Business alphabet: Q is for…Quality!

Q post pic

 

From my monthly Building Better Businesses newsletter (subscribe here):

What does the term ‘quality’ actually mean to you?

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

Some of you might say you associate quality with high levels of workmanship, or customer service, or how well that new gadget work, perhaps?

However, when you’re a customer, what really does it mean?

Well, to me, it means giving customers exactly what they want. Not endless choices. Not what I think they want. Just exactly what they want.

Ask yourself, and your colleagues if they associate quality with getting exactly what they want as a customer. What answer do you usually get? Yes!

So, even though the components of quality can comprise a a vast number of elements, the ‘quality’ itself is associated with giving the customer exactly what they want.
Take Rolls-Royce cars, for example – the finest craftsmanship, engineering integrity, attention to detail, delivered on time, every time. Yes, these cars are rather pricey, but their customers expect nothing but the very best, so that’s what a ‘Royce’ sets out to deliver without question.
So, ask your customers what they want, exactly, and give it to them. Before you know it, they will be using the word ‘quality’ when they describe you and what you do – the best marketing you could wish for!

 

Business alphabet: P is for…Priorities!

P letter

I come across many people in the business world with long lists of things they need to do. yet they often complain they never get enough of the important things done. Well, if this sounds like you then this simple solution may work for you, that takes just a few minutes each day:

The aim is simply to prioritise your list so that the most important tasks are put in their order of needing to be done.

Step 1: Decide one simple ‘yes or no’ criteria that you will use to decide which task is more important than another

Step 2: You now need to compare each task with all of the other tasks in pairs and simply decide which of that pair is most important. here how…
Number you list of tasks

Take tasks 1 and 2 and decide which is most important (according to the criteria you selected in Step 1), and put a tick again which one ‘wins’

Then take tasks 1 and 3 and do the same, then 1 and 4, 1 and 5, and so on until you get to the bottom of your list

You have now compared task 1 with all of the others

So start with tasks 2 and 3, 2 and 4, and so on (no need to compare tasks 2 and 1 as that was already carried out above)

Then 3 and 4, 3 and 5 and so on

Carry this through the whole list

The list can simply be prioritised by looking at how many ticks a task has – the more ticks, the higher the priority!

Business alphabet: O is for…Opportunity!

Sleeping monkey

 

What do you understand, in a business context, by ‘opportunity’?

More chances to sell, or make more profit? How about a chance to build better relationships with your customers, or suppliers? What about do all those jobs your accountant has been asking you to do?

An opportunity can present itself in many, many ways. The key is to ‘see’ the opportunity when it’s there.

So here’s a simple tip: which is as effective in looking for opportunities to improve your customner service as it is in keeping yourself motivated – whenever you think you have completed one task (any task), simple ask yourself, “What else can I do?”.

Simple!

Because it’s an ‘open’ question, the voice in your head will want to avoid giving a one word answer.

Catch up with a new Business Alphabet entry every month in my Building Better Businesses newsletter. Subscribe here.

What Makes Customer Service So Difficult (for so many)?

Customer Service LI post pic 240715 1

How many organisations, not least the ones we all have to deal with (e.g.: utilities, local councils, etc), just can’t wait to tell us how good their customer service is?

Or should that be how good they think their customer service is?

In reality, just how good is it?

Remember – the most important ‘rule’ of customer service is simply…give your customers exactly what they want.

Because? Because they want what they want!

I know that sounds obvious, but how many companies (of all descriptions) actually do that?

Answer: not enough!

Achieving genuine excellence in the field of customer service really is not difficult.

It may be an old, and well-worn adage, but little things really do make the difference. Solid, simple, clear thinking is vital to success – one of the easiest things to do, and yet is so often not done!

No doubt you remember K.I.S.S.? Keep It Simple (Stupid)!

Some years ago I was being spurred on to create a new attitudes, behaviours and skills development programme simply called ‘Customer Connected®’ – driven by my frequent poor experiences, as a customer, when dealing with all sorts of organisations.

Here’s an example of poor service I received recently:

I am a member of a certain health and fitness organisation (yes, tough to understand I know!).

As always, they let me know, in a letter in the post (!) a few weeks in advance of when my membership is up for renewal. Thanks for the reminder. Well done.

Now, you would think that letter would let me know the best membership deal available for my needs and, just for a bit of further information, what other membership options are available, wouldn’t you?

