Sometimes your Customer service is just plain bad and you have to deal with it.
I can remember taking over a piece of business in a large metro area many years ago. This was one of those struggling locations we have all encountered – some call them turnaround accounts. I call them a lot of work, sweat, and commitment. The previous Leader had neglected cleanliness, recognition, and customer focus. I even heard stories of the manager rolling out of the office on her swivel chair to check on operations rather than walking.
Let’s just say that morale was low, turnover was high, and commitment was nowhere to be found.
You may find yourself in this position one day and feel overwhelmed by the gravity of your new role. I can tell you that while it is a challenge that can test you to your core, it is one that you’ll remember all your life if you win. It can also highlight you as a high performing Leader who can drive change in the organization. Yes, I am saying that moving the needle at a troubled account can be a touchstone moment in a career that can label you as an all-star.
It can also bite you if you don’t take swift action and start to drive change quickly. Many managers have been overwhelmed and chewed up by accounts they were trying to save.
This could also be something you experience in your current role. Businesses are constantly in flux and sometimes service can erode organically due to changes in personnel, staffing cutbacks, organizational changes, or neglect. If you find yourself in a position where things have gotten away from you, the same tactics will help you right the ship.
So here are five steps to begin turning around an account with lackluster Customer service. Be mindful that these are the triage steps and will get you from abysmal to acceptable. From there you will need to dial in to go from better to best. More on that in a future article.
Be honest about where you stand with delivering Customer service. Don’t sugarcoat it, don’t obfuscate it, and don’t get defensive about it. Just own up to where you currently stand and commit to improve. As they say, admitting the problem is the first step. You would be surprised how many Leaders refuse to admit to the problem and consequently never give themselves the chance to improve their service.
Put together a plan. Action plans get bad press but you have to decide who’s going to fix what and how long they have to do it. If you don’t take the time to put down on paper where you might have issues, and what resources you’re going to put behind correcting them, you’ll never get anywhere. It must be agnostic of blame and focused on quick solutions. Get the quick wins out of the way, then move to the more time consuming items. For example, focus on cleaning the place up before you craft a big strategic plan.
Take the time to visit your location during off hours or when you know they struggle. This could mean on weekends or after 5 PM depending on the length of your daily hours of operation. Many times, certain businesses thrive best when Leaders are on site and the focus is tight on execution. Too often, though, newer Associates and Leaders work during the off peak times – and this can lead to inconsistent service or execution. Your attention to these shifts will shine a line on the importance of all Guests, not just those who visit when we are at our best. Working these “off shifts” at first, then following up with periodic visits, will keep the pressure on all aspects of your organization to perform.
Pull resources into immediate training. Often training is squeezed off the page when budgets are tight. That can be effective for a time, but eventually the need will come to reinfuse the training budget. That could be time, or it could be something more, depending on what type of training your group may need. Start by pulling the team together and making sure that they understand their jobs, their importance to the organization, and their expectations. Often taking the time to reinforce the mission can start to get things back on track.
Get the whole team involved. You can’t do it alone so stop trying. Get your other Leaders involved, bring in outside resources if you have a larger organization, and make sure you motivate the Front Line Associates to improve performance. This means abandoning this archaic idea that asking for help makes you look weak – on the contrary, it is a mark of maturity and dedication. Would you rather drown alone or swim with a large team?
Remember, these are just the first steps. These actions can help you begin to improve service if you find yourself with a piece of business that needs to be “turned around.”
Don’t waste time wringing your hands over it – attack it and make it better.
That is the only way you’ll begin to treat your Guests like cherished friends!
Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker
Check out my new book: RECIPE FOR SERVICE Now Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Recipe-Service-Inspire-Deliver-Customer/dp/0986391204
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