Author Archives: Caroline Cooper

Care for your team

care for your team

How you respond and what you do now in these uncertain times will certainly be remembered in years to come, by your team, your customers and your community, and in turn will have an impact on how quickly your businesses recovers once the lockdown is over.

Last week I talked about keeping in touch with your customers. This week my focus is on how you care for your team, who quite understandably will be concerned for their safety, their income and the future of their jobs.

Before the lockdown we were concerned about attracting and retaining talent. Now we have the opposite; what to do with the talent we have. But one thing is for certain, this situation won’t last forever and unless you look after them now and show you care for your team now you’ll likely be back to the search for talent once this is all over.

Here are 5 ideas to show you care about your team and have their best interests at heart throughout the crisis.

I’m sure they’re doing most of these already, but this will act as a reminder.

And let me know what else you are doing to care for your team.

Personal safety

Keeping your front-line team members safe is the priority. If you still have team members travelling into work or having contact with customers, do they have all the necessary precautionary measures:

  • Give a choice as to whether they work or not
  • Have a means of getting to work without having to use crowded public transport
  • Have procedures in place to avoid direct contact with others
  • Have access to appropriate PPE

Resources

If your team members are working from home, ensure they have what they need to do the best job possible:

  • Access to information e.g. via your shared folders, Google docs, or whatever you use internally
  • The right equipment; an iPad might be great for small tasks, but has limitations, particularly older models.
  • A reliable IT connection (which can vary at different times of day, depending on demand)
  • Access to reliable, knowledgeable and helpful IT support; you don’t want them wasting time searching YouTube for answers to simple problems

Be flexible

Yes, there may have to be systems and processes in place for some activities, but new ways of working need new ‘rules’:

  • What flexibility do they have around the hours they work to fit in with others at home – partners, children or other dependents.
  • Play to people’s strengths and demonstrate your trust by delegating control and ownership, which creates a sense of pride

Stay connected

Whether working at home or in the business, ensure you keep your team connected – both to you, and each other.

  • Maintain a routine for daily check-ins, when everyone knows they can connect with everyone else (Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams* will allow you to do this). Stick to a schedule or same time each day, so everyone can plan
  • Be open, honest and factual. Focus on what you can do for them rather than dwelling on what you can’t do
  • Keep them informed of any of the Government advice that is relevant to them and/or the business as a whole
  • Offer emotional support
  • Keep the team spirit alive, and share some fun and positive achievements, stories or anecdotes

Show you care

Even when social distancing or working remotely all the normal rules of care apply, if not, even more so:

  • Don’t forget your normal common courtesies; a simple sunny and cheerful good morning, saying please and thank you, is just as important as at any other time.
  • Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when things aren’t as they should be, and spot concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems
  • Be approachable; not everyone feels comfortable raising concerns or questions, so be observant and look/listen for the signs of cries for help, so you don’t leave people feeling abandoned
  • Continue to invest in people’s personal development; in most cases they’ll have more time on their hands now (even if just a saving on travel time), so allow them the opportunity to use this time to everyone’s advantage
  • 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 for their support and commitment during these difficult times. It’s stressful for them as well as you.

If you only do one thing:

Every offer of support counts. Let people know you’re there for them, even if the offer never gets taken up. You don’t want to be checking in on people every 5 minutes, but it’s always reassuring to know that you’re there to support them when it’s needed – whether that be work-related or a personal issue.

Remember, as Maya Angelou said “…people will never forget how you made them feel”, so make sure your team feel cared for.

Related post: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/10-ways-to-show-your-team-some-love/

YouTube: Show your team your Care

* but I’m no expert on this, so please seek professional advice if you need it.


How to Keep Your Customers Attention

How to Keep Your Customers

My heart goes out to you and your team at this difficult time.

I believe it is important we do whatever we can now to put things in place that will help us spring back into action the moment the ‘go’ light comes back on.

One of those actions is to…

Stay on your customers’ radar to keep your customers

You’ve worked so hard to find them in the past, and I’m sure you’ll want to do everything we can to keep your customers and get them back once this situation is over.

Keeping in touch is a great way to continue to maintain the relationship with your customers and keep you in their mind when the time comes for a return visit or when asked to make a recommendation.

There are so many options to stay on their radar, and what works best for you is dependent on your audience, be that social media, email or good old fashioned snail mail, which with a hand written envelope, will always get someone’s attention far more effectively than 10 emails.

