Tag Archives: Caroline Cooper

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

Handle Complaints

Are your team confident to handle complaints?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Mindset

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

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

2. Core Skills

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

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

3. Knowledge

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

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

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

4. Systems

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

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

5. Support

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

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

Take action

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

Related posts

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


Marking Milestones

engage your team

Engage your Team (and customers) by Marking Milestones

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrate and share business successes

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

Proud personal moments

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

Celebrate non-work events

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

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

Marking the occasion

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

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

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

Inviting your customers to celebrate

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

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

Take action

If you only do one thing:

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

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

3 Things to get your team enthused this week



Going the extra inch – Exceed Expectations

exceed expectations

What a fabulous weekend we had for sport! Although we did have a conflict in the Cooper household, which resulted in Formula 1 in one room, and tennis in another. Sorry, if you’re a cricket fan, that didn’t get a look in!

Thinking back, is there anything we can learn from Federer and Djokovic in that brilliant Wimbledon men’s final?

Here are 3 lessons I believe we can take away that relate to customer experience, and one aspect we probably want to avoid.

1. You’re only as good as your last experience

In Wimbledon, you’re only as good as your last match.

If you don’t win you simply don’t get through to the next round.

Likewise, in the customer’s eyes you’re generally only as good as your customer’s last experience. So, get it wrong once and you need on average 10 positive experiences to outweigh the negative experience.

To build trust your customers should be getting the same level of service each and every time they visit you so they won’t be disappointed on their second, seventh or even 70th visit.

2. You have to keep training

To keep delivering to such a high standard they have to train.

Not just every so often, but all the time. Always looking for incremental improvements.

It’s the same being at the top of your game with service. You have to train your team, not just as a one off, but ongoing, always refining their skills and your processes. You need to – not just meet expectations – but exceed expectations, so with regular customers this means continuous improvement.

3. Establish routines, rituals and habits

To keep playing their best they have their own routines and rituals.

The same applies in your business, to deliver a consistent level of great customer service and customer experience you have to have systems in place that help create habits, otherwise no two days will be the same and no two customer experiences will be the same. Have systems, routines or rituals for your team to follow, whoever is on duty…. Not just your exceptional team members, even your average ones should be able to deliver outstanding service every day.

4. The extra mile or extra inch?

These guys gave it their all.

So, I doubt either could sustain this level of performance day in day out.

This is where your customer service differs.

Everyone talks about going the extra mile. And of course it’s good to exceed expectations, but it doesn’t have to be massive. Whilst going the extra mile is good, just going the extra inch or two can make a difference and still leaves you with more in the bag to pull out next time!

Simple things such as getting back to people quicker than anticipated – speed always impresses, including something you thought they’d like just because you know it’s their favourite (the fact you’ve remembered this will of course earn you bonus points), or any of the little unexpected extras I talked about in last week’s blog, or in the video here

If you only do one thing

Delivering what you’ve promised is a given. But what can you and your team do to exceed expectations? Go the extra inch; not massive leaps; but aim for Consistency +1%.

That way you’ll always have something left for next time to impress those regulars!


Don’t ruin the surprise!

giving surprises

It’s my birthday today, and my husband is away, helping out a friend in France. I think it’s the first time in our 34 years of marriage we’ve not been together for at least some of the day on my birthday.

When the phone rang yesterday morning, I answered it with my normal greeting “Good morning, Caroline Cooper”. So the call didn’t exactly get off to a good start when the voice at the other end said “Is that Clive Cooper?”

When I went on to tell her he was away, she proceeded to tell me she was calling from an Interflora florist about the delivery of flowers for today; completely ruining the element of surprise!

To add insult to injury, she wasn’t allowed to discuss it with me (despite the fact that the flowers would be addressed to me) as I was not the person who had ordered them. Oh well, I just hope I’m not disappointed when they arrive!

Rather than ruining surprises we should be creating them instead.

That’s what GLUE does.

GLUE stands for Give Little Unexpected Extras, and this is a concept which works equally well for your team as it does for customers.