After all, it’s a great opportunity to grab a bit of ‘one-to-one’ with the customer and show them how much you want to meet their needs, and is so easy to do.

But no!

Firstly, the letter contained two spelling mistakes, four simple grammatical errors (commas and apostrophes in the wrong place/missing, etc). Inexcusable!

But even worse was that the letter contained absolutely no information about what my membership renewal options were, didn’t actually tell me when my current membership expired, and then asked me to contact them to discuss it!!

In other words, the emphasis was on me, the customer, to do their work for them to get what they should be providing me with in the first place!

Appalling! Bad move on the customer service front! Very bad!

Important: the company failed the simplicity test – as one deal runs out, letting the customer know of the best deal they can provide, rather than writing to them with no information at all, takes exactly the same amount of effort! So do it!

So, I checked the company’s website, only to find I cannot renew my membership online! This is 2015! The world is online! By now I, as a customer, am distinctly unimpressed!

So I grab the phone. After a few minutes of being ‘held’ in a telephonic abyss, I eventually get to speak to a human being. Who promptly enters into a written ‘script’, and tries to explain all sorts to me, absolutely none of which was of any relevance, instead of actually listening to what I wanted! Dear, oh dear!

It turns out that the staff who are directly interfacing with their customers cannot, repeat CANNOT attend to anything that the customers might want if it doesn’t fit with the very limited range of services that are available on their computer.

Yet two-thirds of customers ask for something different!

To cut this story short, it turns out that the ‘best’ membership deal is actually one of their standard products. Great. So why doesn’t your website and your letter say that?

Another addition to my poor customer experience!

Can my membership be renewed there and then? Yes. Great! At last!

So, what infathomable reasons are there for me being forced to experience this level of poor service when providing all of the information in the letter would have made me a happy customer straightaway?

Goodness knows what the real answers are to that question, but, in essence, they missed a major and so simple an opportunity to deliver great service.

Somebody, somewhere in that organisation approved the letter, designed the website (or, rather, didn’t design it), purchased and configured the telephone system, employed the customer ‘service’ personnel, and trained them not to serve the customer – all of which costs considerable amounts of money!

Or, to put it another way, adds enormous cost to the business. Cost which has to be recovered through their charges to customers, let alone the frustrations inflicted on the customers themselves.

So, if the original letter had simply advised me of their best deal, instead of nothing at all, quite a few of those additional costs could be avoided, allowing lower charges for customers or more money for investment, and, most importantly of all, much happier customers.

The lesson from all this?

However much your customer spends with you, however much interaction you have with them, and however valuable they are to you and your business, keeping them happy really isn’t difficult! Just think clearly from their position and give them exactly what they want!

For some reason, so many organisations have an overwhelming and inexplicable desire to take something really simple and make it as complicated as they possibly can. Madness!

If you really value keeping your customers happy (and happy customers tend to be profitable ones) – please, please, please don’t do it!

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

Networking: the centre of the onion!

LI post networking pic 070715 1

 

I am often asked what networking is ‘about’.

Needless to say, there are as many views on networking as there are networking events,  just about everyone wants to get more from their networking, and those who say it ‘isn’t working’ for them are usually the ones who go about it the wrong way.

So, here is a very quick selection of hints and tips I have picked up over the last 28 years…

Firstly, let’s look at how networking goes wrong.

Networking is NOT:

  • About collecting as many business cards as you can
  • About selling there and then!
  • About constantly blowing your own trumpet
  • About dominating conversations
  • About being a robot

 

Now, the simple, easy things you can do to get your networking right!

Networking IS:

  • About building mutually effective, productive relationships
  • About listening and being genuinely interested in the people you meet!
  • About reminding people you exist (N.B.: they WILL forget from time to time!)
  • About getting to know others and letting others get to know you
  • About being ‘real’

 

The most effective networks contain these (at least) – which ones are you?:

  • Highly respected, well-connected, pro-active referrers
  • Regular, repeat customers
  • Great value, reliable suppliers

Remember, building a great network that works for you and those that are connected to you is like being in the centre of an onion. Try to build layers of people you know – get to know 10 people well, and let them get to know you well too, and they will each remember you to 10 others as they network.

So spending the time and effort to build 10 really good relationships, could increase your network by 100 connections.

Especially remember most of all that networking isn’t all about you! Refer and connect those in your network who you have good reason to.

Good luck!

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.