Irrespective of the format, the important thing is to stay on their radar (obviously observing GDPR guidelines – check Information Commissioner’s Office website www.ico.gov.uk) .

What’s happening

Keep your customers up to date with what’s going on.

  • What services (if any) are you still offering. How can people access these? Do they need to cancel any existing bookings or orders if they can’t be fulfilled?
  • Are you taking future bookings with a guarantee of a refund if it can’t go ahead?
  • What’s happening with your team during the outbreak.
  • What are you doing to support your local community?

This isn’t an excuse for a “PLOM party” (Poor Little Old Me) – it’s to talk about the positives that are coming out of this, and to demonstrate to your customers you are still true to your values.

What have you planned for the year ahead?

Maybe you haven’t planned this far ahead yet. So, if that’s the case, ask your customers what they’d like to see.

Keep Your Customers by Adding Value

The quickest and easiest way to create an impression and get remembered by your customers is to send a thank you note to show you appreciate their custom and loyalty in the past, and show you care and are thinking about them.

But, what can you do to educate your customers, whilst building credibility and adding value?

Could you share your knowledge or expertise by giving online classes (or at the very least share ideas via your mailing list or social media) to engage with your customers? With modern technology it’s easy to record and share these lessons either live or pre-recorded.

For example…

  • Ask your head chef to provide a recipe of the week, tips on baking the perfect meringue or crusty bread, a buyers’ guide to choosing fresh fish, easy recipe ideas based on what is in season right now, or anything related to what would normally be on the menu right now.
    .
  • If you are a park or garden, ask your gardening team to share seasonal tips. Or tips from the kitchen garden.
    .
  • For golf courses, share tips on the latest equipment, or techniques to hone their swing.
    .
  • From the spa, ask your spa team to share information on relaxation techniques (much needed right now!), aromatherapy remedies, tips for the perfect pedicure, skin care regimes, etc, whilst they can’t get these done for them.
    .
  • Ask housekeeping for tips on stain removal, cleaning household items such as glass, leather, silk etc. so people can make use of their time stuck at home.
    .
  • If you are a wedding venue ask any of your joint venture partners or preferred suppliers such as florist, photographer, limousines, suit hire for their top tips. Couples will still be getting married even if the event is postponed.
    .
  • If your target market are families with young children, share 10 ideas to keep the kids entertained whilst they are stuck at home.
    .
  • Create a prize draws or competition, with relevant prizes from your own products or services for when you are back to normal.

Get ready for the green light

When we get the first signs things look like getting back to normal, build a sense of anticipation with your customers. What have you planned?

Rebuild the relationship and get your customers excited about the prospect of a visit.

Create a sense of intrigue and curiosity; tell them about your plans, changes you’re making, what’s new (e.g. your new menu, new toiletries, changes to products or services). You then have a reason to invite them back or make an offer.

Send an exclusive invitation to something you’ve got planned that you know they’d love. Start a priority waiting list, so they can jump the queue. Pique their interest with teaser campaigns. Offer incentives for early booking to get the cash flowing again.

Offer your help in booking complementary services – restaurants, (yours or JV partners’), entertainment, outings, taxis, accommodation, attractions. etc. Anything that will make their stay or visit with you easy and ultimately more memorable.

No one wants to be bombarded with sell, sell, sell messages, so strike a balance between letting them know what you’re doing with enough juice to capture their interest without being too salesy.

If you want to keep your customers, don’t leave a return visit (or referral) to chance. Ensure you’re keeping yourself in your customers’ minds; keep in touch.

So when all this is over, you’re the first place people think of to get them out of the house! And keep your customers sane…

Related post “Building a Mailing List



How to keep your team engaged

how to keep your team engaged

How to keep your team engaged

It’s hard enough as a business owner in the best of times. And now more so than ever with the uncertainly and loss of business.

You and I both know that how our team is feeling can have an impact on customers and colleagues alike. So, when times are tough, they are feeling anxious too, and this has a knock-on impact on everyone.

If you want your team to put on a brave face this starts with you.

So, here are my 7 tips to keep your team engaged and productive in these challenging times.

1. Keep your team informed

Your team need reassurance, but they also need to know where they stand. Make a clear statement to your team and be honest with them. For example, if you know you can’t sustain your current staffing levels, discuss the situation openly with them. No one wants to lose their job, but your team will be aware if the impact on your business. Consider reduced hours which may be preferable to redundancy, and increases your chances of retaining that employee once the crisis is over.