  • Giving little unexpected extras means firstly that you give something, so you’re not necessarily expecting anything in return; it’s not intended to be reciprocated, it’s simply being generous.
  • Little, means it doesn’t have to be anything lavish, it could be as simple as a thank you card. It’s not a big deal, but is actually something that means something to the individual.
  • It’s unexpected, so that means that not everyone is going to get otherwise is no longer surprise.
  • And it’s something extra, something over and above what you normally do, offer or include

So let’s think of a few examples:

  • It could be that one of your team members are about to go on holiday, they’ve put in extra effort over the last few days so as a thank you, you give them the opportunity to go home a couple of hours early to get sorted and packed.
  • It could be as simple as putting a little thank you card in the post, to a customer saying we really appreciate your business, or to a team member saying thank you for helping out or going above and beyond on a particular project or event.
  • It could be as simple as this, you see it’s raining, and the customer doesn’t have an umbrella, so you find them an umbrella to see them on their way.
  • Or a customer mentions something you don’t normally stock, but you go out of your way to find it for them
  • Gift wrapping or packing something with a personal touch or greeting because you notice it’s for a special occasion
  • Including something extra just because you think they’ll appreciate it due to e.g. the weather, time of day, who they have with them.

All these are spontaneous unexpected extras – all of which are tailored to the individual and the situation. They’re simple little gestures that don’t cost much.

They are all things that are low cost to you but which the recipient will really value.

So, make your ‘extras’ relevant, well timed and personal.

Start by giving little unexpected extras  to your team, so they are on the receiving end and they know how it feels.

And then give them licence to give little unexpected extras to your customers.

Take action

If you only do one thing, add some GLUE for someone today – whether it’s their birthday, as a thank you, or simply to let them know you care about them.

Related video: https://youtu.be/aWQtQx8tMtU

Related post: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/employee-recognition/



Batteries not included

adding valueHow to get your customers spending more and thanking you for it

One of the ways to grow your sales is to increase the spend of each of your customers each time they visit or buy from you. They’ve already bought from you so they now know you, hopefully like what you have offered them, and by now they’ll be able to trust you. So you already have a relationship.

The challenge is we (and our team) often feel reluctant to “upsell”. We don’t want to be pushy or be seen to be manipulating customers into buying something they don’t want.

But just think about it for a moment….

How would you feel on Christmas morning when your child (or grandchild) excitedly opens their new toy and wants to play with it right now. They turn to you and say “But Daddy, it’s not working”. You then see those words “Batteries not included”?

Imagine the disappointment.

Or you buy them that electric guitar they’ve craved for so long, and all they want to do all through the holidays is practise on it…….. And at the point you are about to pull the plug on it (quite literally) a friends says “But didn’t you get them a set of headphones too?”

If only someone had suggested this sooner!

Rather than feeling uncomfortable about someone trying to sell you something you didn’t want or need you’d probably be frustrated or even annoyed if they hadn’t suggested the additional items such as the batteries or the headphones.

Equally when somebody is coming to us to have a good time, by letting them know about other products or services that might complement what they’re already having or doing, you can really help to enhance the whole experience. (As well as helping your bottom line!)

Wikipedia describes upselling as ‘a sales technique whereby a salesperson induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale’. I’m not sure I like this description as it implies it’s very one sided in favour of the business, with little benefit to the customer at all.

Although upselling usually involves marketing more profitable services or products, it can also be simply exposing the customer to other options he or she may not have considered previously. Upselling implies selling something that is more profitable or otherwise preferable for the seller instead of the original sale’.

But is it just about increasing the customer spend, or is it also about giving the customer a better all round experience, giving them something they might have forgotten to order, or never even thought of?

So instead thinking “upsell” think in terms of “adding value”.

 

What to promote

So in order to do this effectively the first thing is to determine which are the products or services you wish to promote.  It obviously makes sense to be promoting high profit items, but there can be a danger in using this as the only criteria.

