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5 Tips To Deliver Great Customer Service – Every Time!

Posted by Dickie Wilkinson

So why is it that so many companies get it wrong? Why do we love to rant about the appalling attitude of some staff, and tut at the ill manners of younger staff? After all, we are always happy and polite and never have a bad day in our own businesses…

Yep, you are beginning to see my point.

That is why Wimbledon Business Group recently held a ‘delivering 5 star customer service’ panel discussion with guests from a range of industries but all with one thing in common. They are all renowned for consistently delivering great customer service, and so below are their top tips on how to make sure all of your customers leave happy, and more importantly, want to return.

1 Define who your customer is

The Lincoln/Lydgate quote: ‘You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Has become memorable for its bald truth. Yet so many businesses think that their customer base is everyone.

But, that’s not true. Is the mother of two looking for the same service as the 25 year bachelor and does he have the same needs as a retired couple from Tunbridge Wells? Unlikely, so why are you trying to please all of them.

In short, make customer service easier on yourself by identifying your customer.

2 Understand what your customer wants

Having defined your customer learn what it is they want. The findings might surprise you. Why is that? Well, I bet when you started your business you decided you knew what the customer wanted… so didn’t actually bother asking them.

Yet by asking your customers what they want, you might unearth new potential revenue, and like in point one, make it easier on yourself. For example, you might think a discount voucher or weekly email is exactly what they want. In fact, your customer may prefer knowing that they can call you and a telephone will be answered within three rings.

So, if in doubt, start finding out. Ask them!

3 Communicate openly and actively ask for feedback.

Can I help you? – The cry of shop-floor staff everywhere. This seemingly helpful phrase actually cuts out any sense of helping the customer, as it is a closed question. (i.e. we can answer Yes or No and close the conversation down). Instead, consider asking open questions. This is not as easy as it seems especially in the UK where striking up conversation with a stranger seems impossible. A good tip is to remember questions that ask ‘How, What or Why?’ are usually open-ended. So, ‘How are you finding the traffic/weather/crowds today?’ is usually enough to get a reticent British shopper chatting!

Likewise make it easy for your customers to give feedback at every opportunity and again, don’t just ask closed questions that tell you nothing. Instead, ask: ‘How would you rate the level of service today?’ ‘ What can we do to make it better?’.

In brief: Embrace your ‘Britishness’ to start a conversation!  ‘Isn’t this weather hot/cold/windy/rainy/typical/unusual for this time of year?’

4 Create a positive culture

As I stated in the opening paragraph, it is easy to think that good customer is just about smiling and being nice. Nevertheless, we all know when someone is being insincere and we all have our bad days. Such is life. However if you as a boss create a culture of caring, happy, positivity then this is more likely to be passed down to your staff and ultimately on to your customers. Let’s face it, if you have just rounded on a staff member and made them feel bad just because that’s your management style you can hardly expect them to then carry on with their day all smiles feeling positive. Unfortunately if you are the sort of boss that makes people feel worthless then you probably struggle to see this in yourself… but your high staff turnover and struggling bottom line might give you some indication.

Of course the flip-side is, staff can be grumpy, surly, moody and cantankerous even when you are positive, caring and want the best for them. Therefore, always hire based on attitude not aptitude. The latter may just cost a few pounds or few hours extra spent on training them to put things right, whereas the former is never going to really change (unless there is a specific reason e.g. recent bereavement).

In short, The Bible said it best: ‘Do unto others…’

5 When it all goes wrong…

…Put it right. A survey by a consumer group showed that when customers make a complaint they want three things to happen: Apologise, explain what you will do to resolve the situation and by when, and reassure them it won’t happen again.

Similarly, the top gripe that people have about customer service is companies not keeping them informed or doing something within the period they agreed.

Note that at no point has a refund or compensation been mentioned. All are about communication.  In fact, getting ones money back is only sixth on list of the same consumer survey quoted.

To reiterate, Apologise, Resolve, Reassure.

Finally, in the spirit of great customer service here is one bonus tip for all those of you who took the time to read this far!

Bonus: What is your guarantee?

Consider from the outset of your business, what are you prepared to do if something goes wrong? Will you deliver something across the country by hand?

Will you refund the cost and let the customer keep the product no questions asked?

Will you pay for items to be returned?

Whatever it is you are prepared to do. That is your guarantee. Now make sure people know that.

Recognising Great Customer Service – More Rewarding Than Money?

