8 Effective Tips When Handling An Unreasonable Customer

Every business has to deal with an unreasonable customer at one point or another

A customer is commonly regarded as being unreasonable when they:

  • Demand a service or product whether it is provided by your business or not
  • Are seemingly impossible to appease
  • Argue the price
  • Display rude behaviour towards the salesperson

Here are 8 tips you can use to handle an unreasonable customer.

1. Listen Attentively

Listening to your client is the first step in resolving an issue.

Typically an unreasonable customer will believe their request is actually quite reasonable.

Try to see things from your customer’s view point. Being understanding is important when trying to solve the problem.

2. Let Them Know Your Side

After listening to the customer, you should help them to see your point of view as well.

Eg. If your customer is trying to negotiate you down from your price, explain how you have arrived at that price and why.

3. Consider Other Options

If your customer requests additional services free of charge that are not included in the agreement, explain why you can’t fulfill their request.

But, always offer an alternative option.

Think about alternatives that are fair and will benefit both of you.

Consider the following:

  • Could you deliver on part of the extra demands?
  • Are there lower-priced alternatives that could meet their needs?

4. Assess The Cost Of Saying “Yes”

If you are the business owner or sales manager, it’s a good idea to calculate he costs linked to catering to unreasonable customers each month. You can then off-set those costs by making changes such as cutting costs in other areas of the business, or raising prices of other products.

It is also beneficial to assess the team’s customer service and negotiation skills.

If you find any issues in these areas, it may indicate a need for staff training.

5. Assess The Consequence Of Saying “No”

Consider what the repercussions are of saying “no”.

Is it possible that you will lose this customer if you deny their demands? If a customer’s demands are virtually impossible and you cannot find an alternative, you can be left with no choice.

You should always carefully assess the situation before saying no, and explain your reasons while remaining calm and polite.

6. Empathise With Them

When you are unable to meet a customer’s request, you should always show empathy.

They are still your client and unless they are extremely difficult, you don’t want to lose them.

It is a good idea to send them a follow-up email or a phone call after a few days to maintain the relationship and show you care.

7. Show Gratitude

Keep in mind that no matter how unreasonable your customer is, you never know what someone is going through.

A simple thank-you is something you should always do.

It will show the customer that you value the relationship even if they have ended a contract with you or left without making a purchase.

8. Don’t Let Them Leave Angry

Rumours about a business spread rapidly, more so now than ever.

It’s important that a customer does not leave angry, to ensure they don’t post anything on social media, or spreading rumours that can damage the reputation of your business.

Does your sales team have an effective plan to handle unreasonable customers?

Contact the team at KONA to discuss a customised Sales Training Program for your business.

Call 1300 611 288 or email [email protected]

4 Key Reasons Why Being “Customer-Centric” Sparks Business Growth

Customer-centricity is a strategy and a way of doing business that concentrates on creating the best possible customer experience which in turn, brings brand-loyalty.

 

Customer-centric companies guarantee that the customer is at the centre of business operations.

  Customer Centric vs Customer Service   Here are 4 key reasons why being customer-centric generates business growth.

1. Allows Companies To Build Better Relationships With Their Customers, Which Helps Increase Sales & Revenue

Having connections built on trust and good communication makes it easy for customers to feel assured and connected with a brand. It leads to high customer retention rates and increases repeat purchases.  

2. Provides A Positive Customer Experience To Drive Repeat Business & Enhance Customer Loyalty 

A positive customer experience is essential for business growth.  A great customer experience will:
  • Promote brand advocacy
  • Help retain customers
  • Encourage customer loyalty
 

3. Makes The Customer Feel Valued Which Means They Are More Likely To Recommend Your Business

When your customers feel important, your customer service team becomes the powerhouse that drives revenue up. Strengthening your customer service efforts to deliver the experience your customers expect, will ultimately grow your business.  

4. Allows Businesses To Identify Opportunities For Development

Listening and responding to customer feedback is a great way to take advantage of business growth opportunities. If a significant amount of customers are providing similar feedback or areas for improvement, a customer-centric business will take the feedback on-board. They will adapt to meet the needs of their target customer.   Guides and tips on creating a customer-centric business | Customer Radar  

Find out how your company can benefit from becoming more Customer-Centric.

Contact KONA today to discuss tailored training options for your business.

  Enterprise Barcode Solutions- Commercial Barcode Hardware & Software

4 Reasons Why Compassion Is More Effective In Leadership Than Empathy

Empathy is important for good leadership, but too much can be an issue.

Rather than carrying the responsibility of empathy, leaders can learn to experience compassion.

 

Being compassionate can:

  • Change how leaders engage with their teams

  • Benefit all parties

  • Alleviate burden from leaders

    Here are 4 benefits of being a compassionate rather than empathetic leader.  

1. It Is Easier To Make Decisions Based On Compassion Rather Than Empathy

  Being empathetic means we take on the emotions of the other person and feel what they are feeling.   Other than making the other person feel less alone, empathy doesn’t offer any solution.   Empathy is considered impulsive- Compassion is considered deliberate and conscious.   When being compassionate we have the clarity of mind to reflect on the situation and make wise decisions.   You can ask the person ‘What do you need?’. This will better inform you on how you can help.  

2. Compassion Over Empathy Allows You To Put Emotions Aside When Making Decisions

Compassion allows you to:
  • Take an emotional step back
  • Act rationally, not impulsively
  • Think clearly and consciously
 

3. Empathy Lets Us Join The Suffering Of Others, But Compassion Allows Us To Help

Compassion is essentially recognising the suffering of others and then taking action.   When being compassionate, we take a step away from the emotion of empathy and ask ourselves ‘How can we help?’.  

