Category: Winnthinks

Customers can be a nightmare…

Customers can be a nightmare! Who you gonna call?

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Is your Verbal Handshake like a wet fish?

Have you ever thought about the way you answer the phone as your Verbal Handshake? If not, you should. If our physical handshake delivers a powerful message about our trustworthiness and level of interest in the other person, our Verbal Handshake does exactly the same thing.

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Sorry Not Sorry: A Star Wars Story

A long time ago in a decade far, far away (the 1980s), before apps and the internet, I rang my local cinema to book tickets for the latest Star Wars epic . Here’s how I learned about the power of positive language.

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The One Where the Happy Sheet Wasn’t

Last week I received some negative feedback about a course I’d delivered, and it stung. This snowflake needs a good talking to (and I don’t mean the course participant!)

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Poem: Christmas Eve at Winnthinking

On Christmas Eve at Winnthinking The staff had all gone home The Fairy on the Christmas tree Was feeling all alone. She sat atop her spiky branch So sorry for herself When suddenly, who should appear But Santa and his

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Induction: Ditch the PowerPoint!

Think about the best and worst induction training you’ve attended. What stuck with you? Do you remember it as a brilliant experience, or as one long PowerPoint presentation? Nobody sets out to design a dreadful induction course; but perhaps the

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The Back to School Guide for Grown Ups

The grown-ups’ equivalent of going back to school is starting a new job. How can we make sure our new joiners at every level, like our children, arrive confident, equipped and ready to hit the ground running?

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The Importance of Silliness

Stick up for silliness! The ability to be silly can play a major part in the success of your oh-so-sensible organisation. Here’s how.

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Help! I’m frightened to make that call!

Ever get this? You have a list of people you need to call, but somehow everything else is more appealing. Filing, checking the database (again), making a coffee … somehow you can’t find your mojo when it comes to picking

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Every Little Helps

The trust our customers place in us is hard won, and we play fast and loose with it at our peril.

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Has it become counter-productive to talk about ‘women’s issues’?

The contention goes that, by constantly ‘bleating on’ about women’s rights, we’re drawing attention to difference rather than similarity. It keeps women stuck in the role of the weakest link, constantly needing support and special privileges instead of naturally rising to the top through talent and hard work. Surely we’ve moved beyond all that now, haven’t we…?

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How a tomato helped me get my work done

It’s one of the great mysteries of life. My youngest turned 22 this year, but as any parent will attest it seems only moments ago I had a chubby-cheeked toddler on my lap and endless hours of crayoning ahead of

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Sisters are doing it for themselves

The fact that women are so empathetic, generous and strong is something I am rather proud of. It makes us a BRILLIANT gender! And it makes us GREAT networkers too.

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Selling without being sales-y

You know how it starts. (“Hello, am I speaking to…? Great! How are you today?”).
You know the type. (Pushy. Talks too fast, listens too little).
You know the tactic. (“A special deal, just for you, but only if you buy it TODAY…”).
You know the feeling. (Oh dear, here we go…).
For a nation that loves to buy stuff, the word ‘sales’ has a heap of negative connotations.

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HOW much?! Bespoke Training vs. Off the Shelf

What do you think you’re paying for when I quote you for a day’s training?

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A Voyage of Discovery

When launching on a Voyage of Discovery it isn’t enough to simply look at someone else’s holiday snaps. There’s no substitute for experiencing things for yourself to really learn something new.

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Landing the aeroplane

Imagine the scene: Your aeroplane is three hours into a three-and-a-quarter hour flight when your pilot comes on the intercom and says: “Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts, I’m going to try and land this aeroplane shortly.” What?! You’re

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For David Bowie, 11/01/16

Monday 11 January 2016. I woke up this morning and through the fog of sleep thought I heard the R4 Today programme say that David Bowie would be sorely missed. I came awake with a start and no, it hadn’t

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A Christmas Hamper of Customer Types

If your customers were the contents of a Christmas Hamper, what would they be? Here, then, is a light-hearted delve into the Hamper of Delights that is your customer base. Well, we’re allowed to get a bit silly at Christmas…

