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Brand2Life

the world of brands The importance of brand in service excellence and engagement

Customer Loyalty

How to turn satisfaction into loyalty using a company’s closest and most important asset

Building a culture

The voice of one has power and the power of many creates greatness


Life is all about innovation

step inside the world of bridge


Engagement and culture Our passion at Bridge is to turn employees into real fans of their organisation. We know that great customer experiences and operational excellence are the result of a highly motivated and highly engaged frontline team. Communication is a critical component in achieving a culture of employee engagement.

the living brand

®

Branding goes way beyond an organisation’s logo, colours, and marketing campaigns. The reputation of your brand and your customer’s loyalty is held in the hands, hearts and minds of your frontline team. The move from service management to brand management is revolutionising the way we engage and motivate those individuals to create and sustain exceptional customer experiences time and time again.

Training Bridge works with the heart of an organisation – its people. We are continuously developing learning solutions that are bespoke to individual needs, offering a holistic mix of theory, coaching and practice. All our training is underpinned by behavioural sciences, such as Emotional Intelligence and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), whilst working closely with the brand values and culture of the clients we work with.

events As part of our commitment to adding value to our clients and the industry, we run a series of topical conferences and workshops throughout the year. Bringing together industry experts ensures that we keep abreast of new trends in the market and how leading organisations are mastering employee engagement and service excellence. These events offer our clients and delegates an exceptional opportunity to learn and network with peers and other like minded professionals.

0845 362 7729 www.insidebridge.com


Contents and notes

ContenTs 6 Internal Marketing How can we harness the power of marketing to engage employees? Fabio Marcolini addresses the question.

28 The world of Brands World of Customer Service expert Don Hales catches up with Dale Smith to discuss the importance of brand in service excellence and engagement.

24 Customer Loyalty Hear from Helio Oliveira how to turn satisfaction into loyalty using a company’s closest and most important asset.

32 customer retention Mark Honey shares his experience within the charity sector and discusses how to retain the valued supporter through employee engagement.

12 Building a Culture The voice of one has power and the power of many creates greatness. Dale Smith discusses the importance of setting a culture committee, bringing together all areas of the business to focus on the drivers needed to support employees and build a brand reflective culture.

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Contents and notes

10 Motivation Derek Williams presents six practical tips to motivate yourself and your team in difficult times.

16 Engagement Susan Burnett takes you behind the scenes of the British Council and reveals the secrets to their success in managing employee engagement on a global scale.

18 training With the customer experience at the top of the agenda of most organisations, it is imperative that we support our people with excellence in training and development.

22 service Carmine Gallo explains simply and beautifully what makes the Apple Retail experience so successful.

34 surveys Mike Ball aims to help you understand why that companies fail to achieve a ‘threshold’ level of customer satisfaction.

36 personal development Tips on how to build you own personal brand.

38 Directory

Notes from editor Fabio Marcolini

During my time at Bridge, I have been fortunate to work with a number of organisations whose leaders understood the importance of culture and were genuinely interested in developing their people to becoming Living Brand Champions. It is through the experience of my piers that I have been exposed to some fantastic new ideas and have had the ability to engage with some of the brightest customer service professionals in the industry. My strong belief is that an organisation can become more successful by developing a real and meaningful culture, and a set of values that reinforce this vision. As one of the key drivers of organisational performance, employee engagement should be at the top of everyone’s list. The way in which an organisation connects to its people is one of the most important aspects of its ability to bring to life its brand promise, and perfect its customer experience. It is imperative that all employees live and breathe those values daily. Without this approach, an organisation’s vision and values become nothing but a plaque in the reception area. We have dedicated this issue to opening up the key points that are on our reader’s roadmap to increase employee engagement. At Bridge, our conviction is that the best way to increase this connection is to focus on creating a customer focussed business. Developing a team of brand fans will not happen overnight and requires not only a strong strategic plan, but the buy-in of all those that you wish to engage. Organisations must begin to see this as an investment in their future and an opportunity to create something special and distinct. Participants from across the business are required to come together to create an internal brand engagement campaign that translates the customer promise. From the marketing department to create and promote the ideas, to the training team ensuring that the initiative supports the ability and attitude to bring the brand to life. Life is not always about reinventing the wheel each and every time, so that is why we can gain benefit by looking to the success of other organisation such as Apple and the British Council, and learn from how they have engaged their people. The world of brands, customer experience and employee engagement is an exciting one, and I am personally looking forward to hearing more success stories from our readers and clients in the upcoming months. An organisation’s culture can have many definitions that include having a shared mindset, common ethos, and in our world, living the brand and being part of something special. Once the right culture is created and your employees are engaged and fans of the brand, then it becomes ‘the way we do things around here’.

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internal Marketing

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internal Marketing

Target Market:

Your Employees The power of marketing has been proven to sell products and ideas to customer time and time again. The question that many organisations must ask is ‘how can we harness this power to engage employees?’ Fabio Marcolini addresses the question. It is no secret that customer satisfaction is fully dependent on employees who are engaged and happy at their jobs. Putting all the research to one side, our day-today interactions with customer service professionals are a proof of how the ‘computer says no’ attitude can be damaging to a brand. What some companies have yet to comprehend is that it is their responsibility to keep employees engaged and give them a reason to care. Marketing has become vital to organisations in order to survive in such a competitive marketplace. They focus on persuading customers to buy into their products, services and ideas through the various mediums, however they loose one of the most important touch-points of the brand: the brand representatives. The human capital are generally not part of the marketing department’s concern, hence the job to motivate these people gets left in the hands of the Human Resources or Customer Service departments. These business areas also have their own agendas, which do not involve translating the brand with flare and excitement. Organisations need to close the gap between Marketing and HR, and create branded campaigns focusing on one target market: the employees. Your employees are your internal customers and they need to buy into your brand messages just as much as your external customers. A successful marketing campaign will attract your customers to buy into your

promise, and if this promise is not sold well to your employee population, they could undermine your customer’s expectation. The link between your consumer marketing and your internal campaigns are essential to connect employees to brand messages being sent to customers. Ultimately, the campaign should go beyond information, gaining the employees buy-in and exciting them to share their knowledge and enthusiasm about the brand. A Brand within a Brand

The stages of the marketing and branding processes are of common knowledge for marketing professionals, and they must be considered for a branded internal marketing campaign. The initial research into the employee population and culture can reveal findings that will be crucial to your internal marketing campaign. The voice of the employees can be a real eye opener to what needs to be done in order to reach your goals and vision. Once you understand what is in your employees’ minds, you know the path to successfully guide them in the same direction as your brand. On the side of that, employees will feel motivated that their voice is being heard and that they are part of future movements. With the employee research in-hand and analysed with behavioural studies, we are now ready to light the fire of creativity and create a new brand for this initiative that will act as a memory tool for all the

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future activities you are about to embark on. This brand should be in-line with your organisation’s brand, however have its own identity. Your branded campaign must really touch on the reasons why your people care about your brand and why they get out of bed in the morning to serve your customers, directly or indirectly. The new poster on the wall and branded name badges will be soon ignored or even mocked by employees if done in the usual business approach to internal communications. They must make a clear connection that each and every employee plays a part in the success of the brand. At this stage, your campaign must create an emotional connection between

Fabio Marcolini is Head of Marketing of Bridge Training and Events and works with clients to ensure their engagement and training programmes will translate their brand and capture delegates interest.

endorsed by the senior management team. It should have a Brand Leader that will act as the role model for this new journey, someone the employees can look up to when adapting to the new behaviour and attitude. And not only from top-down, but also around all levels of the organisation, Brand Champions ought to be selected to be working closely with the programme owners to be the influencers of the culture. Your employee research can be very useful to identify the individuals who have a strong voice within the company and a true belief in the brand to become your Brand Champions. You may also identify groups of resistance that will need extra attention to buy into the campaign.

