The true test of a business’s customer service fitness is not when things are going right – but rather what is done when things go wrong. The fact is the customer is not always right and, in many cases, employees can prove that the customer was wrong in a given situation. All too often when confronted with a customer problem, store personnel take on a defensive posture and argue against the customers’ position. This lack of empathy and understanding rarely works to create a happy, loyal customer.
Have you ever considered the fitness level of your customer service effort? No, I’m not talking about some sort of employee exercise program. Rather, I’m asking if the employees that provide sales and service to your customers are functioning at peak performance. If you haven’t given this proper consideration, you’re probably not seeing the big picture issues that could be hurting your business performance.
Just like with personal fitness, there are many aspects to managing the well-being of a customer service effort. With personal fitness, exercising one area, say your arm muscles, will improve the shape and performance of that area, but will do little for the rest of your body and overall conditioning. Customer service fitness is much the same way. It’s about conditioning all the elements that make up a high quality customer service effort by executing specific strategies and techniques to improve performance and results.
In order to reach an optimal level of customer service fitness, there are certain questions that you need to ask. The answers will give you a clear overview of where you are succeeding and where improvements need to be made.
Here are a few key area questions you should be asking:
Are You Keeping Them In Peak Condition?
Sales and customer service training and skills enhancements should be ongoing processes to ensure that your team is well-resourced and properly prepared to succeed. A sales organization that is not well trained often loses those precious sales opportunities, costing the businesses they represent substantial dollars in lost revenues and profits. The same is true of customer service. Without a well-trained staff, you’re not maximizing customer interactions and any deficiency in this area leaves the door open for capable competitors to take the business away from YOU! Sales and customer service are the life blood of every business. No Train, No Gain!
What Is Their Attitude?
Positive attitudes are the engine that powers extraordinary customer service so be honest here. Does your management and work environment contribute or detract from proper attitudes? Do your employees feel appreciated and recognized by the company? Employee dissatisfaction can dramatically affect a company’s customer service performance and ultimately its bottom line. If employees are feeling negative and underappreciated, you can rest assured that they will either directly or indirectly communicate this to your customers.
How Do They Sound?
This is often overlooked but, for effective customer communication, how we sound is actually more important than what we say. Along with appearance, the voices of your employees are a significant part of the first impression that a customer receives from your company. Winning teams sound a certain way; positive, professional, upbeat. Do your employees sound that way or do they sound bored, tired and disinterested? Make some calls to your store and find out for yourself. If you’re hearing less than pleasant, cheerful voices on the line, guess what? Your customers are too!
How Do They Engage?
Whether face-to-face or on phone every customer/employee interaction has two elements; a functional element and an emotional element. The functional elements represent the business/transactional side of your customer interactions. The emotional elements are the people/relationship-building side. Although functional components are a necessary part of customer interactions, it is the emotional aspects that build relationships with customers and create lasting loyalty to your business. For peak customer service fitness employee/customer interactions should have proper balance between these two elements.
What Do They Do?
One of the leading indicators of a company’s customer service health is a consistent effort of employees to go the extra mile and consistently exceed customer expectations. Unfortunately, quite often personnel are not exceeding expectations; they are, at best, just meeting expectations. Consumer research has shown that companies typically lose 50% of their satisfied customers and that those customers who are merely satisfied will happily leave as soon as they find a business that provides a superior experience.
Ask yourself, is the service you provide ordinary (like your competitors) or do you truly exceed expectations and deliver extraordinary service that brings customers back and influences them to promote your business to others?
What Is The Focus?
Does your team understand how to have a customer-focused conversation? Too often employees are me-focused and will recite the company anthem and provide product and service information like they’re reading from the store catalog. Not good. Delivering world-class customer service is a self-less act. It’s about the customer – not you or your business. Healthy customer service efforts require 100% customer-focus and personalized attention 100% of the time.
How Do They Manage Problems?
The true test of a business’s customer service fitness is not when things are going right – but rather what is done when things go wrong. The fact is the customer is not always right and, in many cases, employees can prove that the customer was wrong in a given situation. All too often when confronted with a customer problem, store personnel take on a defensive posture and argue against the customers’ position. This lack of empathy and understanding rarely works to create a happy, loyal customer. The best companies recognize that, even if the customer is wrong, it is far better to agree with their feelings and concede a little now then it is to risk losing a customer for life and perhaps have that person spread the word of their dissatisfaction with the business.
About the author
Steve's professional sales career began in the late 1980's/early 90's with successful sales/sales management…