Monday, 19 October 2015

What do you fear for business?

I was at a networking meeting the other week and our host, Mike Stokes, asked us to to share with the group what we fear most. As you would expect heights, spiders, public speaking etc were all mentioned however, when it came to my turn I decided to put across my view on somethinFace2Faceg that really concerns me for the future of business. Communication, verbal communication to be precise, or the lack  of it.

I cited an example of this, which I frequently see when having a coffee or meal in a cafe or restaurant, where couples - I was going to say young here but it now appears to be happening with people of all ages - sitting at the same table and obviously together are using their smart phones to either text or communicate on social media rather than talk to each other (could be that they are texting each other!).
In business the same thing is happening, emails and sms messages, which are essential and necessary in business today to confirm conversations, meetings and pass detailed information etc, are being used used as the first choice of communication with colleagues, existing & potential customers and suppliers, sometimes even in the same office, rather than talking to each other. Now I know that  an excuse used is that they need a paper trail however emails and messages can be misinterpreted, instead why not pick up the phone or meet with the relevant person and have a conversation which you then know that your message has been delivered and helps to build trust.

In sales and customer service 'Trust' is especially important as it is the main reason that customers give when purchasing goods and services or why they stay loyal to a particular supplier.

People buy from people, so encourage the use of verbal communication along with methodologies, to bring out the personality of your business.
Paul is a Business Development Coach & Trainer specialising in High Growth Strategy Planning & Implementation.  Developing Customer Focused Businesses to Deliver Growth.
Call Paul on 01529 413476 - you can even email him ( or send an sms message - to arrange a no obligation review

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Should you value customers who complain?

Should you value customers who complain and are they always right? Well the answer to the first part of the question is a definite "Yes!" 96% of unhappy customers don't complain, they just don't come back and tell anybody who will listen about their bad experience with your business, so value the customers who complain as they  believe that your product or service has not lived up to the promise and they are giving you the opportunity to do something about their concerns and to redeem the situation to the extent that they become raving fans. How you achieve that is another Blog or training programme.

The answer to the second part of the question "are they always right?" is a definite "sometimes but not always!" Should we tell them that they are not always right? NO! Although they may not be correct in their assumptions they are right to expect us to help them and they are right to expect us to listen and discuss their concerns directly with them. So value them and give them your time to address their issues. The outcome will depend on how you handle the complaint but at this stage you are showing that you value their custom and make them feel important to your business. Remember 70% of businesses change their supplier because they don't feel valued!

Paul Clayton is business management & training consultant specialising in creating high performance cultures and helping businesses to grow by improving strategic Sales & Marketing planning, Customer Experience Management (CEM) and communication.                  t: 0845 3081377

Monday, 23 September 2013

How can delivering exceptional customer experiences impact directly to your bottom line?

I was at a meeting of the Nottingham City Business Club the other day and listened to an impassioned talk by Center Parcs UK CEO, Martin Dalby, which answered many of the questions often asked by prospective clients about how delivering exceptional customer experiences impacts directly onto growth and profitability.

Martin detailed how Center Parcs UK has grown year on year despite the recession because of the customer concentric ethos running throughout the business. Figures like occupancy rates of 97% and 60% of customers returning every 3 years with staff turnover at only 25% being the envy of any business in the travel and hospitality sector, all driven by the provision of excellent customer experiences delivered by the total organisation. Martin gave an example by asking the audience "How many litter pickers do we employ?" Answer "Aound 6,000 - everybody in the organisation including himself"

The ethos of making the Customer the centre of any organisation has to be embedded and nutured, it is not a quick fix. The results can be significant:
  • Brand Protection 
  • Improved customer retention rates
  • Loyal, happy customers
  • More profitable business from existing customers
  • Ambassadorial customers
  • Extra Referral business
  • Less selling costs
  • Reduced customer complaints
  • Less stressed employees
  • Highly motivated workforce
  • Reduced staff turnover 
  • More PROFIT
 Improve customer experience to improve growth & profitability.

