Jacky Leonard's blog

Latest entries posted by Jacky Leonard

Reputation by Association

Categories:  Business Coaching, Delivering Authentic Customer Experiences

A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was. 

Bishop Joseph Hall

 About a month or so prior to the last MOT on my Volvo, I noticed a large crack across the bottom of the windscreen.  Driving has become an obstacle course of pothole avoidance, so no doubt I managed to inadvertently hit a few. 

I called my insurance broker and was directed to their recommended supplier, who informed me I would have at least a 2 week wait for a replacement to be fitted.  I asked if there was any way of speeding up the process (MOT pending) and was willing to travel to one of their bases, rather than them come out to me.  No luck, so I called my broker, this time to complain about the lengthy wait.  My last experience of a windscreen replacement was efficient....done on the day it broke, without fuss, so my expectations were that this would be sorted within the week.  They were apologetic but could basically do nothing to speed up the process, so I waited.

The allotted day arrived and as I was working away I briefed my house/dog sitter about the appointment and had arranged a MOT with my local garage the day after the repair.  All sorted…or so I thought, until I received a call from the Windscreen Technician, who told me he was at my house but had the wrong windscreen.  Not wanting to shoot the messenger, I asked him what would happen next.  He said he’d notify the office, but it was likely I’d have to wait another couple of weeks and rang off leaving a frustrated and unhappy customer.

In fairness, the company called me back promptly to reschedule and I was offered a shorter wait time of 8 days if I travelled to Tewksbury, unfortunately not possible this time.  Given my MOT would now be overdue by the time the replacement was rescheduled, all I could do was park the car off road and wait.

To add insult to injury, I had just received an insurance renewal for the vehicle, so rang my broker again and was put through to the manager. I explained I was hoping to sell the vehicle, but a month wait for the windscreen repair was putting that on hold. I also said I was thinking of moving my insurances elsewhere.  After listening, thanking me for being calm and offering an apology for the situation, he explained they were only the broker. He then offered to reduce my renewal fee.  Whilst this was a kind gesture, it was worth very little as I intended to sell the car as soon as it had a MOT.

The brokers response was reasonable, the problem was, rightly or not, I was now linking them with my bad experience, with good reason. They recommended I use this windscreen repair company, so they were connected to this inadequate service by association.  I can’t believe my case is an isolated incident.  I still think a 2 week wait for a new windscreen is unreasonable, especially as I initially offered to drive somewhere to have it fitted before the MOT ran out.

Sadly, when you are connected with an organisation who doesn’t share you service standards, when they get it wrong, you'll invariably get tarred with the same brush and your reputation will get soiled.  Once that happens, you’ll be left clearing up their mess.

So, my question is…why would you continue to work with a company that makes you look bad?  Here are some things to consider regarding your current associations, alliances and business relationships:

·   How healthy are your business alliances?

Look at each relationship and rate their service delivery.  Are they meeting your and your customer’s expectations?  How many complaints have you received in relation to the service they’re providing for you?

·   Do you share similar customer service values and standards?

Inconsistencies are a big cause for complaint.  A misalignment of values can create a painful relationship.  You may find it difficult to agree on the fundamentals and could end up clashing on how to approach service delivery and resolve complaints. 

 ·   Do they value your customer in the same way?

Are they as customer focused or friendly as you?  Do they regularly go the extra mile to exceed the customer’s expectations?  Remember you’re being judged by the service they deliver.

 ·   What provisions do you have in place to deal with suppliers, or associates if their services fall below your standards?

How do you deal with complaints about them?  Do you have a reporting system, minimal service standards and penalty clauses, if they fail to meet expectations?

Business alliances are important.  Customers are seeking reliable, easy options and will often prefer to access services from one supplier they trust.  It’s unlikely you’ll be able to deliver everything they want directly, so outsourcing is an acceptable option. 

Do your homework to get the right fit and your reputation will remain intact or could even be enhanced by association.

Are you delivering authentic, relevant customer experiences?

Categories:  Delivering Authentic Customer Experiences

Customers are seeking more personalised, authentic and relevant experiences. Mass marketing, or a one size fits all customer experience, deliver diminishing returns and dilute customer relationships. 

Joanna Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service (ICS)

 

I don't know about you...but I’m fed up with bad attitudes, slow service and empty promises from service providers who no doubt mean well, but seem to have forgotten why they’re there. Customers are the life blood of any business and should be treated with the care, attention and respect they deserve.

