I thought I had a handle on good client service, after all I’m Mr Mike “set yourself apart by what you do” Ames. Well I had a recent experience at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore that made me think again. Oh, and before you say “well the Raffles Hotel can afford to do these things” think again – these added-extras didn’t cost them a penny.
1. Shell fish allergy
Mrs Ames is allergic to shell fish in a BIG way. She spent our 25th wedding anniversary in the bathroom of our hotel in Sorrento after eating poached (in fish stock it later transpired) sole.
So I am at the concierge sorting out our next days activities. He was suggesting places for lunch and asked if I like fish because he knew a really great one not far away. I explained that due to the fragile nature of Mrs Ames’ constitution when it came to fishy comestibles we gave them a wide berth. I then booked us into the Tiffin restaurant at the hotel for that evening and left it at that.
When we arrived at the restaurant the maitre d’ seated us and then proceeded to explain which dishes had any kind of shell fish exposure. We were mightily impressed. The concierge had obviously informed the restaurant who had then acted on that knowledge rather than letting it slip through the net.
Nothing more than being organised and caring enough to make the effort.
2. Lost in the Hotel
I’ve got to be honest with you I’m not good on orientation, especially when I’m in a large hotel with loads of shops, passages and blocks of rooms none of which are built in a regular pattern.
It took us a good 15 minutes to find the Long Bar in the hotel. When we arrived the lady on the door asked us if we were guests and if so what our room number was. We were shown to a nice corner table and 2 seconds later the waiter arrived and called us by name as did the person who bought over our drinks and the floor manager who came round to see if everything was OK. We shared our “getting lost in the hotel” story – oh how we all laughed.
That was pretty good but it wasn’t the best bit. When we had signed for our drinks a waiter appeared and muttered something about the hotel being “difficult to navigate sometimes” and insisted on walking us all the way to reception. They didn’t need to be asked they just did it.
Once again, nothing more than being organised and caring enough to make the effort.
So what can we conclude after 4 hours in the Raffles Hotel?
1. Listen to the wishes, needs and preferences of your clients.
2. Have a process and a training regime to ensure people know what to listen out for and what to do with what they hear.
3. Hire people who care.
4. ALWAYS PUT YOUR CLIENTS NEEDS ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE.
So it’s not about big budgets at all just an obsession to create delighted clients who enthuse about them in their blog posts.
The big question is do you have a Raffles approach to client service and if not what would you need to do to create one?
This guest post is by Jane Cassell of JC Wills and Probate and I think with the start of 2014 not far off this thought-provoking piece is well worth a read. It explores a subject most of us acknowledge is important but then go on to dismiss because ”we’re just too busy” – oh the irony of it all.
Time to think. They say it’s one of the secrets to real success – thinking time.
Of course, it doesn’t happen unless it’s scheduled, because that’s the nature of life. If you do schedule thinking time though, it’s more likely to happen, and once you’ve adopted it as a habit, you’ll know that you must for your own sake, continue to do it.
My legal colleagues laugh affectionately when we head to London for a Law Society seminar. They know I go a few hours early, to spend time in the rather auspicious, but more importantly, quiet, Reading Room at the Law Society, Chancery Lane, where some of my best thinking sessions have taken place. My colleagues continue to work at the office, clocking up as many chargeable hours as possible, before running for the last possible train to get them to the seminar on time.
I can’t blame them. They have targets to meet. I only have those targets I set myself, and most of mine are no longer financial.
I find that holidays are great opportunities for thinking time, and on that basis, I go on as many as possible. The opportunity to eat more natural food (generally we travel to places where food is local rather than imported), enjoy more exercise than the normal office day permits comfortably and the chance to sit and ponder without deadlines other than watching the sun set, is I find, generally a wonderful opportunity to go on a gentle mental journey.
Even when time is short, I still believe thinking time is necessary; I book out an early morning chunk of time at Starbucks. Forty minutes is enough for me, but a weekend away is a luxury you probably owe yourself and your business.
Had I not spent time cooped up in a villa due to heavy storms in the last week of my holiday, thinking, I would probably not have developed the ideas I have which have enabled me to amplify my business message to a wide range of people. We all have the thing that drives us; our mission if you will and mine has not been created whilst I’ve been running a busy office and responding to ongoing client needs, but rather when I’ve had time to reflect and here it is: Wills can be simple; probate should be fixed fee. Pretty much sums up my whole business.
