Whose Team Do Your Employees Play For?

Do you sometimes wonder, after one of ‘those’ meetings, whether your business colleagues are ‘playing for the same team’? Well, you are not alone. And the problem is serious.

You may have read, or at least heard about, Steven Covey’s book ‘The 8th Habit”. In it he describes the results of a poll of 23,000 employees from a number of companies and industries. It makes sobering reading. I quote:

“Only 37% say they have a clear understanding of what their organisation is trying to achieve and why.”

“Only one in five said they had a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their team and organisational goals.”

There’s more, but that’s enough to make the point. However, I’d like you not only to nod your head and say internally “that’s interesting”. I’d like you to do something about it in your company or team, whatever is the scope that you can influence. So I’ll quote a bit further. Here is the picture where he draws a memorable parallel between your work team and your sports team.

Imagine you have been picked for a soccer team. You and ten others, all jogging out onto the pitch for a match. Once on the pitch you discover that:

1.       Only three of your team mates know which is their goal.

2.       Only one other person (besides you, obviously) knows what position they are playing in and exactly what they should do in that position.

So, having discovered that, do you think your team would win? In all probability, not a chance. But that’s the translation of those bald statistics applied to business.

And do not forget – you did not get picked for the company you are with, you joined up voluntarily in the first place. You have placed your future, and that of your family and dependents, in the hands of your work colleagues. It’s up to you to make that work as best you can from all points of view.

Going back to the picture, that’s one key reason why business sometimes seems so hard. If your team do not know their goals intimately and exactly, how can you expect them to do the right thing? If they do not understand how your team’s efforts fit into the overall goals of the company, how can you expect them to understand their role and, crucially, cooperate effectively with colleagues elsewhere to deliver the corporate goals? How can you delegate activities, let alone authority, with confidence when there is an absence of crystal clear understanding of ‘how we do business round here’?

At the employee and management level, unless you are real ‘front line’, it’s easy to forget that the entire purpose of a commercial organisation is to serve the needs of its present and future customers. For without those customers there is no lifeblood for the organisation. So the Top Team need to understand clearly and regularly how this customer centric message they are sending is getting through, how it is perceived (and acted on) by customers, and how it affects what happens internally as well. Clear, forward looking measurements are needed.

Ones that lead to Action This Day.

Discover more information about how to make Customer Engagement and its measurement work for your business by clicking this link to =>>  http://www.tripleic.com now.

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What is Customer Engagement?

Customer Engagement is a bit like beauty. You can tell when someone or something has it, but it is still very difficult to describe, and almost impossible to measure. But this is business, and Customer Engagement is an important business drive, so try we must.

One way of defining it is to say that Customer Engagement is that relationship a company has with its customers that transcends the sales transaction. It’s an emotional bond whereby the customer demonstrates a real concerned to see the company do well in preference to others, and is prepared to assist in that process.

Another way is to look at what it is not.

It is not ‘Customer Satisfaction’. With satisfaction the company has met the customer’s needs at a base level. What was promised was delivered, job done. But no relationship has been built.

It is not ‘Customer Delight’. With delight the company has exceeded the customer’s expectations, delivering greater value than expected. This is not engagement, but can be a strong contributory factor towards it.

It is not even ‘Customer Loyalty’. As normally measured loyalty is defined in terms of repeat purchase patterns. Again, the relationship element can be missing, or poorly developed.

No, customer engagement is an emotional bond formed between members of the company and the individual customer. Remember the cult 60’s TV programme ‘The Prisoner’ and its cry of “I am not a number, I am a free man!”? Beware the tyranny of the CRM (Customer Records Management) system.

Why is Customer Engagement important?

It’s all down to the behaviour shown by engaged customers.

#       They will recommend your company to friends and colleagues

#       They purchase from you almost exclusively

#       They offer feedback about your performance

#       They know how you operate and so are less expensive to service.

In short – if you have good Customer Engagement then you have a loyal band of customers who cost you less to service and who will go in to bat for you so helping to assure your company’s future.

How can I measure my Customers’ Engagement?

Customer Engagement has always been very difficult to measure. Traditional customer surveys don’t cut it. They can measure the practicalities, but not the ongoing relationship.

Focus groups get a long way. But they are expensive, and can only cover a small portion of your customer base.

