Category Archives: blogging

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My visit to Sedona – AZ

I recently celebrated my birthday in Sedona – a city that straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of the U.S. state of Arizona.

Sedona’s main attraction is its array of red sandstone formations. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun.

Start with scenery that makes your heart leap. Sedona nestles among a geological wonderland. Multi-hued stone formations jut upwards from the high desert floor creating a vivid, mesmerising setting that changes hourly with the light. When USA Weekend compiled their Most Beautiful Places in America list, no surprises that Sedona claimed the top spot.

Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, visitors have instant access to recreational activities. Trails for hiking and biking, along with bouncy jeep tracks, weave among the bristling forest of pinnacles, spires, buttes and domes.

Sedona has inspired me for a decade, its sheer beauty, magnificence and it is a great place to reflect and expand your thinking.

(continued after this gallery)

A good friend, spoke to me this morning and discussed the quote: “Sometimes life is about risking everything for a dream no one can see, but you”. Powerful words, but exactly how many of us genuinely would risk everything for the dream?

By the way, I speak with words of wisdom on the subject, for those readers who have read my first book ‘Freedom after the Sharks’, you will know that this book was written on the basis of a non-fiction and true story, at the time this book was published and still today you will find very few authors very rarely explain the true journey of their life, I have never truly understood why people want to erase or try to forget adverse experiences, (by the way, research shows that you cannot choose to forget or erase life experiences) these are the very moments that we learn and whilst we may not understand why we are being forced in a certain direction, through these experiences we will build strength of character.

If your life choice is to leave a relationship, move to a new city or change country, leave a secure job or to set up a new business, many of us find ourselves facing big life decisions with little or no tools to help us make the best choice.

Sure, you can ask family and friends for their opinion, but often you leave those conversations more confused than when you started, you will always be the adviser with the most wisdom, your intuitive self will always have the right answer, whether you choose to listen or not.

You have a natural knowing within you that transcends logic, reason and experience and most definitely other people’s opinions. The problem is that most of us haven’t been taught how to access or trust our inner wisdom.

Because in my experience, whether I succeeded or failed was irrelevant once I was clear that the path I was taking was truly what was driving me as a person. I owned it and knew with 100% certainty that no matter what happened, I made the best decision for me, in life I have never had any regrets only life experiences that has made me the person I am today.

Whether life is telling you to be a Fighter Pilot, a Michelin chef, an Accountant or the world’s next Fin-Tech billionaire, you will need to ask yourself a few questions…..

Do you have the experience or are you prepared to retrain for your quest?
How hard are you prepared to fight for what your heart’s desire? Being truly successful means putting in the work to forge ahead. For careers that require qualifications, for the entrepreneurially minded it means rolling up your sleaves, working all hours and sacrificing the little luxuries until your idea/s begins to fly. Climbing the career ladder? Be prepared to start at the bottom and anticipate doing your fair share of tasks, tenacity, determination and nerves of steel are a prerequisite.

Have you just woken up with the big idea?
Success is born out of passion and there is no easy answer, no short cuts. It will be harder to reach than you first envisage. What are your strengths? What are the activities that make your heart dance, what drives you as a person? What profession motivates so much every day that you would never want to stop, regardless of your age and retirement?

The power of the relationship
Your friends, your colleagues, your associates and your loved ones need to support your idea/s their commitment and support is an imperative. Making things happen also means being a part of the business community, you need to introduce yourself to many people. Whether it is making contact with prospective employers, scouting for clients and collaborators, attending networking events or promoting yourself online, people need to know what you’ve got to offer if they’re going to help you succeed, and you absolutely need a mentor and confident.

Finances
The Idea/s are powerful but you need to have a roof, pay bills and food. If you are starting your own business then sooner or later you are going to going to need to generate invoices and the management of actually being paid. This can leave you in a tight position to get things up and running without a proper runway for operating and this is where many people and business ideas fail. The solutions are as varied as the challenges. You could look to friends and family, angel investors or seek loans or grants, do go to my website and download the free capital raise handbook for business development and growth, http://www.hsbusinessmanagement.com/

Maya Angelou once said:

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Writing life’s tapestry and our journey in life

I was sharing coffee with one of my great author friends recently, discussing my new book “Meaningful Conversations” and we discussed how do we write life’s tapestry if the heart is blocked.

