Here are the top tips taken from today:
10 Top Tips for Compliance
1. It needs to be cultural – Keep it to simple and focus on essentials to make it work. Sometimes it can become overengineered, which creates confusion of responsibilities and expectations.
2. Audits make a difference – If you want to know how your business is working, this is key. An external person will ensure they are carried out, and the auditor won’t be worrying about upsetting team others in the organisation (for example). At the very least, ensure your internal auditors are audited from time to time. For cyber security, Cyber Essentials (government led) leads you through a start to finish self audit process, and begins at £200 for certification. This shows that your business is taking cyber security seriously. An ISO9001 (general) or other certifications, such as HSG65, useful internally, are recognised externally. You may need them to apply for certain work.
3. Policies & procedures – again focus on what is needed, and ensure that what you have is useful. How, what, and why? Train people regularly, to keep them fresh, so that everyone understands the value of those policies. Keep them up-to-date, and let people know they have been updated.
4. Strategy is key – consider compliance within your business strategy, for 1,3,5 and 10 years. Including financing for updates, devices that need replacing or upgrading, risk management work, and compliance development.
5. Devices and remote working – ensure devices, and data, are suitably safe, including additional passwords on devices, encryption, and use of cloud servers. With exiting employees, ensure data is returned, and that before you wipe laptops, any data and any programmes, are definitely backed up elsewhere (!).
6. Check your website & email data – all of your website enquiry forms collect data, where is that kept (including which country) and how? Consider banning employees from using work emails for any personal communications or online subscriptions. Aside from resource being used up in your email systems, and working time lost. It also increases the risk of accidentally sending work information to a personal contact.
7. Clients come first – ensure transparency throughout. Where data is, how it is used, and how long it is kept. Ensure there is a road map and procedure followed. Do what you have said you will do to clients’ data, as set out in your engagement letters.
8. Knowledge is key – ensure there is a central location for knowledge and utilise free online training. Training workshops where people watch webinars together, and then discuss them, add value (and count as CPD if needed). Attendees of offsite training can be asked to share what they have learned in a blog, meeting, or, webinar on their return.
9. GDPR, ICO, and roles – GDPR supports businesses that use their communication to add value to their clients and certain contacts. Ensure you have appropriate training on how to market effectively within GDPR. Alongside clarity of roles, and any reporting paths for breaches, whether those needed to be reported to the ICO, or recorded.
10. Use your safety triangle – focusing on the base, Employee Engagement, Staff Management & Supervision, then Regular Compliance and Firmwide Training. By empowering staff through knowledge, it prevents issues from reaching higher up, which is Complaints, and finally Professional Negligence at the top. Approximately £2000 is take up per complaint (including lost time, and potential loss of business from them complaining to others). With data breaches themselves, fines have increased, and custodial sentences have been imposed for serious breaches.
5 Top Tips in Marketing Magic
1. Use your existing clients – current research suggests it is eight times faster, and cheaper, to gain business from your existing clients than gaining new ones
You can do this by:
- Making sure your customers know everything you do.
- Use your marketing to remind them of your services (this is not the same as sending sales emails to them regularly). Be confident that your clients may well need your other services, and if you aren’t telling them about it, they will simply be buying it from someone else.
- Great customer service is required, good won’t cut it. Go over and above. If nothing else, it takes 30 seconds to add a comment displaying personal interest and knowledge about that person. Cultivate the relationship.
- Understand your clients, and train people at all levels of your business, to recognise potential opportunities. Training can include internal training from various departments, or external training to improve skills in engaging and asking questions, of customers, to elicit this information confidently.
- Ensure clients have a full onboarding and outboarding process, and that feedback is sought during the project or transaction, not at the end. It is often too late to act then (although unhappy clients can be turned around to become an ambassador for your business).
2. Focus on a few quality referrals – by scattering your referrals you are reducing the value of it, or for it to be reciprocal. For example if you send one to ten people, but the person receiving it gets 2 – 3 from someone else, that business will be prioritised. You can improve the quality of your referrals by:
- Considering if you have a common client base.
- Ensure that you both, along with their customers, have similar values or interests (or at the least won’t conflict).
- Reflect on why you have chosen them and why they have chosen you. Ask for an honest response, as to whether they want to be in this relationship with you, otherwise quality referrals are unlikely.
- Ensure you can add value through reciprocity, whether that is through work you send their way, or in some other way through your service or network.
- Train your referrers, they need to know exactly what it is you do, and how to spot opportunities. Find out how you can do the same.
- Meet face to face as often as you can. How often have you met with someone and thought, I forgot how amazing they are? It also puts you forefront in their mind.
- Split your time, meet often with close key referrers (5 max), occasional coffee with others (10-20), and send out invites to larger events, or send specific newsletters that add value, for other supportive or useful contacts.
- Plan with the end in mind, and create a time frame for how you will work with that referrer.
3. Use your marketing emails wisely – After GDPR, depending on the steps taken, email lists were significantly reduced. This should mean the people in your lists are interested in your content, keep them interested by:
- Adding value by with anything you send out. Consider how the end reader will benefit from it.
- Invite customers or key industry contacts, to forward your content on to others (make sure you have subscription options in it). If your content is a sales pitch, they won’t usually send it on.
- Use your research into your clients’ needs, to develop content.
4. Use other marketing tools – to increase your online visibility including:
- Be listed on Google, Bing, Yell, and any relevant free directory you can think of.
- Enter as many awards as possible providing that a) they show value, preferably around something to do with customer service or community and b) you take the time to draft a quality submission, otherwise it is a waste of your time.
- Ensure your website has a sign up form for emails. For GDPR purposes, it needs to be specific to what they are signing up for, separate tick boxes for different topics or areas.
- Utilise Linked In & Twitter for business community opportunities, CSR works well with Twitter.
- Partner with a charity to show the genuine caring element of your business and team. Help give this charity recognition, and give them support. Whilst at the same time choosing one that will ensure that your connections are increased, and that your great service is shared with new potential clients.
5. Utilise expertise – to support you with your compliance, training, and marketing, wherever possible, or outsource where needed.
Thank you again Vicky and Anne for sharing your wisdom, and to everyone for attending and getting involved.