- “My customer trusts me and expects to deal with me” They expect to always deal with you because that’s what you’ve always given them. If they are never given the chance to speak to your team that will never change. Set expectations early on with your customers so they know who is the best person to speak to when. Introduce your customers to your team so they know who they’re dealing with and build trust (and their expectations) early on. .
- “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker” In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time to attend to more important things to add value for your customer. Having simple systems in place for routine queries means you might only have to invest the time once.
- “They aren’t yet capable” And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation and trust into your people development plans.
- “They won’t do it as well as me” Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist? Does the task need such a degree of excellence? If not, maybe someone can deal with the task adequately in less time so the customer isn’t kept waiting.
- “They aren’t yet qualified, authorised or licenced to do that” Everyone has to start somewhere so get them involved and leave time for you to approve or endorse their efforts before it gets sign off or the rubber stamp. (None of us would ever pass our driving test if we weren’t able to actually get out on the road and drive; it just needs plenty of practice and handholding along the way until ready.)
- “If they are left to deal with someone else my customer won’t be happy and I’ll lose their respect” You’ll upset customers far more and lose more respect by delaying your response and by not devoting enough time to the areas of expertise they’re paying you for because you are too distracted by routine and administrative issues.
Coaching in Complaint HandlingWhen you’re a customer and want to make a complaint the last thing you want to hear is “I’ll have to go and get my manager…” Not only is it frustrating for you as the customer, it’s demeaning for the employee and time consuming of the manager. So what’s the process in your business when a customer has a complaint? Do your team have the skills and confidence to deal with complaints, and do their line managers have the skills and confidence to train, coach, and support them?
1. Know what’s importantUnderstand each of your team members and what’s important to them. Recognise there are things which may seem insignificant to you, but can mean a lot for others. What are the things they enjoy? What are the things they’re proud of, be that in or out of work. Express an interest in what they do away from work. Never under estimate the value sitting down in private with each of your team on a one-to-one basis. Schedule these in advance and stick to your schedule; nothing smacks more of I’m not valued than constantly cancelling these meetings.
2. Common courtesiesTreat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show your customers. Keep your commitments; letting people down suggests a lack of respect, but if you can’t do what you say you’ll do at the very least say “I’m sorry”. Give a simple please and thank you, a sunny smile and a cheerful “good morning”, and a “good night and have a good evening” at the end of their day or shift.
3. Pay attentionListen to your team’s feedback, ideas and suggestions. Show them you value their opinion: ask for their advice or suggestions on matters that affect them or where they may be able to present a different perspective. Be approachable, and listen and observe so you can act on any staff concerns before they become a problem. Provide support and be receptive to when this might be needed.
4. Keep your team informedA well-informed team not only gives them confidence and enables them to make decisions, it also helps establish trust with your customers. Let everyone know what’s going on in your business through regular staff briefings, and use these to get feedback from your team on any customers’ comments, or discuss any questions or suggestions that arise about operational issues. Keep your team up to date with the bigger picture: what’s happening in your business, in your industry, and with your competitors.
5. Invest in your team’s developmentProvide development opportunities to tap into their strengths and keep them stretched. Not everyone wants to progress but it doesn’t mean to say they don’t want to be stretched given opportunities for new challenges. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers. Give everyone an opportunity to learn something new; it’s a win-win as the business will benefit too. Add variety, set them a challenge and trust your team to make decisions to do what’s best.
6. Promote teamworkUpskill and cross train your team to cover other’s responsibilities so everyone is confident the job still gets covered even when they’re sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload. This also promotes a greater appreciation at each other’s roles as well as making it easier to create a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary rather than passing the buck. It doesn’t have to be all about work. It’s difficult to please everyone but if you can find something that appeals to everyone’s tastes, personal commitments and budget, social activities is a great way to bring the team together. Even if this is simply some after hours team activities in the workplace that taps into the interest, talents or expertise of your team.
