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Sep

25

Community Chest: Turning an angry client into a loyal one

In this edition of Community Chest, we look to the business community to answer how to effectively handle a customer complaint and potentially turn it into a positive.

A business can live or die on its reputation. That’s why so many spend so much time and money training their staff to provide a first-class service to the customer at every stage of their journey. But people are human, and occasionally service can fall short of what is expected. That’s why we scoured the business.com community to find out the best techniques to turning an angry customer into a loyal one.

Don’t attempt to change their mind

Don’t approach a situation with the mind set of changing theirs. Instead, aim to understand what their frustration is. Once you do, you’ll be in a better place to remedy the situation.

Listen and learn

See each complaint as an opportunity to practice listening. In some instances, a customer will just want to vent their initial frustration and come away feeling that they have been listened to, so take the cotton wool out of your ears and stuff it in your mouth!

While it is difficult to sit there while someone shouts at you the worst thing you can do is match tone. Instead, keep your tone low and steady and let them speak, even if what you’re hearing isn’t the full story, the worst thing you can do is interrupt.

Repeat after me

At the end of the conversation, repeat back some of the customers’ concerns and frustrations, this highlights to them that you have been listening. Also give them clear instructions on what you are going to do to help them and a time frame in which you will get back to them.

Do what you say you will

Even if you fail to achieve what you set out to within the time frame, contact the customer when you say you will. Be honest about what you have been able to get done, and set a new time frame if needed. A customer will appreciate the call even if a solution hasn’t been reached rather than a broken promise.

Put yourself in their shoes

We’re all customers, therefore when we deal with a complaint it should be easy to empathise with the customer. Often, an initial response filled with empathy can stem any further animosity.

Admit when you’re wrong

In this day and age of claims and legal action, the fear of admitting liability can be all too real for most. But the truth is that acknowledging where you have failed and admitting you are wrong can go a big way to solving most issues. Elton John put it best, when he said: ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’.

If there’s a problem, fix it

Do whatever it takes to fix the problem. Even if the solution comes at a cost to the business, it is far less expensive than having an unhappy customer, and could even turn the complainant into a fan. People will be more likely to show loyalty to a business that seemingly bent over backwards to fix a problem. 

You can’t win them all

If you do all the above and still have an irate customer, remember that you can’t win them all. Also, don’t allow a customer to overstep the mark with rude, offensive or derogatory language to your staff. Frustrations are one thing, but bullying and harassment of your staff should never be tolerated.

If you have a question you’d like answered by the business community, or you have advice and guidance you think will be relevant on one of our current topics email info@opsium.co.uk or visit our FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter pages and use hashtag #OpsiumCommunityChest


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Sep

18

Which sector deems HR least effective?

 

In a recent survey by workplace ratings company ViewsHub, 50,000 employees across 11 different sectors found that tech companies rated HR as being the least effective in their business.

On a score out of 5, HR departments in tech companies finished bottom of the 11 sectors, with an average effectiveness rating of 2.66, well below the average of 3.45.

HR departments in Travel came top with 4.20, with food coming second with an average score of 3.70, and large companies with a market capital of more than $10bn rounded out the top three with 3.63.

The holy trinity

The effectiveness of each sector’s HR department was calculated on three criteria:

  • Their ability to get things done
  • How technically good they are at their jobs; and
  • How responsive they are to other teams

The CEO of ViewsHub, Ab Banerjee, said:

“It’s time for more managers to know what their employees think. We started collecting this data years ago. HR departments at tech companies have lagged behind other industries throughout that time.

“If managers had been looking at this data, it would have been an early warning sign. They would have had the information they needed to have acted. It is essential that managers and leadership teams have access to this type of feedback data for their organisations.

“HR departments might say they feel sidelined by tech firms. But they also have to take responsibility for this data, and act accordingly. This data shows that one of the places where HR departments fell down was responsiveness. For whatever reason, employees have developed the perception that human resources departments aren’t responding to their concerns; they weren’t responsive enough. HR departments in tech firms might want to launch engagement schemes to try to correct this.”

Age old debate

This latest data, once again, raises the debate of in-house HR departments vs external agencies. Our viewpoint is that as an external support agency we remain impartial when it comes to HR issues and act in the best interest of the employer. We aim to provide clear and consistent advice and guidance that best supports the business.

Do you agree with these figures? What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of HR? Let us know on our social media channels.


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Sep

15

Absence rates on the rise as businesses feel the strain

 

According to data from XpertHR, employee absence is on the rise as businesses face intense pressure to provide cover at a cost.

In 2016, employee absence has gone up to a median of 6.6 days per employee, rising to 9.1 days for the public sector, equally a working time loss of median 2.9%. The number is higher in larger organisations as the data found that employers with more than 1,000 staff lost 3.8% of working time, or 8.8 days per employee.

For companies with fewer than 100 employees that number dropped to just 1.8%.

Year on year

While the numbers are up from 2015, 5.8 days per employee, they are down when compared to 2006, when absence cost businesses 3.5% of working time, or 8 days per employee.