4. Why You Need Compassion And Empathy As A Leader

  To be an effective leader it is important to connect with Empathy but to lead with Compassion. A leader needs to be empathetic in order to engage. But we can leverage our empathy to lead with compassion.       Putting empathy aside to lead with compassion doesn’t make a leader less kind, it allows you to better support your team through difficult times.  

Are your leadership team compassionate or empathetic?

 

Contact KONA to discuss how tailored Leadership Training can benefit the leaders in your business!

Contact Us Button Images – Browse 39,868 Stock Photos, Vectors, and Video | Adobe Stock  

4 Tips To Drive Customer Service Excellence

Customer Service Excellence - it's all about trust | Invest Northern Ireland

Customer Service Excellence does not just rely on your frontline staff. Although customers may be won or lost there. Therefore, it’s crucial that every staff member in your organisation works together to create the customer service journey.

That includes resolving issues and creating memorable moments for your customers. Additionally, you should empower your frontline staff to be as valuable to the customer as possible.

It could be the difference between the customer returning to your company or leaving for the competition. So how can you improve customer satisfaction in today’s customer-centric world?

Here are 4 tips to drive Customer Service Excellence

1. Collect Customer Feedback

42 Hilarious Customer Complaints That'll Make You Laugh | Bored Panda

Nothing proves to your customers their worth than asking questions and acting on it accordingly.

When asked for feedback your customers feel valued and treated almost like a part of your creative team. By asking for customer feedback you make them feel their opinions are truly valued.

Additionally, when customers feel they have been heard, they begin to have positive connotations with your brand. Consequently, they return their good experience back to you. This is either by returning as a loyal customer or spreading valuable positive word of mouth about your organisation. By using surveys, you can measure customer satisfaction and discover what product improvements your customers request.

2. Turn Customer Feedback into Action

10 Quick Tips For Effective Mobile App Customer Support — Webbroi

When the competition is just a few clicks away, it is crucial to address any customer service issues immediately.

Customers that are not happy and who provide feedback should be seen as an opportunity. They could simply write negative online reviews. That is, a public attack on your social media channels, or even worse, leave an anonymous comment on a forum.

Instead, they took the effort to contact your organisation and share their experiences, trusting that you can fix it.

Negative customer feedback should be valued even more than any other because it gives you the winning growth strategy on a silver plate!

For this reason, create a Customer Service Feedback Action Plan to tackle the unsatisfied customers’ issues straight away.

3. Improve your Product or Service

You should constantly strive to improve your product or service based on customer feedback. This will see you keep customer satisfaction levels high.

Product or service improvement often results in new customers or increased existing customer retention. The two most popular ways to make product and service improvements are to add new features or improve existing ones

4. Follow up with your Customers

Follow-Up in Customer Service: Importance, Tools, and Best Practices

Have you made an improvement based on what your customer has told you? Well then, follow up with the customer to let them know about it.

Keeping your customers in the loop shows that your business values customer feedback.

Intelligent follow-ups at the right times can have a very powerful impact on your customers. It also keeps you at the top of their mind when it comes to choosing different brands or providers.

ITSM Consulting – Building Service Excellence

Book your team on their Customer Service Excellence Training Workshop.

Gather the team and we will take care of the rest.

Call us at KONA on 1300 611 288 for a conversation, or email i[email protected] anytime.

LAURETTE WITH HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY ON IT FOR KONA GROUP SALES TRAINING SALES HEALTH CHECK

 


10 Ways to Handle Difficult Customers

How to handle difficult customers – not a question we should be asking ourselves, yet one we are unfortunately facing more and more often since the onset of COVID.

Customers are more likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service. Since difficult customers are inevitable and more prevalent in this COVID environment, it is important that you and your team know how to effectively resolve customer conflicts.

Learn how to handle difficult customers

To enhance your team’s conflict resolution capabilities and increase their skills in knowing how to handle difficult customers, contact KONA for information on online workshops and practice role-playing with customer service and call centre workshops.

Some people believe “the customer is always right,” but I do not. However, I do believe that the customer is “always the customer”, they may not always be easy to deal with but you must still politely deal with them.

What to do

Learning how to handle difficult customers is vital ingredient for any business, especially those who have call centres. Even businesses with the best products and services are bound to have occasional run-ins with angry customers.

Consumers expect businesses to provide good customer service, now more than ever and with the increase in stress created by the global pandemic, many of our customers are experiencing an increase in “unreasonable” customers.

To build a positive reputation with consumers and to help manage internal stress, it is important to have professionally trained staff who can handle difficult people and resolve customer complaints.

How to do it

Many people’s natural response when faced with how to handle difficult customers, is to get defensive and get into a negative mindset with a disgruntled client. Once you flip the switch and start with ‘thank you,’ the response is out of the ordinary for them.

This works in every business, and once the strategy is taught to the customer service teams, sales divisions, and leadership, the impact is amazing.

However, handling an angry customer doesn’t stop there. Here are several other techniques and strategies that your team can learn to enhance their quality of customer service when dealing with complaints.

