Category Archives: Change

6-steps-to-dealing-with-Customer-Complaints

6 Steps to Dealing with Customer Complaints

In an ideal world, your customer service skills mean that there are no complaints. However, it’s important to be prepared to handle them if they should occur. Strong customer-oriented professionals have a positive attitude towards complaints. They see them as an opportunity for improvement and a chance to rebuild and strengthen the relationship with the customer. Research tells us that less than 5% of unhappy customers will make a complaint. Most of the 95% who will not complain, will stay away and will tell others of their problems. Apply these customer-orientated tips in dealing with complaints to create a positive outcome for all involved:

  1. Listen actively

Allow the customer to explain the problem as they see it. Ask open questions to ensure you understand their concerns and that the whole problem is on the table. Allow the customer to let off steam if necessary and don’t take this personally. They will feel better and you may pick up valuable clues as to the real issue. Repeat back what you have heard to check you have heard it correctly. This also demonstrates that you are taking the complaint seriously.

  1. Apologise and empathise

To the customer, you are the organisation. Apologise promptly and sincerely on its behalf. Even if you are not responsible for the problem, you are sorry that it has happened. Show that you recognise and understand the customer’s feelings. Use the customer’s name frequently to connect with them at a personal level and choose words that accurately reflect their mood. Don’t react emotionally, make excuses, blame the customer or others in the organisation, bureaucratic procedures or suppliers. Remain ‘Above the line’ at all times. The customer is not interested in your problems or excuses, just the solution. Recognise that through your attitude, you can affect the customer’s behaviour.

  1. Take responsibility

Use positive language, focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Take care not to over-promise. Involve others if you need more authority to solve the complaint. If possible, offer several solutions and involve the customer in choosing the right solution for them. Stay calm, positive and in control of the situation. Remember, always take a complaint professionally, not personally.

  1. Thank the customer

Complaints are your opportunity to improve and to strengthen relationships. A sincere expression of appreciation to the customer will reassure them that you are taking the matter seriously, that you value their custom and that you welcome their feedback.

  1. Follow it through

Set the action plan in place immediately and check that it is completed as promised. If you have agreed to a deadline, stick to it. Keep your customer informed along the way. Share the experience with others in your team so that they can learn and develop their own skills in dealing with complaints. Use the complaint as a catalyst to suggest or set in place systems, policies or actions that will prevent the problem occurring again.

  1. Go the extra mile

Look for further opportunities to prove your interest in your customer by providing a little more than they expected, try to think outside of the box when coming to a solution for the customer. Follow up to check that they are happy with the resolution of the issue. Keep in touch through letters and emails to ensure the relationship continues. See complaints as an exciting opportunity to improve performance at all levels and to reduce complaints in the future.

Most organisations have a formal procedure for handling complaints. Ensure that you are aware of these procedures, or work with your team to prepare one if it does not exist. Whether you are the first point of contact, or become involved at a later stage, the most important ingredient to success is your attitude in handling the complaint. Bringing an ‘Above the line’ approach to the process, communicating with empathy and by applying the following steps, will ensure that a positive outcome can be achieved for all concerned.

The-Key-Qualities-of-a-Customer-Service-Superstar

The Key Qualities of a Customer Service Superstar

Multiple research reports show that customers were willing to spend more with a company that they felt provided an outstanding customer experience and excellence in customer service. Good customer service will elevate your organisation, while bad customer service can really set back your company’s reputation and profits. There are certain attributes and qualities that set excellent customer service employees apart. Identifying and developing the following traits is the quickest way to becoming a customer service superstar:

Patience

Patience is a virtue. We have all heard that saying before. It is also an attribute that those highly skilled in customer service constantly demonstrate. Staying patient with an indecisive or difficult customer demonstrates very clearly that each and every customer interaction is important and valued. Take the time to truly figure out what your customer’s needs are and respond in a patient, friendly and efficient manner. Remember, customers prefer to receive competent service rather than feel like they have been rushed out the door or off the phone!

