Great customer service is hard; really hard in fact. However, you’d never think so by the number of companies that claim they provide outstanding customer service. Let’s face it – no business ever opened its doors with the promise of delivering apathetic, uninterested customer service. Yet, chances are you wouldn’t have to travel far to find a place of business that delivers just that.
Amazingly, most companies seem to be blind to their own limitations. Everyone thinks it’s the other guy’s problem. According to Lee Resources, 80% of companies believe that they offer “superior” customer service. However, only 8% of the customers feel that these companies actually deliver “superior” customer service. Clearly, somebody’s kidding themselves. Measuring customer service by your own perceptions is a little like being a lifeguard that thinks that he’s doing a fine job, even though he lets a lot of people drown.
The good news is that most of your competitors are delusional in thinking that they are customer service stars, while at the same time, their customers are out on the market looking for a better option. You can be that better option, but it won’t be easy.
There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining an outstanding customer service culture, but you can start with four building blocks:
Recruit Customer Oriented People – Not everyone is cut out for customer service. It takes patience, empathy and above all, an unshakable positive attitude. Prioritize those qualities above all else for your customer contact team. To paraphrase Peter Drucker: Hire for customer service attitude and train for skill.
Training – Train your people on quality customer service and then keep training them. Its human nature to forget what we have learned as time goes by. The grind of daily customer service can cause anyone to lose track of their priorities without help and reminders. Role play your most frequent customer objections and provide a model of your ideal responses. Remind your team members that their job is to help customers, not complete secondary tasks.
Empowerment – You now have smart, trained, customer-oriented people working for you. Let them know that you expect them to balance the needs of the customer with the needs of the company. Then get out of their way.
Accountability – Even if you are an all-star recruiter and trainer, some hires are just not going to consistently deliver the kind of service that will set your company apart from others. These employees won’t see the importance of customer service in the same way that the rest of the team does. Reach out to these employees and make sure that they have the tools they need to succeed. Then, it’s important to hold them accountable if over time they can’t or won’t deliver the kind of service that your customers deserve.
Take the right steps to make sure that your team consistently delivers an awe-inspiring service. Your customers are waiting.