Monthly Archives: February 2016

But, we’ve always done it this way

ChangeOne aspect of customer service training which can be really frustrating is when the people you’re training are stuck in the past and their old ways of doing things.

We’ve all heard the comment “But, we’ve always done it this way!”

There’s a whole host of reasons why people might be reluctant to change. And it’s not an unusual response to be resistant to change. Whilst some might rise to the challenge you’re more likely to have people who are resistant.

One of the first things to highlight is why. Why change. Not why it’s important from a company perspective, but focusing on WIIFM. I.e. what’s in it for me; from the employee’s perspective rather than ours.

Put yourself in the employee’s shoes…

Will it make my job easier? Will it free up some time to focus on other things that are important to me? Will it mean I get fewer complaints? Will it mean I can earn more tips? Will it make my job more enjoyable? Will it give me more pride in the job I do? Will it make me more confident?

…I could go on, but you get the idea.

We often think it’s obvious what the benefits will be; but to the employee will generally home in on the downsides first. More work. Something new to learn. It’s too complicated. I’m too old to change. It won’t work. We tried it before.

But even when we’ve sold them on the idea of changing their behaviour or the process in some way we still can’t guarantee we’re going to get buy in.

Look out for and listen for hesitation. And when you hear comments such as “I can’t do that” find out what’s holding them back. Is there still a lack of willingness because they’re not yet convinced it’s a good thing to do? Or is it a matter of skill or capability?

“I can’t…” Might simply mean a lack of confidence, and they’re in need of some reassurance, coaching or practice. Perhaps there are other skills that are a prerequisite, which they don’t yet have. Or, worse they fear it will expose other weaknesses they feel they have.

“I can’t…” Could mean they haven’t got all the resources they need; maybe they don’t think they have the time to do it, or if they need to make time what can they leave out instead.

Maybe there’s special equipment they need, or a budget they don’t have.

“I can’t…” Might be they’ve simply not been allowed to do this in the past. Previous systems, processes or procedures have prevented it, and despite the fact you’ve moved on nobody yet has set out the new ‘rules’, or demonstrated their trust in the team.

So frustrating as it is, when your team turn around and say “but, we’ve always done it this way” don’t give up in frustration! Give them a compelling enough reason and the support they need to do it the ‘new’ way.

And of course recognise old habits die hard, so continue to encourage, support and guide them whilst they embed their new habits.


“That’s not my job”

A true service culture is more than just a sheep dip customer service training exercise for your front line team.

Service is everyone’s responsibility

Customer service training

It’s part of your DNA and reflected in everything you do. A bit like a stick of rock – no matter where you break it the core message is still the same.

This means it goes far beyond how your customer facing teams interact with customers.

It isn’t just the responsibility of the sales team, the receptionists or customer service desk.

Everyone in your business contributes in some way to the customer experience either directly or indirectly (or why are they there?).

This includes how your support teams not only interact and serve your external customers, but how they serve the internal customer. How your customer facing teams are supported and treated internally will inevitably have a knock on effect on your customers. So include them too in your customer service training.

The more customers are kept in mind for every decision taken in the business the easier it will be to give a consistent level of service to your customers. This includes the design of your internal as well as customer facing systems. It means recruiting the right people; i.e. not just for their technical skills but those who are aligned with your customer service culture.

Everyone in your business must understand the basics, what good service looks like and recognise the role they play in achieving this. Not by having endless policies, but by having the freedom to use their initiative to do what’s right for the customer; be they internal or external.

Your customer service ethos has to be demonstrated by everyone in your business not just the front line team.


Show your team some love

do your team feel lovedYou might be doing all the right customer service training, but however much you invest in the training, unless you show your team you care about them as much as you care about your customers and your bottom line they are unlikely to demonstrate the behaviours and deliver the customer experience you’d hope.

I believe behaviour breeds behaviour. So a happy customer is dependent on a happy team. Have you ever been served by someone who isn’t happy and still felt you had a good experience? Unlikely.

Keeping your team inspired and engaged can be a challenge for some businesses. But a demotivated team can lead to poor performance, poor customer service, poor attendance and ultimately to losing not only your best people, but also losing your most valued customers.

