Let Your Team Take the Lead on Service

Create an educational process in which all team members are reminded every day of the importance of customer service.

I get asked all the time: How can I maintain a high level of customer service? My answer is always the same: Why would you want to maintain anything? Wouldn’t you rather have a service culture that continues to grow and delight?

Imagine your organization having the ability to drive high-level customer service across departmental lines that continues to develop, enhance, and hone the service skills of seasoned veterans and also quickly gets new team members up to speed. An educational process in which all team members are reminded every day of the importance of customer service. Not fiction, but reality! It’s the future, and I have seen it in action.

Historically, good managers are not necessarily good teachers. Operations and soft skill behavior modification are different skill sets that few naturally possess. One operational hiccup or mini-disaster and your manager’s ability to drive the program quickly evaporates. This is often why the best-thought-out service initiatives don’t yield the results imagined.

To follow are a few examples of service standards, service standards that can be simply structured for a manager/supervisor to easily present. These “micro-educational sessions are two-minute uniform exercises everyone partakes in that remind and reinforce your company’s mission and vision.

Be Approachable: In relating to how people communicate in face-to-face interactions, it is important to use positive tone and body language.

Have you ever been in the grocery store or at a bank where you (the customer) had to make a decision on which line to stand in? Often you make that decision on based on the level of confidence and aptitude displayed by that associate. These two traits plus professional body language techniques focused on the customer equals approachability. Customers often don’t know why they make the choice of who they trust—it’s a feeling. Some people have “it” naturally; most need to be given the tools/skills.

Acknowledge: It’s important to show people they are important. Recognize the guests by:

  • Smiling
  • Making eye contact
  • Verbal phrase

Would you like to be acknowledged or ignored? The best example is: A simple “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” or “Good evening” demonstrated across departmental lines shows customers your business is focused on them. Having a business where the associates are truly attentive to customers, not on the operation or product, is what people remember. Touching your customers’ hearts often and consistently throughout their interactions with your business is a core standard that most only wish for.

Greet: Always extend a warm and sincere greeting.

  • Salutation: “Good morning,” “Good evening,” “Happy holidays,” “Thank you for calling”
  • Provide your name
  • Extend an offer of assistance

Most associates only understand that “this is what is required to say when greeting a customer”—not why the greeting is important. The greeting comprises three parts: Salutation is where we welcome or thank them; offering your name gives the customer confidence that they are in good hands (accountability); and the offer of assistance demonstrates your want and willingness to answer questions or perform a desired task.

Personalize: To modify to suit the wishes or needs of a particular individual by using positive tone and body language.

Fact: Nobody knows the right answers, only the right questions. Personalizing the many features of your business to suit the specific wishes of the customer is the key ingredient to the creation of value. Every customer deserves to be treated as an individual, not like they are just the “next in line.” Identifying specific likes, activities, interests, and then customizing your business to meet these needs will keep your customers coming back for more.

How Do You Do It?

  • Form a service committee to provide representation across departmental lines
  • Provide managers/supervisors with tools needed to be successful. Create a skill kit that empowers and teaches your management team to train, coach, and energize employees using pre-assigned activities and exercises specifically designed for brief, daily team meetings—meetings that are more than likely already part of your culture.
  • Ensure every department stays focused on the same skill each week—every day a different learning module, every week a different skill.
  • Once you finish all your service standards, repeat! Then repeat again.

As your managers train, they will start submitting to the service committee new ideas to drive the standards. Now you are not just maintaining but also growing and developing your service culture internally.

Dave Hamilton is senior vice president at Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.

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