Category Archives: Staff training

But, I do that already!

One of my clients was telling me last week of her frustration when her team were reluctant to get involved in training.  “They think they know it all already” she said.

Have you ever experienced that too? I know I have.

A big barrier to training, particularly customer service training or management skills, is when an employee thinks they know it all or are already doing everything correctly already. So they see the training as a criticism.

This means they are not receptive, which is not only frustrating for you, but means in all likelihood your training is a waste of time, money and effort.

Here are some ideas to get over this…

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I’ll have to get my manager

When you’re a customer and want to make a complaint the last thing you want to hear is “I’ll have to go and get my manager…”

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

This week I’ve been training line managers, giving them the skills and confidence to coach their own teams in how to handle customer complaints, so they can trust their team to handle them effectively.

This means customers get any complaints handled swiftly, team members feel empowered, and managers are freed up to get on with other things.

You can watch here to discover the 4 key areas we covered.

So what’s the process in your business when a customer has a complaint? Do your team have the skills and confidence to deal with complaints, and do their line managers have the skills and confidence to train, coach, and support them?

 


No time for customers?

One of the biggest barriers I come across when I’m helping business owners with their customer experience or delivering customer service training is when people believe they don’t have enough time to devote to customers and delivering a memorable customer experience.

In this short video I give some suggestions to help get over this.




Perceptual Positions

percetual positionsBy the time you read this thankfully all the campaigning will be over and we’ll know one way or the other.

There’s been a bit of a difference of opinion in the Cooper household. Hubby and I have homed in on different merits for and against remaining/exiting the EU!

Seeing things from different perspectives extends far beyond which way to vote in the EU referendum. When I’m coaching managers to get the best from their team or training staff in dealing with customer complaints encouraging them to see things from other people’s perspectives is such an important part of resolving difficult situations.

One technique uses that of perceptual positions, which helps you imagine what difficult situations look like when viewed through others’ eyes, in other words to imagine what others perceive by imagining that you are that other person.

This involves looking at it from 3 different perspectives

  • First position is your natural perspective. You are fully aware of what you think and feel regardless of those around you. This is of course the perspective we find most familiar. But as you focus on it you may only then start to realise what is important to you and what you want from this interaction. You will probably become more aware of what you believe and value, and more likely to be assertive about your own needs.
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  • Second position is about stepping away from our own position and imagining what it’s like to be the other person, experiencing the situation as they would.Some people are very good at considering others’ needs and concerns; for others imagining second position can be a completely alien view. When you are really in their shoes everything you do or say makes perfect sense to you.
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    When you do this well you start to get a sense of what the other believes and values; what is important to them, and a better understanding of what they want. And the better you get at this the more empathy and rapport you create. You might even be able to predict how they might respond in this situation. You are certainly in a better position to offer better customer service to a customer support to a team member.
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  • Third position is an independent position where you act as a detached observer noticing what’s happening between two other people. I like to think of this as the ‘fly on the wall’ or ‘The Consultant’s perspective’ What is important is that this position is an impartial insight into a situation.Imagine you are watching and listening to each of the people involved as they communicate without getting involved yourself, without having to feel their feelings and emotions.
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    From this new perspective, you more likely to get an overview of the situation, the bigger picture. You can start to notice patterns and become aware of similarities and differences between the parties involved, and you’re better able to analyse the situation logically with less emotional involvement. What’s also important is you can start to see yourself as others see you.
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    From this position what advice would you give ‘first position’?

When to use Perceptual Positions

It can be particularly useful when you are dealing with a situation where you are having strong negative feelings towards the other party, or do not understand their actions.

For example:

  • When a team member is acting in a way that you find destructive to the task in hand, or negative towards others in the team.
  • In customer service training to illustrate how to handle an angry and (to our mind) unreasonable customer

It doesn’t just help in negative situations, it can also help clarify the way forward in for example sales situation when it will help to see things from the clients’ positions or in a consultant position to see the situation better and help the client achieve their outcomes easier.

