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The real value of customer service

Aug 08th

We’ve all heard and experienced a lot of claptrap about customer service. Which company doesn’t put their customer first? Or rather which company really does? Of course there is good theory (e.g. ‘the Customer value chain’ showing that higher customer service leads to higher profits₁)

I’ve been working recently with two companies which really do go that extra mile and see customer service as major competitive advantage. They’re both in very different markets – one high end luxury consumer brand, the other a commodity supplier, essentially business-to-business. Both are in ‘challenger’ market positions, with some much bigger and more powerful brands

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This article is filed under: employee motivation, , organisational culture

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Leaders or leadership?

Jul 12th

Companies have to move fast these days in order to stay ahead of the game.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple puts it like this: “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.”
We know that the quickest way to shift gears is through a shift in leadership behaviour.  In most cases, people think about leaders as individuals.  Heifetz and Linsky, however, point out that leaders tend to be people who are placed in positions of authority, and

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This article is filed under: leadership, leadership development

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The dangers of losing your sense of direction

Jun 15th

As we witness David Cameron’s latest ‘flip flops’ on key policy areas of health and social care and crime last week, and hear Rowan Williams’ strong comments about the impact of having no clear leadership direction and underpinning values in the current Coalition government, a striking image sprang to mind . Try Googling the words ‘confused picture’ and it’s one of the top four images that pop up. It’s a signpost with the words ‘Confused, Lost, Perplexed, Disoriented, Unsure and Bewildered’ on its posts – all pointing in different directions. It was used recently by several different employees in a

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This article is filed under: communication, leadership, values

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4 steps from blame to learning

May 18th

A strong learning culture is increasingly important to all organisations. If something changes, (think iPad) or something goes wrong (think BP), adapting is what helps organisations survive.

So how do you turn mistakes or ideas into real organisational learning?

Understand your current culture: Leaders may think they are encouraging learning, but get a group of individuals in a room, from different levels, and ask them how it really is. Good questions might be: “What do you do if you have a good idea?”, “What stops you reporting things that go wrong?” “What usually happens when you suggest something to your manager?”
Communicate with

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This article is filed under: organisational culture

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Virginia Merritt on SimplyTV

May 06th

A video round-up of the latest information, views and news from the world of internal Communications, from Simply TV.

The May edition features our very own Virginia Merritt interviewed on our recent work with a highly-publicised global safety campaign.  Just click here to view (and select the slide index tab to jump straight to Virginia’s interview).

This video also features:

Aldo Liguori, Communications Advisor to Sony Ericsson, discussing crisis communication in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Japan;
VMA Group’s Charlotte Butler in an exclusive interview on industry trends found in the recruiting firm’s soon-to-be-published 2011 Professional Development in Internal Communication survey; and
Chicago-based consultant and seminar leader, Jim

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This article is filed under: communication, organisational culture, safety

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Keeping things simple

Apr 22nd

I’m renewing my campaign on keeping things simple.  It’s long been one of our hallmarks as consultants to help our clients make complex things simple.  Perhaps it’s in the nature of management to proliferate frameworks and systems and measurement.  It sometimes takes an outside view to help organisations back to the essence.

Adrian Furnham, Professor of Psychology at University College London, wrote recently in The Sunday Times of the perverse consequences of performance management systems.  They’re meant to systematise how things are done and to encourage the less good performers to do better.  Instead, with their complex rules and targets and

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This article is filed under: leadership development, organisational culture

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Practical steps to happiness

Apr 13th

ABCD (resist the urge to hum along with the Jackson Five) is a well established framework and tool that comes out of positive psychology – it can be used to build optimism, positivity and resilience. As a manager coaching people through tough and uncertain times it’s worth remembering the ABCD of how to get people to think more positively – you can apply it in individual conversations and in a team discussion.

Adversity – we encounter it and react to it
Belief – our reactions create and are conditioned by a set of beliefs
Consequences – the beliefs are the cause of what

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This article is filed under: Change, communication

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If you haven’t read this yet, you should

Apr 06th

How often do you read a business book and come away completely satisfied? Like a perfect five course meal with three wines.  In this case my metaphorical five course meal was in a restaurant that has been open since 1981 and I’ve never visited, so all the more surprise that it catered perfectly to my tastes which are not, as you may know, entirely mainstream…Enough of the analogy – I have just been through “Gary Yukl’s Leadership in Organizations (7th ed)”  published by Pearson.

Yukl has been researching and writing on leadership for 40 years and this textbook for business

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This article is filed under: leadership, organisational performance