Unless what you are promoting is perceived as value to the customer, it’s unlikely the sale will be achieved, and does little to build your customer’s loyalty or trust.  It’s also important to distinguish between high selling price and profitability and appropriateness to meet the customers’ needs.  For example upselling to a more expensive bottle of wine when it does not appeal to the customers tastes, or upselling an annual admission ticket to someone who doesn’t live locally and is unlikely to make use of it.  You end up with an unhappy and disgruntled customer. So a very short term gain on your part, and hardly likely to lead to a naturally loyal customer.

 

Spot the opportunities

Look at all the situations that lend themselves as an opportunity to add value – not just in everyone’s own department – but across all areas.

Know your audience and review the buying patterns of your most profitable customers; what types of things do they frequently buy together?

Put yourself in their shoes; what might be a logical accompaniment for the main thing they are buying (in the same way that batteries are a logical purchase if you’re buying a toy that runs on batteries).

  • At salons – If clients are looking to get glam for a special occasion, would they like to get their nails done whilst having their hair done, or take home a special lotion to complete their beauty regime
  • For hotels – options on accommodation – room upgrades, special packages, champagne in rooms, recommending quiet times for spa or fitness centre
  • In the restaurant – bottled water, suggestions for starters, accompaniments, side orders, deserts, desert wine, specialist coffees, after dinner drinks
  • Attractions and museums – upgrading to annual tickets, access to exclusive areas, invitations to special events, cross promoting concessions’ facilities such as the café.
  • At the bar or cafe – branded beers, snack items, pastries with their coffee
  • Follow ups – Does your service warrant an ongoing programme of sessions for best results, e.g. therapies, sports lessons, beauty treatments

I’m sure you’ll have many more specifics for your own operation.

Think ahead and try to anticipate things your customers might appreciate.

For example if someone is coming to you to buy a gift or to treat someone for a special occasion think ahead to what else they might be looking for such as gift wrapping, or card, champagne, flowers, celebration cake, etc

If what you provide involves the great outdoors and braving the elements what else might your customers need or want so that their experiences aren’t marred by bad weather? Having appropriate wet weather gear, hip flasks, and umbrellas are just a couple of things you might think of making available.

(There may be plenty of additional opportunities to team up with other businesses who share your customers, but let’s save that for another day…)

 

Tell your customers

Don’t rely on telepathy for your customers to know what’s on offer! Have other products on show and give plenty of information on other services. And let customers know the benefits.

Ensure you and your team are able to talk confidently about each of the products and services available. You can’t sell something you don’t understand (think Curry’s on a Saturday afternoon, when you ask a newbie 16 year old sales assistant about the features of the TV you’re looking to buy……)

Allow your team to experience all the products and services first hand – this will not only make them more memorable, there will be more willingness to promote if they are confident to talk about it, and it will certainly be easier to evoke emotional appeal through vivid descriptions of feel, taste, smell, if they’ve experienced them themselves.

It’s also about timing.  If you’re offering something that needs time to enjoy or savour, there’s no point telling them about it just as they are about to leave.

However, it’s always going to be easier to sell something of lower value at the end of the ‘sale’. Take for example when you buy a new suit, and you then get offered a shirt to go with it. The price of the shirt by comparison is small, so it’s an easy sale. Done the other way round has a very different result.

Judge your customers and when is the ‘right time’. For example in a restaurant selling desserts – ask too soon and people say they are still too full, and go straight on to coffee, ask too late and they have gone off the idea, and want to head off home. So it’s sometimes a fine line.

 

Train your team

Demonstrate to your team the importance of offering additional items to add value for your customers. Allow them to practise:  for example how to ask open questions to identify customers’ needs and how to respond and make suggestions.

It’s all very well knowing what to say, but you know how sometimes when you come to say something the words just don’t trip off the tongue as you might hope!  Let your team practise in a safe environment, based on different scenarios. And most importantly give them authority to look for opportunities and make suggestions and personal recommendations.

It all adds up to giving value, and making sure your customers don’t leave without their batteries….

 

Join me on my free webinar on Monday 3rd December “7 keys to staying on your customers’ radar to get the easy business that’s right under your nose”     Click here to register

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What we can do to get kids hooked to the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry

 

OK, I’m hooked

If anyone had suggested to me a month ago that I’d devote the best part of a sunny summer weekend to watching road cycle racing in preference to gardening I’d have thought them mad! But that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Seeing our boys in the Tour de France was the start, and then having the opportunity to be a part of the Olympics right on my doorstep all for the cost of a train fare was too good an opportunity to miss.

