Keeping customers happy – an interview with Valerie Merrill

VALERIE MERRILL

VALERIE MERRILL

How to keep serviced office customers happy

The flexible office market is getting more competitive by the day, so keeping customers happy once you have them is crucial. Operators are now investing heavily in staff training so that customers’ user experiences are as positive as possible. GKRE spoke to Valerie Merrill of Merrill Consultants to discuss the training programmes she runs for serviced office operators.

Q:           What type of training do you undertake for the serviced office market?

A:            It depends upon what the organisation is trying to achieve but mostly it is training relating to sales, customer service, conflict resolution and events.

Q:           Which courses are particularly popular?

A: Serviced operators recognise that good customer service is the key to retaining customers so we are running this course regularly at the moment.

The course is designed as forum theatre. This is where a facilitator runs the session and two actors role play typical scenarios we have agreed with the client.

The actors act out a worst-case situation. For example, this could be an unhappy tenant coming to complain and the manager appearing to be uninterested or with too much else to do. The delegates are then asked what should be done differently and the actors role play again but still get it wrong. Delegates then actively supervise the actors in a third session.

This course works really well because some delegates love role play and some do not. But by getting them involved they forget their reservations and jump in.

The sales training course is also popular. Unlike other sales course where people are left on their own to implement the techniques they have learned, we work on a consultative basis. We spend time following up with group coaching after the course. We also set actions and targets as this leads to better results. We all know that if you don’t use what we have learnt within two to four weeks you lose 50% of the value.

Q             What other courses have been well received?

A:            The conflict resolution course, as the content is useful not just for business but also for life. Areas covered include the need for excellent communication, recognising behavioural signs of conflict and understanding the obstacles to conflict resolution.

Q:           Return on investment is always a crucial element in training, how do you measure it?

A:            There are a number of tools on the market but it has to be a before and after analysis.  Sometimes assessment tests are done and the results can be seen before and after. Doing the maths is a good example, i.e. what is the bottom line after the delivery? Have results improved, are the staff more motivated, has customer satisfaction increased?

This is where our follow up processes work well. We can use the follow up to flag up any additional areas operations need to deal with.

Q:           One of your clients is Workspace Group. How satisfied have they been with your courses?

A:            We are pleased to have been training for Workspace Group for three years and their last Annual report says it all: “1,237 training days completed by employees on areas including … Social Media, Customer Service, Conflict Resolution and Networking & Events.”

The report also outlines plans to continue training for all employees and introduce new courses on recruitment and facilitating events.

Salma Bheekhun, Support Services Manager at Workspace Group was kind enough to say:

“Valerie has been very good at working with us to deliver bespoke training solutions for staff. She has got to know our business, requirements and staff very well which enables her to support our needs. Valerie is friendly, approachable and a pleasure to work with.”

Thank you Valerie.

Valerie Merrill is Managing Director of Merrill Consultants, a training company based in Kingston Upon Thames, although they train all over the UK. Their courses are customised to suit the culture and needs of their clients. They work with HR and operations directors with the aim of becoming training partners to the organisation. To contact Valerie, please email her at valerie.merrill@merrillconsultants.com.

please see GKRE website http://www.gkre.co.uk/index.php/2017/04/17/keeping-customers-happy/

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