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Working with Eddie: A do-er not a say-er

Several years ago I had a boss (we’ll call him Eddie), who described himself as ‘a do-er not a say-er’. On my first day in the job he invited me to accompany him round the building whilst he carried out

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The Art of Apologising

‘Sorry’ is a word that’s very much over-used these days. So when you really need it to count, exactly how do you offer an unhappy customer a really great verbal apology? Here’s how…

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We Who Must Be Named (with care)

Names have power. Names have magic in them. Names wrap up all our expectations and emotional baggage into a neatly labelled parcel, whether we like it or not. Think carefully before you apply a label your customers…

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Five ways to spot opportunist complainers

The customer is always the customer – but what if we suspect he or she is trying it on? Here are five ways you might spot those Opportunist Complainers.

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Moving Tales: Customer Service A to B

As some of you will know, I’ve had a busy March and April completing the sale of one house, purchasing another, packing, moving and getting unpacked at the other end. After 21 years in our last home you can possibly

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The Lego Movie: Are teams really that awesome?

“Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of a team Everything is awesome, living our dream…” The Lego Movie has been offering much delight in our household over these dark winter days, particularly the cringingly awful song ‘Everything

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A Formula for Successful Change

Here we are at the start of another new year. I’m guessing your Inbox and social media feeds have, like mine, been full of advice about New Year’s Resolutions and creating a brand new you? Good luck with that –

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Customers In Disguise

I’ve worked with some interesting organisations recently, some of which are really not part of the traditional market for ‘customer service training’. And it’s brought about some fascinating conversations. Take, for example, the secondary school where I was asked to

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High Hopes

I just rattled off a friendly email to a fellow coach, and as I’m a bit of a fusspot about grammar, spelling etc., I naturally proofread it before hitting ‘send’. Imagine my dismay when I counted – in a very

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“I don’t hug trees and I don’t knit my own yogurt…”

How does coaching fit in to the development strategy in your organisation? Perceptions of coaching (and coaches) vary greatly, and that’s hardly surprising. There are some excellent professional bodies out there laying down rigorous standards and CPD (continuous professional development)

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The Law of Harvest

September means lots of things: going back to school, nights drawing in, the start of that hurtle towards Christmas. It’s also harvesting time, which has been very much in evidence in my rural community. It got me thinking… if we’re

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We’re all in this together

As I work with organisations up and down the UK on their customer service delivery, I get very used to hearing one particular comment. Here it is: “I would love to promise my customers what they want (a response, a

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“Behold the hands…”

“Behold the hands, how they promise, conjure, appeal, menace, pray, supplicate, refuse, beckon, interrogate, admire, confess, cringe, instruct, command, mock and what not besides, with a variation and multiplication of variation which makes the tongue envious.” Michel de Montaigne (1533

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The Complainers: How I see it

Have you been watching The Complainers on Channel 4? The series has been focusing on the work of customer service staff in a selection of large organisations. In particular, it’s been following their exchanges with a set of customers known

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Firestarters (or things that wind up your customers)

“I’m a Firestarter…twisted Firestarter (whoooooooo!) HEY! HEY! HEY!” Firestarters. It’s the name I give to those gestures, sounds and phrases that can turn a perfectly reasonable customer conversation into a raging torrent of accusations, or a slamming down of the

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The Four Step Assertiveness Technique

One of the things my clients often ask me to do is support their customer service teams, complaint handlers and helplines with the more difficult customer behaviour they encounter on the phone. ‘Difficult’ is a highly subjective term, so the

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Whether the weather be fine…

Whether the weather be fine Or whether the weather be not Whether the weather be cold Or whether the weather be hot We’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, Whether we like it or not!   This catchy little poem

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How changing your jacket can help you deal with difficult customers

One of the subjects I am most often asked to train out is how to handle difficult people – particularly customers who are angry or upset. There are lots of ways our customers can make themselves a challenge, and sometimes

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New Year’s Resolutions for the Goal-Less

Every January my social media stream fills up with comment about New Year’s Resolutions and the importance of goal setting for the months ahead. As a Coach I am, of course, a huge fan of goal setting, both in the

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Lessons in Customer Service from Doctor Who

Last weekend was all about Doctor Who. Hard to believe it’s been going 50 years – and don’t those early episodes look OLD! How times have changed and how technology has moved on since those scratchy black and white days.

