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Brand2Life The Road to Recovery Winning the battle

Dare to be different

Stand out in the job market

The Journey to Greatness

Bridge Training brings innovation to training


ADVANCE NOTICE: In these unprecedented times lays a fantastic opportunity for organisations to distinguish themselves from others by showing customers that they really do deliver on their brand promises. This conference will answer the question of ‘what will separate the mediocre from the fantastic’ as we move down the road to recovery. This market slowdown has made customers wiser and marketing words are no longer enough. If an organisation wants to regain or maintain customer confidence on the competitive road ahead it must act now. The answers will be made clear as we look to: √√ Organisations that empower their frontline teams to truly make the difference √√ Marketing departments that set realist and manageable customer expectations √√ HR functions that recruit based on a value match to the business and customer √√ Training departments that take words and turn them into deliverable actions √√ Frontline teams that have the true desire to represent customers with an honest and skilled approach √√ Businesses with an overall ethos of ‘one team’ with customer service excellence in mind The battle lines are drawn. Will it be the organisations that opt for back office cost-cutting or those that encourage better frontline motivation and brand delivery that will win the race to customer advocacy? This is the time to develop your Living Brand Champions.

Just remember - moving forward, organisations will be remembered most for the behaviours and actions of their customer facing people.

For further information and programme updates contact events@insidebridge.com or by phone on 0845 362 7729


December 1st 2009 InterContinental Park Lane London,UK


Transforming your Front Line Teams into

Living Brand Champions Creating the Magic of Customer Advocacy through Service Excellence Delivery 9:00 Welcome and opening remarks 9:15 Customer Service Excellence at its Finest

This talk is reserved for the ICS – and will act as a launch into the theme of service excellence. It will look at those organisations that are getting it right and how they are managing to build advocacy during the current economic downturn.

Jo Causon, Chief Executive, Institute of Customer Service 9:45 Value Based Recruitment – Getting the right people to truly connect with your organisation • • • • •

Connecting the HR, marketing and frontline teams vision of brand delivery Utilising Value Based screening procedures Incorporating psychometric testing as part of the recruitment process Ensuring that job descriptions clear match the role Recruiting on behaviour and brand fit– not just skills

»» Invited Speaker

Karen Hood, Director of Human Resources, Virgin Atlantic Airways

10:30 Incorporating an induction and training programme that represents the vision and values of your organisation • • • • •

Ensuring that your employee handbook truly reflects the true vision of the organisation Having a clear understanding of the behaviours required to be a frontline living brand champion Turning words into actions – ensure that your people development gives your team the motivation to offer service excellence. Having a clear understanding of customers expectations and the skills and attitude required to meet them Develop a branded training iniitative that will last long after the training room

»» Invited Company

InterContinental Hotels

11:15 Refreshment Break 11:40 CASE STUDY: Behind the walls of O2 and a brand aware frontline

O2 has a very clear vision to make a real difference in the lives of it customers and employees alike. They pride themselves on creating a work environment and strive to be ‘the best place to work’. This vision has allowed O2 to attract and retain the best talent and provide outstanding career development opportunities. Hear how the O2 frontline endeavours to put customer needs at the heart of everything they do and how they turn words like innovative, committed and trusted into deliverable actions.

»» Invited speaker

Sarah Sargent, Director of Customer Service, O2

12:15 Merger mania – keeping the motivation and commitment of your front-line during changing times • • • • •

Creating a committed and success new team of true Living Brand champions Having top line pride and commitment in the front lines brand delivery Building strong internal communication strategy to ensure continuous service delivery Truly putting the customer at the heart of the business and its people The secret behind true loyalty and the front-lines ability to create customer advocacy

»» Invited Speaker

Mark Adams, Human Resources Director, Santander


1:00 Lunch 2:00 Developing a Brand to Life Programme

Shake off those after lunch zzzz’s with an interactive session on the developing a Living Brand Culture and putting in place a Brand2Life programme. This practical session will give delegates the opportunity to work together and develop their own personal brand and also one that will allow participants to better become a living brand champion for their front line people and organisations. Teamwork will be essential and this session is guaranteed to be both informative and fun.

Dale Smith, Managing Director, Bridge Training 2:45 A Brand within a Brand – ensuring service delivery is consistent from all corners of the organisation • • • • • •

Managing an international brand and the frontline team that represents it 5 years on – merging of minds, visions and frontline people Finding the true connection between your frontline team and your customers Creating commitment and consistency to ensure front line brand delivery What makes a frontline team special and focussed on customer service excellence Where do we go from here – ensuring a strong market position through frontline service

»» Invited Speaker

Debbie Brennan, Group Talent and Development Manager, Merlin Entertainment 3:15 Refreshments 3:35 Case Study: Behind the walls of Aviva – Creating a Contact Centre culture of brand champions

Following one of the largest rebrands in UK financial history – the former Norwich Union as be reborn with a new name, a new look and the exciting challenge of match its people with new customer expectations. To move marketing promises and words into frontline deliverable actions is crucial the future success of Aviva. This talk will talk you behind the scenes of what it takes to move 13000 front line staff into Living Brand Aviva champions.

Rob Wilson, Head of Operational Support, Aviva Insurance UK

4:10 United we stand – building a leadership team of brand coaches and champions • • • • •

Ensuring that your leadership training is value based – not just management based Creating both a top down and bottom up management structure Ensuring that the voice of the frontline is heard in future marketing decisions Closing the gap between the brand customers expectations and the front line delivery of it Not just a figure head – but an active frontline advocate

»» Invited Speaker

Sue Round, Head of Learning and Development, Sainsbury’s 4:45 Closing remarks 5:00 Close of conference Conference Details:

Venue: Intercontinental Park Lane, London W1J 7QY Date: December 1st 2009 Delegate Profile: Heads of Customer Service, HR, Training, Customer Experience and Brand. Cost: £499 plus – 10% discount for Institute of Customer Service Members

For further details and an up to date programme contact events@insidebridge.com or call 0845 362 7729


notes from the editor I am certain that an economist would be able to write a whole book, or even a series of them, on the impact of these uncertain times. However my experience is based on the daily exposure to the doom and gloom that is transmitted through the air, cables and papers - from the negativity of our breakfast news to the ‘more redundancies’ headlines featured on newspapers and industry websites. Besides it all, we have enjoyed a fantastic summer and hopefully most have managed to even take our minds off all the negativity for a short break. However, with recent reports, it appears that we are now starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Is it the end of recession? That is a question that my knowledge does not allow me to answer with certainty, but I see a much more positive and prosperous environment developing. The beauty of the downturn is that it has allowed many to better understand the market and the importance of our collective investment in the new beginning. Without question customers have changed their buying patterns and now expect much more from brands and the way our service industry supports them. That is why investment in the frontline is paramount as they act as the fuel that will drive brands to win the race to recovery. This team must feel valued in their jobs and stand shoulder to shoulder with executive in influencing the organisation’s progress. Allowing frontline people to live and breathe the brands they represent will cement the path out of this recession.

28 Transforming your frontline team into Living Brand Champions Build a lasting and secure bridge between the marketing function’s vision for the future and the service delivery offered by frontline and leadership teams.

16

This magazine will serve as a guide to this new world of customer service. Fabio Marcolini, Editor

16

28

The Road to Recovery will be paved with new service opportunities The green shoots of economic recovery may appear some way off, yet forward-thinking organisations see this recession as an opportunity to refocus their activities towards delivering added value to customers.


7 Most Common Mistakes Made in Contact Centre Management

14

Things you wished you’d known in the first place on managing a busy an successful call centre.

36

This is the Renaissance of Customer Service Jo Causon, the pioneering new chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service explains why customer service in the UK is just the beginning.

8 Dare to be different in a competitive job market People who are just entering the job market and others who have found themselves having to search for a new job are facing the biggest competition in years. Dale Smith tells you how to stand out and be a ‘must-have’.

22

8

The Journey to Greatness Gary Dawkes, Communications manager at the Institute of Customer Service, catches up with Bridge’s Managing Director Dale Smith for a chat.

20 Stop Procrastinating 36 Interview: Jo Causon 38 What is Local? 42 The X Factor 43 Positivity 46 Calendar

22


Dare to be different in a competitive job market People who are just entering the job market and others who have found themselves having to search for a new job are facing the biggest competition in years. Dale Smith tells you how to stand out and be a ‘must-have’. Even the most basic laws of economics tells us that this recession, like any previous market downturn, will end and soon we will be working our way up the other side of the bell curve. However, that may be of little immediate relief to those who have been recently made redundant or entering the job market in one of the most competitive environments in many years. I am not here to pander to you with sympathy, as it is what it is, and all the talking

about statistics will not change the fact that you need to stand out if you are going to get noticed by a prospective employer. It is a cold hard fact that the competition is tough; however, that can be a positive and can be an amazing impetus for us as individuals to strive to be better and truly test our desire to improve our performance. I like to think of this market slowdown through the analogy of a forest fire. As devastating as a forest fire can look


through the eyes of man – and those who stand too close to it – it is a natural part of a forest’s life cycle. Native Indians in North America or Aborigines in Australia would set fires to maintain growth and keep vegetation at its best. The economy follows a similar process and when it became a little too overgrown - with a strangle hold on future growth - it was inevitably pulled back. Like an unmanaged forest fire, it got away on us and unleashed its fury. However, I do see another positive outcome from this unprecedented time as it is a great opportunity to separate the weak from the strong and allow organisations to truly focus on retaining and obtaining the best people to represent their business. The world has changed, that is without question, and this recession has taken its toll on many great productive people and also some that were seriously misplaced in their jobs. Employee motivation is at an all time low, whether you have been recently made redundant or suffering from stayer’s remorse, it is imperative that you take the power back and truly look at what you can offer

an organisation. It is easy to live in a blame culture and pass responsibility for low morale and productivity on to the economic downturn, however you have a choice. You can choose to see this knock as an opportunity to feel sorry for yourself or the momentum to personally rise up, decide who you are and understand what makes you different. Ask yourself the question: “Are you impressive enough to become a ‘must have’ by a focussed and outstanding organisation?” To remain competitive and stand out, you must begin to see yourself as a living brand and a true potential ambassador that will bring to life a company’s values and vision for the future. The jobs are still out there, however, the competition has immeasurably increased over the past few months. As the expression tells us, “when the going gets tough – the tough sits back and complains about it”. NO. The tough get going and it is at this time that we have to stop talking about it and start doing something about it. Companies are demanding more from their new recruits – and why shouldn’t they? Personally,


and memorable engagement backed through visible and tangible evidence. The foundation has been laid through the organisation’s own brand – your job is to show how you will connect with that brand and represent it through your actions as a brand champion. Marketing and ultimately brands live in a world of clever campaigns and sensory driven words; however, you have the ability to bring that vision to life and turn their words into deliverable actions. Firstly, you must become your own Living Brand and be very clear on who you are, what you represent and most importantly the action required to bring this to life