The feeling I am describing is when you sit down to write and instead of feeling an energetic creative flow, you sit completely paralyzed, staring at your computer screen & seething at the injustice of your lack of creative life, many people describe this as writer’s block.

Studies have found writer’s block to be a simpler problem: an inability to allow the creative process to flow because of unhappiness, this happened to me personally when I wrote “Freedom after the Sharks”. But there are different kinds of unhappiness, and it’s the writers job to be honest about which one they’re suffering from and in some respect this can be a very important part of a writer revealing the truth about his or her unhappiness, the truth is always revealed in writing as in photography Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote: “I doubt if these islanders are acquainted with any other mode of representation but photography; so that the picture of an event (on the old melodrama principle that ‘the camera cannot lie, would appear strong proof of its occurrence.”

Woody Allen makes fun of writer’s block. He wrote a play called “Writer’s Block”, and he wrote, directed, and starred in a film called “Deconstructing Harry”, in which the protagonist, Harry Block, tells his therapist; ‘For the first time in my life I experience writers block….Now this, to me, is unheard of….I start these short stories and I can’t finish them….I can’t get into my novel at all…..because I took an advance.’

This is the trailer:

Writers block immediately disqualifies Harry Block from being Woody Allen because Woody Allen is one of the most productive film makers of his and possibly any generation. Between 1965 and 2014, Allen was credited in for than sixty six films as a director, writer or actor, often and more than not, all three. To take writing alone; Allen has written forty nine full-length theatrical films, eight stage plays, two television films and two short films, in less than sixty six years, a rate of a script a year.

I have studied Woody Allen and when you look at his miraculous life you can ascertain that time was of the most importance to his every moment, this quote really says everything about his passion for writing:
‘I never like to let any time go unused. When I walk somewhere in the morning, I still plan what I’m going to think about, which problem I’m going to tackle. I may say, this morning I’m going to think of titles. When I get in the shower in the morning, I try to use that time. So much of my time is spent thinking because that’s the only way to attack these writing problems’
Allen had many philosophies which I admire but I feel the one that resonates with me the most is intrinsic motivation, ‘self-motivation is the only motivation’. In life there are natural forces that we cannot guide or control, but I have learned as a writer that the power to create always comes from within, you will see some of my personal quotes where I use ‘never, never give up on your dreams’, the truth always comes down to how much you really want to achieve your dream, do you like the idea, or are your driven to achieve your idea.

One of my mentors many years ago would say to me stop procrastinating and just do what needs to be achieved, I have never forgotten these words.

Writing is subjective, each and everyone of us has a distinctive view, like and dislike to genre, fiction, non-fiction, biographical or fantasy, you will never please everyone, but with passion you can create your best.

Much of writer’s block comes from fear of the unknown, worry across what others will think, Woody Allen also quoted why indifference is so important, something that we all can relate to in business today, when he said: ‘longevity is an achievement, yes, but the achievement that I’m going for is to try to make great films. That has eluded me over the decades.’

Finally, I would like to leave you with some thoughts on passion, I believe every single person on the planet has passion whether we like to recognize this or not, passion if directed in the right way or focus can create amazing things, however passion in the opposite can destroy. So many of us, for reasons only we can answer, do not implement, execute or action our true and resolute passion/s. Unfulfilled passion creates a cavity between our present and our true potential. You have all heard of the saying ‘if only’ or ‘it might have been different if’, we all need to chase our dreams, you need to be careful what you wish for, because it may just come true. Unfulfilled passion can only create negative and malicious intent which takes us away from our ultimate desires and purpose in life.

Steve Brunkhorst once said: ‘As we weave the tapestries of our lives, we gradually begin to see our designs from a wider angle of years. We may or may not be pleased with what we see. Yet, no design–not in the living world–is carved in stone. We have the gift of free will to change our designs as we wish. We are each a thread in the tapestry of our human family. Our outcome is woven of endless possibilities, because we can choose from a universe of endless possibilities. Every person can make a difference. Each thread is a possibility, chosen by the design of divine imagination. Our life-time designs arise from our divine gifts, unique talents, desires, thoughts, choices, and actions. At times, old choices–old threads–wear out. We see the past while we live in the present, and we can replace the old…with new ideas, new choices, and new actions. We can view the future through today’s eyes, and time blends all experiences, dark and light, into an awareness of authentic joy. May you live joyfully and abundantly today and throughout every season of life!’

