The Customer Journey Good and Bad

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This wasn’t the planned blog subject matter but it has been such an experience that I felt compelled to capture the learnings.

How can some organisations get it so right while others get it so wrong?

Looking after customers or clients , whatever your terminology, with care, effective communication and the personal touch throughout the entire journey is vitally important. I have had two experiences in the matter of weeks which were as contrasting as black and white.

The first experience started well or so I thought with me signing up for a service that appeared to be offering a timely and cost effective solution to my problem (the old saying if it seems too good to be true it probably is now comes to mind). The first problems started to occur when I discovered the timelines of the service provision were very different in actual terms than the one that was originally offered. In hindsight this should have been a warning sign however I proceeded and agreed to a delayed appointment time. The first appointment was conducted but a solution wasn’t fully available at that point so a second visit was required. This is when the problem started as on numerous occasions the second appointment was cancelled, rearranged, not communicated which resulted in time off and loss of earnings by me (the customer) After an official complaint which wasn’t followed up correctly I eventually cancelled the contract and was back where I started 2 months ago.

The second experience couldn’t have been more different with clear expectations, loads of communication, appointments that were kept, problems resolved and a solution in place within an acceptable timescale.

In the theory of customer care training which we deliver as an organisation there is always a chance of “recovery” – taking some action to recover the situation and leave the customer less dissatisfied. To date the first organisation has not taken this route, even after an official complaint and a withdrawal of the contract no one has got in touch to either apologise or offer compensation for inconvenience caused.

If you are responsible for delivering products or services at least learn where the problems are within the system of processes otherwise customers talk and share their experiences good and bad. It’s ok if customers are happy and recommending your services however if they are in the other camp they could be putting potential future customers off and they will look elsewhere. Customer cancellations should always be followed up to find out if “things could have been done differently” and if so extra training or process changes might be required so that the same doesn’t happen again.

 

 

Sandra works as a coach and trainer for both businesses and private clients. More information regarding coaching can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She has also published a book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

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Make Plans Then Accept Changes

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I am writing this sat in a cafe in Palma in the final few hours of 2017. When I originally planned a few days away over the new year period I had many ideas of how I would spend my time away. Last year we did a similar thing and spent a very pleasant few days based near the marina in Palma mooching between shops and cafes in spring like conditions with scheduled yoga practice and triathlon training punctuating our days. My original plans this year was much the same however with the intention this time of exploring the island more by using the local buses rather than hire care. In my normal goal orientated way, I had a mental list of the places I wanted us to visit and I planned on visiting my Yoga shala here at least twice.

Well the universe had other ideas, I started feeling unwell on Christmas Day and by the time the plane had landed on Boxing Day I was experiencing the familiar signs I had witnessed in others over the last few weeks of work to illustrate the winter lurgy had finally got me in earnest.

The first part of the planned adventures worked ok, and we managed to find the right bus at the airport to reach our hotel and when we got to the hotel it was a nice one (thank goodness as earlier in the year we ended up staying in a really grotty place for a week, that as not good). Again, in my normal driven way I tried to carry on as normal for the first few hours however this is when my learnings since catching glandular fever four years ago did kick in and I am thankful for that. It became obvious after these initial few hours that this lurgy was a nasty one, it wasn’t just a cold it was rendering me completely exhausted. I needed to accept my plans needed to change and I would be foolish to push on in a bloody minded way through and this. My old self would have tried to fight it for longer and probably made it worse. This is what happened in 2013 I didn’t listen to my body or read the signs of illness. In that year the moment I thought I was getting better I started to recommence my triathlon and sometimes even crazily enter a race! Then I would have a relapse and be back where I started ill again, and this went on from February to September in a cyclic way until I was diagnosed with Glandular fever and the penny finally dropped.

 So rather than months for the penny to drop it now takes a couple of days. that’s what I call progress. It doesn’t mean it’s any less frustrating, but I am better with the acceptance and adaptation phases than I used to be. Although I am disappointed to have missed out in my daily yoga over here in Palma and we haven’t managed to see as many new parts of the island as I planned too does it really matter in the whole scale of things? I have taken much more rest over here in a hotel environment than I would have done at home where I would have been tempted to muddle through domestic chores as a minimum. Hours spent lying under blankets in a hotel room is new territory for me but that is obviously how I was meant to spend the end of 2017 resting physically and mentally.