To find out more contact the KONA Group 1300 611 288 | [email protected]

10 Ways on How to Handle Difficult Customers

  1. First and foremost, listen. Do not try to talk over the customer or argue with them. Let the customer have their say, even if you know what they are going to say next, that they don’t have all the information or that they are mistaken. As you listen, take the opportunity to build rapport with the customer.
  2. Build rapport through empathy. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Echo the source of their frustration and show that you understand their position and situation. If you can empathise with a customer’s problem, it will help calm them down. If you verbally “nod” during the call, the customer will feel better understood.
  3. Lower your voice. If the customer gets louder, speak slowly, in a low tone. Your calm demeanour can carry over to them and help them to settle down. As you approach the situation with a calm, clear mind, unaffected by the customer’s tone or volume, their anger will generally dissipate.
  4. Respond as if all your customers are watching. Pretend you are not talking only to the customer but to an audience that is watching the interaction. This shift in perspective can provide an emotional buffer if the customer is being verbally abusive and will allow you to think more clearly when responding. Since an unruly customer can be a negative referral, assume they’ll repeat the conversation to other potential customers; this mindset can help you do your best to address their concerns in a calming way.
  5. Know when to give in. If it is apparent that satisfying a rude customer is going to take two hours and still result in negative referrals, it may be better to take the high road and compromise. This will give you more time to nurture other, more productive customer relationships. Keep in mind that the interaction is atypical of customers and you’re dealing with an exception.
  6. Stay calm. If the customer is swearing or being verbally abusive, take a deep breath and continue as if you didn’t hear them. Responding in kind will not solve anything, and it will usually escalate the situation. Instead, remind the customer that you are there to help them and are their best immediate chance of resolving the situation. This simple statement often helps defuse the situation.
  7. Don’t take it personally. Always speak to the issue at hand and do not get personal, even if the customer does. Remember that the customer doesn’t know you and is just venting frustration at you as a representative of your company. Gently guide the conversation back to the issue and how you intend to resolve it.
  8. Remember that you’re interacting with a human. Everyone has an occasional bad day. Maybe your rude customer had a fight with their spouse, got a traffic ticket that morning or had a recent run of bad luck. We’ve all been there, to some degree. Try to empathise and make their day better by being a pleasant, calming voice – it’ll make you feel good too.
  9. If you promise a call-back, call back! Even if you promised an update that you don’t have yet, call the customer at the scheduled time anyway. The customer will be reassured that you are not trying to dodge them and will appreciate the follow-up.
  10. Summarise the next steps. At the end of the call, let the customer know exactly what to expect, and then be sure to follow through on your promises. Document the call to ensure you’re well prepared for the next interaction.

To find out more contact the KONA Group 1300 611 288 | [email protected]

TRAINING COURSES AND WORKSHOPS FOR MANAGING DEMANDING CUSTOMERS

It is important for businesses to give their teams the proper conflict management training and techniques to be successful and know handle difficult customers. You can train your customer service, sales and leadership by investing your team in customer service workshops with KONA.

There are several great training resources available, both online and offline. To help you find the right resources for building a supportive team, we spoke with experts to compile a brief list of great training workshops.

ACTIVITIES FOR HANDLING DIFFICULT CUSTOMER CONVERSATIONS

Honing your customer service and conflict management skills takes time and practice. After your team completes the KONA training courses, you can implement recurring in-house exercises to keep their skills sharp as we will develop the training customised and branded for each client.

In conjunction with our customers, the Customisation phase is to tailor the appropriate training workshops and methodologies that will reinforce all the current in-house training and development.

This will include:

  • Roll out and logistics.
  • Worksheets.
  • Exercises.
  • Case studies.
  • PowerPoint slides.
  • On-going coaching manuals.

Our customers have experience amazing results with the below process:

KONA’s A.C.T.C Proven Process

Step 1: Assessment

Before we make any recommendations, we gain an understanding of your team’s effectiveness in the following key areas:

  • Strategic Objectives and your customers.
  • Distribution Strategy.
  • Climate of Support Leadership.
  • Team Culture.
  • Customer service Team Management.
  • Customer Management.
  • Required Soft Skills and Service Methodology.
  • Individual Performance Management and Accountability.

Step 2: Customisation

Having identified key areas of your current team’s effectiveness we will then be in a position to give feedback and recommendations of service improvement and the immediate key areas to focus on to generate continued growth.

In addition, we customise the training and coaching so that it is relevant to your customers service delivery and strategy.

Step 3: Training Modules

The Assessment and Customisation steps will help us to tailor practical training and development programs, in alignment with our customers overall strategy. For ongoing learning and referencing, and “to keep the training alive” – learning materials will also be handed over to you after the workshops.

Step 4: Coaching

Ongoing coaching plays a key role in driving sustained results from any customer management Effectiveness Strategy. We recommend follow-up, on-the-job coaching that will embed the processes, behaviours and skills required to make an ongoing success in delivering training excellence. Also, by this approach, combined by our active learning and participant engagement workshops – your team won’t revert to their old, comfortable habits!

To GET YOUR TEAM TRAINED IN HANDLING DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS ESPECIALLY DURING COVD-19, contact KONA 1300 611 288 | [email protected] for a confidential conversation today.

hope is not a business strategy hbb group kona sales training

Talent Insights®, The first “multi-science” profiling assessment in the world (DISC on Steroids) 

The KONA Group is enjoying great growth currently working with Australian businesses across a wide cross section of industries including the Banking, IT, Manufacturing, Tourism, Retail and Government Departments using a very powerful tool called Talent Insights®.

Most training organisations simply use DISC or DISC Advanced but we go much deeper into personality profiling with Talent Insights® – the first “multi-science” profiling assessment in the world.

