How does the public perceive your company’s service – excellent, average or poor?
Research indicates that 90% of a customer’s perception is determined by their fi rst interaction with a company. If this experience was poor, it will take about 21 attempts to improve on the initial experience, but many companies never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Clive Price, Managing Director of The Peer Group, a Johannesburg-based training company that specialises in sales and frontline training, says companies often don’t realise how much poor service can affect their bottom line. Often, training is the fi rst item to drop offa company budget during tough economic times, but Price says that without well-trained, motivated and professional staff, an organisation could suffer a dip in profits and declining productivity.
The Peer Group is not a new kid on the block when it comes to training. The group has been in business since 1994 and their main clients are companies who rely heavily on sales and customer care. Their clients are from all market sectors and include companies such as ABSA, Sotheby’s, Media 24 and a number of insurance and motor vehicle companies. “We are getting a lot of repeat business, and this is a sign that our clients are satisfied with our service,” says Price.
The Peer Group is aware that companies want more than just a training course – they want value for money and they want to see results. “We believe the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the skills we teach can be used practically in the workplace we have been successful,” explains Price.
Its commitment to going the extra mile in its training has won the group two coveted awards. Price was named one of the top three training facilitators in South Africa in an independent poll conducted by the Skills Portal. The Peer Group also received a certificate for being one of the top five training companies in South Africa – as the competition for this award is so tough, this is an outstanding achievement for the group.
Why are The Peer Group courses different?
Bridgette Oberholster, Sales and Marketing Director of The Peer Group, explains that unlike many training courses, they do not believe in a “text book only” approach. Their workshops have two components: 30% theory and 70% interaction. Furthermore, their interactive sessions are not based on hypothetical work situations, but real case studies from the client’s company. Their workshops are also designed in such a way that they are enjoyable. “We have realised that with training, people come for the experience and we place a huge emphasis on having fun,” she says.
She adds that the group does not have a one-size-fits-all course. “We don’t go in and offer a standard training package. The more time we spend with a company, the better we can advise them on the best training programme for their needs,” she says. When a company approaches them to train staff, The Peer Group takes time to get to know the intricate workings of the client’s company. Only when this process is complete does training commence.
Price points out that although The Peer Group has a small team (they only have eight training facilitators) their teamwork is one of their strengths. The facilitators are highly competent and deliver an exceptionally high standard of training. Oberholster says that after every workshop, delegates are requested to evaluate their facilitator and all facilitators score between 90% and 100%.
After any workshop, The Peer Group team conducts telephonic follow-up interviews with each person who attended the course. This is a crucial part of the process as it is the best way to find out what delegates are implementing in the workplace and if there are any areas where courses can be improved. “Constant improvement gives us the competitive edge. We love what we do and we believe this is a key to our success and differentiates us from other companies,” Oberholster says