Paul Clayton is business management & training consultanct specialising in business growth, strategic Sales & Marketing planning and Customer Experience Management (CEM).                  t: 0845 3081377

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Customer experience is emotional and different for every individual.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Exhibition Leads - Top Tips to Improve Lead to Sales Conversions

I was talking with an exhibition stand contractor the other day and I couldn't believe it when he told me that on several occassions over the years, when breaking down his clients' stands after a major event, he had found all the visitors business cards - leads with the potential to turn into orders - left in the rubbish to be discarded! Can you believe it? Well it's true, but I'm sure that's not you.

You've just invested a great deal of time & money on a great exhibition and now the orders will start pouring in - or not. For every lead that you have gathered, business card, completed info request form, enquiry etc.,  your competitors will probably have gathered the same. Potential and existing customers are now making their decisions about which product/service they may like to purchase. To make that decision they will probably need to speak to the potential supplier - but which one? It may well be decided by the speed and professionalism of the follow up response. Make it your Company.

Tips to gain maximum conversions from leads to sales:
  1.  Enter leads onto a database
  2. Prioritise leads into existing & potential customers
  3. Allocate who will handle the follow up for each lead
  4. Acknowledge & thank every lead within 3 days of the event. 
    1. This can be by email or phone call according to priority.
    2. At this stage it doesn't need to be the sales person responsible for that lead to call as this is an acknowledgement, so involve other members of staff.
  5. Plan the acknowledgement and, if possible, include a call to action - special offer or diarised appointment for sales person
  6. If there are more leads than can be acknowledged in that timescale consider using an outsourced telemarketing company
  7. Measure the results
Make every event a great experience for your existing and potential customers, which will make more profit for you.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Events & Exhibitions - An opportunity to give great Customer Experience!

 This is your chance to showcase your business so communicate your objectives to your team. Brief them at the start of each day about:-
The products/services on display
What information they need to capture from visitors
Staff rotation to ensure that the stand is always manned
Who is the stand manager for the day/period?
Who is responsible for gathering and collating orders/information?
 Debrief at the end of each day.

This will be the first time that many potential customers have personal contact with your business. 1st impressions count and how your team act will be more important than your impressive stand. Impress on them that their behaviour and attitude are on show to prospective and existing customers as well as suppliers and competitors:-
Do they represent the image that you want your company to be recognised for?
Is it the same at the end of the day as at the beginning?
Total knowledge of products/services on offer – visitors will not be impressed if they have to wait while information sought from another member of the team
Knowledge of competitor products/services
Do they have pen & notebooks to take details?
Ask questions about the customer’s needs – people do not like to be sold to, they like to buy.
Give your visitor your undivided attention
Don’t stand in groups – it can be intimidating to new customers
Don’t email or use phones while manning the stand

Visitors have invested time and effort to attend and nearly 80% will have a plan – ensure that they are impressed with how they are treated when they visit your stand.

Paul Clayton is business management & training consultant specialising in creating high performance cultures and helping businesses to grow by improving strategic Sales & Marketing planning, Customer Experience Management (CEM) and communication.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Are soft skills really essential to business success?

Why are ‘soft skills’ – communication, building rapport, questioning & listening skills etc. - seen as nice to have and non essential when they are in fact fundamental and crucial to building strong business relationships?
If employees in all departments are not provided with these ‘soft’ skills in the stressful and pressurised world we call business, then how can we expect them to answer customer queries, identify and exploit additional sales opportunities while building those business relationships essential to the survival and prosperity of business today?
Soft skills are as important, and just as hard, as any other business skills such as sales and negotiation, and need to be learned.  Your people need to achieve effective communication, call control, building rapport, phone etiquette & techniques, problem solving, and objection handling to continually improve your business. Having a strategy to improve those skills in communication and the use of the telephone will gain you new customers, boost business with existing accounts, increase service levels from suppliers and strengthen internal team cohesion and motivation;  increased sales and profitability!

Contact the Author - Paul Clayton for more details