Your employees are your internal customers and they need to buy into your brand messages just as much as your external customers your employees and your brand, and excite your people on this new journey. The Big Picture

Your internal campaign should only be the start of the bigger picture. This programme should be supported with training initiatives that brings to life your brand messages and prepares your employees to interact with your customers in the most effective way. This development programme should be used as the baseline to align all of your departments and tiers of the company, putting every employee on the same page, going in the same direction. Current training and induction should also be aligned with this initiative, all under one umbrella. Your Brand Leaders and Champions

In order to show commitment from the organisation, the programme must be

When and why?

Most employees who have stayed long enough in an organisation will have lived through change management programmes and new initiatives, therefore timing can be vital for the success of your branded engagement programme. Turning points in the organisation are ideal as employees are already open to facing challenges and embracing new ideas. Changing market conditions, the arrival of new leadership, or the launch of a new marketing strategy, can all serve as good opportunities to adopt a branded programme. This strategy will support the business in motivating, developing and empowering your employees to become true brand representatives, securing loyalty from themselves and customers. The effort spent on your employees will be returned tenfold when they interact with your customers. â–

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motivation

Derek Williams is an inspirational and motivational speaker, and creator of The WOW Awards™. He is the leading UK customer service speaker and world-wide selling author. His latest book, co-written with Don Hales, is packed with examples of truly outstanding customer service from The WOW Awards and The National Customer Service Award.

www.thewowawards.co.uk

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motivation

6 practical tips to

motivate yourself and your team in difficult times tipone Face it! Things are going to be different. Organisations that face up to the challenge soonest are going to do the best. Level with your people about the need to all pull together. Now more than ever, we need to work as a team, to innovate and to focus on our customers.

tipthree Reward people for what you really want them to achieve. Customer retention is probably going to be the best way of surviving a recession. So focus on incentives and rewards for your team when they give great service, as opposed to simply achieving sales. For example, if a customer asks for a product that you don’t stock, help them to find an alternative supplier. This will help the customer to build trust in what you do.

tipfive Ask your customers for feedback at every possible opportunity. Use your invoices, till receipts and every possible piece of correspondence to invite feedback. Think about all the possible ways of getting feedback - comment forms, e-feedback through your website, and even taking the time to phone customers. All of this will be appreciated.

tiptwo Hang onto our best people by catching them doing things right! Introduce a simple system for publicly recognising the good things that your people do. Make it a part of your weekly routine to recognise small personal achievements.

tipfour Look for simple things that you can do to improve your service. For example, a Chinese takeaway that puts out a bowl of prawn crackers for waiting customers, a restaurant that keeps some prescription spectacles for people who have forgotten their glasses, or a firm of accountants that offers a range of fruit juices rather than just the normal tea and coffee. Ask your employees for all their ideas and suggestions. Dust down that old suggestion box and really get it working again!

tipsix Set achievable targets and celebrate successes. Nothing breeds success like success. Make the celebration small and personal for it to be appreciated – bake cakes, make the tea, let one person each month have the best parking space! It doesn’t have to cost a lot. And always under promise and over deliver!

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culture

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culture

Culture

The voice of one has power and the power of many creates greatness. Dale Smith discusses the importance of setting up a culture committee, bringing together all areas of the business to focus on the drivers needed to support employees and build a brand reflective culture. Straight off the mark, let’s be clear that I am not advocating setting up another committee so that we can all have more meetings about meetings. However, I am a huge fan of bringing together a collective of representatives from across the organisation with one key aim – to look at the employee engagement and the culture it supports. It is imperative that we move this topic from an agenda point and give it the strategic focus that it requires to make a real impact on your organisation. Traditionally, organisations view a company culture through the beliefs and behaviours that determine how employees internally interact with each other and externally communicate with customers. Often corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, recruitment, attrition, customer service satisfaction ratings and many other aspects in the daily life of the business. The above are clear indicators in defining the parameters of the culture and are constant in their assistance in the development of the branded

culture. However, the branded projected personality and employee engagement must be constantly monitored and fed through a dedicated culture committee if it is to flourish. The secret to an amazing company culture is best defined when the attitude of the brand and its values are defined into actions and initiatives that will connect employees to a Brand2Life experience. A branded culture is the positive emotional connection between

very departmental-focused and begin to push and pull the life out of a culture. HR, Marketing, Corporate and Internal Communications traditionally are the main drivers of these brand messages and in most cases all have a very different view of the meaning of company culture. What I am advocating is to have representatives from these areas of the business come together coupled with representatives from all aspects of the

it is imperative that one vision and mission be put in place to keep all participants on the same road map employees and their company through the brand and then extended onward to a branded customer experience. The function of the culture committee is to grow and protect the culture of the business in-line with brand promise and its personality. This can be confusing because in any given company there are so many different initiatives - from employee engagement, employer branding, corporate values and marketing slogans to brand attributes, positioning and so on. All this volume of activity can become

business. This should include frontline, back office and all those that are asked to live the culture daily. The first step is to close the divide between senior management’s view of a clear and sustainable branded culture and the frontline’s immediate view of culture and ‘how we do things around here’. This view of culture is two sides of the same coin and, when combined with the brand personality, you are well on your way to building a culture that is both manageable and alive.

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So much more than a customer service award! The only international award for outstanding customer service based purely on customer nominations! The WOW! Awards is now being used by some of the biggest and best known organisations across the UK, in Australia, in Europe and in the USA. It’s being used in housing, in manufacturing, in financial services, in local government, in energy and utilities, in police and fire services, in the NHS, in universities, in leisure and in retail. In organisations like Scottish Power, Durham Police, Yorkshire Water, NHS Medway, Glasgow Housing Association, Richer Sounds, City University London, Cadbury, Jones Lang LaSalle.

The y

ve cust a o h

to b re e i p

They all recognise that inspiring their people to deliver great service, especially in tough times, is absolutely essential. To find out how this very simple process can add incredible value and create a great place to work, call Stacey Wickham now on 01438 310191 or email Stacey@TheWowAwards.co.uk Special message for all Finance Directors: The WOW! Awards has a payback period of less than three months.

e best th

They a s

peopl y e lo

ers m

y The emp

All of these organisations have three key things in common:


culture

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Dale Smith is Managing Director of Bridge Training and Events and has been a training practitioner and customer service advocate for 15 years. Bridge promotes their Brand2Life approach that ensures all tiers of the organisation sing the brand and are proud to be part of the greater good and its culture.