Also, a simple measurement by itself is not enough. What use is a single number? It can tell you where you stand, and even measure progress (or decline) from one period to another, but you need information that tells you what you are doing well (so you can reinforce it) and what you are doing badly (so you can stop doing it or improve it).

Characteristics of a good Customer Engagement measurement system

When seeking a means of measuring your Customer Engagement there are several characteristics you should look out for.

1.       Obtain results from a large proportion of your customers. You don’t only want to hear from the good ones, because you can learn some serious lessons from the poor customers too.

2.       Be ‘light touch’, that is it should be easy to run, impinge little on day to day activities, divert relatively little of your daily activity from delivering good customer service.

3.       A company and system that recognises that any changes will be driven from the top. The method chosen must be acceptable to the Top Team so the results will provoke action, and attract the necessary resources.

4.       Good supporting analysis delivered in a clear fashion. Complex graphs lead to finger pointing and ‘I reckon’ at the debrief. Clear analysis and well identified action points lead to consensus round the table and positive change.

5.       Provide the opportunity to reinforce your Customer Engagement. Feedback to those who participated will help your whole engagement strategy along.

Whatever method you choose, do not delay – the longer you wait the more you will have good customers slipping away from you.

Discover more information about how to make Customer Engagement and its measurement work for your business by clicking this link to =>>  http://www.tripleic.com now.

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Why Do Clever Sales Managers Loose So Many Customers?

At a time when many businesses are fighting to keep themselves running why is it that so many customers are expensively ‘lost’ each year?

This thought is prompted by the recent study completed by Professor Merlin Stone of Oxford Brookes University which reports that over 20 million customers switched brands or suppliers last year costing business lost income of almost £4 billion. (Source: Sunday Times)

Poor service costs

Looking behind the figures at the reasons it is salutary to note that, although price figures significantly, 20% of the defections were as a direct result of poor service. If you consider other research which has show that good customer service, and its development into customer engagement, can overcome many price differences, then it seems likely that up to half of the loss (£3 billion) is as a result of organisations’ leaders failing to understand the importance of building a culture that shows respect for their customers. This finding is directly in line with that of the Economist Intelligence Unit report of last year.

With so many price comparison websites in a variety of business areas customers see it as easy to switch. So much so that TV adverts from major suppliers are now fighting back with exclusive offers that are not on the comparison sites. All that does is to stoke up the expectation that switching will lead to a better (lower priced) deal.

Case study

Let’s look at a simple example. Many of us have cars to insure, a task that, barring incident, comes around annually. In my personal experience there are now four companies who know when mine is due and letters start arriving about four to six weeks before that date. My actual renewal arrives some three weeks before the date and contains the renewal details. Nothing else.

During the previous 12 months I have heard nothing from my insurer or the broker. Where is the incentive for me to remain with that same broker and company other than price? No connection, other than the collection of my premium and the delivery of paperwork has been made, no knowledge of my needs or indication of a desire to provide a service. No reminder of the ability to call on a great service should I need it.

Insurance is all about covering risk (which hopefully never occurs), and being assured that, should an insured event occur, I will be looked after appropriately. If I had been contacted with some evidence that this was the case then I’d be far less inclined to look elsewhere.

Why don’t insurance companies do this? I’m at a loss to understand it, the arguments in favour of doing it are immense. Let’s look at just two.

Cost of switching – Every time a company (broker or insurer) takes on a new customer there is a significant start up cost. The sale takes longer, tying up an expensive sales agent – hence the move to (impersonal) DIY on line sales. A new account has to be set up, checks carried out, approvals sought, all tying up resources and generating cost. These costs are so significant, when compared to the first year’s premium, that it would be surprising if the company generated any positive income from the first year, especially in a market where price comparison is so prevalent. Customers also have a cost to bear as their insurance history is shared and a serial switcher will not be viewed in as favourable a light.

Benefit of staying – When a customer stays with you, then you have the opportunity to consolidate the relationship and turn it into a long running one with benefits for both sides. For the insurer there can be greater income from upsells such as insuring other family cars, adding caravan insurance, upgrading the insured coverage to a premium service amongst other possibilities. But these will only work if your customer is engaged with you and trusts you. Before upselling can be successful you have to show that you understand and respect your customer and that their wellbeing is at the heart of your core operation – demonstrated through personalised customer service and good information.

So, where do you and your organisation stand?

