Guest Blog: The New Customer Relationship

At Career Contacts, we are firm believers in #collaborationovercompetition and we have built our company on that premise. 

We are excited to feature Azzra Bardai, a customer success expert, who can provide some insight and tips for our growing list of clients on how to adapt and form the new customer relationship!

The current global health and economic pandemic has forced us to transform in a very short period of time. Conversations are shifting  to developing a return to work strategy focused on the path to recovery, but we must also continue to focus on our customer relationships. The shifts in social and business behaviours will impact all of us and the importance of building relationships with our customers is top priority. 

Customers are at the forefront of what we do, customers expectations were already on the rise pre-COVID and will continue to shift. Corporate social responsibility is driving a new standard for how we work with our customers and the value we deliver to our customers will need to be maximized.

Deepen your existing customer relationships and foster new ones

Now is the time to move away from the standard customer relationship and create a new standard. The new standard are relationships that span outside of business, where there is a true sense of authenticity, empathy and understanding of customers. The ultimate result, customers that give you reviews and referrals without you asking. 

Check in

Pick up the phone, send a text message or connect via social media (do you know what works best for your customers?), not just when you have an ask. Reach out with no business agenda but instead just to check in. Create the opportunity to gain an understanding as to how your customers have been affected by the pandemic in life and business. 

Think about the long term future 

The past few months have forced us to think about the short term future. How do we help our customers now but as we begin to shift back to think about their long term future, what have you considered for your customers? The continuation of postponing monthly recurring payments will still be in play. Be ahead of the curve and work with your finance department to determine what you can offer. 

Author: Azzra Bardai, Customer Success Expert

Experienced and results driven, Azzra acts as an advisor to customers throughout the onboarding cycle, driving value through effective engagement of platforms, and managing resolution of any technical issues. She prides herself on developing relationships with customers, keeping the best interests of stakeholders in mind, and acting as an internal advocate.

 

How are you creating value for your customers? You may have already implemented one or all of these best practices, but if you haven’t now more than ever is the time to be thinking about how to structure your organization to be customer-centric.

Want to get some more information on how to ensure customer success in your organization?
Feel free to reach out to us and we are happy to make some connections!

hiring@careercontacts.ca | 604-606-1831

10 Ways to Organize and Optimize for the Future of Work

As we entered a new year and a new decade, we as a global society were thrown into unprecedented times with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. Employers are still reeling from adjusting to a work-from-home structure, an uncertain future and for some, complete shutdown and the letting go of valuable employees.

Coming out of all the turbulence, are countless new opportunities for organizations to uncover a new way of work.

One such opportunity is using this interim period to review and take inventory of processes, templates and other supporting and supplementary documents that are currently in place.

At Career Contacts, we continue to grow our team slowly, and strategically. Most recently, adding a Director of Partnerships, to support our clients in their need to create a new way of work – one that is organized, and optimized, for the future of work.

These reviews will allow organizations to identify the current state of affairs, and determine what gaps there are.

The next stage would be to implement the required changes and begin to create new tools as needed.

You know, all the things that we say we will do when we have time, when things slow down, when the high priority stuff clears? All that work that sat on the side of our desks? Here is the chance to get organized, optimized, and ready to gear up while we, as a collective, establish a new normal.

While we cannot deny the sheer upheaval that this pandemic has caused for us, we can take this slow down as a means of improving and bolstering our operations and the tools that support us day to day.

Here are ten steps that can get you and your team started today:

 

ONE – Take a second to reflect

Run through your day – what roadblocks do you come across, what stalls you, what issues do you face?

TW0 – Take stock

What processes, documents, templates do you have currently? As you take this inventory, it is amazing to see how many duplications, contradictions and cross functionality can be revealed.

THREE – Whiteboarding/brainstorming session

Virtually of course, gather key team members and stakeholders to discuss their experiences, what they feel is working and what is required to promote efficiency, supports positive workflow and any other innovations they have in mind. The people who are engaged with these artifacts daily are your greatest data points and will provide you with the most candid and valuable information.