Culture

5 Tips to Building Your Branded

Committee »»Ensure that a senior member of the board actively supports and participates in the committee and, if there are too many interested parties from across the business, it is best to set up some rotation system so more people can get involved over time. »»All participants, irrespective of the area of the business to which they belong, hold an equal voice and an equal responsibility to protect and benefit the life of the culture. »»Kick off the introduction of the committee with sessions on the brand, its values and come up with a collective view of its personality. From here, you can begin to look at how this projects internally and externally through the employees’ actions and the type of culture that is required to support it. »»When surveying employees on tangibles that will benefit both the employees and the culture, it is imperative that the feasible ones are activated upon quickly. This will give employees the confidence of being heard and they will be more likely to participate in the future. »»It does not all have to be about spending money. The task of the culture committee is to ensure that the business is living up to its culture development promises as employee engagement begins when employees are engaged. See your brand as a living leader and ask the question: ‘How would he/she ignite the team and what would they do to ensure that the culture and its people are being supported?’

With so many different views and opinions on what is important in developing the company culture in-line with the brand, it is imperative that one vision and mission be put in place to keep all participants on the same road map. Creating a mission statement will help you clearly align your committee with the overall objectives of the organisation. An example of this might read as follows: “Our mission as the culture committee is to foster a workplace that embraces colleague respect, service excellence and drive change through constant improvement. We will act on behalf of both the employees and the business with the aim to developing a branded culture that best reflects each other.” Employee engagement and developing a branded cultural experience follows a process similar to launching a new product or service to your customers. You must know what your customers buy and what will keep them buying in the future. You must match this information to your offering, market it to them through appropriate mediums and continually listen to feedback and respond according. As for the culture committee, the employees are your customers and its function is to launch new ideas and opportunities to which they will connect and buy into within the work environment. Hence, the principle goals of the culture committee is to create events and initiatives that will improve the level of engagement that employees have with each other whilst allowing them to participate in the brands development by bringing life to its energy and values. It is time that we brought a little fun to the workplace and create opportunities for success to flourish and mediums that will share these success stories across the business. ■

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employee engagement

Is employee engagement critical to your

Customer Experience programme? Look behind the scenes of the British Council and hear the secrets to their success in managing employee engagement on a global scale. Susan Burnett walks you through their recent customer experience programme and answers the question of just how critical employee engagement is.

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employee engagement

www.britishcouncil.org

Susan Burnett has managed Customer Experience for the British Council’s global network since 2007. She has developed a clear Customer Experience Statement that unifies all the British Council’s operational delivery.

Perhaps the right question is not ‘is it critical?’ but ‘is it the most critical element of your Customer Experience programme?’ We certainly believe this to be true at the British Council. Like most large organisations, we survey our staff regularly to temperature-check morale and levels of employee satisfaction, but it is only since we began to measure (by external mystery shoppers) the quality of our customer experience, that we have started to understand just how critical employee engagement is. One of our Customer Experience attributes is ‘inspire’. We know that customers come to us because they are inspired by our products and services – many of which are unique to the British Council. But they will not be inspired without the input of employees who are themselves inspired by the organisation they work for and truly believe in the impact of those products and services on the

These are:

»»Being clear about the end goal: we explain the nature of our customer experience and make it clear that whatever their role or level of responsibility, all staff should work towards that goal. We provide the tools to communicate the goal in a way that is appropriate to different groups of staff with differing roles and responsibilities. »»Investing in developing the right skills and making opportunities inclusive: our customer service development programme is open to all staff from the Chief Executive to security guards, based on the premise that ‘we all have customers’. This gets people talking the same language and working towards a unified vision of what good customer service means and a better understanding of why it is important to our business.

We need our employees to be able to convey their sense of pride to our customers lives of our customers. We need our employees to be able to convey their sense of pride (in our products, services, values, purpose, etc.) to our customers. And we need them to do so if they are working in Afghanistan or Australia, in an operation that is well-established or a new start-up, when they are directly responsible for the customer relationship or when this is delivered through external partners, and onwards through an infinite variety of different situations and business models. Employee engagement is certainly the most critical aspect of our customer experience programme and I believe it is the case in most organisations too. So what are we doing at the British Council to manage employee engagement and could your organisation benefit from similar initiatives? We are a public sector body (although much of our funding is self-generated these days) and are limited in how far we can use financial rewards as a motivator, so we have to be quite creative in our approach to employee engagement. We have focused on three elements which, managed consistently and strategically, are making a difference at the British Council.

»»Acknowledging effort: recognising and celebrating good service across a global network of more than 200 offices. For example, sending the ‘Customer Service Professional of the Year’ to work-shadow the CEO, and surprising a receptionist by profiling them as the ‘Customer Service Hero’ of the month in our newsletter. We know that there is nothing as motivating as having your efforts recognised – even by a simple thank you – and it goes a long way to maintaining employee engagement even in difficult times or challenging operating environments. Employee engagement is no soft goal. Companies with the high employee engagement levels usually have a higher customer advocacy (net promoter) score, and we know that this is what counts for business performance and growth. There is also an increasing trend towards job titles that reflect the link between employee motivation and customer service, such as ‘Customer Service and Employee Engagement Director’, suggesting that forwardlooking organisations are seriously embracing this opportunity. ■

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TRAINING

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TRAINING

The Importance of Outstanding

Customer Service Training

With the customer experience at the top of the agenda of most organisations, it is imperative that we support our people with excellence in training and development. Fabio Marcolini looks into the rise in both awareness and standards of customer service training. Time and time again, research and polls into key factors affecting business reveals that a good customer service adviser is key to a great customer experience, and is the most important aspect to drive outstanding business results. For commercial organisations the undeniable truth is that customers will remain loyal for longer and make more repeat and new purchases if they enjoy the experience of dealing with that particular supplier. In addition, the cost savings arising from fewer mistakes and complaints, is significant even to those organisations that claim to have no commercial or profit motivation. This being so, it should follow that customer service training and coaching would be high on the priority list for many organisations, as they try to improve their bottom-line. However, the truth in many organisations is that training provided for the important frontline staff is often centred around procedures, products, and in contact centres, call handling with an emphasise on speed and efficiency. In a recent conversation with Don Hales, one of the industry’s leading experts and founder of the Customer Service Training Network, an organisation set up to raise standards, he clearly encapsulated poor service through a story he found featured in the press. The customer, a doctor, arrived home

one Thursday evening to discover that a distribution company had tried to deliver a parcel to him that day but, as no-one was at home, had been unable to do so. They left a note saying they would deliver the following day. Accordingly, our doctor stayed in all day, at his inconvenience, but to no avail. At 6pm, he phoned the office shown on the card, which happened to be in the next town about 12 miles away. He requested that the parcel be delivered the following day. This meant that the delivery would be required on a Saturday and the customer service representative at the company pointed out that this required a £30 additional charge. The customer requested that this charge be waived, on the not unreasonable basis that it was their fault that the delivery was necessary on a Saturday as they failed to deliver as promised the previous day. At this stage it would be good if the customer service representative could have said “yes certainly, I am happy to waive the charge in view of the circumstances”. However, the answer was that he had to refer the request to higher authority and that he would get back to the customer shortly. Yes, you have guessed it, the call back did not happen and as the following Monday was a Bank Holiday, the customer drove to the next town on Tuesday (having lost 4 days) to pick up the parcel. The contents were exam papers that

