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  1. I've just returned from an excellent short break at Center Parcs with my family. Completely, water-logged (thanks to the pool and flumes), worn out and yet energised at the same time. One of the draws of Center Parcs, is that there's so much to do, and every year we go, we try and do something new.

    This year, we did two 'experiences' at the Outdoor Activity Centre. The first involved adult and child archery. It was led by a nice instructor (let's call him John) who told us how great he was with kids, and how everyone loved him and how good he was at his job. We had a good time and John provided help so that we all improved by the end of the end of the session. He was indeed a good instructor. However, he had told us he was great, so I felt a bit short changed.

    When we did laser combat, with a lovely American Instructor (let's call him Brad), we learned nothing at all of the instructor. He focussed entirely on the group, and on making sure that we had a good time. He was very enthusiastic about the activity, helpful, and gave tips so that people could improve. Brad was a good instructor, we had an amazing time, and we left the arena feeling that he was awesome!

    Maybe it's to do with the old 'under promise and over deliver' philosophy, but the fact that John TOLD us he was great (and then was simply 'good') and Brad SHOWED us he was great left us with different impressions about our experiences. It made me think about the way that we show our expertise in business. Yes, you DO have tell people what you can do, and if you don't blow your own trumpet, then who will? Well, the answer is the people who use your products/services.

    Marketing is good, but delivering a great product/service is even more important. If you do that, your customers/clients will do the marketing for you!

    And on that note, I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has recommended Power Hour to their colleagues, contacts and associates. We really appreciate the kind words.

  2. We all experience it everyday. Bland customer service: Service that just reaches minimum standards, but no more. In fact, the UK is brilliant at it... but it's not good enough. Having taken two cars to two different dealerships within the last week, the difference between minimum standard and outstanding couldn't be more blinding (check out the 5 F's as a starter for 10). The sad thing is, whilst in some ways there is a HUGE difference between the two, the fact is that the things that make the differences are so small.

    This is why I think they are crimes of customer service.

    They aren't things that are difficult, costly or time consuming. Anyone can do them, but sadly it is the exception, not the norm, and those that do stick in the mind for the right reasons. So what I am talking about?

    Crime #1: No acknowledgement - A nod, a smile, a "I'll be with you a moment" immediately shows me that I've been noticed, I matter, and I'll be seen to. When it takes anything more than a few seconds to acknowledge me, I wonder if a) I'm visible and b) whether I matter.

    Crime #2: Not Using Basic Courtesies - Saying 'please', 'thank you', 'I'm sorry for your wait' etc show respect for me and my time. A 'professional' approach without these makes me feel like I'm being processed. I'm not a number, I am a person.

    Crime #3: Not keeping me informed - If there is a delay, a problem or a setback tell me, and I will understand, and may even sympathise. You will have a friend. Keep it from me, cover it up or (worst of all) make it out to be my fault, and I will get annoyed. I will become your enemy.

    Crime #4: Not taking responsibility - If there's one thing that winds me up, its being told that 'the company' or 'the system' won't allow something, or that a problem is nothing to do with the person 'serving' me. You represent your company, you need to take responsibility.

    Crime #5: Not being organised - Have everything you reasonably expect to need to handle my enquiry to hand. I shouldn't have to sit around whilst you search for the right form, a stapler or a bag or wait whilst you disappear into 'the back' for ages, with no idea of when you will return.

    Crime #6: Lacking basic competence - If you can't do what you say you will, find someone who can. I'm not talking about people who are new to the job and have been thrown in at the deep end (they can still avoid problems by not committing crimes 1-5). I was recently in a large department store. The young lady serving me had started work just a few hours previously. She had not been given log-on codes for the till or told how to do anything other than take a cash/card payment. She was on a till with just one other person (who was dealing with refunds) at the busiest time. She explained her predicament and I was sympathetic; it wasn't her fault and she was honest with me, but she shouldn't have been placed in that position in the first place.

    Businesses often put young and/or inexperienced staff in the most important front of the customer, without any training or any basic standards for them to meet. The most frustrating thing is that NONE of these 'crimes' are difficult. But because people don't need training in the way that they need training to use a system or fix a technical issue, so they don't get any. It's obvious right?

    Well, from my experience, it's not. Sadly.

    And training people in the basics needn't be expensive - check out our 5 module flexible customer service programme. It's designed so you can deliver it, or (if you prefer) we can deliver it for you.

    ...and if you can think of more 'crimes' why not add them in our comments box?