As the calendar turns to Fall, and the holiday season is right around the corner, it is time for a Customer service gut check.
Service is bad out there, folks.
There is a divide in the service landscape and it runs the gamut from amazing to disappointing.
Like most things out there, you might only find the amazing and the amazingly bad in just a few instances, but in-between lies the grey area of service where “just okay” lives.
This mediocre service is something that most of us experience every day and those are the businesses that you frequent because of habit or utility, but not because you have any particular loyalty to them.
When you think about it, there are some organizations that excel from a service perspective and they have the reputation to prove it. Think about Nordstrom, Zappos, Stitch Fix, or Disney. You may never have visited any of these businesses, but you likely associate them with great service.
On the other side of that coin are those that don’t do such a great job. You may think of a cable company or an airline when you think about those that give lackluster service. Think about this: Has anyone ever mentioned either of those two and your mind immediately jumped to their stellar levels of service?
Reputation matters. People talk. People Tweet. People Snap.
This is where it really comes to learning about your business and what you can do to ensure that your reputation is strong and your service is on point.
Think of this as a check up right before the holidays. Let’s face it, once Halloween hits, you will blink and 2018 will be here.
What is your reputation for service?
Do you really know what people think of you? This isn’t an incredibly hard thing to figure out. If you have surveys in place and a social media presence with a service component, chances are you’ve been capturing data all year long. You have letters of thanks and complaint notes; you have comment cards or surveys that outline your performance; you especially have the conversations you’ve been having with your Clients and Guests all year long. So take a moment to learn what people think of your service – this unvarnished story will begin to help you craft your next steps.
What is your plan for 2018?
If you haven’t started thinking about Q1 of the new year, you are already 6 months behind. But that’s okay, because with a little force of will, you can move the process quickly to catch up. What are your goals? How will you get there? Have you shared your vision with your team? These are core elements of next year’s success. Ask yourself “What do I want my service culture and reputation to be on January 1, 2019?” That is your vision – now inspire and mobilize your team to get there.
Do you have the right team in place?
Likely you aren’t doing this alone. There are exceptions, of course, but you likely have a team of some kind working with you. Are they they right folks to help you achieve your mission and have they bought into your service values? It could be that your business has outgrown the team you have in place – that could mean adding to your organization or promoting some of your team to Guests and selecting new talent for your team.
It doesn’t mean that the folks working there aren’t great people, but it could be that they aren’t the right people.
How good or bad is your service?
This isn’t a place to lie to yourself. When you talk to your Guests and review their commentary what is it saying? Are you getting dinged for speed of service or execution? Are your cheeseburgers cold or your call centers slow or your cashiers rude? These may sound like minor annoyances but each one is an excuse for a Guest to choose another business. You have to find your soft spots and work to correct them. The good news is that selecting great talent and implementing quality training can go a long way in this regard. But until you shine a light on exactly what is troubling your Guests, you can’t solve those problems.
So This is the time to discover everything you can about your service and your Guest perceptions. Then take the time to craft an intentional plan to overcome these issues before they cost you business.
Remember, satisfied Guests will come back until another business gives them a reasonable reason not to do so or until they reach their limit with minor inconveniences. Loyal Guests are emotionally connected and stick with you for the long term because they value your relationship.
So treat your Guests like cherished friends, and you’ll find that your future isn’t scary at all.
Tony Johnson -Guest Experience Leader-
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