Attentiveness

Attentiveness is the ability to be observant and alert and to pay close attention to someone or something. Attentiveness in customer service means really listening to customers, being alert to buying signals and non-verbal cues and observing their actions and reactions to comments or products. To deliver and exceed expectations you need to pay attention. Attentiveness is providing the sense that the most important person in the room is your customer. It means being present and thinking about the real meaning behind their words. This helps to provide a relevant and informative response or solution. Showing care for every customer will provide a positive outcome every time.

Tenacity

Tenacity is the attribute of persistence, determination and perseverance. It is a quality displayed by people who just won’t quit. This attribute is important in every role and endeavour in your personal and working life. Being willing to do what needs to be done, to resolve any issues and not take shortcuts is a key attribute displayed by tenacious customer service professionals. Many memorable customer service stories tell of a single employee who was willing to go the extra mile to help someone out. Many of these stories are told in the context of the huge impact the individual effort had on the business and on the customer.

Willingness to learn

A genuine willingness to learn is another key attribute required by all client-facing employees. We are all working in a rapidly changing workplace that requires constant learning and upskilling. New learning could relate to new systems, technology, products and services. It could also relate to changed policies and procedures and updates to legislation and regulations that are relevant to your industry sector. Consider every learning and development opportunity as a way to increase your personal intellectual capital.

Development opportunities can also come from customers. Not only is it important to be attentive to individual customers, it’s also important to be attentive to the feedback that you receive. Rather than looking at this type of feedback as a negative, you should view it as an opportunity to find out what is not working, what you could do better or how you could improve the customer experience. Honestly reflect on their feedback and consider how you can apply it into improved personal performance.

Staying calm

There are a lot of metaphors about people who stay calm such as ‘keeps their cool’ and ‘staying cool under pressure’ but they all represent the same thing – developing the ability to stay calm and even influence others when things get a little hectic. The customer service professional knows that it is not helpful to get rattled during busy times or to let an angry customer force them to lose their cool. In fact it is their job to try to project efficiency and capability in the interest of achieving a desirable outcome for the customer.

When it comes to providing outstanding customer service, it’s the people who make all the difference. While it certainly takes time, training, practice and dedication to become a superstar in customer service, it doesn’t have to be that hard when you know where exactly to focus your efforts on. Check out LMA’s Exceptional Customer Service course to further develop you or your team’s to become customer service superstars.

Developing-a-‘Be-of-Service’-Attitude

Developing a ‘Be of Service’ Attitude

“Customer Service is not a department. It is an Attitude.”

Multiple research reports show that customers were willing to spend more with a company that they felt provided an outstanding customer experience and excellence in customer service. Learning more about the skills, attributes and knowledge required to become customer service professionals is only one part of your development journey. This effort will only pay dividends when you also develop your genuine ‘be of service’ attitude. Excellence in customer service is actually 80% attitude and 20% skills and knowledge. The right attitude provides you with the approach you need to use your skills and knowledge to your full potential.

Further develop your ‘be of service’ attitude by applying the following strategies to customer interactions:

Have Confidence

Projecting confidence gives the impression that you are able and willing to help a customer. Confidence comes from ‘knowing your stuff’ and believing you will be able to tackle any challenge that comes your way. For customers, competence is a signal that lets them know that the person they’re working with has the requisite skills and abilities to complete their transaction or resolve their issue.

Think Positively

Our thought process and how we choose to think is reflected in our attitude. Every situation or moment has dual ways to look at it. It is up to you to choose how you would like to react to the particular scenario. Even if the situation is challenging and taking a toll on your patience, you will have to try and find out the tiniest positive aspect present in it. Setting the tone for a positive interaction can help to guide the way to a successful customer experience that will result in a favorable outcome for your customer.

Keep an Open mind

Being open-minded typically makes us more adaptable to a unique work environment or a challenging situation. It gives us the ability to consider alternative approaches to problem solving, to take risks and look for opportunities. Taking the time to consider all possible outcomes of a situation, the good, bad and in-between allows us to reframe the situation and think about it with an open mind resulting in a positive solution for the customer.

Take Ownership

Bring an ‘above the line’ attitude to all of your customer interactions. This approach means taking personal responsibility and ownership, being proactive and solution focused. Consider the difference between a customer service representative who takes no responsibility and one who acknowledges the concern and communicates a willingness to find a solution. We all know which person we would rather deal with and we also know which interaction will enhance the customer experience.