What’s your mission I wonder?
If you’d like to read more of Jane’s thoughts why not visit her blog by clicking here.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
First though here’s the big problem and it’s made of 3 parts: -
- The world is full of things we would find useful but this is dwarfed by the colossal amounts of stuff we don’t need or want.
- Most people don’t have the time to wade through chaff to get to the wheat.
- These days, more than ever before, everybody must continually develop themselves just to stand still.
The worrying part is that almost everybody you engage in conversation on this very subject doesn’t even have the time to realise it applies to them. As if saying “I don’t have time to read, think and experiment and therefore improve myself” is OK in some way. Well it isn’t but if you don’t have time, you don’t have time……
Curation (that new word) – so just what is it?
Consider Google for a moment. To use it you enter a string of words (the selection criteria) and what it does is search this huge heaving mass of information to return you a list of pages it thinks you’ll be interested in and in many cases it works.
This is a form of curation: a set of selection criteria which helps the curator (Google in this case) to provide the data the user is looking for in a way that they can readily consume it.
How can you make use of curation?
In business development we are always looking for ways that we can differentiate ourselves and add value to our external stakeholders such as clients, prospects and intermediaries. Well curation can do this for you and here’s how: -
- During interactions with your stakeholder find out what they are really interested in. Business and personal interests both count but remember people can have an interest in lots of areas but are really interested in only a few and you need to find out what these are.
- Note them down on your CRM system. If you’ve gone to the trouble of finding out their interests you don’t want to forget them again.
- Periodically search the Internet for anything that matches the interests you discovered in stage 1.
- Present what you’ve found to your stakeholder through social media, email, the telephone or face to face if you can.
- Have an outlet for this which can be picked up by more people such as a blog or a newsletter.
Bingo! You have just fed a need that your stakeholder has which means that you will have just added some conversion juice to their enrichment and differentiation buckets inching you further ahead of your competitors.
What are the dangers attached to curation?
There are only 3 real dangers and here they are: -
- You fail to accurately identify your stakeholder’s real interests so you feed them things that don’t hit the spot for them and you actually become a bit of a nuisance. Make sure you have got a handle on their true interests.
- You invest all this time in the wrong stakeholders. There are a group of people out there who are just takers. They are happy to keep taking from you but as soon as you want something in return the shutters come down and the excuses come out to play. Two choices here: monitor how your relationship is developing and if you feel like it isn’t moving forward ask your stakeholder what they think. Second option is to ask for something and see what happens. Eliminate the takers!
- You get the frequency of enrichment wrong; bombard them with useful stuff but the volume actually causes them to switch off from you. Once every month or two is fine but if you detect a coolness in your stakeholder back off for a while.
Where can you find useful information from?
You might consider Google as the main tool in your curating activities but I would make it the last resort and here’s why: there are simply tons of great ideas, tools and techniques out there but if they aren’t written by Seth Godin or aren’t published on the BBC website then they’ll probably appear on page 11 of your Google search. You need to to do better than that.
These are our favourite curation tools although there are undoubtedly others: -
- Twitter: use of stored searches and hash tags plus following the right (but not necessarily famous) thought leaders is the quickest way to identify some useful but not overly well know material.
- TED: is just great. It’s like YouTube for grown-ups and is packed with really interesting stuff. A lot of people don’t really engage with video so you should make sure your stakeholder is not one of them before you send them a TED link. This is my favourite by Simon Sinek.
- YouTube: yes its enormous but the search engines are pretty good (owned by Google so they would be I suppose) and whatever you want to find will be on there somewhere.
- Slideshare.net: is a great website where people have deposited PowerPoint presentations on a range of subjects (try this one) as well as video clips. It is one of the great undiscovered treasures of the Internet in my humble opinion.
- Books: for thousands of years people have been recording the fruit of their life-experiences on paper (or sometimes papyrus) and making them available for us to consume in a few hours. Try Outliers by Malcom Gladwell and see what I mean!
- Blogs: subscribe to the right blogs (like this one of course!) and organise your Outlook so that it automatically directs new posts into the appropriate directory without hitting your inbox and you’re in business. If you find you have followed the wrong blog unsubscribe immediately.