FOUR – Planning and strategy session

Once you have determined what you need and what needs to be done, gather the troops to figure out timelines, approach, inter-dependencies, and assign specific tasks.

FIVE – Get to work

Have fun with this as you collectively develop, revise, rework and establish these processes and tools. It is your time to make things really work for you so throw yourself into it and see the evolution of the elements that make up your day to day.

SIX – Check-in

Research and experience shows that initiatives such as this can fall flat if the teams are not discussing the current state, any blockages, questions, issues, risks, inconsistencies that have arisen during this key revision and development time. Have the team collate once a week, preferably at the start, to outline the current state of their task, what is outstanding, and any other specifics. Not only will this drive progress but allow people the space and opportunity to collaborate and overcome any roadblocks that they have encountered.

SEVEN – Presentation for feedback

Once the specific process, template, tool etc., is complete, have the responsible team members present it to the larger group/managers/executives, depending on your organizational structure. This presentation should include some background, whether this was developed completely new or based on previous components, development methodology, its purpose and how to use. The second part of this is to allow for others to provide inputs and edits and ask clarification questions for refinement and moving towards finalization.

EIGHT – Editing and finalization

Post-presentation, the development team or resource will take the feedback and revisions provided by the team and implement the changes and complete a final read through and review to finalize.

NINE – Approval

Once the process/template/document/tool is complete, submit to the correct team member or department for final review and approval. Once approval is granted, place the completed piece in the correct folder, file, upload to SharePoint or wherever the appropriate knowledge management space is for your company.

TEN – Training

Depending on your organization’s structure or department hierarchy, to ensure that all team members are apprised of your new tool, it would be advantageous to host a virtual training session. Not only is it a chance for team members to connect, it ensures that everyone understands its purpose, usage and allows for a question and answer period.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but a starting point depending on how your teams and companies are structured. By equipping our HR Consulting division with a Director of Partnerships, we have added the ability to not only be a human resources business partner, but an overall addition to your senior management and leadership teams.

Needing some support in getting started?
Our team can assist in providing reviews, field any questions, have strategy calls or provide any clarification or advice as required.
Please feel free to reach out and we at Career Contacts would be happy to help.

 

Effectively Onboarding your Remote Teams

Our favorite part of onboarding is the feeling of knowing that you are welcoming someone new into your fold. Onboarding is going to look different as we begin to transition teams back into the workforce.

This transition will likely be slow, and many will begin with a remote onbaording process to reduce physical contact where possible.

Doing so remotely will never feel exactly the same, and we don’t believe that its necessary to pretend otherwise. We value our current onboarding programs that are onsite, but also know it’s important for companies to be given options as they pivot their businesses.

Instead, at Career Contacts we are inviting our clients to take on a new way of onboarding that reflects the new normal. We encourage you to look at incorporating some of these new ideas and as always, we are available to support with a more customized plan for your specific team!

  1. Be mindful of who is home

In this climate, we know that not only are your employees being forced to work from home right now, but their families are likely at home with them. Be mindful that your onboarding process respects their individual work environments at home.

Our team at Career Contacts is diverse. We recognize that everyone has a unique dynamic at home and want to be sure that they do not feel at a disadvantage for anything they can’t control.

  1. Don’t cram everything into the first few days

The easiest way to for someone to absorb a new environment is to do so slowly. Provide your new team members with small, easily digestible onboarding pieces. This will allow them to try out each piece slowly, provide any feedback and get support right away.

  1. Be available

The worst feeling is to feel like you’ve been thrown into the deep end and being unable to swim. Stay connected and available for your teams while they onboard. Ideally, you want to introduce them to 1-2 people a day, to allow them to have a few people to reach out to for support.

Introducing them to their co-workers early on will also allow them to feel like part of the team quickly.

At Career Contacts, we have several platforms that we use to stay connected. We ensure that our employees not only have access to the tools, but training on how to use the tools effectively.

  1. Vary the mediums

Get creative with how you disseminate all the new information to your new employees. Documentation is just one way. Try incorporating video calls, conference calls, pre-recorded videos, etc. This will also help break up the day and allow your teams to stay interested in the material they are being sent.

