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Why Good Customer Service Is Not Good Enough Anymore

Why Good Customer Service Is Not Good Enough Anymore

People complain that business is getting tougher, well, in many ways, yes it is. Ten years ago the internet and especially eCommerce was not such a ubiquitous entity. We were in a boom rather than the current changeable financial environment and customers often had less choice.

Today I can go online, order and have a product delivered within an hour. I think nothing of having groceries delivered to my door, books telegraphed to my eReader by Wi-Fi and even food cooked and delivered at the touch of an app button. It really means that the number of human interactions I make when I am a customer is reducing.

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In another ten years time we may not see anyone (what a lonely place). Customers now use bricks and mortar shops for ‘showrooming’ (see the product and then find it online). This means that, as customer service professionals we need to ‘up our game’ considerably. Good customer service is just not good enough. Just being good may have been okay when we were the only show in town, but in a world where a drone could delivering my shopping autonomously, we have to be provide great customer service!

Lessons from London 2012

I was immensely lucky to have spent a year working for the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympics. This was an amazing opportunity to undertake as a customer service professional. However most of the workforce would be volunteers. As a team we had a common aim, to deliver the very best games experience we could, but this would require immensely long hours, hard work and some tough times. I was salaried, however that was not a motivator for me to deliver excellence and certainly wasn’t for my volunteer colleagues who worked alongside me.

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Lesson one is that money is a motivator, but it cannot be the sole reason for people to deliver great service. Your team needs to:

  • believe in the organisation and what they are offering
  • feel their place in the organisation and the empowerment to really deliver in their job
  • be supported, they need to feel loved by management and their colleagues

You will not be running something as big as an Olympic games, however you still need to embody belief within your team. Do your staff feel that they belong to the organisation? Do they feel listened to? If they make suggestions, are they taken seriously and acted upon?

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Building a better working environment

It is important for management to nurture their colleagues and make them feel that the organisation is as much theirs as it is the management’s. Do your staff know their place and more significantly their importance in the organisation? A colleague should not feel that he is ‘just’ a checkout operator, instead he should feel he is a vital part of the customer facing team. You need to ensure everyone uses language which develops responsibility and does not belittle individual roles. Every member of the team is a vital piece of the organisation and they need to know that. If they are not, you need to re-evaluate why you have as many staff as you do.

Once they know their worth to to the organisation you need to empower them. Consider valid decisions they make to support good service. One of the worst things you can do to a colleague is overturn a decision they make, which they feel is for the good of customer service. No, don’t let them hand over the contents of the till, but if they accept a refund in good faith to appease a long standing customer, don’t overturn the decision. The staff needs to feel that they have responsibility and that you, as management, trust their intelligence and decision making.

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Engage and create trust

Finally there needs to be love (not too physical of course!) – but you need to engage and create trust and friendship within your staff. Simple things will help: speak with staff, say good morning to everyone you see, listen to people. As a manager, a good proportion of your time should  be reserved for your staff, to support them. Never be aloof or unavailable when they need your support. During London 2012, we looked to ensure that we supported our volunteers and other colleagues. We were available and supportive and we all greeted each other. It became fun, despite the hard work and we felt like a real team who had a common purpose and a real role to play in the bigger picture.

We need to ensure that we make an impact on a customer, reinforcing the joy of human interaction – this can be as simple as each staff member greeting and acknowledging customers, smiling and being genuinely helpful. Remember to lead this by example, as managers if you smile and greet, you will find your staff will also do the same.  It is really driven by wow! moments where we go the extra mile to deliver service which just does not and cannot exist in an online environment. In London this changed the whole city! The Games-Makers were an amazing team of hardworking people who smiled, greeted people and were just amazing.

Delivering Wow! moments

Think to yourself, are you delivering wow! moments? Am I adding value? And especially would I bother to shop here? An example from everyday shopping, my wife bought a tablet from a well known chain store. It was more expensive than online, but she wanted the advice and service. What she got was pestering to buy additional insurance (the sales person would not let her leave the till she did!) and she got a product where the security seals had been broken. The result, the next day we went back, returned the item where it was grudgingly refunded (but not without some retraining on the rights of customers) and we bought the product online cheaper. The shop experience was:

  • more expensive
  • annoying
  • we still had to wait until the next day to get a working unit

No customer service wow! moments there. Now one customer will not change the world, but they can tweet and they can start to reinforce the trend to shop solely online… The time is right to up your game…

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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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