It works best when you physically change position when moving from 1st position to 2nd position and then 3rd position; e.g. in 2nd position move round to sit or stand when the other person would normally see or stand when you meet with them, and when the ‘fly on the wall’ stand up and physically look down on the situation.

The real learning comes by stepping out of first position to explore second and third positions and see what light it sheds on a situation.

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Hit the ground running

Holiday coverYour first day in any job can be daunting. It’s all new and can feel a bit lonely. Hardly the best place to be to give your best.

So whether you’re taking on seasonal staff for the summer or full timers you want to do everything in your power so they can get off to a flying start, and have them start paying their way.

If all you do is give them a uniform and tell them to get on with it, they could be doing more harm than good.

Everyone needs a thorough induction with good support and direction.

Here are my top 10 basics to cover with any new member of staff, whether for the holiday season or at any other time of year.

  1. Teamwork is key. Introduce new staff to the whole team, defining everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort. Avoid the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.
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  2. Don’t leave them floundering or too scared to ask for help. Establish a clear line of reporting, and who to go to for help and guidance when needed – ensuring, of course, that this person will be patient and supportive when asked.
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  3. Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them from day one. Clarify basic standards of dress, staff behaviour, time keeping, break allowance, staff meals, security, food safety, health and safety.
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  4. First impressions count. Specify your establishment’s standards for welcoming and greeting customers, including the booking procedures if this is part of their role. Your customers don’t care whether they’re new, temporary or a trainee; they’ll still expect a consistent level of service and care.
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  5. What is their role in up-selling, and what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme.
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  6. People can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Ensure a thorough product knowledge – what does your establishment offer – times of service, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff taste dishes, explain what accompanies what products, or anything that’s normally sold together, what it should look like, what prices include and what’s extra (especially with packages or promotions).
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  7. Establish protocol in dealing with difficult situations, customer complaints, and awkward customers.  Define the line between handling themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or a more experienced staff member (and who that person is).
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  8. Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed.
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  9. Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.
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  10. Maintain your reputation as a good employer. Treat seasonal staff well, and they will be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season.  Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.


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Creating Conscious Incompetence

Get a return on your investment in customer service training by helping people move up the Conscious Competence Learning Model

Have you ever had the task of changing the behaviour of one of your team members who thinks they know it all? I think we’ve all encountered such people who are blissfully unaware of their lack of competence.

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I’m sure you’re already familiar with the Conscious Competence Learning Model.

These are the four stages people go through when they are learning something new.

The learner always begins at stage 1 – ‘unconscious incompetence’, and ends at stage 4 – ‘unconscious competence’, having passed through stage 2 – ‘conscious incompetence’ and – 3 ‘conscious competence’.

It’s not possible to jump stages, so when helping people learn something new we need to help them to get to the next stage.

When I’m working with clients to develop management, training or customer service skills there is often an assumption he people I’m working with are already at stage 2. In other words it’s assumed that they already recognise any shortfalls and the need for change or development.

But sadly they’re often still at stage 1 – unconscious incompetence – and not yet aware of any need to develop a new skill or behaviour. Trying to teach somebody something new from this point is a key reason so much training fails!

For anyone to learn something new or change their behaviour there needs to be some motivation to do so. Particularly when it requires some effort on their part. Without that recognition they will not be receptive to learning and the barriers will go up thinking “this doesn’t apply to me”.

In some instances people may previously have been at other levels but have regressed to an unconscious incompetence over a period of time.

From conscious incompetence they may simply have forgotten what is involved.

From conscious competence they may just have got rusty through lack of practice.

Or from a position of unconscious competence they’ve been doing it so long they’ve picked up bad habits. (I think here as an example of many people whose driving skills have lapsed into something verging on dangerous simply because they’ve picked up poor driving habits without being conscious of how bad the driving really is!)

This can present a challenge for us at times, as to undo a bad habit and replace it with a new habit can be more difficult than creating new habits from scratch.

