Christmas Customer Service Matters 2014


Christmas Customer Service matters..

Thank you to all our customers in 2014. We look forward to working with you in 2015. Have a fabulous festive season!

Every month we collect the best customer service articles for you, here are our Christmas collection.

Those crazy sales days!
From Black Friday and Cyber Monday, how the stats added up..

Six tips to boost your Customer Service during the holidays
Strategy ideas from Bloomberg Business Week.

Surviving the Christmas Countdown…
A parents guide to survival

How to motivate your teams in the run up to Christmas
Key ideas to help with the festive feeling.

Training should be about….

Training should be about preparation, planning, enjoying the experience, inclusion, engaging, for everyone whatever your journey.

We captured these thoughts and put it on a video.

Check it out on YouTube Training should be…

Avoid Customer Service Fails with 5 easy steps for being Customer Service Ready

Are you always on top form with your customers? Customer Service Fails are annoying, costly and damaging. Get it right from the start.

Here’s a simple plan for making sure that you and your teams are always on your game.

1. Plan

Think about what you and your customer want from your next customer interaction. What are your customers expectations and how can you meet them. Think of any questions you might want to ask, information you need to collect or pass on. Having a structure ready in your head helps you get it right first time.

2. Breath

This may sound obvious, of course we breath all the time without thinking. When you begin a conversation with a customer take a moment to take in a big deep breath, sit or stand up straight, show you are attentive and be ready to start communicating.

3. Smile

Yes SMILE!  Make it a practiced smile that is natural. It’s a winning start to any customer engagement.

4. Gesture

We use gestures all the time to tell the story, to emphasise a point, to give directions or demonstrate what we mean. Many studies reveal that using gestures help us think. With your customers, use expressions to annimate your conversation and build rapport (yes, it does work on the telephone too!)

5. Visualise

Visualise a person or place that makes you happy when your recall the memory, automatically your facial tension is released and you will begin to smile. This can help relax you into a conversation. Try this by visualising someone who makes you happy when you meet them, that makes you laugh out loud or they just make you feel good about yourself. Your inner feelings will be seen outwardly and you’ll project a welcoming and friendly personality.


Good luck and make it work!

John and Pam




Customer Service Matters – May ’14

Customer Service matters..
Every month we collect the best customer service articles for you…

How delivering great service could improve your health
Infinite Training article

How to achieve customer services standardisation across all your branches
providing the same premium quality customer service on all your branches. – Read more here

How to provide the same premium service across all your services – Read more here

What if your customer service is bad on purpose?
An excellent article from Customer Service Guru Micah Solomon

How much does poor customer service cost your business?
Read on to find out…

3 key components of Exceptional Customer Service
Poor value and failures in the UK’s Rail passenger industry.

Delivering Good Service = Good Health

Delivering and receiving customer service keeps the Doctor away.

Customers are real people, those delivering Customer Service are real people too. We all have hopes, fears and expectations, often the same ones. It’s easy to forget about the human emotions that are inherently involved in the interactions that revolve around service. Those emotions and feelings have a positive and negative effect on us, right there and then in the moment and over a longer period.

Surprisingly, some still need convincing about the positive investment in Service delivery. There is convincing science behind it. We decided to look at the evidence.

Research and evidence

Research, undertaken by Neurosense on behalf of American Express, showed that two in three volunteers saw their pulse rate increase, their breathing slow and their sweat glands swing into action when shown images of workers going the extra mile for customers. According to the research, these are the same physical responses we feel when thinking of something pleasurable – such as a good catch-up with an old friend or your favourite sports team winning. Dr Jack Lewis, a neuroscientist who looked at the research, said he was amazed at the impact good service has on people.  “It was a big surprise to see that the volunteers had a response similar to what we call a ‘peak pleasure’. This means they were having a powerful emotional reaction. Dr Lewis says the physical reaction is partly caused by neural electrical stimulation in the brain and partly a hormonal response involving adrenaline.

A 2005 study from Hebrew University in Israel found a link between kindness and a gene that releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain.

Research by Alan Luks in his 1991 book,  The Healing Power of Doing Good, found that helpers reported a distinct physical sensation when being kind. Many reported feeling more energetic, warm, calmer and greater self-worth, a phenomenon he calls the “helper’s high.”

Be Kind to a Human

A more recent 2011 study of churchgoers ‘Be Kind to Humankind Week’, found that people who are in the frame of mind to offer love and support to others have better mental health than those less inclined to offer kindness. It was even found to have the physical effect of increasing dopamine in the brain, making us feel calmer and happier. Kindness also ups our self worth and reduces nagging doubts and worries.

Reduced anxiety. For four weeks, University of British Columbia researchers assigned people with high levels of anxiety to do kind acts for other people at least six times a week. The acts of kindness included things like holding the door open for someone, doing chores for other people, donating to charity, and buying lunch for a friend, says study author Lynn Alden, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. The researchers found that doing nice things for people led to a significant increase in people’s positive moods. It also led to an increase in relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance. “People who engage in kind acts become happier over time,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Why? “When you’re kind to others, you feel good as a person—more moral, optimistic, and positive,” she says.

