Category Archives: Customer Experience

How to earn trust

earn trust Why you need to earn trust

According to a recent Harvard Review Survey 58 percent or people say they trust strangers more than their own boss.

This is truly shocking.

If your team don’t trust you, imagine what impact that can have on their performance, your staff turnover, your customers’ experience and your bottom line.

If you want your team to thrive, stay engaged and wow your customers start by ensuring you have their trust, and that people believe you and you will do what you say you will do.

I’ve written previously about demonstrating your trust in your team.

But trust is two way.

How to earn trust

How can you earn trust, and get team members to put their trust in you too?

  1. Show you genuinely care about them, and always have their best interests and long-term well-being at heart, not just business interests.
    A specific – but probably counter intuitive  example – is not giving in to the excessive or unreasonable demands of a customer who is having a negative impact on the well-being of team members.
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  2. Keep commitments. Do what you say you’ll do and avoid making commitments you will struggle to keep; breaking a commitment or promise is a major way to destroy trust, particularly when it’s somethings that’s important to the other person.
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  3. Lead by example, so there are no mixed messages. If you aren’t seen to adhere to the same principles and behaviours you expect from your team this is a sure way to lose their trust. Be of service and support to others in the same way you’d expect your team to be of service or support to their colleagues and your customers.
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  4. Don’t play favourites. No one likes a teacher’s pet and if one person gets recognised more than others or gets singled out for recognition it will certainly not go down well with those who don’t get the same attention (as well as potentially embarrassing the person who gets all the glory).
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  5. Show personal integrity. Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create trust. It goes beyond honesty.  One way of manifesting integrity and earn trust is to be loyal to those who are not present.
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  6. Demonstrate trust. When you demonstrate your trust in your team you will usually earn trust in return.
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  7. Play by the same rules. Sincere appreciation is an essential ingredient to earn trust. Ensure all your management team all use the same criteria for rewarding and recognising the team’s contribution, so people don’t get confused or feel deflated when something worthy of recognition gets ignored.
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  8. .Habit forming. It takes time to build and earn trust, so if you have new members in your team or you are new to the team, focus on small daily commitments.
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  9. Apologise when you’re wrong. It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another not to admit it. Saying “I’m sorry” or admitting when you’ve forgotten something or messed up will go a long way to avoid losing trust.
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  10. Trust yourself. Earning trust from others is not enough if you don’t have trust in yourself. If there’s something you really believe to be right you have to show others what you stand for and what you stand against

Take Action

If you only do one thing to earn trust:

Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show your customers. Listen to them and take on board their requests, and work with them to make their lives easier (which invariably helps productivity and frees up time to improve service levels).

Related video: Do your customers and team feel trusted?



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. 



Maintaining service standards however busy you are!

maintaining service standardsMaintaining service standards when busy

Maintaining service standards when you’re busy is just as important as it is at any other time.

Is a customer any less important to you when you’re busy than when you’re quiet? They certainly shouldn’t be; and from the customer’s perspective, they expect to get the same positive customer experience when busy as they would at any other time.

Here’s my second article related to maintaining service standards during the Christmas Season. Of course, consistency is important at any time of year and everyone in your business needs clarity on your expectations (see https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-get-consistency/ ). 

Whether you’re a leisure, hospitality or retail business in the thick of Christmas festivities, a sporting, health or wellness business anticipating a flurry of activity from New Year’s resolutions, or a tourism business with a Christmas spectacle, your customers – be they guests, members or visitors (or any other term you use to describe your customers) – don’t really care whether you’re busy, short staffed or having a meltdown; they still want to be catered and cared for just the same as any other time of year.

But if you want to maintain your customer service standards, most of the points are equally applicable to any business at any time of year when you expect to be busy or you experience peaks of activity.