7. Guide and supportGive your team the support, resources and guidance needed to do a good job. This starts with providing clear direction on your expectations and providing everyone with the resources they need (including sufficient time and manpower). Observe your team in action and give supportive feedback, encouragement and coaching, so you build their confidence and their productivity. Every business has its times when things go wrong, so equip your team to deal with the unexpected and empower them to handle these situations with confidence.
8. Two-way trustLead by example and be a role model so there are no mixed messages. Ensure or your management team used the same criteria for awarding and recognising the team’s contribution, so people don’t get confused of feel deflated when something worthy of recognition gets ignored. Play to people’s strengths and demonstrate your trust by delegating some control and ownership. This gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right.
9. Recognise and reward successRecognise those who go beyond the call of duty. Give public recognition when you receive positive feedback from a customer. Share your good news to give everyone a boost and recognise those who have contributed. Make any rewards meaningful; not everyone is motivated by the same things to consider what’s important to the individual. Have some fun. You might be dealing with serious subjects but people are more productive when they’re happy and relaxed. Laughter is the best medicine and a good hearty laugh release tension and it’s contagious!
10. A simple thank youThe most obvious and easiest thing you can do to show your team you care about them is to make a point of thanking them. Whether that’s a heartfelt thank you at the end of a busy shift or hectic day, when they’ve made an extra effort or used their initiative, or gone out of their way to help a colleague or a customer. Send a handwritten letter or a thank you card when they’ve gone the extra mile; a physical letter or card will have 10 times more impact than an email. These ideas can go a long way towards creating staff loyalty which in turn will contribute to customer loyalty.
.It is a manager’s guide to building your team’s confidence, initiative and commitment to creating a memorable customer experience. I’ve kept it nice and short (69 pages) so it’s an easy read and hopefully doesn’t become one of those tomes gathering dust on the book shelf and never gets read.
This is some of the feedback I’ve had to date…
“I love love love your book. I can hear you in the pages. Much of what we discussed is echoed here in your book. This tells me that you have a command of your craft and are a true subject matter expert.
“I find the book extremely easy to read and easy to follow. I love how your examples cover various industries. I find the “Actions” section at the end of the chapters very helpful.
“I consider you an authority on the topic and am so humbled you asking me to read your book pre-release."“Caroline’s new book is a treasure trove of ideas for any customer service team member – and any manager or leader involved in this critical area of the business. In fact – it should be mandatory reading for anyone who touches a customer – regardless of their job title or function. “This book is a self-learning tool anyone interested in improving service will benefit from as they apply the ideas, methods and systems.
“ Creating Superstars is an essential guide for the service industry, whichever sector you work in. This book brings to life Caroline’s extremely effective customer service workshops. Starting with a clear vision from the leaders to enthusing the team and generating that essential oxygen of customer loyalty"“I do not hesitate in recommending this book to anyone who really wants to grow their business.”
“I think it is fabulous, I started off thinking this is exactly how I think and I want to give it to my staff telling them that this is what I am talking about, please read it three times over and start embracing! I think for some people it will be a light on moment."It’s available NOW on Amazon. You can get instant access to the Kindle version for just 99p from Amazon UK or $1.22 on Amazon.com. It will only be available at this launch price until next weekend (15th January) so order it now while you can. And if you like the book and would be happy to write a review for me on Amazon I’d be delighted to send you a complimentary copy as a thank you. (I just ask you pay a contribution to postage if sending to outside the UK). You can always pass it on to a customer or a supplier if you don’t want to read it again! p.s. here are the links again to grab your copy by Sunday 15th UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Creating-Service-Superstars-confidence-initiative-ebook/dp/B01NAL0898/ Rest of world: https://www.amazon.com/Creating-Service-Superstars-confidence-initiative-ebook/dp/B01NAL0898/ p.p.s. To claim your complimentary copy drop me an email to let me know you’ve written a review and tell me the name you’ve used (as I’d love to find out what you thought!).
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