 

 

At A Crossroads? – don’t wait too long

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My last article discussed how we can often find ourselves “stuck” either in our professional or personal life or indeed both and how sometimes just the realisation that we need to take some action to get “unstuck” is the first step to making positive changes in our life.

Another situation we can find ourselves in is facing a crossroads where there are many alternative routes that can be taken and a decision needs to be made as to which path to take. When we are driving a car, or walking and we reach a crossroads we MUST decide a direction of travel at that point unless we want to annoy other cars or pedestrians by just standing in the middle of the road. When reaching a life crossroads however it is a lot easier to hover and procrastinate.

So, what is your personal approach when faced with a life crossroads situation? This can happen at any age. I work with graduates who have just finished university and have several options available e.g. graduate entry level job in big company, go and work for a smaller SME, apply for jobs in total alignment with their degree subject matter or make a complete change as they no longer have interest in that subject three or four years later.

In later life, another crossroads situation can appear in mid-career e.g. Having worked for a smaller company for many years, knowing everyone and having built up a good reputation for the work you do, do you stay put and build on that reputation, enjoy being part of the team or do you apply for jobs in a larger organisation where there may be more career progression and salary scope, alternatively you could go freelance or self-employed and as a fourth option a hybrid model of part time work and other work or personal activity is also an option.

Further on in life many of the people I work with are approaching the last phase of their working life and the crossroads they face can present itself as stay in current role until lucrative pension package kicks in, move jobs into their ideal role before it’s too late, be brave and launch the business they have always dreamt of, reduce hours and enjoy more leisure time, or retire early.

These are just some of the many choices we can face and on one hand it’s great to see how many different routes there are but on another front, having too many options paralyses some people to the point where they just stay put and always wonder in a “what if” way what would have happened if they had taken another route in another direction.

Over the years I have read many inspiring self-development books and added any useful learnings to my own personal toolkit from this reading. One tip I took many years ago that I still use today was from the classic Susan Jeffers book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway… in here she states there is no such thing as a bad decision. I use this when faced with the crossroads situation, take time to consider the options, do a pros and cons list and talk to others but then go ahead and be brave, make the decision and don’t look back. Make the decision on what route you want to take and then set off down in that direction with 100 percent commitment to make it work. Don’t look back or torture yourself with ‘what if I had taken the other route’. If it turns out you took one that doesn’t work out make a different decision at the next crossroads you meet and I have met many successful people who have had to make an occasional U-turn in their lives and its worked out ok in the end.

Get Unstuck At Any Age

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Over the past few weeks in my private client coaching practice I have been inspired by the number of new clients who are wanting to make significant changes to their lives and how wide ranging the ages of these clients are. Looking back over just the last month I have met with clients ranging in age from 21 to 62 and they all have had similar goals. They are unhappy with where they are currently and want to take ownership,seeking help to either make the necessary changes that they have already identified they need to make; or in some cases they want to explore a number of options and decide which suits them best.

One of the roles  a coach plays in this situation is supporting each person who wants to make changes as they embark on the journey and to reassure them that some of the options that are being considered are  possible at their age. In my experience having watched people for many years make massive changes to both their personal and professional lives age is rarely an issue once the individual is committed to the process and is prepared to put in the hard work involved to achieve this. Occasionally when working with the younger age group my role as a coach is to work out together with the client some of the stepping stones that need to be put in place to achieve the desired goals or work out a realistic timescale  that breaks big goals into bite sized chunks gathering relevant experience along the way.

The most important factor by far regardless of age and also desired goals is the enthusiasm, total commitment and dedication to get unstuck from the current position and do whatever it takes to move towards the future state. The speed people can achieve this is amazing once they have this total mind set to making things happen and surrounding themselves by people who also want to help them move forwards.

So if you are feeling stuck, you can get unstuck – where there is a will there is a way.