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Keep up to date with latest developments, network and share ideas, with the Customer Service Training Network.

retention best practice in customer service

customer service customer retention

omer retention employee satisfaction

oyee satisfaction service excellence

xcellence leading edge training techniques

ning techniques customer satisfaction

omer satisfaction employee retention

Contact Anne-Marie Lose on 07941 191 434 for membership enquiries

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TRAINING

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Fabio Marcolini is Head of Marketing of Bridge Training and Events and works with clients to ensure their engagement and training programmes will translate their brand and capture delegates interest.

needed to be marked within a certain timescale, so that the students could get their results in time. Thanks to the delivery company, our doctor now has less time to complete his obligations and has been put through considerable stress in the process. There are three major, preventable errors here:

»»They failed to deliver on the Friday as promised. »»The Customer Service Representative was not empowered to make a decision on wavering the Saturday fee in view of the company’s performance failure. »»They failed to call back with a decision on the fee as promised.

The importance of in-depth customer service training is key to providing a consistently high standard throughout an organisation As distribution companies must face this situation time and time again, the problems here could be easily removed by the introduction of better processes, great service training and the engagement of the employees to enhance the customer experience. If all the employees involved really understood the value of providing good service and a great experience, then this case could have been resolved – if not prevented in the first place. The importance of in-depth customer service training is key to providing a consistently high standard throughout an organisation. This will empower employees with the skills and knowledge to prevent mistakes from happening and when they do occur, they can be resolved easily. It is this favourable environment that allows the customer to say “I enjoyed dealing with that company”. Through the work of associations such as the Customer Service Training Network, we have definitely seen a rise in both awareness and standards within our industry. Whether through in-house recognition schemes or more prestigious national award programmes such as the CSTN yearly event, it is imperative to recognising the true guardians of great service – our frontline. It is through this level of visibility of best practice in customer service training, that we can enhance it’s creditability not only as a profession, but a vocation. In view of the importance of the role, the future looks bright for customer service trainers and anyone serious about this role as a career choice would do well to check out the Customer Service Training Network at www.customerservicetrainingnetwork.co.uk ■

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Apple’s Five S Carmine Gallo explains simply and beautifully what makes the Apple Retail experience so successful. No matter what kind of business you are in, there are fantastic learning points in his book The Apple Experience. Here are just some of them...

The Apple Store is one the most profitable retailers in the world. The numbers are extraordinary. The average Apple store attracts more than 20,000 customers per month. Since it opened its first store in 2001, Apple has redefined the customer experience and built unprecedented customer loyalty. A big part of Apple’s success is its commitment to training all of its employees to follow the “five steps of service” in every interaction. These five steps are so effective they will work for almost any business in any category. The steps are outlined in the acronym APPLE.

A pproach customers with a

personalized, warm welcome.

P robe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.

P resent a solution for the

customer to take home today.

L isten for and resolve any issues or concerns.

E nd with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

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customer experience

Steps of Service Bestselling author, Carmine Gallo is also a former reporter and anchor for CNN and CBS. He has sat down with many of the most dynamic and respected business leaders of our time. In these interviews, Carmine gained insight into what makes a great leader and how to deliver fantastic branded service.

www.gallocommunications.com

Approach warmly Customers who are greeted warmly within ten feet or ten seconds of entering a store perceive their wait time to be shorter and are more inclined to say they had a great experience. Most important to Apple, those customers are more likely to recommend the store and its products to friends and family. The key is to make sure customers are greeted by a friendly face that makes eye contact, uses a customers’ name, and is committed to creating a personalized and meaningful experience each and every time.

The solution need not be a new product. It might be something that enhances and strengthens the customers’ relationship with the brand. For example, a customer who isn’t quite sure about buying an iPad might be encouraged to sign up for a free class. Another customer who is having trouble with his iPhone and doesn’t have a Genius Bar appointment might be referred to another store in the area or shown how to schedule one for the next day. The best “solution” has the customer smiling on the way out the door.

Probe politely Apple Store employees do not work on commission. They are trained not to move product, but to “enrich lives.” That means they must match the customer with his or her needs, even if the product is at a lower price point. Apple employees ask a combination of closed and open-ended questions to understand the customer. Open-ended questions include: “What brings you in today?” or “What will you be using this computer for?” Closed questions are much more specific and often elicit a yes or no response. For example: “Do you already have Apple products or will this be your first?” or “The Mac comes with photo editing software called iPhoto. Is this something you might be interested in? If so I can take you on a short tour of the software.”

Listen carefully Apple Store sales specialists are constantly listening for unresolved issues. A customer who is new to Macs might be concerned about learning a new operating system. A

Present solutions Apple employees are instructed to present a “solution” to the customer they can take home today.

in simple terms, and demonstrate ease and confidence in their tone, manner, and body language. Individualised instruction called the One to One program is introduced early and often in the conversation because it includes a transfer of data from the PC to the Mac. End fondly Apple has discovered a direct correlation between how people feel when they leave the store and how likely they are to return to recommend the experience. Make your customers feel special and give people a reason to return. For example, a specialist might end the conversation like this: “Tom, I did see that you were eyeing the new iPods. I know we didn’t have time to talk about them but I’ll be here tomorrow from 1pm to 10pm.

Apple Store employees do not work on commission. They are trained not to move product, but to “enrich lives” specialist would have learned about this concern from asking the right questions in step two. In one conversation, I heard a specialist say: “And don’t worry about learning something new. The Mac is simple and intuitive. In fact, I just started using a Mac two years ago and today I’m working on the sales floor.” Specialists take extra special care with PC customers who have never owned a Mac. They slow down the pace of the conversation, speak

If you have time, please drop in and ask for me. I’d love to show how you can now connect wirelessly to your iTunes account.” A business does not need to have a physical presence to follow the five steps. These steps apply to most customer interaction. Customers will reward you with their wallet and their loyalty if you make them feel appreciated, confident, and happy. That’s the Apple way ■

