I was chatting recently with a fellow advocate of customer service excellence – the lovely Paul Warner of When I Was a Kid (a great traditional and wooden toy company) about what makes people fantastic at providing customer service, and why so many sadly fail. Paul is perfectly qualified to have such an opinion – his toy shop has won awards for customer service and recently Paul appeared as subject matter in an article in the Guardian about providing random acts for kindness for customers! He really does always go the extra mile for customers (and people in general, they don’t even need to be customers to be on the receiving end of kind act from Paul or a member of his team!).
I’m always talking to my clients about putting yourself in the customers shoes – trying to see what your customers are experiencing from their view point – it can be a bit tricky and we can only guess, as of course we are all hard-wired with our own personalities and life experiences. However only if we try to see from another’s prospective can we have the chance to make the experience the best it can be for them (and not us!).
Paul, myself and many of you who like and get ‘people’ will find that this sort of thing comes very easily – it’s a natural way for you to behave – an inherent part of your personality. In fact, Paul and I went on to define customer service as pure common sense. It is so obvious to you what the other person wants, needs or would like, that you just know what to do or say to make them feel that they are special and you really care! Well maybe the ‘common sense’ tag comes from being a natural at this sort of thing – as thinking more deeply about this subject, it is definitely common sense, but also about being incredibly emotionally intelligent too.
The article in the Guardian went on to expand about the importance of customer service in today’s business arena – it really is so vital as business owners that you get fantastic at providing excellent service for your customers or they will go elsewhere. You must create a relationship with them and a reason to stay with you. Getting customers to buy on price alone will just put you out of business in the end – it’s a fact.
So are you a business owner with oodles of common sense and deeply emotionally intelligent? Time to look in the mirror and be really honest here. If not, find someone in your organisation who is, and put them in charge of relationships with your customers and watch how they fly (and do wonders for your business too)!
If you need any help identifying your customer service stars, please get in contact – I can help you spot and develop the right person to make customer experience a huge success for your organisation. You know it makes sense!
The Olympic Stadium
I was lucky enough to spend the morning helping a client deliver a business breakfast to invited senior property professionals. The speaker was Ian Crockford of the Olympic Delivery Authority and what a fascinating story he had to tell. Lots of amazing insights into the build and beyond – which if you’re interested, will be covered in full by the client very soon. The aspect that I wanted to focus in on was the people element (which incidentally, Ian said could fill a whole lecture in its own right).
There were 16,000 people involved at any one time on the Olympic build, and a total of 45,000 over the period of the project. The management constantly and clearly communicated with their team – everyone was always aware of key objectives, timescales and delivery plans. Health and safely were paramount, there were no fatalities or serious injuries on the build at all – beating industry standards. The had people in to talk to staff who had lost loved ones on projects and the impact it had had on their family, just to make sure that the message on health and safely really got through. Everyone took responsibility and helped each other.
They managed to create a real sense of community, turnover of staff was extremely low, there was no sabotage, racism and even swearing was at a minimum (can this be true!).
Having a clear vision, constantly and clearly communicating that vision to staff meant that the Olympic park build was a huge success – the secret of gold medal management obviously!
It’s not meant as a tongue twister, but I just wanted to make the obvious point that you can’t jump to the fun and creative stuff of creating WOW moments for your customers if you don’t have the fundamentals right in the first place!
What do your customers think of you?
Check your systems, are they smooth and efficient – are there glitches that you know you need to sort out? If there are, be honest, own up, apologise, explain what you are doing to fix things and then keep on informing about progress.
Which leads to – communication? Are you talking to people on a regular basis – are you sorting out their issues in a timely and efficient manner? Are you letting them know when you are not around, and informing them when you will be so they know when to expect your response, or a good time to get results?
Promises – do you do what you say you will do? That’s the minimum you need to do of course, if you make that promise you have to deliver at least what you said you would.
What about your staff – have you clearly communicated to them how you wish your customers to be treated – the exact same way on Monday morning to Friday afternoon!
Things go wrong, and certainly technology lets us down on a regular basis- everybody knows we can’t be perfect all the time – but it’s how we handle the imperfections that will really make us stand out from the crowd. Ignore the problems at your peril – for all the WOW moments you create will be drowned out by the noise of the disgruntled few.
