If you keep your staff happy, they will keep your customers happy and your customers will come back, making you happy.
You have spent time, energy and resources to win a new customer, now you have to manage them.
The process from lead to winning the customer will have involved a group of people responsible for budgets, influencing and decision making. It’s highly likely that now a new group of characters will emerge, these may include production control, cost centre managers and product/service users.
Not having been involved in the negotiations, this new group will include people who know very little about your company, product or service benefits and will need educating. There will, therefore, be a need for relationship building activities to be developed if you are to secure customer loyalty and retention.
Many organisations see this ongoing management as a responsibility of the sales team but is this really the best use of their talents?
The goal of sales is to increase customer revenue. If they are split between revenue building and customer loyalty building you will be losing on both counts. By using marketing to develop a communication programme that delivers relevant, value based messages to the various individuals you will increase retention. Loyalty is a very personal emotion and the key motive of this strategy is to communicate and create the feeling of a real reationship with your company and not with a sales person who may leave over time.
You gain in two key areas. Your sales team are free to develop new opportunities both within the customer organisation and outside and you benefit from increased customer satisfaction. Not only are customer staff receiving relevant information but those who don’t need to are not being required to see sales people unless they wish to.
When was the last time you held a brainstorming session?
Every business owner should have a good idea of the wealth of talent housed within their organisation. But how many actually utilise that talent outside the normal job description?
Brainstorming is a great way to bring that talent to the fore because the most effective brainstorming sessions are made up not only of the core development team but also of people who may not have any knowledge or experience of the product or service being developed.
Just as it is wise not to include direct team members in a session, it is also important to use an independent facilitator. This chairperson can encourage free ideas without having any political agenda.
The following are some guidelines that will encourage the flow of ideas to flourish.
no-one should pass judgement on other contributors ideas
all members are considered equal whatever their postion within the organisation (leave job titles at the door)
the more way-out the idea the better
members should be encouraged to have fun and thereby break down barriers
don’t try a methodical approach, think laterally
choose an environment that will encourage free thinking
restrict the number taking part in any one group to around 14
you are looking for a long list of ideas whether they appear good or bad
do not pre judge any ideas, add them all to the list
do not let any individual ask leading or intimidating questions
Once you have your long list you can then look at an evaluation and reduction process, this should include a number of the more off-the-wall ideas. This will then form your basis for whittling down further.
I used to be the marketing manager of a recruitment consultancy and am therefore well acquainted with the saying ‘your employees are your biggest asset’ and while this may be a cliché it is true. However there is also another saying ‘you get the employees you deserve’ which can be even more true.
Make the most of your investment by adopting the following simple points:
Listen – to be a good boss listen to your employees and take an interest in what they like, who they are and what motivates them
Walkabout – Make sure your staff know you are taking an interest in the work they are doing by being seen to walk around the place
Smile – As difficult as it may be on some occasions, try to smile as much as possible – a grumpy boss leads to grumpy staff
Leadership – Your staff will find it much easier to follow someone who has a clear vision, make sure they know what yours is and stick to it. In most small organisations there are sometimes unpleasant jobs that have to be done such as clearing a blocked drain, moving rubbish etc. Show that you are prepared to tackle these jobs as well as expecting others to do them
Be accessible - Of course there are times when you need to shut yourself away but whenever you can, leave your office door open. Not only will your staff feel closer to you but you will also feel closer to what is going on
Keep your mouth and brain in gear – You will sometimes need to shout or rant but if it means humiliating a member of staff then something is wrong. Count to ten, think about it then act
Consistency – Being the boss often means having to take difficult decisions or picking up on people not being as effective as they could be. Be firm but also be consistent
Communication – give your employees a way of communicating with the company and their colleagues, anonymously if required. Employees who have a say work more effectively.
David Hassell - DLH Marketing
David has worked in advertising and marketing services for 30 years both client and agency side. Having worked with local, national and muliti-national clients, he set up DLH Marketing to help small organisations, owner managed businesses and those organisations without in-house marketing.