Different types of communication and their effectiveness. There are five modes of communication that staff need to train and development on in order to improve their customer service skills. These are:
- Written Communication.
- Oral Communication.
- Face to Face verbal communication.
- Face to Face non-verbal communication.
- Via the Internet.
In order to improve successfully on written communication, you need to be competent and confident in what you are producing. This type of communication for any job role within the organisation will require some form of written methods (letters, reports etc). The key objectives for written communication within an organisation such as a supermarket are:
- Reducing sales time.
- Organising your ideas more effectively.
- Selecting an appropriate writing technique.
- Write attention-getting correspondence throughout the entire sales and marketing cycle.
- Develop proposals that address a customer’s specific interests.
- Create eye appeal.
To develop the staff service skills, they will work with a professional consultant on sales writing exercises and role-playing situations so that they can prepare and become familiar with what would be expected later on.
It is also important to have good basic grammar, because it represents the company. The key objectives for developing good grammar are:
- Looking at different parts of speech.
- Identifying major and minor sentence elements and basic sentence structure.
- Practice proofreading techniques.
- Identifying and correcting the most common grammatical errors in business writing.
For any employee who would be dealing with customers, it is important to “think on your feet”. That is, being prepared for whatever is thrown at you by a customer. Therefore, to train and develop oral communication skills, there will be presentations on this. It will focus on the most common difficult questions from customers, with specific skills techniques to handle each type in an appropriate manner. The key objectives on developing oral communication are:
- Organising thoughts more quickly and persuasively.
- Respond effectively in unprepared situations.
- Expect random questions and prepare clear, concise answers.
- Identify and respond confidently to the most difficult questions.
- Keep poise and control the situation, in spite of distractions and hostility.
This type of training is most ideal to the workers, who actually deal with customers face to face. As they will need to be able to handle complex situations, with the customer.
Face to Face verbal
There are many ways of communicating face to face verbally; interviews, dealing with specific enquiries, a complaint from a customer etc. The key is to be confident and precise in how you speak to the customer. In order to practice this, there will be role-playing for common situations so that the employees can become familiar with what to expect. The first thing that is most important, is listening to the customer. Showing that you are listening tells the customer that you do care about what they have to say, and are willing to try and solve the problem they have. Here are some key objectives to consider when listening:
- Give 100% attention; Prove you care by stopping all your other activities.
- Respond appropriately; Show that you have received their message and speak on the same energy level as the other person.
- Prove understanding. To say “I understand” is not enough. Your customer is going to need some proof or evidence that you do understand.
- You must show respect to the customer’s problem. Showing that you take their views seriously. You prove this by being willing to communicate at their level of understanding and attitude.
If you listen to the customer, and take their issues seriously and appropriately then you can speak to them in a considerate manner. As long as you listen to them, and can actually try to understand their problems, then communicating with them on their level will better the situation. Talking to them about what their problem is, and showing that you are willing to try and solve the situation in one way or another. Even if you can’t solve it, being polite and considerate helps this situation. Especially when the customer is angry or upset.
Face to Face non-verbal
This type of communication is about the transfer of words, but the display of body language. Body language can tell us a lot more about what the person is thinking, hence the phrase “Actions speak louder than words”. Sometimes, there will be customers who will not only communicate verbally but will communicate non-verbally. This mode of communication is most effective to the worker, as it shows what they’re really thinking and feeling. Here are some of the things that include non verbal communication:
- Facial Expressions.
- Eye Contact.
- Tone of voice.
- Body posture and motions.
- Positioning between them and you.
When dealing with customers, it is not only important to respond back appropriately, but to act suitably too. When customer have high emotions, it is essential not to reflect on their body language or tone of voice. This eases the situation slightly, and allows the employee to work on the situation and a steady pace. Role-playing will be used for this type of communication, because it is all about showing how you conduct yourself towards other people. It will build up by practising each specific situation with other team members, and will make you more confident and ready to be able to handle complex situations. We will be looking at and practising on:
- Being able to handle difficult situations
- Showing that you can handle difficult situations
- Not reflecting on the other person body language
This will also be used by managers in particular as they serve as leaders and of organisational teams. So it is beneficial for them to have good knowledge of non-verbal communication for the following reasons:
- To function effectively as a team leader, the manager must interact with colleagues and customers successfully.