I am tired of sitting idly by as company representatives bypass their most basic of promises and responsibilities. If organisations are going to get on the road to recovery they will do so by having a motivated, brand loyal, hard working team of living brands. During boom years, it is easy to slip through the recruitment process by using words like ‘I am the best at what I do’, ‘I am what you are looking for’, ‘I am a people person’, ‘I am hardworking, motivated, professional...’ and on and on until you have the job. As the demand for staff numbers increase, the need to get the best of the best decreases and we find ourselves in an employee’s

If this recession is to teach us anything it is that the days of words, words, words are over and it is time for actions

market. Well, much like the property market – the tables turned overnight and we are now in an employer’s market. They can demand the best and have the luxury of enough qualified candidates to find the best. Also in boom days, many organisations can entice excellence by feeding would-be candidates’ unconscious psyche with slogans like ‘we put our people first’, ‘our people are our most precious asset’, ‘you matter to us’ and on and on... Honestly, it is time we all got a bit more real in our expectations of employer and employee relationships. If you are currently looking to make your next or even first move then do your homework on the organisation. The first question you should ask, even before package and salary, is - do they match you in terms of values and vision for your future? If you need the money, then take a lower paid part-time job to just make money until your next career move opportunity arises. Do not enter the job market from a state of desperation as you will appear desperate and ultimately lose out. See this as a positive step as this truly is an opportunity for you to make your next move. Looking back will not allow you to truly focus on what you want in your future and what needs to be done today to secure that destiny. It is this long-term focus that will allow your confidence to attract employers and ensure that you are not back to square one in a few months time. If this recession is to teach us anything it is that the days of words, words, words are over and it is time for actions. If you as an employment candidate are to stand out and capture an employer’s interest on the competitive road ahead, then you must act now. The separating factor that differentiates candidates going forward will be how these people embrace the true power of an exceptional

for a potential employer. Brands are not a modern day construct and have co-existed as long as there have been customers. For thousands of years, people have bartered and paid for goods and services based on perceived value and the all important “promise made at purchase”. It is this promise that, still to this day, is the backbone of business, brands, customer service and, if managed correctly, will be the true paving on your road to success in a competitive job market. This is your opportunity to look through the eyes of a marketer and shed light on the true, powerful and confident you – the one that is a “must-have” as an organisation moves forward toward the road to recovery. To be confident is to look confident, to look confident is to sound confident and to instil confidence in others you must do all of the above and then some. So, how do we get the edge, or the X-Factor, over the competition? Brands are everywhere and if you take a moment you will be able to identify the power that they have over society and our decision making process. Whether it be your ‘carefully chosen’ mobile phone or your ‘carefully chosen’ favourite coffee shop, ask yourself, “did you choose the brands or did the brands choose you?” Don’t feel dismayed if that question seems to hurt somewhat as there is no real logical answer to it. However, if we can begin to separate and clearly understand the power that brands have over our society, and learn from this power when making our own living brand, then you are one step closer to ultimate success in the current job market. In today’s busy brand environment, what separates the winners from the mediocre is a question that needs addressing if we are going to use this status for both your career and in building key relationships. Wikipedia defines brands as labels of ownership: name, term, design, and symbol. To me, that sounds like your own personal business card and somewhat too simplistic for such a huge unconscious environment. However, today it is what brands do for people that matters much more, how they reflect


and engage them, how they define their aspiration and enable them to do more. Powerful brands can drive success in competitive markets, and indeed become the organisation’s most valuable assets. Harnessing this unconscious power and applying it to ourselves, staff and even friends, lies in the simple understanding that brands are alive. In creating your personal living brand you must use this same construct to take you off the CV page and into a real living, breathing must-have brand. It is easy to play it safe and happily glide under the radar for most of your life and if that is the case I fear that you may not be successful in such a competitive market. Some people walk into a casino and head straight for the penny slots, ‘just playing not to lose’ - others will take the chance to head for the pound slots. The risk will be higher but, if they win, the rewards will be much greater. These people – like brands – are playing to win. Note that playing the game to win has never been more complicated as people have higher expectations of the brands they both respect and trust. The secret behind successful brands is setting clear expectations and consistently managing and delivering them. The secret to being successful in the current employment market in much the same – understand their expectation line and show how you as an individual will deliver on it. The brands market is constantly being put under the microscope to ensure that they are living up to their brand expectation. Great brands, like successful leaders, are playing to win. They have a clearly defined plan of words and actions required to achieve their goal. Their success lies in their delivery and ensuring that you as a consumer are getting what you have come to expect. This is the dangerous side of brand development - if you set the expectation line too high, the further you may fall

if you are unable to maintain it. The loss of respect can far outweigh any gains that the success of the brand may have accomplished. Hence, your task as a living brand is to be honest with, and deliver on, the actions and benefits that you can offer and promise an employer. Remember the days of words are over and we are now truly living in a competitive world of actions. If you want to grow your living brand, you must first decide the ‘key defining words’ that you would want to have attributed to you. A true living brand gives a clear message to the world and continuously focuses on how they want to be represented and remembered. So take some time and think of who you are now and who you want to be in the future using ‘key words’. The great thing about building your personal living brand is that it can start today and with a little work you can leave some of the negative past behind you. Start to see this as an opportunity to dust away some old habits, shake off some negative emotions and come up with the words that you would like to have attached to you at both work and your personal life. Many people will start with professional, intelligent, talented, humorous, generous, and motivated etc. Dare to be different as this list will be the foundation for your living brand and it will be this brand that will be entering a competitive market. The work really begins in the next stage as you will need to spend more time setting in place your action plans. We are an action-based species so if you want something you must do something, and more importantly, if you want something different then you will need to do something differently. Like the famous quote from Albert Einstein, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” It is important at this stage of your living brand development that you put manageable and achievable actions and


passion

personality perfection

turning words into actions www.insidebridge.com


listen to feedback and act in accordance. They ensure that their core values are consistent and true to the brand. Once you have developed your list of actions, you must firstly ensure that they are manageable and you will commit to them for the long term. Your living brand does not need to be complex, in fact the simpler the better, however, it must be able to give you the satisfaction required to continue to build on it. It is better to spend the time to truly understand what each brand word means to you and how you will deliver them to your potential employeer. It is this clear picture of who you are that, with confidence, you will be able to

evidence against the words that you have established as your living brand guidelines. If you have ‘professional’ on your list, ask yourself what it means to you and what actions do you currently posses that will deliver this to a new employer. If you have a specific employer in mind then ask - how does that word translate in their perspective organisation? Once again dare to be different and ask yourself - what else can you add into your rebrand to ensure that your living brand emanates this word? If one of your statements is ‘outgoing’, run through the same process. Once this exercise has been completed, you now have a clear

A true living brand gives a clear message to the world and continuously focuses on how they want to be represented and remembered

brand guide of what you need to do to launch your new living brand and more importantly to match your brand with your next employer. In the current competitive climate, it is not enough to say the words – you must be prepared to demonstrate them through actions. That is why it is important to do your homework and truly understand the vision and values of a potential employer. It is imperative that you can match your living brand to their vision and in doing so bring to life their brand. Recruiters are using more value-based screening and successful ones truly look for a living brand match for their organisations. In such a competitive employer market, they have the opportunity to seek out candidates that will offer an unequivocal connection to their organisation. Hence, my advice to you is if you do not think that you can pass this test then your efforts are better spent finding an organisation that you believe has a match to your living brand. Now here comes the challenging part and it starts with the true ownership of your living brand; however, please remember that all our great and good, our local and global, our best of the best brands have not been built overnight. They take time to cultivate their environment; they market research and test their ideas, look and feel before moving full steam ahead. More importantly, they ensure that once they have set the expectation lines of their customers, they will deliver time and time again. The pulse of great brands move with the times,

match to the potential employer during an interview. In the current climate, two words that need to be on this list are motivation and personality, supported by how you bring these to life in the current climate. Employers need to ensure that successful candidates will add true value to both internal and external relationships of that business. The ‘dare to be different’ ensures that you stand out from other candidates, however, take careful consideration to match these unique qualities with the potential employer’s vision for the future. Once you have your clear living brand values, your achievable plan of how those words will be manifested through your actions and, more importantly, your commitment to deliver them, ask yourself a few final questions. What gives my living brand the edge in our current competitive business marketplace? What makes me different and what is at the real core of who I am and how do I want to be remembered? With these final questions answered, you are now ready to launch your living brand into the job market. You have now reached the final stage of ‘living it’. As with all brands, never lose sight of your core values and the actions that you must manifest in order to show your true brand. Just saying the words without deliverable actions is the main difference separating the winners from the mediocre. Saying it and living it are two very different sides of any living brand and luck does not exist – it is there for those who strategically make it happen.

For further information contact info@insidebridge.com


7

MOST COMMON MISTAKES MADE IN CONTACT CENTRE MANAGEMENT

Let’s be honest – managing and maintaining a busy and successful contact centre is not easy. It is, however, tremendously motivational, stimulating, challenging and fun. We can’t always avoid making mistakes and it can be helpful to learn from them.

Here is our look at the seven most common mistakes made in contact centres otherwise known as ‘things you wished you’d known in the first place.’

1

Recruiting telephone-based staff without firstly speaking to them on the phone

It can be a costly mistake. It takes very little time to conduct a short telephone interview to make an initial assessment of the candidate’s telephone manner, attitude, sales ability (if required) and voice tone. Telephone interviews should be the first point of contact for roles involving a lot of telephone work. If the candidate can impress you, they will probably impress your customers. If they sound unfriendly or unclearwhy see them face to face? Don’t waste time interviewing candidates lacking the most important skill you require. If you would like a copy of a telephone interview form please contact us at info@insidebridge.com

2

Failing to check references and qualifications

One common mistake we make when recruiting is to take people at their word, even if our gut instinct tells us something is wrong. Make it part of the process to check references (verbally where possible) and ask new recruits for proof of qualifications. Out of 6 contact centres I spoke to when compiling this article, only one asked new recruits for proof of qualifications and 3 said that they suspected people exaggerated their qualifications on their CV. Getting it right first time can save time and money.

by Colette Johnson Bridge Training Associate

3

Focussing on numbers not people

There are so many ways to measure output, results and performance in a contact centre that many managers end up being overwhelmed with stats that they are not really quite sure how to use! Contact centres are about people – a good way to assess your priorities as a manager is to look at how much time you spend on strategy and infrastructure, how much time you spend on systems and processes, and finally how much time you spend in direct contact with your people. Do you want to be known as an approachable, responsive manager who understands their team, or someone who generates some great reports?


