Proactive vs Reactive Business Practices

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Proactive vs Reactive Business Practices

Being proactive is the art and science of designing a reaction to a situation that has yet to occur. Proactive individuals strategically anticipate problems, complications, unforeseen circumstances and seek to develop a contingency plan for these scenarios. These leaders take the time to see the possible obstacles on their roadmap to success. Today we’ll look at proactive versus reactive business practices.
Maintain the Advantage
Proactive organizations maintain an advantage over their competitors by taking the initiative during the planning and preparation stage. Proactive teams build space into the project planning timeline to strategize for failure. Preparing for a piece of equipment to go down, anticipating a critical software failure, or projecting a change in public opinion is key to risk management and successful contingency planning. Reactive companies, on the other hand, scramble to respond to shifts in the industry. They go into project planning ill-equipped to deal with the unexpected and often function in a crisis mode. Reactive organizations are often fighting to create a workaround for issues or struggling to keep a project on the correct timeline. This heightens stress and leaves employees feeling insecure.
Improved Customer Experience
Proactive organizations position themselves to continually move toward better customer service. They apply a strategy that will assist them in achieving their customer satisfaction goals. A hotel manager might have staff check guest satisfaction by asking how their stay is or whether they are in need of anything. This question can be asked unobtrusively as the guest passes through the lobby. An independent contractor can keep an updated list of previous customers who have given permission to be used as references. In this way, the list is handy and accessible when a potential client requests references. Reactive businesses are often found waiting to respond to a complaint from a guest or request for information. The time required to develop an appropriate response to such inquiries can be the difference in a repeat customer or a negative review.
Employee Relations
Proactive companies utilize the depth of their talent pool to create and implement positive processes and procedures. Leveraging suggestions, communicating expectations clearly and inviting feedback keeps proactive companies relevant to both their clients and employees. Like clients, 21st Century employees are exposed to diverse training and experience, they may well have an innovative idea that will move the company forward. Traditional top-down management issuing outdated protocols can undermine the ingenuity of core personnel. A constant feeling of not being heard by management, being bogged down with fighting fires, and not having an appropriate response to complaints from customers can eventually lead to a high employee turnover rate.
Admittedly, creating a contingency plan for every single issue that might possibly occur is not only unrealistic, but also time-consuming. Nevertheless, preparing for as many issues as may arise provides the business with an added sense of confidence when executing on the plan. Give your business a better chance of success by taking a proactive approach to your business strategies, human resources department, and project planning. Contact At Your Service Consulting for more on ideas on how to create a proactive environment in your organization.

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Maximize Your Summer Hiring

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder, 49% of employers are planning to hire summer employees. Of those, 79% said they would consider summer staff for long-term positions. For business owners taking the long view, the employee onboarding and training process is even more crucial.

By providing a more extensive training at time of hire, those summer employees who stay on will already be prepped and able to make a seamless transition. It is also a more cost-effective solution as it prevents internal or external personnel from conducting two training sessions within three month of each other. The 2016 Training Industry Report indicates that, on average, the training budget for small business was $236,270. The average cost per employee was $1,052.

As we shared in the November blog on holiday hiring, the training and onboarding of short-term staff is just as critical as that of year round employees. No matter how long a new hire intends to be with the company, every day they represent the values your company stands for. By providing more care during the training process, employees are more likely to treat your customers with the care they have come to expect from your organization.

New employee training should include more than just internal procedures and introduction to software. Your employee training should also include the mission and vision of the company and the foundational values of your organization. Effective training balances the company’s employment need with the client’s need in a way that enhances the skill set of each trainee.

A summer employee is more than just a warm body to fill a slot. They represent your company, your brand in front of your clients. With the right training and onboarding experience they could very well become a long term asset.

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Employee Appreciation Ideas

oct-blogCustomer Service Week was recognized during the first week of October. If you missed it, not to worry. We’ve compiled a list of things you can still do to show your employees that you appreciate them. Taking time to show your employees that you are grateful for their service raises employee engagement, retention, and efficiency. Here are some fun ideas to include in your employee appreciation methods:

Craft style gifts can be created in advance. These are ideal for small tokens of appreciation and as group appreciation items.

