Tag: customer service

When did you last review your end-to-end operations and really assess how generous you are as a business? Likely never.

Generosity is an essential factor that determines the type of attachment people have to your business – and whether they’ll feel a sense of connection with you both now and into the future. It relates to not only your external relationships with clients, but equally to the relationships you are creating with your staff. Generosity begins at home, or in this case, in the business.

Today I’ve covered some of the ways you can demonstrate this culture of generosity – and why it makes good business sense to do so.

Caring for your team
You’ve no doubt heard the saying “charity begins at home”. The same applies to your business. Ask yourself: When was the last time I sat down with key members of my team and assessed how generous we are with our staff? You probably haven’t, after all you pay them, so what more do they want? As disturbing as this outdated thinking is, there are plenty of organisations that take this view to their detriment. As American leadership author Jon Gordon says, “Great leaders don’t succeed because they are great. They succeed because they bring out the greatness in others.” The same can be said of companies.

It’s likely that one of your business’ values is care for your customers. This care also must extend to your team. As marketing strategist Leo J. Bogee III advises, “Give value, give opportunities, give satisfaction, give praise, give encouragement, give joy. You’ll be shocked at the bounty that returns.” Check out my recent post on improving staff buy-in for examples of ways to show you care about your team.

The value of giving back
While caring for your team will yield happier, harder working employees, it is giving back to your customers that will generate sales and create loyal customers. Whether it’s a simple handwritten thank you note, a birthday voucher thanking your customer for their patronage, an invitation allowing them to sample a product with no strings attached, or something more elaborate, ensuring your customer feels valued is key.

According to Gartner Inc., in only a few years 89 per cent of businesses will compete first and foremost on their service delivery and customer service experience. This means that, increasingly, generosity needs to become a focus. The cardinal rule? Your generosity should always add value to your client’s experience.

Social responsibility
We know that customers are increasingly turning to companies that are good global citizens.  This is particularly true of younger generations. As Jiffy Junk LCC Managing Member Adam Butler asserts, “As businesses work hard to establish a brand identity, social responsibility and charitable support need to factor into who we say we are.”

When giving back as a company, factor your customers into your decision making. Engage your clients in a conversation to identify what social responsibility means to them, and who and what causes you should be giving to. Remember, it is never about you! Matching funds giving – where businesses match individuals’ donations – is one successful strategy that promotes giving among consumers, and highlights a culture of businesses giving back.

The power of generosity
A culture of generosity through giving back to the community and consumers can help to set your business apart, and also demonstrates the power of gratitude. One guiding rule? Ensure that what you are giving is appropriate and fits with your brand. For example, if you are a premium brand, value-adds and gifts should reflect this.

Some companies foster a culture of giving through subsidised volunteer hours for their employees. Nonprofits Source found that in the United States 60 per cent of the companies they surveyed offered paid time off for employees who volunteered with non-profits. They also found that employees who volunteered during work hours also felt a greater sense of loyalty to their employer, and developed leadership skills in the process.

Setting yourself apart
I recently wrote about my time working at The Body Shop, and the lessons I learnt from Dame Anita Roddick. The company fostered a culture of care and giving that hasn’t really been replicated on this scale since. However this culture of care and activism was a significant driver for many consumers that really set the brand apart.

Depending on your brand and clients, this culture of generosity can be represented in a variety of ways. It could be through extra product, value-adds such as free workshops, or the opportunity to try a limited release product before it launches to the market. It could be flexibility in how you deliver a service, or an invitation to a special networking event. You don’t need to spend a lot of money; what you give just needs to be seen as useful to your client.

Remember that the relationships we have with our staff and clients are like our personal relationships. If they are not nurtured and prioritised, people tend to look elsewhere. Good, loyal customers can be hard to find, so make generosity a priority for you in 2019 and beyond. Happy giving!

In a pre-online shopping world, and before the Internet was mainstream, the retail sector seemed a much surer bet.

But even then, there were brands that didn’t rest on their laurels.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is The Body Shop. Under the stewardship of founder, Dame Anita Roddick, the company was innovative, and a tad rebellious.

Working for the brand on and off for more than a decade, my work in retail sales evolved into a training and mentoring role with the brand.

In 2003 I spent two years in Ireland developing their flagship store in Dublin, helping to improve outcomes and processes. It was my first foray into learning and development – and a path that Anita herself had influenced me to pursue.

I met Anita on several occasions and found her to be passionate and funny. I remember talking to her when I was at a career crossroads myself after starting a degree in Management, and finding it wasn’t the right fit.

Her words of wisdom helped bring me clarity, and it was this clarity that set me on a path to study PR and Communications – a fruitful course for me that’s led to my own learning and development business for brands.

There are many lessons I took from these conversations, and my experience working for this iconic brand, but here are a few of my top takeaways. 

Staff buy-in is key
The people on the shop floor, the franchisors and management have the power to shape an international brand’s reality, no matter how good it may be in other countries. The ‘90s and early 2000s felt like a real golden era for The Body Shop in Australia – and it was run very much in the spirit of Anita. She loved seeing what she could create, and having the right people working for her to bring the brand to life. We were proud to work for The Body Shop, and it showed. 

Make it fun
Anita was a fun person who attracted people who were smart and energetic. She led the way by creating an engaging and interactive retail space that changed the way people interacted with cosmetics. Customers could really engage with the products on the shop floor; they could smell and test the products on a large scale, making their shopping experience more fun and interactive.

Show you care
One of the most unique aspects about the brand is its clear social conscience – and its innovative and at times rebellious approach to community work and advocacy over the years. Our team worked on community projects in some pretty out there places! In 1993 I can remember working with people with AIDS at a time when there was still a huge stigma associated with the disease.

The public were looking for ways to get involved in community campaigns – and The Body Shop offered them that opportunity. We ran a lot of campaigns that fit with the brand’s values, such as a campaign to save the Siberian tiger. We sold soaps in the shape of tigers, took donations, and also offered people petitions they could sign. The public were buying our ethical products, but they were also buying into issues that they cared about; it was a feel-good, community experience that hasn’t really been replicated by a brand continuously on the same scale since.

Give people choice
I think choice is another major reason for the brand’s success. The Body Shop have always offered a substantial product selection and a range of size options. The company were also one of the first to offer the option to recycle your products, where you could bring your products back to be refilled. This was another way that The Body Shop showed their commitment to the environment. Good business is about giving people choice.

Great customer service will set your brand apart
While some blame the rise of online shopping for the demise of many businesses in the retail sector, if you have awesome bricks and mortar, I truly believe you can still be successful. Many brands are failing to engage their audience with the sort of humour and imagination that Anita championed. No-one gives money to people – or brands – that don’t make them feel good! Great customer service remains a key part of the story. Working for The Body Shop I learnt a lot about the human race: how to be respectful, how to make people feel comfortable, and how to involve customers with a product. The Body Shop achieved this, and taught me a huge amount about what it means to serve and understand people and communities.

Let your principles shine
Being a principled leader is perhaps one of the most important lessons I took away from meeting Anita, and my time with The Body Shop. Of course, the brand had to make profits, but Anita also asked people what they cared about – and reflected this through the company’s products, campaigns and initiatives. To this day, principles guide me, and the brands I work with too, in part thanks to those early lessons I learnt from Dame Anita Roddick.

 

Feature image: Daily Mail UK