 

Moving from stage 1 to stage 2

So how do we move somebody from a level of unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence?

If somebody believes they’re already doing something well this can be a sensitive area (who ever likes to have their driving criticised?!)

One (potentially risky) way of doing this is waiting for something to go wrong. And this is often what is used to prompt training. In the case customer service training it might already be after a customer has received poor service and complained, or in the case of management skills it might be when a manager fails to get the response he expects from the team member.

it helps knowing the outcome or standard you’re aiming for, then comparing this with the employee’s level of performance. (Of course we must recognise this isn’t necessarily always a training need; it could be a number of other reasons which I’ll comment on another time. But let’s assume this time it is)

So by now we recognise a learning need, but maybe the individual doesn’t. We shouldn’t assume the employee recognises that shortfall; they need feedback to highlight the gap.

It might be advisable at this point want to steer away from the language used in the model; being told you are incompetent in a task is hardly likely to motivate or engage an employee!

The learner might now be conscious of their ‘incompetence’ or training need but still needs to be motivated to do something about it. This might be created by highlighting its relevance to their role and why it’s important.

But so often this focuses on why it’s important to the business and not what’s relevant to the individual. So focus on what’s in it for them, and of course this could vary from person to person depending on what’s important to the individual.

The better the person understands the training need prior to any tuition, coaching or training beginning the more enthusiastic they will be to even turn up for the training.

The greater the awareness or consciousness of their incompetence the more receptive they will be to learning, development and change, and the quicker they’ll move to a level of conscious competence and ultimately your goal of unconscious competence.


Show your team some love

do your team feel lovedYou might be doing all the right customer service training, but however much you invest in the training, unless you show your team you care about them as much as you care about your customers and your bottom line they are unlikely to demonstrate the behaviours and deliver the customer experience you’d hope.

I believe behaviour breeds behaviour. So a happy customer is dependent on a happy team. Have you ever been served by someone who isn’t happy and still felt you had a good experience? Unlikely.

Keeping your team inspired and engaged can be a challenge for some businesses. But a demotivated team can lead to poor performance, poor customer service, poor attendance and ultimately to losing not only your best people, but also losing your most valued customers.

So how do you show your team members that they are valued and what incentives can you give that show that you appreciate them without costing the Earth.

 

A good place to start…

Start by finding out what’s important to them. Not everyone values or is interested in the same things.

Most might say money, but it has a very short term impact. Get their money wrong and you’ll have a very disgruntled employee, but pay them more today and by next month it’s forgotten.

Whilst some love the sense of achievement or recognition others get a buzz from supporting others. Some love to have their say and see their ideas put into practice, whilst others are happiest when they’re learning or being stretched.

So ask the question.

Depending on the outcome here are 6 simple things to do:

 

1. Say thank you

The easiest thing you can do is a genuine thank you. Recognise and reward good performance, achievements and a job well-done. For many, that is all they need to feel encouraged.

It always helps to know that their work is recognised, even if this is what they are paid to do. Make a point of thanking individuals when you spot them doing something that shows they’ve made an extra effort or used their initiative.

Celebrate and share successes. Bring the team together to show you appreciate their efforts at the end of a hectic day or when everybody has pulled their weight towards a project. Your praise will create a buzz and a genuine thank you can work wonders.

 

2. A treat

You don’t have to go overboard, but an occasional treat is always appreciated. It could be something that is a win-win such as time out to visit a competitor or sister business to see how they do things and report back on ideas that can be implemented in your business.

When your team have worked long or unsociable hours that had an impact on their personal life, extend the treat to include their loved one. This not only makes your team member feel valued but paves the way for future good deeds by showing your appreciation of the support given by friends or family.

 

3. Time Off

Allowing the option to go home early, come in late, or take an additional day off to attend to a personal matter or just have a bit of fun can be very energizing.

We all lead hectic lives, so for some people some flexibility or time off could be the most valuable gift you could give them.