  1. Food gifts with quirky tags, such as “You’re a lifesaver” (Lifesavers), “You deserve a break” (Kit Kat bar), or “Donut know what we’d do without you” (Dunkin’ Donuts).
  2. Design buttons or decorative knickknacks, with sayings like “My Boss Thinks I’m Kind of a Big Deal.”

Monetary gifts may be appropriate for individual employees who have shown promise, leadership, and the willingness to go above and beyond their job title. It can also be used as a gift after promotion, creating an incentive for all employees to go the extra mile.

  1. Gift cards to favored stores or online retailers, like Starbucks or
  2. Tickets to a movie theatre, local sporting event, or local attraction for them and their families.
  3. Create an internal reward system where employees can earn tickets, which can be redeemed for major prizes ranging from cash to extended vacation time.
  4. Provide employees gift certificates to a professional cleaning service for their home or vehicle.

Offer employees the chance to unwind and get away from the office, while increasing their professional experience.

  1. Send them on a business retreat that involves time for training and time for relaxation.
  2. Offer paid tuition to industry-related courses.
  3. Free passes to attend national or international conferences related to your industry.
  4. All expense paid trip to a regional lecture presented by well-regarded professionals or industry experts.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t assume that employees understand how much they are appreciated. Let them know regularly!

  1. Tell your employees that you appreciate them — in meetings, in the halls, at the end of the week, whenever!

Remember, you don’t need to wait for Employee Appreciation Day to recognize employees. Consistently showing employees they’re appreciated boosts morale and increases workplace effectiveness year round.

You can read more about Employee Appreciation on CultureIQ.

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Overcoming Indifferent B2B Clients

August BlogA recent Gallup poll estimates that approximately 71% of Business to Business (B2B) customers are indifferent or completely disengaged from their service providers. Among the 20% who experienced a problem with their product or provider, only 40% felt that the issue had been successfully resolved. These numbers pose a big problem for B2Bs that are struggling to grow.

As a B2B service provider your customers are your partners in business. Their contract sustains your business and your business supports their potential to grow and ability to interact with their direct customers. This means that their clients are your indirect clients. If your service causes your direct client to miss sales and experience revenue loss, your business will likely be replaced.

Even long-time clients have the potential to take their business elsewhere, particularly if the individual who initially contracted your organization is no longer a decision maker. As your clients’ companies grown and new managers are put into place you must work to develop relationships at each transition. Clients who are disengaged from who you are and why your business was selected are more likely to do business with another organization they feel connected to. Financial advisors will tell you that 80% of their business is lost upon the death of the primary account holder. Advisors spend as much time seeking new accounts as they do courting the beneficiaries of existing accounts. A similar phenomenon happens with B2B. Although the account has been with your company for 20 years, when a new manager is put into place it is highly likely that your business will also be replaced.

For indifferent customers, factors in who they do business with are things such as price, product availability, location of supplier, size of supplying organization, quality, etc. By working from a list of needs rather than a list of supplier relationships, B2B customers are likely to jump ship when a better price, product, or local supplier becomes available. To combat this behavior, AYSC offers the following recommendations:

Maintain a Distinct Brand Promise

This can be a difficult piece to implement as customers and agents have different views on what a brand’s promise should entail. Ultimately, your brand’s promise should align with your customer’s needs. This is not to suggest that you change your promise to suit the needs of your customers. Rather, your business should ensure that what it is promising is valuable to the market you have identified as your customer base.

To move from “vendor” to “partner” in the eyes of your customer, your products and services must be useful, valuable, and strategic. Your company must provide more than your customer can provide for themselves. Take time to learn about your customer’s business. Identify their needs and business owners. Bring your clients new and innovative ideas on how they can utilize your services to enhance their deliverables. Doing so will build trust and increase impact between you and your clients.