Remember, attitude is everything and whether your attitude is good or bad, it is this attitude that people are going to remember more than anything else. The good news is that you control what attitude your customers will remember. With a genuine ‘be of service’ attitude you are able to make full use of your skills, knowledge and attributes to meet the needs, wants and expectations of each one of your customers.

Can you can implement some of these strategies to develop the right attitude for business success and a ‘Be of Service’ attitude in the workplace?

Improve-Productivity-by-Controlling-Interruptions

Improve Productivity by Controlling Interruptions

Everyday interruptions at work can be a key barrier to managing your time effectively and, ultimately, can be a barrier to your success.  The working day can be hectic enough without regular interruptions from your co-workers, your email inbox, and the smartphone in your pocket.

If you have your own office, close your door to discourage interruptions when you have important work to do.  An “Open door policy” means only that people should be able to get your help (to open your door) when necessary.  An office door standing open invites people to stop and chat for a moment.  If it is closed, they assume that you are busy and think no more about it.

For those people who work in open plan environments, a closed door is not possible.  Arranging your work area or work station so your back is turned to people passing by lets them know you are concentrating on work but available if they have a pressing reason for interrupting you.  Find a system that works for your situation to set communicated and realistic boundaries, yet provides reasonable accessibility.  The development of a signal amongst your co-workers lets them know you don’t wish to be disturbed.  This could be the placement of an item on your desk or hanging a scarf over the end of your workstation.  A simple technique is to just tell people the times you prefer to be available to them or to return calls.  Remember, if you are not working on your priorities, you are probably working on someone else’s priorities.

If you answer your own telephone, don’t let it control you.  Put it on Do Not Disturb and allow your voicemail to pick up messages if you are in the middle of focused work.  You can return the calls when you have completed your imperative and important activities.

If you have a receptionist or assistant who answers your telephone, ask them to hold your calls and give your messages to you all at one time.  Reserve a particular time during the morning and again during the afternoon to return all telephone calls.  Train this person how to recognise important calls that should be put through immediately and how to handle other callers politely whilst still protecting your time.

If you found these tips helpful, please check out our FREE LMA resources available here to download.  These resources cover a range of procedures from team work analysis to communication, leadership and productivity.

Motivating-People-Through-Change

Motivating People Through Change

Change is an essential part of any healthy business. If a business is to progress and evolve you have to be willing to embrace change. However, a period of transition inevitably brings with it numerous challenges, not least of these are the “people issues.”

As a leader, one of the most difficult aspects of working through change is managing the human side of the business. Let’s face it, most people are resistant to change. Change can bring about doubt, fear and indecision – any of which is enough paralyse your team.

One of the keys to successfully navigating any period of change is ensuring that the human side of the business is properly prepared and managed and there are several ways you can do this.

Make clear the reasons for the change

Not understanding the reasons for the change is one of the quickest ways to ruin motivation. If your business is going through a transformation, make sure that everyone understands why it’s happening and what to expect in terms of outcomes, benefits and challenges. If your people have to work through a period of disruption, they are less like to become frustrated or disillusioned if they have a clear understanding of the reasons behind the changes.

Make sure people know how they will be affected

When faced with changes at work, most people will immediately think “How will this affect me?” However, few people will actually come straight out and ask that question. Take the time to explain to the people how it will affect them, rather than focusing solely on how it will affect the business.

Two-way communication

As with any aspect of people management, communication will be the make-or-break factor in keeping your team motivated. However, clearly explaining the reasons for the change and how your people will be affected is just the beginning. Provide regular updates on how the project is progressing and check in with your people to find out how they are coping. Remember that new questions and concerns will continually emerge as the project progresses. Make sure that these are regularly and promptly addressed.

Be honest

Never try to sell a negative change as a positive one. Chances are your employees will immediately see through the spin, resent you for it and be less inclined to buy in to the change. If the change is negative, be honest about the reasons for it and the necessity of it. If the change will have short-term negative effects that will ultimately lead to a positive end result, be up front about that too. If the changes will negatively affect a particular department more than others, you should acknowledge this. Hearing the truth up front and from leadership is better than finding out that something has been concealed.

