By Angela Marshall, 15th Jul 2014
Businesses across different sectors can be brilliant at providing good services that people want and need, whilst others are absolutely dreadful. I never quite understand why employees of companies think it is ok not to engage with their customer or client and expect their business to do well. Businesses that train their staff well on customer service reap the rewards, whilst others that don’t provide a good service lose out on the potential of the business. Poor customer service is very harmful to a company’s brand.
Great Service and Great Attitude
My husband and I enjoy eating in good restaurants, particularly as my husband loves cooking and having food he knows takes great skill, plus I study wine so I love to learn from the sommeliers. A great restaurant is a great example of demonstrating how to treat customers. The staff make you feel special, ensure you are pleased with your food and wine and show great attention to detail. When they are enthusiastic about their business it shows. There are some great places all over the world but near to me I always enjoy Pollen Street Social and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons who are prime examples of this.
Poor Service and Bad Attitude
We are thinking of buying a new car and every time this happens we are always amazed how variable the service is, some sales people seem completely disinterested whilst others are most helpful and explain the benefits and offer a test drive. Sometimes it may be down to the local garage. As a rule, I don’t like to mention specific brands, but after having a conversation with some friends, I realised we all came up with the same brands. For example each Audi garage I have visited in the south east of England has made me feel they have no care in what I want or do. On the other hand my local Jaguar and Volvo garages have spent a lot of time explaining their cars as well as offering me a test drive. We are still looking for the most appropriate car for our needs and it will be interesting to see the service that other garages provide during our search.
- Greet your customer when they arrive - make them feel welcome
- Ask questions – obtain some information and anticipate their requirements
- Be a good listener – take the time to recognise your customer’s needs
- Treat the customer as an individual – make key notes about them and treat them as special
- Give more than expected – treat them as you wish to be treated and give them something extra above what they will expect
- Keep in touch – follow up, when appropriate, by contacting them but do not be a nuisance
- Say thank you – show you appreciate their business
Whether you speak to clients face to face or on the telephone always smile. It fosters good will in business, shows a sign of friendship and enriches those who receive it.
By Angela Marshall, 8th Jul 2014
Networking is a way of establishing new relationships and is not about selling. It is an opportunity to advertise yourself, plus increase your knowledge and share ideas.
The world has become smaller and life has become fast-paced, therefore strong relationships are more important than ever. We are all in the business of selling and how well we connect with other people will form the basis of our success. “People buy people” and they will interact with people they like and trust. Customers must have confidence in your ability to meet their needs.
Decisions in a company are made by people not computers therefore your success and the success of your company will rely on how well you communicate and interact with other people. Conversation is a skill and like most things it improves with experience and practice. Listening is important and a good listener is the one that will inspire others. Don’t stay with the same person, move on, but do it in a polite way.
Organising Your Networking
Organise how you are going to keep people’s business cards and contact details. Set aside time and prepare what you want from an event. Consider preparing a one-minute speech or presentation, on yourself and think about information you want to ask or get from the other attendees.
Dress to Suit Your Business and Personality
Dress in a style that represents your personality, your company’s brand and your personal brand.
Attending an Event
Many people feel uncomfortable walking into a room full of strangers and some will avoid it. However, it is something we all must do to broaden our business relationships. Whenever you are invited to an event approach it as a good time to network and get to know new people.
Some general Tips:
- Walk in with confidence – Good posture, smile, eye contact, firm handshake and don’t stand so close to a person that you invade their personal space.
- Speak to people you know – Talk to them for a few moments to get a feel of the environment; ask for introductions.
- Introduce yourself to people – give a firm handshake, a smile and a greeting or remark reassures the other person.
- Importance of Giving and Receiving – the easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. In return you will receive advice, knowledge, contacts or information. “Pursue the relationship not the sale”
- Think positively – Know what you want to achieve from the event. Commit the time and make things happen!
- Working the Room – Occasionally you can get a prior list of attendees, identify any people you particularly want to meet, but keep in mind you never know whom other people may know.
- Always be polite and conscious of others in the room and their awareness.
Finally – smile, look happy, socialise and enjoy.