What do your customers really think of your organisation and doing business with you – why not ask them? Create a great survey and say you want to understand and improve their experience, offer a prize or incentive for their time – and then comes the crucial part – implement and improve where necessary. When you have done all that – you can tell people what you did and why – happy WOWing!
Grabbing some positive attention is a great deal for any business and in these social media savvy times, you have more chance than ever before to grab your moment in the spotlight. You will gain real business benefit – driving valuable traffic to your website or helping you to build a bigger community, whatever the reason it’s definitely a good thing!
Are you gaining momentum or going downhill fast?
It can take quite a lot of ‘noise’ to gain any form of momentum for something you wish everyone to know about – but you do need to make some noise for it to gain attention in the first place!
Now comes the tricky part; in creating the noise you needed to shout about your thing, a ‘look at me’ or ‘look at what I’ve got’ type of approach, you got the reaction you hoped for and some momentum is built around your message/product etc, but if you just keep on shouting, people will stop listening; go on too much and they might never listen to you again!
Recognise that moment, stop pushing out your message and become part of the conversation, get involved in the discussion, encourage and engage with your audience – be humble, grateful and thankful – this is your chance to build valuable relationships. Get this right and next time you start to make a noise, you have a ready-built community that is happy and willing to help start that momentum all over again……
I’ve produced a FREE document for those that wish to WOW their customers – 100 Ways to WOW
Some obvious stuff like SMILE – and the biggest miss of all time LISTEN – but lots of fun and innovative ideas to help you boost loyalty and build great relationships with the people that matter most to your business!
The lovely George Clooney - it's enough to make me smile!
To get hold of your copy all you have to do is send me an email:
Put your first name, surname and your own email address and I will forward you a copy – SIMPLES!
I would love to hear what are your favourites on the list and most importantly – what your customers loved the best!
This simple post on my facebook page this week got the most likes:
“Creating WOW is not always doing something snazzy or delivering free gifts – the simple things really matter like listening, smiling and caring – solving a problem for someone makes a big difference and shows you heard them and you cared enough to help.”
Are you listening?
Many people agreed with this sentiment – and actually what you are often giving people in this scenario is the most precious gift of all – your time! It’s so important for you to understand the problems your customers and clients are facing – as once you understand this, you can make efforts to help. It doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to be expert in everything, you might be able to recommend an article, a website, an expert or a friend who can help. Sometimes it’s just simply listening that helps – so that the other person can share, air and hopefully feel better or start to find a solution themselves.
While everyone will appreciate the WOW gesture – the bottle of fizz or the lovely bunch of flowers – the gesture that truly helps fix some problems or issues is the one that will be remembered for far longer. And just to prove my point, I was once talking to someone at the Entrepreneur’s Circle about how I had too much to get done, and a couple of days later a copy of Dan Kennedy’s No BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs fell through my letterbox. It was a great read, it sits on my bedside table to remind me all that I learnt from reading it and of course where it came from 🙂
I’ve been watching the new show on the BBC – The Voice. If you haven’t seen it or can’t face another ‘talent’ show – the concept is simple; people who have a great singing voice get to sing live in front of four celebrity judges – each of the judges have their backs to the stage – they cannot see who is singing, they are purely judging the act on their voice alone – if they like what they hear, they turn their chair around.
Are you a 'celebrity' business?
What has been rather fascinating to observe are the entrants – because they are not being judged on appearance at all – it has meant that people who are conscious of being overweight, being ‘too old’, looking ‘different’, having no hair for instance have the confidence to take part and try their luck on the merits of their great voice. Interestingly some very glamorous people, who more than fit the stereotype of ‘star looks’ have not been picked (the general singing standard is very good). The reactions from the judges has been plain to see in such cases – there seems to be a genuine disappointment at missing out on the package of great looks and a good voice! Proving that what we see in front of us definitely clouds our judgement – the short dumpy person with an amazing voice versus the tall slim person with a good voice usually would win out hands down (although Susan Boyle would seem to buck this assumption!).