Why we need to set high standards to be extraordinary

excellence

I had coffee with a good friend and journalist recently, discussing my new book Meaningful Conversations and prospective around excellence and being extraordinary in life: we discussed Darwin and his contribution across research and study from nature to business today, all of our discussions had one fundamental commonality to be extraordinary you need to set high standards and have a purpose.

It is important to have high standards. For the most part, life will pay any price you ask of it. The people who achieve the most in the world have incredibly high standards. It is like this with businesses as well. A great piece of machinery, or a great service, is like this because of the standards that are followed.

You have personal values, beliefs and performance benchmarks. Your business also has these characteristics and they are referred to as company standards. Think of standards as your business personality and vision coupled with the rules you live and work by. Your small business standards will likely mirror your personal standards, and your customers, clients and employees will form an opinion about your business – and your brand – based on these values.

What are standards?
Your standards define how your company acts, which, in turn, builds trust in your brand. They can be guidelines that describe quality, performance, safety, terminology, testing, or management systems, to name a few. They can comply with authoritative agencies or professional organisations and be enforceable by law, such as required medical degrees for doctors or credentials for financial planners. Or they can be voluntary rules you establish to create confidence among your clients that your business operates at a high and consistent quality level, such as a restaurant only using the highest quality, locally-sourced ingredients.
Standards must align with your mission, business objectives, and organizational leadership, and be implemented consistently across your enterprise. Employees need to buy in to the value of adhering to standards so everyone is pulling in the same direction and reinforcing your brand.

Controlling and measuring standards
Standards are what your business aspires to, but they don’t guarantee performance. You need to create processes to control how your standards are implemented, and measure and evaluate how they help your business grow. Written guidelines, technical specifications, product inspection processes, management and financial audits, and even customer surveys can be effective performance indicators and help you determine if you’re meeting your standards, or if the standards need to be tweaked in some way.

With people, it is the psychology of standards that separates the best people from the ordinary. For people with high standards, they believe that everything matters and that nothing is small enough not to have a benchmark or standard. They hold themselves to high standards because they know that without doing this, they will not get to where they want to go, or become the people they want to be. They get “stressed” about not meeting the standards (their goals) and use this stress to drive them forward to get better and better. Stress is drive when you convert it. You want to have stress to drive yourself forward.

Working in an exceptional law firm is stressful precisely because they have such high standards. Everything is taken very seriously and the culture of the law firm is based on high standards. It is like this with medicine, finance and everywhere else where the people are the very best at what they do.

When you work with exceptional people, they generally have high standards and these standards will rub off on you. You become like the people you spend time with. This is why people who come out of certain employers where high standards are rigorously enforced tend to do better in the job market. Employers believe that they too will have high standards.

You can see how standards work in the fitness arena. If someone is a professional bodybuilder, they are generally going to be far more demanding of themselves from a fitness standpoint than someone who is not. They are going to work out harder, lift more, eat differently and live a different lifestyle than someone without these sorts of standards.

The Importance of Being Extraordinary
When law firms, companies and others lay people off, the people who lose their jobs are generally the people who are “good”. People who are “outstanding” never lose their jobs – hardly ever. Outstanding people are the ones who bring hard work, constant improvement and greatness to whatever they do. The world needs people who are outstanding and set the highest goals possible for themselves.

There is a part of you—and all of us—that is also outstanding and will come out if we set the right standards. Everyone can be outstanding with the right standards. If you say you cannot be outstanding, you are slapping the face of your creator. The entire secret to being outstanding lies in the standards you set for yourself. There is nothing on this earth that does not have a purpose. You are in control over what happens to you and can control it by the standards you set for yourself. Life has meaning when you give it your all.

high-standards

It is all about the standards and decisions you make. What standards are you going to choose for your life?

Comfort in where you are is dangerous. People who get too comfortable are the ones who get fat, lose their jobs, whose spouses walk out on them and who die early deaths because they do not take good care of themselves. People who get too comfortable do not earn the respect of the world, their children, peers and others at anywhere near the level they are capable of. People who get too comfortable slowly waste away.

The real question is how do companies with high standards get that way and how do they maintain them?