4

Focussing incentives on volume rather than quality and service

5

Coaching with a negative / ‘corrective’ bias

Perhaps due to the vast numbers of statistics accrued in contact centres daily, managers often set incentives based on revenues generated or numbers of calls taken / conversions achieved, meaning that quality and service issues may get overlooked.

Contact centre agents make and take hundreds of calls each week, so they have lots of opportunities for making an impression on their customers. It stands to reason that they should know what impression they are giving, by listening to their call recordings and getting feedback from their team leader.

Successful incentive schemes focus equally on the quality of service provided and results achieved. Find ways to measure and monitor call quality and reward agents who meet and exceed required quality standards. After all, customers are only judging the company by their experience of calls and/or emails from an agent. They really don’t care about the agent’s call stats for the day!

Develop a coaching system that focuses on skills and encourages input from the agent, rather than making it a ‘tick the box and give a score’ process. If incentives are given on month by month quality improvements, agents and team leaders will approach coaching with a more positive bias.

For coaching to be seen as a positive process in the contact centre each agent needs to have regular coaching on their strengths and support in developing their improvement areas.

7 6

Telling, rather than Selling

Contact centre Managers are busy busy people…it’s much quicker to tell the team what you want them to do than to engage their support and get them to facilitate the action themselves. Imagine a team who constantly relies on being told what to do…they end up with no initiative, no motivation, no creativity. So the key here is to sell, not tell. Consult the team and involve them in decisions that affect them. Ask them what they think, what they know, what they want. Explain the bigger (company) picture to them and let them see how they fit in. People are far more motivated to make changes when they have been involved in the decision making process.

Hiring people who are not in line with the company’s values and vision

Can be a big (expensive) mistake because they won’t fit in with the team and they won’t stay with you in the medium/ long term. Managers sometimes go into ‘panic’ mode when recruiting and end up with people who may be competent and capable, but simply don’t fit with or support the brand values or vision of the company. So how do we avoid making this mistake? Hold group interviews (this would be the next step after telephone interviews) where you give a brief presentation on your brand, culture, vision and value systems. Explain about the company vision and your expectations, get a team member to give a short talk on how they live the company values day to day. The group interview can be an opportunity to test attitudes, competence and behaviours through group exercises and tasks. After filtering out unsuccessful group interviewees, hold brief one to one interviews with potential recruits where you can drill down further into what makes them tick and how they would fit with your business Again, filter out those who do not ‘fit’ with your company and invite the others back for a final one to one interview. Ask them to prepare a short presentation on how they would support and reinforce your company values in their role.


CSTA Customer Service Training Association The Customer Service Training Association is a mutual self-help membership body formed by Don Hales in 2007 to enable those involved in customer service training and associated activities to: • • • •

Meet on a regular basis to share ideas, Listen to great presentations, Keep up to date with latest developments and Develop a network of colleagues in various organisations to call upon when necessary.

The Association is open to everyone who has an interest in customer service training provided they respect the aims of the membership. Best practice in customer service, leading edge training techniques, service excellence, staff retention and satisfaction are all key issues for members as are customer retention, customer satisfaction and the effect of customer service on the bottom-line. All of these issues feature on the agenda at CSTA meetings.

‘FANTASTIC!!! Just wanted to say a very big thank you for a brilliant event today. I know we didn’t get much chance to talk, but I’d like to say how impressed I was with the whole organization, the welcome, the team and a cracking exercise today. Thanks for the access to the shop too, it’s earned me some good brownie points!!’ Stephen Whitton, SSW Performance Solutions ‘A really good way to meet other trainers and training providers. The interactive part of the day was particularly good for working with others and testing your own skills!’ Elaine Phillips, DAS Legal Expenses ‘The CSTA is worth attending, you have a fantastic opportunity to meet likeminded professionals and also find out a bit about how other companies are rising to the customer service challenge.’ Howard Rose, Inspire Development ‘Great environment, interesting group of delegates and excellent activities/presentations’ Geoff Langston, Arizion Limited

Future Meetings

Educational, Social, interesting, relaxed & focused 10 December /// Customer Service Training at Xmas Dominion Theatre, London Speakers to include:  “Removing The Barriers To Acting Upon Customer Feedback” - Colin Bates, Director of Customer Champions “How to turn your Customers into Your Sales Force!” - Royston Guest, CEO of Pti Worldwide “Negotiating with Customers and Staff” - Derek Arden, Director of Derek Arden International Ltd “ICS FirstImpressions course - is there life after text?” - Peter Tattersall, MD of Tattersall Training “The renaissance of customer service in the UK and the opportunities and challenges its presents” - Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service Attendees fees are: £50.00 for members and £70.00 for non-members. A single annual membership is only £50.00. NB! We have an opportunity to buy tickets for the show “We Will Rock You” at a very special price only £27.50 (normally £55.00) after the event.  If you wish to attend and bring your partner this is fine too.  Please let us know how many of you wish to attend.

2010 Dates: 18 February, March, May, 8 July, 23 September, 9 December

For further information contact email Anne-Marie Lose amlose@ntlworld.com or go to

www.customerservicetrainingassociation.co.uk


The green shoots of economic recovery may appear some way off, yet forward-thinking organisations see this recession as an opportunity to refocus their activities towards delivering added value to customers. As employers take steps to help them succees through the downturn and beyond, Dale Smith predicts one positive outcome will see more companies prioritising their service challenges and investing in frontline people to deliver their brand promise.

Motivated frontline staff hold the key to organisations ‘living their brand’

The

Road to Recovery

Will Be Paved With new

Service opportunities


As any economist will tell you, what goes down invariably comes back up. Like previous market downturns, this recession will end (hopefully sooner than is predicted) and we will start working our way up the other side of the bell curve. These are unprecedented times, however there will be positive outcomes. It’s a great opportunity for strong organisations to distinguish themselves from others by showing customers that they really do deliver on their brand promise. So, what will separate the mediocre from the fantastic on the road to recovery? To me the answer is clear: the difference will be provided by frontline people and their true desire to demonstrate their value with an honest and skilled approach to delivering customer service excellence. My mother used to say that ‘being courteous to others and having good manners doesn’t cost anything’, However, although much of what we do is based on common sense, working in frontline customer service roles is not easy and never will be. Every day people face a raft of challenges such as remaining engaged during repetitive tasks, solving problems, handling the yo-yo effect of dealing with positive and negative people, managing customers’ emotions and increasing expectations - all while meeting a heightened and ever-changing demand on their communication skills. On top of all this is a sense of doom and gloom portrayed by every paper and media outlet. It has never been more difficult to apply common sense so I’m taking the opportunity to do so here. Let’s start with brands and their power over customers worldwide. For thousands of years, people have bartered and paid for goods and services based on perceived value and the all-important ‘promise made at purchase’. This promise is still the backbone of business, brands, customer service and - if managed correctly - will be the paving on the road to recovery. If this recession has taught us anything, it is that we have to stop treating frontline people like task-oriented employees and start to see them as living brand service representatives. They represent the true value of an organisation’s brand in their hearts, minds and, crucially, in the actions they take every day. This ‘living brand’ ethos should be incorporated in future people development as we move through the recession and towards a more prosperous economy. This recession was fuelled by dwindling consumer confidence and we must provide better support for our frontline people so they can regain it. The battle to secure and raise customer confidence will not be won in the boardroom but on the front line and in every engagement with customers. Looking back, the customer relationship began in the marketing department with their cues and messages to consumers. These gave brands a look, feel, personality and, importantly, a promise of a continued relationship with true living brand representatives. It created an expectation of service long before the users of products and services became known as customers. During the boom years, organisations worldwide won business by feeding our subconscious psyche with grand statements like ‘our customers are our most precious asset’, ‘you matter to us’ and other catchy slogans. In

fact, this is how the media heavily influenced consumer confidence, fuelling fear with endless references to the ‘credit crunch’. This recession has made customers wiser and fine words alone are no longer enough. Now it’s time for actions. If an organisation wants to regain customer confidence on the competitive road ahead, it must act now. What will set organisations apart from competitors will be how their people embrace the true power of exceptional and memorable customer engagement. Although marketers laid the foundation with clever campaigns and sensory driven words, it will require the skills of suitably motivated frontline teams to turn those words into deliverable actions. Training to increase people’s skills and opportunities to engage in best practice is key - but not when delivered in a way that says ‘this is what you must do’. We need to develop a culture of inspirational and bespoke value-based behavioural learning. As economic recovery begins, the winners - those organisations that emerge strongest - will have used this downturn to truly understand their frontline team’s connection to the brand values and how they can bring their vision to life. To ensure frontline staff genuinely connect with and represent their brand to improve customer advocacy, people development must be engaging and instil personal pride in representing the organisation. Backing from the senior management team - together with their belief that frontline staff can genuinely make a real impact on bottom line performance - is essential. This brings me back to the point about common sense and the fact that courtesy and manners cost nothing. As budgets tighten, organisations need to listen more and learn from their own people about their specific training and development requirements - and then provide support that reflects current and future behaviours. It’s imperative that development is integrated across all levels of the business from recruitment through to the front line, brand service coaches to senior leadership and brand champions. On the road to recovery, two factors are crucialmotivation and personality. Frontline people especially should dare to be different. Yes, customers are demanding more and why shouldn’t they? I’m tired of seeing organisations bypass their most basic of promises and responsibilities. If you expect frontline people to treat customers with respect then that must start at home. Staff should feel part of the process and know that their voice counts in trying to ensure that customers are offered truly exceptional service. The battle lines are drawn. Will it be the organisations that opt for back office cost-cutting or those that encourage better frontline motivation and brand delivery that will win the race to recovery? It reminds me of the tortoise and the hare; cutting cost on people development may put you on the road faster but those with a better long-term people development strategy will ultimately take the prize. Words without actions are meaningless. Moving forward, organisations will be judged on and remembered most for the behaviour and actions of their customer-facing people. For further information contact info@insidebridge.com


