Make briefings part of your service culture
Have you noticed how often in successful sports teams you get to see the whole team huddle together for a quick team talk? Is this just something that’s relevant to sports?
No, of course not.
When I’m consulting with businesses assisting them with upping their customer experience or developing their customer service culture, one of the common themes that comes up time and again is the frustration that arises from poor communication.
Often this might be something as simple as a product or service which isn’t available, so customers are let down. Perhaps it’s a particular customer who has special requirements, who might need some specialist treatment or VIP attention. Or maybe it’s something completely out of your team’s control, such as roadworks or severe weather, but that impacts customers.
Whatever the reason, your team need to be in the know. What’s happening and what you’re doing to add value for customers, or offering to minimise any negative impact. No one in your team wants to look unprepared or be caught unawares.
So just how do your team members get kept abreast of what’s happening day to day in your business which can have an impact on them and your customers?
In our haste to get on with the day ahead it’s tempting to rely on email, bulletin boards or a WhatsApp group. But there’s a problem with this… they tend to be one way, and little or no opportunity to question or clarify. You lose the ability to judge people’s reactions, or even know for sure it has been read.
A simple 10 minute “Buzz Briefing” at the start of each day or shift plugs this gap.
As the name suggests it’s your opportunity to create a buzz for the shift or day ahead.
It’s your chance to update everyone on anything that affects that day’s operation. Plus, it’s your opportunity to get feedback from your team on things that need attention, to answer their questions, or listen to their ideas.
All key ingredients to a positive service culture.
Here are 11 ideas to ensure your buzz briefings create a buzz for the day ahead…
- Getting the whole team together- if numbers and logistics make this possible – is ideal, but otherwise by department.
- Hold your buzz briefings at the same time each day
- Be prepared – plan what you need to cover in advance
- Start with an open question or attention grabber, and ensure you have everyone’s attention
- Aim to gain eye contact with everyone, and pick up on any looks of confusion, questioning or disagreement
- Keep them brief (maximum 10 minutes)
- Conduct them standing up
- Encourage participation – ask questions and encourage their questions, listen to ideas, ask for examples or to share their own examples, stories or suggestions
- Keep them light-hearted, but with a serious intent
- Make them a daily habit, so they run even when you’re not there
- Even on your busiest mornings make sure these briefings still happen – it’s generally on the days that are your busiest that things go wrong, and in many businesses it’s on your busiest days when you have the best opportunities for making a good first impression with new customers or increasing sales
So, what the heck will you talk about?
Every business will be different, but here are some of the topics you may want to cover:
- Specific customer activity in the business today, such as (VIP) visitors, new business or projects
- Impending deadlines and progress towards these
- Customer feedback
- Any other activity happening in the business or surrounding area that could affect customers, e.g. maintenance or road works, items in the media relevant to your customers, competitor activity
- Staff shortages, and cover of responsibilities
- Questions or suggestions your team may have about operational issues that could have a bearing on the level of service
- Feedback on any customers’ queries or comments
- Team members’ observations, feedback or questions from a previous shift
- Recognition for success or achievements from the previous day
- Home in on one aspect of customer service you particularly want the team to focus on
These actions ensure your team are not only fully briefed and competent, but also confident and enthusiastic to deal with any customers’ requests, queries or concerns.
If you aren’t already holding daily briefings you may find there’s a reluctance – “we don’t have time for these!” But treat them as an investment in time; they will invariably save time later, by preventing things getting forgotten or deadlines being missed.
Make them a habit – part of your service culture – so they run even when you’re not there.
If you only do one thing. Next time you have an important message to share with the team gather everyone round and deliver the message in person rather than sending a blanket email. Notice what happens when you deliver the message in person and encourage a two way dialogue.