- Showing true awareness of non-verbal cues, this leads to the organisation having a better chance to succeed; for it will be open, honest, and have a confronting unit.
Also, it is important to think about other features of non-verbal communication. Such as the distance between yourself and the customer, maintaining eye contact as this is proves that you are listening to the customer, it also conveys emotion, signal when to speak or finish. However, the frequency of contact can sometimes show interest or boredom. But the employee must show interest even if the customer is starting to show signs of boredom. It proves that no matter what, you are willing to help them with whatever issue they have.
Via the Internet
Communicating through the internet is another useful mode of communication between the organisation and their customers. There could be e-mails from customers who make general enquiries, complaints, delivery questions and so forth. Even though, it would be extremely hard to reach every single customer issue at the same time, you must be prepared to look take your time over it. There could be general enquiries that could easily be answered, or there could be a complaint or specific enquiry. The latter is what we will be preparing and training on mostly. For this, a workshop on how to prepare e-mails effectively and provide tips and techniques to save your organisation time on both the sending and receiving end of communication. Here are the key objectives:
- Identify essentials for recording customer interactions in your database.
- Use the MADE Format® to organise the messages promptly and clearly.
- Improve the simplicity of your messages with short sentences, precise words and understandable references.
- Identify and correct common grammatical errors.
- Differentiate between formal, informal and pompous manners.
- Make sure to follow the guidelines of e-mail etiquette to portray the proper image for the organisation.
- Control high-volume e-mail.
This type of communication training is suitable for anyone who composes e-mails. Even if your just an employee who just deals with customers face to face, it would be useful to learn how to compose such e-mails as you might be asked to compose one later on.
For this section, I shall outline the legal and ethical responsibilities of Waitrose to consumers and customers. I will be stating the main implications of consumer protection legislation and the impact it has on Waitrose. Here are some of the acts I will be including:
- Sale of goods act 1979
- Supply of goods act 1973
- Data protection act 1984
- Supply of goods and services act 1982
- Sale of supply of goods act 1994
If Waitrose doesn’t comply with the consumer protection act, then they are liable for action to be taken against them. Waitrose has a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure that all of their products comply with the acts stated above. The Sale of Good Act states that “traders must sell goods that are as described and of satisfactory quality”. Therefore, if a consumer finds that the product they bought doesn’t meet these requirements; they can refuse what they bought and ask for their money back. Only during the period of time they can do so. However, they if don’t want their money back, they can ask for a repair or replacement. The Sale of Goods Act applies to buyers but consumers are entitled to a wide selection of remedies too. “Consumers” mean people who are buying for reasons that are not related to their trade, profession or business. This act does not apply to service in particular. If Waitrose are selling faulty goods, the buyer can get a legal remedy against the retailer (Waitrose). Usually, buyers are not able to claim directly against the manufacturer. However, the buyer can’t expect a legal remedy because of fair wear and tear; misuse or accidental damage or if they decide they no longer want to keep them. If consumers are not happy with their product, then they are entitled to a full refund if in the reasonable time of the sale. Or they can get a repair of the product or a replacement; however the retailer can decline either of these if costly in comparison with the alternative.
It is very important that Waitrose complies with the Data Protection Act. Not just to avoid prosecution and bad publicity, but to show to customers that Waitrose works with due diligence and responsibility. A breach of the act however, can lead to claims for compensation. This act covers all personal data which an organisation may hold i.e. names, birthday and anniversary dates, addresses, telephone numbers and so forth. There are eight data protection principles which are:
All personal data must be:
- Processed fairly and lawfully.
- Obtained for specified and lawful purposes.
- Adequate, relevant and not excessive.
- Accurate and up to date.
- Not kept any longer than necessary.
- Processed in accordance with the “data subjects” (the individual’s) rights.
- Reasonably securely kept.
