Upon finding myself willingly adding what can only really be described as a bad photo of a senior leader into the header of an email they were going to be sending out, I started questioning my own complicity in allowing this photo suicide to take place alongside an otherwise carefully crafted message.
You see, as a comms manager, part of my role is to ensure that our leaders are presented in the best way. That’s not just in written form but in visual representation too, you know, putting faces to names and making messages more personal in the process.
It was at this juncture that the penny dropped; our management team needed saved from their own photo demise! We needed a photoshoot to get professional headshots done. We needed some sort of credible visual representation of our leaders and these badly cropped photos (was that someone’s ex hanging off their arm?) were not cutting it. We needed JB, is what I concluded.
I’d been on the receiving end of JB’s camera lens before (it’s a very kind and flattering lens, I must add) and knew that she would pitch up, put them all at ease and crack on with taking really good pictures of them all, without so much as a feigned smile or forced grin amongst them.
A natural people person, JB instantly put everyone at ease. Clickity click, click click click and voila! the job was done. The very next day we had all the proofs sent through to view online and choose which ones to get produced in the final hi-res finish. As it happens, the team were struggling to pick which ones they wanted to use – because they were all so good – so JB kindly produced the whole lot in final versions and sent them through.
Upon using one of the new headshot photos in a business email message the following week, the email in question solicited a few comments. None of which were anything to do with the content, but all about this manager’s new headshot photo!
‘Is she a model?’ ‘Wow! What a cracking photo!’ ‘Who’s the photographer? I need one of these!’ were some of the responses it got.
A simple but very effective professional headshot photo can absolutely make or break a communication. So my advice is really straight forward; if you want to be visually represented in the best possible light, literally, then go to JB and let the pro create your show!
These views are all Lorna's own and are in not those of the company she works for. She has also not taken any money or bribes from me!
Time for the third and final part of my article on Customer Service. If you missed part one on Listening or part two on Responding you can catch up using the links.
The final part of this series is to Delight 😍. You’ve listened and responded now to set you apart from the competition you need to DELIGHT your customers.
So how do you delight your customers? What does ‘going the extra mile’ often spouted out by well-meaning training companies mean?
For me it means a few things. Each one alone is maybe okay but put them all together and WOW – Butterscotch Angel Delight with chopped bananas! 🍨
Under promise and over deliver
take my wedding clients, I always manage expectations when I leave the reception that a sneak peek will be on social media in a few days and their online gallery will be available within 4 weeks. Then I work my socks off and get sneak peeks up the day after the wedding, email the new couple a bespoke slideshow and get their gallery delivered in a mobile-friendly format before they get back from their honeymoon. 🏝️
Every client gets a surprise free gift when their images are delivered. I’m not going to tell you what they are here (that would ruin the surprise – doh!) but when they are opened people seem genuinely delighted. Happy customers, happy business owner…result. 🎁
The experience doesn’t end once the customer has paid their money. If you are passionate about your business, care and attention must go into every step of the experience. I want each of my clients to feel special from the moment they look at my beautifully designed website (thank you Kuka Studios); inquire and use my online contract, info, and payment facility (I have invested in a decent software system – thank you Light Blue Software); Preparation guidelines that are thoughtfully written to help clients have the best possible shoot experience; the gorgeous packaging and USB sticks the images are delivered in, and of course the gift and after sales care. 😍
So there you have it, that’s my take on how to give customers great service.
Well hello there, time for part two of my article on Customer Service.
Part one focused on listening (or as one of my former colleagues called it “two ears, one mouth”)! Today I’m focussing on the second of the three things I think are crucial for exceptional customer service – Responding.
What do I mean by ‘Responding”? – Well having listened to what your customers are telling or asking you, how you respond is what they’ll notice next.
A kinda no-brainer, but I’m going to mention it anyway, is responding promptly. Even if it’s just a holding message. We’ve all been infuriated by suppliers who don’t call back or take ages to reply – don’t be like them!
Likewise, do what you promise and keep people informed if it’s going to take a bit longer than you thought.
