We work in in quite a saturated industry. Our customers often work in hazardous environments and need their personal protective equipment in order to remain operational. They have high expectations of us as a supplier. There are only so many things that will set you apart and one of those is to deliver a really good customer experience. The only way we can do that consistently is by having a framework that everyone can follow.
For example, sometimes we might have a situation where we face supply chain challenges on a particular category, so we need an approach that doesn’t just aim to reassure the customer, but provide solutions as well, giving us the opportunity to transform the situation.
In addition, any one team will likely contain a range of experience, from school leavers to seasoned customer service professionals. Any programme had to work for a diverse skill set, in a way they could immediately apply, back at their desk.
We are also a busy company. Taking whole teams out of work for a day or more is difficult, so the training had to be delivered in short modules.
Our trainer went through our pain points with us, so he knew the exact areas we needed to improve on. He designed a solutions-based programme that addressed those pain points directly and was aligned with our customer needs.
It was plug and play: the next day the participants could implement it. If we had been taught theory that needed to be processed it wouldn’t have been as effective. It was an in-person programme that could be delivered in short periods of time; long enough for us to absorb and understand it, but structured in a way we could easily schedule it around our business needs, running on a rolling monthly basis.
The learning was adopted by the participants instantly. We didn’t have to refine or simplify anything.
The Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) was new for us. We’d just had a large intake of people when we had the first assessments done. Understanding our own and our new colleagues’ thinking preferences gave us a common language and mutual understanding as to the best way of working together. We had previously had a negative experience with a different profiling system, which tended to pigeon-hole people. The HBDI® training showed our staff how to flex their thinking preferences in order to work more effectively with others who think differently. We use it with our customers as well, refining our sales approach based on their thinking preferences. We use it every day.
We’ve seen improvements in staff interactions and less frustration, more patience with each other, more understanding that everybody sees the world in different ways.
We have a playbook, which shows us how to deal with certain customers and what is important to them. Most customers have similar product needs; for one it might be service that is more critical, for another it’s technical specification. We integrated the training straight into the playbook. For example, we added instructions on how to write certain emails exactly as per the training, so any new member of staff can come in and deliver the same consistent customer experience regardless.
We started to get really good feedback from our customers. We sent out some bite-size customer surveys to randomly selected customers and followed up with them by phone, and recorded the calls. People said things like, ‘What we value is the fact you do X and Y and Z,’ which were the exact skills and behaviours we’d learnt on the training programme. Our customers started to register that our service was a unique part of our offering.
We had a situation where branding was applied to a shirt incorrectly. We went through a recovery process with a sales director of a key client. He said it was the best service recovery experience he’d ever had. He obviously knew what good service looks like. We have quite a few examples like that.
Yes absolutely. The proof of that is the fact that we’re still using the approach and teaching the core skills.