Perfect for Sales Training and Teams Training

This powerful profiling tool is perfect for applying to sales training or team training and delivers incredible results.

What is Talent Insights®?

Talent Insights® was developed as the world’s first multi-science assessment. It is unique in the market because it combines the power of TTISI’s world famous DISC and Motivators assessments into a single, integrated report, blending feedback from both tools.

If you are already using DISC, upgrading to the more powerful Talent Insights® is a must!

Talent Insights®. A Double-Science Assessment

As a double-science assessment, Talent Insights® provides us with two perspectives to understand the people we work with. Talent Insights® explores:

  1. Their behavioural style (HOW they prefer to behave and communicate)
  2. Their personal motivators (WHY they move into action)

When using a traditional single-dimensional assessment, we can miss (or have to assume) so much about what makes a person who they are.

With a multi-science assessment, such as Talent Insights®, we have more places to look for answers and a more complete framework to help people understand themselves and others.

DISC Talent Insights Kona Group

The Multi-Science Advantage

For example, a person with a strong “theoretical” motivator will have a thirst for knowledge and opportunities to learn.

Why is it then that some people with a strong theoretical motivator need to know everything about a subject, while others are comfortable with only a high-level understanding?

The answer may lie in the person’s behavioural style; that is, HOW they will go about satisfying that motivator. Once we uncover their behavioural (DISC) style, we can better understand how two “theoretically” motivated people might appear to be very different individuals.

For instance, a person with a high “D” behavioural style and a strong theoretical might want as much high-level information as fast as they can get it, while a person with a high “C” behavioural style and the strong “theoretical” motivator might want to completely immerse themselves in a subject to fully understand as much as possible.

The Talent Insights® assessment will help you and your customers better understand and appreciate both a person’s behavioural style and their personal motivators.

What Does Talent Insights® Measure?

The Talent Insights® is a powerful assessment combining two sciences, helping you to explore two key areas of performance:

  1. HOW we behave and communicate — using the world famous DISC assessment
  2. WHY we move into action — using the simple yet powerful Workplace Motivators® assessment

This powerful combination produces a 35+ page report that covers 3 sections: Behaviours, Motivators, and an integrated section combining Behavioural and Motivational feedback.

With this unique and powerful blend, your recruitment, management and development activities will be well supported by research-based, validated, and most importantly easy-to-apply assessments.

talent insights kona disc sample report image

The Behaviours Section – DISC

The TTI Success Insights® DISC profile is available in a number of different versions specifically designed for different applications.

The suite includes reports designed for use in recruitment and selection as well as more comprehensive coaching and development reports.

Unlike some of the more primitive DISC models, our DISC assessments provide feedback on all four factors to truly capture how we are unique at a behavioural level and avoid pigeonholing people. The 4 core DISC behaviours measured are:

  1. Dominance – How we respond to problems & challenges
  2. Influence – How we respond to people & contact
  3. Steadiness – How we respond to pace & consistency
  4. Compliance – How we respond to procedures & constraints

Note: The behaviours section also includes the Behavioural Hierarchy: 8 sub-behavioural tendencies based on the core four.

THE MOTIVATORS SECTION (MOT)

The Workplace Motivators® profile is a 14-page report. It takes you a step beyond the standard behavioural assessment to dive deeper into the world of personal values. The 6 core Motivators measured are:

  • Theoretical – A drive for knowledge and learning.
  • Utilitarian – A drive for practicality, value and ROI.
  • Aesthetic – A drive for beauty and creative expression.
  • Social – A drive for compassion and helping others.
  • Individualistic – A drive for uniqueness, status and to lead.
  • Traditional – A drive for unity, order and a system for living.

Note: The Workplace Motivators® also includes feedback on what a person should try to avoid based on his or her motivators. TTI’s brain-based research confirms that this has a deep subconscious impact on our decision-making.

The Blended Section

Talent Insights® was the first assessment in the world to include integration between different models.

This integrated section explores the influence of one dimension of performance on another — in this case, one’s DISC behavioural style and personal motivators.

Included in the Talent Insights® Coaching Report is a section that explores how an individual’s motivators might impact their DISC behavioural style and vice versa.

This is not available from any other assessment provider.

Versions of the Talent Insights® Profile

The Talent Insights® series is made up of a collection of reports designed to support your initiatives and help achieve the outcomes you are looking for. All of our tools have been designed with flexibility, practicality and multiple uses in mind.

This means you can invest once in the right profile and use it throughout the employee life cycle to maximise your investment.

As a multi-science report, Talent Insights® explores both Behavioural Style and Personal Motivators.