By Angela Marshall, 1st Jul 2014
I recently listened to Bruce Forsthye on the Paul O”Grady show who made the comment it is important to watch and learn from other people. As an all round performer who can dance, crack jokes, present quiz shows culminating in the well known “Strictly Come Dancing” he said in his youth he watched Sammy Davis Jnr.
Whatever we want to achieve in life we can learn from a variety of people by picking up ideas, the way they move, dress or even walk and talk. When you admire someone it is good to “watch and learn” but then to practise and practise and achieve your own interpretation.
I had a boss who had a wonderful manner and great time keeping. He always managed to close a meeting or interview very politely without coming across as rude or cutting people off abruptly. It was a skill that took practise and like all things looks and appears easy when perfected.
Professional sports people and musicians only get to the top of their game by practising and practising. Often a top musician will mention someone in the past who inspired them to work hard.
Watching the world cup football will no doubt inspire some young children to work hard and practise and no doubt we will hear about them in years to come.
By Angela Marshall, 27th Jun 2014
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis 2014
I have loved watching players and going to Wimbledon since I was a little girl. It is a great place to feel British as people are dressed smart without having to be overdressed. Plus most corporate entertainment is about watching the tennis players and not about boozing!!
There are strict rules about players wearing white and this year they have even needed to include rules on underwear, so as to avoid the tangerine experiences of last year.
Tennis Players and Good Manners
My biggest complaint is that when a match is finished the loser often leaves court before the other player. However, yesterday, Germany’s Angelique Kerber played the British player Heather Watson and was courteous to wait to leave the court with Heather. Plus she then spent sometime signing autographs, including to Chelsea Pensioners, ensuring she returned the pen to the appropriate person. This is a great example of politeness, being courteous and considerate to your opponent. Bring back players waiting for each other to leave the court!
From a positive note, the BBC commentary team are universally positive, humorous and polite!
Picture credit: BBC Sport
By Angela Marshall, 24th Jun 2014
Make the Most of the Sales
Buying Clothes in the Sales
It’s sale time and the time of year when lots of items are on offer. Don’t be tempted to buy something you will only wear once or will be left at the back of the wardrobe. It’s easy to be tempted by a low price tag and end up with clothes that you will probably never wear.It is an ideal time to purchase an item you loved prior to the sales but could not afford, however when reduced you can and will wear it a lot. It’s good to stock up on key items e.g. quality shoes, bags, neutral colour tops, skirts or trousers. It’s also ideal, in the sales, to purchase quality accessories particularly for business e.g. belt, shoes, jewellery or scarves.
Remember C.P.W. – cost per wear
It’s no good buying an item for £50 you only wear once – it will cost £50, whereas a jacket for £150 worn 100 times will cost £1.50 per wear.
Some top tips to consider when shopping in the Sales:
- End of sales – you can pick up a great bargain at the end of the sale e.g. end of January/early February or end of July/early August in the UK and get a month or two’s worth of wear before it’s time to change your wardrobe.
- Dress appropriately – Wear sensible shoes and in cooler weather wear a light weight coat.
- Plan – think what you need in your wardrobe before you go, have some ideas.
- Shop early – avoid the rush; the internet is a great way to check items out early. Sign up to newsletters during sale time to get the latest offers.
- Mix and Match – think of at least three different occasions you can wear the item; how often and with what clothes you already have that it will go with.
- Price influenced – Do you really like it or are you tempted by the reduction in price? Love it madly, need it badly or do not buy it!
- Keep receipts – Carefully store the receipt when you purchase, you may need to return the item.
Ensure you feel comfortable in the item and are not influenced by a family or friend who is with you. The material may not be your personality e.g. your friend may like linen whereas you don’t like the feel and hate it creasing.
Ensure the item fits you well or if you need alterations allow for the extra cost, if you cannot do it yourself.
Happy Shopping! Have fun, get a great bargain and enjoy!
By Angela Marshall, 17th Jun 2014
The summer social season has arrived with Royal Ascot starting this week and it is always pleasurable to attend many of the events, whether for personal or business reasons. However, it’s important to know the dress code rules for each event and to wear something you feel comfortable and confident in. Ensure you give sufficient thought and allow sufficient time when choosing what to wear for the day.