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Stop Procrastinating

and start meeting those deadlines Ever stopped to wonder why some people always seem so frantically busy at work? Ever noticed that person in the office that only ever has time to pull their hair out or shout loudly because they have missed yet another deadline? Maybe that person has been you. We may often get stuck in a rut when it comes to the management of our own time. We have all succumbed to the powers of the time stealer that lurks the corridors at work. Some of the time stealers you may recognise might be that ever urgent phone call, the constant alert of incoming mail, the boss who wants more from you today than they did yesterday or even the instigator of the famous adhoc meeting. Any of these terrors could be the reason that you fail to achieve what you set out to do. It may come as a surprise to learn that the biggest stealer of your time is often yourself. The top reason for poor time management is often procrastination. This is a self inflicted time trap that is often referred to as the “manyana” syndrome. Plainly speaking it means putting off until tomorrow what you could or should do today. On many occasions that tomorrow never comes, leading to missed deadlines and a stressful working environment where it feels like we are chasing our tails and never really getting much done. So what makes us procrastinate? Rest assured procrastination is a natural human behaviour, we all

procrastinate, some of us more than others. Let’s see if you can connect with any of these common reasons for procrastination. • Maybe if I ignore the task it will go away • “Paralysis by analysis” Sometimes we think about things so much that they end up seeming bigger than they really are. Stopping ourselves from taking any action at all • There is always something better to do than what I should be doing. • I may not be good enough to finish the job • This job seems too difficult to do • I am not in the mood to give this 100% today • I am not a morning person, I will do this later today You may connect with some of these personal justifications for procrastinating more than others. The most powerful way forward is to recognise how you can overcome procrastination and free yourself from this self inflicted time trap. Here are some ways that you can break free from the procrastination trap. by Zoe Cooper Bridge Training Associate


A new beginning‌

...the renaissance of customer service. Join business leaders, opinion formers, experts, practitioners and professionals from across the private, public and third sectors at the UK’s largest customer service conference. An opportunity to network, find solutions, share experiences, discuss and learn best practice, hear world-class speakers, give your opinions and then

set your sights higher.

23-24 March 2010 The Brewery, London chris.morley@icsmail.co.uk | 01206 571716 www.instituteofcustomerservice.com


Destination: Greatness The Journey to

Look inside The Journey

to Greatness


The Journey to Greatness Gary Dawkes, Communications manager at the Institute of Customer Service, catches up with Bridge’s Managing Director Dale Smith for a chat.

Everyone loves to talk about the recession – how are you finding it out there? Without question the market has slowed and in particular many training initiatives have been put on hold until there is more stability in who will sit where. That is not to say that we are not starting to see confidence come back to the industry – as we definitely are. To be honest we have never been busier – as not to sit idle - we have been diligently working on new training programmes and human behaviour research. Our most excite programme to date – The Journey to Greatness – is at proposal stage with a few clients. This period has given us a little well needed consolidation time – so that we can really tighten up our offerings and ensure that the Bridge Training brand has a clear and consistent message to clients.

You mentioned - The Journey to Greatness I guess my next obvious question is what is it? LOL – well I am glad you asked. The Journey to Greatness is more of a conceptual training initiative that can be completely bespoke to a client’s requirements. We really wanted to take the stance that an organisations frontline team may already be good – yet we want to take them on a journey that will give them the skills, motivation and attitude to truly excel at customer services and sales. We wanted to create a mix of fun and a branded experience that will truly connect with the brand values of the organisation. Every company has their mission statement and brand words – we wanted to develop a learning opportunity to turn them into deliverable actions.

What makes this Journey different from just any other training? Good question – did you used to be in sales? The

difference lies in the delivery and branded experience that we create. It is based on movement and forward thinking. So often training consists of a facilitator running a very specific and packed programme of agreed information. Even though the training is excellent, fun and informative the short term memory on this style of training is very short lived. Once delegates are back in the work place a lot of the great learning can be forgotten – as we tend to fall easily back into our normal pattern of working. We have carefully designed the Journey to Greatness to make each section of the learning a destination stop – complete with boarding cards and a map to the next destination. All the stops are interconnected and are based on proven Emotional Intelligence and other sensory skills such as NLP. By breaking the learning down with such clear skills and memory anchors the learning as a higher probability of being recalled when needed.

If you had to only give me one unique selling point about - The Journey to Greatness what would it be?

I want to say because it’s a fresh approach – however, I think that it would have to be our ability to follow up on bite size chunks of the training. We have been able to develop better continuous learning tools by breaking down the learning into a fun and memorable journey format with certain destination stops having greater impact on some delegates than others – due to their individual learning requirements. The journey has been created to last outside the training room and through the use of podcast, branded reminders and internal coaches we can better trigger memory and hence assist in positive change. Also by connecting the learning to their existing brand values our aim is to develop front line people into living brand champions.


better frontline motivation and brand delivery that will win the recovery race. It reminds me of the tortoise and the hare: cutting cost on people development may give you the cash to get on the road faster – yet those with a better long term people development strategy will ultimately take the prize.

Where does the Journey to Greatness go from here – how will you keep it fresh?

What do you think is the most important area to train staff on – given the current economic climate? The one that I seem to be promoting is motivation and attitude and if I had to give it one word it would be personality. This recession has been though on the frontline teams as they have truly been at the forefront of delivery company messages to customers. These people represent the true value of an organisations brand in the hearts, minds and daily actions and I see good development as a thank you gift for all their hard work and support. Utilising behaviour science allows us to give delegates the ‘why’ things in communication happen and how they can better control both their internal and external dialogues. I never believe in telling a front line person what to do – I want them to be so interest in human behaviour that they want to know what comes next. When delegates are truly interested in the subject of communication they will be more likely to go out and seek further information on their own.

Why has Bridge spent so much development time on this particular concept?

Simple – we believe in what we do and truly know that it is time to shake up the training environment. I spend a lot of time just talking with delegates and asking them what they want – and time and time again the answer is ‘something different’. Before we started to work on the Journey to Greatness we put a big sign on the wall that read ‘Dare to Be Different’ – and that is where we started. Personally, I love to make a difference in delegate’s lives and the work we do can easily be translated to either the work environment or home life. We just need to ensure that we packaged it in a way that stays firmly anchored in the conscious mind.

We all know that training budgets have been slashed – how do you answer the objection that there is just no budget?

I live under the premise that if it is important enough there is always a budget. We are starting down the road to recovery and I truly believe that value based learning and development for our frontline is a must if we are going to use this time to ensure customer service excellence and ultimately customer advocacy. The race has begun – will it be organisations that opt for back office cost-cutting or those that encourage

That is the beauty of The Journey to Greatness as it can be tailored for any organisation that is on a quest to transform its frontline team into true brand representatives. It can almost be used like a pick and mix of destination stops depending upon the organisations requirements. We fist look at the brand and the customer’s expectation of service based on marketing promises. Once we have clearly identify what makes a person a brand representative we can begin building the journey. The destination stops can be either skill or attitude based or a combination of the two. Hence, the journey to greatness will evolve with the industry and with the changing demand on customer service and sales excellence.

I know that last year you launched ‘The Living Brand®’ – how has that been received by the customer service and sales world? Without question the Living Brand® concept has been a great development journey all on its own. It has been constantly developing and has truly become the backdrop to everything that we do at Bridge. The Living Brand has given us a unique offering and way of working that I believe separates us from other training providers as we have a clear aim and way of working. Transforming your frontline team into true living brand® champions should be on all organisations agendas. Connecting your people to the true values of the organisation will mean that they will turn marketing words into deliverable actions and be happier, heather and more proactive in the work environment.

How has joining the Institute of Customer Service assisted Bridge in its quest to make a difference to frontline people?

Firstly, for us the decision to become a member of the Institute was easy as I believe we are both on a similar journey.   Aligning ourselves with such a professional organisation – one that is honestly and totally focused on service excellence – is critical both to Bridge and our clients’ future success.  I have been so impressed by the access to support that we have had since we joined and without question it is this industry knowledge that allows a positive service culture to flourish.   It is one thing to be called an institute but it is very rare to have one such as the Institute of Customer Service that truly represents the interests and development of people on the frontline in all sectors.

What other innovations does Bridge have planned for us?

Well I guess you just have to watch this space. What I can tell you is that we are very excited by the prospect of working with some great brands and the fantastic people that support them in the frontline.


HAPPY STAFF = HAPPY CUSTOMERS Measure Staff Morale and Engagement & Earn Certification as a TopPlace2Work!

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The benefits of the program include: • Receive on-going feedback from your staff; on feelings about working for your organization. • Earn certification and the opportunity to showcase your organization as a Top Place 2 Work – add the logo to your stationery and use this to attract and hold onto future talent. • Program applies to local, national and international organizations with full consistency and the ability to see trends across different departments or locations. • Shows existing staff you care about their feelings and well being.

To learn more visit:

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Transforming Your Frontline Employees Into

In the current economic climate, it is imperative that companies concentrate on building a lasting and secure bridge between its marketing function’s vision for the future and the service delivery offered by frontline and leadership teams. This will enable an organisation’s engagement to match or exceed the customer’s expectation from the brand and to transform employees into Living Brand Champions.


