Tag Archives: customer experience

Customer Journey Improvements

Customer Journey

Why not do something about it (i.e. the customer journey) then!

I’m just back from a walking holiday in Spain. A good hotel with great food. But so many niggling things that let it down.

Whilst out walking it might be OK to take the scenic route, but as a customer you want things to be as straight forward as possible.

For example…

The breakfast buffet was a good spread, but everything was awkward to get to. One particularly annoying thing was to open the table top fridge to get to the milk and fruit juice you had to move other items from in front of the fridge door. And there was nowhere to put anything down as you did so.

I mentioned this to one of the restaurant staff, who responded “Yes, I’ve always thought that too!

That left me thinking “So, why not do something about it, then?

Because he probably didn’t see it as his job. No one had ever asked for his view, so he just assumed it wasn’t important.

Such a waste!

So often your team members hear first-hand from customers of your short-falls and their frustrations.

Although customers might tell you where you can improve the customer journey from their perspective, failing to ask your team members first is a massive lost opportunity in three ways:

  1. You miss out on a fresh pair of eyes (and ears) on what the customer sees, hears or experiences. Encourage constructive criticism; it’s amazing what team members will spot as opportunities to enhance or modify a customer touch point to give a smoother or enhanced customer experience.
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  2. It helps your team members to engage more readily with your customers. When they’ve experienced everything first-hand for themselves they are able to appreciate what’s important to the customer at that touch point, and can relate easily to them when discussing or describing any aspect of your service or products.
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  3. When your team members spot for themselves how to make improvements, any changes aren’t seen as a criticism; rather it gives them a sense of ownership over the changes. That way it’s easier to get buy-in and a commitment to making the changes happen, and keep your team engaged.

Put your team into your customers’ shoes to experience as much as possible of the customer journey, to see everything from a customer’s point of view. This helps them put the whole customer experience into perspective.

Of course, there’s more to the customer journey than just what they experience whilst with you, such as everything that happens leading up to the point of purchase (awareness, decision to buy, etc.) as well as what happens afterwards (e.g. staying in touch, recognition of loyalty).

Customer Journey mapping means reviewing the experience your customers get at each stage on that journey.

What do you want them to feel at each point, and how well do you achieve that? Help your team understand the emotions you want to create for your customers at key touch points on the customer journey.

Although you might think the most obvious people to ask about the customer journey from a customer’s perspective are your customers, involving your team (including back of house staff) can be just as enlightening.

And, because it’s easy to become oblivious to what we’re involved in every day (and sometimes quite protective) it helps to mix up departments to review other areas of your business they might not directly work in every day.  Even your newest team members can give you a fresh perspective, and even your most experienced team members can learn something new by experiencing another department.

Often, it’s seemingly simple things. The layout of counters forcing customers to backtrack or double up – wasting time and effort; poor directions or signage – meaning customers get lost or miss things altogether (often impacting your sales too);

Of course, it may not always be possible or practical for team members to experience everything, but even if you sell high end products or exclusive services there will still be plenty of opportunity to get a sense of what your customers experience, particularly the various touch points your customer experiences before or after doing business with you, which can so often get forgotten.

But even if you offer a luxury service or product, this can also provide a perfect opportunity as a treat for deserving members of your team, whilst still providing a learning opportunity.

Take Action

If you only do one thing: Ask your team if they were a customer what one thing would they want to change?

p.s. If you’re a hospitality of tourism business here are some tools to help with your customer journey improvements, and tap into those all important opportunities for great reviews and repeat business.


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 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 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


Getting emotional

improve customer experience

Why Emotions Matter to your Customer Experience

Last week was full of emotions for me. Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of my mother’s death, Wednesday would have been my father’s 90th birthday and of course Thursday commemorated D-Day. Who couldn’t fail to be moved by some of the incredible stories told by the veterans?

But emotions aren’t all ones of sadness, reflection or gratitude.

Emotions are key in influencing our customers’ perception of service and their likelihood of buying from us, becoming a repeat customer and in recommending us to others.

In fact:

Over 50% of the customer’s experience is down to emotions.

