3 Real stories - how customer service training can help your organisation!

Story One

Having been asked to choose which one of my two existing stationary suppliers to give all our orders to, I called to chat to them about this. During both calls we chatted about my children going on holiday together briefly before discussing my needs at length.

In response to this, one of them sent a lovely email mentioning that she hoped my children would have a great holiday, together with a standard quote offering an additional 5% discount.

The other one emailed a standard quote with an additional 5% discount. Doh!

Who do you think I spent my £3,750 a year with over the next seven years - a total of £26,250?

Customer service training would have helped the other sales person to have the personal touch too and she might not have lost £26,250.

Story Two

A member of a sales team sent information to a customer, followed up with an email, then a phone call, then a visit, then another email before getting a £3,200 order.

This took a lot of time and effort but now he had another customer on his books who would hopefully go on to make repeat orders requiring much less time and effort and therefore being much more profitable.

Two weeks later when the invoice came through, the customer didn’t understand something and so he called the accounts department for clarification. He spoke to an efficient, rather abrupt woman who was more concerned with numbers than with people. After all, as she often said to her colleagues ‘I don’t work in sales’. Doh!

After feeling that the staff weren’t all that helpful he placed his next order with another company.

Guess who was costing the organisation £1,000s without anyone really understanding how or why?

Customer service training for the person in the accounts department would have stopped that hard won customer being lost.

Story Three

A friend of mine had a hall, stairs and landing carpet fitted costing £1,100. It looked fab. The carpet fitter was very good at fitting carpets and a quick worker but he didn’t apologise for being late on the first day, didn’t put all the loose odds and ends in a bag and was unnecessarily scruffy. Doh!

Guess who my friend didn’t call six months later when she needed a new bedroom carpet? Will that company ever know that they just lost £600 due to the behaviour of one of their most experienced and skilled carpet fitters?

Customer service training would have given that carpet fitter the awareness to be very courteous in someone else’s house and he would not have lost the business £600

Posted on September 11, 2018 and filed under Customer Care.

Fifteen great training tips for writing good emails

In a recent article I mentioned the poor quality of emails thirteen years ago.  Things have got a lot worse since then as people use email even more now which makes training in writing emails very important.  Most companies use email to communicate with their customers, yet most companies don’t train their staff to do it!

Many staff who in past years would have perfectly good conversations on the phone are now having to write emails instead.  It’s also worth remembering that an email is, after all, an electronic letter and should follow most of the conventions of letter writing which many people have forgotten, if they ever knew them in the first place.  

Training in writing emails gives staff at all levels the confidence to write really professional, warm, well laid out accurate emails.  For many customers their only impression of the company will be from the quality of the email and if an email is badly spelt, poorly laid out or sloppy in any way, it will lose the company sales.

Remember that every email is an advert for your company so make sure it’s a good one by using the following hints and tips:

  1. Have a relevant subject in the subject line so it can easily be found
  2. Use a salutation e.g. Dear or Hi (unless you’re in a live email conversation)
  3. Use the correctly spelt name e.g. Sarah not Sara
  4. Leave a line of space before going into the main details
  5. Don’t put whole words in capitals, it gives the impression of SHOUTING
  6. Have an average of 20 words per sentence
  7. Have an average of 3 lines of text per paragraph
  8. Don’t have indentations in your paragraphs
  9. Use a line of space between each paragraph
  10. Use the correct grammar
  11. Use the correct spellings
  12. Punctuate well
  13. Have a sign off e.g.  Many thanks
  14. Always type your name even if you have an email signature (after all you would always sign a letter even if your name was typed)
  15. Have a great email signature with your name, position if relevant, company name, what the company does, web address, landline numbers, phone numbers and LinkedIn link where relevant (as people often look at an email to find out how to contact you again)

If you and all your colleagues, staff and managers are trained to write really good emails then your relationships with your customers will improve, your reputation will be enhanced, and most importantly, your profits will increase.  

Posted on May 11, 2017 and filed under Staff Training.

So who are your customers, and who works in customer service?

That question is not as daft as it seems.  Obviously the people who pay for our products and services are our paying customers but the following two categories are customers too:

1.    Anyone who passes the shop, hears us on the phone, sees the way we interact, supplies us with their own products and services, or meets us at an event is a potential customer.