Mixing with people can be intimidating, if you are not used to it, but having good manners can go a long way. Good manners stand out and get noticed particularly at social events, people may not comment but you will be remembered in a decisive way for being polite and caring.
Good Style tips to consider:
- Rules – ensure you know the dress code for the event - the website will advise you
- Outfits – avoid too tight, too short or all items too bright
- Hats – for a plain outfit choose an elaborate hat, for a patterned outfit choose a plain hat, choose one to suit your size and face shape and ensure your hat is securely fastened on your head.
- Wear suitable shoes – choose comfort as well as style to suit the outfit; avoid high stiletto heels on grass
- Dress rehearsal – try on the whole of your outfit with accessories before the day
- Jewellery – less is more, look elegant and avoid too much bling!
- Weather – the British weather is unpredictable, review the forecast and be prepared
Manners tips to remember:
- Ps and Qs – please and thank you
- Listen when people are talking, avoid interrupting
- Consider other people’s feelings; treat others as you wish to be treated
- Don’t speak loudly in public or use poor language to anyone
- Say “excuse me, please” when you need to pass someone
- Table manners can ruin your image; make sure you look and act the part.
- Be well dressed, well groomed and appropriate for the occasion
What to avoid:
One of the biggest faux pas, in a social event, is drinking too much and leaving late, a common but deadly occurrence. We can all make mistakes but if you are rude it is a key thing to apologise and remember to avoid doing it again.
Finally Smile – look happy, socialise and enjoy, a smile is welcoming and friendly and helps socially as well as professionally.
By Angela Marshall, 8th May 2014
When I am out shopping or travelling into London I always feel so much better when I smile or when people smile at me. Too often people look miserable and have a habit of blanking you as if you don’t exist.
A smile can make all the difference in the world. It has the power to release stress, calm you down, make you look more attractive, as well as make you and other people happy.
A smile has many benefits:
A smile is welcoming and friendly and helps socially as well as professionally.
Helps You to De-Stress
When you feel stressed a smile is the cheapest and fastest cure, just take a minute or two to breathe in and out and smile. Smiling helps to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety. Just think of something that makes you happy as there is always something to smile about in life!
Makes you more Attractive
When a person smiles at you they always look more attractive whether it is a man, woman or child. You can get away with a lot when you smile at people as well as get better service!
A smile makes you feel good and look happy and will encourage you to feel happy as well as helping other people feel happy too. It can be contagious.
Good for the Health
Studies have shown that when people make different emotional expressions, their bodies produce physiological changes that reflect the emotion, such as changes in heart and breathing rate. The simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. When you’re happy, your body releases all kinds of feel-good endorphins.
A smile given to the right person at the right time will influence what that person does next and the choices they make.
It doesn’t hurt to smile! As Louis Armstrong sang “When you’re smilin’, the whole world smiles with you.”
By Angela Marshall, 1st May 2014
Good Customer Care and Service
When a customer or client is dealt with by you they regard you as the company, whether you work for a large or small company. Too often people can forget this; by showing a lack of interest or respect to a client or customer you are letting the company’s brand and reputation down.
Price and product are important but it is service that gives you and your company the edge over your competitors.
The way to offer a great service is to ensure you understand your customer’s needs. When a customer has a great experience they remember the company and will feel good about the experience and want to return in the future. It is all about bringing customers back and creating a great company image and brand. It is also important for your personal image and brand. Not only will they feel good but talk about the experience to others, who may then try the product or service you offer and in turn become repeat customers.
The aim is to provide the best standard of customer care possible and to provide the service that people want by being courteous and helpful to your customers.
How well do you Manage Your Company’s Care and Service?
Here are some tips and reminders to help you:
- Treat people politely and with respect
- Be friendly and approachable
- Answer the phone correctly
Phone answering skills are critical for businesses. The phone is still most business’s primary point of contact with customers. And the way you answer your company’s phone will form your customer’s first impression of your business.
- Answer the phone quickly, at least within three rings.
- Be warm and enthusiastic. Your voice on the phone is sometimes the only impression of your company a caller will get.
- Identify yourself and your organization e.g. Hello, I am Jane from XYZ company.
- Speak slowly and clearly, keep your voice volume moderate, so your caller can understand you easily.