Effective Communication

What does your last marketing report say about how, where, and when you have the greatest response from your clients? Even if industry standard is to send out a newsletter, if you are receiving higher engagement levels through Social Media use that as a platform for sharing news and ideas. Are email opens higher when you offer a report or free download versus survey requests? All businesses desire greater customer engagement, but as a B2B service provider it is important to remember that your clients have their own businesses to run. Your communications with them should be timely and time valuable.

Consistent Delivery

In order to move from indifferent to engaged, your B2B company must be consistent in its delivery of service. Your brand must be identifiable from purchase to production. The delivery system, methods, timeframe, and associated cost must be maintained across platforms and customers. By developing reliable internal systems and processes your clients will receive the same service each and every time. Empower your team to work consistently at upholding the company image as a best effort to providing consistent client service during every contact.

For further insight on this topic check out Gallup’s Analytics for B2B Leaders.

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What’s in a Name? Customer Service vs Customer Care

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote “what’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. While that may genuinely be true, if a rose is referred to as a dandelion it doesn’t hold the same value in our minds. The same is true for the name you give your client support team. A different name presents a different level of expectation. First to your team members and then to your customers.

The term customer service can evoke the sense of a “means to an end”. Customer service involves the internal process by which your customers are assisted. Patrons reach out to customer service specialists in order to complete transactions or for technical support. The specialist on the other end is contacted simply to fill a need and provide a service. There is a degree of separation between the two individuals.  A customer service interaction may not fill the gap that makes the difference between a one-time purchase and a new, loyal customer.

On the other hand, customer care is a new mental playing field. Your customer care team will be prone to going the extra mile as they “care” for their customers. They will seek to befriend your clients, even for just a few minutes. Caring for customers is a perspective that sees people, not dollars. They will see people like themselves who have questions or need support. Customer care is a position of interaction that goes beyond closing a sale and into developing a relationship. Your customer care team will seek to relate to the customer during a pleasant and memorable interaction. The end goal is customer satisfaction.

There are schools of thought that say it doesn’t matter what you name your team – the ultimate goal is to have satisfied customers and retain business. However, if the simple act of modifying the name of your customer relations team improves their performance, courtesy, and enjoyment of their job, it’s a step well worth taking. Satisfied employees will lead to satisfied customers and a strong bottom line.

Contact At Your Service Consulting today to learn more about taking your team from customer service to customer care and Delivering Out of the Ordinary Results!

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The Door is Open….


We are pleased to announce the release of our Quarterly Newsletter – The DOOR is Open… In it, we share with you latest industry findings, tips, and tools that will enhance and improve your customer service team.

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At Your Service Consulting,

Delivering Out of the Ordinary Results


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Meeting, Exceeding, and Resetting Customer Expectations

Mar BlogMeeting and Exceeding Expectations
Set the standard of service for your organization. One way to do this is to break down the product and service offers into various levels. Each plan meets different expectations and must be established based on your customer’s basic needs at that level. You need to deliver a “wow” experience that your customer always remembers. A memorable experience is bound to be shared with others. Customers readily use social media when they have a good/bad experience. When a recommendation goes viral, the company benefits, the value of the brand increases, and business is boosted. Create a positive customer experience worth sharing!

Resetting Expectations
No matter the amount of effort put forth there will be times when you are just not able to please every customer. It’s just the nature of business! The recommended way to do damage control is to acknowledge that you erred and are willing to make amends for the mistake, thus resetting the customer expectations. The most effective action is to make amends the moment you realize your mistake. Proactively correcting an error shows the customer how valuable their business is to you.

No matter the size of your organization, the customer is a key factor for business success. As your business grows, it may not be possible for you to offer the same personalized, one on one service as you did before. Your loyal customers feel as though they are receiving sub-standard service. Here again, a proactive response is best. Using your standard communication methods, express to long-time customers that their business still means a lot to your organization. Redirect your customers with kindness and appreciation as to how your interactions with them will need to change. Here again, you are able to reset expectations while most likely maintaining the level of business you have come to enjoy.

Customers should continuously be educated on the service levels that they should expect going forward as the company structure changes. The good news is that your customers understand that the company structure will change from time to time due to growth. They simply ask that you clearly and proactively communicate with them as changes affecting how you do business occur.