As always, it's been a busy month in the Gargett household. If you follow me on social media, you'll know we've had a few new additions to the animal contingent and my lambing skills have well and truly been put to the test. I've checked back on my CV and animal midwifery does not appear, but when you've got a cool head, a clear brief (from hubby) and a will to succeed, it seems that anything is possible. I now have my own "2019 show lamb" his name is Uno, as he was first born, I shall of course keep you updated with his progress.

Here at Elton Business Support, we take a similar approach to our business – albeit without the boiler suits and rubber boots. We are not experts in YOUR business. We are simply the support team that will help you deliver your mission. 

We are not experts in your chosen 'field' (whether it is delivering lambs or delivering parcels). You will and always should be the expert in your business. We are only here to give an objective and impartial perspective - an 'outside looking in view,' not coloured by internal politics or personal involvement. We will work closely with your business to identify areas of concern or opportunity and build trusting relationships with your workforce. We use tried and tested communication tools to ensure that we can get the right information and insights. Only then can we provide recommendations and tailormade solutions to help improve or develop your processes and procedures.

Aside from the lambing, we've also been doing our usual 'shop-floor scouting' and have collected a few examples of good and bad practice during our research days. None of the following observations are taken from any of our clients so we are not breaking any confidentiality.

The first four insights below show that there are training issues not only with members of the front-line teams but also at management or supervisory level. Don't let this be your business.

Spotted -Tourist attraction restaurant: A member of staff struggling with a new till system that had recently been installed whilst a queue of customers built up. The person using the till was becoming visibly flustered and frustrated. They apologised and explained they had had not yet been trained how to use the new system. A manager eventually came to the till (after several customers had walked out) and asked, "Why do you not know how to do this?" They explained that it was their first shift since the new system was put in. The manager's reply, "Well that's a rota issue. You will need to muddle through then make sure you get some training arranged." He then proceeded to leave the member of staff to struggle on with the large queue. 

Spotted - Hot food counter - Well known supermarket chain: A member of staff serving on a hot food counter, which had become busy whilst she was serving on her own, was asked for chips by a customer. The response was, "I can put some in fresh. They won't be long." All seemed well, until she proceeded to open a bag of frozen chips with her teeth in front of a queue full of customers. One of the customers commented, "If that is what's going on in front of us, what's going on out the back?" They cancelled the order and walked away, as did two other customers.

Spotted - Well known clothing company: A store manager and team member openly discussing an area manager who was "useless and never turns up when they should." This conversation went on for around 5 minutes at the till in full ear shot of customers. By the end of the conversation we knew the name of the area manager, how long they had worked for the company and the names of other store managers that also felt this area manager was not "fit to be on the job."

Spotted - Cosmetic and skincare company: Whilst being served by a very helpful and knowledgeable member of staff, their manager interrupted to discuss a problem about stock as she wanted it "put out before you knock off." This member of staff seemed visibly embarrassed and lost the flow of concentration and rapport they had worked hard to build up.

Highlighting Excellence - #TTL - We Tried, We Tested & We Loved

In very stark contrast to the experiences noted above, we would also like to mention when we have enjoyed outstanding customer service. 

 The Bath House, York

A very friendly and warm welcome. Staff were helpful but not pushy and when we made an enquiry, their product knowledge was excellent. They were passionate about the brand and spent time helping us decide which products we wanted to purchase. The store was spotless, light, airy and smelt divine without being overpowering. Everything from a customer perspective was beautifully delivered. 

Carol's Bridal Boutique, Carlisle

Our 'Next Gen' Reviewer booked an appointment to visit Carol's Bridal Boutique to try on prom dresses. From the very first contact the customer experience was flawless. She received a call the day before to check her appointment was still convenient and was advised she could bring someone with her if she wished. Upon arrival, we were greeted in a very professional, warm and welcoming way. The lady that dealt with us oozed enthusiasm and the care she showed in helping to find the 'right dress' felt so natural, our reviewer said she felt as though she was the most important person to have set foot in the shop that day! (and yes, she most certainly did say yes to the dress!) A long-term customer gained there, as our 'Next Gen' Reviewer will always remember how she was treated when she next needs another special occasion dress and will recommend to others. Forward thinking! 

Remember: Spending time and money on marketing your promise and your customer service pledge is only 50% of the pitch. If your promise isn't being delivered as soon as your customer arrives at your door, it's all an expensive and wasted effort. Engage with every member of your team, make sure they understand your promise and your vision. Only when they understand it and feel valued, can they deliver it, just as they do at The Bath House and Carol's Bridal Boutique.

Until the next time…

Please note: The businesses highlighted for excellence were visited during personal shopping trips and were not requested by the individually named businesses. These are personal observations and not meant as professional recommendations by Elton Business Support.