7 ideas for maintaining service standards

  1. First impressions count.  Remember, when you’re busy, many of these customers may be coming to your business for the very first time, so don’t let the volume of customers be an excuse to let customer service standards drop. Create a memorable first impression and a reason for them to return.
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  2. Maintain your reputation. Avoid damaging your reputation with your loyal regulars by allowing your normal standards to drop just because you’re stretched. It may have taken years to build loyalty and trust, and this can be broken in an instant. Even more so if they are entertaining; nobody wants the embarrassment of bringing their friends to their favourite haunt, only to have their expectations dashed.
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  3. Be up front. Most customers accept that things can go wrong from time to time. But, they are far more understanding if they’re forewarned. Keep the customer informed of the situation and give them options. Customers will appreciate your honesty which helps maintain trust and keep your customers loyal.
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  4. Don’t over commit. Be realistic about what’s feasible, and what’s not a practical proposition when you’re busy, so you don’t make commitments you can’t deliver. Check your team are aware too, particularly if something regulars normally expect isn’t currently available. What can your team suggest or recommend as an alternative?
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  5. Manage expectations. For example, if you know when you’re likely to be busy, make every effort to let your customers know this. If you let them know when the quieter times are, this not only helps them, it potentially evens out the peaks and troughs for you too, enabling you to maintain customer service standards.
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  6. Avoid disappointments. When you know something is unavailable give customers as much notice as possible – through your website, when booking or enquiring, prior to travel or on arrival – to minimise disappointment. But, offer customers choice and alternatives. Being kept informed is not about making excuses!  It’s about honesty so the customer can make an informed decision.
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  7. Try something new. If something a customer might normally have isn’t available; will it be available later or not at all? What’s the alternative? What can you offer that might be as good as or even better? Take the opportunity to introduce your customers to something they haven’t tried before, or something that could be classed as an ‘upgrade’ (at no additional cost to them, of course). It’s a perfect opportunity to let your customer experience something over and above what they were expecting, so enhance their perception of customer service and value for money.
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So whether your busy season is Christmas, the January sales, or sizzling summer days, the same customer service principles still apply…

Take action

Trust is the basis for building loyalty, and the quickest way to lose this is make promises you can’t deliver. Be open and honest with your customers and brief your team fully so they know what’s available and what’s not.

p.s. If you’d like some help auditing your venue to check it meets your customers’ expectations here are 3 different audit checklists to give you a head start.

https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/checklists/



Customer Experience Goals

Customer experience goalsBegin with the end in mind ~ Your Customer Experience Goals

I love listening to books; I used to hate reading, so discovering Audible has introduced me to some brilliant books, which I’d probably never head read. I’m currently listening to Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. This is one book I have read before, and refer to his habits often.

If you’re familiar with the “Habits” you’ll know that the second habit is “to begin with the end in mind”.

Last week I talked about managing expectations, where one of the tips was to identify  the experience you want your customers to have, and the emotions you’d like them to feel. This is an example of beginning with the end in mind.

Whenever I’m working with my clients on improving their customer experience or creating a customer focused culture I find this is the best place to start. I like them to imagine either the conversation customers will be having in the car on their way home, or what they’d like their customers to feel, say, or do as a result of their visit or experience with you.

 

Emotions Matter

What emotions do you want to create for your customers? What would you like them to feel before (bear in mind a customer’s experience is influenced way before they ever set foot in your venue or business), during and after their visit?

Do you want them to feel confident in their decision, feel excited about their visit, feel special as they arrive, feel relaxed as a result of their visit? What would you like them to say about their experience? What memories do you want them to take away?  What do you want to be remembered for?

So, for example, if your venue is primarily for leisure you might want your customers to feel relaxed, energised, or calm. If it’s all about adventure you might want them to be feeling exhilarated, ready for anything, or on a high.  If your customers come to you to be pampered and spoilt you may want them to leave feeling a million dollars, feeling special, or confident.

You might not want them to be saying something on the lines of “Wasn’t that fantastic / great value / fun/”, or “We must tell John and Sarah about this place”, “We’ll definitely go back there again next week / month /year”.

What you want them to do might be to pick up the phone and book to come again, you might want them to pass on your details to their friends and you might want them to be posting a rave review on TripAdvisor. (Or of course all three!)

So how does this help you?

Once you know what you want the end result to be it’s considerably easier to plan the experience you deliver for your customers – all working towards that end goal.

You can create the activities, experiences and emotions that prompt them to feel, talk and act in this way.

 

Know what good looks like

Once you’re clear on the experience you want your customers have and the emotions you’d like them to feel (and the more precise you are the better), the easier it is to design each touch point of the customer journey to achieve this.

What do you and your team need to do, what behaviours would you expect to see or hear to achieve this? Ensure you have clearly defined expectations and standards. If you can’t describe or demonstrate what good looks like, how will your team know when they’re doing it right?

And once you’ve determined what it is you want your customers to be feeling, saying and doing as a result of their stay with/ visit to you, share this with your team.  Once they understand this you’ll not only all be working towards the same goal, but they’ll start to come up with their own ideas and spot opportunities to leave your customers feeling, saying and doing all the things you’d love them to.