Did you know that recent research by the ICS shows the highest performing organisations see customer service as integral to their business performance and proactively seek ways to measure its impact?

It seems, like me and are seeking the services of real people in companies that:

  • consistently provide a friendly, genuine and honest approach to business
  • appreciate the need to develop sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships with clients
  • can be counted on and trusted
  • bother to listen to their clients’ needs, challenges and problems and offer appropriate, bespoke solutions, not a one size fits all

Customers can afford to be more discerning as they are now spoilt for choice, having access to a wide array of service providers and numerous options.  All of these are accessible, faster and more cost effectively than ever.  So, if they choose you, be honoured, be grateful and be mindful that they can and will switch allegiance if you fail to meet their expectations. 

In fact, failure to deliver authentic customer experiences can result in…

•         A loss of reputation

•         Shrinking profits

•         Low staff morale

•         Increased staff turnover 

•         Increased client attrition

•         Higher recruitment costs (employees and clients)

•         Reduced organic growth

•         Loss of up-selling and cross-selling opportunities

•         Wasted time, effort and money

Or as one of my clients succinctly said:

When we get it wrong we’re handing our customers to the competition on a silver platter.

If you are an independent professional, or own a small business offering services, solutions or experiences to your customers and you want to thrive in an increasingly competitive market, your ability to provide an authentic service people can trust is even more important.

I’ve published a book that will help you retain a loyal customer base, who love what you do, can’t wait to tell their friends and family, and are happy to steer new clients to your business rather than to the competition.  

The e-version is currently available on Amazon.

Follow this link to check it out and download a copy http://amzn.to/2FfRyqO 

 

 

 

Lessons from The Friendly Games

Categories:  Business Coaching, Being on purpose, Sport and Leisure

“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.”

– Dan Gable

With the 21st Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast well and truly behind us, I’ve been reflecting on this wonderful event.  I, like many others, was enthralled with the spectacle, energy and passion, which kept me glued to the visual Valium (TV) to catch the highlights whenever possible.  Follow this link to revisit some of the best moments: https://www.gc2018.com/article/best-moments-gold-coast-2018-commonwealth-games

It’s always been my favourite sports event and I was fortunate to support Badminton Wales as a Team Manager at Glasgow 2014.  It seems to live up to its title of the ‘friendly Games,’ and this year seems to have been no exception.  However, friendly, didn’t mean any less competitive.  Competition was fierce, records broken and personal bests achieved, as athletes from 71 nations across the Commonwealth came together to battle for sporting honours.  It had everything…nail biting finishes, unexpected wins and edge of the seat competitive action.  There were tears of joy and pain, displays of grit and determination and a wonderful sense of comradery that crossed sports and nations.  I was immensely impressed with the way athletes from all disciplines, performed and conducted themselves throughout the event on and off the field of play. 

All home countries excelled, with England coming 2nd in the medal table, Wales in 7th, Scotland in 8th and Northern Ireland 20th.  Wales celebrated their most successful Games to date, edging ahead of Scotland in the medals table with 10 Golds to Scotland’s 9. Proud to be Welsh!  Well of course I am; and these events tweak your patriotism a little more. 

It takes years of dedication, practice and sacrifice to be successful in any endeavour.  I believe there’s a lot we can learn from sports and those involved. Tenacity, resilience, agility, dedication, commitment, teamwork, leadership…the list goes on.  Elite athletes epitomise these skills in their pursuit of glory, self-actualisation and personal fulfilment.

Let’s not forget the many people who are part of the team that support, encourage and dedicate their time, resources and energy to enabling them to be their best selves and showcase their talents. The parents, coaches, trainers, team managers, technical staff, officials, organisers, therapists etc.  These individuals work tirelessly to create the right environment and conditions that allow athletes to focus their attention on improving their performance.  Regardless of the sport, it’s a real team effort.  Planned, executed and reviewed continuously towards a clear, well-formed outcome.

So what lessons are there for you?  Here are just a few questions to consider about your own business:

  • Do you have a clear vision of the future and a well-defined strategic plan?
  • Do you and your team have the competencies required to take the action needed to make your business a success? 
  • Do you have access to good support networks?
  • Do you know your competition strengths and shortcomings?
  • Do you view your failures as feedback, or allow inevitable set backs to throw you off course?
  • When things don’t go quite to plan, do you find ways to recover quickly?