Make room for individuals

Remember that people are all different. If you’re making significant organisational changes there is no single timeline for getting people on board. Some will understand the reasons and start working towards those ends almost immediately, while others may take some time to come around to the merits of the project. Give people the time, the freedom and the resources they need to come to terms with the changes. Make note of the people who are struggling and help them where you can.

Be aware that it’s likely that you will not bring everyone around. There will always be those resistant to change and wedded to the old processes who will – consciously or unconsciously – work to undermine the changes. Make sure that these destructive attitudes are not allowed to take root. Discuss the issues with these people and don’t be afraid to be direct

Five-Steps-to-Drive-Cultural-Change

Five Steps to Drive Cultural Change

As companies grow, adapt and evolve your workplace culture will have to change with it.

While culture will, to a degree, always evolve organically, it’s a mistake to believe that it is too complex to be managed. Culture itself cannot be penned in or subjected to rigorous regulation; it can, however, be directed and encouraged, trained to grow in a desired direction.

If you are directing cultural change or trying to guide organic change there are five steps you can take to ensure the culture you end up with is best for your employees and most closely aligned with your organisational vision and structure.

Evaluate your current culture

The first step to managing cultural change should always be evaluating your existing culture. Quantitatively evaluate your current culture – find out what your employees believe your organisational values are and how successfully the organisation is conveying those values. This will help you to determine how much change is required and in what areas.

Align culture and business strategy

Clarify your business strategy and ensure that the cultural change is aligned with the business direction, vision and principles. Understand how the change will be reflected across the business including in formal structures, reporting, training, recruiting etc.

Understand why the cultural change is necessary. This will help to focus the process, understand the desired outcomes and create a workable path to achieve those outcomes.

Engage your employees

Change cannot happen without the involved and informed participation of people from across the organisation. It’s crucial that those involved understand the reasons for the change and the desired outcomes. Trying to change company behaviour or values without explaining why it’s important or what you hope to achieve by it will be a losing battle.

Encourage participation and input from as many people in the organisation as possible. Different viewpoints from across departments and business levels will ensure that everyone has a voice and that people across the organisation understand and are prepared for the changes.

However, while multiple diverse viewpoints are great, make sure that you maintain a specific team responsible for managing the change who are able to make timely and clear decisions to prevent an ambiguous vision or delay key actions.

Communicate and demonstrate changes

Continuous communication at all levels is necessary during the change process. Repeat your message much more often than you think is necessary. Most leaders greatly underestimate how many repetitions it takes for a message to sink in. Ensure that leaders across the business are champions for the change and that they are engaging in role model appropriate behaviour. Live the change through your words and actions so that employees can see the change in action.

Manage responses and evaluate progress

Employee responses during periods of change will often be driven by emotion. Being aware of and managing these responses can help to ease the transition process and eventually help to settle the change into the cultural DNA. Manage the anxiety, points of frustration, and need for emotional regulation that can naturally arise at critical points in a culture change.

Take time to evaluate how the change is progressing. Get feedback from your employees, assess the painpoints and refine the strategy as necessary. Pay particular attention to business performance, critical behaviours, milestones, feelings and mind-sets.

How-Important-is-Culture-for-Employee-Retention

How Important is Culture for Employee Retention?

Maintaining a healthy workplace culture can be a major factor in staff development and retention. A negative or toxic culture can lead to unhappy or unengaged staff members, substandard work, unhappy clients and high staff turnover. A bad workplace culture will likely push away the best people in your organisation.

Culture and values act as decision-making rules for employees. If clear and understood, employees know how they can be successful, how they can contribute and how they can move forward in their jobs. If employees know how they can be successful and are empowered to do so then they are more likely to be engaged and happy in their work.

Articulate company culture

Firstly an organisation needs to be able to clearly and succinctly articulate their company culture. What are the aligned values, beliefs, behaviours and experiences that make up the organisation’s environment?

Clearly communicating your company culture and ensuring its visibility makes it easier for employees to understand and embrace the values.

