How to Improve Your Customer Service
As I travel around North America for various business opportunities, I find myself encountering all sorts of customer service styles…some good and some very, very bad! It seems that no matter how many consultants and business coaches and in-house customer service trainers teach employees how to provide good service we, the consuming public continue to fall victim to bad service in almost every sort of establishment that wants our money!
In sake of fairness, I must say that I do come across establishments that provide extremely good service. However, those seem to be the exception rather than the rule. In order to encourage more good service, when I am fortunate enough to find it, I thank the provider and tell them how much I appreciate it. Occasionally, I will even seek out the manager of the establishment to tell him what a great job his employee did for me and to ask him or her to keep up the good work. A pat on the back goes a long way!
The main reason that individuals provide bad service comes down to a simple bad attitude. The person who doesn’t care enough to provide good service generally has the attitude that what they are doing doesn’t matter, that the establishment does not matter, that their customer’s do not matter, that the thing they are selling does not matter or in the worst cases, that nothing in life matters.
The owners and operators of establishments that provide bad service are at fault too. They often seem oblivious to the bad service their employees provide or the fact that they are losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars every week because customers hate dealing with them!
Various surveys and studies over the past decade indicate that 60% to 70% of all lost business is a result of the attitude of customer service personnel or sales people. The lost business accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business every year world-wide. Despite these alarming losses, businesses continue to tolerate employees with bad attitudes and will often defend the attitude of their miserable or thoughtless employees as being “unusual” or even by simply denying it.
I think that business leaders all over the world would agree that they want their business to be considered a good place to do business. With that in mind, here are some things you might consider doing to improve the “attitude” of your employees and recover some of those lost “bad-service dollars”:
- When you observe a bad customer service attitude deal with it immediately. Wait until the customer is gone and then confront the employee, letting them know where they went wrong and how to improve. If the attitude or behaviour goes unchecked it will be hard to change later.
- Put on seminars and workshops to explain to your employees what good customer service should look like. Tell them and what you expect from them when they interact with customers and what is not acceptable. Give them a “customer service roadmap” to follow.
- Some of the best establishments have actual, written customer service manuals. These can help even the most “block-headed” employees understand the difference between good and bad customer service and the value of it. Write it down so that they can read it and retain it in their minds.
- “Inspect what you expect”. It is not good enough to simply tell your people to provide good service. Monitor your establishment’s customer service by getting out of your office and watching your employees as they interact with customers. Just your presence on the floor should improve service…If not, you might need to work on your leadership skills.
- Ask random people you meet. Ask other business people, folks you meet at parties, or people you meet in the grocery store, if they have been to your establishment and if so, how they felt about the service. You might be surprised what you hear.
- Send out customer service surveys. Send out surveys to as many customers as possible in order to get a fair sampling. Some people complain about everything when asked but if your get the same complaint over and over again, you can be quite certain that you have a problem.
- Put a customer satisfaction application on your website. Allow customers to rate their satisfaction with your service and provide a box for comments. We live in an online world and many people are more likely to comment if they can do it online.
- Tell your employees what you have learned. When you have done your monitoring, inspections and surveys, have meetings with all employees to let them know what you heard, what their customers are saying about them, and what you would like to see in the future.
- “Thank your superstar employees for providing great service.” Let everyone in your establishment know who that stars are and what they do that is different. A good service attitude can become contagious when it is openly praised or rewarded.
- Get tough on bad service providers. This area of business leadership is often ignored or avoided due to the simple fear of confrontation. As tough as it may be to be critical of another human being you have to accept that the establishment leader is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the business. You must deal directly and sometimes harshly with the bad attitudes of your employees. Don’t become the victim of someone else’s attitude!
Don’t let your business earn a reputation for bad service. Get involved with your employees to assure that their interactions provide the best possible buying experience for your customers. Make service the number one priority of your business and assure your longevity and success well into the future!
Dynamic Leadership Inc. is a premier provider of personal development training in North America. Ask them to put on their “Attitude and Ethics” seminar for your employees as soon as possible.