I’m not an employment law specialist so I’m not going to advise on process, but suffice to say, follow current advice from your HR advisors.

2. Keeping busy

When you’re quiet it’s easy to slip into bad habits or fritter away time on meaningless tasks. Now’s an opportunity to catch up on all those non urgent but nonetheless important tasks you’ve been shelving for months. The review of your website, staff training, writing up procedures or SOPs. What better time to review your food safety procedures and training?

3. Promote teamwork

Play to the strengths of your team, and ensure they can cover one another if anyone needs to self-isolate, or you need to reduce people’s shifts. Define everyone’s areas of responsibility so there are no gaps and no duplication of effort.

4. Get creative

Look for opportunities. Are there any alternative services you could be providing for customers reluctant to come and visit you in person? A take-away service or home delivery?

Ask your team for ideas and suggestions, and show them you value their opinion. Look around you to see what other businesses with similar offerings are doing. What can you learn from them? Reach out to your customers and ask them what they’d appreciate. (Staying in touch with your customers is a whole topic in itself, so I’ll share my tips on that next week.)

5. Time Off

Stress the importance of staying away if they have any symptoms. Make and share a plan for staff wages so people don’t feel undue financial pressure to work when they are sick. If you can, basic pay for hourly staff who cannot work because they are ill.

In the UK: Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available from Day 1 for those unable to work because they are diagnosed with coronavirus, or self-isolating according to Government guidelines.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19

6. Pay attention

Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when people have concerns so you act on these quickly. When everyone is focused on the negatives, it’s easy to miss the tell-tale signs of those who need more from you.

Be approachable, listen and observe so you can provide support when it’s needed.

7. Play from a 10

Lead by example and be a role model. If you are all doom and gloom this inevitably rubs off one your team and in turn, your customers too.

As Zig Zigler said “A positive attitude won’t help you do anything, but it will help you do everything better than a bad attitude will.

Take Action

If you only do one thing to keep your team engaged: Take a few moments today to share your situation with your team. Allow for questions and be prepared to meet with team members in private if they ask.

Here is a Coronavirus Guide for the F&B Industry http://fnbcovidguide.com/

Today’s top tip

Stay on your customers’ radar. Even if business is slow, maintain your relationship and keep contact with your customers, so when things get back to normal you’re the first business they come back to. This is a subject in itself and I’ll talk more about this next week.

LinkedIn share


Old Habits

old habits

Old Habits Die Hard

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

Breaking habits isn’t just confined to ‘bad’ habits.

Take last Saturday as an example. I go to a regular exercise class on a Saturday and have been doing so for the past 20 years or so. Last year I quit my old leisure club (a really poor customer experience, but that’s a story for another day!) in favour of a new leisure centre – same class, different instructor.

There’s one move we did on Saturday which we haven’t done in her class before. It’s a move I’ve done before, but she approached it in a slightly different way. And, however many times I repeated it, I kept doing it wrong – either in the way my old instructor did it, or, in an attempt to do it in the new way, I went completely wrong!

The thing is, as we all know, old habits die hard. Which means if you want someone in your team to do things in a certain way, sometimes you need to break the old habit first.

During training you normally set expectations, establish the standards or process, and hopefully give people an opportunity to practise their skills in a safe environment.

But, as soon as 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!

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 when you’ve picked them up on the same thing, time and time again, of course, this is frustrating for you, but it’s probably just as frustrating for them if they really don’t know what it is they’re doing wrong. Particularly when they really do want to get it right.

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

Creating Conscious Incompetence

People won’t drop an old habit unless they know there is a need to change. So we need to move them from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence (see https://www.naturallyloyal.com/conscious-incompetence/ ). 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?

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.

What’s the impact?

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.

Measures of success

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. Often, it’s subtle little nuances that make all the difference to reflect your service culture or improve employee productivity.

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.

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

Take Action

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?


Reward Customer Loyalty

reward customer loyalty

How to reward customer loyalty

I had the honour of speaking at an event last week. Not quite my typical event; this was for Farmers Weekly and the attendees were all farmers diversifying or looking to diversify into other businesses, such as hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses. Anything from farm visits with a visitor centre cafe, to online retail of farm produce to bed and breakfasts and camp sites. I learnt so much about the practical considerations for diversifying.

This was in the Lake District and waking up to the view of the snow capped mountains behind Lake Windermere was beautiful. I have to say, this must be the first time I have presented from a farmers’ auction ring! 