And it’s not just working time that is lost, according to XpertHR, the cost of providing cover for absent employees cost a business an estimated £455 per employee per year. Not to mention the adding ‘cost’ to a business that is directly attributed to absence such as reduced performance or service, missed business opportunities and the added stress to the workforce who need to cover for employees in their absence.

Speaking about the data, Sheila Attwood, XpertHR managing editor for pay and HR practice said:

“High levels of employee sickness absence represent a significant financial cost to the business, and can have an impact on its operations and the wellbeing of those having to cover for absent colleagues. Employers should use the data they collect on absence rates to be proactive in effectively managing absence in their organisation.”

Does your business suffer from a high level of employee absence? If you’re struggling to deal with lost working time and need a solution that works for everyone, contact us to see how we can help. 


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Sep

05

Government names and shames top companies

 

The Government has released a list of 233 companies who are failing to pay staff the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in an attempt to shame them into changing their ways.

Employers on the list have been fined a record £1.9 million by the Government and over 13,000 of the lowest paid workers will receive around £2 million in back pay as part of the Government backed scheme, which began in 2013.

With over 1,200 employers fined £4 million and more than 40,000 workers receiving back pay of around £6 million, the scheme has successfully identified failings in businesses across the UK.

Business Minister Margot James said:

“It is against the law to pay workers less than legal minimum wage rates, short-changing ordinary working people and undercutting honest employers.  Today’s naming round identifies a record £2 million of back pay for workers and sends the clear message to employers that the government will come down hard on those who break the law.”

Malicious or mistake?

We have added a list of 35 employers at the bottom of this article, many of which are smaller companies who may have made errors in calculating pay, rather than defrauding their employees.

Perhaps the biggest name on the list is Argos, who received a fine of £800,000 after admitting underpaying 37,000 staff earlier this year to the tune of £64 each. The company were caught out after requiring employees to attend mandatory briefings before their shifts, and keeping staff late to complete security searches, both of which they were not paid for.

Speaking about the incident John Rogers, chief executive of Argos, issued a statement:

“I am pleased to say the issue was resolved quickly, and processes have been updated to ensure this cannot happen again.”

Other common errors included:

  • Deducting money for uniforms from pay packets
  • Failure to account for overtime
  • Incorrectly paying workers apprentice rates

Speaking about the list Grahame Davies, Head of Business for Opsium employer support, said:

“The Government name and shame scheme has been running since 2013, and has identified over a thousand companies guilty of failing to pay their employees the NMW. With each passing year, the list seems to grow and that only shows that people still don’t fully understand their responsibilities when it comes to pay.

“The Government have made it clear and all accounts departments should be aware of the rates. Whether these are innocent mistakes or more deliberate actions to save money, the Government have remained clear in their stance that NMW is not an option and those companies who fail to pay, will be fined.”

National Minimum Wage

The current NMW is:

  • National Living Wage (25 years and over) – £7.50 per hour
  • 21-24 year olds – £7.05 per hour
  • 18-20 year olds – £5.60 per hour
  • 16-17 year olds – £4.05 per hour
  • Apprentice rate – £3.50 per hour

0-35 on the list...

Argos Limited

Failed to pay £1,461,881.78 to 12,176 workers

Pearson Anderson Limited

Failed to pay £49,800.41 to 169 workers

Fusion Hairdesign Limited

Failed to pay £24,352.90 to 6 workers

Nunthorpe Nurseries Group Limited

Failed to pay £22,831.38 to 118 workers

Vong's Welcome Limited trading as Vong's Hot Food Bar

Failed to pay £18,575.34 to 1 worker

Maughan Microcomputers Limited trading as Console Doctor

Failed to pay £15,010.89 to 3 workers

Islington Accommodation Services Limited

Failed to pay £14,447.82 to 1 worker

Mr Mohammed Yunas Chughtai, Mrs Azmat Ara Chughtai and Mr Aftab Chughtai trading as Aftabs

Failed to pay £14,142.26 to 1 worker

Rudan Limited trading as Hershesons

Failed to pay £14,141.06 to 7 workers

Mr Anthony Kenvig trading as Kenvig's Hair Marriott

Failed to pay £9,698.04 to 2 workers

Mr William Gareth Griffiths & Mrs Llinos Griffiths trading as Gareth Griffiths

Failed to pay £9,230.56 to 1 worker

Geoff Chapman trading as North Cowton Service Station

Failed to pay £8,229.11 to 3 workers

Miss Mackenzie Sanders trading as Filo Horses

Failed to pay £8,204.07 to 3 workers

Miss Reena Parmar trading as Antony Luka Hairdressing

Failed to pay £7,353.22 to 1 worker

Nightingales of Kidderminster Limited Failed to pay £6,895.75 to 9 workers
Wynyard Hall Limited trading as Wynyard Hall Failed to pay £6,040.05 to 3 workers
Mrs Dorothy Bello trading as Rising Stars Daycare & Shining Stars Kids Club Failed to pay £5,515.06 to 4 workers
Bull Construction Limited Failed to pay £4,998.79 to 1 worker
The Fish and Chip Ship Limited trading as McMonagles

