Most experts agree customer service can make or break a company. It’s the lifeblood of any business, the bridge that connects clients to the brand and puts a face to the company’s name.
Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker and Marshall Field – iconic names in the retail world – popularized the much-clichéd, but highly effective, business slogan, which says, “The customer is always right.”
In a nutshell, this credo, which strongly encourages company employees to focus on customer satisfaction, pretty much sums up what makes for a successful business enterprise.
There are, actually, several variations to this: Swiss hotelier, César Ritz, founder of what is now the global brand, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, once said, “The customer is never wrong.”
In Germany, “the customer is king,” while in Japan, “the customer is god.”
So, how should a company human resource director, or even the boss himself, inculcate the values of customer service to the staff?
Understand the concept
One has to start somewhere; and in this case, it’s making the staff understand the concept of customer service, what it entails and why they need to do it.
A friendly smile always goes a long way. It keeps customers coming back. It makes them feel at ease. A manager can lead by example and show the staff how it’s done.
Also, putting on that re-assuring nameplate with a nice “How May I Help You?” and a smiling emoji on it, can help a lot in making that connection with the client.
All things considered, the employees need to know that making friends with the clients goes with the territory and can be as rewarding as receiving the paycheck.
Know the product
More often than not, customers enter the door not knowing that they really want. The specifications of what they need. They just have a vague idea.
And this is where the staff steps in. Educating the customer about the product establishes a relationship that can be nurtured to bring about good results for both parties.
Hence, it’s imperative upon the staff to research their product, starting with understanding what’s on the brochure and on to the whole range.
Train, train, train
Education is a continuing process. It does not stop with the college diploma. There is more to learning life lessons than textbooks and formulas.
The same goes through with customer service, which is why regular training and skills upgrade is as important to the staff in the same way seminars and higher courses are to other people.
It helps to have all your employees huddled together for an afternoon of training on company time. It’s an investment that really pays off dividends in terms of brisk sales.’
You would need to include ways to handle a situation involving customer complaints like a simulated scenario through role-playing where one participant is an unsatisfied and irate client, the other a level-headed company staff.
This should aptly be followed by comments from the whole staff on what should have been done and how to further refine the approach to make it flawless and ensure that a happy customer walks out the door.
This pertains to a grading or points system which would ensure that not only the customers alone are happy but the staff as well by way of rewards.
This may not necessarily be a raise. It can be anything from a paid day-off to an announcement on the wall about the staff being the “Employee of the Month” with his or her picture in all smiles on it.
Those who get low points can be trained and coached on which area to improve upon. This feedback mechanism is necessary so that the staff themselves would know if they are doing things right.
Among popular tools is the customer survey form where the service and products are rated and suggestions sought for further improvement.
Another tool is the “mystery shopper” where the company hires someone to check out the store – or restaurant – and grade the service, the ambience, product and so on. This helps in keeping the staff on their toes.
One need not reinvent the wheel in teaching the staff about customer service. A sincere smile, a good working knowledge of the product, continuous training and evaluation as well as a reward system is what it takes.
After all, customer service, in a way, is the life of the party.