Archive for November, 2009

7 Ways to Lose your Customers (part one)

November 26, 2009

We all know what a damn nuisance customers are: they mess up our premises, they take stock off our shelves, they demand to be served and they insist on telephoning us at times when we have far more important things to do. How many days have you had that have been spoilt by customers?

To help you to bring peace and tranquillity into your lives here are some proven tactics which will really let customers know how unwelcome they are so that they will go away and stay away and we can get on with the important things in life.

Tactic 1 ‘Don’t Engage with the Customer.’

To set the scene, I am in the supermarket, I approach the checkout, I set my goods on the conveyor belt and smile at the checkout person who does not smile back but looks around me to her colleague on the next till;

“Here, you knows I have my days off on a Thursday & Friday, right? Yeah well this year Christmas is Thursday & Friday, right, and so I says to him, ‘When can I have my days off then?” And he says, ‘Thursday & Friday, same as normal.’ And I says, ‘That can’t be right ‘cos they’re holidays, everyone gets them off. I ought to have another two days.’ And he says, ‘It’s not my fault you don’t work…’ – £26.89 love – ‘…Thursday & Friday, is it?’  He says, ‘You don’t work in Boots either do you? But if Boots had a day’s holiday you wouldn’t expect me to give you a day in lieu would you?’ He’s a right git he is. And another thing…”

So a fascinating exchange which made me as a customer feel really rather special.  Obviously if you can upset and annoy your customer facing staff it does encourage them to share their feelings with customers. True aficionados of the ‘Ignore the Customer’ tactic will have noticed a little slip there.  Did you spot it?  Yes, she actually spoke to me to tell me the price – she should just have pointed at the LED display and grunted.

You see perfect, absolutely no communication at all.  Brilliant.

Fag break!
Tactic 2 – Look as Unappealing as Possible

So what else can we do?  Another great tactic (tactic 2) is to ‘Look as Unappealing as Possible’.  This is a great one for your smokers. The staff in my local supermarket have this dead right.  Out in the street, near the entrance to the store is smoker’s corner.  Here staff who are not permitted to smoke within, pick their way through a sea of dog ends, come rain or shine, to congregate at regular intervals for a fag.  Resplendent in their shop uniforms they lean against the wall and the conversation goes some thing like this (MUCH FAG DRAGGING, NAIL BITING AND NOSE PICKING)

“Y’all right?”


“Bleeding cold in’it”


“On yer break?”

“Nah, just ‘avin’ a fag.”

“What doing after?”

“I’m on the deli counter…”

We would always recommend that you encourage staff to smoke where they are MOST VISIBLE to potential customers to guarantee this particular turnoff works to maximum effect.

Why develop your product knowledge? Just read out your displays to your customers!

Next tactic.  Tactic Three: Feign or better still cultivate total ignorance of your product and product range.

I’d read about  a new SONY television in Which magazine and popped into an a famous electrical retailer to see if I could purchase the KS9905.

After much hanging around the hi-fis in an expectant manner (Keep the customer waiting is tactic four –  it really does does work.)

Eventually I bump into a young girl in a stained tabard (see Tactic 2)

“Can you help me?”

“Er…what can I do for you?”

“Which? magazine was very impressed with the new Sony Hi Fi so I thought I’d take a look’

“Were they?”

“Yes, and look there is a laminated copy of the article attached to it.”

“Oh yes, I wondered what that was – I haven’t read it though.”

“Do you know if I can play my i-pod through this?”

(Reading from features list) “This hi-fi has 40watts per channel, an impactful sub-woofer and comes in a choice of sleek black or stylish white. I should think so. Most do these days. Don’t they? Would you like to have a listen?”

“Yes please”

“Hang on I’ll get the security keys”

Another 10 minutes pass by – again Tactic Four: Keep the Customer Waiting.

“We haven’t got any in stock – that’s just a dummy model for display, apparently, sorry.”

“Right then well never mind, goodbye”

You see, she had me out of that showroom in double quick time.  She also managed to avoid the mistake of ‘Finding an Alternative’ which would have delayed my departure and possibly interfered with her coffee or toilet, lunch, fag break or wherever she was a going when she had the misfortune to bump into me.

Be sure to come back for Tactics 5 to 7!


19 Top Tips for Successful Job Interviews

November 4, 2009

Last night we were invited to speak at The AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) Northampton & Bedford branch meeting. The Top Tips we shared with the audience went down a storm – so here is a summary of that talk!