Smile for science

In the study, to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Kansas found that the act of smiling has a positive effect on our happiness and physical health, helping the heart recover more quickly after stressful events.

Optimism and positive thinking

Immunity is one area where your thoughts and attitudes can have a particularly powerful influence. In one study we read, researchers found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine. Researchers Segerstrom and Sephton found that people who were optimistic about a specific and important part of their lives, such as how well they were doing in school, exhibited a stronger immune response than those who had a more negative view of the situation. Not only can positive thinking impact your ability to cope with stress and your immunity, it also has an impact on your overall well-being. The Mayo Clinic reports a number of health benefits associated with optimism, including a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular problems, less depression, and an increased lifespan.

Customer Service is about feelings

Customers have feelings, be sure those are good feelings

Employees have feelings too, happiness is infectious

While focusing on the top line statistics, don’t lose sight of the impact of one to one customer interactions

Start with a smile, give it to others and encourage them to pass it along






Customer Service Matters …March 2014

Customer Service matters..
Every month we collect the best customer service articles for you…

What’sApp, Best for Customer Service?
What’sApp, as important to your business as Twitter. An article in The Guardian.

Is online retail losing it’s edge for Customer Service?
Traditional retailers are fighting back with Customer Service at the forefront.

Institute of Customer Service Awards Winners 2014
Top Customer Service awards for Tesco, Volkswagen and Amazon. Daily Telegraph reports from the Awards.

Which is Britain’s worst bank for Customer Service?
Simon Read reports in the The Independant, Money Blog column.

5 Point Plan for dealing with angry customers
An article from UAE’s top Customer Service blog.

Empower your teams and impress your customers
Infinite Training article

Customer Service Matters… Febuary 2014

Customer Service matters..
Every month we collect the best customer service articles for you…

Poor Customer Service Explained by lack of Employee Engagement
A feature article in Forbes magazine

How to provide award winning Customer Service
Home Group PLC Director of Customer Service in The Guardian

Being mobile friendly is a key part of good customer service
Many companies are missing the opportunity to engage with customers via their mobile phone – The Guardian

The Best performing Energy companies you never heard of..
Top five Customer Service performing Energy companies according to Which – chances are you didn’t know them.

I have a dream – The power of a vision for your organisation
Disney Institute

Empower your Team and they will Impress your Customers

I had a great conversation recently with a good friend of mine.  Paul beams with pride when he talks about his new role, he actually smiles when he tells you about his job. Perhaps more surprising, to me at least, when you realise his change in career, from builder to working in retail.

After applying his trade skills for over 20 years in the building industry, he is now tapping into his natural ability in Customer Service. When he needed a change in working environment, he took a part time position in Next retail, which has now become a full time job that he loves. Paul gave me the plenty of reasons to understand why he loves working in retail. Most importantly he feels empowered to be himself and make decisions that enable him to look after his customers. He described how the best part of his working day is helping people. Despite being in one of the retailers busiest stores, he remembers his customers and they remember him, often returning to the store and looking for Paul to help them. Paul has the confidence in the products, the service that the company delivers and the process in place, to know that he and his colleagues can look after Customers needs. He told me how employees are encouraged to go ‘off script’ when greeting customers to the store to better reflect their own personality, in Paul’s case that is always going to be a winning start to any customer relation. Paul is enthusiastic in his role and motivated to take personal responsibility for making things happen. He takes time to notice and acknowledge his customers, cheerfully meets and greets,  pays compliments, offers assistance, has a conversation with customers and remembers detail. He takes personal responsibility for store and product knowledge, often touring the store before beginning work, to be sure he is up to date with the latest product trends and ranges.

With the right combination, Empowerment & Responsibility equals Great Customer Service.

By contrast I recently visited a worldwide clothing retail company in which the sales assistant had to defer to a supervisor to authorise a 50p sale item. There has to be trust, not being trusted to manage a 50p sale not only keeps customers waiting, but shows a lack of confidence in employee integrity and ability.

Roger Trapp recently reported in his excellent article “Poor Customer Service Explained by lack of Employee Engagement” that the good news is that because employee engagement levels are generally so low at the front line any company that tackles the issue seriously stands to enjoy a substantial competitive advantage.

Be a good leader and create an empowered team that embraces responsibility:

  • Be respectful to others and yourself.
  • Become a good listener – make time to listen (turn off your PC and have a face to face conversation!)
  • Be sincere when dealing with people – (you don’t need to go on a body language course to spot insincerity)
  • Set a good example – demonstrate your commitment to your (internal) Customers
  • Reflect on your performance – don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, hone your leadership and communication skills
  • Delegate tasks with clearly defined roles, policies and procedures – People work better and work better together, when they know what is expected of them
  • Work with an ‘Open Door’ Policy – It is important that people feel you are prepared to listed to ideas and that their opinions are valued
  • Train for success – Actively promote employee training to optimize performance.
  • Relinquish your powers – Not all of them! However, show confidence in your teams ability through autonomy and let them get on with it. Empower your team by demonstrating a belief in their ability to achieve results.
  • Recognise achievement and acknowledge good performance

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” — General George Smith Patton, Jr.