 

 

 

When Things Don’t Go To Plan

 

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The 12 Emotional Steps

I am a planner by nature and whenever I embark on a project the first thing I do is draw up a master plan. This normally works in my favour enabling me to manage workload, meet deadlines, engage other involved parties and set up contingencies in case things go wrong. So when I think I have planned for every eventuality and something happens that blows the plan completely out of the water it is quite a shock and an experience that isn’t that familiar.

  • The first emotion is shock – wow I wasn’t expecting that!
  • The second emotion is disbelief – how did that happen, events that were completely unpredictable with the knowledge at that given time.
  • The third is anger – how can this be happening to me?
  • The fourth is disappointment – the master plan didn’t work and I thought it would
  • The fifth is uncertainty – now what do I do, I thought this was going to happen and now it isn’t
  • The sixth emotion is annoyance as others try and rationalise and suggest alternative courses of action to the one you wanted.
  • The seventh – bouncing between acceptance and disappointment gradually more days of acceptance rather than any other emotion
  • The eighth – learning and questions, so what did I learn about the plan, the process and myself and what do I want to do now
  • The ninth – possible alternatives come into mind and get serious consideration
  • The tenth – acceptance of situation, acceptance of any personal learnings and the acceptance of an alternative way forwards
  • The eleventh – uncertainty again during the evaluation of all alternatives and decision on one way forwards – will it be as good as the one I originally planned for
  • The twelfth – enthusiasm around the new alternative chosen

Now the big question – how much planning do I do for my new option? – should I be less attached to the outcome and more fluid with my planning. Should I trust in what will be will be rather than planning things with military precision and going through the twelve emotional steps above or is that just life?

 

 

Which Career Are You On?

 

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Someone many years ago told me “there are three careers in each one of us….”. Talking to people a lot, as I do as a career coach I am now thinking this needs to be changed to “there are 5 careers in everyone” People are definitely getting more comfortable with the idea of changing roles if they are not happy and consider changing sometimes to completely different professions or ways of working.

 The world of work is definitely becoming more fluid my parents were of a generation where they were encouraged to stay in a job, especially if it paid ok and had good prospects with a generous pension scheme. I remember they were horrified when I resigned from a “job for life” role in the civil service because I was bored and everyone there spent many hours a week complaining about their roles and cutting out adverts from the local paper to apply for different jobs but never did.

 Depending on how you define career I am definitely on my third one if not my fourth and each one of these has been good serving me well for eighty percent of the time. Getting used to making changes and having the confidence to take sometimes a leap of faith into the unknown is hard. The easy option is to carry on doing what is comfortable and if the individual is truly happy with their work and the environment they work in then that is fantastic. If not however and your working life has become mundane, if you are not feeling passionate about what you do each day then maybe there are still some more careers out there for you?

 Look at what you enjoy doing, ask yourself the question if money was not important what would you love to do? What are you passionate about? What are your best days and what is it about those days that make them good… The answers to all of these questions may lead you to your next career…

 

A Different Approach

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Over the Christmas and New Year Period the annual discussions always include the topic of New Years Resolutions and goals. This sparked a debate in our circle about the difference between setting a goal and making a resolution. Does it matter that if you set a goal there is an end point so what happens when you get there or if you don’t achieve it. There is an interesting argument that we should set resolutions to embed new habits at New Year (or indeed this can be done at any time in the year) instead of a more goal setting approach. This was inspired by having also recently read a book “The Happiness Project ” http://www.gretchenrubin.com/

Having reflected on this idea we are trying a new concept this year. Each month identify some new habits that you want to embed and an overall theme for the month. E.G January could be “Clean out “month with four new habits for the month 1) Eat healthy clean food 2) Drink 4 large glasses of hot or cold water or herbal tea each day 3) Clear out a bit of clutter each day either a drawer, a closet, a part of the office 4) Attempt 10 mins meditation. So looking across these 4 initial habits each day both the physical body, the environment and the mind is hopefully being de-cluttered. A daily checklist is in the diary to record progress each day by either a tick or cross.

The same approach will be used for each of the remaining 12 months with the hope that some of the new habits will prove more beneficial than others and as a result will be embedded into lifestyle permanentl

Watch this space for future themes and process evaluation comments.

Current status on day 5 of 2015 is estimated at 50%