Friday, February 19, 2016
We change the way we talk to different people. Whether we be in dialogue with staff, customers, friends, business partners or the bank, we adapt our tone and choose carefully the subject matter we address. One greeting, topic of conversation and farewell doesn’t suit all exchanges. It amazes me therefore that so many individuals and companies expect the same piece of information to have equal impact wherever they put it.
Too many companies duplicate content across media platforms, which means it ends up speaking to nobody. Posting a press release as a blog would not give the reader the education and advice one seeks, while a trade magazine needs to know Who, What, Where, When, Why and How in double quick time to make an editorial decision. That was discussed in my first blog late last year.
We’ve just sent our third press release to trade media editors covering an in-house training course we staged earlier this month (February), aimed at further enhancing customer service through product knowledge. Last month we shared an article about lifting a truck-mounted access platform during maintenance on the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland, following our initial media communication about the new 1,000t Sahm Splice hydraulic press. These were current and fact-laden articles.
This blog, like previous posts, elaborates on the factual elements of our latest press release. The efficiency of our content marketing mix means we can commentate on developments at Rope and Sling Specialists (RSS) to our varied audiences. My blog educates, while our press releases are factual and newsworthy, and daily, social engagement is led by our Twitter account (@RopeandSling).
Staff retention is something I really focus on; I never like to lose good people. If a company has a high turnover of staff it tells me they are not a great company to work for. Our staff are our best asset and we need to make sure they stay. Put simply, good companies retain their staff. And we like to think we’re a good company.
I’d urge any CEO, office manager or team leader to invest time and resources in personal development. An educated team is one that feels they can effectively deal with enquiries, gets a sense of progression and has great job satisfaction. We want everyone to believe they have a long-term future at RSS.
Personal development happens day-to-day away from the formalities of coaching and meetings. It’s as much about being approachable, discussing issues when they arise and acknowledging the importance of everyone’s position. But training sessions are an important component.
Just as is the case when I draft a blog or prepare a press release, Alan Varney, depot manager, and I had to consider the audience of the day when eleven employees took part in the one-day, in-house training course referenced above. It provided food for thought for this educational blog too, as content, tone, language and depth all emerged as elements to ponder.
Stick to the plan
In planning, we kept reminding ourselves of the objective (to enhance customer service through product knowledge) and the audience (participants were largely responsible for dealing with first point of contact enquiries). Thus, our product references and demonstrations had to meet with that criteria. This was about the slings and rigging equipment that could be applied to certain applications and the other products that should be considered when certain lifting technologies and loads are referenced.
We made references to the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). But we didn’t trace LEEA’s roots back to wartime Britain in 1943 and we didn’t delve into the hierarchy laid down in PUWER regulation 11(2). It was tailored, measured content for the audience.
One size doesn’t fit all below-the-hook, nor does it work in the training room. The session wasn’t about blinding people with science. What would have been the point of covering secondary hoisting lines, banksmen, lift supervisors or dynamic load situations? Our objective was to train with a view to having a direct positive impact on customer service, which is another cornerstone of our business alongside retention of good staff.
Hallmark of quality content
Good content provokes engagement and interaction, whether it be written or in a live training environment. We were encouraged by the level of discussion among participants and the experiences that were shared. From those discussions we gathered information that can be used for continued improvement of best practices.
Just as a blogger or Tweeter can respond to an audience and a journalist can approach us with follow-up questions, Alan and I rolled with the punches of the day. The level of expertise varied somewhat among our group so we had to think on our feet to ensure everyone felt enriched by the experience.
We’re not a company to burden staff with protocol and procedures, but we do have systems in place to address issues. It was a key ingredient to the sessions that staff were reminded of their role in that. Some areas of our business cannot be overseen by everyone, so when a specific design or electrical enquiry arises, for example, people know to direct it at a specific person.
As I told trade media in our latest press release, based on the success of this training session we will hold other courses, which will include introductory material for first point of contact staff and more in-depth content that touches upon complex lifting applications and lift planning. Again, it’s important to consider each audience before rolling the content out. Getting it wrong could result in a patronising session or one that over-burdens personnel with technical information.
Looking back with a scrutinous eye, perhaps we will make even the initial course last one-and-a-half days as Alan and I felt certain elements had to be rushed. Otherwise, the Radisson Blu hotel in Bristol worked well and staff welcomed the opportunity to get off-site into a different environment, which is something else I’d urge peers to consider.
Meanwhile, it remains a busy start to the year. We’ve viewed premises in Hayes, West London as we come closer to opening a new depot, strategically positioned and equipped with the region’s projects in mind. The steel industry continues to present challenges for our customers but construction is in a healthy position against the ongoing flatness of oil and gas.
That’s all for my third blog. Follow us on Twitter—@RopeandSling.
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd