March 27, 2012

In looking at enhancing our customer experience we never have to lose sight of the fact that the customer is King. In today’s very competitive market place it’s those businesses that put themselves out for their customer and also train this philosophy into all their team that succeed, to help your team get on board with this why not offer them an incentive for exceptional customer service. The cost of getting new customers is a big cost to which you also need to allocate time and resource to do this all of which can be better utilised in more effective ways. How do we keep our customers, there are a number of key things we need to consider.


Ensure you maintain regular communication with your customers and the most effective way of doing this is by email. Firstly we need to ensure that we capture all our customers email addresses and then when we email them ensure it is personal to them, you know how you feel when you receive a personalised email. This regular email does not always have to sell them something just keep them informed of what’s happening, so that when they do want to use your service or buy one of your products you are at the forefront of their mind. Also actively encourage customer feedback with a customer comment book, satisfaction surveys and then when you receive useful comments act upon it and let the customer see that you have taken their advice.


Look at the products and services you offer and build up additional products and services to offer your customers. If you don’t have any products or services further to offer look at companies in a similar market place and set up a joint venture to extend your offer to these existing companies, remember there is more profit from a relationship with an existing customer. Customers always want to know what is in it for them, what benefits can they receive, so look to add perceived value by adding something on, a great example is Sunday newspapers giving away free CDs/DVDs which customers perceive as to having a value of about ten times the value of the paper, but to the paper it is very little cost.


All forms of communication with your customers, be it websites, correspondence, emails, advertising, menus or price lists reflect on your business so regularly take a ruthless look at these and ensure they are portraying the correct image. Ensure in all your marketing material you focus on the benefits to your customers, not the features of the company, tell them how you can add value to them. The majority of our customers are coming to us via the internet so use this and your emarketing effectively, ensuring that you use the opportunities to capture email addresses. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is by offering something free. We should all look at turning our businesses into multi level marketing machines. Advertising is very expensive and not as effective as the marketing tools we all have already at our fingertips. We can also capture further customer information by asking them what they think of our services in the form of customer satisfaction questionnaires and when we receive this feedback we should always take all comments on board in our journey to improve quality and exceed customer expectations. Also look at the major high street retailers and how they capture all the information about our shopping habits on their store cards and then target us with specific offers why not offer your customers a loyalty card. It is estimated that 68% of people leave a business because of indifference, correspond regularly with your customers. There is a golden rule in marketing that will make you wealthy, once you have someone’s details keep on following up until they buy, die or tell you to stop.


The people who most represent our business in focusing on the customer are our staff and used correctly they can add significant value, so keep them informed and involve them, they can be a source of valuable information. Look at their communication methods and skills and ensure like your marketing material they are portraying a positive message. It is your staff that can upsell to your customers. Look at the fast food chains who are the greatest exploiters of upselling, by asking at every transaction is that large or super and of this upsell 85% is profit and though a single transaction does not offer a lot, do it a million times a day and it makes a very large difference. Also allow your team to be involved in the business, hold regular brainstorming sessions, you will be amazed where some of the best ideas come from. If the staff are involved in the business and are made to feel part of the decision process, then you will see return in their loyalty and effort in moving the business forward. Always Remember






December 14, 2011


All businesses and organisations need a strategic plan to define its direction and to make decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people. With the rapidly changing environment now is the time to review your organisation, to see if it is fit for purpose and how it measures alongside its competitors.

A strategic plan is a realistic vision for the future and can maximise your potential for growth. Do not confuse strategic plan with a business plan. A business plan is about setting short term goals about a specific area of your business and we shall explore this in a blog shortly. By identifying in your strategic plan exactly where you want to take your business and how you will get there, should help you reduce and manage the risks that come with growth.

 Strategic planning deals with three key questions:

                                    1.    What do we do?

                                     2.    Who do we do it for?

                                     3.    How do we excel?

The strategic plan should set out the process for the organisation for the next three to five years, but it is not something that is produced and you pat yourselves on the back and put in a drawer for three years, it needs to be used as a measurement tool for the business and certainly reviewed at least once a year, as it should be utilised as a tool for aiding the budget process and measuring the success and progress of the business.

The starting process is that you need to understand where you are now, so we start with a SWOT Analysis where we review the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the organisation and stimulate discussion on key points that affect the organisation. This is not a process that can be carried out in isolation it requires input and commitment from all key members of the team. From our SWOT analysis we can determine where we want to go “The Vision”. This is where we see ourselves in three to five years time; the size, turnover, operating base, structure and will we stick with the core business or diversify. We then need to define how we will achieve this with the “Mission Statement”, this states the fundamental purpose, defining the customer, critical processes and desired level of performance. In conjunction with the mission statement we should identify the “Core Values”, what the business stands for. The next stage is the Business Objectives, where we outline the desired outcome of the strategic plan and deadlines for achieving it. From this we produce the Key Strategies, which is how we implement the strategic plan and this should be broken down into two areas, the critical strategies and the important strategies. The plan is completed with the Key Decisions, this is a summary of the resourcing requirements required to drive the process, such as the financing requirement, the structure and manning levels required and the premises and equipment required.