 

4. Make it personal

A little something that’s unexpected can evoke a very positive response.

If you’re aware of people’s interests when you see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them. Saying “I really appreciate what you do, and I got this for you as a small token of my appreciation”, not only will it make them feel they are recognised but it shows you’ve taken an interest in what’s important to them. It doesn’t have to cost the earth; just a token. Be careful it doesn’t embarrass them in any way, so consider when it is given, but at the right time can make an employee feel special and appreciated.

 

5. Prizes

There are bound to be people in your team with a competitive spirit. So consider awards, competitions, or even a league table.

League tables might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills and strengths. Tie this in with your values (it’s a great way to bring these alive!)

Keep your eye out for external awards which are relevant to your business or your market. These are an excellent way to give recognition to the whole team or an individual who has excelled. Just being nominated for awards is a great booster, and working towards an award gives a sense of focus and pride.

 

6. Development opportunities

Development isn’t just about grooming somebody for promotion. That might be one intention or outcome but even when we know that a team member has no aspirations to go further, or reached their peak, that doesn’t mean to say that we just let them stagnate.

Rather than making everybody mediocre at everything they do, tap into their strengths, talents and passions so they excel in certain areas, and work as a team to bridge the gaps in individuals’ abilities or interests.

Delegate and give ownership, such as making people champions for certain tasks. This gives them pride in the task and they’ll appreciate you’ve recognised where they do a good job (ensuring you’re careful not to overburden or just dump these tasks on them).

Think about life skills; for example offering English lessons for migrant workers.

Give people the opportunity for career progression where possible and appropriate. You may not be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small business, but having some kind of succession plan in place gives people something to work towards.

 

In summary

So by doing a little bit of homework and a little bit of creativity there are plenty of ways you can recognise and reward your team to show them some love and bring a smile to their face which they’re sure to pass on to your customers.


If you don’t want wasted time and effort

conscious competence modelWhen carrying out customer service training as well as sharing knowledge (e.g. about your products) we are developing skills, and skills require practice and feedback to get them right and build confidence.

During the training you would have established the standards, your expectations, and hopefully people will have had a chance to practise their skills in a safe environment.

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

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

At the point people finish training they are somewhere between consciously incompetent and consciously competent.

At consciously competent you still have to stop and think about how you do something, it doesn’t flow naturally. It takes longer and you’re still learning a little from trial and error. Confidence can be low as you get to grips with it all. Think of it as you were when you first passed your driving test.

So when you plan your training, schedule time to allow the team member(s) to practise and get feedback on how they are doing. It might still be on the job, but don’t expect them to be able to put everything into practice perfectly straight away. If you do you run the risk of losing their confidence. And when something doesn’t work right first time around it’s all too easy for them to go back to their old and familiar ways.

Result?

Wasted time and effort in the training.


Old habits die hard

Dont forgetYou know that frustration you feel when you ask someone in your team to do something differently, and although you know they know what to do for some reason they just don’t do it!

I managed to stall my car twice yesterday!

Not because I don’t know how to drive. It’s simply that I’d got out of the habit of changing gear, as I’d been driving an automatic for the past 18 months.

And it can be no different in the workplace. When you have not done something for a while people get out of the habit. So when you need them to go back to a previous way (maybe back to a standard that has recently slipped, or wasn’t such a priority for a while) you might need to build up people’s confidence again and start re-establishing the habit.

Of course when you stall the car you get instant feedback that you’re doing it wrong! But in the workplace it might be a little less obvious.

This doesn’t mean to say that you need to retrain people, but they night need a little bit of a helping hand, some feedback and maybe some coaching to get them back on track. And then keep an eye on them until the habit is firmly installed.



How to engage your team in customer service

How engaged are your team in customer service? Customer service and the customer experience are dependent on your team. The customer’s perception of service is only as good as their last experience!

If you’d like to explore more activities to engage your team in customer service you’ll find 28 activities here