Having spent over 32 years delivering and training customer service excellence it still amazes me how much work there is still to be done.
We appear to be missing some key points that would make a massive difference to the service (and sales) in this country.
SALES. Sales increase as a direct result of excellent customer service, that’s not a new concept it’s always been that way. Its common sense but clearly not common practise in the service industry. People in the service industry should focus on creating positive experiences not just transactions. This leads to increases in average customer spend, returning customers and recommendations.
SKILL. Delivering consistently excellent service requires motivation and skill. We should respect and look after people who provide excellent service as they are vital to the sales process. If you own a business which relies on returning customers, ask yourself are my staff ambassadors for my company? Investment in your team is vital if you are to maintain high levels of customer service, even if the only investment is your time with them it is still vitally important.
IT’S NOT THE BIG STUFF. Many clients I have worked with have commented that they have no budget to invest in improving service, I simply ask “how much does a smile cost”?
Improving service is not about spending large amounts of money on STUFF! It’s about improving the interactions and behaviours of your team.
One of my customer service excellence principles has always been: Customers will often forget what you said, they will often forget what you did however they will remember how you made them feel.
If you focus your service team on creating excellent experiences and making customers feel valued and important, you will increase sales.
TREAT EACH OTHER AS VIPS. Many organisations focus on external service only and internal service is ignored. I strongly recommend to my clients that they focus on both equally as this is the key to success. The most successful customer service teams are the ones who treat each other as important customers. Managers should develop a team ethos so no one person is working against the team. I heard a brilliant quote from one of my delegates recently, “If we don’t let each other down we won’t let our customers down”
HAVE SOME FUN. Delivering consistently excellent customer service is hard work (trust me I have the grey hairs to prove it). If you want the best people in your business you need to make the environment fun to work in. I recently asked a waitress in my favourite restaurant what made her so happy? As she was full of energy and made our evening an excellent experience she said “I love working here it is such a laugh and I look forward to being with my colleagues and customers”.
On another occasion recently I experienced some outstanding service in a coffee shop and asked the waiter if he owned the business as he was so good, he replied “it’s not my business Phil but it’s my living and I enjoy it”. These people were clearly having fun and enjoying delivering excellent service.
GET YOUR PEOPLE TO CHANGE OR CHANGE YOUR PEOPLE. It sounds a little harsh but people who don’t enjoy serving customers should not be allowed to serve! So many businesses who rely on customer service to stay in business don’t train their staff in basic service skills or employ people who don’t understand the importance of service.
Excellent service is what makes you better than your competitors and is only as good as the staff you employ. The staff you employ are only as good as the training they receive and the influence their manager has on them.