In business we are often very much reliant on our ‘voice’ alone – through our websites, emails, letters, newsletters and social media we are relying on creating a personality without being there in person – a great opportunity to create a ‘star quality’ to everything you do and say and really make an impact with your customers and potential customers out there!
I recently celebrated a colleague’s birthday and headed off to a new, smart French restaurant (part of a small chain) called Aubaine in the West End of London. We were a party of nine, it was lunchtime and we were all heading back to the office straight afterwards. We collectively agreed on main courses and desserts only (lightweights I know!).
There was a lovely ambiance in the restaurant, a lively buzz and wonderful decor. A delicious menu was presented as well as some lovely artisan breads to munch on whilst we made our choices. All great stuff!
We each chose our main course and the charming waitress politely mentioned that as we were a party of nine, our mains would take a little time to prepare – perhaps we would like to share some starters instead? Of course we did, we ordered three between the nine of us! (Smoothly executed up-sell – and done so charmingly one ‘hardly’ noticed – great staff training in action here!)
Our mains duly arrived and it was totally delicious – yum!
Now this next bit I felt was rather inspired – a modern take on the old-fashioned dessert trolley! We were not presented with a menu for desserts, but each dessert on offer was presented on a fancy slate platter – it was bought to you personally so you could see, drool over and actually point at what you wanted. Now at this stage in a meal, some are really feeling that they would rather not have a pud – and on reading a just a menu it’s much easier to say “no thank you” – but seeing the finished article looking all inviting and luscious right in front of your eyes – now that is hard to resist!
Well done Aubaine on creating a great customer experience alongside some great up-selling techniques!
In my chocolate workshop business, I take a lot of bookings for hen parties!
Now, I can just imagine the imagery this is conjuring up for you right now, excited girls out to have lots of fun, be a little wild perhaps and maybe make something ‘naughty’ in chocolate. But let’s take a moment to step back and put ourselves in the shoes of our customers…….
The person contacting me regarding the booking of a chocolate hen party is often the best friend, relative or even the bride-to-be herself. She is not thinking, “whoop, whoop I’m already at the party”, she is really concerned that all her close friends have a really good time, that in the lead up to the wedding absolutely nothing goes wrong, everything is as perfect as can be. It’s really important that someone understands the level of nerves and stress connected with organising a wedding and related events, and that someone really cares about making it very special!
So my first objective is to make the booking process as smooth and easy as possible. I reiterate how much I care about making the party really magical for them, and how much I enjoy welcoming everyone on such occasions – really reassuring the person that they don’t have to worry, I will do my utmost to give them a really good time. They often have demands that I can’t meet, but I don’t bombard them with the things I can’t do for them, but gently suggest alternatives for them without compromising what they want to achieve. Don’t make it their problem – solve problems for them! I also show testimonials from other hen’s that have enjoyed the experience just to reinforce that feeling of security. Get in the spirit of the celebration and really understand what you would want if you were in their shoes……
Oh and by the way, I’ve not yet been asked to supply anything rude in chocolate – my parties tend to be the event that the mother and future mother-in-law are invited along to (with some serious late-night partying later at the nightclub for some, once the mums have gone home with their lovely bags of chocolates 🙂 )
Give permission to be yourself and inject some personality into your words!
Social media, particularly Twitter is a great medium to practice – try being verbose and/or grammatically correct with only 140 characters to play with!
A great little Twitter tip, look how clever people are with the use of a hashtag # turning a word, comment or phrase into a searchable topic by adding the # gets people’s creative juices flowing, and really can show off your funny side! How about this one #threewordstoliveby – can you get a bit of yourself into just three words – #seemstoodifficult or #easyaspie?
So if we are to inject some personality in your pen, here are my top 3 tips for getting you onto the page:
- Write as if you are talking to someone – just one person, and not a crowd.
- Really imagine who that person you are writing to is – it really matters that you know what they want to hear from you.
- Read what you have written out loud, how does it sound? If it’s still a bit formal, try and write more as you say it!
And if all else fails, there are plenty of great writers out there who will definitely be able to get some of your personality in their pen!
Good luck and look forward to hearing from you @makechoccies on twitter or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org