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What to do when things go wrong

Paul Beesley : April 17, 2017 10:00 pm : Blog, Customer Service, Leadership

What to do when things go wrong? Last week’s eviction of Dr. David Dao from the United Airlines flight went viral. Not the kind of publicity that is welcome. Whatever the reason for the passenger being removed the whole episode proved to be a serious public relations gaffe that damaged share price as well as reputation.

United have since apologised. Dr. Dao has been patched up in hospital. The airline has now reviewed its policies on overbooking passengers and accommodating additional flight crew.  So now that the dust has settled what lessons can we draw?

Our advice to United Airlines or anyone else caught out when things go wrong is quite simple – use the 3 R’s. Here’s what we mean:

  • Regret. Waste no time in apologising.  Speed is of the essence – particularly in our networked world where social media spreads stories quicker than wild fire. Make sure your apologies are sincere too. The higher up the apologiser is in your organisation the better.  Remember to choose your words carefully – if you’re not old enough to remember the comments made by Gerald Ratner in 1992 then search them out and read about their devastating impact.
  • Reason. Apologising is not enough. Make every effort to explain the reasons for why things happened the way they did. Be as honest as you can and resist any temptation to hide behind excuses. Trying to fudge the issue or dodge the bullet will run the risk of making things worse. Again, choose your words carefully. For example use ‘apologise’ rather than ‘sorry’ as this will convey more sincerity when you provide your explanation.
  • Remedy. Again it is important to act as fast as possible to provide a resolution. Don’t let your customer live with the pain of their complaint any longer than they need to. Taking swift action will enable everyone to move on to better things. Handling a compliant well by showing regret, providing the explanation and then providing the remedy may even result in enhancing your reputation rather than just rescue and recover the situation.

Gaffes and blunders are not just the property of big companies. Reputations take ages to build yet can be destroyed in just a few moments. Applying our simple yet effective method will help you deal with those tricky situations that may catch you out.

Paul Beesley, Beyond Theory

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Listening is far more than hearing

Paul Beesley : March 25, 2017 2:07 pm : Blog, Customer Service, Employee Engagement, Leadership

Listening is far more than hearing

Listening is a key part of employee voice

Giving employees a voice is a recognised driver to increase employee engagement. People need to feel they can contribute ideas and improve things that aren’t working. Listening, rather than just hearing, is therefore essential. 

Encouraging employees to give their views can be done in many ways. Here are a few:

  • Annual employee surveys
  • Appraisal interviews
  • 1:1 meetings
  • Daily check-ins

In addition to these traditional methods more and more companies are now using online communications platforms such as Slack to share ideas, present challenges and provide feedback. This is something we already do here at Beyond Theory.

However, whichever method we choose we need to make sure that these opportunities are not hijacked by ourselves as managers. For example whether a survey, online or face-to-face our communications need to remain two-way. This is easy to say yet hard to do when managers are pressured for time, eager to get things done and distracted by other things. It’s tempting to think that one-way communication is the quickest way of getting things done.

So what can we do to make sure our employees are listened to? Here’s a checklist to help you to actively listen rather than just hear:

  • Look to see and understand things from the other person’s perspective – demonstrate empathy. You may not feel the issue being raised as important. However, for the employee this may well be a different matter. Avoid making assumptions. You don’t have to agree to empathise.
  • Take in and acknowledge ideas, suspending your judgement and responding appropriately. As the manager your expertise may be undeniable but sometime different angles can offer different options. Be prepared to put your ego to one side.
  • Avoid distractions. This point relates to emotional as well as physical distractions. Put the phone away, close the computer screen and if necessary shut the door. Focus on the person you are with rather than the person you’ve just dealt with or your next appointment. Be present and in the moment.
  • Pay attention to body language and tonality, how things are being said rather than just what is being said. This means your body language and tonality as well as their’s. Our physiology not only gives of huge communication signals but also impact how we communicate verbally. Be upright and alert rather than laid back and casual.

Listening is not always easy. It takes time and effort. But it’s important to ignore. Time and time again employees complain that they are not listened to.

These tips will help you engage with your employees. Your team and your customers will thank you. Higher levels of employee engagement are proven to increase service levels, productivity and profitability. Listening to and acting upon employee voice will help.

Paul Beesley, senior consultant, Beyond Theory

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Higher levels of employee engagement boost customer satisfaction

Paul Beesley : February 18, 2017 12:56 pm : Blog, Customer Service, Employee Engagement

customer service excellence plus logoThis headline is a direct quote from the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) published by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) in January 2017. This report goes on to say that a 1 point increase in employee engagement is likely to give a 0.41 point uplift in customer satisfaction. And we know how well customer satisfaction improves profitability..!

The UKCSI report states that many companies and organisations are now performing better in some of the essential elements of customer service. However the report highlights that challenges still remain to convert better customer service into tangible customer loyalty and advocacy.

The report identifies 6 key areas for companies and organisations to focus on to help develop an improved customer experience strategy. These areas are recommended to deliver sustained business performance through generating loyalty and recommendations:

  1. Make experiences easier for customers.
  2. Prevent problems at source.
  3. Be consistent across all channels, especially telephone and email.
  4. Deliver seamless, fast and efficient service with proactive, empathetic help and advice.
  5. Recognise that prioritising customer satisfaction means prioritising employee engagement.
  6. Understand the broader context of your customer’s relationship with your company and organisation.