The day on Box Hill was perfect; an amazing atmosphere, great weather, brilliant view and not one, not two, but eight chances to see the action on the loop.

Needless to say I was hooked, and was glued to the telly for the entire ladies race on Sunday, despite a hundred and one jobs to do in the garden (and despite what was seen on TV it was actually sunny in Sussex most of the time!).

So what can we learn in business and in particular hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses from this surge of interest in cycling and other sports? 

One of the biggest problems I hear is the concern for a lack of young talent joining the industry. So what can we do to emulate the success of attracting new talent to cycling, athletics, or rowing?

There have certainly been some fantastic role models for the next generation. And what an inspiring idea to have youngsters nominated by some of these past winners to light the Olympic flame.

But the sports have gone far beyond this; rather than waiting for the young talent to come and find them, they’ve been out into schools to find them.

We need to follow suit. And not just leave this to the likes of Springboard. We all need to be doing our bit to fly the flag for the industry and inspire youngsters to want to be a part of it. It won’t happen overnight – most of the youngsters competing for the first time this year have been in training for years. Not all will make it of course, but the earlier we can introduce youngsters to the industry and all it has to offer the more likely we are to leave them with a positive perspective and attract new talent.

Parents, teachers, college lecturers, and careers advisers all have a part to play in influencing future careers. What perception do they have of the industry? Let’s do all we can to educate them and ensure that hospitality, leisure and tourism management is given the profile it deserves.

Establish ambassadors who can generate the passion. Offer work placements to schools and colleges, and make these fun and informative. Organise ‘A day in the life’ and open days for schools, colleges and careers advisers for them to get a real feel for the roles and opportunities, and a chance to talk to those who do the jobs.

Offer work placements for universities that give a structured programme and a really in depth view of the options within hospitality management so once they graduate they stay the course. Feedback from graduates who have experienced work placements in a particular segment of the industry are invariably drawn back to the same disciples on graduation. Without this connection it’s all too easy to stray into other industries if a job of their choice is not immediately forthcoming; potential talent maybe lost to the industry forever.

Let’s put on our own show open to all and give everyone a taste and a chance to be a part of this fantastic industry.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/

 


Getting your team on board for their performance reviews.

Getting them on board for a staff one to one.

One to ones should be a two way discussion. Ask open questions to get their ideas on performance and how to move forward.

When giving feedback on their performance use the AID model:

  • A  Action what they did – i.e. what you have seen or heard (back this up with examples, focus on actions not on your interpretation or their intentions)
  • I  Impact – what has that achieved, or what impact has it had on the business, the department, the guests, or themselves
  • D  Development – what can they do to build on this, or do differently to improve or perfect, and how you can support them

Ask for their views, not only on their performance, but what support they need, what could be improved in the business, what feedback they have had from guests, their suggestions for future objectives. And be prepared to listen to their answers and probe for more detail or examples if you need to so you fully understand what they are saying.

Remember, if people’s previous experience of one to one meetings up till now has been bad or at best just a waste of time, it can take time to build trust before these can be totally honest exchanges. Start by asking the questions above, or similar, and use this as a starting point to get the discussions going.

 

Where to begin

If you aren’t already conducting regular one to ones now might be a good time to start.

Begin with the end in mind.

Use your first meeting to establish (jointly) their goals and KPIs if you don’t already have these in place.

So, get your diary out and get these in your diary. You know if you don’t they’ll never happen!



What’s the point of a business card?

Whenever I visit a hotel or B&B I like to take a business card – well, I do if I think I will want to remember the place.

But I sometimes wonder why people bother with business cards. I mean, why have them if they are tucked away, where guests can’t see them?

Let me give you a couple of recent examples. One B&B I visited recently had cards for local businesses neatly displayed, and I picked one up, thinking it was for the B&B itself. (This is what happens as you get older and your eye sight goes – if I have not got my glasses on I never quite know what I’m reading!) When I asked for the right card, the owner could not even remember where she had left them!