There are four sets of reports in this series, including:

  1. Talent Insights® Job Profiles – Providing a validated way to profile the unique positions in any business and determine the “ideal” mix of behaviours and motivators for a superior performer. We refer to this as “Position Benchmarking”.
  2. Talent Insights® Selection Profiles – A shortened version of the full report designed to provide hiring managers with what they need to understand a candidate’s behavioural and motivational mix.
  3. Talent Insights® Comparison and Gap Reports – A set of reports to visually display personal reports against a benchmark (for example, in the selection process to see how closely someone matches a benchmark).
  4. Talent Insights® Coaching and Development Reports – A set of reports that comprehensively explores a person’s behavioural style and motivators. These reports are available in General, Sales and Executive versions.
Kona Multi Science DISC Talent Insights Model Infographic

Common Uses for the Talent Insights®

The DISC and WPMOT models are both wonderfully versatile tools. The Talent Insights® profile is commonly used in the following functions:

Training and Development:

Leadership Development
Communication Effectiveness
Sales Training
Team Effectiveness
Sales Development
Customer Service Training
Coaching/Mentoring Relationships
Telemarketing Training

Strategy and Management:

Competency Framework/Development
Engagement/Motivation
Planning and Strategy
Change Management
Conflict Resolution
Outplacement
Culture/Transformation
Career Planning

Recruitment:

Selection
Position Benchmarking


To better understand the concept of multi-science assessments and the advantages of the TTI Success Insights® suite of tools, please contact the KONA team on 1300 611 288 or learn more at www.kona.com.au

Download the White Paper on The 15 things that sets our DISC reports apart from anything else used in Australia. Link Here.

Call for a free discovery session or to get some sample reports emailed to you explaining why these reports are different than the rest in the market.

Our training programs are delivered Australia wide including New Zealand and South East Asia.

Story content by our partners TTI Success Insights at www.ttisuccessinsights.com.au

Customer Service – The Cost of Mistakes

 

Have you calculated how much your customer service costs you? Do your Customer Service Officers (CSOs) know how to make the best use of time?

The concept of sales coaching, in an effort to reinforce the information learned during training and facilitate changes in workplace behaviour, is gaining more momentum. And industry feedback reveals some businesses still need to do more.

In August 2020, the KONA and HBB Group coached over 500 salespeople virtuallyHowever, it is important to understand that sales is not the only area where coaching has a key role to play.

In fact, coaching your staff in the art of customer service is every bit as important. Without doing so, you are unlikely to put together a truly customer-orientated workforce, increasing the likelihood of customers having bad experiences. That, in turn, can have some serious consequences for your business.

CONSEQUENCES OF POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Most businesses recognise that delivering good customer service is now a prerequisite for success.

Indeed, customers are more demanding than ever before in this area. Also, the level of customer service that would have once provided a competitive advantage is now considered to be the bare minimum expectation.

It is, therefore, best to assess the importance of customer service by looking at the cost of failure.

One of the KONA Groups clients – American Express, in a survey found: 78 percent of customers have backed out of an intended purchase.

Why? Due to poor customer service.

Meanwhile, 67 percent have hung up the phone because they could not reach a live agent.

Crucially, it is not just the affected customers that may be lost. Research published by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs states “news of negative customer service reaches twice as many people as news of positive customer service”. This means, failure in this area can do catastrophic damage to a company’s reputation.

WHAT CUSTOMERS ACTUALLY WANT

Good customer service need not be complicated. In truth, despite customers having higher expectations than in the past, their demands are still all perfectly reasonable and achievable.

For example, in 2019, a HBB Group global survey revealed the single most important quality was “competent CSOs who could listen and empathise”.

The other main trend revealed customers do not want to have to wait ages for help. Again, this is a reasonable expectation. But when we speak to our customers, there is one common issue. Three quarters of all customers believe it currently takes too long to reach a person capable of assisting them.

What does this mean? That the focus of your customer service development should be on providing your staff with a detailed product knowledge and ways to reduce waiting times. Add in personalisation, such as insisting that staff actually use customer’s names, and you are well on your way. 

Also, the cost to the organisation on not obtaining and recording accurate information can put undue pressure on the business. It also significantly heightens the customer’s frustration level. In a recent study conducted by The KONA Group while coaching 172 CSOs, it was found that one mistake caused 20 minutes to fix! If you amortise this – the time to the organisation is 1,964 days of productivity. That is an approximate cost of $765,000.

WHY CUSTOMER SERVICE COACHING MATTERS

Businesses that invest heavily in customer service training may wonder why ongoing coaching is required? The same answer applies to sales training and sales coaching. The role of a coach is to work with staff on a personal level, help them identify areas of weakness. Then, teach them to put their knowledge into action.

“Coaching is an interactive process that helps the other person improve, learn something new or take individual performance to the next level” explains Garret Norris, CEO of The KONA Group and author of Build a Healthy Business”. “It is often an under-realised tool with which you can get the most out of your employees.”

In order to optimise your customer service, you are likely to have to need to make certain changes. That includes, reducing waiting times and personalising the customer experience. This requires staff to not only learn new ideas, but to actually use the information on a daily basis. Put simply, if you want to make improvements to your customer service, you cannot afford for them to revert back to old habits.

At The KONA Group, we offer a customer service coaching courses, learning how to develop talent and give feedback, with a view to improving performance and productivity, and in turn result in a strong ROI.

Contact KONA for Customised Customer Service Training 1300 611 288 | [email protected] for a confidential conversation today.