2.    Anyone we work with by giving them information, advice, or any type of service from lunch in the staff canteen to a brief at a management meeting is an internal customer. This could be our colleague, our manager or our member of staff.

Customer service training is a really effective way of ensuring that everyone who works with your customers understands this wider definition.   If you develop a culture of treating everyone as a customer albeit it in slightly different ways, this will be very noticeable to anyone who comes into contact with you and your company.  That will translate into more business, more recommendations, less complaints and more profit.

Many people don’t have customer service training because their organisation doesn’t realise that they work in customer service, yet customer service training is a more effective way of creating more business than sales and marketing.  This is because it costs on average five times more to attract a new customer than it does to look after an existing customer really well.

So many organisations have a sales budget, a marketing budget, an advertising budget but no customer service training budget.  It’s daft!  It doesn’t make good business sense.

So who does work in customer service?

  •  The doctor who examines your throat
  • The bin man from the council who empties the bins
  • The new starter who answers the phone
  • The woman in the accounts department
  • The girl who drives the delivery van

I’m sure you would agree - everyone who has anything to do with representing your organisation in any way works in customer care and is responsible for generating profit.  

Posted on November 18, 2016 and filed under Customer Care.

Yet more quotes about customer service

I just love it when someone manages to crystallise your thoughts into a few well chosen words. Here are some great examples:

Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game.  Service wins the game.

This is a great quote because it reminds us that price and quality will bring a customer to your business but it’s the customer service that keeps them coming back for more.  Despite this simple concept many companies don’t invest in customer service training, yet it’s one of the least expensive ways of ensuring repeat business and referrals.

People expect good service but few are willing to give it.

This quote reminds me of a time I was waiting in the queue in a smart but untidy waiting room of a private dentist listening to two of the staff moaning about the poor service they had received in a clothes shop.  I don’t think they were aware of the irony, and they probably never noticed that I never went back for the £2,400 dental implant that I was quoted for.  I went somewhere else with a better atmosphere.  I’ve no idea whether the dental work was better or not, but the overall impression certainly was.  The staff may well have been trained to use phones and computers, but they did not appear to have had customer service training.  

Here is a simple but powerful rule - always give people more than what they expect to get.

I really should remind myself of this more often as it’s so powerful.  If you say you are going to get back to someone tomorrow and you get back to them today, they are really impressed and they remember that feeling.  A little bit extra makes a massive difference.  I’ve seen bike shops give out energy bars to customers costing about 15p at trade price.  Because of this small gesture their potential customers were so delighted, they bought a £1,435 bike there rather than buying exactly the same bike at a competitors.  

Posted on October 20, 2016 and filed under Customer Care.

My favourite quotes about customer service

The people who wrote these quotes may not have worked in customer service training, but they certainly understood its importance.  Which is your favourite quote?  Mine’s this first one by Sam Walton.

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” SAM WALTON

This is a great reminder that the customer is the most important person we interact with, whatever level we are at.  It doesn’t mean they are always right but they should always be treated with respect, even when they don’t deserve it.

“It’s all to do with training.  You can do a lot if you’re properly trained”  QUEEN ELIZABETH II

I’m guessing our Queen (and I’m not a loyalist) has had loads of customer service training.  It just won’t have been called that.  She will have been trained in public speaking, understanding politics, understanding cultural differences so she that she can present the best version of herself and the monarchy to her subjects, aka her customers, lest we overthrown her!

Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it.  It is what the client or customer gets out of it. PETER DRUCKER 

Peter Drucker is always good value reading and he is a massive exponent of the commercial value of customer service training.  A quote like this reminds me that quality is in the eye of the beholder, after all with a gazillion Mc Donald’s purchases every year, they must really have their quality sorted.  They consistently deliver their popular product at the right time, in the right way, the same way, practically every single time.

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends. WALT DISNEY

I particularly like this quote because it reminds me of the importance of repeat business and word of mouth.  The most profitable films are the ones that people love so much, they want other people to share the experience.  Customer service training, can help your teams make each interaction such a nice one, that your customers will go out and talk about how good you are, and do your advertising for you.

Posted on September 26, 2016 and filed under Customer Care.

