In business we only get one chance to impress and we're nothing without a decent reputation. We all forget this at our peril.
By PANEL WRITER Marcus Grodentz
My fiancée Maggie and I have a caravan down at the coast in Devon where we try and spend weekends during the summer.
Recently on a lovely Saturday afternoon I was about to settle into a recliner and enjoy the sun when I heard thosewords that send a shiver down the spine of most men – ‘How about we go out? I fancy a mooch.’
For the uninitiated – and there can’t be many – mooching is defined in my personal dictionary as ‘aimless shopping.’
You get to walk around all sorts of shops and feel the fabric of dresses and blouses. You get to pick up and look at trinkets. There’s lots of ‘what do you think of this?’ type questions – for which intelligent answers are expected.
If anything is actually bought then I get to carry it.
So off we went and spent the afternoon that I had expected to spend sitting in the sun doing the round of shops at a nearby seaside town.
However, my reward for all of this is that we go and have afternoon tea.
On this particular occasion we decided to try a new tea shop - that we hadn’t frequented before - and picked a table outside in the sun.
I went inside to order our scones and tea and the lady said ‘Oh you shouldn’t have come in I was about to come out to you.’
She took our order and I asked if I should pay. ‘Oh no.’ She replied, ‘ pay when you have finished.’
‘But we are sat outside,’ I said. ‘I might run away.’
‘That ‘s ok,’ she said brightly ‘I’ll just chase after you.’
‘Well that’s the best offer I’ve had today,’ I said – and we both laughed.
The tea and scones were lovely as was the service and my fiancee and I have returned there several times following more ‘mooching’ trips – as compared to other similar establishments where the service was less impressive.
So what’s the point of this story?
In business you only get one chance to impress – and earn repeat customers.
In local government we too have customers. Many people may only contact their local authority‘once in a blue moon.’ A great experience could make them your greatest advocates.
Most of us now have customer contact centres with highly trained staff. But the majority of our staff are given no customer care training at all.
When I worked at Reigate and Banstead Council in Surrey we put our entire staff through customer care training having first done a MORI poll to test public opinion.
Many of our staff were horrified as they said they all practised their version of good customer care.
But you know what? A year later after we completed the training and carried out another survey our satisfaction rating ‘shot through the roof.’
What does your organisation do to enhance and protect its reputation?
Marcus Grodentz is former head of communications for Gloucester City Council and now runs
image via the State Archive and Library of Florida