Thursday, November 01, 2012

Simplicity and our Church Cafe

How’s this for the effectiveness of Simplicity.

In our Church Centre Café we wanted to see an increase in our takings by capitalising on our prime City Centre position and high volume passing foot traffic. It seemed we were missing potential custom. We pondered involving a marketing ‘expert’ to advise us. We racked our brains about how we might attract more trade. Mass publicity, leaflet drops, all sorts of ideas were mooted ….. Until someone suggested we try a handwritten menu on a chalkboard A-Board outside the café entrance that people walking along the pavement could not miss. We already had an A Board that looked boringly clinical and corporate but our handwritten chalkboard really gives an authenticity to our café that the other A Board did not offer.

BINGO! .… it has worked and how!

We have had record takings for the last month or so. New customers are coming back and also telling their friends. What’s the evidence? - I can say anecdotally that every time I put the board out someone walking along the pavement will stop and look. I take the opportunity to do some live research with those people and ask them if they knew previously we were a café – usually people say “I’d no idea until this board appeared – but now I’ll pop in”
The cost of asking some marketing expert would have been massively out of our budget range.

The cost of our authentic chalkboard was £35 from EBay
Simplicity works!

Simplicity and the National Health Service

I spent 35 years working in National Health Service (NHS) management banging the drum for Simplicity saying we make things far too complicated. Having left the NHS 8 years ago it’s clear to me that my Simplicity mantra is needed just as much today.
When we ring our NHS Doctor’s Surgery this is the simple (not) greeting we hear:

“Welcome to the City of Coventry NHS Healthcare and Walk-in Centre, how can I help you?”  
I felt like saying “I could provide you with oxygen because you sound breathless after that little gem rolled off your tongue!”

I rest my case for Simplicity.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Simplicity .... Front line employees know all the answers

I estimate that 98.9% of questions referred by front line employees to a 'more ‘senior person’ are unnecessary as the front line employee will already know the answer …. Maybe I am under-estimating

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Simplicity story number one .....

First story submitted by my friend Marilyn Jess in the US – thanks Marilyn :

She says “Here is one I heard about just recently:
Cafe A --it seems like it's locally owned, and in a sense it is--except the owner isn't involved in any hands on way. When you stand in line to get service, such as a coffee, you're not greeted, and you can tell the staff isn't happy working there. Body language is very telling. And personalizing your food or drink order? Won't happen here. They actually turn off their Wi-Fi on weekends to discourage people hanging out there. Their core customers are tourists, and some local.

Cafe B--smaller, locally owned and managed, with local staffers. Anything you order here can be personalized. They encourage hanging out, and have Wi-Fi every day. Their core customers are local, and some tourists. They don't advertise much.”

My take on this ….
No brainer – Café B wins every time. Café A might suit the visitor who doesn’t care about that unmistakable personal service. Café B might be ok for the busy business person passing through. If I were a tourist I’d want to remember my whole experience in a locality and lack of personal service would mark the place down for me thus reflecting on the whole locality. On the other hand if I’m in Café B I suspect I’d feel valued and comfortable.

 Make your customer feel special –  that is Simplicity in action.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Simplicity and front liners

Simplicity is .... Front line employees solving customer problems and that's done by supervisors and managers keeping out of the way of font liners. My Simplicity theory is …. ‘hands-off’ management results in front line customer service excellence.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Simplicity and whistle blowers

Thank goodness for those brave employees who blew the whistle on ill treatment and cruelty in a home for people with disability called Winterbourne View near Bristol. In my 35 year NHS career I enough never saw ill treatment of patients. I would like to think if I had I would have reported it immediately to the bosses. We should encourage whistle blowing in all care settings.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Simplicity Blog is back ...

I’m thinking of blogging again.

I’m hoping to write stuff around Simplicity based on real people I meet, talk to and work with. I was struck by a comment from my good friend Carlos Pereira da Cruz in Portugal who suggested I might like to make my blog more real rather than theoretical.

This is how Carlos put it:
“I wonder if you should re-open your blog but with a condition, you will only write and speak of people and cases that are an example. Not silly pink dreams but the result of the honest work of anonymous people. You could invite others to write their own stories on your blog. After, you can present your own ideas and how they relate to the case.”

So here goes as a starter.

Let me ask readers of Simplicity blog to let me have your story of simplicity in action. I know there are thousands out there who see simplicity in action every day performed by those anonymous people who seek no fame and just see simplicity as the right way to do things.

Send me an email if you have a short Simplicity story I can share on my Blog and comment on.