The media turned its attention to the economy and people became more aware and interested in the financial situations around them. The media turned its focus to the government and now the attention has been turned to politics. As part of the media generation, we are all driven by this powerful information source and it is this same force and mindset that drives our customer’s expectation of brand service delivery. Brands enter our worlds through various mediums and marketing initiatives and we tend to, like the media, have an unwavering belief in them. Brands are a contract of assurance and are living and breathing through the actions of our frontline teams. It has never been more important to ensure that this direct channel to your customer is sending out a broadcast that represents your brand promise in a language of strength, confidence and unity. Customers are more astute than ever before; however, in the current economic climate, they are also seeking safety and security wherever they can find it. This unconscious and basic need for safety is driving up their demand for exceptional customer service and, more importantly, the service that the marketing team set as a promise at purchase. If organisations manage the customer experience with professionalism and service excellence today, it can be an opportunity to create customer advocacy that will last long beyond this or any recession. Most analysts agree that tough times make people think more and, when people think more, they re-assess their behaviour. Those companies who’ve confused customer habit with customer loyalty quickly discover that they’re not the same thing. The single biggest risk that organisations have in a recession is also the same risk that companies have when they go through a fast and successful growth period. They are in danger of losing touch with the one key component that holds that brand in contact with its customers – its frontline people. As companies go through an intense growth spurt, they can get so focussed on chasing the wealth that time pressures in doing so puts people development on the back burner. As in times of recessions, organisations can get so focussed on cost cutting and battening down the hatches that they forget the importance of the very same thing – people development. Training of your frontline in brand management and service excellence in difficult times should not be seen as a cost but a necessary investment in the future of the business. With the recent economic downturn and the continuous negative messages of uncertainty that are hitting both our customers and teams, it is crucial to concentrate on our service delivery. Closing down and reflecting on 2008 was both bitter and sweet as we were all introduced to a new vocabulary that incorporated words such as credit crunch and right sizing. However, it is also an opportunity to concentrate on the good work that we accomplished in a diverse and an unprecedented market. If we have learned anything from previous economic slows it is that it is not a time to turn our backs on people development but to face it straight on and prepare our people to excel at service. 2009 has brought with it a new set of challenges and, if managed correctly, will see the true winners back on top again. The motivation and commitment of our people and ultimately the way in which they engage - will make or break an already fragile customer confidence. We are beginning to see the cracks of confidence stem from our

frontline people and the demands that are being put on them can have irreversible effects if not kept in check. It is imperative that people development continues in the current market yet, without question, it should be better monitored and managed. The struggle between the negative balance sheet today and a positive one in a year’s time sits with the direct channel to your customer – your people. In such uncertain times, people development must be engaging to the audience - it must instil pride in the organisation and belief that the frontline does make a real impact on the financial security of the business. I am a big advocate of accelerated learning techniques, and offering people the opportunity to learn in an environment that is both fun and educational, allowing the brain to absorb information in a unique way. I am always surprised that so many organisations still opt for classroom only training or what I like to call the ‘tell zone’. If this is what your brand represents then fine; however, if not, then your people development should represent your brand vision and values. It was this need for more interactive and value-based learning that gave Bridge the impetus to put into place the Living Brand® concept and embark on a mission to introduce customer centric organisations to its Brand2Life programme. Great customer service is at the forefront of most reputable brands and, with the winds of economic change affecting most marketing and training departments, it is more important than ever to ensure that our frontline people are best equipped to retain our existing customers. Over the years I have heard the term ‘first time resolution’ commands emanate from Team Leaders and Contact Centre Managers, see it appear in mission statements and even have board members the world over boast that it is their company’s way forward. First time resolution is a dream that all companies may wish for, however, few are coming close to reaching this desired state. If keeping cost low in the current climate is important, then this can - and will - be achieved through a better connected frontline and a better connected frontline can - and will - be achieved from brand valuebased learning. With customer confidence already in a fuelled emotional state, it is imperative that our frontline be better equipped to achieve this than ever before. With even a fractional increase towards this benchmark, the money spent on development will soon pay for itself and hence should be seen as an investment and never a cost. However, let’s look to the organisations that are reaching their goals and understand what clear guidance can be learned from them and how to best achieve exceptional customer and staff satisfaction levels. This is where the Bridge Brand2Life process ensures that training is consistent across all tiers of the organisation. It ensures that all levels of an organisation are learning and representing the brand in an appropriate manner. It is our recommendation that all organisations develop strong branded programmes for their core training modules and then use this theme to create a Brand2Life series for its additional modules. All themes are a direct derivative of the core values of the organisation and hence create a seamless link between the marketing department’s view of brand and that of the frontline. A Brand2Life programme will allow a vast amount of cost saving on future programmes as they will continue to run with one core direction. This will enable organisations to build a


the corner. From local authorities to the big banks – if your customers have been made a promise by means of media or directly from named representatives, then you are a brand. The supply chain of brand delivery begins in the creative minds of our advertising, marketing and brand teams and from there, passed to the customers in a neatly packaged promise. The true delivery of this brand is alive – it is breathing, it feels and it thinks and more importantly it needs to be connected to the end-to-end process. In today’s busy brand environment, what separates the winners from the mediocre is a question that needs addressing if we are going to use this status in building key relationships between your organisation and your people. It is with this information that we can begin to develop frontline customer management training that will deliver the service that can be enjoyed by both the delivery team and the customer. Hence, your first port of call for any frontline training should begin with the team that sets the expectation line for your customer – the same team that brings your values alive in the world of marketing. It is imperative to see the brand as they see it – as this will be a closer view of how your customers see, hear and feel your organisation. Wikipedia defines brands as labels of ownership: name, term, design, and symbol. To me, that sounds like your own personal business card and somewhat too simplistic for such a huge unconscious environment. It is this missing link that needs to be explored with our people at point of first meet, recruitment, induction and all the way through to the promotion and advancement process. It is what sits behind the logo, colours and billboards and what sits at the heart of the organisation – its true values and what it honestly represents.

lasting and secure bridge between its marketing function, its vision for the future and its frontline and leadership teams. Initially, many frontline customer service people receive their induction training, their welcome pack to their new organisation, get dropped into the basic skills requirement training and then left to brand manage customers day in day out. All this until the dreaded burnout takes effect and the treadmill moves them on to the next of many brands. We must address the sheer importance of great frontline customer service people and truly look at the role, not only from service, but from a brand management perspective. This movement from immediate service to proactive brand champions will allow organisations to truly make a difference in the delivery channel to customers. The economy will improve and recruitment of new people will be back on the agenda – so use this time to ensure that the induction of new people is not based on numbers but seeking out those people that will easily move from employees to Living Brand® champions. Building the bridge between your marketing department and your Living Brand® ambassadors is a must if you are to succeed in the increased expectation lines of your customers. Customers are demanding better service, increased compensation and a service delivery team that matches their promise of brand at time of purchase. In the competitive race of marketing, we are offering more by way of sensory stimulation, more hits from media and more desire to have our brands ‘do what they say on the tin’. However, if we can begin to separate and clearly understand the power that brands have over our society, and learn from this power when making our own Living Brand®, then real success is waiting around

It ensures that all levels of an organisation are learning and representing the brand in an appropriate manner.


It is what brands do for people that matters much more, how they reflect and engage them, how they define their aspirations and enable them to do more. Powerful brands can drive success in competitive markets, and indeed become the organisation’s most valuable assets. Harnessing this unconscious power, applying and incorporating it to our customer service people training and development will allow them the simple pleasure of understanding that brands are alive. They are created to exist in the hearts and minds of their users and, in so, have penetrated the two most valuable assets needed to assist in their growth. For brands to grow and remain successful, they must have a team that understands and believes that The Living Brand® holds more power than ever before. It is also imperative that in such uncertain times we create this connection bridge between our people and the organisations that they represent. As mentioned, we are all part of the media generation – so never forget that our people too are being hit daily with doom and gloom stories that is guaranteed to affect their performance. Whether these stories are in the morning news or gleaned from internal gossip, they will all affect motivation and performance if left unmanaged. This decrease in performance will ultimately affect both the customer and the bottom line. The idea behind value-based learning is to enable your people to feel better connected to their environment. It offers them a level of security both within their teams and within the organisation as a whole. As a people, we gravitate to others that share a similar value system to our own – it is this gravitational pull that will bond us together with close friends and family for life. We may not always be in their present company, yet we will defend that relationship with all our standing. It is this bond that organisations should be seeking to create. Forget the quest for first time resolution and begin the process of creating true, honest and connected Living Brands® and leave the first time resolution up to them. Organisations inherently - through their systems, values, training and rules - try to suppress creativity, yet the implications of the need for self-actualisation is that they need their creative and free thinkers. For this to happen they must create an environment where free expression is encouraged and creative genius stimulated. The managerial fear here is that anarchy may ensue; however, to encourage innovation rules must be questioned and occasionally bent. It is easy to play it safe and happily glide under the radar with skills training but for many years we have experienced that if the attitude and motivation of the person is not correct then all the skills in the world will never manifest a continuous brand loyal experience. In my experience, the contact centre, customer service

management and frontline sales industry houses some of the brightest, most talented people in business. I have often stated that if I was to organise a back-to-work programme I would put participants into a contact centre for one year, in order that they could obtain the experience in communication, managing emotions, positive and negative people, problem solving and remaining engaged during repetitive tasks. I fully support training that enables delegates with the opportunity to engage in best practice in the required skills, however, it cannot continue to be delivered in a way that says ‘this is what you must do’. The retention of this style of training is low, the delegate engagement level is poor and the ROI received from organisations is not a valued investment. People need to be engaged, they need to understand human behaviour and, above all, allow the respect and opportunity to play their role in brand management. There is also fairly good neuroscientific evidence suggesting that curiosity can be considered as an intrinsic motivational drive. Accordingly, novelty in the learning environment is an important element in motivation as novelty awakens curiosity. Interestingly, detection of novelty is associated with the methods in which we teach our people as it is an important structure in memory encoding and memory consolidation. In simple terms, when people are in an environment that is new and different, this stimulates a chemical in the brain that is also used for memory retention. If the purpose of training and developing our people is to have the information retained and utilised once back in the workplace, then the methods and styles in which the information is transmitted is key. Hence, it is important to understand what drives your people’s behaviours. Once this information is obtained, it can help guide the appropriate learning interactions and ensure you are focusing on the right things with each and every person on your team. Learning should be fun and stimulating and done in a manner that ensures people feel “invested in” as opposed to “dictated to”. This is where understanding what style of development event will assist your organisation and drive employee motivation and their will to perform once back in the workplace is imperative. Firstly, if genuine commitment is to be achieved amongst frontline people, the brand ideology must touch the core of why people work for the organisation. It is not something that can necessarily be crafted; rather, it is something that has to be discovered. Second, the views of managers may not be an accurate reflection of the organisation and with this disconnect we start to see the breaks in what should be a positive initiative. The style that one manager may respect as an effective learning environment may not be the same that is valued


Brand words without connected frontline actions are meaningless


by the organisation’s people, hence will never have the desired effect. The goal should be to engage frontline people and all employees as much as possible on the journey of self discovery, both themselves as individuals and as brand representatives. The importance of truly understanding the upward motives of the frontline versus the downward requirements of the management team is one that often gets talk about, however not always put into application. To adopt a bottom-up process, that allows employees from all parts of the organisation to take part in discussion groups and think tanks, will revolutionise the output of your training initiatives. In the long run, it will also be a cost saving to the overall business as the wastage of development and culture change programmes is minimised. The B to C marketplace is constantly being put under the microscope to ensure that they are living up to their brand expectation. Great brands, like successful leaders, are playing to win and they are using this downturn as an opportunity to invest in the future connection of the Living Brands®. They have a clearly defined plan of words and actions required to achieve their goal. Their success lies in their delivery and ensuring that you as a consumer are getting what you have come to expect. If you have ever been disappointed, dismayed or even disgusted with one of your respected brands then you may have found yourself saying, ‘I would have expected more from brand x’. This is the dangerous side of brand development for if you set the expectation line too high, the further you may fall if you are unable to maintain it. In the current market, it is this heightened level of expectation that has pushed customer confidence even lower as this loss of respect can far outweigh any gains that the success of the brand may have accomplished. This is the testament to why your Living Brand® people must be truly connected to all brand promises and linked to the true expectation line created by our marketing and media departments. This is their opportunity to step up and be counted as a brand champion and, in some cases, brand saviour. As customer buying patterns change, so does the need for a united and motivated frontline. Quality staff training, retention and customer satisfaction should be of the utmost importance to all organisations in the current economic climate. If they are to ensure continued success in a competitive market, organisations must engage in team training that encourages individuals to connect to and become the Living Brand® for both their internal people and external customers. The Living Brand® experience looks inside the mind and behaviour patterns of frontline people and answers the question of how to turn even the most cynical of team members into a true Living Brand® Champion. This is a perfect opportunity to share experiences with like-minded individuals in an environment that has been carefully orchestrated to embrace free thinking, meet business objectives and assist in personal development and growth. The underlining theme of the Living Brand® concept is to turn words into actions. The days of talking about it are over – those that will succeed are those that put the marketing promise into action through its frontline people. To begin the movement of your people from employees into Living Brands® you must first take them on a journey of brand development and personal growth that will create an intricate web of Belief, Attitudes and Skills.