- Not transferred to any other country without adequate protection.
All of the eight data protection principles must be followed accordingly, and failure to so could lead into prosecution and other legal remedies.
The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 requires traders to provide a service to a correct standard of workmanship. In addition, if an exact completion date or a price has not been set, then the work needs to be finished within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price. Moreover, any material used or goods supplied in providing the service, must be of satisfactory quality. The law will treat failure to meet these obligations as a breach of contract. This entitles consumers to seek legal remedies, if necessary through the civil courts.
Under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 you can expect that any goods you buy from a retailer should be:
- Of satisfactory quality
- Fit for any particular purpose made known to the seller
- As described
Satisfactory quality means that the goods meet the standard a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking into perspective the description of the goods, the price and all other relevant situations. The quality of the goods includes their state and condition, taking into account their appearance and finish, freedom from minor defects, safety and durability. All goods should be fit for all purposes for which goods of that kind are commonly supplied.
Your rights under this act are against the person who sold you the goods; it is not against the manufacturer. Therefore you have no real reasons for a complaint, if you were told about the fault before purchasing the product; examined the item when you bought it and should have seen the fault; made a mistake when purchasing the item; simply changed your mind about the item.
There are more legal remedies under the Sale and Supply of Goods to consumer regulations 2002 than under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994. Now, if a product that was faulty at the time of sale is returned to the retailer, you legally entitled to the following:
- A full refund – If you have a complaint about something you bought, you should tell the seller as soon as possible.
- A reasonable amount of compensation – If you have bought faulty goods and have accepted them, you may have to accept an offer to put the goods right or the cost of repair. If the fault can’t be put right, or the cost of putting it right is unreasonable you may be able claim compensation. However, you would have to keep this claim to a reasonable minimum.
- A repair or replacement – You would have the right to ask for a repair or replacement, providing that it does not cost more than you paid for the product.
There are also Guarantees where goods are provided with a consumer guarantee. The consumer can ask for the guarantee to be made available in writing and that the terms of the guarantee should be set out in a clear and precise way. Obviously, I am relating the UK so it would be written in plain English. Details should be given of how to make a claim under the guarantee. Also, a contract will be made between you and the guarantor. This gives you a right to take legal action, if the guarantor refuses to honour the guarantee.
Waitrose believes that knowing what your customer wants is vital to success of any business. They believe that food retailing is no exception, especially food safety issues alone make it twice as important to be able to respond quickly to customer enquiries. The company has a new monitoring system, which helps them to analyse and respond customer comments. “In 2003, 1.3% of enquiries (1,132) related to Waitrose’s trading policies, including environmental and ethical issues. Over a quarter of these concerned the issue of genetic modification (GM).”
However, not all customer comments are positive. In 2005, customer complaints accounted for 14% of all correspondence. However, only 9% of comments complimented Waitrose. Customer comments are useful at any stage of the retail development. Waitrose use customer panels to monitor customer service, this is used across all stores to obtain feedback on issues from pricing to transport, to publicity material.
Waitrose supports its customers to make comments to the Customer Service department at their local shop. At the headquarters, there is a team of keen professionals who records and monitors these comments. This enable trends to b identified and for action to be taken. More than 75% of all customer communications during 2003 were taken over the phone. The enquiries ranged from requests for literature and appreciation for charitable donations, to questions regarding the availability of home delivery in the local area.
Waitrose’s website provides clear and accessible information, which is vital. The website has been redone to make it even more accessible to users with disabilities. Waitrose.com was just one in four sites to be on the shortlist by the National Library for the Blind Awards in Corporate/Big Business Category.
As we can see, the way Waitrose monitor their customer service is through customer panels. This type of monitoring consists of a group of interested people who meet on a regular basis to represent the general interests of all Waitrose customers within the locality served by the panel. This could be by Mystery Shoppers, who pretend to shop around the store but at the same time analyse the service of the staff, how customers are treated and how issues are dealt with. Customer panels can be used to produce new product ideas as well. Face to face evaluations help many things, such as:
- Monitoring changing customer expectations.
