This week is like Christmas for those who serve Guests and lead teams.
Because it’s Customer Service Week!
In 1992, President George H. Bush signed a proclamation establishing National Customer Service Week. Every year, in the first full week of October, businesses were asked to pause and celebrate those who deliver great service on the front lines each day.
In a thriving free enterprise system such as ours, which provides consumers with a wide range of goods and services from which to choose, the most successful businesses are those that display a strong commitment to customer satisfaction. -Proclamation 6485 – National Customer Service Week, 1992
The proclamation goes on to say that great service matters because foreign competition is squeezing businesses to become even more efficient and productive – sounds familiar doesn’t it? But the real magic is that this proclamation and this week are broken into 2 segments. So let’s talk about them both.
A business built on customer service understands and anticipates the customer’s needs. -Proclamation 6485 – National Customer Service Week, 1992
This, in my opinion is the core of Customer Service Week. It is all about discovering the Guest’s needs, anticipating them, and delivering them in a way that exceeds Customer expectations. This is all about crawling inside your Customer’s head and ensuring they have what they need. There is also power in becoming a master of the basics. There is much to be gained by manufacturing or preparing items correctly, making sure they arrive in a timely manner, and selling them at a competitive price. Whether it is getting a plate of sizzling fajitas to the restaurant table along with the other orders or making sure that you have enough copies of that newly released book to sell, meeting Customer demand is a key step to delighting Customers.
Never forget that often Guests are looking to have their needs met in an expeditious and economical way – without fanfare or fireworks.
Businesses will do a better job of providing high quality goods and services by listening to its employees and by empowering them with opportunities to make a difference. -Proclamation 6485 – National Customer Service Week, 1992
The teams on the front line are most poised to deliver upon Guest expectations. Often leaders forget that when it comes to giving great service, the teams who serve Guests daily have many of the answers to cracking that nut. We should strive to double down on the wealth of information that our teams have regarding Customer preferences, dissatisfiers, and wants. Let’s face it, often managers can get disconnected from the front lines and by keeping a strong connection to associates who deliver at the point of service, everyone can keep watch on the pulse of Customer satisfaction. Of course, leaders who stay engaged with customers AND stay connected with those on the front lines will find an even deeper level of Customer connection.
So I’m sure you are thinking – thanks so much for the history lesson, but what do I do about it?
That’s a valid question. With that thought in mind, here are daily activities that can help make the most of this celebration of Customers and those who serve them.
MONDAY: Celebrate the Team At your preshift huddles take the time to recognize the team and even a few high performers. Make sure the message is crystal clear that without them Customers would go unserved. Bring an assortment of candy bars and sugarless gum to hand out to everyone as a quick thank you and start to the week. Be sure to give at least a few seconds to reminding everyone that this is Customer Service Week and that not giving great service is a violation of federal law. Okay, maybe that last part was a bit far.
TUESDAY: Understand Customer Complaints Understanding what drives your Guests up a tree is the first step to figuring out how to serve them better. This is the day you review your hate mail for opportunities to win. Most organizations have some form of feedback – whether it is comment cards, online surveys, call centers, or direct contact. Utilize every channel you can to discover what is going wrong with Customer service or execution. This is a painful exercise at times, as we all take our businesses very personally. But by reviewing what went wrong, you can discover themes and plot solutions. Be honest about your team’s execution and what steps need to be taken to correct in the future.
WEDNESDAY: Step Into a Front Line Role This is a fantastic way to find out what is going on in real time with your business. This is also especially impactful for those who may be several levels removed from direct Customer contact. The power here is two-fold. First, it enables leaders to interact directly with Guests and hear feedback first hand in real time. Second, it exposes any barriers that the front line is experiencing as they work to deliver great service. When leaders embrace this practice regularly, it can be a powerful way to make the front line feel connected to leadership.
THURSDAY: Thank You Notes People love to be thanked. Whether it is a loyal Customer or a front line employee who gives great service, recognition matters. Today take the time to write out thank you notes to 5 key Customers and 5 amazing employees and mail it to their homes or offices. Be sure that those you recognize from your organization get specific feedback on great execution and how that ties back to your business principles.
FRIDAY: Commit to Keep the Spirit Alive Just because this is the last day of Customer Service Week doesn’t mean that service levels have to decline. Take time today to celebrate the wins this week and remind everyone that it doesn’t take a Presidential Proclamation to make good service a priority. Finish off with a decorated cake or an edible fruit arrangement and hand out fresh copies of your Customer service mission for your business. If you find yourself in need of a mission or vision statement for your Guest engagement, check out my SIX CANONS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE at http://thetonyjohnson.com/. You can also schedule future Customer service training for your team to ensure that they keep the Guest service mojo flowing.
Enjoy Customer service week. Use it to inspire your team. But most of all, have fun with it. Don’t treat it like a chore or another box to check, but embrace it as a way to motivate your teams to deliver the very best Customer service.
Next week, my 10 part series by industry is back with a deep focus on Department Stores.
Have a powerful Customer service week!
Tony Johnson is a Customer Experience Expert, Keynote Speaker, and Author with a wide background including decades in retail and restaurants. He regularly speaks and coaches organizations to IGNITE THEIR SERVICE PASSION using his common sense approach to Customer engagement. Tony has spoken to government agencies and Fortune 500 companies to unlock their amazing capacity for excellence.
Check out Tony’s book: RECIPE FOR SERVICE Now Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Recipe-Service-Inspire-Deliver-Customer/dp/0986391204
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