  1. Give them the tools to succeed

Every new employee should have access to what they need before they begin. This means that they feel completely supported and able to do their jobs. It is much better to start them a few days later with access to drives, technology, CRMs etc. than to give it out slowly and make people feel disconnected.

  1. Swag doesn’t have to be fancy

We know that larger organizations have the capacity to provide new employees with over the top welcome packages. While this is always a great feeling, smaller companies can’t always do this.

At Career Contacts, we have personalized cups and sweatshirts with our logo on it. It’s a small way for the team to feel connected. Get creative with how you give your teams swag; its more about feeling a sense of connection, than about the items themselves.

 

Wanting some support with your onboarding process? Our HR team is ready to support you!

Contact us today at hiring@careercontacts.ca or 604-606-1831

 

Effective Strategies to Offboarding Teams

 

Employee exit management (often referred to as offboarding), is an intentional process of separating an employee from their employer.

There are many ways to provide a proactive solution for temporary and permanent layoffs. Being proactive ensures that you have action items in place well before the employee is told they are no longer going to a part of your team.

Below are our top 5 things to consider when offboarding proactively:

  1. Be empathetic from start to finish

    1. You will see this threaded through all that we do. We believe whole heartedly that people will always give what they get. The better you treat them, at every stage of their career, the better they will leave your organization.
    2. A layoff is likely not expected or desired and therefore, can take some time to process. Be prepared to give them the time they need to be “ok” with your decision.

Ensuring your teams experience a graceful offboarding process will be paramount to the relationship you keep with your remaining employees and will be the basis on which your employee brand and culture stand on.

  1. Get constructive feedback

    1. Ensure that you give the employee the ability to share their thoughts on what worked, and what didn’t, during their time with you. It is often easier for this to be outsourced to ensure that you are getting honest feedback. A layoff can be a sensitive time for people, so ensure that you are giving them an opportunity to process, grieve the loss and manage their needs before asking for anything in return
  2. Ensure an effective hand-off

    1. Communication is your number one responsibility. Speak with the employee, speak with their supervisor and their teams, and be open and available to an ongoing conversation.
    2. If you are only eliminating part of the team, someone else will be picking up the pieces that are being left. Support your existing team by ensuring the laid off employee is properly and effectively handing off their work.
    3. Be mindful that this is a difficult time for them and let them determine the best way to do this.

Some ideas of ways to effectively facilitate a hand-off are:

  • An email with a list of outstanding tasks
  • A 1 on 1 meeting
  • A call setup between the employee and the team member
    1. If there is not the ability to effectively handoff, ensure that you have their contact information updated, should you need to reach them
  1. Celebrate your outgoing employees

    1. The Coronavirus has hit companies in unprecedented ways. Many of the layoffs taking place right now are not due to a company’s desire, but out of necessity. The teams that you are letting go are likely winners, and people that you hope will return to your business when the time comes.

Some great ways to show your appreciation and admiration for your outgoing teams are:

  • Thank you cards
  • A going away lunch
  • A break in the last day to hold a standup and personally thank them for their time and support
  • Provide them with a reference letter if they did a great job working for you
  1. Have a plan

    1. If you know that this is a temporary layoff, make sure to communicate that clearly
    2. If you know that there is likely no opportunity of them getting rehired, let them know
    3. Be honest, be transparent, be kind

 

The piece that we see forgotten the most is that while you are looking after the employees that are being laid off, it is easy to forget about the employees that remain.

There is no doubt that they are wondering if “they are next” so take the time to communicate with the remaining team let them know what you are planning.

Reaffirming your commitment to your existing teams will ensure you do not have to deal with additional, and unplanned attrition.

Allow for the remaining team to come forward with their concerns, their ideas, and their hopes.

Bring them in to the plan for the future so that they have a say in the future of their company.

Lastly, in order to ensure that you have completed all the necessary steps during the offboarding process, Career Contacts has created a robust offboarding checklist.