Posted by Dickie Wilkinson

Being told ‘Thank You’ for delivering Great Customer Service can often be more motivating  and rewarding than Money. Customer Services expert, Derek Williams, CEO  of The WOW! Awards, shares his thoughts…

Peter tells me, “I wish I could have been there when he got called up in assembly… Apparently he raced up to the head teacher at the front, completely beaming with pride. His badge is a piece of paper, laminated, with a safety pin, maybe cost 50 cents to make…. but he is bouncing with happiness and all his friends think he’s really cool!!”

It seems almost criminal that the most important lessons in human psychology are learnt at the earliest stages of our growth and education but are then almost forgotten for the rest of our lives.

As children at home and in school we learn the power of recognition. Money would be of no use to a four year old. But a gold star on a chart or a merit badge pinned to a shirt or a little certificate from the head teacher means everything. These tokens recognising achievement become a major part of our lives. Parents and grand-parents applaud these honours. And many a child will store these little memento’s in a safe place as a lasting reminder that they are brilliant.

But what we learn in our youth somehow seems to get relegated as a memory of youth; not something that can be used in today’s world of the busy professional. In our eagerness to impress and progress we forget about the power of recognition and start instead to focus on the power of reward.

As leaders and managers we become conditioned to believe that most people will only work hard for money and if we want them to work harder then we have to pay them more. So much so that it becomes a fear – the fear that people will only respond to money or reward.

This fear gets complemented by other fears.

The fear that customers only want to complain.

The fear that we have to micro-manage in order to get the best possible outcome.

The fear that softness is weakness.

And so we create organisations that, to the outside world, appear hostile; not quite what customers might have been looking for!

The WOW! Awards. is based on the idea that customers could catch people doing things right. And what we have begun to understand from The WOW! Awards is both fascinating and contradictory…

The truth is that people love to say “Thank you,” when they receive great customer service. It just has to be simple to do, and in a way that gives front line people recognition from the most senior management. Unfortunately, most organisations only ever ask for complaints and so all they ever receive are complaints.

Fear #2: That we have to micro-manage people to achieve the best result?

Yet every time I ask people would they like to be micro managed or would they prefer to be given the responsibility, the resources and the support to do a good job, guess what their reply is?

Fear #3: That people only respond to the incentive of money or reward?

A survey of UK sales people conducted by Austin Benn found that, “Being respected is the single biggest motivator in all respondents, far more than money!” The key point here is not so much “Being respected is the single biggest motivator” but that “all” respondents answered this way. (I recommend watching “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Dan Pink).

Fear #4: That softness is weakness.

What we have discovered is that the most powerful tool at our disposal is the ability to say, “Thank you,” provided that it is done in a sincere way. When that “thank you” comes from a customer recognising great customer service, and is delivered by senior management, the power is awesome!

Derek Williams, founder of The Wow Awards! will be a guest panellist at the next Wimbledon Business Group Lunchtime Networking Event: Delivering 5 Star Customer Service.

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Holistic Fitness Battle it out for Best Business Award!

Posted by Dickie Wilkinson

The Holistic FitLogo for Merton Best Buiness Awardsness Studios, Wimbledon are pleased as punch to announce that they have been shortlisted for the Wimbledon Business of the Year Award in the Merton Best Business Awards 2014.

Up against some heavyweight contenders, Holistic Fitness have already proven that they are one of the best businesses in the SW19 area and are now in line to be the best in Wimbledon and will find out the results on 3rd October at the seriously glam awards ceremony / local-business-love-in, at the All England Lawn Tennis Association.

The competition is hosted every year by Merton Chamber of Commerce and has a number of categories allowing all kinds of businesses to enter across the borough. With hundreds of entries Holistic Fitness have shown they are fighting fit, proving that the boxing mantra of ‘Train Hard, Fight Easy’ can be equally applied to business as well as sparring!

Steve Dixon, the club owner said: ‘It’s great to have even got this far, so whatever happens on the 3rd, I already consider ourselves pretty unique as being the best martial arts dojo in Wimbledon.’

The Holistic Fitness Studios have classes to suit all ages, whatever your size, shape, gender or fitness level. They offer a friendly and welcoming environment and challenge anyone to come down and not enjoy themselves hitting each other!

Steve has been a member of the Wimbledon Business Group for a number of years and is a proactive networker and fundraiser regularly hosting events at the dojo for local charities. If you would like to speak with Steve on any aspect of martial arts, personal fitness training, business networking or just fancy going three rounds with him, drop him a line at: Steve@holisticfitness.net

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