Remember the CEO who created Hawaiian Shirt Day? Is it OK for him or her to feel slightly powerless and self-conscious about lacking credibility? This is quite normal, especially when it comes to transforming improvements in customer service as you typically get one chance to get it right so you want to have the message delivered with impact. Communicating the vision, celebrating successes and being relentless in the pursuit of perfection (or illusion of perfection) with customer service must be done the right way to avoid your message losing its impact. It’s not necessarily about hiring a consultant to do it for you, but if these points resonate with your organisation, you definitely don’t want to do this alone. One of the biggest tips that I can offer organisations in this situation it to change the way they do things by becoming more energetic.
Regardless of occupation or industry, employees are ‘on show’ to their customers and other stakeholders. Think about the feeling you get when you see a great show with lots of energy, compared to a show you could describe as lifeless. Approaching customer service with energy, both physically and mentally, enables employees to engage with customers and develop a deeper connection, which will leave the customer with a positive memory. Having an energetic approach to all tasks creates a better working environment and is infectious between colleagues, which makes customer service that much more enjoyable. No matter how serious or complicated a task may be, energy will create more confidence between customers and employees. Here are four areas that leaders can look at to infuse some energy and boost credibility:
1. Celebrate customer service successes
Leaders in workplaces are now moving from acknowledging their employees to celebrating with them. This is because celebrations spread quicker throughout the culture of a team to create positive change. I’m not referring to putting on Friday drinks every time a 5-star review gets submitted online, but being deliberate about what is celebrated and the way it is celebrated. A mentor once told me to come up with a list of all of my successes in customer service. He then asked me to come up with another list of exactly what I did to create these positive successes. The second list was harder to write than the first! Business leaders need to define the required behaviours and then come up with an appropriate celebration that will become contagious throughout the team and promote maximum uplifts in customer service. This can either be in the form of benefits, which are the things offered to employees for their commitment to the organisation; rewards, which is something tangible as a result of a specific achievement; or recognition, which is an acknowledgement of a contribution which produces significant results.
2. Focus on how you interact with each customer
Once you have energy in your customer service celebrations, the next step is to actually define the desired interactions from your staff members and ensure they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to make this happen. Customer service leaders must ensure their staff can not only interact to the level required, but interact to the same standard as others in the organisation. A good place to start is from the teachings by Albert Mehrabian, who discovered the 55%-38%-7% rule about the relative importance of communication (55%), vocal communication (38%), and verbal communication (7%). Organisations need to develop standards of image, presentation and tone of voice, right down to the actual words to use. You would be surprised about the many pitfalls that exist with words that detract from positive customer service, yet are used in our vernacular every day. This seems very simple, but everyone is different, so although you employ team members to be unique, they must interact to the required standard of the organisation. Standards are to be followed, whereas guidelines are to be interpreted.
3. Constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to make memories
Many organisations view conflict management training as the solution for frequent customer complaints. Even organisations who are exceptional at delivering customer service will still receive complaints. So how can you turn around a complaint to leave a customer with a positive memory? The solution is to stop thinking about the complaint as a form of conflict between two parties. By removing the conflict mindset, the organisation should view complaints or even potential complaints as opportunities. Opportunities don’t always present with a warning (no matter how frequently they occur), which is why it is important to be prepared to be proactive or reactive to a customer’s needs and emotions. The solution is to use the opportunity as a chance to recover the customer — that means a chance to show them how important they are to you and the organisation. A conflict mindset will lead to conflict.
4. Looking at ‘the way’ that service is delivered.
This extends beyond the human interactions that we uncovered in a previous blog post. The way in which service is delivered is more of a manner. Employees might all interact in the right way visually, verbally and vocally, but do they see the relationship between customer service in the context of the overall experience with the organisation and how it fits in with each and every customer touchpoint? The way that employees deliver service should be with utmost attention to detail, consistently between employees and with credibility. Even when service fails at various points, the ability for employees to see the missing detail, and consistently make changes that come across in a credible way to customers, the overall experience will be a positive one. Remember, it’s not just about knowledge training, rather finding the right employees with the right customer-centric attitudes.
Chris Smoje is a customer service speaker, trainer, facilitator and founder of the DIME™ Customer Service approach. Chris works with organisations and their people to develop a common interest and excitement about delivering exceptional customer service results: www.dimecustomerservice.com