 

Take Action

If you only do one thing – Ask everyone in your team to sum up in one word how they’d like customers to feel as a result of visiting your venue or doing business with you. Hep them keep these in mind to help them achieve your customer experience goals.

 

p.s.

If you’d like some help determining your customer experience goals and  ‘What Good Looks Like’ for your customer experience, book a 30 minute call with me here, where we can get crystal clear on your end goal and your priority actions to achieve this.

 



Managing Expectations

Managing expectations isn’t always easy. So what can you do to manage your customers’ expectations?

managing expectations

Have you ever had that experience on your birthday or Christmas when you’re all excited about opening a beautifully presented gift, only to find what’s inside is a real disappointment?

Or you’ve waited patiently for the delivery of that new shirt you’ve ordered, but when you open it up it’s nothing like described on their website; the colour looks different, the fabric feels cheap and it’s a poor fit.

One of the quickest ways to lose trust is when you or your marketing has promised one thing, but what your customers get is different (even if only from their perspective).

And, of course, it’s no wonder people leave unhappy if we’ve failed to meet their expectations.

 

Understand their expectation

We can help to manage customers’ expectations, but we need to define these first. Start by thinking about who your customers are in general, and what’s important to them. What are their expectations of your target audience, and are you able to meet these? Identify the experience you want your customers to have, and the emotions you’d like them to feel.

 

Clarifying expectations

Unclear expectations will lead to misunderstanding, disappointment and withdrawals of trust.  Managing expectations of individual customers starts with clarifying those expectations with the customer. Many expectations are implicit, make the expectations clear and explicit in the first place.  This can take a real investment of time and effort up front, but saves great amounts of time and effort in the long run.  When expectations aren’t clear at the outset even simple misunderstandings become a problem, turning into disappointment or even anger.

 

Implicit promises

Be honest with customers; yes, your marketing needs to sell your venue or business, but be clear about what you don’t or can’t deliver, too.

Are there any facilities, products or services that comparable venues or businesses offer and therefore customers might expect, but that you don’t provide? If you are upfront about these in the first instance your customers are less likely to feel let down. Capitalise on what you do offer instead.

A picture paints a thousand words, so is all your imagery representative of what a customer will see when they arrive. If all your images are of your suites and deluxe rooms, but what they booked is the equivalent of a study bedroom in an annex, is it any wonder they end up disappointed?

 

We’ve run out of chicken

Imagine how you’d feel if you’d travelled for something specific, only to find it’s not available?

Do you remember the KFC incident earlier this year? There may be occasions when circumstances are totally out of our control. Hopefully not quite as extreme as KFC running out of chicken! But we can still learn from how KFC’s responded to this, with a cheeky full-page apology.

If there’s anything which would normally be available, particularly if it’s one of your signature products but due to seasonal factors, breakdown, or the weather, is temporarily unavailable, inform customers in advance of their visit.

When you know you’re going to be exceptionally busy, and there’s a risk of long waits or products being in short supply, let your customers know upfront by whatever means you can. If people have a booking, let them know by email or text, if not, the very least is to let people know via your website.

 

Just to let you know…

Consider the circumstances which can impact your customers’ experience, even if they’re out of your control. For example, roadworks en route to your venue, or other events happening in your area which might impact customers. Even though this might be nothing to do with you, your customers will always appreciate being kept in the know, so they can make allowances.

 

User error

Are there any aspects of your product or service which are impacted by ‘user error’?

For example: If you need customers the return choices or confirm numbers by a certain date so you can meet their deadlines or ensure they get what they asked for. Or if there are certain steps they need to follow for something to operate smoothly such as automated systems or electronic keys.

If so make it crystal clear (in a non-threatening way!) to customers why what you’ve asked of them is important – not as a convenience to you, but how it might impact on their experience.

 

Keeping commitments

There’s probably no larger withdrawal of trust than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not keep that promise.

Stick to agreed times for returning calls, meetings, deliveries. If you’ve agreed a time or deadline, stick to it.

If your team have to let customers know of delays, ensure they are realistic about time frames; always better to over-estimate a delay, than underestimate.

 

Admit mistakes

It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another not to admit it. A sincere apology and having empathy with the customer when they feel they’ve been let down is the least you can do. Most customers accept that things can go wrong from time to time. But only if they’re kept informed.