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CUSTOMER LOYALTY

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CUSTOMER LOYALTY

How loyal are your

satisfied customers? Truly getting to the heart of customers has always been on every C-suite’s agenda, specially now that competition and brand awareness have never been tougher. Hear from Helio Oliveira how to turn satisfaction into loyalty using a company’s closest and most important asset. The Customer Satisfaction and Customer Loyalty debate dates back to the 1980’s when the proposed business requirement, defining and measuring of satisfaction, started to decline as a paramount influencer in predicting how a business would be in the future. In a 1995 Harvard Business Review article, Thomas Jones and Earl Sasser Jr. pointed out that “satisfied customers defect” and researchers discovered that extremely satisfied customers were only slightly more likely to stay with a company than moderately satisfied customers. It was there and then that companies started to ask themselves: how loyal are my satisfied customers? Satisfaction relates to the result of a process that can include sales, product performance, or a service. It is very straightforward and solely based on “what customers get.” It is also of easy access in one’s memory and it can be measured on the spot providing companies with what they need to refine or change within their processes. Customers that are rated as being highly satisfied have something in common with those who get a low satisfaction rating: they are both exposed to the same volume of stimuli. Price, discounts, freebees, competitive information, referrals, and changing times are some of the factors that might cause satisfied customers to defect. Customer loyalty, on the other hand, does not occur as fast as satisfaction. It is also a process but it requires much more nurturing and care. In most cases, customer loyalty is a consequence of customer satisfaction, but the experience of repeated successful transactions or excellent services does not guarantee that an organisation’s customers

will take a step up and become loyal. Customer loyalty is the experience customers have primarily with people, and secondarily with products and services. An organisation’s customers’ experience will be based on “how they feel.” Loyalty is the basis for sustained profitability and growth over a period of time, whereas satisfaction can be short lived and last until competition attracts them. It is comprehensible why loyalty is a variable that many companies avoid given its untimeliness nature. Most companies have fallen into the leap of faith by limiting their view to ensuring the basis of their success was around having as many satisfied customers as possible. This has led many to forget who their target customers were and what they really wanted. If by definition loyalty comes from the experience customers have with people, when we ask ourselves “how loyal satisfied customers are?” one must also ask “how loyal a company’s people are?” More recent literature has already changed its approach to the conventional beliefs on customer satisfaction and is now moving its attention to ensuring that a customer-centric culture is based on encouraging high levels of engagement of its people. Customers will come into contact with a brand already filled with ideas that were sent out by marketing. Ideas that will generate expectation of how the process is going to be. It is at this moment that customers come into contact with their people that organisations have their most valuable chance to place their customers on the journey to loyalty. While many of us can understand the importance of Employee Engagement for productivity at an intuitive level, we now

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Events that

Light the

fire of

engagement

As part of our commitment to adding value to our clients and the industry, we run a series of topical conferences and workshops throughout the year. Bringing together industry experts ensures that we keep abreast of new trends in the market and how leading organisations are mastering employee engagement and service excellence. These events offer our clients and delegates an exceptional opportunity to learn and network with peers and other like minded professionals.

check website for further information and dates

www.livingbrand.co.uk


internal Marketing

www.insidebridge.com

Helio Oliveira is an innovative training and development professional with a specific concentration in Operational Psychology and employee behaviour. His keen interest in the correlation between mind, emotions and business personality looks inside what it means to better delivery the brand values of an organisation through its people.

have research that supports and goes beyond our common sense. In 2003, the Brookings Institute examined the source of market value and how it has changed over a twentyyear period. Their findings reinforce the shift towards the importance of people. In 1982, 62% of a company’s market value came from tangible assets like machinery, products, facilities, and so on. Factors like brand, intellectual property and the quality of the workforce were responsible for a mere 38%. In 2002 though, 20% of market value was from tangible assets and 80% was from intangible ones. In twenty years, the measurment of market value has almost completely reversed. The reason for this: tangible assets can be copied and reproduced. Technological advantages frequently produce only short-term advantages. However, the quality of an organisation’s intangible assets – the talent, passion and commitment of its workforce – is largely controlled by the organisation itself. Within many of the most successful companies in the world, researchers have found commonplace characteristics in the ways they have achieved customer loyalty through their people:

1. Recruitment: Top employers understand that the energy and resources they spend in the recruitment process pay dividends through attracting the right people - people who will be engaged in their jobs and will continue to add value throughout their employment. They understand that continual hiring and training is costly both in terms of time wasted, low morale and quality of work. Smart employers are willing to expend extra resources in recruiting in order to save money and enjoy greater rewards in the longterm. 2. Employee Orientation: Orientation (or lack of it) makes a significant difference in how quickly an employee can become productive. Organisations that place a high value on their culture utilise orientations as key opportunity to expose employees to tangible aspects of that culture. Effective orientation allows employees to learn early on what is expected of them and others,

in addition to learning about the organisation’s vision, values and culture. Orientation should not only include an introduction to each department and training on-the-job. Effective employee orientation that will ensure a company’s people will develop higher levels of engagement frequently involves spending time working in each department to understand the flow of the product or service through the organisation.

3. Performance Support: Becoming an “employer of choice” requires paying considerable attention to developing a performance support system that effectively establishes equipping staff with the skills and tools they need to perform at a high level. That can be achieved by managing feedback appropriately, training for acquiring and improving skills, and coaching to ensure employee’s rational and emotional bonds with the company are kept alive. 4. Career Planning: An effective career planning process is an opportunity to link goals from the individual with those of the organisation. When this occurs, both the individual and organisation benefit from its employees’ career planning. In his book Drive, Daniel Pink states that “the desire to be better at what we do is a human condition and the most gratifying reward is personal development itself.” In a world where a company’s ability to innovate has been exceeded by the competitors’ ability to imitate, product and service attributes have lost ground as key purchase decision factors. In order to survive, organisations are forced to explore new horizons in search of elements that allow them to distinguish their offerings, attract consumers, win their preference, and turn them into loyal ones; the need to differentiate becomes imperative. In previous times when productivity was built around mechanical systems like measuring customer’s satisfaction, individuals’ engagement levels were almost a secondary issue. However, in today’s economy (and even more so in the future), successful customer-centric organisations have proved to be the ones that align their people strategy with their business strategy.

insidebridge.com 27


Learn from experts and fellow practitioners Keep up to date with what’s new and what’s hot in customer service.

Learn from the best with our regular Forums and Study Visits ……. see, touch and feel how they do it so effortlessly.

flexible solutions for your customer service needs Get even better every day Are you comfortable with the development of your people and your organisation? How empathetic are your people with your customers? Find out through our Something4Everyone programme.

The SOCAPiE Business School has online customer service programmes with online tutor support making learning both enjoyable and efficient.

Our complaints handling courses are second to none and range from generalist workshops to those that focus on specific elements or skills such as investigation, writing, escalation, process management, social media etc. We can also assess and accredit your own training, adding value by helping your people achieve national standards and the right to use designatory letters.

Show your customers how good you are Take our Service Excellence Audit and go on to join hundreds of organisations already accredited to Putting the Customer First®, the national standard for customer service.

Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Europe t: 07799 845065 e: enquiries@socapie.eu www.socapie.eu


interview

The world of

Brands

World of Customer Service expert Don Hales catches up with Dale Smith to discuss the importance of brand in service excellence and engagement. It sounds like Bridge has been very busy recently. How has the economy impacted your business?

