Fo­cus on build­ing a team that knows the im­por­tance of sat­is­fied cus­tomers

Irish Independent - Business Week - - FRONT PAGE -

OF all the cus­tomer ser­vice ini­tia­tives you worked on over the decades, which had the great­est im­pact on cus­tomers?

IN one sense there wasn’t any sin­gle cus­tomer ser­vice ini­tia­tive that was unique in its own right. It was about a cul­ture of putting the cus­tomer first and a com­bi­na­tion of dozens of ini­tia­tives that made us fa­mous.

When I think back from the mo­ment the cus­tomer ar­rived to col­lect their trol­ley and was greeted by the trol­ley host, to when they cut the stalks off their broc­coli with the hand saw pro­vided, to hav­ing the butcher sharpen their do­mes­tic knifes at the counter, to hav­ing their bags packed at the check­outs, with their trol­ley taken to their car with an um­brella over­head when it rained.

It was all about an over­all ex­pe­ri­ence that put the cus­tomer at the cen­tre.

None of that could have been de­liv­ered without our team of staff and for me that was the most suc­cess­ful part, not nec­es­sar­ily the in­di­vid­ual ini­tia­tives.

It was the staff who brought things to life and cre­ated a real sense of en­ergy and pas­sion, so when a cus­tomer en­tered a shop they could feel the ‘ethos’ of the busi­ness.

For that team of staff, it was nat­u­ral for them to put the cus­tomer at the cen­tre of the busi­ness and do the right thing be­cause in­stinc­tively it was part of their pri­or­i­ties.

My ad­vice is not to fo­cus on cus­tomer ini­tia­tives but rather fo­cus on cre­at­ing a highly mo­ti­vated team who un­der­stand the crit­i­cal im­por­tance of sat­is­fied cus­tomers.

OUT of the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of man­ag­ing a busi­ness and the owner’s role, which would you rate as the most im­por­tant?

THE char­ac­ter­is­tics of a suc­cess­ful busi­ness owner are nu­mer­ous but if you an­a­lyse those who have made great strides with their busi­ness, they usu­ally ex­cel in the area of vi­sion and have strong lead­er­ship skills to guide their team and their busi­ness to­wards that vi­sion.

Vi­sion is not nec­es­sar­ily some­thing that is eas­ily de­fined, nor is it some­thing that can be learned from a text­book.

It is that abil­ity of a busi­ness owner to look at the busi­ness in a three-di­men­sional way and iden­tify op­por­tu­nity ar­eas for the fu­ture which will al­low the busi­ness to stand out from its com­peti­tors.

That can only be achieved by an owner who is re­ally close to their busi­ness and their cus­tomers.

In terms of lead­er­ship, you will find that many suc­cess­ful lead­ers are able to trans­late that vi­sion into ac­tions and di­rec­tion which al­lows their team to guide the busi­ness in a par­tic­u­lar di­rec­tion.

These lead­ers are usu­ally charis­matic and have the abil­ity to in­spire those around them to be­come lead­ers in them­selves.

The other com­mon trait you find with en­trepreneurs and suc­cess­ful busi­ness own­ers is that they typ­i­cally don’t con­form.

While the whole in­dus­try might be go­ing in a par­tic­u­lar di­rec­tion, they have the abil­ity to iden­tify rad­i­cal changes and are not afraid to fol­low these new di­rec­tions with en­thu­si­asm.

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