skills)

3. Knowledge

Team members need to be clear on their levels of authority; give them examples of when they need to refer to a manager or get sign off, and when it’s OK for them to make the decision.

On the occasions when you or another manager has to get involved use this as an opportunity for others to learn from the situation, by explaining your approach and why you approached it in the way you did.

Knowledge also extends to the knowledge of your products and services, so it’s easier for them to offer alternatives to the customer. Thinking back to the win-win, looking for solutions and/or alternatives which are of high value for the customer and relatively low investment for us.

4. Systems

The great thing about getting a complaint is that you have an opportunity to put things right. But, it’s also important to learn from that complaint, so you prevent a recurrence (even if the complaint was purely a misunderstanding on the customer’s part – what led to their understanding or perception, and how do you avoid that perspective in future).

Ensure you have systems and processes in place to feedback on complaints and follow-up to prevent re-occurrence, and every team member understands the system.

5. Support

With the best will in the world, your complaint handling training can’t cover every conceivable possibility. Allow your team members to practice, get feedback and coaching on how they handle complaints, and learn from everybody else’s experiences. Listen out for hesitation; when you hear a team member saying  “I can’t…” that might be an indication they are fearful of making a mistake. Talk this through with them to identify any obstacles.

Build confidence; often people know what they should be doing, but just lack that certainty and confidence to do this really well, so give time and an opportunity for them to practise in a safe environment.

Take action

If you only do one thing – Encourage team members to be receptive to any customer feedback and think of the opportunity to handle complaints as a positive thing, and an opportunity to put things right.

Related posts

https://www.naturallyloyal.com/learn-from-complaints/


38 customer service training ideas to keep your team engaged all summer long

Here are 38 of my favourite customer service training ideas, so you can keep your team engaged, fresh and focused on delivering a fab customer experience all summer long

Now we’re well into the summer and – if you run a hospitality, leisure or tourism business – maybe your busiest time of year, how do you keep your team fresh and still focused on delivering a brilliant customer experience?

Even when your team know what’s expected, when you’re busy for whatever reason, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball. But this shouldn’t be an excuse for a poor customer experience or inferior customer service. Your customers don’t care! Busy or not, whether it’s the school holidays and you’re rushed off your feet, or key team members are taking time off, your customers still expect consistency.

With this in mind I’ve just updated and added to my manual of customer service training activities and exercises.

This is a collection of 38 customer service training ideas in the form of activities and exercise, which you can use now – and all year round – to keep your team engaged, energised and excited about customer service.

These are all exercises I’ve used, and my clients have used, to involve their team, make continuous improvements and keep customer service and the customer experience front of mind, however busy.

And until midnight on Sunday you can get this at the very special price of just £7 instead of £27.

customer service training ideas

I’m offering this special price as a way to say THANK YOU to all the people who read this Naturally Loyal blog.

Here’s where you can grab your copy and save £20


How trust impacts customer experience

trust impacts customer experience

Last week I gave a short presentation at our local Institute of Directors meeting. It was only 4 minutes, but it’s surprising what you can fit into that time.

I spoke about pride.

Being recognised at work so you can be proud of your contribution can have a massive impact on employee engagement, and all the knock-on benefits of productivity, staff retention and the customer experience.

This stems from the top, so if you are recognising your managers and supervisors so they feel pride in what they do, they are far more likely to do the same with their team members, too.

I covered 3 ways as leaders we can help people feel proud of their contribution, but I’m just going to cover one of those today; demonstrating trust.

People soon pick up when you fail to trust or allocate any responsibility to them, leaving them frustrated or worse, doubting their own abilities. When you demonstrate trust on the other hand, you’ll be surprised just how resourceful people can be.

Here are 5 ways you can demonstrate trust in your team members:

  1. Play to people’s strengths. It’s a lot easier for you to delegate responsibility for tasks where people already excel, and the likelihood is when they are good at that task they’ll be confident and probably enjoy it.
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    That doesn’t mean to say you don’t develop people in other areas, but avoid the temptation to make everyone mediocre at everything.
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  2. Learn to let go, and empower them to do the job you’ve employed them to do. No one wants their boss breathing down their neck the whole time, and it’s frustrating for everyone when team members have to get sign off for everything.
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    Cut the red tape and give your team the freedom to do what they think is in the best interests of the customer.
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    Set clear boundaries so they understand the exceptions and when you really do need to be involved.
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  3. Give flexibility to adapt and adopt their own style. Let them bring their own personality to the role, particularly when dealing with customers.  If they know the end result you’re looking for they often come up with better ways to get the same result.
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  4. Identify staff champions for routine activities so there is always at least one person other than you keeping an eye on each aspect of the business. This is not only good for people’s development it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.
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  5. Develop ‘experts’ and give ownership for areas that require specialist knowledge, so this team member becomes the go to person for this. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise, and encourages continuous improvement. This in turn can have an impact on your customer experience, when specific knowledge is required to gain the customer’s confidence.

We often underestimate people’s capabilities. When you demonstrate your trust in your team by delegating some control and ownership, this gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right.