Your customers’ experience can be your single most valuable competitive advantage, whatever type of business you are in.  But, when it comes to experience based businesses such as hospitality, leisure and tourism this of course is even more important.

It’s the experience and emotions you create for customers that gets remembered.

Their experience is based on their perceptions and how they feel about your business. In other words, it’s based on their emotions. And you and your team are the key drivers of these.

So, what do we want customers to think and feel about us and when with us; what emotions do we want them to have?

These could be emotions of fun, joy, happiness. They might be ones of pride, excitement, achievement. They might be security, reassurance, comfort, or indulgence, inspiration, relaxation… I could go on!

Think about what your customers really care about and why they buy from you specifically.

When you and your team know the emotions you want your customers to have at each stage of the customer journey it makes it so much easier for everyone to determine what needs to happen at each stage and therefore what actions and behaviours are appropriate. All too often we tell people what they should do or say, but not necessarily explain why.

When getting team members to think about customers emotions here are a couple of exercises I use:

1. The Thank You Letter

This is a useful exercise to get your team thinking about how they want customers to feel about the business as a whole but also about them personally.

The participants are to imagine they have just received an appreciative thank you letter from a customer, one which makes them feel happy and proud.

Ask them to jot down a few ideas about what might be in that letter that makes them feel good. What would be the things they’d like that customer to notice about them.

Then ask them to write the letter they’d love to receive!

The purpose of this exercise is to get them thinking about the perfect customer experience and how they might contribute to it.

2. Customer Needs and Expectations

Delivering excellent customer service and ensuring people have a memorable experience when they visit starts with understanding what they want and expect.

This exercise helps your team recognise that different customer groups will have different requirements and will want different things.

When I’m training I ask participants to identify their main customer groups, then get them to visualise each group – picturing the person (if a family, they might want to split this into parents and children and even sub-divide for different ages of children)

They are to give each person a name, gender, age, where they live, disposable income and other basic demographic information, then start adding in the detail. You can start to build up a detailed profile of them, their family and friends, their favourite pastimes, food, habits, interests, values, etc. Anything that’s important to them so you build up a profile until you feel you know them as a friend. Then draw an image of this person (and family if appropriate). A stick man is fine!

Under the picture I ask them to identify the needs, wants and expectations of that customer, that will be specific to that category and not so important to other categories of customers, thinking about their emotional needs a well as their physical needs?

Recognising that the customer journey and what influences their perception of the customer service can be determined before they even make direct contact with you, this can impacted by how they are feeling at this first touch point.

With these needs, wants and expectations in mind in an ideal world…

  1. How would they like these customers to be feeling before they arrive?
  2. How would they like these customers to feel whilst here?
  3. How would they like these customers to feel as a result of their visit? E.g. how would you like them to feel when they leave, how would you like to be remembered?

Emphasise you want them to be thinking about feelings and emotions, not about actions and behaviours.

At the end of the exercise ask them to identify:

  1. What you do brilliantly? This might include things you do that are unique or special that make you stand out from your competitors.
  2. What are the things you do really well, we’re 99% there, but with just a 1% tweak, we could make even better? (i.e. with minimal effort we could make a big difference.)
  3. Pick one emotion or feeling you are not yet achieving as well as you could. What could you do or put in place to improve this? Get them to focus on things which are within their own sphere of influence, i.e. things they could do, say or put in place that would make a difference.

Take action

If you only do one thing to improve your customers’ experience – identify the top 3-4 emotions you’d like your customers to experience when they visit/buy from you.

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

https://www.naturallyloyal.com/emotional_triggers/


Ways with Words and how they impact customer experience and service culture

words impact service culture

Do you remember the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?

Won’t they?

Ask any experienced marketing copywriter and they’ll be able to tell you just how powerful words can be in creating both positive and negative emotions, and prompting people to take notice, put up barriers or take action.

In today’s video in my mini video series on the A-Z of creating a service culture (we are up to the letter W now) I talk about the importance of your choice of words, and how some can create a positive or negative emotion; not from a marketing perspective, but how they might impact how your customers and/or the team members feel and how this gets reflected in your customers’ experience and service culture.