Which brings me to my conclusion: high standards start at the top. Leadership sets those standards and communicates expectations to the key people who then communicate them throughout the organisation, no matter whether the whole organisation consists of one person or hundreds. They train people on the standards, create metrics and review procedures to ensure the standards are maintained and enforced. If, or when, it is found that standards are not being maintained, remedial action is activated. I know this sounds simple, but it really is not, and involved tremendous work and energy, no one said maintaining excellence was easy as with being extraordinary. It takes a constant, never-ending effort to accomplish year-in and year-out. But the benefits are enormous.

In general, businesses with high standards enjoy higher customer satisfaction and greater customer loyalty, lower levels of staff turnover and a happier workforce, better reputations and more referrals, and higher profit margins which allows for greater investment in growth because customers are, typically, willing to pay a little more to get the results and benefits of those higher standards. The result is a more sustainable, more profitable, and more enjoyable business for all concerned.

Finally, assuming leadership is able to create and articulate those higher standards, it has to be realised this is not a “snap-the-fingers-and-it-happens” project. It takes patience, fortitude and gumption to get higher standards in place and achieved but when it works amazingly great things will happen.

Anthony Robbins once quoted:

“Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards”

So exactly how do we value time?

intelligent-use-of-time

I recently had breakfast with a senior partner of an exceptional accounting firm in London, he is a personal friend and associate, we often meet to discuss many strategic topics and met to discuss my new book, “Meaningful Conversations”. During the course of breakfast we decided to focus on one of his questions: ‘What is the most valuable commodity we all have today?’ The answer I gave was ‘time’.

So, what exactly is time and how do we qualify time?

According to Wikipedia, Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future. Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience. Time is often referred to as the fourth dimension, along with the three spatial dimensions.

Actually, time is something none of us can get more of, so the management of time is one of the most important aspects of what you need to do as a purposeful leader.

One of the best analogies you can use in your company regarding time is asking your employees to equate one hour of time to one pound. When I was in corporate management, I would ask my directors who entered my door:
1. Is that a one pound decision?
2. One hundred pound decision?
3. Or a one thousand pound decision?
If they would answer option 3 they could take a seat.

It really is helpful to look at your time just as you look at investing your money. Because, in essence, you are looking for the same result: you are looking for the best return on your time.

Taking this thought process one step further, let’s ask the question, “Who am I spending my time with?” All too often, managers spend their time where the problems are, not where the results are. While we need to deal with problems, we want our focus to be on results. Our job as leaders puts us in a position where we have to deal with problems and poor performance. But we need some parameters to help us understand both the issue of time and the investment of time.

One of the most touted management/leadership teachings out there is: “Spend 80 percent of your time with your top performers.” Another is: “Your team should be measured based on the 20 percent top performers, 70 percent role players and 10 percent poor performers.” In theory, I agree. But I think these teachings fall short. Not enough is written, or taught, about the critical 80 percent of your workforce and how to improve their performance through minimum performance standards.

Time is seen in a particularly different light by Eastern and Western cultures, and even within these groupings assumes quite dissimilar aspects from country to country.

In the Western Hemisphere, the United States and Mexico employ time in such diametrically opposing manners that it causes intense friction between the two peoples.

In Western Europe, the Swiss attitude to time bears little relation to that of neighboring Italy.

Thai’s do not evaluate the passing of time in the same way that the Japanese do. In the UK the future stretches out in front of you. In Madagascar it flows into the back of your head from behind.

Let us begin with the American concept of time, for their’s is the most expensive, as anyone who has had to deal with American doctors, dentists or lawyers will tell you.

For an American, time is truly money. In a profit-oriented society, time is a precious, even scarce, commodity. It flows fast, like a mountain river in the spring, and if you want to benefit from its passing, you have to move fast with it. Americans are people of action; they cannot bear to be idle. The past is over, but the present you can seize, parcel and package and make it work for you in the immediate future. In the U.S. you have to make money, otherwise you are nobody. If you have 40 years of earning capacity and you want to make $4 million, that means $100,000 per annum. If you can achieve this in 250 working days, that comes to $400 a day or $50 an hour. With this orientation American’s can say that their time costs $50 an hour. Americans also talk about wasting, spending, budgeting and saving time.