2009 can be seen as a starting point to get things back on track and get things moving again in the right direction. Developing a Living Brand® culture starts with Stage One: ‘Preparing Your Brand’. Like every great brand development, if you want to grow your Living Brand, you must first decide the ‘key defining words’ that you would want to have attributed to your organisation and the ones to be delivered through your people. Many organisations will start with professional, innovative, intelligent, talented, humorous, unique, and motivated etc. In this stage try to be creative, engage the experience of your in-house marketing and media team and ensure that all the words can be manifested to life. This list will be the foundation for your Living Brand® – remember, it is just a list and it must be in line with your current market condition or developing brand. Utilise your think tanks and working groups at this stage – as it will be this population that will later bring them to life. I can never repeat this enough – ‘words and actions are two very different things and company mission statements are just words’. See this exercise as less of a training initiative and more of a learning experience. As your people development moves forward, you can now move ahead to Stage Two: ‘Becoming The Brand’. It is in this area of your learning experience that an organisation’s team learns how to move words into actions. We are an action-based species and so, if you want something you must do something, and more importantly if you want something different, then you will need to do something differently. It is important at this stage of your Living Brand® culture that you put manageable and achievable actions against the words that you have established as your Living Brand® guidelines. Motivation, behavioural science and sensory stimulation are a must at this stage to allow delegates the experience of bringing brands alive. Training must be challenging, different, stimulating and fun and without this combination your risk of misalignment between your brand and your Living Brand® will start here. It is also a great opportunity to start incorporating some basic skills training for individual pockets of people that require development in specific areas. By threading this training into your learning experience, you will receive less kickback from those cynics who do not believe they need training. Remember that all our great and good, our local and global, our best of the best brands have not been built overnight. They take time to cultivate their environment; they market research and test their ideas, look and feel before moving full steam ahead. More importantly, they ensure that once they have set the expectation lines of its customers they will deliver time and time again. In the development of your Living Brand® learning experience programme, your customers are your frontline people and therefore, it is important to ask them what they want. Although children are taught from a very early age to sit still and listen, things that they ought to learn are not really put in a practical context. In this sense, cognitive neuroscience could be used to focus on the way people learn. As people get older the information we retain needs to be delivered in a more implied and practical manner. The great thing about building your Living Brand® programme is that it can start today and with a little work you can leave some of the negative past behind you. Make it different; make it fun and most important make it relevant to both the audience and the business.


Stage Three: ‘Own The Brand’ ensures true commitment from your team whilst cementing the learning and creating a unified people culture. Following adequate assessment of your soon-to-be Living Brands, it is at this stage that tailor-made skills programmes are developed. This does not need to be a costly exercise and the time spent grouping your people into skill set requirements and identifying internal coaches will be a huge cost saving later on. True Living Brands respond to training that will enable them to deliver their in-brand style of great customer service. Break the curse of off-the-shelf, conveyer belt training programmes and truly invest in the future of your people and your customers. All customers come to an organisation with an expectation of service and by giving your team the Living Brand® skills and autonomy to deliver them will guarantee your brand promise is met. Your Living Brand® training does not need to be complex, however, it must be able to give your team the motivation and satisfaction required to continue to the final stage. The world of both branding and people development is awash with models and theories. However, the fundamental and common challenge with most models is that they tend to be too academic and overly complex, both in terms of structure and language. The real value of a model ought to be in the simplicity and usability of it and how it can easily be translated into practical actions. In the world of academia, this does not need to be the case as it is being dealt with in a hypothetical manner – this is not so on the shop floor. An organisation’s development structure should be clear and easy for all to identify with and understand. Ultimately, no matter what a person’s role is within an organisation, employees should be able to understand and use the brand created in your learning experience – otherwise, how can they be expected to live

it? In short, keep it real, keep it engaging and most of all keep it relevant to your audience. Once you have your clear Living Brand® values, your achievable plan of those words that will be manifested through your team’s actions and more importantly their commitment to deliver the Living Brand®, remember, you must ensure that it is defined over all tiers within the organisation. This Brand2Life process must be tailored to match the learning styles and particular action outcome for each of the following levels: • Induction training • Key customer contact (touch point) staff • Middle managers and brand coaches • Leadership team and brand ambassadors One final question and the thread that will hold your Living Brand® culture together in a competitive business is: ‘What makes our organisation different and what is at the real core of how we want to be remembered by our customers?’ With this final question answered and actions applied, you are now ready to launch your Living Brand® into the market. As with all brands, never lose sight of your core values and the actions that your people must manifest in order to show your customers that your people are truly connected to the organisation they represent. Just saying the words without deliverable actions is the main difference separating the winners from the mediocre. Saying it and living it are two very different sides of your Living Brand® and the service that you offer to your customers. If first time resolution was the goal then I guarantee that you are much closer at this stage than ever before. Your people always held the power to achieve first time resolution – the question is: Did you give them the belief and empowerment to execute this privilege?


The final stage is ‘Keeping The Living Brand Alive’ and this key stage is all about implementation and how to ensure that your Living Brands® are equipped and motivated to maintain the brand management status that they have reached. Do not fall into the band-aid training trap – once it is fixed, it is gone forever. People development is about growth, nurturing, caring, respect and engagement and most of all it needs to be maintained, monitored and managed. Again, just more words – it is in the actions that sit behind the words that you will find true success. So often, organisations will run training programmes as a reaction to the latest negative customer service results or with a change of management comes a change of direction. Living Brands® need consistency, commitment and connection from all levels of the organisation and feel that their involvement in brand development is as important, if not the most important, part of the process. In the true nature of brands, it is a must to promote your Living Brand® programme from Day One – give it a name, logo and identity. This will allow you the opportunity to better manage the Living Brand® experience in the final stage. Creating a Living Brand® culture is an organisation’s opportunity to be more creative in their incentive and rewards for staff, linking them to brand delivery, great customer experience and not just stats, numbers and call ratios. If AHT is the most important number in your organisation, then you are probably missing out on the warmth and customer experience that is needed. This is not to say that these stats are not important – however, a true living brand will manage this with the best possible outcome for both the customer experience and the business. Once again, the tell zone in this environment will often have the complete opposite effect. The ‘Keeping

the Living Brand Alive’ stage needs to involve, take ideas from and encourage your Living Brands® to keep the momentum alive and growing internally. In the CCA membership poll 2008 – only 49% agreed that they appropriately reward the best team leaders – with only 54% agreeing that team leaders have valuable training away from the contact centre. If managed correctly through a detailed plan, continuous inspiration and future development, then your Living Brand® experience will last far beyond the training room and develop a culture and identity all of its own. The words may look great on paper, however, the actions and the desire to deliver the brand promise is what makes truly exceptional customer service and moves organisations one step closer to their first time resolution goal. The people that an organisation employs and the degree to which their personal values match are essential elements within the overall customer experience process. Brands have great attitude and this attitude will only be delivered through the actions of your frontline Living Brands®. One final thought in our quest for true service excellence is: words without achievable actions are meaningless and true Living Brands® thrive achieving these actions.

Dale Smith

Managing Director Bridge Training and Events Ltd. dale@insidebridge.com

www.insidebridge.com


A new survey suggests that customer service provided in Britain is the best in the world. But this must only be the beginning, says Jo Causon, the pioneering new chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service. Instead of celebrating Britain’s rise to the summit of the service satisfaction table, organisations in all sectors should look at the huge challenges ahead to drive up service and bottom line performances.

This is the renaissance of

customer service


Most organisations realise that ‘satisfactory performance’ is no longer enough. An unrelenting focus to put customers at the heart of business is gathering momentum. I see this as the renaissance of customer service. The latest national measure of customer satisfaction puts the UK ahead of the US, Germany and everywhere else in the way consumers are treated across most service sectors. Providing anything less than very good customer service is bad news for consumers and potentially fatal for those responsible. UK plc must embed the notion of world-class customer service into the management structure of its organisations. The Institute is driven by helping organisations to do this. We are the first port of call for our customers in all sectors – businesses, local and national government, legislators, other professional bodies and opinion formers. In working with organisations and individuals we are demonstrating that customer service is rewarding, valuable and a viable career path. The importance of the very people who provide great service on behalf of their organisation cannot be overstated. Customers want service that is reliable, adaptable and available when they need it, not when it suits the company providing it. They want multiple choice, flexibility and easy access. Although price is important, the value of their experience is also measured by the systems, processes and technology that determine whether an organisation is easy to do business with. More than anything, they want to feel good about their service experience – so they go back for more. What customers don’t want is excuses. They need solutions and resolutions not barriers and reasons why things can’t be done or dealt with swiftly. Customers are more articulate, knowledgeable, technically savvy and selective than ever before. This presents real challenges for organisations in all sectors who seek guidance and advice. The Institute is helping them to understand how to meet and exceed these increased expectations. It’s about raising the profile and the economic and personal impact of outstanding customer service and showing how we can help. Our research shows that companies with a reputation for service excellence can achieve a 24% higher net profit margin than same-sector rivals without this advantage. They can also achieve up to 71% more profit per employee. Talented people who are motivated and professional deliver success for their organisations through higher levels of customer loyalty, increased sales and bottom line results. Organisations best-placed to drive up their performance at all levels in the years ahead will be those who invest in people and develop their skills potential. Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (published in The Sunday Times) indicates the UK’s top performing companies have seen annual profit growth ranging from