We have definitely seen a turnaround in the last six months as more and more organisations are acknowledging the need for better employee engagement. Without question it has been a turbulent few years, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for those organisations willing to invest in their people. We recently returned from Abu Dhabi where we ran a culture programme for an entertainment company and the feedback that we have received has been outstanding. It goes without question that their investment in employee engagement, by allowing their team to be living the values of the business, will be realised tenfold by their new living brand culture. There will always be black spots in the economy; it just means we need to invest more wisely and in the areas of our business that will ensure better customer and employee satisfaction and retention.

insidebridge.com 29


interview I hear that you have recently returned from a second trip to Taiwan. What brought you so far afield?

We ran a series of workshops as part of the Taiwanese development agency initiative called “Branding Taiwan”. It has been set up to increase education and awareness of various aspects of branding. The Taiwanese and Chinese market is at a fascinating time with respect to branding. Coming from a traditionally manufacturing economy, they have now definitely moved into one of consumerism. Huge brands such as HTC are now exports from Taiwan with many more on the move. We ran bespoke versions of our Living Brand Leader workshops and the impact that engaged employees play in a brand’s success. We also introduced a new one to the series this year on Global Brand Strategies. Do you see much difference in working in Taiwan to the U.K.?

Every project, no matter what country it is in, will have its own set of highlights; the difference generally sits with the individuals with which you are working. With respect to working in Taiwan, I must say it was a real treat as the delegates we worked with were such a delight. Participants have had very limited exposure to behavioural science such as Emotional Intelligence and, in many cases, had not considered the massive role that employees living the brand values play in the development of their businesses. Delegates had a real thirst for knowledge and embraced our Living Brand® and Brand2Life concepts with such an amazing vigour. The Global Brand Strategies workshop sounds interesting.

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What were some of the highlights of this event?

It was very well received even though quite a challenge to take such a massive subject area and put it into two days. As the title suggests, it was looking at the strategies required to launch a new or existing brand into the global market space. It covered topics such as the planning cycle, brand expression, the Bridge 5th P (People), internal and external considerations, brand expression and, of course, the workshop would not be complete with a little Maslow and our Projected Personality included. We ran a fantastic exercise throughout the two days where delegates teamed up, conceptualised a product or service, researched either Brazil or Canada as their country of launch and put together their strategy and considerations to take their companies global. Not only was it fun and interactive, but it really showed that they had embraced the learning in a practical way. You mentioned projected personality. Can you tell me more about this?

The projected personality is how employees actively represent the brand through their daily actions and service delivery. If you believe that brands are alive - which I do - then it is defining them in human terms. Every individual on the planet has a personality that is projected through their communication style and behaviour, and this is the same for brands. The marketing department sets the brand image through its various interactions with the customer i.e. the logo, fonts, colours, writing style, advertising and promotions. It is these features and engagement tools that begin to formulate the expectation of personality. A strong brand identity will project outward through many live and virtual portals of the organisation and consistency of these messages are of paramount importance. As employee engagement and culture specialists, we believe that a brand’s


interview personality is driven from deep inside its values and culture, and truly comes to life when its employees are not only advocates but have a deeper connection to the brand. It is through this affinity that enables them to give life to the brand, projecting its personality through the service they provide. It is when this projected personality matches the original expectation derived from the brand image, that you have the desired branded customer experience. How important is it to identify the projected personality before launching it into the global market?

I believe that it must be one of the key definers before launching into any space, whether it is global or domestic. The projected personality should sit at the core of all brands and from there, most of the required strategies should stem from it. It should form the basis of the brand perception and customer and market research. With a clearly defined projected personality in place, it should be integrated into a brand’s recruitment process, employee engagement initiatives and the culture. One of my favourite brands at the moment is M&Ms. To take an off-the-shelf confectionary and give it a personality that has allowed its market to expand well beyond its original status is amazing.

qualities and communication skills that great leaders utilise when engaging staff. We change some of the reference points and examples to make them more culturally significant, but the premise of becoming a brand champion has no borders. You have worked with various brands in several countries – what is the one constant that you see in successful brands?

The answer to that is simple – its people! Brands come alive when they are supported by a team that truly believes in the organisations for which they work. This belief must then be sustained through the leadership team’s ability to create a culture that supports its people and reflects the brand’s personality. There are a few constant drivers in most organisations, irrespective of the country in which they are located. Living brand champions are the backbone to successful brands. They must be given some autonomy to interact with the brand and allowed to feel that they are playing their part in its success. This then leads on to what we call the purpose motivator and how successful brands communicate internally with its employees through training and culture-building activities. When a brand’s purpose has been established and communicated to its employees effectively, it can begin to develop a team of living brand champions that will drive its success. So what is next for Bridge?

You mentioned that you ran a version of your Living Brand Leaders course in Taiwan – did this need to change to suit your global market?

We have now run the course in Taiwan for the last two years with huge success. In principle, the Living Brand® Leaders methodologies translates to all markets as it uses an organisation’s brand values and projected personality as the backdrop to developing the leadership style that is most appropriate to its culture. We have integrated the key emotional intelligence

We are in a very happy place at the moment with lots going on. We are working with some great clients and receiving some amazing delegate comments and results. We have been focusing a lot on employee engagement and the culture that supports them; therefore, we are in continuous development to come up with new concepts and programmes. I believe that we need to be sharper as an industry and bring some life and fun back to the training and development arena. We are also looking to increase our portfolio of conferences over the next year as spearheading these forums keeps us in constant contact with some of the best brands and key industry leaders. ■

Don Hales is a keynote speaker, workshop presenter, consultant and author on customer issues. He focuses on financial aspects, leadership and effective strategies to improve bottom line results: all backed with an in-depth knowledge of case studies of outstanding award winning customer service practices.

www.worldofcustomerservice.com

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The Joy of Giving

customer RETENTION

Mark Honey shares his experience within the charity sector and discusses how to retain the valued supporter through employee engagement. An individual will never become poorer by giving to another

Simply put, what is gained through the support of a charity or fundraising platform is a true liberation of the soul. The intrinsic value of generosity towards a worthy cause can be inspirational and is recognised as outweighing material gain a hundred fold. However, in the current economic climate, this feeling of well-being can be lost as quickly as it was gained. Today, where every penny counts, where value is king, the choice to give is scrutinised far more closely than it ever was in days gone by. As the credit crunch becomes ever more prominent in the mindset of the UK, there is a recognised shift in people’s focus on their own quality of life and maintaining a previously enjoyed lifestyle. Reports suggest that an additional £600 is now required to support a 2010 lifestyle in 2011. To be clear, this is not an improvement on lifestyle – this is merely attaining the same standard of living. Sensible spending, value for money, cautious purchase, return on investment and risk adverse are all terms that feature more prominently in our vocabulary, both professionally and personally. The value of the pound is now being considered more and more – and it’s not looking like that will stop anytime soon. With this in mind, the challenge that an organisation has is how to maintain and nurture valued supporter loyalty and passion, so that worthy causes can continue to make a difference, despite cultural and economic challenges. The key to retaining supporter loyalty sits with your frontline experience.

