We’ve all been there. Whether in a supermarket, hotel, airline ticket desk, restaurant or on a company helpline, we as customers experience countless opportunities every day for good service. Yes, good service. There are so many ways for a company to meet expectations or even – gasp! – exceed them.
But, the reality is that just when you are at your most vulnerable customer self – hunting for a particular spice in the grocery aisle, desperate for someone to fix your hotel shower at 2 a.m. or flagging down anyone in the restaurant who can find your server who seemed to quit his or her shift mid-dinner – you will probably encounter an employee whose job title doesn’t really fit your need. It’s at this fragile moment that you will be either filled with relief that someone decided to take care of you or the flip side, filled with desperation that you’re now in a black hole of customer service with no running shower, to boot.
It all boils down to an employee who just wants to do what’s right no matter what. So whose job is it anyway? When it comes to making a customer happy and taken care of – it is everyone’s job.
So, yes, every single employee can’t know how to do each job or provide the needed solution. And immediacy isn’t always possible. But, each employee should be empowered to find the right person, make a snap decision or go out of their comfort zone some to deliver the best care.
Interested in giving your team the power to shape the best customer experiences? Here are a few considerations:
Ensure you have a positive company culture and commitment to customer service. If this element isn’t there, well, you can forget about everything below. And it’s much easier to start a new company with this in mind rather than playing a dangerous game of catch-up when you hit big-time growth. By that point, a culture has set in like cement and proves harder to change. In short, leadership must believe in, endorse and actively pursue all activities that create the best customer experiences.
Hire the absolute best people who fit your company culture and commitment to service. An owner can’t be out there as the ambassador every single day to every single customer – that is, not if you’re going to become a big company. You need frontline employees who live and breathe your approach and those who do so joyfully. I think of Chick-fil-A and the “my pleasure” mentality that keeps customers lining the streets for their chicken. Make sure that your philosophies are out there boldly when you’re seeking candidates and as they go through the interview process. And, if you want the best people, please be prepared to give them a salary, benefits package and environment worth saying yes to.
Weave your customer service philosophy into every element of team training. So you’ve hired the best, now what? From day one of orientation to regular training of the staff, it’s so valuable to keep your customer commitment at the heart of everything you do. This can include inclusion in official company policies, gentle reminders at staff meetings, topics at retreats and more formal development opportunities. Your employees should see and feel it daily.
Create processes that make sense. Sometimes it’s not the people but the company’s processes that get in the way of stellar customer care. Whether it’s some long approval process or having to navigate people to a different location for a service, sometimes protocol is the devil. Sure, procedures are necessary. But be sure that you have ones that have the customer at heart and that make you easy to do business with.
Empower your people. Is there anything worse than a company rep saying they don’t have the power to do something or that it’s not their job? In the customer care world, probably not. We don’t care if it’s not your job. You are our lifeline to getting this situation fixed. Help, please! Your employees must feel empowered to make snap decisions or get the customer to the help they need and deserve. And it’s more than a joyful attitude. Employees must know the process for helping customers and that they won’t be in trouble for veering off protocol or outside their job duties.
Reward them. Celebrate wins. Celebrate your people who create the wins. The excitement and momentum created by this is so valuable in maintaining the most positive environment for your employees and your customer base. Remember that it doesn’t have to be done in a grandstanding way. Just some simple words of gratitude and congratulations go a long way.