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The Customer Service Magic Ingredient

If you were to ask most customers what they’re looking for in a transaction, they will probably tell you they want the right product or service, at the right price, delivered at the right time and to the right quality.

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Experiential Learning: Not Just for Newbies

There’s a truly profound Chinese proverb that is often quoted by trainers, and it goes like this: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” It’s the powerful principle behind pretty much every

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How to get more bang for your training buck

There are, it is said, three types of training course participant:   Holidaymakers Prisoners Learners Holidaymakers are those who put themselves on a course – usually an in-house one – because they see it as an easy day’s work and

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“We Never Sell a Stale Cake”

Think about that for a moment.   This, a coaching colleague tells me, is the actual advertising slogan used by her local bakery, deep in darkest Nottinghamshire. I have looked at their website and it all looks just delectable –

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Putting a spout on it

When my now grown up son was about four years old, we had those magnetic letters on the ‘fridge and used them to play simple spelling games with him. So, he would read out a word like ‘hat’, and then

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Fifty is the New Twelve

Something strange is happening to me this weekend. I’m going to become a fifty year old. I’ve never been one of those before, so it will be an interesting experience. Happily this momentous occasion will be shared with a number

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Guerrilla Gardening for Managers

Did you know that 1st May is International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day? It’s ‘an annual event of optimistic seed growing’. If you want to find out more, go take a look at www.guerrillagardening.org – or better still, grab that trowel

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“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way…”

Hard to believe that Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ has just turned 40 years old. It’s one of those albums that seems always to have been there for me – first heard on LP through my brother’s bedroom

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The Forgotten Middle

I want to put in a word for the forgotten Middle. Everywhere I look, in the professional journals, online forums and on the business bookshelves, there’s heaps of opinion and commentary about Leadership; who our great leaders are, the qualities

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Why the Gift of the Gab is not always a winner in sales

A best-seller for me at the moment is sales training. That’s certainly a sign of the times, when businesses are pushing harder and harder for every scrap of custom they can get in a marketplace where people are really only

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Listen up, Greater Anglia!

Yesterday I had a day out in London with a good friend of mine. It should be a simple enough train journey home (I live 45 minutes away from London on the mainline), but as anyone who goes into London

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In which Winnie-the-Pooh Introduces the Value of Coaching

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is

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Top Tips for Taming Email

As a coach it seems that increasingly I am working with people who are fighting a malignant force in their place of work. You may well recognise it. It’s…email. Yes, email. It’s a blessing and a curse. On the one

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“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

It’s a well known and well respected quotation from the eminent management expert, Peter Drucker. I use it all the time when working with organisations looking to improve their service delivery or the effectiveness of their managers, and there won’t

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Cockle-Warming Customer Service in Cold Hard Times

Customer service is a funny thing. We all know when we’ve received a poor version of it, and indeed, when that happens, we tend to go away and tell everyone we know all about it. Oh, and lots of strangers

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Help! The bounce has gone from my bungee!

This morning it is the morning after the night before. Or rather, it’s the beginning of the autumn after the summer before. Yesterday was the Olympic and Paralympic Athletes’ Parade in London, and I also woke up to the news

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“Being English I crave disappointment…” (Bill Bailey)

Go on, if you’re English, admit it. You know exactly what he means. We could even widen it out to the rest of the UK, I reckon… self-deprecation and false modesty are peculiarly British traits and Bill Bailey nailed it

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Business Coaching is for Winners

Who do you think is most likely to use the services of a business coach? Would you? Watching London 2012, from the comfort of my sofa, it’s crystal clear how integral coaching is to the success of our athletes. Tribute

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Customer Service Room 101

Customer service is a funny thing. We all know when we’ve received a poor version of it, and we tend to tell everyone we know about it too, including lots of strangers in cyberspace as well as our family, colleagues

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“We have a plan, therefore nothing can go wrong…” (Spike Milligan)

This time last year I was just about to plunge into something entirely new. For the first time in my professional life, I was about to walk away from a regular monthly salary and strike out on my own as

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Brand YOU!

