When customer service standards fail to impress, the knee jerk response is to assume that more training is what’s needed. What if I told you that you already had the resources, you just needed to learn how to unlock them? Every week I hear, “We need more customer service training. Our people just don’t have the service skills.” I’m asking you to take a step back and look at your situation, and your customer service representatives. Think about this: Do your employees have friends over for BBQs on the weekend?
Do they show empathy for sick friends or relatives? Do they ever buy a round at the pub for their friends to show their appreciation? Of course, they do. Whilst some new skills can definitely help, most of us have the knowledge to create positive experiences for others, no matter how simple or every day. So how do we motivate and encourage our teams to have the same motivation and enthusiasm at work? Well, you could send everyone to yet another customer service course.
Or, if you’re really perceptive, you could unlock what is already there. Sound too hard? Well try this: starting on Monday, here’s your to-do list for the next 5 working days.
Tell a great customer service story to your team. Organisations with strong customer service cultures prioritise the time to share positive customer stories. Every day. Send an email, hold court at the coffee machine, or kick off the staff meeting with your stories and insights. Storytelling is an incredibly effective way to promote the service culture you want and encourage employees to create their own. Can’t think of one of your own? Tell one from somewhere else. Don’t underestimate the power of inspiration.
Call a customer and ask “What’s it like being our customer?” It’s amazing how much time and effort organisations put into surveys, generating NPS scores, and outsourcing potentially uncomfortable conversations to a third party research company. These are all very useful tools, particularly in large organisations. However, for honest, immediate, and very human insights, why not just ask? You could be missing out on some frank yet extremely valuable feedback, from those who it affects the most. Don’t forget to say thank you for the insights, and if there is a problem, get off the phone and fix it immediately!
On Wednesday, you should champion a service hero. Most organisations have a least one team member who is the quiet achiever and naturally gives great service just by being themselves. Customers love them, but you might not recognise the significance of their achievements as they aren’t naturally the type to boast. You need to recognise that this person is your secret weapon. People do what is celebrated, rewarded and recognised, so time to turn your quiet achiever into a customer service rockstar.
Call another customer. You’re probably thinking: “Wait, didn’t I already do that on Tuesday?” Yes, you did, and it’s time to do it again. If you spoke to a 50-something male technophobe on Tuesday, on Thursday I want you to call a female Gen-Y social media addict with 1,000 Facebook friends. Why? Because we are all individuals and just like love, customer experience is in the eye of the beholder. A good experience for one type of customer may be completely unacceptable to another. Whilst it can be difficult to provide a completely tailored experience for every individual, knowing your key customer segments, and what is important to them, is a vital part of seeing your service through their eyes.
On the last day of the working week, give a little latitude. What would happen if you gave every team member $50 a month to spend, the only rule is that they must spend it on bringing delight to a customer? What about $100, or $200? What is the worst that could happen? You just sponsored around at the local pub. The best? By tangibly empowering and showing trust in your team’s judgement, you kickstart a culture of continuously striving to delight customers in new ways.
What about next week? Do it all again. You have taken the first important steps in achieving the service culture you’ve been searching for. Do you have any unique tips for fuelling your team’s customer service? Let us know below in the comments!
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