Do you Teach or Know Customer Service?
December 11, 2012
That question may seem like a simple, and possibly stupid, thing to ask. But do you teach your employees customer service? And do you even know customer service that well yourself? And do you know how to teach customer service so that it’s relatable to your employees?
More than likely I would think you’d say yes you do know those 3 things. But do you really? Do you teach your employees how important customer service is to the client (internal or external) and yourself? Do you know it yourself and how to teach it very well to your employees, that is the bigger question?
When customer/quality service began to gain momentum and become a corporate buzz word 25 some odd years ago, it was all about ‘smile training’. Smile training was simple and irrepressibly stupid to either teach or implement.
It meant if you smiled at the customer and talked to them in a slow calming voice, everything will be all right. I have but one thing to say to that. WRONG! It doesn’t work that way in the real world. I have been on the ‘bad side of the world for long enough that I can tell you that answer emphatically.
If you ask 99% of all employees about customer service, they’ll tell you one or two things. Smile a lot and be polite to the customer. And oh yes, the customer is always right.
While being pleasant and speaking courteously to everyone is a sign of professionalism and common courtesy it’s not the whole answer. The employees need to know how to talk to customers as well, and not just the corporate handbook.
Employees need to know how effecting great customer service will affect their paycheck. That is the best way to bring it home to them. Not to threaten them with being fired, but teaching them how customer service will affect their paycheck as well as that as every one of their co-workers.
If you don’t do that then they will never get it. Use the customer/quality service clock when teaching them this information. If you do that then you have a good chance in getting through.
Additionally, if you don’t teach them about value added service or perceived value then you’ve missed the boat and you’ll probably sink soon. Larger companies can get away with bad service much longer than a smaller company, no matter how good the products are. For example look at the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart.
Since Sam Walton died 2 decades ago, the customer service of Wal-Mart has went down-hill. Of course you’ll find employees who still hold Sam’s ideals in their hearts and head. But most don’t and even the managers don’t.
Perceived value is one of the biggest. I used to think that Wal-Mart was the best place to go shopping in the world. Now that perception is definitely tainted by the interactions I’ve had with some of their employees. Part of this is hiring by the managers. Some of the people they hire don’t know how to speak English! And those who were born and bred Americans not immigrants!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to talk about this. The customer is not always right. I have come across many clients and customers who were out and out wrong. I wasn’t supposed to tell them that for fear of losing the account. A couple of times, I told them anyway and lost the account, but the client liked my honesty and came back to us within a couple of years because of my honesty.
Customer service is a lost art, even in today’s economy. I’ve ran across employees who would have been better suited digging a ditch than dealing with customers. I’ve also ran across menial wage workers who could teach many managers and CSR’s how to deliver customer service. In this day of bad economy every business has to be aware of how they affect their customers and what their customers perceptions are.
Now that the economy is in the dump is when to find out about these things. That way when it finally turns around in 10 – 20 years they’ll be prepared and take their rightful place at the top.