As we know, it’s always easier and more cost effective to get more business from an existing customer than to get business from a new customer. My talk focused on some of the pitfalls which leave customers feeling they’ve had a mediocre experience, and having nothing much to compel them to come back again or recommend a venue or business to others. 

One of these pitfalls is leaving customers feeling unappreciated.

This is the number 1 reason customers give for switching to a competitor. Too many businesses only reward new customers in a bid to attract new business, but fail to do anything – or at best very little – to reward the loyalty of existing customers.

How does this make you feel when you are the customer and see offers only applicable to first time customers?

Here are 7 ideas to overcome this potential pitfall, by giving customers recognition and reward customer loyalty to make them feel special…

1. Say thank you

Do something or send something that shows you appreciate their custom. As a minimum this might be a simple but sincere verbal thank you, or a follow up thank you email (observing any GDPR guidelines naturally).  There may be times when you’ve welcomed guests or friends of your existing customers, maybe as part of a party. So, thank both the existing customer and the new customer who’s visited you for the first time.

2. Ask for feedback

A follow up thank you is also a second opportunity to get feedback too. Ask them about their experience. Did it meet or exceed their expectations? Ask for specifics such as what they enjoyed most and any ideas, comments or suggestions they have to make the experience even better. If they’ve previously given feedback, it’s an opportunity to let them know what you’ve done as a result, helping to re-establish trust.

3. Snail Mail

A simple personalised thank you note will not only show your appreciation, but it will give them something to remember you by. There’s nothing quite like something sent by good old-fashioned snail mail.  Even better, if it’s personalised and handwritten on a hand-picked greetings card.

Some think in this web-based age this is out-dated; how would your customers react to receiving something personal in the post, rather than clogging up their email inbox?

4. Rewarding loyalty

Perhaps you want to do a little bit more for your special or regular customers to reward customer loyalty; those that have been your perfect customers and you’d like to see a lot more of (and the chances are they’ll know lots of other people just like themselves, who they might be inclined to tell about you), the organisers of events, anyone who has made referrals that’s brought you extra business over the year, for giving you a glowing testimonial or review, or simply because they put their trust and faith in you to deliver something extraordinary for a special occasion.

Something that’s exclusive, not available to the masses makes people feel special and valued. It could be a simple token memento, or an exclusive offer, or useful information or tips that’s relevant to your business and customers’ interests. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive; it’s the thought that’s gone into it that counts.

5. Personalisation

Never under estimate the impact when you remember someone’s name or their personal preferences.  Do they have any particular likes and dislikes, what is their favourite product, brand, or combinations, do they have any particular requirements?

Do you know any of the personal circumstances that may be relevant to offer something special e.g. their birthday or any special anniversaries, kids’ names and ages, key things happening in their world?

Remembering such details will always be appreciated. Record their personal details and any special requirements so whoever is on duty the welcome your customer receives is consistent.

However, personalisation is not a means of selling or marketing products or services that they do not want or need, but showing you’ve listened and care about them as individuals. It’s about helping them make choices that will delight and enhance their experience with your venue or business. Showing you know and understand them will always be appreciated and increase loyalty and add lifetime value.

6. Celebrate

Mark key milestones in your relationship: thank them when they’ve been with you for a year, or on subsequent anniversaries, when they’ve concluded a big event, when you’ve worked with them on a big project or programme or when they’ve just upgraded to a particular level of service.

7. Reciprocity

The law of reciprocity means that if you give something to your loyal customers you are setting the stage for them to do something for you in return. Whether this is repeat business, a referral or maybe a testimonial, any one of these will add benefit to your business.  So, the more you can do to show your appreciation the greater the chance of staying on their radar and of them remaining loyal to you.

If you only do one thing to reward customer loyalty:

Introduce the concept of GLUE.  Watch here for an explanation:  https://youtu.be/aWQtQx8tMtU or go to an earlier post here https://www.naturallyloyal.com/give-little-unexpected-extras-to-enhance-the-customer-experience/

Today’s top tip

This Friday (6th March) is Employee Appreciation Day. So as well as showing you appreciate your customers, do something to show you appreciate your team, even if it’s just a simple heartfelt thank you.

One way to show you appreciate them and care about them is to ask for anonymous feedback.

Here is the perfect platform to do just that.

 


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.


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.
    .
  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?
    .
  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.
    .
  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?
    .
  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?
    ..
  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.
    .
  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.
    .
  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.
    .
  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.
    .
  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?