Your frontline people are your living brand. They are the difference between success and failure. They embody your organisations values and

vision. They inspire supporter loyalty and deliver the feel good factor – the intrinsic motivation – to continue to give to others in challenging times. We all recognise that people buy people and that loyalty can be won and lost with the briefest of encounters. No more relevant is this observation than when we consider the practice of supporter services. Value for money for a supporter can be satisfied through the frontline team’s ability to: »» Deliver a positive and lasting supporter memory. »» Inspire brand passion and loyalty. »» Demonstrate a true belief in the organisation, its values and its vision. »» Re-assure a supporter that their actions are valued and worthy. »» Do all of the above first time – every time! This is no small feat, I’m sure you’ll agree! In fact it’s an incredible responsibility to place on your frontline as well as a significant challenge for an organisation to meet – but it can be done. An inspired supporter experience is the result of an inspired frontline.

When your frontline people are happy, engaged, motivated and believe in their organisation’s values – success is inevitable. The energy and passion to deliver excellence is achieved through the investment in an individual’s needs and the alignment to their brand. Taking the time to understand your people – to really understand what matters to them – will result in a highly engaged supporter services culture and, as a result, an exhilarated supporter experience. How do we achieve this? Create a culture of Purpose and Autonomy.

We must believe that people have an inherent need to do well. Nobody is born to fail and equally no-one is truly happy to offer an average performance. Where an organisation observes either behaviour in a frontline community, it is


customer RETENTION

www.insidebridge.com

With 20 years of customer and employee engagement experience, Mark Honey provides an unrivalled and dynamic approach to people development. Gaining accolades such as the Trainer of the Year at the 2006 National Customer Service Awards, and Employer of the Year at the 2007 National Business Awards, Mark consistently inspires others to achieve their potential.

crucial that they consider why and act on it. Research has shown that people are at their most productive and most impactful when they have a sense of autonomy. An organisation that endorses an investment in a ‘culture of understanding’ will inevitably enjoy the success and reward of their frontline people’s output, mindset and brand representation. The result of autonomy and understanding is frontline purpose. By investing in an individual, by educating and supporting the understanding of the intellectual depth of your brand and its values, people ultimately feel they are part of an organisation rather than an employee of it – or to put it another way – part of something greater than themselves. When an organisation achieves a culture of purpose, their supporter’s experience is nothing short of incredible. Passion, energy, professionalism and empathy are the subsequent building blocks of the engagement between frontline and supporter. Suddenly there is value. Value of the supporter, value of their donation and commitment, value of the cause, the brand and your people.

Why is this so important? The challenge that the charity sector faces is unique. Ultimately, supporters are asked to give without any material gain. Organisations rely on their supporter’s sense of well being and a state of emotional attachment to the

brand in order to remain successful. In order for this to happen, the skillset required in an organisation’s supporter services frontline needs to be so much more than functional. It has to be more than the ability to relay information or use a system. It has to be more than being able to answer the phone, respond to a complaint or draft correspondence. It has to be so much more than a transaction. The success of any supporter services frontline is emotional engagement.

Your people have to love what they do and feel loved in return. For them, the role they have must be delivered with

So, in challenging economic times, how do we ensure that the joy of giving not only continues – but grows? Firstly we should acknowledge those heroes who will always give to a cause, either due to personal stakeholder attachment, ethical standing or vested interest. These are the lifeline of an organisation. These people must feel valued, despite never asking for that recognition. The greater challenge is that more of the population are starting to question the value of giving. Where personal financial challenges are more and more common place, unemployment rises, pay cuts and lifestyle reductions are presented – the

employees must care about what they do, how they sound, what they say – and in turn, they must also feel cared about. passion – it can’t be ‘just a job’. They must care about what they do, how they sound, what they say – and in turn, they must also feel cared about. Furthermore, they must understand, embody and empathise with an organisation’s values and vision. Frontline brand alignment is a critical success factor in a non-profit making organisation’s success. Ensuring that your people understand your marketing (speak the language, represent the vision, lift the logo from the page) is the defining factor that will lead to longevity in supporter loyalty.

secret of continued contribution lies in inspired and valued supporters and supporter experiences through the brand. When a supporter feels valued and experiences integrity, energy and passion from an organisation’s frontline, there is an increased probability of continued loyalty and donation. When a frontline employee believes in the cause they represent, in the brand values they portray, in the emotional connection essential to giving and feel their own sense of value – the potential is limitless. ■

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Surveying

Why is customer satisfaction not As shown by studies such as the UK Customer Satisfaction Index, over 50% of UK organisations fail to achieve a ‘threshold’ level of customer satisfaction – one that is good enough to keep customers loyal in competitive markets. Mike Ball aims to help you understand why that is and how it can be addressed.

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Surveying

Mike Ball is a Client Manager at The Leadership Factor

www.leadershipfactor.com

Attitudes and behaviours

Organisations succeed by doing the best of what matters most to customers. Human beings seek pleasurable experiences and avoid painful ones, so tend to return to companies that meet or exceed their requirements whilst shunning organisations that fail to meet them. Customers whose needs are met or exceeded by an organisation form favourable attitudes about it. Since people’s attitudes drive their future behaviours, highly satisfied customers display loyal behaviours such as staying with the company longer, buying more and recommending it – all of which are highly profitable. Don’t be taken in by semantics

In recent years, a growing industry has developed around modifications or enhancements to the concept of customer satisfaction, spawning a multitude of words and phrases to describe it. The list is endless, but amongst the most common are net promoter, customer effort, customer experience, customer delight, emotional engagement and many more. Needless to say, people get very passionate about defending their own set of words, but they’re all just semantics. They’re just different words that describe the same phenomenon – the attitudes or feelings that customers form based on their experiences with an organisation. Satisfaction is a convenient generic word to summarise all these attitudes and feelings. It’s fantastic if organisations can delight their customers and even better if they can make customers feel an emotional attachment to them. However, those feelings are no more than descriptors for the type of attitudes customers hold at the highest levels of satisfaction, just as disgust could describe

specialising in delivering research and actionable insight that helps organisations understand what matters most to their customers.

extreme dissatisfaction and indifference at the mid-range of the satisfaction spectrum. The best lead indicator of future performance

Whether we call them satisfaction, delight, emotional attachment or the latest conference buzzword, the attitudes customers hold about an organisation determine their future behaviour towards it. Measuring customer satisfaction is therefore the main lead indicator of future customer behaviours, which, in turn, will determine company profitability. So whilst it is true that satisfaction is not an end in itself and that ‘merely satisfied’ customers do defect, it is also true that

based on customers’ most important requirements, delivering actionable information on where the organisation is falling short in customers’ eyes and where it would achieve the best returns from investing in changes to improve customer satisfaction. Flawed measures