This seems logical enough, until one begins to apply the idea to other cultures. Has the Portuguese fisherman, who failed to hook a fish in two hours, wasted his time? Has the Sicilian priest, failing to make a convert on Thursday, lost ground? Have the German composer, the French poet, the Spanish painter, devoid of ideas last week, missed opportunities that can be qualified in monetary terms?

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The Americans are not the only ones who sanctify timekeeping, for it is practically a religion in Switzerland and Germany, too. These countries, along with Britain, the Anglo-Saxon world in general, the Netherlands, Austria and Scandinavia, have a linear vision of time and action. They suspect, like the Americans, that time is passing (being wasted) without decisions being made or actions being performed.

These groups are also monochronic; that is, they prefer to do only one thing at a time, to concentrate on it and do it within a fixed schedule. They think that in this way they get more things done — and more efficiently. Furthermore, being imbued with the Protestant work ethic, they equate working time with success: the harder you work — the more hours, that is — the more successful you will be and the more money you will make. This idea makes perfect sense to American ears, would carry less weight in class-conscious Britain, and would be viewed as entirely unrealistic in Southern European countries, where authority, privilege and birth right negate the theory at every turn. In a society such as existed in the Soviet Union, one could postulate that those who achieved substantial remuneration by working little (or not at all) were the most successful of all.

Richrd Lewis who wrote “When Cultures Collide” has a view that in countries inhabited by linear-active people, time is clock- and calendar- related, segmented in an abstract manner for our convenience, measurement, and disposal. In multi-active cultures like the Arab and Latin spheres, time is event- or personality-related, a subjective commodity which can be manipulated, molded, stretched, or dispensed with, irrespective of what the clock says.

“I have to rush,” says the American, “my time is up.” The Spaniard or Arab, scornful of this submissive attitude to schedules, would only use this expression if death were imminent.

In a Buddhist culture (e.g., Thailand, Tibet), not only time but also life itself goes around in a circle. Whatever we plan, however we organize our particular world, generation follows generation; governments and rulers will succeed each other; crops will be harvested; monsoons, earthquakes and other catastrophes will recur; taxes will be paid; the sun and moon will rise and set; stocks and shares will rise and fall. Even the Americans will not change such events, certainly not by rushing things.

Cyclic time is not seen as a straight road leading from our feet to the horizon, but as a curved one which in one year’s time will lead us through “scenery” and conditions very similar to what we experience at the present moment. Observers of cyclic time are less disciplined in their planning of the future, since they believe that it cannot be managed and that humans make life easier for themselves by “harmonising” with the laws and cyclic events of nature. Yet in such cultures a general form of planning is still possible, for many things are fairly regular and well understood.

As a business leader, you must understand the value of making a time management decision on where to spend your time to get the most beneficial results for your company. Your top 20 percent will always perform at a high level, and you do need to devote time to coaching them to even greater success. That’s a very good use of 80 percent of your time and effort. The other 20 percent of your time, focused on the remaining 80 percent of your workforce or team, should be used to establish, communicate and promote the minimum standards for working at your company. The message you want to communicate is, “You have to work at a certain level if you want to work here.” You must clearly establish that you no longer allow employees to come to work and just exist without being accountable to minimum standards.

If you adopt this concept, you will find that 80 percent of your employee base will contribute to the growth and success of your company or department, and your top 20 percent performers will be inspired to try even harder. The point is, your top performers will always perform at a high level. You do need to invest your time with them to coach them to even greater success. Using the remaining 20 percent of your time to raise the standards of the other 80 percent of your employees will create an environment of incremental growth through your largest body of employees.

What is the conclusion around the true worth of time?

My belief is, know your value and do not accept being treated in a way less than you deserve. You must have realistic expectations, demands and a sense of entitlement. I am saying that as an individual you need to be treated the way you treat others, and vice versa. The minute you negotiate your self-worth and accept less, you say to the universe that you do not deserve any better, and the vicious cycle/patterns will start to begin. Change for yourself and of course, friends and partners are a great mirror reflections that help you grow.

Finally, time is not money, the truth of the matter is ‘the time is money’ adage has got us all into a lot more trouble than we realise. Because we live our lives based on the misleading premise that time is money, we attempt to do more in less time. We begin to confuse activity with productivity, as if the ‘doing’ will grant us ‘being’. Inadvertently, we jump on the hamster wheel, running as fast as we can with a competitive mentality about the clock and what it supposedly represents in our lives and in the lives of others. We have a negative relationship with time that gives us a sense of time starvation instead of abundance. Even our precious vacation time is not immune from the time-money equation.