48% to 130% over a three-year period. That is a powerful argument for staff engagement and development to drive business success. It’s essential that many more organisations succeed to revitalise the economy. Providing service excellence is also a powerful motivator for staff. In fact, maintaining high performance standards actually increases the opportunities for employers to retain and further develop their most talented people. The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index indicates that customer service is improving. The index average rating has risen from 72 to 74 since January despite (or, perhaps, because of) the economic pressures. This is the clearest indication yet of employers realising that service impacts directly on performance, reputation and, in the private sector, on profits. We’re moving in the right direction but there is a long journey ahead. Today, companies need to be at their best at all times to grow their business. Reputations can take years to build and minutes to ruin – consistent, high-level performance is vital. The Institute is helping organisations build and sustain a strong service reputation by ensuring their people, processes, systems, strategies and underpinning culture are all wholly-focused on customer needs. This means adapting their products and services to suit customer preferences, offering multi-choice options and, where possible, exploring new opportunities to diversify and make positive impressions. There is clear evidence that putting customers at the heart of business brings tangible financial benefits. Satisfied customers are twice as likely to remain loyal and three times more likely to recommend the organisation concerned to others. Employers often emphasise the contributions of their people. The best companies understand that individuals with positive attitudes always make a difference with customers whether contact is face-to-face or, for instance, online. However success is not achieved by individuals and teams alone. It requires a concerted, organisation-wide understanding and commitment by everyone involved in providing service that creates a winning customer experience. People work best and develop their potential when they are motivated, supported and encouraged to perform to consistently high standards. Appreciation and recognition of their effort, commitment and achievements inspires them to do more. Strong service leadership is crucial. The time is right for all of us to focus 100% on our customers. Being ‘satisfactory’ isn’t good enough. Don’t take my word for it – ask your customers. They make the decisions that matter. Jo joined the Institute of Customer Service in April from the Chartered Management Institute where she was director of marketing and corporate affairs.

The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service. A membership body with more than 350 organisational members – from across the private, public and third sectors – and nearly 7,000 individual members, the Institute is the Standard-setting body for customer service and contact centres and has developed National Occupational Standards linked to both. Services available from the Institute include ICS ServiceMark, the national customer service standard that takes into account customer opinions. Organisations can achieve accreditation by undertaking a rigorous three-stage process that assesses internal and external views of their customer service.


It makes me wonder...

What is

LOCAL? by Bertien Kamping Bridge Training Associate


Her voice is really friendly and welcoming. You can hear and sense that she wants to do well and cares about her passengers. There is just one problem: I think less than 25% of the passengers understood a word she said during her safety demonstration. I am on a flight from Liverpool to Amsterdam. The Dutch people on the flight have listened to the tape in their native language and probably know now how to fasten their seatbelt; but what about the American couple I just spoke to, do they know ‘what to do in case of an emergency’. And the Chinese lady with her daughter: does she know where the safety vests are? It makes me wonder: I find local accents charming, but do we need to think about the impact of these accents on the customer experience and their safety? The whole experience reminds me of my Nigerian friend who has worked and lived in Glasgow over the last 2 years in a customer contact centre for a national retailer. People from all over the UK ring with their queries and ‘expect’ to hear a local accent as their query relates to a product they bought at their local store. After the initial shock of hearing a Scottish person answering the phone they ask to speak to somebody ‘who speaks English’ and get transferred to my Nigerian friend whose accent clearly indicates a Nigerian background. It makes me wonder: How come people accept one accent but not another? A couple of weeks ago I was asked to ‘train the trainers’ for the Swine Flu line. My delegates were local people from NHS Direct who will be ‘on standby’ if and when the national Swine flu line can’t cope with the volume of calls. The delegates are of the opinion that local people should help people in their own areas as their experience is that people are often very pleased to hear somebody ‘like themselves’. It makes me wonder: what does this experience tell us about the set up of our national contact centres?

Do we need to ensure that people from the South get transferred to people with a southern accent and people from Scotland to somebody who sounds Scottish? After the intense discussions over the last few years around overseas contact centres, some organisations now advertise that they operate UKbased customer contact centres. Some go as far as: “you will be transferred to an operator with local knowledge.” The questions is: does this also apply to having a local accent? It makes me wonder: how we define local? For me ‘local’ means the UK. Doncaster, Poole, Glasgow, London, Liverpool….I travel all over the UK to assist organisations in embedding excellent customer service in the culture of their organisation, which means I hear different local accents every day. People ask me: how do you ensure you understand everybody? The answer is simple: I train my ears. I often arrive the night before and every morning in the hotel I listen to conversations whilst I am enjoying my breakfast: I talk to the receptionist for a while and chat with the taxi driver. This ensures I am ‘tuned in’ for the day. Sometimes I even match their words and ask people to make themselves a ‘brew’ or a ‘cuppa’. “Training your ears” is a skill and should be included in any customer care training programme. There is so much more to a language than words. Tuning in, feeling the language, understanding the difference in intonation and interpretation. Becoming self aware and aware of others will take away the need for ‘local’ centres. But that requires some effort. Next week I will be at the airport again, this time to pick up some family members from abroad. I might email them with the safety instructions and my ‘dictionary’ and it makes me realise: I am sure it makes them even more excited about coming to our fascinating and diverse UK.

»» Include ‘listening to accents exercises’ into your training programmes to develop and assess people’s listening skills. Train their ears!

»» Some accents sound friendlier than others and customers don’t always tell you that they are not happy and have different ways of expressing themselves. Check if your customers go ‘up a gear’ from impatient, annoyed to angry by being aware of changes in their tone of voice, more or less pauses and speed of talking. This indicates that you need to change your tactics, what you are doing now is not going to solve this problem!

»» Become aware of your accent; we all have one! Do you use slang, are you too highly pitched or do you speak too fast? »» Constantly check for understanding if unsure »» Have a ‘word of the day’ competition with your team; a new local word they have picked up that day. Compile a “dictionary” with these words and use for training purposes.


Does your company want to do a little more for charity? We have the perfect opportunity In Second Life a beautiful garden is evolving and it needs your help to grow... Enrich our Virtual Garden with butterflies, a lily pond or a bed of pansies. Your donation will be used by the Princes Trust to provide support to disadvantaged 14-30 year olds, by developing skills such as confidence and motivation whilst giving financial support. Donations start at only ÂŁ3.

Second Life is a virtual world with millions of visitors; it is a fast growing online community and is becoming increasingly popular with global blue chip companies.

What’s in it for my company?

Aside from being a great way of demonstrating your company’s community investment credentials, your company will be advertised on Second Life. Second Life has a phenomenal user base and provides an innovative new way to interact with your customers.

To find out more and donate, please visit

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Interact... Advertise... Enjoy...


About our project

We’re part of a Prince’s Trust Million Makers team. Million Makers is a national competition that challenges teams of employees to turn an initial investment of £1,500 into a profit for the Princes Trust, within 6 months. Around one in five young people are not in work, education or training. The Princes Trust provides practical and financial support for those young people who need it most, helping them to develop the key skills, confidence and motivation they need to get their lives working again. “The course was the best two weeks of my life. Because we are from a “rough” estate we get stereotyped as underachievers and The Prince’s Trust has just shone a massive light on us. It’s made a huge difference to my life. ” Dan, 19, took part in our Get into Construction course To continue to fund vital programmes for our young people, The Prince’s Trust relies on donations and fundraising activities. Find out more at www.princes-trust.org.uk/millionmakers


WORLD CLASS CUSTOMER SERVICE 4 & 5 November 2009, EICC, Edinburgh www.cca-global.com

THE MAIN THING IS KEEPING THE MAIN THING, THE MAIN THING. (German Proverb)

Dealing with customers is a challenging job. Are you a busy manager doing business with customers by phone or internet? Are your budgets diminishing? Do you need smarter ways to deliver good customer service through your contact centre? Two days attending this conference will offer you more insight than any other event. It only happens once a year, so don’t miss out. Learn from our wide-range of expert speakers, join over 500 senior managers and be part of a wide-reaching network of like-minded individuals. EVENT CHAIR: Gavin Esler, BBC Journalist and Broadcaster

IS SERVING CUSTOMERS YOUR MAIN THING? Learn from the leading global brands on what’s getting results in today's contact centres RONAN DUNNE

CAROLINE LIEN

SILLA MAIZEY

RICHARD HEMSLEY

BOB MCDOWELL

GUY CRAWFORD

Chief Executive

Operations Director

Customer Director

Chief Operating Officer

Vice President, Information Worker Business Value

Chief Executive

BOOK BEFORE 2 OCTOBER 2009 FOR A SPECIAL RATE OF £599 (Normal rate £699). QUOTE REF: T1 CALL 0141 564 9800 YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A MEMBER TO ATTEND.

PLATINUM SPONSORS

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Is the

X Factor

hidden away in your call centre? by Ben Warren, Go! Generate

How many times have you watched the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent and been told the story of a person who works in a call centre and has kept their fantastic talent a secret from their friends and colleagues - only to wow and surprise the nation with an exceptional natural gift for entertainment. When you consider that there are approximately 1 million people working in call centres around the UK, it is highly likely that there are many potential singing sensations just getting on with their day to day duties - harbouring the desire to live their dream to become the next Paul Potts or Leona Lewis, selling millions of records and achieving worldwide fame. But what of the other aspirations that are going undetected? Think of the potential cost savings and value to be gained from using the frontline environment of your call centre as the “breeding ground” for business specialists across your organisation. What initiatives does your Organisational Development function have in place to align the potential in your call centre with talent gaps elsewhere in your organisation? During a recent assignment, at a financial services call centre in the North of England, we were tasked with carrying out a value assessment of their people. Looking through a number of information sources we came across an employee engagement survey and one of the biggest areas of dissatisfaction amongst the top 20% of performers was “deadend job”, “no-where to go” and perhaps most damning of all no “career management”. Here you had a combination of ‘mum returners’ qualified in chartered accounting, recently qualified first and second class degree graduates in subjects such as biology and social sciences and untapped raw, young talent in their late teens and early twenties that had not flourished academically but whose behaviours, intelligence and character had made them “stand out”.

