7 Skills Your Staff Needs to Deliver Consistently Excellent Customer Service
16 January 2018 | 10:09 am
Take a moment right now and think about a company that’s known for providing an exceptional customer experience.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
When I pose this question to my audiences, a handful of names are shared repeatedly: Disney; The Ritz Carlton; Zappos; Chick-fil-a; Nordstrom’s. One of the keys to their success is Consistency. Regardless of which location you visit, or whom you speak with, your experience is consistently excellent. Every team member is striving to deliver red carpet customer service, to every customer, at every touch-point, every single time.
If you want to create this level of consistent service excellence within your organization, there are a few strategies that can help you reach that goal.
- Create a picture of what service excellence looks like in every area of your company. The senior leaders of each company named above created and communicate a very clear vision they are 100% committed to, and expect everyone on their team to be just as dedicated to carrying it out.
- Align all the pieces of your organization with that vision. In other words, the way you hire people, onboard and orient them, train them, treat them, reward and coach them must be in alignment with those expectations.
- Empower your team members at every level with the tools and training they need to deliver on those expectations.
While hiring people who have the innate qualities that are in alignment with your vision for customer service excellence, it’s still important to provide training. Good training will ensure the kind of consistency that will enable your company to become known for a red carpet experience. Remember, each employee a customer interacts with, makes an impression that formulates their total opinion of your entire organization. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page, and has had an opportunity to practice their skills in a safe setting.
As you create or search for the right customer service training for your staff, here are seven skills that must be addressed in that curriculum. When it comes to interacting with customers, your team members must know how to:
- Make Red Carpet First and Last Impressions. When a customer interacts with any team member, are they made to feel welcomed and wanted? Soft-skills such as smiling, making eye contact and calling people by name may seem simple, but when every team member genuinely seems happy to serve the customers, it makes a huge impression! When your customers are acknowledged, remembered and thanked it’s a first step in gaining their trust and loyalty. You may have innately friendly people on your team. However, they may need the confidence that skills-practice can provide to pro-actively show that friendly personality to your customers.
- Use Confidence-Building Words and Phrases. While scripting can sometimes come across as fake and forced, teaching your team to improve their language skills can help them make a better impression. Words like “Yeah,” “Ok” and “Hang On,” can be replaced by “Absolutely,” “I’d be delighted to help,” and “Sally is the perfect person to answer that question for you. Would you mind holding for two minutes while I get her on the line?” Like anything else, getting comfortable using confidence-building phrases takes practice.
- Adjust their Approach when necessary. If there is one thing you can count on, it’s that every person is different. It takes flexibility to address the needs of your many customers. Your staff, however, may suffer from black-and-white thinking. It’s not their fault. They want to make sure they are following the rules and may not feel empowered to think for themselves when it comes to assisting a customer. Good customer service training will help your team members know how and when to adjust their approach for each customers, and when to check with a manager before going any further.
- Be Responsive, Speedy and Efficient. In a world where the answer to almost everything is at your fingertips, responsiveness is key. Your customers will quickly move on if they aren’t acknowledged and assisted in record time. Learning to be efficient and deliver goods and services quickly while, at the same time, allowing the customer the space they need to have a relaxed and happy experience is a skill that must be developed in every service professional to succeed in today’s marketplace.
- Handle and Turn Around Upset Customers. Remember the first few times you were faced with an angry customer? It wasn’t fun, was it? Especially if you weren’t equipped with the knowledge or skills to turn the situation around. Well, guess what? Your direct-line team members will undoubtedly face a disgruntled customer at some point in time. While that’s never a fun circumstance to be in, it becomes easier with tools and practice in a safe training setting.
- Be More Knowledgeable about your Products & Services. The fewer people your customers have to go through to get the answers to their questions they better. It follows that the more your direct-line team members know about your products and services, the happier your customers will be. Incorporate product knowledge into your customer service training and your on-going communication with your entire team.
- Personalize, Surprise and Delight. This is where the “red carpet service” comes in. Empower your team with a process for learning and noting customer preferences and train them to use that information to create memorable moments that will result in rave reviews online and elsewhere. These are the stories that get told and when everyone on your team is focused on created them, your customers will start telling them
When it comes to becoming known for customer service excellence, consistency is key. Have a clear vision, align your strategies with that vision and give everyone on your team time to practice these seven skills. You may find that when others are asked for the name of a company “known for exceptional customer service,” the name they give is yours.
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of www.RedCarpetLearning.com., and the author of two books about customer service including her most recent, “501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers. Follow her on Twitter at @donnacutting, and Subscribe to www.theRedCarpetWay.tv