 

Building Rapport

People generally like (and feel more comfortable with) people like themselves. Using similar words, terminology and expressions helps build rapport with customers and team members alike. So, listen out for the terminology others use and try to use their terms rather than yours.

(This extends to showing common interests, common goals and common values.  So, assuming you share these let them know, as these can help to bond you together.  A relationship with a customer or team member will be a lot easier if you share something you have in common.)

 

Adding Value

Do you remember how Gerald Ratner described the jewellery he sold in his (up till then successful) jewellery stores?

The words you use to describe your products and services will have a big impact on how people perceive them, and the value they place on them.

Describing something as ‘just…’ or ‘only…’ can work to play down the price, but when you’re describing a product or service you have the impact of diminishing its value. Instead, use powerful words which will create emotional appeal (bearing in mind that most buying decisions are based more on emotions than logic). Such as: gorgeous, luxurious, delicious, creamy, warming.

Teach your team to use such descriptions for your products and services. That doesn’t mean to say they need a script, but get them to identify what – for them – best describes that product or service, a description they are comfortable with when explaining to a customer.

 

Dealing with disagreements

Whether it’s handling complaints, dealing with poor performance, or simply having to say no to a customer or a team member, your choice of words can have a big impact. Some are like red rags to a bull. Here are a few examples we so often hear…

Yes, but… As soon as anyone hears the word ‘but’ they know they are about to be contradicted. See: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/yes-but/

It’s our policy – no one cares about your policies, they just want to get what they want (or the next best thing).

You can’t, you have to, you must – people don’t like being told what to do; offer suggestions, recommendations, if you do X you’ll get Y (Y being a solution or something of benefit to them).

That’s not my job, that’s not our department, that’s not my responsibility.  Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do – even if this is simply helping to put them through to the appropriate person or department.

 

Blinded by science

It’s easy to fall into the trap of using industry jargon, but if your customer or team member is not familiar with this jargon, it can make them feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or patronised.

Don’t dumb down if you don’t need to, but just beware of using terms others either simply don’t understand or could be misinterpreted.

 

Common courtesies

Ensure your greetings are sincere; there’s a huge difference between a scripted, bland and robotic “how are you today, sir? ” without even bothering to look up or listen to the answer, and being greeted with a sunny smile and a cheerful “Good morning, Mr Smith! We haven’t seen you for a while; welcome back!”

Using someone’s name when you greet them makes them feel more valued. However, never shorten their name unless they ask you to. So, Mr Smith doesn’t become Fred, Andrew doesn’t become Andy or Deborah doesn’t become Debbie unless that’s what they request.

Never under estimate the value of a heartfelt “thank you” be that to a customer, team member, supplier or colleague.

 

If you only do one thing

Over the next 24 hours take stock of the words and language you use and listen the words your team use.

Ask: do these create a positive emotion or leave people with a negative impression, and how well does the outcome reflect the service culture you want to create.


One Bad Apple

employee engagement

Employee engagement ~ how behaviour breeds behaviour

It only takes one “rotten apple” to affect employee engagement across your whole business.

We have 4 apple trees in our garden and I love this time of year when you can just pick an apple off the tree. We have more than we can eat, and as we all know, if you inadvertently store a bad apple along with others ultimately all the others will go rotten too. They look OK, but open up the box in a few months’ time and you soon discover your mistake.

It can be the same in your business too.

One of my clients has one of these bad apples in her team. It wasn’t obvious at first, but over time the issues are immerging. Tasks left half done, customers given inaccurate information, other team members left to deal with more challenging tasks.

Unfortunately, these disengaged employees on the surface look the same as everyone else.

They manage to come to work on time, they do what’s asked of them and they say “Yes” to your requests.

But…

When you’re not around things get missed. They only do the minimum expected. They seldom go out of their way to support others, and they manage to avoid doing those jobs everyone hates.

They may not be consciously unhappy, but nor are they enthusiastic, excited or energised about the job.

And the worst of it is …

they are like the bad apples. If we don’t spot them soon enough they bring everyone else along with them.

It only takes one negative or obstructive person to get in the way and undo all your efforts. These people can have a massive impact on employee engagement, people’s performance and ultimately on your customer service levels.

