Friday 24 September 2010

Receptionist and Call Centre Agent - the two most important people in your business

Why is it that businesses who know nothing always put their most junior and most inexperienced  members of staff on either the reception desk or at the end of the telephone?  Logic would tell you that it is very likely (in fact, I would bet my ever decreasing pension on it) that your current customers, your future customers and your competition are going to visit you or call you up.  Surely any sane minded person would want their very best staff to be the ones who speak to your customers?  And yet, all too often, you are faced with staff who do not live your brand, who know too little about your products and services, and care even less - is this really the image that you want your customers to see?  I would think (and hope) not!
So, what should you do?  I would recommend that, as a first step, you put yourself in the shoes of your customer - visit your offices and ring your call centre to see what it is like to be a customer of yours.  Ask yourself these questions:  How long did I wait to be attended to?  How was I greeted when I got through to someone?  Did the member of staff know the answers to my questions?  At any time did I feel like putting the phone down/walking out in frustration?  If you felt like this, the chances are that your customers have felt like that too (I doubt very much if your call or visit would have been unique - although you might want to kid yourself that is the case!)
Secondly, you should review your recruitment strategy.  If you hire people because they are cheap, then you will always (and I do mean ALWAYS) get what you pay for.  Hire for attitude and train for aptitude (because, lets face it, you can NEVER change someones attitude, and if that does not match your company ethos.......well, the rest is history!)
Thirdly, give staff the right tools to do the job - whether this is training or systems, make sure that staff have everything they need to be able to serve your customers right.
And finally, encourage staff to think of customer facing jobs as careers - promote them within these roles rather than out of them.  Promoting people within a role gives staff the belief that YOU believe in excellent customer service.
Oh, and it wouldnt hurt to occasionally tell staff when they have done a good job - a word of thanks goes a long way.
read more about improving customer service within your organisation at

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Accountants are like hairdressers

It occurred to me the other day that as we are intrinsically British we have a loathing to change - particularly if that change is likely to disrupt our lives and our businesses.  From an outsiders point of view, this could be viewed as lazy, or worse, that we are not bothered.  I do not believe this to be the case - I think that the reason we do not review the providers of professional services (such as banks, accountants and solicitors) is that we believe that one will be equally as bad as another (and the pain of making the change will outweigh any benefits that we realise in making the change).  This ultimately is a self fulfilling prophecy in that we accept a poor service from our professional service providers (in my case, my accountant) and so, as luck would have it, the service becomes even worse (and yet we still convince ourselves that it is 'better the devil you know'.
So, my advice today is - stop putting up with less than favourable service from professional service providers.  Demand the service that you deserve (and if you dont get it, go to someone who will value you as a client).  As my dear old dad used to say; the differenece between a good haircut and a bad haircut is only a fortnight!!
Learn about how to get the most from our professional relationships at

Saturday 18 September 2010

Using Management Consultants

First of all I should admit straight away that I am a management consultant - there you are, it is now out in the open!
I went to see a potential customer the other day - he made the appointment with me and when I arrived he told me that he hates management consultants and that he will not pay for advice that he could find for himself on the internet.  Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but, my opinion is that those people who are willing to invest in outside help are those people who are most likely to achieve their goals and to succeed in their business.
My potential customer wanted to break into a new market (and has wanted to do for some time) so my challenge to this managing director is:  if you think that you can do it on your own (and have wanted to do it for some time) why have you not succeeded?  the answer is, of course, that although this managing director was a specialist in his own field, he was not a specialist in developing new markets.  This is why he needs external help.  I am sure that, if he had the time and inclination, my potential client ould have found a whole ream of information on breaking into new markets by browsing the internet, but could he put it into practice - the answer is probably not.
So, come on guys, no one can be an expert in everything - play to your strengths and admit your weaknesses - and bring in a professional to do the things that you cant do yourself.  When all is said and done, it will cost you less in time and stress to do so (and you will ultimately reach your business goals).
Find out more about Blue Box at