Tag Archives: consistency

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/


How to get consistency

consistencyOne of the workshops I was delivering last week was for a group of new supervisors. I love delivering this type of training, particularly when the participants are so eager to learn.

One of the things we discussed was the importance of consistency. It’s so easy in an environment where people work different shifts to end up with dual standards. Not intentionally, but when team members may report to different managers or supervisors on different shifts or on different days it can get confusing.

And if manager A says one thing, and manager B says another it’s easy for the team member to make up their own ‘rules’. Even when the standards are laid down, different managers may have different interpretations of the standards, or have different priorities.

This lack of clarity can lead to uncertainty.

In my experience everyone likes to know what’s expected of them.

So here are 10 considerations to help you to help your team be clear about what you expect of them.

  1. Agree what good looks like in behavioural terms and document this, so there is always a point of reference in case of any uncertainty.
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  2. Lead by example; each manager may have their own style, but their interpretations of the standards and their own behaviour should still demonstrate a consistent standard.
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  3. Ensure the same standards apply to everyone. It shouldn’t matter what shift they are on or who is the team leader/supervisor/manager on that shift.
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  4. You can still be flexible by focusing on the end result, rather than dictating how to do a task. This allows people to adopt their own style.
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  5. Once you’ve set your expectations make it possible for your team to reach these by providing the appropriate tools, resources and training to do the job effectively.
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  6. Communication across the management/supervisory team is key. If any of the  supervisory team doesn’t have the same knowledge as everyone else it’s bound to have a knock-on impact on their team.
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  7. Conduct proper handovers at the change of each shift. Make this as simple, clear and easy as possible, otherwise they won’t happen. If you need 2 versions of this one for face to face and one where shifts don’t overlap, have 2 versions.
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  8. Provide a quick and easy forum (such as WhatsApp or Messenger) for managers and supervisors to keep abreast of day to day ideas, questions or issues and anything that’s impacting the team.
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  9. Create an environment where it is easy to share best practice, recognise good performance and nip problems in the bud. Face to face will normally be more productive.
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  10. Whenever you promote someone internally into a supervisory role, ask them for their thoughts and ideas on setting expectations or gaining consistency; they will know from first-hand experience where there are any uncertainties or inconsistencies, and where improvements can be made.

Time for action

If you only do one thing – Bring all your supervisors and managers together and re-establish what good looks like.

Related posts: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/set-expectations/



Consistency +1%

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On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me…

 

Tip #3

Consistency +1%

Do what you say you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. Better still plus a little bit extra.

Everyone talks about going the extra mile, but in my book going the extra inch is enough as it gives you some leeway add something extra next time!

Whatever you deliver now effectively sets your promise for next time to. So ensure you’re able to maintain consistency, or consistency +1%


What do your customers remember most about their customer experience?

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… last impressions

A truly Memorable Last Impression

What’s the very last thing your customers see, hear, smell, taste or feel as they leave.

What will your customers remember most about doing business with you as they drive off into the sunset?

Whatever happens in the last few moments of their transaction will undoubtedly influence their lasting impression.

It could be the bill, and whether they see it as value for money. It might be the wait to part with their hard earned cash, or the way the payment is acknowledged.

It might be the attitude of the last person they speak to on the way out or in your car park. The offer of help (or not) carrying items to their car. It could be the route to the car via your backdoor, the view behind the scenes you’d rather they didn’t see; or a visit to your toilets, which might not be as pristine at the end of the day as they are at the start.

What’s the last conversation they hear as they leave? Is it all genuine smiles and sincere thank yous, or do they get to hear the back stage gossiping and gripes? Or the complaints about how busy they’ve been and how tired they are, or about how poor your payment process because of the slow internet connection which is why they’ve been kept waiting.

Do they feel appreciated and that you’re sorry to see them go?  Or are you unintentionally making signs that you’ve other more important things to be getting on with? The equivalent of impatiently looking at your watch or getting the hoover out! It may not be obvious, but letting them know you’re running late, that you’re relieved it’s home time or closing time, showing signs of rushing them out of the door or off the premises.

Any one of these could influence your customers’ lasting impression. The one they remember as they drive away, when they get home, or next time they’re thinking of doing business with you….



 

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