- People: I’ve saved the best until last. Over the years I have managed to gather around me a number of interesting and free thinking people who enrich me every time I meet them. They always seem to have new ideas, tools and techniques that they can’t wait to share and I can’t wait to learn about. If you do nothing else I would do the same if I were you.
How can I move my curation into overdrive?
Going back to the start: people don’t have lots of spare time so sending them a link to a TED video or a copy of a great new book you’ve just read may not have the desired effect because they just don’t have the time to do anything about it.
The hyper-curator will summarise and repackage. Read a book, summarise the key ideas in a one-page mind map or a few bullet points and send the book and the summary to your stakeholder. Meet somebody and summarise a new TED video you’ve watched or blog post you have read. Write a blog which is mainly bullet points and can be read in less than 3 minutes and send through the link. Summarise and repackage.
So there you have it: want to stand out from your competitors and become a valuable person in somebody’s life? Become a hyper-curator.
Image courtesy of sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
True story. Last weekend my wife and I were having lunch in an Italian restaurant just off Leicester Square. Sitting behind us was a mom and dad with their young son who was just being offered one of the considerable number of ice creams for desert.
Mom wandered off so dad lists out a long string of options – the kid can’t decide so dad reads them out again with a pretty similar outcome.
Mom arrives back and says: “do you like strawberry over chocolate?” the lad opts for Strawberry “is that better than vanilla?” a nod of the head “well what about raspberry ripple?” thinks…. go on then. Decision made.
The difference between getting a decision and not often comes down to two things: -
- Using your knowledge to trim out unsuitable choices (mom knew he didn’t like half the options on the menu so didn’t bother to offer them up)
- Make it either/or (she presented the lad with two choices each time – easy to make a choice then).
You really had to be there to see it but, the way mom got the decision was just awesome – worth thinking about I reckon.
Image courtesy of piyato / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This one’s for anybody with a “frank and honest” approach to business especially those who have, or aspire to have, some authority.
Do you ever get excessively long emails that causes a little bit of you to die inside when you open them?
If you do it’s probably been written by someone who: -
- Wants to cover their @rse so they can say later “but I put that in an email to you” *shudders inwardly* or
- Can’t be bothered to do their job so tips everything they know about a subject into an email in the hope that you’ll tell them what to do next.
So next time this happens this is what you do. Click REPLY; type TLDR and press SEND.
When the inevitable “?” bounces back you expand it to “Too long, didn’t read”. Sorted!
Thanks to my friend Mr Mike Gladwin for this little beaut.
Let me start with a quote that’s not even in my top 21 but has always resonated with me: “It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations”. As it turns out I think it’s not a bad idea for the educated man, or woman for that matter, to do the same.
So here’s 21 real business lessons that you can learn from the thoughts of the Great Winston Spencer Churchill that I think ring as true in 21st century corporate life as they did when he wrote them.
Hope you agree.
1 Persistence is omnipotent
“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
2 Brevity gets read
“The length of this document defends it well against the risk of its being read.”
3 Always remain optimistic
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
4 Results come from hard work
“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”
5 Results count most in the end
“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”
6 Encourage constructive criticism
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
7 Innovate or die
“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.”
8 Predict the future from the past
“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.”
9 Have courage and take risks
“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”
10 Trust your instincts
“Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.”
11 Be proactive
“I never worry about action, but only inaction.”
12 Believe in yourself
“Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.”
13 Make sure you’re talking to the decision maker
“Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.”
14 Admit when you’re wrong
“I have never developed indigestion from eating my words.”
15 Analyse all the facts before you act
“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.”
16 Fortune favours the bold
“The first quality that is needed is audacity.”
17 Always be aware of what’s happening around you
“We occasionally stumble over the truth but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”
18 Preparation Prevents Pi$$-Poor Performance
“I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.”
19 Always do what you know needs to be done no matter how unpalatable.
“One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!”
20 Give more to get more
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
21 Don’t be afraid to make enemies
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Nothing screams “out of control” more than an over-flowing inbox; added to which every time you look at it the very sight of all those demanding emails drains just a little more life out of you.