ADAPTING TO CRISIS – Using DISC to Understand Behaviour

disc logo gif kona training As one of Australia’s largest corporate DISC Facilitators and DISC Profile suppliers, we wanted to learn more about how each behavioural style has been reacting to our current global COVID-19 pandemic to better understand our clients and their needs. One of our senior corporate partners interviewed people in their network who fitted into the D, I, S, and C behavioural styles. Here are their reactions, actions, and results from their initial weeks of remote working in the wake of the current global pandemic.   D – Dominance disc d style image kona training   Fast Paced, Task-Oriented, Results Driven Initial Reaction: Fight or Flight If you have a high D score, your initial reaction was probably one of stark realisation. This might have triggered you into a ‘fight or flight’ response, feeling like you needed to defend yourself and your loved ones, or flee. Focused Reaction: Innovation After the initial shock wore off, our High Ds made a plan. “We work with people,” they said. “We have some of the best tools to leverage how best to deal with people during this crisis, so let’s pull together a package that can appeal to the masses in being better able to lead their talent from a bad situation to a more positive outcome.” Personal Practices Our advice for high D scores? Slow down at home. Your housemates, loved ones and families probably have different scores than you, and they might be hesitating to react as quickly as you are inclined to. It’s ok to take a breath! Rely on others who are more structured than you. Some of our Ds partners are a High S, and they are letting them take the lead on household procedures. They found themselves grateful for the structure in such an uncertain time. Business Best Practices If you have a high D score, you are a trailblazer and an innovator. That’s exactly what businesses need right now! “Innovation happens during interesting times,” said our High Ds. “This is certainly an interesting time that we plan to optimise and have a positive impact on our clients.” Help your clients focus on a bigger picture for their business without emphasising the ‘doom and gloom’. Don’t be insensitive, but a lot of people are looking for inspiration right now, and you’re a natural leader. Next Step for High Ds What’s your next step? A great idea for High Ds is to connect with others and seek out their points of view. Your willingness to charge forward is a great strength, but make sure you have all the facts before you do.  

I – Influence

disc i style image   Engaging, Flexible, Optimistic Initial Reaction: Loss of Connection The high Is were initially very concerned with how the pandemic would affect their connections with others. Since they are people-oriented and fuelled by interaction, they were concerned about social distancing and restriction. Focused Reaction: People-First Support People with high I scores are excellent influencers. They can use that talent in difficult times to help others come around to necessary changes. If you’re a high I, your great attitude and ability to talk through issues will be a huge benefit for you in this time. Personal Practices Our high Is where having a hard time adapting to our new social norms, so they are focusing on keeping spirits high. Inspirational content is a great source of comfort for them, so they are enjoying favourite quotes and seeking out inspiration on social media. Try keeping a ‘victory file’: a collection of notes, cards and messages you’ve received over the years. That way, you can be reminded of the good you have done over time to get inspired for the good you will do! Business Best Practices You know putting people first is the best way forward. Do this by providing exceptional service to reduce waste and reserve profits. It might be hard to adapt without the in-person interaction that a high I prefer but make face-to-face time a priority with tools like Zoom and Teams. Your role in this time is one of support and guidance for your clients. That means you might not be in the spotlight where you thrive, but you can do a lot of good. Next Step for High Is Make sure you’re making future plans. Daydreaming about everything you want to do after the quarantine isn’t a bad idea — it can help you appreciate your loved ones and favourite activities.  

S – Steadiness

disc s style image   Stability, Patience, Great Listening Skills Initial Reaction: Awareness, Not Panic Our High Ss took the changes in stride and noted that it didn’t really affect their day-to-day as much as it might have affected others. The Steadiness that is their hallmark trait became very useful in this confusing time. Focused Reaction: Sustain Business, Don’t Grow It This High Ss are already prepared to do business from anywhere, remote work included. Their goal is to continue to provide dependable, predictable service while they wait for changes in direction. This reliability is a great comfort to clients. “Great things will come out of this and make all of us more aware of things,” they said. There was no evident sense of urgency when interviewing the Ss, just confident awareness that this too shall pass. Personal Practices While you might have the benefit of big picture thinking and a cool head, others are panicking. Their reactions are not less valid than yours, even if they are less logical. Work hard in this time to acknowledge others’ points of view and shift your own communication style to reflect their urgency when appropriate. The Ss ran into a challenge when trying to express the seriousness of the situation to their offsprings. Since they were calm and prepared, their children weren’t fully understanding the gravity of sheltering in place and the importance of social distancing. Shifting communication to match his style helped the Ss break through. Business Best Practices While your levelness and approach of a process is crucially important to your clients, you need to be careful in this time not to withdraw. It can feel easy for you to carry on, business as usual, but if you aren’t working outside of your comfort zone, you might fall behind your competition. Push yourself to try new challenges! Your patience and awareness are great tools as you pursue new goals. Next Step for High Ss Make sure you don’t withdraw! A challenge that High Ss often face is fear of conflict or challenging situations and working remotely presents lots of opportunities to shrink away from both. Make sure you’re setting goals outside of your comfort zone to keep up with your competition!  

C – Compliance

disc c style image kona training   Data Driven, Methodical, Risk Averse Initial Reaction: Social Distancing? No Problem! Our High Cs started the conversation by noting that High Ds and High Is were probably already missing interaction, while they were welcoming the distance. Their task-oriented nature made the shift to virtual much easier than it had been for their peers. Focused Reaction: New Opportunities for Engagement High Cs are at risk of withdrawing, especially with an isolated environment. This High C recognized a need to engage deeper on new platforms and put in high amounts of effort to connect with others virtually. The risk of disconnect is high, but many businesses might stick with a virtual model when the pandemic is resolved. High Cs can help their clients adapt to new protocol and procedures, but the relationship needs to be there. Personal Practices Focus on what you can actually control. A global pandemic is an unprecedented situation, so you need to be kind to yourself and think hard about ways you can realistically improve your situation and acknowledge the ways you simply can’t. Losing your in-person brainstorming in a team has a large effect on people with High C scores. It’s worth it to put in effort to over communicate, rather than under communicate with your team. While the dynamics are different, virtual meetings just to connect and bounce ideas off each other are still very valuable. Business Best Practices Your clear head as a High C is great for your customers right now— you are well positioned to help them figure out the logistics of working virtually. Help your clients focus on the positive aspects of working remotely, like saved money and resources, and help them re-evaluate their business structure to come out of this crisis in the best position possible for them. Next Step for High Cs You might not be used to helping others look on the bright side, but your ability to see the advantages of our current state of business is crucial right now. Use your reasoning skills to help others!  

