Volumes of research has gone into the problem of poor customer service. Issues like lack of experience, poor people skills, and lack of commitment to the customer has been the cause of customer service problems. It‘s not that businesses don’t understand what customer service is; they do. The problem is much more sophisticated than this, or else it would be very easy to solve.
Yet underneath so many of poor customer service causes, if not directly beneath them is a concept that businesses seem to over look… until it’s too late, and they become a failure statistic for business consultants to analyze. That concept is customer service.
Reinventing Customer Service
The root problem is, while businesses often understand that the goal of customer service is to achieve customer satisfaction (and then experience all of the pleasant consequences of this, such as more profit and market share) they often don’t know how to achieve this goal. They know the end, but they aren’t aware of the necessary steps to exceptional customer service.
1. Invest in Sales Associates Skills Training
It’s unfortunate and often destructive to the sales team if they are not effective with proper customer service skills. The term sales is obviously the important goal to communicate to the customer, but it is very difficult to communicate to the customer without the skills needed to connect with the customers needs. For starters the sales associate is like the foundation of a house or the chassis of a car. Associate must be trained to withstand the enormous amount of stress and pressure, training will provide the associates the capacity to do what you need them to do: to solve the customers problems, to spot and exploit additional sales opportunities, and to build loyalty.
Once this is accepted, training and skills are difficult to reinforce in the beginning as any business skills can be. The next step is to actually implement practical training sessions. Teach your Sales Associates everything they need to know about communication effectiveness, call control, rapport, phone etiquette, conflict resolution and so on.
Remember: building vision and developing strategy aren’t the only functions of management: they must put their sales associates in a position to succeed. Unless skills training become a core part of your companies goals and priorities, then it becomes the failure of management and not the sales team.
2. Make Customer Service Training extraordinary
Today’s U.S. workforce is different from the workforce of the past.
It includes almost equal numbers of men and women 51% men 49% women. Todays workforce has aged along with the baby boomers. There are fewer younger employees – 22% under the age of than 30 compared to 37% in 1977, and more older employees – 56% are older today compared to 38% in 1977. It is more ethnically diverse – 21% are people of color compared to 12% in 1977 and fewer fathers are the bread winners – 1 of 3, 33% compared to 51% in 1977. Our sales associates have to get extraordinary sale training to meet the demands of excellent customer service.
Training sales people on new product or service doesn’t seem like an extraordinary task, in fact it’s so ordinary that it’s not seen as an event at all. Cultivate a business culture within which customer training is ongoing and indeed ordinary. By demonstrating customer service training is important and essential enough to be ordinary. Train associates and make them feel recognized, make them feel as if they are a part of an essential business process.
3.Get in Touch with your customers reality
Just as today’s workforce is different from the past, today’s customer is also different from the past. Have you ever noticed that some things seemed so clear from the outside, yet from within things, become cloudy and confused. This is like politics sometimes – elected officials are accused of being out of touch with reality. What seems to be common sense to us just doesn’t make sense to them.
Bad customer service is almost always a result of being out of touch with customer reality. Here is an insight to remember: customers like to be treated like they matter to you. Customers do not like to call and be told that their call is important to them by a automated service and then wait ten minutes while the call keeps telling them how important they are to them and no one answers the call.
There are areas of your business where you are brilliant when it come to the front end – making sales, increasing market share. Be very careful not to underestimate excellent customer service and your bottom line on the back end.
4. Make Customer Service Experience Real
Find out what your sales associates and customers opinions about customer service are on a weekly basis. Understand their pain, and what their pleasurable moments are to evaluate what could create a positive experience for both the customer and the associate. Allow both to give feedback in a blame-free punishment-free forum and discussions. Finding out from both sides what needs to improve is also severely cheaper than finding out this from ex-customers.
5. Enlarge your concept of service
Service is the price you pay for the space you occupy, and anyone can serve. The definition of service must be enlarged to embrace all levels of the business. Everyone and everything that interacts with the customer current and future prospects must be trained in customer service. The delivery person, the onsite technician , accounts receivable staff, the website. If any of these areas are untrained it will reflect a negative impact on the customer. Remember the view from the customer’s perspective, these role distinctions are quite meaningless. If any of these areas are untrained and ineffective, customers will make harsh and often immediate evaluations. They view the concept of customer service as a real and everyday and everyway effect. Customers have different experiences that can affect the way your company is represented. Today it’s the delivery guy, tomorrow it’s the website, next week it’s the sales staff.
6. Respect all of your staff all of the time
You can’t fool all of your customers and staff , all the time. Everyone who performs customer service functions, carry around with them this mentality. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Here is a key point: if you treat me badly , and expect me to treat the customers well, then there will be a discrepancy. That discrepancy, in customer service terms will be viewed as hypocrisy.
Customer service reps will easily see the discrepancy of how they are treated, and how they are supposed to treat customers. If they are treated poorly, disrespectfully, then they will have trouble changing standards when they deal with customers. In fact they may reflect a negative attitude towards their job and the customers. Why because negative attitudes spread like wildfires. Businesses lose a tremendous amount of credibility when they appear to have double standards of service. One for their employees , and one for their customers.
7. Everyone smiles when they’re winning
Laughing involves facial muscles along with dozens of muscles all over your body. It also increases pulse rate and healthy blood flow for your body and immune system. One minute of anger decreases your immune system for 4 hours a day . One minute of laughter boosts your immune system for 12 hours. Strengthen your humor in the work place and have some fun and enjoy giving excellent customer service.
When you are offering a highly demanded product or service, or you’ve done a great job with your sales and marketing team. Customers will be knocking at your door, after all when things are going well, everyone smiles because they feel like winners.
Good customer service can also save your business when things aren’t going so well. Remember your competitors will strive to compete and do it better, faster and cheaper. That’s when the smiling usually stops, and where real customer service either shines or collapses. Exceptional customer service is also investing in customer service training regardless of how great sales might be. Training is probably the best insurance policy business has ever known.