Many organisations monitor flawed surveys making it extremely unlikely that they will produce information that will help them to improve satisfaction and loyalty. A common basic error is simply asking the wrong questions, making up their own questionnaire based on questions that management think will be useful. Since

To make customers highly satisfied, organisations have to do the best of what matters most to customers customer satisfaction is the main driver of the real goal of customer loyalty. Since the relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty is non-linear, companies in competitive markets have to make their customers highly satisfied, not ‘merely satisfied’. Monitoring and improving customer satisfaction

To make customers highly satisfied, organisations have to do the best of what matters most to customers. It’s no use being good at things that aren’t important to customers. Customer satisfaction measurement is about identifying the extent to which an organisation is doing best what matters most to customers and pinpointing the best opportunities for improving that performance. A good customer satisfaction survey is therefore

customer loyalty is all about “doing the best of what matters most to customers”, being good at things that are not important to customers has no value, so neither does asking questions about anything that’s not important to customers. Because they fail to understand the difference between customer satisfaction and other forms of market research, some organisations use scales that are not sufficiently sensitive to detect the relatively small changes in customer satisfaction that typically occur. When we question the people who tell us their organisation can’t improve its customer satisfaction scores, we almost invariably discover serious problems in their survey methodology. Improving customer satisfaction and loyalty is difficult enough without attempting to achieve it with the handicap of misleading information generated by flawed surveys. ■

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personal development

brand

Yourself Brands – brands everywhere. Take a moment and look to your left – look to your right – look in the mirror and ask yourself: “how many brands can I see?” From waking up to the alarm on your ‘carefully chosen’ mobile phone, to your first designer skinny latte served in your ‘carefully chosen’ favourite coffee shop. As you walk down the street feeling fantastic in your ‘carefully chosen’ designer outfit on your way to your ‘carefully chosen’ life – 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 success beyond your wildest dreams is waiting around the corner.

assets needed to assist in their growth. It is easy to play it safe and happily glide under the radar for most of your life. 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 brands market is constantly being put under the microscope to ensure that they are living up to their brand promises. Great brands, like successful leaders, are playing to win. They have a clearly defined plan of words

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.” 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 with other living brands. 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 be 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 friends, lies in the simple understanding that brands are alive. They are created to exist in the hearts and minds of their users, and in doing so, have penetrated the two most valuable

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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, as if you set the expectation line to high, then 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. 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. You, as a brand, need to give a clear message to the world of what you want to represent. This is the easy part! Later you will be asked to do something with those words. Take a moment to think of who you are now and who you want to be in the future


personal development

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using ‘key words’. The great thing about building your personal brand is that it can start today and with a little work you can leave some of the negative past behind you. Come up with the words that you would like to have attached to you in both your work and personal life. Many people will start with professional, intelligent, talented, humorous, generous, and motivated etc. This list will be the foundation for your living brand – however, remember it is just a list. Once this list is set you have just completed the ‘prepare it’ stage one of your living brand.

Dale Smith is Managing Director of Bridge Training and Events and has been a training practitioner and customer service advocate for 15 years. Bridge promotes their Brand2Life approach that ensures all tiers of the organisation sing the brand and are proud to be part of the greater good and its culture.

‘best of the best’ brands have not been built over night. 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. The pulse of our great brands move with the times. 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

Great brands, like successful leaders, are playing to win. They have a clearly defined plan of words and actions required to achieve their goal. Let’s move on to ‘be it’ as work at this stage will get a little more intense and you will need to spend more time setting in place your 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 they 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 that you put manageable and achievable actions 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 and what else can you add into your rebrand to ensure that your living brand emanates this word. If one of your statements was ‘outgoing’ – run through the same process. Once this exercise has been completed you now have a clear brand guide of what you need to do to launch your new living brand. Now here comes the challenging part, ‘own it’ - however, please remember that all our great and good, our local and global, our

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 the final stage. It is better to spend the time to truly understand what each brand word means to you and how you will deliver it to your audience in 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 competitive business and personal relationship 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 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 brand. Just saying the words without deliverable actions is the main difference between separating the winners from the mediocre. Saying it and living it are two very different sides of your living brand. ■

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Directory Bridge Training and Events works in partnership with customer focused companies on their employee’s journey to becoming Living Brand® Champions. Their passion is to create people development and employee engagement programmes that truly represent the client’s values, their desired culture and ultimately support their customer promise. www.insidebridge.com +44 (0) 845 362 7729

The Institute of Customer Service is the UK’s independent, professional body for customer service. Their mission is to enable organisations to achieve tangible business benefits through excellent customer service; and to help individuals to maximise their career potential and employability by developing their customer service skills. www.instituteofcustomerservice.com +44 (0) 120 657 1716

The South West Contact Centre Forum is an industry led initiative which supports the call and contact centre sector in the South West. The initiative has brought together public and private sector contact centres, academics, support organisations and government agencies to share good practice, help professionalise the sector and ultimately achieve excellence. www.swccf.co.uk +44 (0) 796 609 2149

The Customer Service Training Network 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 Network is open to everyone who has an interest in customer service training provided they respect the aims of the membership.

CCA is the leading authority on customer contact strategies and operations. With more than 15 years experience, they are firmly recognised as the trusted reference for research, analysis and expertise. Their work with operators, BPO & shared service providers and vendors, ensures they retain their position as the definitive source within our market-place. www.cca-global.com +44 (0) 141 564 9010

The Leadership Factor are customer survey specialists. They conduct over 500 surveys each year, helping organisations improve their customers’ experience, satisfaction and loyalty. Their role is more than collecting and delivering insight. They support their clients to translate survey results into actions that will improve their customer experience. www.leadershipfactor.com +44 (0) 148 451 7575

The WOW! Awards is an Employee Recognition Scheme. They work closely with their partners throughout the year as an on-going process, to establish a portal for customers to let their partners know when they are doing something right! www.thewowawards.co.uk +44 (0) 143 831 0191

The Welsh Contact Centre Forum offers innovation and support for the contact centres located throughout Wales. Through the Welsh Contact Centre Forum you can participate in a dynamic business community where you can share ideas, identify new opportunities and generate leads for your business. www.welshcontactcentreforum.co.uk +44 (0) 292 070 9800

www.customerservicetrainingnetwork.co.uk

+44 (0) 794 119 1434

The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Europe (SOCAPiE) is Europe’s oldest professional body for customer service and consumer affairs. It is a not-for-profit organisation that is run by its members with value for members in mind. www.socapie.eu +44 (0) 779 984 5065

insidebridge.com


Carmine Gallo is a

communications coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is an author and columnist for Forbes.com and monster.com and a keynote speaker and seminar leader who has appeared on CNBC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC.com, BNET and The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Investor’s Business Daily.

buy it on Amazon or visit

www.gallocommunications.com

Books by Carmine Gallo: The Apple Experience The Power of foursquare The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs Fire Them Up!


Brand2Life  

Bringing brand to life though people has never been more important. This magazine explores how to build a culture of Living Brand Champions...

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