Move Forward with Awareness

The one thing that you can be certain of is that the state of the world and businesses are changing every day. Hopefully, you can become more aware of your own behaviour by learning from our high D, I, S, and Cs. If you’re looking for a next step, try The Free Working from Home Report. This free assessment offers quick tips to communicate with every DISC style as well as personalised remote work options for you. Here’s the link or click on the image. https://www.ttisi.com/wfh Kona training free disc report   If you would like to explore DISC in more detail including our suite of Corporate DISC Profiles or have your team undertake one of our facilitated workshops by an accredited Behaviour Analyst (CPBA), please contact KONA Training today on 1300 833 574 or email [email protected] to organise a free discovery session. DISC Profiles available include – Sales, Management/Staff and Executive Profiles

The KONA ‘Hour of Power’ can be a million-dollar injection to your sales budget!

The KONA ‘Hour of Power’ can be a million-dollar injection to your sales budget!

The KONA ‘Hour of Power’ can make a positive impact on your sales team.

Do you have any of the problems below?

  • Are your sales people are not speaking with enough new customers and prospects?
  • Are they reluctant to pick up the telephone to call people they don’t know?
  • Do they struggle to make appointments with senior decision makers?
  • Do they struggle to get past ‘the gatekeeper’?
  • Do you have overstocks that need to be cleared?

At the end of the day the best way to fill your sales funnel is activity, and the right activity at that!  Making calls to potential and existing customers is a great way to do it.  This contact between salespeople and customers is critical to sales success and one of the key reason some sales professionals smash their targets and others don’t know what 100% of target is.

There are a few key points to make a calling session a success:

  1. SUPPORT each other by doing it as a group
  2. MAXIMISE the chances of success by getting the language right
  3. HAVE a conversation between people (emails do not work)
  4. PRACTICE some calls with each other before you make the call (I know the dreaded role play but this is so critical to success!)
  5. SET some targets for the hour of calling. (appointments and orders are a great starting point)

KONA has seen this ‘Hour of Power’ work with some stunning results, one client landed over a $1 000 000 in sales.  This works for both Account Management and Business Development teams and is a skill set we know is critical in Sales People.

Sometimes filling a Sales Funnel is a daunting task and when that funnel is emptier than it should be the excuses start to come out!

  • Things are slow.
  • Our competitor is cheaper
  • There are product problems

At KONA we hear them all and they all relate to ‘Price, Product and Problems’.  These are the best excuses in the world for sales teams to find reasons not to act.

Conducting an ‘Hour of Power’ is a tangible action that forces everyone to act.

If you need help running an “Hour of Power’ give KONA a call on 1300 611 288 or email us at [email protected]


Are we a knowledge based economy?

What’s down the track for a knowledge based economy? 

