An Important Key to a Successful Long-Lasting Business

January 26, 2021 by  

Just because a person has a great idea for a new business does not guarantee that it will be successful or long-lasting. That is because many people do not know how to run a business or how to be a good “boss”. Some people are just naturally good at it but others need to learn what to do so that they can attract and keep good employees. This is one of the reasons that so many new businesses are not successful and have to close up.

In order for a business to be successful and long-lasting, the senior leadership need to create, maintain and commit to a respectful, supportive, encouraging, and acknowledging internal culture and they need to model the behaviours they want their employees to use. Senior leadership must use effective communication skills, especially active listening so that they can communicate honestly, clearly, and with impact and influence.
So, let us look at what that all means. The respectful piece means that no matter the colour, creed, religion or culture of an employee they will be respected and treated just like anyone else. In addition, one needs to be more aware of how what they say and do is being perceived by those around them so that if they are making someone uncomfortable or feeling disrespected they can ask what they said or did so that they do not repeat it and of course, apologize for the mistake.

According to Canadian and provincial labor laws and our human rights act, everyone is entitled to a safe and respectful workplace so that certainly needs to be provided. Having a diverse employee pool can teach us about other cultures and what they look for in products and services which can also benefit one’s business.
When an organization offers its employees training to improve or update current skills and also provide the opportunity to learn new ones, the employees feel valued as their organization is making an investment in them so that they can do well. New skills may offer them the chance for new responsibilities that may be more interesting and challenging than their current ones and so will keep them engaged and interested. Plus, perhaps the new skills will later give them the opportunity for promotion.

Human beings are very imperfect creatures so mistakes will be made. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and if handled in private in a supportive and encouraging manner, the person will be far less likely to repeat the mistake. Here is a way to handle it. Call them into your private office and suggest that there seems to be a problem. Can they tell you how that might have happened and what do they think they can do to rectify that problem. Let them offer suggestions and if you have others you can ask if you can suggest some options as well. Then tell them that if they need help sorting this out to be sure and come back and you will assist them in any way you can. Then before they go off to “fix the problem” ask them what they will do the next time this situation or a similar one arises so that this sort of outcome does not happen again. Once more, do listen to their suggestions and again, if you feel that there is something that they may benefit from, you can suggest it. Again, reassure them that you are here to help if they run into any snags sorting this out. When you handle it using this sort of approach, the employees know you have their back and that when there is a problem they will not be yelled at or blamed but rather will be given support so they can fix it. That will could mean that in the future they will be accountable and responsible for what they do and not cover up a mistake which could cause worse problems. In addition, when anyone in senior management makes an error, they too need to own it and fix it and not blame someone else. If that behaviour is modelled it is more likely that the employees will react in a similar fashion, especially if they have had your support in the past.

When a person goes above and beyond to help on a project or to meet a deadline, you must acknowledge that so that they will know that you noticed and will be more likely to continue that sort of behaviour. It might not be a bad idea to offer a reward, like a gift card to a store that you know they like to frequent or a dinner certificate. When employees feel valued and acknowledged for their contributions, they will be happy. Happy employees are more productive, efficient and creative. Also, happiness changes one’s brain chemistry and releases more endorphins which give one a feeling of well-being and enhance one’s immune system……so happy employees are likely to be sick less often as well. When employees are happy they are less likely to leave and we all know that turnover is very expensive. Creative ideas from employees can enhance your business so you must be a good listener and if something beneficial is suggested, it might be a good idea to thank them for the suggestion and implement it. Again, they will feel like they are contributing to the organization and feel more like they fit in well. In addition, be sure to give them credit for this suggestion.

When a change is necessary it would be a good idea to bring it up at a meeting so that the group can contribute to the discussion and you can offer compelling reasons why the change will be beneficial to everyone. If the discussion is a collaborative effort and employees feel that they have contributed to that discussion they will be far more likely to accept the change rather than if it is just imposed upon them. Buy in is always more likely when everyone feels they had a stake in it.
If you build and maintain this sort of culture your business will gain a reputation for being a good place to work and as your business grows and you need to hire more people you will likely attract good candidates who have heard about the working conditions and want to be a part of your organization.

Finally, when employees are happy and proud of where they work, they will be more likely to deliver excellent and consistent customer service to your customers. This is something that can set you apart from your competition and help to grow your business. Happy customers who have been well taken care of and treated respectfully are going to keep returning and will possibly tell their friends, family, and colleagues about your business so it could bring you more customers.
So, in closing, one of the most important keys to a successful long-lasting business is the development, maintenance and commitment to an internal culture that is respectful, supportive, encouraging, and acknowledging and if you create that for your business you will have happy employees who will stay with you a very long time and happy customers who will also continue to use your services and products. This will ensure that your business will be successful and last a very long time.

