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Turn customer complaints into opportunities 

Dealing with customer complaints can be both gruelling and rewarding. But being able to turn the situation around so your customer is happy with the outcome can strengthen their loyalty to your brand and inspire some gold standard word of mouth marketing. 

Communication and attitude are as vital as expert product knowledge. 

Don't just follow up with your customer. Follow up in the business. Was this just a one-off or is there something wrong with the product or the system? Is this likely to happen again? Sit down with the team to go over the system until you are all clear on how to deliver a great customer experience. Use it as a training point so you are sure that everyone on the team has the skills to deal with difficult situations and can see a customer complaint as a great opportunity to make your service even better. 

Listen and empathise 

Let the customer tell their story. Ask questions to clarify. Let them know you want to understand. Let your customer know you can see it (and feel it) from their point of view.

Make sure you understand

Sum up your understanding of the problem. Ask the customer to confirm you have it correctly. Clarify factors your customer may not be aware of such as warehousing or supply issues, but make it clear you're not making excuses.

Apologise 

Acknowledge that your customer has had a disappointing experience of your services or products. It may not be your fault; there may have been a breakdown in communication; there might be other things in play. Apologise anyway.

Make it right 

If it's within your power to fix the issue straight away, outline what you recommend to sort out the problem. Check with your customer that they see it as an acceptable outcome.

Involve him or her to work together with you for the best solution.

Outline further requirements 

Outline clearly if you need authorisation further up the line or to follow up with other parties (e.g. overseas suppliers). State how long you expect this to take and how you will advise the outcome. Give your customer a way to contact you so he or she feels he has some control in the situation.

Follow up 

Make sure the issue is resolved and the customer is happy with the outcome. If not and it proves impossible to sort out that specific issue, what can you do to repair the situation? A written apology from the company? A voucher for a generous discount on the next order? Gift cards?

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'There are many who subscribe to the convention that service is a business cost, but our data demonstrates that superior service is an investment that can help drive business growth. Investing in quality talent, and ensuring they have the skills, training and tools that enable them to empathize and actively listen to customers are central to providing consistently excellent service experiences.' Jim Bush, EVP American Express 

'Customer service is the new marketing.' Derek Sivers, Founder CD Baby 

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Building your dream team 

In order for your business to be a success, you need to be surrounded by like-minded people with good core skills and values, aiming for the same end goal. In essence, this is your dream team. But how do you ensure you're recruiting the right team players? 

Be clear 

What are the qualities you require from employees? Think, plan and be specific so that the right applicants come forward from the beginning. Provide clear instruction during the initial screening process and winnow out those who can't seem to follow these to a tee.  

Test 

Spending a little extra time from the get go could save you headaches in the future. Provide practical tests for each position when hiring, rather than simply asking questions. Applicants can easily fluff up their answers to sound amazing, but being able to prove their abilities is another thing altogether. 

Ask for referrals 

That old saying - it's not what you know, it's who you know - isn't just a cliché. Ask staff for referrals and offer an incentive. Have them share the job description on social media. 

Marketing 

Take the time to market your job description correctly. To add professionalism to the equation, ensure your logo is evident, spelling and grammar are correct and the language used reflects your company image. Consider who you want to hire and make sure your ad is seen in the right places by the right people. Is this a job for social or print media? 

Be Patient 

It's not worth settling for the wrong candidate. If you haven't met the right one yet, keep trying. Investing a little time and money at the beginning can save you endless issues in the future. 

'At first, dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable.'  Christopher Reeve

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Sustainability in the workplace 

The word 'sustainable' seems to be thrown around on a regular basis these days, not just in relation to the food we eat, but also to business and the wider economy. 

Sustainability in a work environment relates to an awareness of resources: how they are used and how we can conserve these resources to the benefit both of our environment and our pocket. 

The impact this thinking can have in our workplace is significant. It can alter staff attitudes and behaviours positively, with a common goal, a shift in motivation and a more positive approach. Through sustainable practices, employees may be moved to reconsider other aspects of their approach, from how they exercise to how business is conducted. Sustainability is about respect: for the environment, other team members and the business itself. And it helps highlight to employees just how and where company resources are used. 

Develop a strategy with your team. Here are some simple starters: 

  • Recycle whenever possible, including paper, plastics, aluminium, and glass 
  • Set your printers to double sided by default, and recycle paper 
  • Include a snippet on green practices in your induction manual 
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaning products 
  • Think about not using the in-sink waste disposal - recycle and compost as much waste as practicable 
  • Establish a carbon free travelling initiative with employees 
  • Dedicate five minutes of the weekly team meeting to generate new ideas 

Sustainability ties in with sound business practices - building efficiency, minimising waste and maximising resources. A more efficient operation cuts costs. And sustainable businesses are in tune with today's market as customers and investors are more and more interested in the impact of business on society and the environment. By refocusing how you operate, you can make your business more sustainable. 

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An Important Message

While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information in this publication, this firm and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents.  Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.

 

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