The report provides a list of the top 50 companies and organisations in terms of delivering customer satisfaction across the UK. Top of the list is Amazon.co.uk. with ASOS.com, John Lewis, M&S (Food) and Waitrose making up the top 5.

The UKCSI report also shows what separates the top 50 from the rest of the 244 companies and organisations who took part. The biggest difference is how:

  • Complaints are dealt with.
  • Telephone experiences are handled.

For example:

  • 85.6% (on average) of customers said their experience was right first time with the top 5. This figure reduces to 76.5% (on average) with the rest.
  • When using the telephone the competence of employees rated 8.4 out of 10 on average in the top 50 compared to only 7.6 on average with the rest.

So what does the UKCSI say about increasing employee engagement. Here are the report’s top 6 recommendations:

  1. Bring your company’s or organisation’s vision and values to life.
  2. Acknowledge the critical role of first line managers and equip them accordingly.
  3. Have authentic, regular and relevant communication.
  4. Provide genuine opportunities for employee voice.
  5. Enable and develop all employees.
  6. Provide recognition across the board.

If you are a business leader or an HR manager who would like to learn more about how employee engagement impacts customer service then why not attend our free seminar in Northampton on 21 March 2017. Click here for details.

For a copy of the UKCSI report please contact Institute of Customer Service our ourselves at www.beyondtheory.co.uk/contact

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The Science of Persuasion

Paul Beesley : January 29, 2017 2:32 pm : Blog, Customer Service, Employee Engagement, Leadership

Influencing others is essential in business. Whether in sales, design, management or anything else how we persuade others is key to our success.  So is persuading others an art or a science?

Life is a negotiation. We can rarely, if ever, succeed by ourselves. Therefore it’s very important to understand the science of persuasion. Only then can we practice it so it then becomes an art form.

I have always been struck by the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini. His views on the science of persuasion are well respected but not always that well known. He has studied what works and what does not work in influencing others. What’s more is that Cialdini’s work is ethical and low cost.  Take a look at this short video and see what work’s for you:

Here’s a summary of what I took from the video:

PrincipleDescription Application 
Reciprocity:People repay in kindGive something (eg an idea or maybe just a welcome) so that you can receive
Liking: People like those who like themUncover real similarities and offer genuine praise
Social Proof (or referred to as Consensus in the video):People follow the lead of othersSay how others are sharing your views or using your services
Consistency:People align with their stated commitmentsGet others to make their commitments publicly
Authority:People defer to expert opinionMake sure other’s know your expertise – don’t assume they do
Scarcity :People want more of what they can have less ofHighlight your unique benefits and how they can miss out


Here’s an idea to help  you turn these idea into an art. Next time you’re watching TV then resist the temptation to skip through the advertisements. Instead treat them as an opportunity to spot which elements of the science of persuasion are being used by the advertisers on you. Keep a score of what works and what doesn’t. Then begin to plan how you can use the science of persuasion on others. The science really does work.

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How to make your New Year resolutions happen

Paul Beesley : December 31, 2016 1:41 pm : Blog, Leadership

Goal setting image Happy New Year! And welcome to the season for New Year resolutions. I expect that my local gym will be full and that lots of people will be watching not only their portion size but what’s in their portions too. Until at least February… Apparently most New Year resolutions fail to go beyond even the first two weeks of January.

So why do so many promises to ourselves fail?  One cause may well be the language we use when setting our resolution. Forget setting SMART objectives – these were designed for project milestones to be achieved rather than the motivational goals that your New Year resolution deserves. Instead, I recommend that you follow our simple yet effective method of setting a well-formed outcome – lots of positive language and focus but definitely no Gantt charts!

  • State your goal in the positive. For example avoid using phrases such as I want to lose weight. This will only remind you of your negative situation. Instead use words and phrases such as I will become fitter, I will run a 5k race by….
  • Make sure the goal is in your control. This will avoid you setting yourself up to fail. After all, you can only have influence over a goal that you’re in control of.
  • Describe when you will know when you have achieved your goal. Ask yourself what you will see, hear and feel when you have succeeded. Imagine yourself having completed your goal and pay attention to the sensations you experience. These will become psychological anchors for you to focus on. For example, imagine yourself being fitter and how this will manifest itself.  This can be an image, a sound or a feeling – or even a combination.
  • Make sure the goal is clearly defined. Short statements work best. Use clear and positive language. Write your goal down and display it so it remains in your focus.
  • Confirm you have the resources to achieve. These may be physical items (such as the right running gear) but can also be the emotional support of those around you. Positive encouragement will help you create that important feel good factor that will help progress take place.
  • Take an ecology check. Ask yourself, “Do I really want this?” This will make sure that your goal sits comfortably with your own personal vision and values. This will be critical to keeping up your motivation. If you don’t believe or really want the change then it will never happen.   
  • Identify the first step to take and when. Make a public commitment. The science of persuasion (ref: Dr Robert Cialdini) tells us that we are more likely to fulfil a commitment if we tell others what we are going to achieve. Also, look for a quick win to make progress and increase sustain your motivation.

These simple steps do not apply only to New Year resolutions. They also apply to any personal change that we want to make at any time. Change is for the better. We just need to make sure that it happens.

Paul Beesley, senior consultant, Beyond Theory

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