Asking staff to provide excellent customer service it is about as useful a direction as asking staff to make you a delicious lunch. The employee who loves coriander and has super kitchen skills is never getting a score of excellent from me. The lunch they put their heart and soul into may be delicious to them, but just one bite and I am VERY unhappy, and I will remember that experience as awful, long after the taste has gone. (If it is not clear, I HATE CORIANDER).
The word ‘excellent’ is the problem.
Like the word delicious, excellent is open to interpretation. For every employee who believes excellent customer service is completing customer requests quickly and with minimal chit chat, there is another employee who believes that taking the time to talk with customers is just as important as completing the request. Neither of these perceptions is incorrect or correct because…
Deciding if customer service is excellent is not up to you or your team; it is up to each customer. Which leads us to the big question…
Is providing excellent customer service to every customer possible?
Not always. BUT, in the majority of customer interactions the chance of customers feeling valued and respected and speaking highly of the business is greatly increased when staff have the right customer service attitude, the right customer service training and the right customer service support.
For you to provide your team with the right things, you first need to understand your teams’ customer service skills, customer service knowledge, and their perception of the customer service expectations of your customers.
This bit is easy, simply pose the below question to all staff – not just those who interact with customers. You need everyone in your team to be thinking of customer service as a team effort and team responsibility.
“If you were a customer of our business, what would you deem as excellent service?”
As the Business owner/manager, you will have a clear idea of what your customers love or loathe so this is a great opportunity to check-in so you can identify staff who have the same deep understanding, staff who have lower level understanding and wait for it…..you may have staff who have customer service ideas and insights that you have never considered. Collate and share the responses in writing and if possible, to all team members at the same time ie: butchers’ paper or a whiteboard.
Written words have more power when they are read as well as said as the written word allows time for reflection and makes it easy for the team to see that like their customers, they too may have different ideas of what is excellent service.
During this activity, keep your thoughts and ideas quiet until you hear from everyone in the team. This activity is a great way to remind staff that customers who ask many questions, need information repeated, are abrupt and direct or want immediate responses, are not necessarily trying to be difficult; they simply have different service needs and expectations.
Once all the results are shared, add what you think is missing and then ask the team to agree on the non-negotiables. These should become your customer service standards and they should be reviewed at least annually. If you cannot get everyone together, share the results via email and ask for their non-negotiables in writing.
A team that identifies and agrees on customer service standards have a higher probability of abiding by them.
There will of course be a smattering of customers who want a level of service that is not possible or practical, but the good news is that most customers are open books. Most customers will feel they have received excellent service when staff learn how to read them.
The key to excellent service is remembering that one size does not fit all. Remember, service expectations are like coriander, if we do not find out what customers like, dislike or loathe, we could be leaving customers with a bad taste of the business that is difficult to forget and is very easy to share with other potential customers.
The book that your team need is mine: “The A-Z of Service Excellence”. www.lightbulbtraining.com.au/the-book
You can download the First Chapter for FREE.
I am obsessed with customer service. I have been providing it, managing it and training it for over 35 years and I love it. I am so obsessed I wrote a book about it (The A – Z of Service Excellence), I have 2 businesses (Lightbulb Training Solutions & Just For Schools) and an on-line TV show called On The Frontline via TickerTV. www.lightbulbtraining.com.au