Communication is crucial

A workplace culture that prizes honest communication and the giving and receiving of feedback will do wonders for employee retention. Regular meetings, surveys and a leadership level that welcomes and acts on employee feedback are all key to creating an open two-way communication channel. Having this level of communication can shed light on why employees consider leaving. Taking the time to understand disaffected employees means that organisations can work to improve areas of dissatisfaction. By taking time to listen, companies build a culture of loyalty that reduces the risk of turnover.

Management style

The management style of your leadership team should be a reflection of your company culture. Through words and actions, the leadership team should embody the values and vision of the organisation. If management isn’t aligned with company values then you run the risk of creating a “double standard” culture. This will undermine trust in management and devalue the company culture.

Poor managers rule by fear and manipulation, creating a “yes man” culture that stifles good ideas. Good leadership creates a culture where employees believe their voices will be heard, even if management does not agree.

Understand the work-life balance

Balancing life and work is increasingly important for employees in deciding whether to stick with an employer. In a healthy organisational culture, managers provide ways to maintain that balance, including flexible schedules, on-site amenities and work-from-home options. Unfortunately, many companies pay little more than lip-service to this, offering these options as performance incentives or building rigid rules into the apparent flexibility. This can end up having the opposite effect, with employees feeling like the promised work-life balance is nothing more than a dangling carrot. 

To really retain and grow your employees organisational culture must be more than just a list of values in the employee handbook. It must be lived and breathed from the highest levels of the business. People must understand it and believe in it. They must see it acted out each day. And most importantly, they actually need to experience the tangible benefits of the company values – whether that’s financial benefits, work from home days or simply honest two-way communication with management.

Break-the-Routine-and-Improve-Productivity

Break the Routine and Improve Productivity

Assigning tasks to the staff members best suited makes sense – you’re playing to an employee’s strengths and you can reliably expect quality results. However, having people perform the same duties can get tedious and boredom and repetition are productivity killers.

Where possible, look to break the routine. Share job responsibilities between team members and look to introduce new roles where possible. Giving your team the chance to take on new challenges, learn new skills and fill gaps in their knowledge will help to keep them engaged and productive.

Give employees the chance to share their skills and experiences or to mentor less experienced staff. Not only is this a great way to upskill your team but it can also help to foster relationships between team members and boost morale – all of which are great for productivity.

Upskilling your team has the added benefits of driving employee retention as well as adding depth to your team’s skill set.

Office life can all too quickly fall into a tedious routine, especially for those desk-bound team members. Make an effort to break up the routine across the office. Change up when and where regular meetings take place. Where possible offer flexible work hours or work from home incentives. Make breaking the routine a focus of company culture and discuss with your team to find out what they would like to do to change things up.

Breaking the routine can help to keep people engaged and interested and that will flow through to productivity.

Finalising-Productivity-Blog-Image

Finalising Productivity for the E.O.F.Y – Grant Sexton

Being only a couple of months out from the end of financial year (EOFY), now is the time to be prepared. During this time we know your business is already under the pump, but it is important to be on top of everything so that, when the time does come to get your affairs in order, you’ll be prepared. Over the next 3 months LMA will be exploring the different aspects to productivity and preparing for the end of the financial year.  We hope these newsletters will help you get prepared for EOFY, and run you through a few things to keep in mind in the lead-up to EOFY.

It’s a key step for a business to remain on top of this critical time of year. It’s time for renewal, a fresh start and revisiting old goals to set or adjust new ones. Making small steps now can bring up potential problems, allowing your business to be on top of these issues before they arise.

Grant Sexton – Founder and Director

Planning-Productivity-Blog-Image

Planning for New Financial Year – Grant Sexton

With the new financial year approaching, many businesses are inundated with tasks to bring the year to a close, ranging from complying with tax obligations to meeting sales targets. However, it can also be an ideal time for businesses to take stock and strategically prepare for a successful year ahead.

There is always pressure on businesses to reduce costs and be more efficient. By taking a strategic approach to planning for the new financial year, these businesses can make sure they are in the best position to do this in the right way.

Grant Sexton – Founder and Director