- Providing a forum for customers to suggest and evaluate new service/product ideas.
- Creating conversation with important customers.
- Understanding how your business is viewed by current customers and the larger community.
Customer panels are also a powerful marketing tool. It gives the company an idea of what customers are satisfied with and what they are not satisfied with. It allows them to work on new initiatives and build on thoughts and ideas. Through customer panels you can get to the direct point of what customers like and what they don’t like.
There are several quality procedures that Waitrose have chosen, to ensure that their business is continuing successfully. However, even though that have quality procedures there will always be a few losses of the business (i.e. customers). Nevertheless, using high standard quality control ensures that Waitrose will at least be doing well. The type of procedure they could use is Benchmarking, this measures performance and shows how the company is doing, customer wise. The use of quality circles which entails a group of volunteers (between 6 and 10) from a particular work area or department. Their role is to focus on improving quality, productivity and cost reduction. There is also the relevance of training and development and the importance of frequent reviews of the training guide.
In order for Waitrose, to repeat business they must be satisfied their customers. Usually, it is seen that if you re-invent your business, expand into different areas such clothes and so forth, then repeating business won’t be so difficult. Taking a look at Tesco shows this. They used to be a just a supermarket, but now they sell nearly everything from clothes to electrical products, DIY, insurance, bank loans etc. This has made them such a success with its customers because now they are offering a wide choice to satisfy customer needs.
However, if you look at Waitrose they have not expanded as much but instead have focused on what they actually are; a food retailer. Looking at Waitrose now, they definitely introduced different ranges of food. Instead of accommodating customer needs through non-food products, they have accommodated a wide range of customers from different cultural backgrounds. They have introduced types of food that you could hardly buy from another supermarket, such as kosher foods, Cypriot cheeses, and a wide range of spices from around the world. If you access their website, they have a whole section just on food and drink. Including recipe searches, wine guides, restaurant guides, nutrition information for adults and children, food events, tips on healthy eating and seasonal ideas. All of this can appeal to a wide range of customers from different backgrounds. It is accessible for nearly everyone to enjoy and eat.
Using benchmarking to measure performance is also a quality procedure. “Benchmarking is simply about making comparisons with other organisations and then learning the lessons that those comparisons throw up”. In general, benchmarking entails the following:
- Identifying gaps in performance
- Frequently comparing aspects of performance
- Looking for fresh approaches to make improvements in performance
- Following through with implementing improvements
- Following up by monitoring progress and reviewing the benefits
Benchmarking is best used in a collaborative way. The aim of benchmarking is to learn about the circumstances and processes that underpin superior performance.
The use of quality circles helps the organisation increase productivity, improve quality and strengthen employee morale. Quality circles operate on the principle that employee participation in decision-making and problem-solving improves the quality of work. All members of quality circles need to receive training; they need to be empowered and to have the support of senior management. This enables them to work more effectively and makes their work less stressful.
However there are problems with quality circles, such as:
- There can be inadequate training.
- Unsure of Purpose.
- Not entirely voluntary.
- Sometimes a lack of management interest.
- Quality circles are not really empowered to make decisions.
Evidence of successful quality circles proposes that there are no formal rules about how to organise them. Nevertheless, here are a few guidelines to follow for a successful quality circle:
- The circle should not get to big – this becomes difficult for some circle team members to have a say on what the topic is about.
- Meeting should be nowhere near the work area – this reduces distraction.
- It is suggested that members of the circle should meet up once every week for at least an hour. The reason being that the nature of the quality problems to resolved, should establish how often the circle needs to meet up.
- Before starting, the circle team members should have a clear agenda and objective.
- Members should not hesitate to ask for help outside of the circle or expert help if needed.
The relevance of training and development is very useful to Waitrose. For example, Waitrose has a Retail Management Training Scheme. It starts in September each year and is open to anyone who has completed full-time education. The first stage to the training scheme, which is has duration of two years, prepares you for a Section Manager position. If you successfully complete the first stage, then Waitrose gives you the opportunity to continue the training to step up to become a Department Manager; this position involves being a member of the senior branch management team. Anyone who applies for a job position at Waitrose needs to be mobile to receive training in different branches.