- Be conscious of your tone, be positive and ensure you leave them feeling positive when you finish.
- Be committed and create good habits that come naturally.
- Don’t make promises unless you will keep them.
Think before you give any promise – because nothing annoys customers more than a broken one.
- Listen to your customers.
Listen to what they want and what they say. Let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses.
People love to get more than they thought they were getting
Take the time to understand what the customer needs and wants and stay patient with a customer even if they are annoying.
A warm friendly smile goes a long way, whether face to face or on the telephone
You’re bound to receive a complaint at some time. In general, customers don’t usually complain; they just go elsewhere and tell lots of people. These days this is often done via social media. Others will not only complain, but expect action and possibly compensation. Dealing with complaints well can help your company stand out in a positive way as most businesses handle complaints badly.
First apologise, say sorry and then sort it out. Even if you think the customer is in the wrong, it pays to treat their concerns seriously. Key is to ensure the customer feels you have dealt with them correctly and valued them. It ensures you are upholding your company’s reputation.
Your Image is the Company’s Image
When I ran Personal Image workshops in companies I always made the comment “Your image is your company’s image, so make sure it is the right image”. This includes having the right appearance and dressing the part and very importantly you need to sound the part!
By Angela Marshall, 25th Apr 2014
There have been lots of comments, opinions and views in the media recently on Moyes being sacked as the manager of Manchester United. We can all make mistakes, this is how we develop and learn; fortunately though most of us do not make the headlines of a national newspaper. By trying different experiences and going outside our comfort zone there can be great positives whilst on the other hand there can be some negatives. It is these negatives that help us grow and develop whether it’s to become a better person, manager or parent.
We must learn from our mistakes and move on when things go wrong. Continuing to try new and different things opens our eyes.
Our work environment constantly changes so we need to learn and adapt to keep up to date with new technology, services and needs of the business and our customers.
Here are my suggestions on learning in life:
- Accept mistakes – accept failure it helps our personal growth.
- Learn from mistakes – find out what went wrong and why
- Control perfectionism – looking to be perfect all the time can cause disappointment. Understand trying and failing is part of learning.
- Manage failure – Successful people manage failure. Give yourself permission to fail and learn and move on. Think positively.
- Keep your composure – don’t lose your temper or get bad tempered, try to stay calm.
- Give yourself time – it is important to take some time to reflect on the situation. Allow your emotions to heal and learn to build up some resilience.
- Listen to other people’s views, when constructive – often the very people that cannot do the role or have the knowledge complain the most. Ignore rude and unhelpful comments as often they do not have the full facts. Take the opportunity to stand back and to be even more determined to achieve your goal.
Good luck and remember it is important to try and do something new outside your comfort zone.
By Angela Marshall, 24th Apr 2014
So many people have so little time these days that communicating with people outside their inner circle and taking an interest in other people is becoming a thing of the past. Not paying attention, a lack of interest and an inability to have a good discussion can cause problems, it leads to arguments, irritation and a lack of understanding in both personal and professional relationships. Whatever our age we can all learn from other people’s experiences. Communicating with people – both by talking and listening – from another country, faith, age, race or business improves our understanding and knowledge about the world in general. Taking a genuine interest in other people’s experiences, helps us broaden our own outlook on life.
Successful communication is about exchanging information; but it’s also about understanding people’s opinions, views and emotions. It is good manners and polite to show an interest in others rather than expecting other people to just show an interest in you.
Next time you attend an event, whether social or business, don’t just speak to people you know or are familiar with, try to engage with people you haven’t met before. Ask questions and try to find some common ground. You will be surprised what information you can find out. I recently attended a social event and a lady was standing on her own. I asked her if she would like to join us? It turned out she owned an art gallery and we discussed various artists and I learnt that a painting I owned may be worth more than I thought as the artist had died last year.
We generally communicate best when it is spontaneous rather than prepared e.g. a speech that is read very rarely has the same impact as a speech that is delivered spontaneously or appears as if it is. If you are not used to small talk then it can be useful to think of topics to discuss with people. What is in the news. In Britain we are great at talking about the weather or traffic problems as a starter.
The more you practise small talk and listening to others the more you will broaden your knowledge, which will help you both socially and professionally.