All true but can you really operate an empty inbox policy and so keep yourself on top of the game? Of course you can and here’s how: -
1 Unsubscribe don’t just delete
You’re in a rush so you just scream down your inbox and delete the trashy stuff you know you’ll never read. WRONG! all you’re doing is burdening your future self with more of the same.
Take a moment to scan to the bottom of the page and click on the “unsubscribe” button – hey presto one less email to worry about.
Another variation of this is the Internal mailing list. Somebody sticks you on it usually to cover their arses well don’t stand for it. If you’re on a circulation list you shouldn’t be simply write back to the sender and explain you would rather not be on the list and ask to be taken off it. If you don’t have the cahoneys for this see Rules and Alerts below – will do just as nicely.
2 Have designated email processing times in your day
Every time an email comes in you have to look or maybe you’re one of those people who has to keep checking their inbox to see who thinks you’re special enough to send an email to (that’s me). WRONG! There are two reasons for this:
- Firstly it is estimated that each time you look at your inbox it costs you up to 2 minutes lost productivity so the less times you look the less time you waste.
- Secondly every time you open and close an email without doing anything with it you’re just perpetuating a full inbox mentality.
So why not set aside specific times in the day to look and process your emails then you can do just that and not just open, read, frown and leave for later.
Obviously it’s for you to decide but if I’m busy (which is most of the time) my times are first and last thing; elevenses (for non-Brits this is about 11am and corresponds to having a cup of coffee and some biscuits); lunchtime and the afternoon tea (about 3pm).
3 Never put off until later what you can do today
So you’ve opened an email; seen that it needs to be processed today but will take longer than a few seconds to respond to so you’ve closed it and moved on to the next. WRONG! If you’ve adopted Tip #2 you will have time so just deal with it. If you decide that you need more time than you have it’s best to actually schedule some time in your calendar to complete it and then move onto the next.
Don’t kid yourself: it needs doing or it doesn’t and if it does you have to find time to do it – take control over this and YOU decide when this is.
4 Use Outlook Tasks
If Microsoft had thought that you could manage your daily tasks with Calendar and your Inbox they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of writing their Tasks module. You need to organise your tasks in a certain way (we have a short video that shows you how to do this; if you want it just drop me an email) but other than that you’re good to go.
So an email comes in that you have to work on but just not now so we close it and promise to look at it another day. WRONG! Copy the relevant parts of the email; switch into Outlook Tasks and create a new task, paste what you’ve copied; back to the email and copy any relevant attachments; back to the new task and paste them in. Then set the due date for when you’re going to complete the task, set the reminder flag and you’re done.
One more thing here, if the task is going to take more than a few minutes why not block out the necessary time in your diary to do it and then set the reminder for that date and time. I find this stops me from being all “last minute” about things.
5 Use Directories in your Inbox
For those emails you need to keep for whatever reason you just leave in the inbox and use the search facility to find them when you need them. WRONG! Much better to create a subdirectory under our Inbox and drag it across. One less email in your Inbox and easier to lay your hands on if you need it in the future.
6 Use the Rules and Alerts Feature of Outlook
Click on File then Manage Rules and Alerts and you can automatically send incoming emails to a sub-directory you’ve set up, redirect the blasted thing or even just delete those stubborn and hard-to-get-rid-of emails that the unsubscribe feature just doesn’t seem to shift.
So those newsletters that you want to receive but you don’t always read – off to the Newsletters subdirectory to be read if you can find the time or just delete unopened if you can’t. How about moving all your CC emails into a CC subdirectory and then reading them if you have time.
Very cool and worth a few minutes to set them up.
7 Ask to be removed from any “Reply to all ” thread that doesn’t apply to you.
I really hate this one. You’ve been copied into and email (again a classic CYA tactic) and can’t see why. Worse still everybody involved keeps using the dratted “Reply All” button so you’re inundated with emails that mean nothing to you. You quietly delete them and get on with your day WRONG!
Don’t accept this; politely write back and explain that you can’t add any value so it’s probably best to leave you out of discussions.
Some people might not like it (caution before you use this tactic on the boss!) but it’s fabulous for your personal brand.
So there you have it. 7 easy to do tips which when combined will help you run with an empty inbox as well as giving you a warm cuddly feeling when you go home each night.
For those of you who give this a go I’d really love to hear how you get on.