photo-3 OPINION: Not only is its confrontational industrial relations environment seen as a major constraint on innovation, but government statistics show that its investment in R&D lags a long way behind most other industries. The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data on business expenditure on R&D (BERD) shows that of the total $18,849 million invested in R&D across all Australian industries, manufacturing remained the largest contributor at $4,844 million (26 per cent). That outpaced professional, scientific and technical services ($3,753 million, or 20 per cent), financial and insurance services ($3,093 million, or 16 per cent) and mining ($2,830 million, or 15 per cent). Together, these four industries account for 77 per cent of total BERD, while construction contributed $864,103 (4.5 per cent). While the above data looks depressing, it masks the reality of how much innovation really happens in the construction sector. In contrast to the pre-planned, laboratory-based and scientific R&D that typifies others sectors such as manufacturing, innovation in construction normally happens at the ‘coal-face’ in response to day-to-day problems. This means it is largely ‘hidden’ from formal government R&D statistics. However, given that we are inexorably moving toward a knowledge-based future where intellectual property and new ideas will mean the difference between staying ahead of increasing competition or lagging behind, there are also strong arguments that the construction sector should be investing more in formal R&D. So it is worth knowing something about what R&D involves and the many commercial benefits it could bring, if designed and managed effectively. In simple terms, R&D is a knowledge creating process underpinned by rigorous scientific investigation which leads to the commercial development of new services and/or products. R&D can be applied or pure, the form being a response to market developments and having a practical application. Pure R&D is more conceptual and exploratory with the aim of adding to our knowledge base without any specific application. In contrast to applied R&D which has traditionally been the focus of the construction industry, pure R&D has traditionally been the responsibility of government. Government support for pure R&D has always been considered crucial because research shows that most private construction companies, if left to their own devices, would under-invest in this area. With only a few exceptions, the vast majority of construction companies see pure R&D as too risky and time-consuming and are not prepared to tolerate the long-term risks in capturing its benefits. However, as demonstrated by the world’s most innovative companies, when R&D is targeted and managed effectively, it can bring significant commercial benefits. Take for example, British Petroleum’s (BP’s) highly successful and innovative Venture Research Unit which developed and managed one of the world’s most successful corporate R&D programs. BP’s Venture Research Unit was deliberately located outside any of BP’s existing business units to enable it to generate ‘new breakthrough ideas that would lead to new industries and markets for BP.’ Working under the management of BP’s Venture Research Advisory Council and in close collaboration with the world’s leading universities, BP’s innovation strategy involved signing up the world’s most gifted pioneering researchers whose interests were aligned with the business. Rather than following the traditional approaches to R&D which typically involves commissioning pre-determined business-led projects, BP provided these top researchers with the resources to pursue their own ideas and to launch radical challenges to existing ideas outside any external business influences and constraints. This process not only preserved the ideology of independent, unbiased research, but was designed to promote uninhibited thinking. BP chose its team of researchers on the basis of whether their research would radically change thinking about something that was very important to society and to BP’s business. Once accepted into the Venture Research Unit’s team, BP’s goal was to help these leading researchers bring this about. There was an exceptional lightness of touch in managing this research. The only requirement imposed on the academic team was that they were to keep BP regularly informed of what they were doing so that BP could be the first to translate these ideas into marketable products and services to for their customers. Researchers were not concerned directly with the commercialization process. This was entirely BP’s responsibility and once a researcher received BP’s money, they were free to use it in any way they liked. BP did not dictate projects, fields of study, problems or timescales and eventually the unit’s funding was expanded to a consortium of business partners with complementary interests in BP’s demand and supply chain such as ICI, Sony and DuPont. The beauty of BP’s collaborative approach was that it avoided the classic problem of selecting research proposals and constraining the freedom of researchers to follow their passions and strengths. By supporting individual leading researchers and their research aspirations rather than specific research projects, BP was able to pursue a liberal approach which drew knowledge from a range of disciplines and business partners. Furthermore, by hand-choosing their research partners and by minimizing the normal time, resource and bureaucratic constraints associated with scientific research, BP not only reduced the barriers to innovation but they also reduced risk since the researchers they supported were almost certain to succeed. The key question and risk then became how to convert that research into ideas for BP’s benefit. The research that was implemented proved to be extremely successful and their return-on-investment more than covered the relatively small investment in the overall initiative. While there are too few examples like the above in the construction sector, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, Arup is renowned for investing significantly in both pure and applied research with a longer-term view. Arup is reported to invest approximately three per cent of its annual turnover in R&D and has a clear road map for its R&D which extends over 20 years into the future based on key drivers of change in key business areas. Arup also integrates research-based KPIs into performance reviews for staff who are required to publish and collaborate with universities in creating new knowledge for the benefit of the business and society at large. Arup’s research program is driven by both ‘pull’ from its business leaders and ‘push’ from universities and research network partners. Research is seen as vital for its strategic business planning to ensure that it is equipped for future trends and that it can capitalize on new opportunities to improve its business and enter new markets. As in BP’s case, Arup’s research team’s work involves forging and maintaining links with the best quality universities, researchers and research establishments, no matter where they are. Arup also works closely with government research funding and advisory bodies around the world to lobby for certain priority areas of funding and to leverage its own resources. Arup has arguably generated more knowledge than any other firm in the construction industry and has benefited enormously as a result. Indeed, many of Arup’s most successful business units have arisen out of its willingness to allow its staff members to pursue their own passions and interests within the work environment. Importantly, while this strategy has inevitably involved some risk and failure, it has also enabled Arup to build a global reputation for innovation, attract the world’s brightest and most engaged staff and to be first mover in a number of new markets and reap the significant benefits associated with this. While contracting is not generally synonymous with R&D, Laing O’Rourke also has a strong commitment to R&D through the formation and continued success of its Engineering Excellence Group (EnExG). It is not only Laing O’Rourke’s spending commitment to innovation and R&D (1.9 per cent of revenue) that led to it being recognized as one of the top 10 most innovative Australian organizations in 2014 and 2015. Rather, it is how these funds are utilized through the EnExG, and other activities of the wider organization, that makes Laing O’Rourke’s approach to innovation distinctly successful in an industry that often promotes similarity. The EnExG is a highly cross-disciplinary team that has offices in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Now five years old, it employs a broad mixture of intellects and experiences from both within and outside of the traditional construction industry, with the aim of providing the perspectives and insights that can only be gained at the overlapping boundaries of the traditional disciplines of knowledge. By providing the environment for challenging and disruptive ideas to take seed and grow, the EnExG aims to drive fundamental change in the practices and culture of the broader construction industry. This means much of the work of the EnExG is not solving problems through innovation, but rather providing fundamentally new methods and modes of thinking and working. The EnExG has pioneered the development and implementation of disruptive technologies such as 3D printing, augmented reality and biometric measurements, among many others, for use by the Laing O’Rourke workforce and clients. Along with this foundational development the EnExG acts as a cultivation space for promising and innovative commercial ventures. One of these, SunShift™, has been awarded several highly competitive government grants and been the subject of much media attention for its potential to reshape the economics of renewable power generation. While not every consultancy or construction company has the resources to invest in the types of highly structured and formalized R&D programs described above, it is worth remembering that all construction firms, large and small, exist in an increasingly globalised and knowledge-based economy where there is an ever greater reliance on our intellectual and creative capabilities than on our physical inputs or natural resources. We need to work smarter not just harder and without new ideas the Australian construction industry and the jobs that it provides will wither away in the face on growing and smart international competition. Thanks to Dr Rowan Braham of Laing O’Rourke’s Engineering Excellence Group for providing information relating to its activities.  Martin Loosemore is a Professor of construction management at UNSW. This opinion piece was first published on Sourceable.