Regardless of an organisation’s size or sector, customers need to keep coming through the door in order for it to survive and thrive. Consequently, patrons and purchasers need to be respected and held in high regard at all times, which can only come about if your members of staff interact with them in the right way.
But in today’s economy, where changing market conditions mean various businesses are prioritising money over people, it is easy to forget about the importance of customer service. However, failing to address this pre-requisite for prosperity can have terrible consequences for reputations as well as finances.
Having said that, simply satisfying a basic customer service level is no longer enough. Consumers are becoming an increasingly active bunch when it comes to buying products and services, which is largely down to the Internet. With a profusion of choice in front of them, the ability to research reviews and get in contact with even the biggest of brands directly through mediums like social media, everyday customers require more attention than ever before.
For many enterprises, meeting these wants and needs is a daunting prospect. But thankfully, it is a distinct possibility if you can implement a customer-orientated culture and bring about a change in behaviour through appropriate, effective, and relevant training.
If you really want to take your customer service to a new level, the whole organisation needs to echo this sentiment. By implementing a customer orientated culture, everyone from senior executives to call centre representatives will be singing from the same song sheet, doing whatever they can to improve the whole buying experience.
In many respects, existing objectives such as increasing turnover should be thrown out of the window and replaced with customer-focused goals like boosting retention rates. All practices and procedures must be carried out with the customer’s desires in mind.
Each and every employee must be taught to recognise how their actions influence the customer as well as the overall value of the business. Once this has been covered, financial targets can come back into play and be established once again.
At first, redefining what the organisation is all about will sound difficult or even somewhat impossible. But once you know you have to go from a company that sells a certain product to a company that provides the customer with a certain service, it will become easier to achieve.
Once a customer-orientated culture has been established, your members of staff should know how their actions and words affect buying decisions. However, this doesn’t mean to say the hard work is over, as you will still need to bring about a change in their behaviour towards the customer.
First and foremost, employees will need to learn how to practice empathy, as this can elicit trust, mitigate stressful situations, and lead to a more enjoy experience for the customer. One way of teaching this is through role-playing activities, which simulate previous examples or potential encounters.
Secondly, staff will need to speak with customers at their level and in a tone they understand. When describing products or services, this means avoiding the use of any incomprehensible industry jargon that will go straight over the customer’s head. Even if they have knowledge of your offering, slang words or phrases could be confusing and diminish the chances of a sale.
Finally, customer service representatives must be given complete control over all interactions, which means instilling the concept of personal accountability and initiative. If employees take full responsibility for their actions, they will be much more likely to go the extra mile and thus become incredibly valuable assets.
It is all well and good choosing to adopt these two changes, but if their primary principles are not taught and executed properly, your workforce won’t be able to take customer service to the level you aspire. Therefore, the need for engaging and effective training is paramount.
Traditional methods of training, which involves a teacher standing at the front of a classroom simply telling staff what they should be doing, is not the best way to go about upskilling staff. In addition to the boredom that will inevitably set in, this won’t help retention levels either and can be a waste of time, effort, money, and resources.
As mentioned previously, role-playing activities can live long in the memory and will help employees deal with customers in the right way. Another option is on-the-job training, which can also incorporate the spaced repetition learning technique.
This “little and often” type of training improves long-term memory retention but can also integrate with daily roles and responsibilities through the use of desktop software and mobile applications. Spaced repetition is known to engage individuals psychologically, but can also speak to their emotional sides too when practised in the workplace.
Even though company culture and employee behaviour can go a long way in taking customer service to a new level, a lot can be said for tried and trusted techniques, which should never be overlooked or forgotten about.
Furnish your staff with knowledge – Whenever a customer gets in contact with a service representative, they expect their question or problem to be answered or solved by a knowledgeable individual. This means furnishing your staff with wisdom about the company and its products or services.
Professionalism, proficiency, and politeness – If members of staff want to exude professionalism, they will need to be confident and competent communicators. This concerns product proficiency too, but it also comes down to politeness. Employees should be well mannered and emotionally balanced when dealing with customers, no matter how irate they may be.
Constantly monitoring service – Even if you think the organisation has reached the next level of customer service, there is always bound to be room for improvement. Therefore, constantly monitor and review your customer service, listen in on phone calls and shadow face-to-face interactions. Not only does this identify problem areas, it also keeps your workforce on their toes.
Taking your customer service to a new level might require huge organisational upheaval, but by implementing this change, the whole business will benefit. Not just when it comes to reputations either, as happy customers become loyal customers that contribute to a healthy turnover and profitable margins.