This ultimately has a knock on impact on your customer experience as customers do  notice the difference between someone just doing their job and someone who is genuinely proud of the job they do and the contribution them make.

Take action

If you only do one thing: demonstrate your trust in someone today by giving them the go ahead to do something their way.

Here’s my 4 minute presentation

Related article: I don’t have authority


Marking Milestones

engage your team

Engage your Team (and customers) by Marking Milestones

Can you remember what you were doing on the night of 20/21st July 1969?

I can, as I’m sure you can too if you are my age or older, as, like billions of others, I was sitting with my brothers watching in awe as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to set foot on the moon.

Watching the events relived this Saturday was still tense even though we knew full well the mission was a success.

Marking milestones in your business is a great way to engage both your team members and your customers. They don’t need to be as momentous as the moon landings; simply recognising any small personal milestone, proud moment or a significant event shows you care.

Here are some moments you may wish to mark to engage your team and/or your customers

Celebrate and share business successes

  • At the end of the year remind your team of all your achievements over the past 12 months and create a buzz for the year ahead. What milestones have you achieved as a business and individually? What were the highlights? Engage your team by recognising their contribution. Team members are more likely to be loyal and work harder for a business they believe in.
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  • Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, won a significant piece of new business, or achieved an important milestone. Share the success with your team (and customers if appropriate). Recognise and show your appreciation for those who have contributed to this success. Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, or those in non-customer facing roles.This can be a great morale booster; it’s a great way to thank them for helping get to this point and to gain buy-in for the potential work it will involve over time.
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  • Don’t forget key anniversaries for your business; it’s a great way to remind your team of your heritage and the values your business is built upon. Even if you’re not long established as a business track back to key moments in your own background (particularly relevant if you are a family run business), or research the history of your building or area, or key historical dates in your industry.

Proud personal moments

  • Recognise and celebrate with your team members those important moments outside work: arrival of their first grandchild, child’s graduation, a significant fund raising activity for charity, a personal achievement such as passing their driving test.
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  • Make a note of the key dates in their world – significant birthdays and wedding anniversaries; remembering these can make that person feel that little bit special on their special day.
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  • Remember the anniversary of the date each of your team members joined your business or your department. If you’ve a large team you might decide to celebrate the anniversaries of everyone who joined in the current month. This is a great excuse to bring people together who might not normally work closely together.

Celebrate non-work events

Be aware of other celebrations happening elsewhere which may resonate with your team. Such as:

  • Sporting success, such as those this month – we’ve seen Cricket World Cup, Wimbledon, Formula 1 GP, Women’s football.
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  • Charity events such as Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan Coffee Morning (27th September 2019).

Marking the occasion

It’s good to have the milestones marked on the calendar, but even better if you do something to celebrate.

Celebrations don’t need to be lavish. What’s more important is that they are sincere and will be appreciated by those you share them with.

  • A simple card to mark the occasion is a pleasant surprise, and adds a very personal touch, particularly when hand-picked and hand-written.
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  • Allow the freedom to have some fun; this doesn’t mean being unprofessional, but looking for opportunities that create a relaxed and enjoyable place to celebrate in keeping with the occasion.
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  • Recognise that some people love the limelight, others hate it. Sometimes a quiet “congratulations and well done” is all that’s needed and will have more impact than any over the top celebration.
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  • If it’s an occasion to be shared, will taking time out for coffee and cake to celebrate the occasion be a more appropriate way to engage team members than taking everyone down to the pub?
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  • When your team members are celebrating a personal milestone extending the treat to be shared with their loved one(s) not only makes your team member feel good but shows your appreciation of the support given by their friends and family.
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  • It may be that the best and simplest way to help team members mark a special occasion is giving them the opportunity to knock off early, so they have more time to celebrate with their family and friends.
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  • External awards are a great way to give recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated an award is a great booster.

Inviting your customers to celebrate

Marking milestones with customers is a good way to stay on their radar.

  • Many of the above ideas work well for customers, or a little unexpected gift (which might also be an excuse for them to visit again, but ensure it is something they will value, not just a blatant promotion for more business) can make them feel special and appreciated.
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  • If you’re a hospitality or leisure business, the most obvious things to celebrate are birthdays and anniversaries.
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  • Capture your customers’ birthdays, anniversaries and special dates on your database (with their permission of course) and then invite them back to your venue to celebrate, and receive something special of value to them. An easy win is to invite wedding couples back for their first (and subsequent) anniversary.
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  • For business customers congratulate them on a significant anniversary in their business, or the anniversary of when you started working with them (and this helps to reinforce your relationship).
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  • Keep your eyes on your local press for businesses winning awards or celebrating their own anniversaries, and send them your congratulations.
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  • Don’t forget anniversaries for your own business; it’s a great way to blow your own trumpet!

Take action

If you only do one thing:

  • Look ahead for the next month and identify the milestones you might mark to engage your team and/or customers to show them you are thinking of them.

10 more ways to engage your team and show them some love

3 Things to get your team enthused this week