When did you last assess your company’s level of customer engagement? When was this the main item at your board and operations review meetings rather than this quarter’s sales figures? There’s plenty of evidence to show that, by following the path of engagement, by building a process into your cultural DNA that listens to customers and making it a prominent feature of all reviews then you can improve your customer retention and sales figures – and all at lower cost. Truly a win-win.

Discover more information about how to make Customer Engagement and its measurement work for your business by clicking this link to =>>  http://www.tripleic.com now.

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What is it about football?

I confess, I hate football. I am immediately bored when it is on the news (I always seem to tune in just in time for it) but this week, the coverage of the ‘arry trial and the dismissal of John Terry by the FA, undermining the manager, has caught my eye.

I am astonished by the inability of HMRC to come up with a better target than an apparently very popular football manager and his multi-millionaire former boss, suggest an avoidance of tax which, in their terms was peanuts. HMRC have made monkeys of themselves!

I am equally astonished at the actions of the FA. Surely, if a manager is to manage a team, he has responsibility for all the aspects of the team – including the captaincy. Dismissing the captain should have been his job, and for the FA to go over his head would, if the FA were a business, give the manager a pretty strong case for constructive dismissal!

Thinking about football from a business perspective, how is it that senior managers in banks, and in other professions, are being pilloried for excessive pay while footballers, their managers, their agents and who knows else are making even more exorbitant sums as “entertainers” (I don’t like football, so they don’t entertain me)

How does the argument “It’s an international sport, we have to pay that much” hold true for football but is sneered at in business?

At least the bankers are in the real world…some of them may even have employed some people, or saved a few jobs by rescuing a business…look at how Mitt Romney is being attacked in the US for his time at Bain Capital, where I am sure some jobs were lost but I’d bet many more were saved or created by successful businesses.

One of my clients told me just the other day that he is taking it a bit easier, now that he has reached 60

“I’ve taken some business risks over the years and overall they have paid off – although some better than others of course – and at least I can claim to have created or saved a few hundred jobs in numerous activities along the way !”

So please explain to me why a footballer should be worth so much money?  My client worked hard all his life and I suspect even in semi-retirement he will be working harder than most. I know which I value more!

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Employment Law Roundup

Employment law is always being updated and changed, and the last year is no exception, so there is the opportunity to review existing practices. We have also added some thoughts about exit planning and highlight the leadership and management grant, which is again available to companies in the SME sector.

Jane Domhill

This article is provided by The Human Resource Centre, a team of highly experienced HR consultants based in the Thames Valley
For further information please contact Jane Domhill or visit www.thehrc.co.uk

Retirement Age
Effective April 2011, there is no statutory retirement age, which means that clauses in contracts or handbooks are now unlawful. Beyond the cosmetic change, there are implications for employers faced with employees approaching retirement age assuming either party wants to continue the employment relationship.

Managing performance will be a key part but will be discriminatory if only applied to older workers. If you employ people through agency agreements, the financial implications of recruiting older workers can be substantial (in terms of having to pay on-going commissions after ‘retirement’) so agency agreements should be checked to reduce this risk.

If you want to talk through how to manage an older worker or how to introduce and ensure your performance management is not discriminatory, please click here

Agency Workers
From 1st October 2011, temporary agency workers have increased rights to bring this
category of worker into line with their full time equivalents.

In practical terms, during their first 12 weeks of employment they are now entitled to equal access to any canteen facilities, existing childcare arrangements, company provided transport facilities and any vacancies which may arise whilst working for
you.

The new regulations do not apply to workers you use through any outsourcing arrangement or consultants employed through personal service companies.
After 12 weeks in a placement, agency workers are then entitled to ‘equal treatment’ in terms of holiday and salary (including overtime and any bonus which is directly related to the individual such as sales commission or piece work) as an internal person assuming the role is the same.

Leadership and Management Grant
This match funded training grant (of up to £1,000) is again available although the criteria have been tightened up reflecting budget cuts but also a focus by the government on higher growth, to support employment generating companies. Higher growth means those businesses which have the potential to increase turnover, or employment, by 20% each year for 3 years, with a business plan to support this.

New businesses with potential to reach £0.5m turnover within 3 years are also
eligible. Within the London boroughs, we have been using this grant to work with MDs and Directors in developing their strategy, work out development plans for key staff to enable the MD to exit, and prepare a growth plan for a MD looking to expand his business through external funding.