This quote is an inspiring reminder:

“But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you, you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Why is customer service constantly so bad in the UK?

cust-serv

Possibly one of my biggest push buttons in business today is customer service – businesses are so focused on enticing new customers that they often disregard the value of their existing ones. The impact of this is highlighted in new research which estimates that UK businesses lose £12 billion every year as a result of poor customer service.

The research, conducted by NewVoiceMedia, shows that 93% of respondents have switched business at least once in the last year because of poor customer service and a third of 16 to 24 year-olds will post online if they are unhappy with the service they are receiving.

The statistics are impressive, but not surprising. For years companies have focused on making customer service as cost effective as possible, rather than providing a genuinely valuable service. Now that social media has given consumers a public and increasingly powerful voice brands are paying a hefty price.

The flip side of this is that after receiving good service, 71% would recommend the company to others and 44% would use the company more frequently.

In social media, customer service has been something of an afterthought and is still very much in its infancy. Research tells us that whilst 70% of Marketing departments are involved in social media, only 19% of Customer Service teams are using social channels. As the buying power of Generation Y increases, brands will have to think carefully about whether they can afford to ignore it any longer.
Some companies, O2 being an obvious example, have really taken to Social Customer Service and are succeeding in treating customers as individuals and responding in a human voice. What we need is for that to be applied to all Customer Service channels and to see a joined up approach between them.

A quarter of adults believe the UK’s general levels of customer help are under-par – with telecoms, energy companies, banks and building societies coming under fire for providing the very worst service of all.

Customer satisfaction in the UK is at its lowest level since July 2010. Across all sectors the goalposts have moved and customers now expect to be involved in a real dialogue with brands – they no longer accept one-way communication. Yet many organisations are struggling to grasp this shift from a transactional to a relationship economy .

One key indicator of this dissatisfaction is how customers view the responsiveness of organisations. According to The Institute’s latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) some of the biggest frustrations that customers have relate to the speed of complaint handling and the attitude and abilities of staff. Under these two metrics, organisations are still scoring, on average, lower than they were in 2013. In a new economy this deficiency must be addressed, given that it is speed which plays such a significant role in customer service.

The reputational risk of inaction has never been higher, with evidence suggesting that one in three customers will turn to social media for a resolution if they want a rapid response.

On top of these pressures, many businesses have struggled to make the necessary significant investment of time and money in customer service, as budgets tightened during the global economic downturn. A short-term approach will not make an impact on revenues and profitability, so where should this investment be focused?

good-service-makes-the-difference

But why is British customer service so bad?

Customers should be at the heart of the sales process, empowered by technology. Yet in most cases it seems as though technology is taking on the role of dealing with customers. Even when you navigate the myriad of options on the phone and get through to a human, most answers that they provide are robotic.

So, what is the conclusion:

First and foremost, a customer service culture needs to be led from the top so that there is a clear and visible objective. There is no quick fix – its importance must be instilled across and throughout the business. After all, the impact on the bottom line is significant. The retail food sector demonstrates this – our research shows that companies performing above average in terms of customer satisfaction outperform their below average competitors by up to 3%.

Leaders must ensure that all employees have the requisite skills and authority to deal with difficult customer complaints. Customers can come into contact with any member of staff through social media, telephone, email or a face-to-face meeting, making it crucial that employees are supported and have the emotional intelligence to deal with issues in a consistent, appropriate manner.

For this to happen, management must also give greater independence to individuals, allowing them to manage the speed of response that will win customers over and ensure their loyalty. For too long, customer-facing staff have been seen as a low paid and low skilled group that can be brought in seasonally. But they represent the organisation at the most important time – when dealing with customers.

With over 70% of the UK’s working population working in customer-facing roles, making customer satisfaction central to any business’ objectives should be obvious. The likes of Morrisons and Halfords have led from the top on this issue with appointments of customer-focused CEOs, but there is a long way to go.

If the UK is to accelerate growth, businesses of all sizes must appreciate the changing dynamic of the customer-brand relationship. If they do not, they will lose market share to their competitors that get it.

John Russell once said:

“The more you engage with customers, the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.”