Management training and the growth accelerator fund

Although many grants have been cut, there is a new stream of funding available for management training from the Growth Accelerator fund.  The Growth Accelerator fund is a government fund set aside to help businesses grow through expert business coaching and training.  If you join Growth Accelerator for business coaching then you are entitled to apply for a management training grant.  Training Works is one of the training providers working with Growth Accelerator.

What size grant can I get?
You can apply for up to £2,000 per senior manager (or manager involved in managing at a strategic level) as long as you match it with funding from your organisation.  There is no ceiling as long as you match the investment with your own 50%.

Example:  If you have 3 managers and you want a £1,000 grant for each of them, then you will get a £3,000 grant, and you will need to contribute £3,000 from your organisation. That would give you £6,000 for management training. 

Typically, £6,000 will pay for eight days of tailor made training relevant to your organisation.  Other managers from your organisation can attend this training along with the managers who have received the grant.  This makes it a great time to go ahead with management training.  For example you could put 7 managers through eight days training relevant to improving the profitability of your organisation at a total cost to you of just £3,000.

There is also a highly subsidised, one off charge for accessing the coaching programme.  See below for details.

What can I use it for?
The training you apply for, must help to develop your businesses’ management skills.  It can’t be used for statutory training or mandatory training.  You may know what you need or you might want to talk to us so we can help you work out what’s best for your organisation.  This might include:

  • Time management
  • Setting objectives
  • Writing reports
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Influencing and negotiating
  • Managing change
  • Managing customer care 
  • Understanding customers
  • Understanding quality
  • Building the team
  • Delegation
  • Planning your staffs’ development
  • Coaching
  • Training
  • Induction
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Maintaining discipline
  • Handling conflict
  • Presentation skills
  • Managing meetings
  • Written communication (inc. letters and emails)
  • One to one communication
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Managing performance
  • Appraisal skills
  • Managing absence

What's the criteria?
In order to qualify for the funding, you must first meet the following criteria:

  • You, and the company you work for are based in England
  • Your company has between 2 and 249 employees
  • You turn over less than £40m
  • You should have the potential for rapid, sustained growth
  • You will be able to work with an experienced business coach from Growth Accelerator.  There is a one off charge for long term coaching, which is significantly subsidised by the government, as follows:

Micro and start up businesses (up to 9 employees) - £600
Small business (10 to 49 employees) - £1,500
Medium sized companies (50 to 249 employees) - £3,000

So, in summary:
1.  Find out if Growth Accelerator is right for you
2.  Join the programme and have a business coach assigned
3.  Access the management training grants

If you meet the criteria, and you want to grow your business with the help of coaching and training, then to register an interest please email enquiries@trainingworksuk.co.uk   Just ask us for an initial telephone appointment to discuss what’s best for your business and include the following details:

1.  Your name
2.  Your telephone number 
3.  Any other information you feel may be helpful (not essential)


Posted on July 25, 2012 and filed under Management Training.

Who works in customer care?

If you asked most organisations about the level of customer care in their organisation, they would say it was very good, but how do they know that, and do they even know what very good means?

In most cases, staff and managers are not trained in customer care, whether that is telephone work, writing emails, managing relationships and so on.  They are just left to get on with it.  This means that they will not be as good as they should be, which means their organisation will be losing repeat business.  So - these organisations are losing hundreds and thousands of pounds.  No question!

Posted on July 4, 2012 and filed under Customer Care.

A costly case study

Have a look at this ‘day in the life’ of a man who thinks he’s OK at customer care and see if you can spot the 11 mistakes?  Make a note of them on a separate piece of paper

Mike is a delivery man for one of the big supermarkets.  He’s a good driver, and he likes his job and the people he works with.

He sets off for work at 8a.m. as usual and clocks in at the depot by 8.30am – his usual start time.  The woman on the front desk seems a bit grumpy today so he doesn’t smile at her as he takes the delivery schedule off her.

He checks the order thoroughly and plans his route to make the most of his time during the day.  He then checks every order with his colleagues as they are loaded onto the van.  He knows that accuracy is important and mistakes waste time.  Since he is loading fruit, veg and other food produce into the van he makes certain that the inside is clean but doesn’t worry about the outside as that doesn’t affect the food.

Some yoghurt spills onto his uniform but he sponges it off so it doesn’t look too bad.  As long as the food is good and the orders are accurate – that’s what counts.

Posted on June 13, 2012 and filed under Customer Care.