John Hallam



Find amazing people, just ask the right questions

The people I meet often amaze me, but I’m no longer surprised that they amaze me, because I’ve learned that everyone has a story, all you have to do is ask the right questions and listen.

At a recent trip to a conference in Binghamton, Broome County, NY, I met an amazing woman from Falls Township, Pennsylvania. At the end of a busy day we found ourselves sat in the hotel bar waiting for others from our convention to join us. I had met Carolyn in previous years at the same convention, but we hadn’t really taken the time to talk. While I ordered drinks at the bar, playing on the TV in the background, were news reports from the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.  As some of the historical footage was played, Carolyn commented “I was there.”  I was amazed. I was fascinated. Naturally I wanted to know more, who wouldn’t? Carolyn went on to tell me about her campaigning for civil rights, the people she met, how she’d organised demonstrations and protests. She described how she learned to picket an official protest. I listened as she explained how she and her colleagues campaigned and picketed for local retailers to treat customers equally, black or white.  I had to ask her one question in particular. “Tell me”, I asked “What motivated you?” I wanted to understand why Carolyn had not just stood by, but had decided to make a difference.  Carolyn explained how she had grown up 1940’s America, the only Jewish girl at the University of Pennsylvania (class of ’49), and knew a little about prejudice. We talked for a while, actually most of the evening, I listened in admiration as Carlolyn told me more about her life, the causes she championed, the business she had run and some of her adventures. I loved hearing it all. I understood why she was motivated, it was in her blood, her conscience. She was that kind of person, she had to make a difference.

The next morning was a conference breakfast meeting, Carolyn came over first thing to say hello. “You know”, she said “I realised that no one had ever asked me what motivated me.”

That was the key. The unlocking question to reveal an amazing person. Since then I’ve learned to ask unlocking questions and found other amazing people.

Who knows what you will discover if you only take the time and ask.

Here is my guide to asking the questions that will help you find amazing people.

Unlocking questions

Open questions, we all know what they are, but often forget to use them effectively. Practice your  “Who, what, why, where, when and how’ and especially your Tell, Explain or Describe questions. Always remember to use TED, let the other person speak and listen actively.

  • Tell me what happened…?
  • Explain how…?
  • Describe what it felt like?

Be interested and ask inquisitive questions

Open questions work to stimulate conversation, but don’t just leave it there, be inquisitive.

  • What exactly do you mean by…?
  • How often did you…?
  • What happened when you…?

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer. Bruce Lee. (Now that’s a kick-ass quote,..really!)

John Hallam



What does ‘good customer service’ mean?

We asked our friends and colleagues what it meant to them. This is what they told us and our guide to you.

Feeling Good/Happy. Customer Service is about feelings. Remember that happy feeling when you receive a gift, when someone pays you a compliment or when you received unexpected favour.  The disappointment you felt when a delivery didn’t arrive on time, how frustrating it was when you waited in line.  Those feelings are at the heart of customer service, remember you are always dealing with customers feelings.

Free Stuff. Free doesn’t have to be giveaways, a keyring, a pen, a mug, they’re all fine, but how about taking action, making a phone call, writing an email, giving free advice, sending a referral. And last time we checked, a smile was still free to give.

Be Friendly & Polite. It’s a good starting point, Customer Service often begins with a greeting. Those that are renowned for it are well practiced, have you been to Disney recently? If the best in the world practice, what’s your excuse? Park Greeter, Disney Program

Communicate & talk to me. Talk to people, but remember it’s not just the words you say, think about what you’re body is saying. Open body talk means open arms, keep your trunk open, good eye contact and show relaxed facial expression. Keep customers informed, yes, even the little customers.

Extra Mile. “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” ― Booker T. Washington

Faster payment. How amazing is payment tech these days. iZettle, Paypal, Square and many more are doing mobile payment from your phone with an email receipt direct to customers. Now we can all be like an Apple Store genius!

Me. The customer is not always right, but they are always the customer. It should always be about Me!

Being informed. I recently purchased a low cost item online for a bathroom shower repair. I received an email confirmation of my order, a text at its dispatch and finally a thank you email, with contact details if anything wasn’t to my satisfaction.

Fast Food. Equals prompt service, we can all take a leaf out of well run fast food retailers who get it right. This Housing Authority recently took on board how Pizza Express manage their customers. Check out the article in the Guardian

A Smile & Smiling Clients. We said it all in our “A smile, a free customer service tool” article. You should also check out the excellent “Smile, Sell More” and learn how to make your own smiling clients.

Not reading from script. We’ve all grown tired of the scripts. Keep it natural, be your good self.

Leave me alone. Always acknowledge customers, let them know you are there, sometimes they just need a little space.

Here are our friends and colleagues telling us what good Customer Service means to them.

Of course, we always ask what our customers want. You can tell us to, take training needs survey .

Remember that Customer Service means different things to different people.

John Hallam