Then at another a few days later I simply forgot to ask, as they weren’t visible. The chances are I’ll have forgotten the name of the place by next week.

And worse still at one hotel where we dined last week and had a fantastic meal with excellent service, the cards were kept in a locked drawer!

Do any of these ring true for you?

So what’s the point of a business card?

  • A memento for the guest of a good time
  • To find you easily if they have some feedback, either directly or on TripAdvisor
  • So they can remember you to make recommendations to others
  • Something to pass on to friends or colleagues so they can find you easily
  • So they can remember your details for a future visit, and help you get repeat business

Use your business cards to help build and maintain that connection with your guests. They are part of your marketing and PR armory. You’ve gone to all the trouble and expense of getting them printed, now make sure you are getting a return on that investment.

Hear it from the experts. Join me on my regular FREE interviews when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge. In my next interview I’ll be talking to Petra Clayton of Custard Communications, PR for hospitality businesses.  Find out more and register here.


Chalk and Cheese

Last week while I was on holiday in Scotland we had a fabulous meal at the Ardanaiseig Hotel in Argyllshire, where Chef de Cuisine is Gary Goldie, Chef of the Year, Scottish Hotel Awards 2011. We enjoyed it so much we went back the following day and spent time at the hotel and exploring the gardens. On both visits we received a warm welcome and attentive service.

Compare this to another local hotel. Same star rating, equally impressive location and stunning views across Loch Awe.

Sadly the same could not be said for the impression it left on us.

As we drove up to the entrance a sign directed us to the back of the building. I could appreciate they did not want cars parked at the front, interrupting the views. However, grand as the front entrance was, the back was far from impressive. As we approached the car park, we felt as if we were getting the evil eye from someone sheltering from the rain under the archway, smoking a cigarette. We could only assume form his attire that he was a hotel employee.

On entering the car park, we passed unsightly equipment – a rusting barbeque and other dishevelled tools. The back of the hotel was far from attractive and at this point I almost suggesting turning round and heading back to the Ardanaiseig. We carried on and down the back steps, passing the window to either the cleaning cupboard or kitchen, whose cluttered windowsill was laden with cleaning products. Then into the back corridor, only to walk past the gents, with the door wide open and the urinal in full view.

I’d love to say this could be forgiven had our afternoon tea made up for it – it didn’t. We waiting over half an hour and when tea did finally arrive, it was luke warm!

What a waste. This hotel could have been fantastic, had someone just thought through the customer journey and taken a leaf out of the Ardanaiseig’s book.

 

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The Value of Referrals

I’m having lunch today at Raymond Blanc’s restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

Of course I’d heard great things about the restaurant in the past, and have even met Raymond Blanc some years ago, but to be frank it probably was not on my priority list of places to go.

Then last summer when I was interviewing business strategist Peter Thomson for my series on How to give your hotel a competitive edge, Peter sited Le Manoir as an example of phenomenal service. He described it as “Absolutely fantastic from start to finish”.

Shortly after my interview with Peter some friends of ours were visiting from Denmark. They asked us to put together an itinerary for them for a week in the south of England. So remembering Peter’s comments I recommended Le Manoir, and duly made a reservation.

Our friends absolutely loved it.

….So much so, in fact that they could not believe we’d never been ourselves, and invited us as their guests; hence our trip today.

So from one person’s experience has come not one further booking, but has sparked a whole chain. And it probably won’t end there. As I was telling some friends about this on Friday, they too suggested a visit for their forthcoming 50th birthday.

Of course, this hasn’t happened by accident. It has had to live up to its reputation, and offer something that will continue to wow its customers on a consistent basis. But even without such a celebrated chef as Raymond Blanc, every hotel or restaurant should be able to find that something special that will continue to wow their customers and guests every time they visit, and prompt repeat business and a chain of referrals.

So what can you do to wow your restaurant customers and hotel guests and give them something to talk about, so they tell their friends and spark that chain of bookings?

 

I’m currently running a further series of FREE interviews, when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge.  Find out more and register here.