We’ve been suggesting how Procedures for your business can help you and staff – even if you only have one other team member – and giving you ideas for how you to set the bar for your staff.
Once you’ve secured the basics, (see last two blogs or ask us for copies) always introduce your brand and what it stands for. For example, ‘Our customers and our brand are our top priorities.’
Some small businesses say, “I’m too small to be a brand” Not so, everyone is a brand, David Beckham, my cat etc. Your brand is how your business is perceived.
First, what kind of impression do we want to create?
You may wish to communicate the following ideas to staff to set the working environment within your business:
‘It has cost a lot of money to find and cultivate our customers, therefore, we will do everything we can to keep them. The phone ringing is good news! We want our clients to ring us. That’s in response to our marketing and sales efforts. We pride ourselves on picking up the phone quickly and always sounding positive.
The brand cannot have a bad hair day or take a day off!
Therefore, phones must be answered in three rings. Sound unrushed and give a clear message of the business name and who you are. Take note of the client name and time of the call, the issue, and who should deal with it. Make sure the client knows what will happen next and check that they’re ok with that. ‘I need to speak with….and I’ll call you.’ Make sure that all their questions are answered, if not, agree to call them back when it’s convenient for them. ‘Will tomorrow morning be ok?’ ‘Fine, what time is best for you?’ Always thank them for their call. We want them to feel good when they call us, not as if they feel they’ve been a nuisance or that they’ve interrupted us.’
Agreements with clients – ‘We always respond to messages within the hour. Immediately is better. ‘If client Y or Z phones, always let me know. Leave message.’
For trades, ‘All customers are informed that we will arrive onsite (eg) between 8.30am & 9.30am, however, if you are running late it is your responsibility to contact the customer directly to give them an eta.’
‘We do not let down clients. If your deadline for work completion slips find out when we can do it and tell the client straight away. We never blame each other or look for excuses.’
‘Getting too friendly and confiding in customers, ‘doing them favours’ never works. ‘We do the right thing and do things right.’
‘If customers come to our unit, showroom, office, shop, please notice them immediately. Look up from what you’re doing, stand up, smile and welcome them. Offer hot or cold drinks. Would you like to be treated any differently?’
Ask staff to think about what would make the best impression on our customers?
Does your business sound as if it’s under control? In what may seem to be a relaxed workplace, simple things like machinery, background noises, music or laughter do not help. It’s your business, of course, but just think of the things that irritate you, then ask yourself if you walk your own talk!
‘We always want to improve our customer service.’ A bold, flat statement and a bit of a cliché. ‘Within our procedures, we always look at how we can improve. Add notes to (a whiteboard) about customers’ comments and to the list for the next procedures discussion. Schedule and hold brief meetings on the procedures, not lengthy meetings but quick-fire catch ups for you to gauge staff performance and gain valuable feedback. Ideas to get staff talking in meetings might be:
- Who had a chance to implement a new procedure/practice a difficult one?
- What happened, does the process work smoothly?
- What did you learn? What could you do better next time?
- What could we improve that process?
No matter how good we think we are, Customer Perception is all that matters. If we think we’re doing the right thing and they do not, it means we’re either not explaining things properly or we must improve how we do things. Never take it personally if a customer comments about our processes, let’s just work on putting the processes right. If we don’t, we don’t have a business!’
I’m sure you are keen to protect your Check-a-Trade or Trip Advisor-type average scores or comments on Social Media. As a marker as to where you set the bar for your business, assume every detectable glitch or slip will be spotted by a client or prospect. They are the best judge as to where they expect your bar to be set! Why lose marks – visible to the Public – by making avoidable mistakes?
To be continued next week.