Interested in getting a copy of our offboarding Checklist? Email us at hiring@careercontacts.ca and we will send one over to you, at no cost!

 

The entire HR team at Career Contacts is dedicated to supporting our clients and our communities with FREE COVID related HR support. One of the most demanding requests we have received is for offboarding support.

 

Please feel free to reach out to our teams to see how we can support you today!

 

How to feel “unstuck” while feeling “stuck” at home

Most of us are currently following the stay at home orders that have been instituted all over the world. I have been hearing a lot of people saying things like “I just feel stuck” or “I feel like this is wasted time”.

The fact is, most of the world is in the same situation, so feeling like you are getting left behind as the world is moving forward simply isn’t the case, we are all in the same boat. Mindset is key in this situation. It’s important that you are choosing to see the silver lining of this extra time as the chance to use it however you feel works best for you. For some, that will mean some much needed down time, for others, it might be getting in that quality time with the kids that you have been missing. For others, it can be a time to grow your skills and knowledge to set you apart when the world returns to normal.

Here are some ideas of great ways to keep that stagnant feeling at bay!

Take an online class

Utilize some of the wonderful online learning platforms to deepen your software skills, learn about how other people in your field approach their tasks, or even to pick up a new hobby. If you don’t know where to start here are a few suggestions:

  • MasterClass is a great site where famous experts in their field share their knowledge. Here you can learn to cook like Gordon Ramsey or critically think like Neil deGrasse Tyson. It is a bit pricier, but they are running a buy one, get one deal that you could split with a friend or colleague.
  • Udemy is similar in concept to MasterClass with a wide range of subjects and price points. They also run great sales every few weeks with up to 90% off some courses.
  • SkillShare is more targeted to the arts but features great content if you are looking to pick up a new hobby or are interested in an arts career, and they are running a free two-month trial.

Read a book

Normally our schedules are so packed with work, social events, and errands that we don’t have time to sit down and read a book. Check out the great selection of physical books available for delivery online or download an eBook from a respected person in your field, a great life coach, or a how-to book for a skill or hobby you are interested in.

Did you know we have a career coaching book available? Check out the HR Insider; how to land your dream job and keep it – available online at Chapters and Amazon!

Update your LinkedIn / Resume

If you are facing a career change or looking to grow your network, take some time to review your LinkedIn page and resume to ensure that it is up to date and the best reflection of you professionally so that recruiters or potential connections are more interested. Make sure to include keywords in your profile, so when recruiters are searching for candidates, your profile will have a higher change of popping up on their radar.

Practice your skills

Take this time to revisit the skills on your resume that you may have not used in a while. For example, if you have Excel as a top skill on your resume but haven’t been using it in your current role take some time to play around and assess where your skills are now and take steps to improve them.

Set goals

Things like legitimate goal setting can get bumped off the to-do list easily. Take this time to sit down and map out some SMART goals for yourself for the short term and long term. If you set a 3-month goal, add a calendar alert to remind you to check in on your progress six weeks from now, and again at the goal date.

Practice interviewing

If you are looking toward applying for positions soon, ask a friend (or us!) to stage a practice interview with you. The earlier you do this practice interview the earlier you can identify gaps in your skillset that could help guide you to the best online courses to be taking now.

Shop around

Turn your designated Amazon scrolling time into time where you “shop” for dream companies. This form of shopping will not cost you anything and may help you discover a new goal.

Reach out

If you have (or discover) a company that you would love to work for, reach out on LinkedIn to see if you can arrange for an informational interview using Zoom or FaceTime. Although the recruiter at your dream company might not be immediately available to interview or meet with you, it’s still a great idea to throw your name out there and express your interest in case a suitable role opens up later down the road.

Develop your brand

Who do you want to be perceived as professionally? Do your LinkedIn, socials, and resume all reflect the same brand identity? If not, take some time and analyze what you should adjust to best represent yourself. If branding is not your strong suit that may be a great online class to take!

 

If there are any great things you have found to continue your professional development during this time we would love to hear about it!

 

 

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