As a customer it is more than frustrating. It sends out a signal about the whole business. And it only takes one employee having a bad day to leave customers with a bad impression.
But contray to what you might think, it’s not just customer-facing employees who contribute to the customer experience. Every employee shapes the customer journey, either directly or indirectly.
That means all your employees need to see customer service as part of their job.
But what does that look like in practice? Ultimately, that means your employees immediately attend to the things that can improve customer experience, whether or not it’s their direct responsibility. These can include small tasks:
- Don’t ignore things that are broken, aren’t working properly or simply past their best simply because it’s not your job to fix it.
- Go out of the way to make a good first impression on a customer by making sure everything is clean and in order.
- Welcome customers whether or not it’s your job to do so.
- Don’t ignore a ringing phone.
- Promptly address department’s request for information, so you don’t hold up their response to a customer.
- Volunteer to support teammates if they’re short-handed.
A true service culture requires much more than a one-off training session with your front line team.
If your customer service ethos is to be demonstrated by everyone in your business not just the front line team; it has to be seen as everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of the sales team, the receptionists or customer service desk.
This means it goes far beyond how your customer facing teams interact with customers.
Everyone in your business must understand the basics, what good service looks like and recognize the role they play in achieving this.
It includes the design of your internal as well as customer facing systems. Not by having endless policies, but by having the freedom to use their initiative to do what’s right for the customer; be they internal or external.
It means recruiting the right people; i.e. not just for their technical skills but those who are aligned with your customer service culture.
The more customers are kept in mind for every decision taken in the business the easier it will be to give a consistent level of service to your customers.
So listen out for those expressions which suggest someone really thinks “That’s not my job!”. It often comes worded as:
“I don’t normally work in this section; you’ll need to ask…”
“You’ll have to call…
“We don’t deal with that in this department”
“I’ll have to get my supervisor”
Or sometimes it’s simply their body language which says it all for you: the raised eye brow, the deep sigh, that look that says “can’t you tell I’m busy (…on the phone, looking something up on my computer, talking to my friend…?)” , or simply rushing around doing “their job” and avoiding all eye contact with the customer. Anything that avoids taking responsibility and making it “my job”.
Caroline Cooper is a speaker, author, trainer and consultant on customer service and customer loyalty. She’s founder of Naturally Loyal (www.naturallyloyal.com) who specialises in helping businesses design and deliver their customer service strategy so they retain more of their quality customers, and is author of “The Hotel Success Handbook”