Maintaining your excellent reputation
There are many ways in which customers will assess your business and form views about your overall capabilities to deliver high quality childcare. These perceptions become your reputation as customers respond and communicate with you, other customers and local networks, so it is very important to maintain your excellent reputation, or improve it if things could be better!
The following is a shortlist of some of the most important areas to concentrate on if you want to firstly understand how people perceive your childcare business and secondly, maintain your reputation.
Really excellent customer service is not only about delivering excellence in your work, but also going one step further to keep customer happy. Regular contact with your customers is an essential part of great customer services, because even when things go wrong, positive communication can turn a bad situation into a good one.
For more about this go to our blog https://www.cbisengland.co.uk/single-post/2017/05/18/the-gift-of-a-complaint and read about when a complaint is a gift!
Keeping customers informed, asking questions and getting feedback are all key factors in testing how they feel about all aspects of your interactions with them.
Handling issues effectively is another way of enhancing your reputation. If you leave problems to a point when people complain, you are likely to get bad feedback, but taking a more proactive approach to handle any issues almost before people have become aware of them and had chance to get upset is a much better strategy. You tend to know the areas of your business that are not as good as they could be for the customer, so don’t wait, change things for the better.
Are you and your staff accessible, friendly and really attentive to customer concerns? If so, customers they will be much more inclined to recommend you to others. If not, and you appear complacent or perhaps defensive then you will be putting people off. Attitudes and approaches matter, so don’t forget to “Choose your Attitude”
A good way to do a self reflection on your customer service approach is to develop a customer service 'charter' detailing how you will communicate with customers and respond to complaints or queries, be sure to add in timelines so people know when you will resolve their concern.
Being professional in any job can sometimes be challenging. In childcare for example, it is easy to form close relationships with parents just because of the work you do with their children, but it is important to retain a “professional distance” from customers and retain mutual respect when any challenges come along.
Parental perceptions of your professionalism will be influenced by many things, some of the more obvious ones might be, smooth systems for managing administration, good attitudes during communications, displays of knowledge and understanding of individual child needs, dealing with problems proactively and positively, and of course, happy developing children! But in reality you will be judged at every interaction with a parent so be professional at all times!
Your reputation will obviously include the quality of the childcare you deliver and how you can demonstrate this. One of the measures is obviously your Ofsted grading, but this is just one factor of many when a parent is assessing your performance. Parents will consider other factors that are more intuitive or emotional and these are equally important to them when forming perceptions of your organization. So be sure to excel in all areas like, communication, empathy and understanding of parent’s emotional needs and always have a positive attitude. Don’t underestimate the power of well trained staff in communication situations, often reputations are damaged just because if poor communication and bad attitudes, so there is great value in helping staff with the quality if their communication skills.
(There is some research about how parents perceive childcare organizations when choosing childcare, which has some interesting insights to help you maintain your reputation and keep parents happy. Please email us on the address below for a copy).
The term “added Value” is often linked to the idea of 'delighting' your customers in the sense of delivering more than they may have expected, or more than they might perceive as being the “norm” for a childcare providers. This can have monetary value or just a better service experience with additional features.
a. Perhaps you provide an initial review of parental entitlements and schemes associated with childcare and support their application for such.
b. Perhaps the first day is free for new parents.
c. Maybe you send termly updates on what’s happening in the childcare sector, written with no political bias and in a way which is easy to understand for parents, demonstrating any practical effects how that may affect them or their children.
Have a think about a situation where you mat have experienced added value, what can you offer that will cost you very little or nothing, but will be valuable and helpful to your customers?