When we questioned the apparent link between performance and dissatisfaction with their career direction, we were told by the operations director that they had not made the link before. This may not be typical of how call centre operations are integrated into overall business structure, but we were surprised to see no co-ordinated talent management/training needs analysis carried out within this population. We then met with Human Resources and were unsurprised to see evidence through their attraction strategy, competency framework and role profiles that the call centre high performers would indeed have be seen as potential talent in role families outside the call centre, but with less risk - as they have already proved themselves a close fit to the organisations values and are living breathing examples of having lived the employer’s brand. A call centre audience will be thinking - “it’s a good thing I don’t lose my best people to other business areas”. But let’s explore the ramifications of not providing career opportunities outside the call centre to these high performers. Increased attrition among your top 20% will undoubtedly affect contact performance and will be particularly damaging if they leave to work for a competitor, decreased engagement amongst this group will lead to a poorer customer experience. Is there a solution? In short yes there is. Increased visibility of call centre high performers across the business, vocational assessment and career management initiatives, technical and competency skills audit and balancing and an aligned training and development schedule to prepare them for vacant roles through succession planning while continuing to measure the outcomes. By listening to high performers and guiding them through vocational preferences, supported with a development programme, a new untapped source of talent may just be waiting to be discovered.


by Zoe Cooper, Bridge Training Associate

Positivity

How to Avoid the Media Blues In 2009 it is getting harder each day to escape the echoes of media doom and gloom. Every where you turn there are news stories or headlines reminding you that businesses are failing, people are losing their homes and our unemployment figures are rising. In this uncertain time what can you do, to ensure 2009 and 2010 are years of personal prosperity and happiness? In challenging times, one thing is certain. The strong will survive. So how do you define personal strength? What is the magic formula? One word is the secret ingredient for attaining and retaining personal strength and that word is positivity. Research has shown that one of the core traits of every successful person you are likely to meet is a positive mindset. Having a positive mindset is about seeing the world through what some people may call rose tinted spectacles, having a glass that is always half full and not half empty and seeing the opportunities in even the most challenging of situations. Deciding to be successful in the years to come and making it your mission to live a positive life is a choice and this is what we are going to call your choice point. Right here, right now. Let me ask you these questions: Do you want to be the employee that your business cannot do without? Do you want to be the friend or partner that spreads only happiness and love? If your answer to either one or both of these questions is yes then read on. So what are the benefits of living live with a positive mindset. Here are a few benefits to get your positive juices flowing. Positive people: • Can live up to 7 years longer • Take less sick days

• Have a higher chance of beating life threatening illnesses • Are more attractive to others • Have healthier sex lives • Sleep better • Have healthier eating habits • Have better promotional prospects • Have more energy • Make better friends and partners • Have happier children So to take advantage of any or all of these benefits here are some tips and tricks to help you attain and retain a positive mindset.

Eat Well

There is a direct link between the foods that you eat and the way that you think and feel. Certain foods stimulate certain hormones and chemicals in your body and will therefore influence your mood. Here are a few healthy foods that have been proven to help you maintain positivity. Broad beans, white beans or butter beans are known for lifting the spirit and are in fact well known as an aphrodisiac for women. Eating spicy foods containing fresh chillies can release mood enhancing endorphins in the brain. Eating a tomato a day can improve mental as well as physical performance. Mangoes, also know as the food of the gods is great for mood enhancing qualities because they contain natural ingredients bearing a strong resemblance to drugs used to treat depression. Sunflower seeds, these yummy seeds contain ingredients that can help to enhance your ability to deal with stress. Bananas, these are know to lift the spirits and to heighten


energy levels. Super-fruits like cherries help to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, and reduce risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

Sleep

A good night’s sleep lowers blood pressure and the elevated levels of stress hormones which are a natural result of today’s fast paced lifestyle. Too much stress causes excess ‘wear and tear’ on your body, and increases the aging process. By reducing high levels of stress, sleep helps to reverse these effects and encourages a state of relaxation. I am not going to quote the amount of hours you need to sleep for the simple reason that some people need 4 hours sleep a night to function well, others 9. It is more about the quality of your rest and the consistency. If you are anything like me and can sometimes find drifting off to sleep a challenge here are some sleep improvement ideas. • Routine: Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day even at weekends. This helps your biological clock get into a repetitive rhythm • Caffeine: Avoid caffeine after 3pm • A sleep haven: Make your bedroom the most relaxing room in your home. Avoid watching television or working from your computer or laptop in your bedroom. If your brain associates your bedroom with anything other than sleep it will be more difficult for you to access the state of relaxation you need. Sleep in a bed that is comfortable with well fitting, crease free sheets and cool, comfy textures • A Warm Soak: Have a hot bath to relax before bedtime. Soak away any stresses or blues before slipping into bed • Yoga and meditation: Try yoga or meditation to aid relaxation before bedtime

Exercise

Did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger exercises, 6 days a week for 90 minutes a day? He also runs the worlds 5th largest economy, so the old boring excuse of “I do not have enough time to exercise” is one that I constantly challenge. Exercise is a must have for living a positive life. “If your body don’t move, your brain don’t groove”. Just half an hour 5 times a week is enough to stimulate the chemicals that have positive effects on your mood and mindset. If you don’t like getting hot and sweaty at the gym, take advantage of the beautiful scenery we have on our doorsteps.

Focus

on influence

things

you

can

Another key attribute of successful people is that they put their energy into

areas of their life that they can influence, rather than waste energy on things outside of their control. Top performing business men and women do not spend time moaning about the targets and goals set by their senior executives, instead they put their time and energy into establishing what they need to do to ensure they meet and exceed their targets. A successful person who finds themselves unlucky enough to be made redundant will not spend hours and days asking the question “Why me?” Instead they will ask themselves these questions. “What do I want to do now? What do I need to do to make that happen? What are the first steps I need to take?” By focusing your time and energy on things you can influence you will increase your ability to positively influence others. Everyone wants to feel positive most of the time, so most people will chose to surround themselves with people who focus on things they can control rather than things they cannot.

Spread the love

Offering words of positive praise to others dramatically enhances your own feel good factor. Behaviour breeds behaviour, so offering a compliment a day to someone who could use a motivational boost will help others to feel good about themselves’ Helping others to feel good about themselves’ will enable you to be the catalyst for a positive connection and how can achieving such a great result give you anything other than a positive vibe?

Do something you love

Make a commitment to do something you love at least once a day. Life moves at such a hectic rate that we tend to forget who we are and what is important to us. Take time each day to give yourself at least half an hour to do something you really enjoy. This should not be something you should do or have to do like the laundry. This should be something that you thoroughly enjoy and is just for you. Whether it is reading a good book, taking a long candlelit bubble bath, watching a movie, walking on the beach or watching the latest episode of big brother. Set this commitment at the start of your day, giving you something to look forward to and therefore increasing your positive outlook for the day. So if you want to beat the blues and stay ahead in this increasingly competitive world of ours, why not make these 6 top tips part of your daily routine. Living a life that involves healthy eating, quality rest and exercise and making positive connections with yourself and others will ensure you are one of the strong ones that reap the rewards of success even in uncertain times.


S E

DAT

5 - 11 October

National customer service week is designed to raise awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays within an organisation. It is also an opportunity to say a big thank you to those who work in customer service for a job well done. www.nationalcustomerserviceweek.com

8 October Nottingham

8 - 9 October London We are here to stay

Networking and Presentation Skills with a difference. Delivery the Brand can be difficult for many people at the best of time – let alone doing in front or amongst an audience. This two-day course will equip delegates with the skills and confidence to make a memorable impact in formal and internal presentation and networking situations. www.insidebridge.com

23 October Stirling

Institute of customer service forum Effective Complaints Management Forum discussing complaints management, with examples from Notts County Council. Speakers include Joanna Rawsterne from the council.

Financial Services Sector Forum that will discuss Treating Customers Fairly. Speakers will include Nigel Firth, (Skipton Building Society) and representatives from the Prudential.

Selling with brand power

21 October London

Managing, Controlling and Delivering the Expectation Line. This course takes delegates through a journey of skills development to enable them to quickly build rapport with customers and identify opportunities to maximise value for both parties. The two days will look at a variety of proven sales tools, techniques, personal development and best practice. www.insidebridge.com

21 October London The power of the perfect pitch

In today’s competitive business environment it is imperative that your pitch for new business stands out and makes real impact to your audience. There is a clear distinction between presenting and pitching for new business and this two day course will allow delegates the opportunity to balance between these two front facing roles. www.insidebridge.com

8 - 9 October London Powerful people Specifically designed for Auditors, Risk and Compliance Professionals. Running successful meeting should not be exclusive to consultants or senior level board members and with many people being asked to join the process at various stages it is imperative that all people are at top performance. This course will explore the concept of Are “Powerful People” Born or Are They Made. www.insidebridge.com


CCA global customer contact convention

4 - 5 November Edinburgh

CCA Convention 2009 is the pinnacle of our learning to date, drawing from unrivalled experience, research, benchmarking and academic input. There is no better investment of your time - not only will you access proven techniques for immediate impact, but also the latest thought-leadership to ensure that you are positioned to drive and influence change in your organisation. www.cca-global.com

Developing you in-house leadership team Managing, Controlling and Delivering the Expectation Line. This course takes delegates through a journey of skills development to enable them to quickly build rapport with customers and identify opportunities to maximise value for both parties. The two days will look at a variety of proven sales tools, techniques, personal development and best practice. www.insidebridge.com

12 - 13 November London

Transforming your frontline

1 December London

teams into living brand速 champions In these unprecedented times lays a fantastic opportunity for organisations to distinguish themselves from others by showing customers that they really do deliver on their brand promises. The battle lines are drawn. Will it be the organisations that opt for back office cost-cutting or those that encourage better frontline motivation and brand delivery that will win the race to customer advocacy? This is the time to develop your Living Brand Champions. For further information and programme updates contact 0845 362 7729 www.livingbrand.co.uk

18 November Leatherhead Ready, steady,

cook with Robbie Bradley, Telebusiness Team Leader, Unilever Foodsolutions.

10 December London Customer service

10 - 11 December London Show me your brand

Getting the Edge on Face-to-Face Customer Service. Too often customers experience brand disalignment when their expectations of the brand and the delivery method used by its people are mismatched. This powerhouse two days will look at a variety of proven confidence building techniques, personal development and best practice that will enable your people to deliver your brand effectively. www.insidebridge.com

training at xmas with Colin Bates, Director of Customer Champions, Royston Guest, CEO of Pti Worldwide, Derek Arden, Peter Tattersall and Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service

www.customerservice trainingassociation.co.uk



Brand2Life Magazine