Five Customer Service Skills Essential for Employee

January 12, 2021 by  

Great customer service is essential in virtually every industry. From the dentist office to the furniture store, customers have more choice than ever before. This freedom allows them to quickly dismiss companies that don’t treat them as they’d like. When competition is this fierce, customer service is often the only thing separating you from your business rivals.
Since even the smallest of mistakes can cost you a customer, there is not much margin for error, especially in the time of COVID-19. It is imperative to have skilled, well-rounded, and highly-trained employees as the face of your company.

If you are hoping to up your customer service game, make sure everyone on your team has these five valuable skills:

Patience
They say patience is a virtue, and that is never more true in a customer service setting. It is a challenging skill to master, but once your employees have learned to be patient, the results can be remarkable. When customers stop by or call in with a question, concern, or frustration, it is up to your team to meet them where they are. Waiting while they explain the issue even if they include irrelevant details is truly an art, not a science.
Customer service is about quality, not speed. While your team can certainly take a fast approach to problem-solving, treating your customers like a chore to be checked off your to-do list is never a good idea. Instead, coach your employees to roll up their sleeves and dig into each customer’s concerns. Rush through and you could miss important details that are vital to solving the issue at hand, while also indicating to customers that they are not worth your time.
In times of uncertainty, like during the spread of COVID-19, patience becomes even more important. We are all contending with the reality of each new headline and what it means for our families and careers. Callers may feel out of sorts and craving control in any form possible. This often manifests as a particularly contagious form of anxiety. It is up to patient employees to relieve tension whenever confronted with this kind of anxiety in customers.

Communication
To get to the heart of any request or problem, you have got to understand it thoroughly. Clear communication between customer and employee is essential to success. Miscommunication can seriously derail even the most well-intentioned of folks, so train your team to clearly and carefully explain options to their customers.
Mastering communication skills can take a lifetime, but you and your colleagues can easily improve your abilities with just a few key strategies. Here is one to try: the next time you are deep in conversation with a customer, try taking notes. Even jotting down main bullet points can improve communication efforts and make it easy to ensure the customer feels heard.
The Coronavirus has changed the way many businesses operate. Policies and procedures may be different than what customers are used to. It’s important to be upfront about any differences in how you are handling things as a company. Communicate those nuances and you will likely be met with understanding and a willingness to go with the flow. People know that a pandemic throws a wrench in things and that we are all just trying to do the best we can.

Active Listening
Speaking of feeling heard, active listening is an incredibly important aspect of customer service. Unfortunately, it is not as widely taught to employees as it probably should be. Most people like to think of themselves as good listeners. In reality, many of us are simply waiting for our turn to talk. To ensure you are actively listening, take time to review what the person has said to you.
While it may seem redundant, repeating back the customer’s concerns in a succinct manner shows that they have indeed captured your full attention. Mirroring what they have said also gives the customer a chance to clarify details or add information they had left out when explaining. Ultimately, active listening can help solve problems more quickly while simultaneously ensuring customers that you’re completely engaged in the conversation.

Product/Service Knowledge
It is hard to sell a product or service without knowing much about them. The same goes for providing customer service for what your company offers. With that in mind, take time to train each of your employees on your offerings. The idea is hardly any good orientation program should include an overview of the products and services you sell. Still, you would be surprised at how many employees shrug off this initial introduction to the company. Make product education an ongoing part of employee development, and it will pay off in spades.

Encourage your team to study the policies, procedures, services and products any time they are not helping customers. Pop quizzes with small prizes are a good way to boost morale while prioritizing this important customer service skill. When it comes time to answer questions and address customer concerns, employees will be ready for anything.

Empathy
Perhaps the most challenging of all customer service skills, empathy doesn’t always come naturally to employees. When your team is feeling overworked or underappreciated, their frustrations will show up in their conversations with customers. The good news? Empathy is contagious. If you manage from a place of empathy, that same sentiment can trickle down.
An easy way to encourage employees to practise empathy is to have them imagine the customer as a friend or loved one. Helping a frustrated elderly customer with an order is easier when you imagine your grandma or grandpa in their shoes. Assisting a scatterbrained mom who cannot find her wallet is made much more tolerable when picturing your best friend in a similar situation after all, each of your customers is someone’s grandparent, mother, or friend!

Empathy is especially important during times of crisis. Each person brings a new set of experiences and perspectives to the conversation. Amidst the spread of COVID-19, employees must wear their empathy like a badge of honour. A little kindness during customer service interactions can go a long way to relieving anxieties and winning repeat business at the same time.

First-hand experience can go a long way in honing your customer service skills. While reading, training and careful preparation can be helpful, there is nothing like the real thing. Practice when you can, but do not be afraid to try out your customer service skills as soon as possible.