Claire Harper

Mentoring Great Young Talent

29th Apr 2016 • CLAIRE HARPER

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I have always been very passionate about developing brilliant teams and nurturing great talent. I have known Jess, 25 for over 8 years now. Jess used to look after my own daughters, Coco and India in her former role as a Senior Nursery Nurse at a local nursery.  After working for me at IndiaCoco for a year, it gave Jess the inspiration and confidence to finally make her own business idea happen and be in charge of her own destiny. Jess has recently launched a new exciting craft venue ‘Crafty Kids’ in Springfield Mills, Denby Dale, Huddersfield.

Crafty Kids is an innovative new craft venue for children aged 0-8 years. A world of craft materials and resources for your little ones to get crafty with. Children can take home whatever they make. It is a fun and dynamic new environment for families and friends to meet and spend quality time with children.

Designed to take the hard work out of messy play at home, customers and children will experience an interactive and bright play environment where children can learn and make crafty delights. Along with craft activities there are some free play areas such as sand and water play. Children can access these areas independently while parents or grandparents take a seat and enjoy a hot drink.

Jess put together a robust business plan and has worked very hard to bring it to life and I have been very proud to support her in a mentoring role along the way.

Jess is a busy working mum and she struggled to find an environment offering a great alternative to soft play and allowing children to make fun crafty projects taking the hard work out of messy play at home. With her extensive nursery nurse experience and child care qualifications she is very passionate about allowing children to try new things and learning in an environment such as Crafty Kids where anything is possible! Jess will also be offering Crafty Kids parties making it easy for parents and for kids to enjoy. Together with fantastic customer service, and product knowledge, I am very confident Crafty Kids will become a destination for customers to come back to time and time again.

Jess certainly does exemplify the best attributes of young people today and has proved resilience, determination and the ambition to launch her own, successful business. Jess has worked very hard to gain her professional childcare qualifications whilst juggling the demands of becoming a young mum at the age of 20. Jess has demonstrated maturity, confidence and she should be very proud of her professional achievements and I know she is very proud of her beautiful daughter, Poppy.

At different times in my career, I've been lucky enough to have some hugely inspirational mentors who helped me with my self-belief and resilience, and shared their extensive knowledge and experience in areas like effective communication and leadership. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that person in the workplace, which is why I offer my advice and experience to others.

I feel very proud to be part of this journey. Jess has made significant progress in her achievements over the past year and launching Crafty Kids has shown huge potential for Jess to believe in herself and become a strong leader in her profession.

Find Crafty Kids at www.craftykidshuddersfield.co.uk

For more information, please contact: Jessica Wood
Email: craftykidshuddersfield@outlook.com

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As I start to prepare my speech for the 2016 conference BIRA (British Independent Retailers Association) I wanted to share my thoughts on 'Customer service as a competitive advantage. A fresh perspective for the bricks and mortar customer experience’

Drawing on my extensive multi-channel retail experience I will be sharing my own story on why customer service should be at the very heart of any organisation.

Engaging content and experience

Traditional methods of customer service are no longer equipped to deal with the expectations of today’s customer and so many brands neglect the ‘heartbeat’ of their brand values. One of the biggest weaknesses is reliance on old customer service techniques, including traditional call centres often outsourced and detached from the central organisation.

Today’s consumers are demanding and savvy, not only do they demand an instant response; they expect that interaction must exceptional if their loyalty is to be retained or developed. But what does this mean for businesses and how can these changing expectations be harnessed for marketing advantage?

To take their customer service to the next level, companies need to invest in a broader total community approach, that goes beyond the customer service department to tap into expertise from not only employees in other business units but also customers and stakeholders. This new central cultural approach of growing and developing an online community, offers new opportunities for businesses to improve their customer service and better market to existing and potential customers.

Poor customer service can have a significant and long-term impact on brand health and sales. It has been proven time and time again via research that more than 50 per cent of consumers are unlikely to spend with a brand again following a negative experience (and then go on and share their negative experience with friends and family via social media) – even more reason to adopt a more holistic approach to customer service.

On top of this, customers moving online have high-expectations that their queries will be responded to promptly, with the majority expecting a brand to respond to an email or tweet in less than an hour. In order for brands to capitalise on these customer interactions, not only do they need to respond quickly but the responses also need to be to engaging, relevant, proactive and reflect the brand’s tone of voice.

The emphasis on customer engagement has got to be delivered through a constant stream of fresh, stimulating content that has been backed up with passionate and talented resource.

Best-in-class service

Brands must be focused on delivering best-in-class service via delivery, returns and exceptional customer care

Supporting customers through every stage of their journey is essential for delivering a best-in-class service. This is achieved through continually developing and improving self-service initiatives such as updated help sections and making more help and information available on both desktop and mobile sites.

It’s not just about saving money; brands have also found that customers who spend more time in online communities tend to spend more than regular customers. You only need to look at socially engaging brands such as ASOS, Ocado and Apple to see how the customer experience is reflected through every touch point of their brand. These customers view the online community as an important place to find reviews and recommendations by fellow customers before they purchase, and the support they find from peers makes purchasing more likely.

Many marketers may find the idea of linking social media and sales daunting. However, the move from a traditional call centre approach to a more holistic online community model has again been proven to reduce response times to customer service queries, is cheaper, and can increase brand loyalty and spend. Utilising a platform that can help your business build trusted relationships between customers and the brand, is key to retaining competitive advantage.

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