If the answer is YES, that’s fabulous.  Keep up the good work.  If, however the answer is NO, or you’re not sure, perhaps it’s time to improve your game plan.

 

 

Creating a WOW from an OW

Categories:  Delivering Authentic Customer Experiences

Customers don't expect you to be perfect.  They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.    Donald Porter

A few months ago, I was traveling by train from London to Cardiff with my usual accompaniment of a small suitcase and computer rucksack.  I jumped on board, found my reserved seat and settled myself in a table seat to enjoy my late lunch and check my phone for emails   All good so far, but then it happened...I was suddenly unpleasantly surprised by a shower from above. I got up rather quickly as water continued to drop from the ceiling vent onto me, and the seat I'd been occupying.  My first thought can be summed up in 3 letters...WTF (well that's fantastic!).  OK, maybe I've cleaned it up a little, but you get the point.  

I was in the quiet carriage which wasn't very busy.  The woman sitting behind me, managed not to laugh, I suspect she realised she'd had a close call. As we both turned to look up the carriage we saw a train manager aka guard. I beckoned him over to report the problem, whilst trying to dry out soggy tickets, a damp phone and wet trouser legs. 

He came immediately and after getting a brief explanation of my predicament, he said, without hesitation, I'm so sorry, I'll find you another seat. Let me help you relocate your luggage. He directed me to the other end of the train, telling me he’d meet me the other side of the buffet car. 

I wondered through all the carriages, still a little annoyed.  It was only when I got to the appointed place that I realised I'd been sent to 1st class. I told the member of staff what had happened, and she showed me to a seat, offered me a coffee and asked if I was OK. A little later, the manager in first class came to check my ticket, and as he’d already been briefed by his colleague, he also apologised and checked if I needed anything.  

Now, I’m not easily impressed, but this was an exception.  The train crew had managed to turn a bad situation into a pleasant experience.  Here's what they did that turned the OW to a WOW. 

  1. The manager listened with empathy and acted quickly to remove me from the problem with as little fuss as possible. 
  2. There was never a hint that the train staff thought I was being a nuisance, overreacting, or at fault. Which of course I wasn't, but it's astonishing how many times I've seen this attitude. 
  3. All 3 members of staff, apologised and seemed genuinely to care. 
  4. There were no excuses, just positive action. 
  5. Both train managers followed up to make sure I was OK. 

In fact, the whole situation was handled so well, the only thing I could say was thank you

Well done GWR. A great example of how you can not only salvage an initially bad experience, but create one that is memorable for the right reasons. 

Learn more about how to create customer WOWs in my book Delivering Authentic Customer Experiences.  Click here to check it out on Amazon http://amzn.to/2p6cLM5

 

Pay it forward - a time for giving

Categories:  Effective Communication, Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

This Sunday, I was heading to Bristol to course manage day 2 of The Coaching Academy’s foundation in Personal Performance Coaching.  I switched on radio 2 to pass the time and tuned in to Good Morning Sunday.  Billed as a Programme discussing ethical and religious issues, with guests and spiritual music, new hosts, the Reverend Kate Bottley and Jason Mohammed, were chatting to one of their guests about Lent. Each outlined their thoughts about what it meant for them and then shared communications from listeners about what they were going to give up, or take action on, from 14 February to 29 March this year.

Their guest, was from an organisation that has been encouraging people to give out, rather than give up something for Lent.  With a simple message of 40 days, 40 reflections, 40 challenges to make a difference.  You can find more information on www.40acts.org.uk

Now, I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I certainly have a spiritual side and thought this was something everyone could get involved with, regardless of their beliefs or religion.  It requires a little bit of outward thinking to focus on others, rather than yourself. Do a random act of kindness every day, consider the impact of your behaviour, or challenging yourself to make a positive connection with someone, without any expectation of getting something in return.  Of course, 14 February is a day for giving, usually to your nearest and dearest.  This year, it is also when Lent and 40 acts begin, so how about spreading the kindness around.

I’m challenging myself…and inviting you, to go make a difference, starting Valentines day. To start the ball rolling, my first act of contribution is to my social media contacts.  If you read this post, drop an email to jacky@jackyleonard.co.uk and let me know how you intend to pay it forward and I’ll enter you into a prize draw for a DISC personality profiling coaching session.  Your email must reach me by midnight on 28 February.  Good luck and let’s follow the Dalai Lama’s lead, If asked my religion I would say it was kindness.