If something they’ve asked for is no longer available; will it be available later or not at all. What’s the alternative? What can you offer that might be as good as or even better?

If there is a delay, does the customer wait, or do they do / have something that doesn’t involve waiting? That might depend on just how long they have to wait; is it expected to be a 2 minutes wait or half an hour? Being honest (and not making false promises and under estimating) allows the customer to make an informed decision.

 

Explanations, not excuses

Being kept informed is not about making excuses!  It’s about keeping the customer informed of the situation and giving them options…

However, there may be times when a little explanation helps diffuse the situation. If there’s been an accident, if it would be unsafe, if their preferred option is not up to standard and likely to disappoint. If it’s relevant to help them see why they’re not getting the experience they’d hoped tell them; if not, don’t!

Customers really aren’t interested in your staff shortages or that your suppliers have let you down or that the ‘x’ machine is broken.

 

Take action

Trust is the basis for building loyalty, and the quickest way to build this is to deliver what you’ve promised.

If you only do one thing – review your ‘promise’ to customers with your team and ask what do you say, do or show that could lead to customers having expectations beyond what you deliver. What else can you do towards managing expectations and maintain your customers’ trust?

p.s. If you’d like some help auditing your venue to check it meets your customers’ expectations here are 3 different audit checklists for hospitality and tourism businesses, to give you a head start.

 



Customer Service Week ideas

Customer Service WeekCustomer Service Week

This week is customer service week, and today is Customer Experience Day. Don’t ask me why the two events ended up falling in the same week, but it’s a good opportunity to raise awareness of customer service and the critical role the customer experience plays in running a successful business. For you, it creates the perfect opportunity to raise awareness within your own team of their vital contribution and to remind customers how much you appreciate their business.

Will you be doing anything to mark the event?

Over the past few days I’ve been sharing tips on LinkedIn on some ways to demonstrate your commitment to delivering great customer service and a great experience for your customers. (If we’re not yet connected on LinkedIn please drop me an invitation here so we can get connected now.)

In case you missed them here’s a summary of those ideas…

  1. Give recognition to your team members who go the extra mile for customers. Whether it’s a thank you card, a hand written letter or a small token gift, it’s the thought that counts.
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  2. We all know businesses who give incentives to new customers but do nothing to reward long term loyal customers. Reverse this thinking and demonstrate your appreciation of loyalty.
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  3. How can you add some GLUE, i.e. Give Little Unexpected Extras (by the way, this principle goes down well with team members as well as customers).
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  4. Your team are often much closer to your customers than you are. Get them to reflect on each stage of the customer journey and ask for their ideas on what they’d change if it was their business.
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  5. Review all the positive feedback you’ve received from your customers in the past couple of months; it lets you know what they like best and what they appreciate, and gives you great insights into what you could do more of to delight customers. (Great recognition and motivation for your team too!) If you’ve not collated any feedback pick up the phone to your most recent customers and ask for their feedback and what they think you can be doing to make your service even better.
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  6. Be proactive and pre-empt what customers might want, what questions they might have or challenges they might encounter, and offer solutions before they even ask! Think beyond your own products and services; your aim is to take away the headache of solving their problem.
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  7. Everyone likes a freebie! Offer your customers the chance to sample what you offer before they buy, just like they do in the ice cream shops… Or invite your regulars to preview new offerings before they go on sale, e.g. A tasting session of your new menu. It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate you care about your customers opinions, and get some valuable feedback.
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  8. Look for ways to save customers time and effort. If that means introducing a premium or fast track service you are at least giving customers the option; you may be surprised how many take you up on the offer.
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  9. Thank your suppliers to show you appreciate their support and contribution to ensuring your customers get a great experience, and ask them for any ideas to improve your CX.
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  10. Have some fun! Play CX focussed games, do something to entertain your customers, or challenge your customers in a fun way e.g. a photobooth or selfie contest.

Naturally, these ideas aren’t limited to customer experience day or customer service week. Creating a service culture isn’t a one off activity, so don’t panic if you’ve done nothing this week to mark the occasion. Pick one of the ideas above and do it tomorrow and pick a couple more to carry over to next week.

Your team, your suppliers and your customers don’t mind when you show your appreciation, just so long as you do it!

Take Action

If you only do one thing, say thank you to your team for their contribution to creating a great customer experience.

P.s. If you’d like some ideas of activities to engage your team in customer experience and service skills here are 38 activities

Related Customer Service Week article: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/just-like-any-other-week/


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/



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/

 


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