“Excellent communication skills” is often cited as a key differentiator when it comes to choosing the right person for a job. But there are other things you need to get across in an interview – such as how well you are suited for the job, your technical competencies, your ability to grow in the job and how well you’re going to fit in with the business or the rest of the team. A bit of thought beforehand goes an awfully long way!

We’ll cover what needs to happen beforehand (the research & planning) and the day of the interview itself in 19 Top Tips:


Tip 1:  Find out as much as you can about your potential employer and their market-sector as possible. What does their website tell you about them? What can you find out about the business owners and key personnel? Who do you know who works with them or is employed by them?


Do some research on your potential employer!

Tip 2:  Pour over the job description and person profile. If you need more detail or you have questions ring and ask for answers before attending. It will show that you have researched and taken an interest. Questions that you can’t find out answers to in advance -keep for the interview.

Tip 3:  Consider your own Strengths and Attributes and indeed your areas for Personal Development. Write them down. How can you get these points over in terms of how they would be of benefit to the potential employer?

Consider these fundamental questions (and how you would respond if asked them):

Why do you want this job, in particular?

What is it that you have to offer that would make you the ideal person in this post? In other words; “What’s your Unique Selling Point?”

How would you answer the question “What are your weaknesses?” It’s not a question that we would advise any interviewer to ask … but they do! So be ready with a response. Wear your heart on your sleeve, be modest but describe a weakness that shouldn’t have an impact on the job you’re going for. (Don’t answer, “My bladder!”)

Tip 4:  As far as negotiating terms is concerned again you need to be well prepared. List all the possible aspects and benefits of the role and align them with what it is you have to offer. Then list them in value order to you and anticipate their value to your future employer. Set your best and worst limits for each of these. Think about your best and worst case scenarios beforehand!


Tip 5:  Your personal profile is exceptionally important. You are being judged from the moment you drive into the car-park, or walk through the door. (In fact assumptions will already have been made from your CV and any telephone calls.) So, think about the messages that the following send out about you: Your vehicle, time-keeping, general composure/demeanour, expression, confidence, attire, shoes, handshake, Ps&Qs, body language, personal hygiene, grooming, posture. The list goes on.

Tip 6:  Arrive at least 5 minutes ahead of time but no more that 15. Walk in confidently. Smile. Announce your name. Make small talk – show an interest in the business. Build rapport with anyone you come in contact with.

Tip 7:  Stay standing. Don’t accept a cup of tea at this stage. Be caught taking an interest in company literature, press cuttings in reception when the interviewer arrives to collect you.

Job Interview

Keep your nerve! Be prepared!

Tip 8:  Take some deep breaths whilst waiting. Calm your nerves. Think positive thoughts. Stand up straight. Look confident!

Tip 9:  Your handshake should be as straight as a die; firm, but not too firm and accompanied by a smile and good eye-contact


Tip 10: Answer questions in terms of what you have achieved. Say “I” rather than “we”. Use action verbs;

Administered, Adjusted, Allocated,  Analysed,  Appraised,  Assessed,  Audited,  Balanced,  Budgeted,  Calculated,  Computed,  Conserved,  Corrected, Determined etc.

Tip 11: Give clear relevant examples of what you have achieved. Speak in the past tense. I’ve done this vs. I’m currently doing this .

Tip 12:  Use strong positive language: “my strengths include…” “I’m good at…” etc.

Tip 13: Avoid “floppy” language: “hopefully, I’ll fit in.” “I’m quite good at…” “Sort of…” etc.

Tip 14: Sit up straight. Smile.  Demonstrate Active Listening; repeat phrases, nod, maintain eye-contact.

Tip 15: Be careful with your body language.  It is easy to send mixed messages.  Keep open – don’t fold arms, cross-legs.

Tip 16: Take the opportunity to ask questions. Prefix questions with statements that indicate that you are interested. “I was reading your business’ statement of corporate responsibility … and wondered how…”

Tip 17” When negotiating use a structured approach: Discuss, Propose, Bargain, Close. See our Negotiation Tips.

Tip 18: Demonstrate that you are keen – without appearing desperate!

Tip 19: FOLLOW UP, even if you are unsuccessful, ask for some feedback. Use that feedback in your preparation for your next interview.

Other Tips Sheets – that can be downloaded FREE from our site – include:

21 Top Tips for Negotiators, 19 Top Tips for Networkers, 26 Top Tips for Presenters