It can also be used with more junior employees to subsidise training events in company.

Social Networking
In marketing terms this has become a new channel to market in particular in the B2C
market. Employers have expressed concerns about being able to manage their brand when employees might say things out there that they later regret. It is very similar to the impact that emails had when they became the way of doing business.

So it is worth checking your IT, bullying and harassment, and disciplinary policies to make sure any abuse using social media is covered.

Bribery Act
At the third attempt, this became law on 1st July 2011 and may affect the way you do
business with customers and clients. Corporate hospitality is still acceptable as long
as it is proportionate. Essentially the law now makes Directors liable to unlimited fines and/or custodial sentences (up to 10 years) if either they or their employees are found giving, offering or accepting bribes in the normal course of business.

The first case has already been through the courts where a public official took a kickback at work to waive a traffic penalty. This incident seems pretty straightforward and clear cut.

In our experience, this is not likely to significantly affect our clients yet, again, it may
be worth reviewing your policies and procedures regarding expenses, giving and
receiving gifts and where you use agents ensure they also comply with your policies.

Exit Planning
We came across a statistic recently, which said that only 8% of businesses sold met or
exceeded the owner’s aspirations. Part of the reason for this was because potential buyers were not convinced the staff would stay, or that much of the value lay in the
MD and his or her management team and there were no guarantees that they were
locked in.

Talking to experts in the field they say that exit planning should start 3-5 years before the proposed date of sale to allow time to recruit and embed any gaps that are missing in the management structure, lock in key employees in some sort of efficient share scheme or bonus arrangement, and coach them to take on new responsibilities as well as allowing sufficient time to manage out underperformers.

The MD also needs time to think about his/her own position – whether they want to make a clean break, or whether part of the value of the business is the MD and so coming to terms with what golden handcuffs are required over what period.

Whether the long-term economic prognosis is such that MD’s are bringing their retirement plans forward or it is just an indication that we are all getting older, we suggest that there is no time like now if you are contemplating
retirement/sale.

Minimum Wage
From 1st October 2011, the national minimum wage increases to £6.08 per hour. The
apprentice rate rises to £2.60 per hour. There has been much talk in the press about the use of interns and whether they are getting work experience or doing a real job and therefore whether an intern should be paid.

STOP PRESS
The government is planning to introduce fees for bringing tribunal claims possibly £250 when lodging an ET1 form (to be refunded if the claimant wins) and is considering increasing the unfair dismissal qualifying period from one to two years continuous service.

About the Author: Jane Domhill  is a certified Coach, Master Mentor, and qualified in the use of psychometric assessment and testing materials and tools for use in team building, recruitment and understanding working styles and behaviours.

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Motivating People

Many businesses pay lip service to employee motivational schemes. We are all different, have different needs, wants and desires, yet bonus and reward schemes treat us all the same.

How often have you seen a company wide bonus scheme really work to motivate and incentivise an individual?  Many times I have seen the opposite effect, where the bonus was a little less than expected and the negative impact is dramatic. If there is anyone not pulling their weight and they get the bonus too, how does that encourage the harder workers?

Bonuses are often seen as fair reward for average performance. That’s not what was intended, but it is the way things end up. In the city, you’ll see guaranteed bonuses for bankers – how does that work as a motivational tool?

We want to encourage and reward exceptional performance!

Treat people as the individuals they are, recognise and reward their performance and you’ll be a long way down the road to having a great team.

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Not Sir Fred anymore

Well, Sir Fred Goodwin has been stripped of his knighthood, and banned by the FSA from holding a senior banking position in the UK.

Is the FSA action a good thing? To me it smacks of bolting the stable door long after the horse has bolted. Do we really think a serious bank would risk the adverse publicity of hiring Sir Fred?

Just what does taking away the knighthood say about us? Why was he given one in the first place is perhaps a  better question – I believe it was awarded for “services to banking” which I thought was his job and what he got paid for!

How is it that the regulators, who were supposed to be watching out for our (taxpayers) interests, seem to have escaped the public humiliation visited upon the bankers? Weren’t they at fault?

I’ve said many times and I still believe the single decision with the most adverse consequences was the decision to let Lehman fail. That destroyed confidence in the banking system and the effects are plain for all to see – even at this remove. Who paid the price of that decision? All of us still are, but those responsible?

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