The New Year seems to make us all very reflective. It’s a chance to consider the past twelve months and plot a course forward for the coming year. We are on the threshold of 2015 and this is a fantastic time to talk about goals. Most of us have heard the idiom that we should shoot to be perfect so if we fall short we land on fantastic. I think that is an admirable ambition, but if no thought is given to getting there, then that goal will be as impossible to achieve as losing fifty pounds by swimsuit season.
The trick to great Customer service, weight loss, or being more organized is to have a plan. You can’t drop those unwanted pounds if you don’t have a nutrition and exercise plan and organization will allude you if you continue to use scraps of paper to take notes.
With Customer service, there is a similar need for planning. And since New Year’s Day is traditionally the beginning of resolution season, I want to share with you several ideas that you might find useful to keep your Customers at the center of your organization.
Let’s face it, we all want to provide great Customer Service. The reason some succeed while others fail can normally be boiled down to preparation and force of will. If you know where you want to go, train your team to deliver, and hold your team (and yourself) accountable, there is a high probability of success.
Strive for Consistency: It may not seem like a sexy New Year’s goal, but consistency matters. Your Customers love the grand gestures for sure, but those won’t drive overall loyalty. Customers want to know that they can count on you to provide them with the service they are seeking, when they want it, and how they want it. If go to your local hamburger joint and they burn your burger and undercook the fries, does it really matter that they have free WiFi or a clown doing magic tricks? Not really, right? I know I’d much rather have the great burger in a clean environment free of shenanigans. So make sure that your team is well trained to deliver on your core mission before you look to add bells and whistles. Don’t get me wrong, you should strive to make your day-to-day operations flawless and nearly on autopilot so that you can provide some amazing WOWs. These are really fun to deliver, make your Customers’ faces light up with delight, and make your team feel great as well. They make for those great thank you notes that your team will pin to their bulletin boards and report proudly in the newsletter – but they are feel good moments that don’t drive loyalty. Knock down the dailies then move the grander gestures in 2015!
Embrace Individuality: The ship has sailed on the one-size-fits-all approach. Every Customer is a unique person with a diverse set of expectations and ideas. Now many organizations are serving multitudes of Customers and that does make individualizing the experience difficult, but it doesn’t make it impossible. The important thing to keep in mind here is that special requests and custom orders shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. There is a balancing act that has to be struck between throughput and individuality, but if you start with an eye-roll and out of hand dismissal when requests are made, then your Customers will never feel like they are special. In fact, they’ll feel downright stupid for asking and irked that you didn’t even try. Make sure your team knows what they are allowed to do with regard to customization and know that listening is key to the individual experience.
Treat Your Customers Like Dear Friends: When you find your love for what you do in general and your Customers specifically, you are well on your way to success. The idea of treating Customers like Guests rather than a dollar sign or transaction is at the heart of this thought. Have you noticed that I capitalize the C in Customer? That’s not an accident. If you are passionately committed to providing a quality experience for your Customers then you are well on your way to doing so. Don’t let your team ever hear you bad mouth a Customer and don’t let them do so either. Show your team what great service looks like by demonstrating it for them and being clear about your expectations.
Take Great Care of Your Team: The final piece for the New Year is to be sure that you treat your team the way you want them to treat your Customers. This also means that you should ensure they have all the tools, training, and encouragement they need. Make sure you take the time to not only hire a great team but to onboard them and train them well. We’ve all had jobs where we weren’t properly orientated to the tasks at hand and given lackluster training. That doesn’t feel good and certainly doesn’t lend itself to providing a great Customer experience. Often it disengages the new team member right out of the gate and at the same time doesn’t’ give them the skills they need to succeed. If you haven’t given thought to how you’ll work with your team in the New Year, be sure you do so. Bring in the best folks you can to work for your organization and then train them to be amazing. That will make the New Year much less stressful for you and fantastic for your Customers.
What other ways do you want to improve in the New Year? Make 2015 the year you leave those issues in the rear view mirror and deliver for your Customers. This is truly the only way to get started: Set your goals, plan to succeed, then commit to win!
Best Wishes for a Safe, Happy, and Successful New Year! Tony Johnson -Customer Service Leader and Speaker-
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