Having established what your organisation needs to do take a look at your competitors. Do you know who are your key competitors? Who are the emerging competitors? What are these competitors doing well, where do they have the edge, what are their weaknesses, can we learn from them.

The strategic plan now needs to be implemented, a process that requires careful planning.

The key to implementation of the objectives identified in the strategic plan is to assign goals and responsibilities with budgets and deadlines to responsible owners, your key team members. They also need to brief their team members on the key areas of the plan that effect them and set goals on how they will achieve this.

Monitoring the progress of the implementation plan and reviewing it against the strategic plan will be an ongoing process. The fit between implementation and strategy may not be perfect from the outset and you may find it necessary to review your plans as you progress.

Monitoring implementation is the key. Using key performance indicators (KPIs), which we discussed in an earlier blog, and setting targets and deadlines is a good way of controlling the process of introducing strategic change.


November 28, 2011


When teams are more effective they can solve more complex problems, make better decisions, release more creativity and do more to build individual skills and commitment than individuals working alone.

The Characteristics of a high performing team can be seen in the acronym:



Relationships and Communications


Optimal Performance

Recognition and Appreciation


We should never lose track of the fact that

 none of us is as smart of all of us.

So how do we start to build a high performing team, the first thing we need is a common goal so everyone knows what we are aiming to achieve and the development involves three major skills on the part of the whole team, Diagnosis, Adaptability and Empowerment.

The diagnosis is understanding the dynamics of the group and observing how each member participates and engages in the group and use these strengths and characteristics best to achieve the goal.

Adaptability is about choosing which leadership style to use at different stages of the team development, whether to provide more or less support and direction.

Empowerment is about realising when the team is ready to be less reliant on its leader and releasing elements of the decision making process to the team. At this stage when you become willing to share control, the team will become successful and self-directed.

Our job as managers is to help people and teams develop so they have competence and commitment and the ability to share in making decisions.





November 22, 2011


 As businesses the economic climate is having an effect on all of us so in these uncertain times we need help and support and that might be closer than all of us as business leaders think. We do not have to sit in isolation and beat ourselves up to find solutions; let the people around you in the business help. We need to unite everyone in our business as a team for the good of the business.

In the current economic climate many businesses have had to make tough decisions that will have created unrest in the team, like the introduction of cost reductions and possibly a slimming of the team, this will have led to low team morale, disenchantment, additional work load and stress, so how do we fix this. I know lets treat the team to an offsite team building event; that will restore harmony!

This solution springs to mind in a number of business leaders as the magic wand to boost morale and harmony. In uncertain economic times this can prove extremely detrimental and counterproductive, as rather than rallying the team to the cause, many team building events only underline the problems they are attempting to smooth over. If cash is tight then expenditure on this is seen as hypocritical. It can also add to the pressure when people return to work after a day away, so what is the alternative.

In terms of business opportunity I believe it’s best to utilise the team in the decision making process as opposed to a team building event, so how do we create this.

The process should begin by gathering your team together and opening up the meeting by acknowledging the overwork and stress people are going through, empathise and take responsibility for it. Then explain that you have brought everybody together to explore how we as a team can improve business and then ask for feedback on what individuals see as the issues/opportunities for the business. This then should extend into what the team see as solutions and then group similar solutions together into manageable topics. These topics then should form the subjects of the next stage of the process.

The next stage of the process is to organise focussed sessions on these topics. These sessions need to be short and sharp, no more than one hour, and ensure clear action points come out of them and make team members accountable for following up on decisions taken.

Set clear defined timescales for the improvement, no longer than three months. Prioritise the actions that can be completed in this period. They are the stepping stones to the long term goal; tackle the opportunities in bite size pieces. The key is getting started on the journey.

The key to success is the creating and communication of a powerful vision of the goal and encouraging all to visualise and embrace it. This provides the positivity to this transition.

Regularly review the progress and as a team make any necessary adjustment this will play a vital role in building a high performance culture.

This process may not seem as exiting or glamorous as a big team building event but will create a sense of ownership and involvement in the business and make the team understand that everybody is going through the same issues and that together we can help each other and ensure a brighter and profitable future.

We should never forget that people are our most important resource.





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