So there you are, strolling up and down the aisle at your favourite supermarket, and you reach the coffee section. What drives you to select one product over another? Maybe you believe that ‘you get what you pay for’ and

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How to create your own luck

Someone very smart once said to me that “people will only ever treat you as well as you let them.” What wise words! We all, to a very large degree, create our own ‘luck’ when dealing with other people, and

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Small is Beautiful

I’ve just enjoyed reading ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a book about epidemics, and explores the factors that combine to make something go viral – be it a disease, or a social movement, or a fashion craze –

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Written in pencil or pen?

Last week I really enjoyed some performers that came all the way from Los Angeles to play at my local live music event, Live at The Institute. They’re called Sweet Talk Radio, and if you enjoy laid back harmonies and

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Lessons from the World’s Fastest Blind Man

Last week I met a truly extraordinary man. His name is Steve Cunningham, and he heads up an organisation called Blindvision (www.blindvision.tv). I strongly urge you to hit the website and read his story. Steve lost his sight at the

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What makes customers behave badly?

In a previous life I spent six and a half years as a complaint handler on behalf of an investment company. People get very emotional about their money, and rightly so, and during the course of what must have been

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Writing it right

I’ve spent a lot of time recently helping a client work on their written material. In particular that has been about the quality and tone of the letters and emails the company sends its customers. As an investment company, they

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Lessons from Pantomime

I have been having such fun in the past few weeks. It’s the pantomime season (oh yes it is!) and my local drama group is putting on a really good quality show. This year’s production, Old Mother Hubbard, is sold

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Motivation without money: Can it be done?

A very timely item cropped up in Call Centre Focus this week, and although it concentrated on the situation in contact centres across the UK, it reflects all too starkly what is happening across most sectors right now. This is

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Intense simplicities

I was reminded of a fabulous concept yesterday, when sorting through some old creative thinking course outlines. Like so many great quotes it originated with Sir Winston Churchill, and what he said was this: “Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities

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Wii wish you a Thinking Christmas

It’s a piece of text I’ve commented on before but it continues to fascinate me. I was reminded of it again on Sunday night when watching that nice Professor Brian Cox on TV deliver a lecture on quantum physics. (First

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“Everyone lives by selling something”

“Everyone lives by selling something.” So said Robert Louis Stevenson, who was probably better known for writing tales of ‘derring-do’ on the High Seas than for giving business advice to the High Street. But the author of Kidnapped and Treasure

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A Short Guide to Brilliant Customer Service

As regular visitors to Winnthinking will know, great customer service begins with enjoying your customers and truly appreciating them as the beating heart of your organisation. As with any heart, you need to keep them happy and active in order

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What’s your Alternative Job Title?

Last time I promised you a fun exercise you can run with your customer service people, to get them thinking differently about the day job. The following works well within a team meeting or as part of a broader development

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Customer service happens head first

Following my last Winnthink someone asked me to post up a few thoughts about this knotty problem: How do you get your customer service people to do it better – particularly when you can’t promise them any more money or

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Customer service: who gives a monkeys?

Last year, as often happens, I designed a course about delivering outstanding customer service. Not just good customer service. Not even great customer service – but how do you make an utterly, fantastically OUTSTANDING experience for every customer, every time?

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See you in cyberspace

Fascinating article in my newspaper on Saturday. Apparently one in three smartphone users would rather lose their wallet than their phone. Initially surprised, I thought it through and actually, yes, that does make sense. All that personal data, those contacts,

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“But I never win anything!”

Something rather delightful happened to me this week. I won a Kindle! Yes, really. And do you know what the first thing I said was? “Blimey! But I never win anything!” Which is clearly not true, of course, as I

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Well, and here we are!

Like Christmas and the Love of Your Life, some things are just worth waiting for, aren’t they? So I really hope you enjoy exploring this, the new website for my company, Winnthinking Ltd. It would have been here to entertain

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