Do you have any rotten apples in your business?

P.S. If it makes sense to measure financial and sales performance, it also makes sense to measure engagement.  Peter Drucker said it beautifully: “If you don’t measure it, how can you manage it?

Why not find out exactly where you are now.

Get your company’s engagement score in under 10 minutes, FREE

https://www.engagementmultiplier.com/en-gb/partner/naturallyloyal/



7 Reminders

Yesterday I attended the Visitor Attraction Conference in London. There was an excellent cross section of speakers, but in recognition of National Customer Service Week this week I thought it pertinent to pick out some of the observations and insights into the overall customer experience.

In a visitor attraction it is more than ever about the experience – how you leave the visitor feeling before, during and as a result of their visit. But I believe all of the points below are equally relevant in any business, be that hospitality, leisure, retail or professional services.

In fact, the experience your customers, visitors, patients, guests or clients receive might be the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors.

So, what were the points re-iterated yesterday?

Here are 7 customer service principles I was reminded of:

  1. Everyone wants value for money. This doesn’t mean cheap. There are plenty who are willing to pay higher prices providing they still see it as good value. So it’s not about discounting, but adding value.
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  2. Customers’ expectations are changing. Everyone wants an instant response, be that a confirmation of booking, returning a phone call or responding to a comment on Twitter. What are the things your customers expect as standard e.g. Wifi in public places? Customers want to share their experiences with others. Is your product ‘Instagram-able’? Let them do your marketing for you.
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  3. Customers want authenticity. This translates into helping your team members take pride in what they do and have the okay to be themselves; to say and do what they think best to meet customers’ expectations, not work from a robotic stilted script.
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  4. Make it easy for customers. Simple things like checking your website gives you all the information a customer needs to take the next step – be that placing an order, making a booking, phoning or travelling to you. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to miss key information such as how to reach you by public transport or the correct postcode to use in their sat nav to reach your entrance rather than a dead end!
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  5. Create a loyal following of local ambassadors. Involve them, invite them to see what you’re up to and if relevant to your business, offer them some incentive to use your facility, services or product. This is easy to do for a B2C business e.g. in the visitor attraction world that might mean offering a free ticket if they bring 3 friends or family along to your attraction. If you’re a B2B business, you could do something along similar lines for neighbouring or complementary local businesses.
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  6. When customers give you feedback, particularly via Social Media whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, it pays to acknowledge it: thank people for the compliments, express concern for criticisms. Not just for the sake of the customer commenting, but to demonstrate to others that you care.
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  7. Acknowledge and thank people when they’ve done business with you. This is important at the end of the ‘transaction’, but even more powerful when you thank them at the outset for choosing you in the first place. (By the way in visitor attractions when visitors are thanked when they leave it has been shown to have a 20% rise in recommendations.)

Of course, all the above can only be delivered with an enthusiastic and engaged team, and backed up by regular inspiring, engaging and memorable customer service training, so your team have the confidence and skills to meet these ever more demanding customer expectations.

Action

If you only do 1 thing:

Discuss these 7 points at your next team meeting and get your team’s perspective on how well they think you do as a business on each of these points.



Systems and resources

system daria-nepriakhina-474036Day 10 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

10. Systems and resources

How often have we heard the phrase “I’m sorry, the system won’t allow me to do that.”?

Do you have any systems in place which make life difficult for your team members?

Poor systems can be frustrating for team members, but also impact productivity, the customer experience and ultimately your bottom line.

Here are a few to look out for:

  • No system in place for routine tasks so staff reinvent the wheel every time they carry out similar tasks.
  • Not fully understood, so not followed
  • Over complicated or cumbersome
  • Too much red tape or to-ing and fro-ing that slows everything down
  • Unworkable due to lack of time, right equipment, tools, or products

Poor systems or a lack of resources inevitably puts extra pressure on the team, particularly when there is a direct impact on customers…

Resulting in an inconsistent level of service, leaving the customers frustrated or disappointed.

It’s easy for us to become oblivious of how ineffective a system works or poor the equipment when we’re not using it every day. So, ask your team for their observations and feedback.

Very often the simplest of modifications is all that’s needed to make all the difference.