Failed to pay £4,900.15 to 9 workers

DSL Accident Repair Limited Failed to pay £4,896.43 to 3 workers
Shores Homecare Limited Failed to pay £4,840.31 to 6 workers
Deborah Marsh and Kathryn Johnston trading as FX Hair & Beauty Failed to pay £4,790.72 to 1 worker
Bass Electrical Limited Failed to pay £4,717.05 to 1 worker
Airport Placements Limited Failed to pay £4,557.43 to 50 workers
Rainbow Room (Clarkston) Limited (name changed to JPTO Ltd) Failed to pay £4,532.94 to 21 workers
Eaglescliffe Gas Limited Failed to pay £4,492.03 to 1 worker
Idlewild Hairdressing Limited Failed to pay £4,491.02 to 2 workers
Emma's Angels Day Nursery Limited Failed to pay £4,178.89 to 5 workers
Francis John Hairdressing Ltd trading as Francis John Hairdressing Failed to pay £4,129.40 to 2 workers
Elite Hair & Beauty (North East) Limited trading as Elite Evolution Failed to pay £4,053.20 to 5 workers
Mr Mukesh Patela and Mrs Bhavna Patel trading as Eaton Lodge Care Home Failed to pay £4,026.44 to 5 workers
King's Summer Homes Limited Failed to pay £3,974.94 to 1 worker
Smiles Montessori Preschool (Bush Fair) Limited Failed to pay £3,904.90 to 3 workers
Miss Tracey Newnian trading as Tracey's Unisex Salon

Failed to pay £3,879.67 to 1 worker

Field & Rural Life Limited Failed to pay £3,606.09 to 2 workers

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Aug

24

Community Chest: How important is networking when starting a business?

 

Last month, we launched community chest. A forum for employers and employees alike to ask burning questions that we will answer by amalgamating opinions and experiences gathered from people who have been through similar experiences. No canned, stereotypical responses, just real world advice and guidance.

In this month’s community chest, we answer a question submitted to us by Sarah Louise, who asks:

“I’m starting a new business and people keep telling me to go networking. How important is networking when I haven’t got that much work going on at the minute to talk about?”

Networking is a hugely popular way for people to promote their business through word of mouth and gain referrals without spending a fortune on marketing.

Some people make great use of networking, hence the incredible success of BNI (Business Networking International) and BforB (Business for Breakfast). Meet ups can be weekly or monthly and, if promoted well, will feature an eclectic mix of individuals all with the same aim, growing their business. Representatives from individual industries are kept to a minimum (usually one, sometimes two depending on the size) which helps eliminate hard selling.

Networking isn’t for everyone. Some are uncomfortable in a social situation with people they aren’t familiar with, and that’s okay. There are a number of ways to promote your business and networking is just one aspect.

We’ve scoured ukbusinessforums.co.uk for some top tips to getting the most out of networking.

Don’t hide in corners

If you get nervous in social situations it can be easy to hide away in a crowd, only speaking to people who approach you first. Instead, try getting to the meeting early and introducing yourself to the host; once you engage in conversation stay in the centre of the room, that way you are more likely to be introduced to people as they enter and greet the host.

If you don’t feel it, fake it

There is no discernible difference between being confident and feigning confidence. Lots of people feel nervous introducing themselves for the first time, there is no shame in it. The benefit is that every time you attend an event you will be seeing a lot of the same faces, and over time you will be less self-conscious.

Practice, practice, PRACTICE!

It’s a tale as old as time, to be good at something you need to practice. Who are you, what do you do, what type of people are you looking to meet, what sets your business apart? These are all questions that you should be looking to answer at every event. Luckily, they are all questions that only you can answer. If you can’t answer these yet, look at your business plan and remind yourself. Listen to other people when they introduce themselves, some people inject humour, others passion, but they should all have a clear idea of who they want to engage with. If you don’t you could end up wasting valuable time.

Arrange a pre-meet up

If you’re nervous about attending alone, contact the host to arrange a meeting first. It will help you to speak to someone who is clued up on the process and make you feel less anxious about being in a room full of strangers.

Build connections

Think of networking as an opportunity to grow your network, instead of a chance to sell. It’s an opportunity to sell yourself and the age-old adage ‘people like doing business with people’ is more relevant than ever at a networking event.

Believe to achieve

Before an event think about what you’d like to achieve and then set yourself a target of three ‘wins’. Those could be obtaining a business card from a contact from a chosen industry, promises of a follow-on meeting or speak to at least three different individuals you’ve not spoken to before.

Some questionable advice

We’re not too sure on the analogy but one user described networking as, like sex; the first time is scary and possibly painful but once you’ve done it you enjoy it and want to do it more often.

This is just a few to get the ball rolling but the key take-homes before attending any networking event, are:

•    Be confident

•    Practice your introduction

•    Build contacts

•    Grow your business

If you have a question you’d like answered by the business community, or you have advice and guidance you think will be relevant on one of our current topics email info@opsium.co.uk or visit our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages and use hashtag #OpsiumCommunityChest


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