When joining the Retail Management Training Scheme, there are rewards and benefits that will be competitive and reviewed at the height of your progression.
I think that Waitrose’s customer service policy is at a standard that it should be. It try to know about its customer, what they want and how satisfy them. When being confronted with a problematic issue, they use their customer service skills in an appropriate manner. Waitrose believe that it is important to respect the interest of all its customers. They meet their aims and objectives by building long-term relationships with supplier, and a trustworthy relationship with its customers. Waitrose build relationships with its customers by considering their needs and involving themselves in public service.
Waitrose have become an organisation where quality, safety and food are maintained at a high standard. The use of quality circles has boosted the internal organisation within all the departments, making everyone work together to produce a successful and reliable business. The use of customer panels monitors their customer service levels; it helps them find areas to improve on and to come up with new ideas. By using customer panels, the company has a direct connection with the customer representatives and thus gives them detailed and valuable knowledge to work on. Performance levels have improved with new training schemes for people to join, it trains them to be confident in what they are doing, uses proper skills and techniques for serving customers to the best they can.
If Waitrose improves its customer service, it will most definitely have a positive effect on the organisation. Recognizing that customer service levels have increased shows that the team members are working very well in an appropriate and effective manner. It boosts employee morale and makes them feel good that they have contributed to the improvement of customer service. It shows that the training and development, the quality circles and the customer panels have all been extremely useful in helping to improve their performance in serving customers.
The effects of improved customer service might have on Waitrose are:
- Boost in confidence amongst the team members – this shows that they are performing their job roles successfully.
- Shows customer are satisfied with their service, so there are no losses but gains in the number of customers.
- Drives more determination into the workforce to improve even more on customer service.
- They know how to handle customer enquiries successfully and they know what areas of customer service training work best.
- Increase in profits, as customers are willing to spend more when they receive a good service.
I believe that Waitrose do offer excellent customer service, as I have witnessed this myself and that they are willing to help you if you have any problems or queries. They do actually care for their customers needs and try their very best to meet them.
Customer service strategies and suggestions
on improving the customer service.
To The Board of Directors
This report outlines the research I have done into customer service strategies that are employed by Waitrose. I shall make suggestions on ways of improving the customer service.
Throughout my research on Waitrose’s customer service policy I have found several things that suggest Waitrose are meeting their aims and objectives. These are:
- Customer feedback is positive
- Waitrose are trying to be socially and environmentally aware of what they buy and taking into affect the people involved with the trading.
- Waitrose’s training and development scheme actually does improve employee skills and increases motivation.
- Quality circles have helped boost employee morale which in turn shows in their job roles which has turned out positive.
Waitrose’s workforce has worked together and tried to meet its CSP aims and objectives. Obviously, if the customers are happy and satisfied with the standard of service then that suggests that there are improvements on customer service. By maintaining that standard, I believe that Waitrose will continue to succeed with their customers and will get the recognition it deserves
The use of quality circles could improve the team members skills, their ideas are contributed and put into consideration; everyone interacts with each other so that they all feel that they are a part of something and the communication between them become stronger and easier. For example, when there is a meeting of circle members there will be a chance for team members to contribute their ideas and thoughts on improving the quality of service. They can all work together to achieve a positive outcome and in return work on that when serving customers to achieve overall customer satisfaction.
The impact of the improvements made have increased the level of customer service by being more aware of customer needs, communicating with the customer in a correct and suitable way, will make Waitrose more motivated and determined to keep on improving as the rewards do have a strong positive impact. By team members working co-operatively together, this can help Waitrose achieve the aims and objectives. It builds a strong morale amongst the workforce, and encourages them which brings out the motivation to be successful in what they are doing.
Waitrose can work on improving customer service and will keep on training and developing their workforce to achieve overall customer satisfaction and positive outcomes. If there is a strong, dedicated workforce within any organisation then it will be known that the rest will fall into place, the business can be successful in the end.
Source: The European Benchmarking Code of Conduct.