When responding to customers remembering important details (or better yet little details) they have told you will show them you care (and if you’ve been actively listening and asking clarifying questions, this should be easy😉)
Finally, demonstrate that you love what you do in every interaction with your customers. It’s infectious 😃 On a similar vein, whether it is the first customer of the day or the last – treating them all with the same level of enthusiasm will help them to feel special and believe in you and what you are offering. 😍😍😍
The third and final part on delighting customers will be coming soon.
This is part one of a three-part article on Customer Service. As in great customer service, the sort of service that knocks your socks clean off!
In my previous career in the Financial Services, I was sent on lots of courses about customer service…some good, some bad and some downright ugly! When you work for a large organisation that offers broadly the same services as all its competitors – how you treat your customers can be the one thing that sets you apart from the crowd. As a member of Head Office staff, I often felt very removed from the ‘actual’ customers that we all worked for. Now I run my own business my customer is EVERYTHING!!
In my humble opinion, knock your socks off customer service boils down to three key components; Listen, Respond and Delight. As this article is in three parts (it’s like I planned it!!) I’m going to start with Listening.
Active listening is a skill (those who used to work for me will be rolling their eyes now if they are reading this, as I used to go on about it ALL THE TIME!!). If you are not paying attention to your boss, your significant other, or your kids when they are speaking to you, how are they supposed to take you seriously? How can you expect them to come to you for advice, or to share important stuff? If my customer is telling me about a particular person they want a photograph with at their wedding and I’m not actively listening…I can’t go back and capture that moment at a later date, can I?
Sitting and making eye-contact with the person talking to you is a start, but are you really absorbing what they are saying? More importantly, are you responding in a way that communicates you are actually listening? Okay, it’s true – you are unlikely to care about every conversation someone starts with you…but the point is…whilst the topic being discussed isn’t important to you, IT IS to the person telling you. Active listening shows you care.
Okay, you might be thinking, I’ll nod along or add the odd “I see”, “Mmhmm” or “cool”, that will show I’m listening, right? Well,…they aren’t exactly active phrases. In fact, they are more likely to be interpreted as passive listening and the person will come away thinking you’ve heard them, but probably don’t care. Unlikely to elicit a warm fuzzy feeling from your customer either (at this point their socks are still firmly on!).
Here are some phrases that you can incorporate into conversations to show you are actively listening. Keep them in mind the next time you feel your attention starts to drift, an alert pops up on your phone, or you start thinking ahead to what you’re going to say.
“Do you mean…?”, “I’m not sure I understand.”, or “Could you tell me a bit more about that?” – These types of phrases make sure you are interpreting what the person has said correctly. They also help the person to open up and ensure you get the full story.
“It sounds like…”, “what I’m hearing is…” or “you seem a bit…” – Phrases like these demonstrate empathy and an attempt to interpret the person’s emotions.
“Really?”, “When?”, “How?”, or “You’re kidding.” – This helps to encourage the person speaking to elaborate more.
“I’ve noticed that…” – This shows the person how much attention you’re paying. You’re not just hearing the words they are saying you are seeing the non-verbal communication too.
“Let me make sure I’ve got this right” or “Let’s make sure I’m hearing you correctly” – summarising what you’ve heard so far is a great way to show you’ve been paying attention and to check understanding.
“I’m sorry. That’s awful”, “what a crappy situation to be in”, or “That’s rough. How can I help?” – Here you are acknowledging the person wants a quick pity party before launching straight into advice. You’re pausing to provide empathy and allow the person to work through what is bothering them.
Okay, I’ll stop now as you are probably thinking ‘holy s&it I have enough on my plate without having to do all this guff as well!’. But from a customer’s shoes…I reckon being listened, really listened to must be pretty high up on their socks being knocked off list!
If you want to see if you are a good listener – HubSpot has a great quiz that is a two-minute read, (they also have a much longer, more comprehensive article on Active Listening if you are interested – it’s where I got a lot of my inspiration for this piece from!).
Part two on Responding to customers will be coming soon.