So how do you show your team members that they are valued and what incentives can you give that show that you appreciate them without costing the Earth.

 

A good place to start…

Start by finding out what’s important to them. Not everyone values or is interested in the same things.

Most might say money, but it has a very short term impact. Get their money wrong and you’ll have a very disgruntled employee, but pay them more today and by next month it’s forgotten.

Whilst some love the sense of achievement or recognition others get a buzz from supporting others. Some love to have their say and see their ideas put into practice, whilst others are happiest when they’re learning or being stretched.

So ask the question.

Depending on the outcome here are 6 simple things to do:

 

1. Say thank you

The easiest thing you can do is a genuine thank you. Recognise and reward good performance, achievements and a job well-done. For many, that is all they need to feel encouraged.

It always helps to know that their work is recognised, even if this is what they are paid to do. Make a point of thanking individuals when you spot them doing something that shows they’ve made an extra effort or used their initiative.

Celebrate and share successes. Bring the team together to show you appreciate their efforts at the end of a hectic day or when everybody has pulled their weight towards a project. Your praise will create a buzz and a genuine thank you can work wonders.

 

2. A treat

You don’t have to go overboard, but an occasional treat is always appreciated. It could be something that is a win-win such as time out to visit a competitor or sister business to see how they do things and report back on ideas that can be implemented in your business.

When your team have worked long or unsociable hours that had an impact on their personal life, extend the treat to include their loved one. This not only makes your team member feel valued but paves the way for future good deeds by showing your appreciation of the support given by friends or family.

 

3. Time Off

Allowing the option to go home early, come in late, or take an additional day off to attend to a personal matter or just have a bit of fun can be very energizing.

We all lead hectic lives, so for some people some flexibility or time off could be the most valuable gift you could give them.

 

4. Make it personal

A little something that’s unexpected can evoke a very positive response.

If you’re aware of people’s interests when you see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them. Saying “I really appreciate what you do, and I got this for you as a small token of my appreciation”, not only will it make them feel they are recognised but it shows you’ve taken an interest in what’s important to them. It doesn’t have to cost the earth; just a token. Be careful it doesn’t embarrass them in any way, so consider when it is given, but at the right time can make an employee feel special and appreciated.

 

5. Prizes

There are bound to be people in your team with a competitive spirit. So consider awards, competitions, or even a league table.

League tables might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills and strengths. Tie this in with your values (it’s a great way to bring these alive!)

Keep your eye out for external awards which are relevant to your business or your market. These are an excellent way to give recognition to the whole team or an individual who has excelled. Just being nominated for awards is a great booster, and working towards an award gives a sense of focus and pride.

 

6. Development opportunities

Development isn’t just about grooming somebody for promotion. That might be one intention or outcome but even when we know that a team member has no aspirations to go further, or reached their peak, that doesn’t mean to say that we just let them stagnate.

Rather than making everybody mediocre at everything they do, tap into their strengths, talents and passions so they excel in certain areas, and work as a team to bridge the gaps in individuals’ abilities or interests.

Delegate and give ownership, such as making people champions for certain tasks. This gives them pride in the task and they’ll appreciate you’ve recognised where they do a good job (ensuring you’re careful not to overburden or just dump these tasks on them).

Think about life skills; for example offering English lessons for migrant workers.

Give people the opportunity for career progression where possible and appropriate. You may not be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small business, but having some kind of succession plan in place gives people something to work towards.

 

In summary

So by doing a little bit of homework and a little bit of creativity there are plenty of ways you can recognise and reward your team to show them some love and bring a smile to their face which they’re sure to pass on to your customers.


What great looks like

Do your team know what great looks like?dart board

As part of your customer service training by defining what great customer service looks like the better your team understand your end goal and the easier it will be for them to deliver the customer experience you are aiming for.

It’s not just about the behaviours you expect your team to demonstrate in dealing with customers, but it’s thinking about the whole of the customer experience from end to end.

Values

If you don’t already have your service criteria clearly defined you may want to start with a discussion on your company values and expectations towards the customer experience. What is the style and ethos of your business, and how is this reflected in the way you serve your customers?

What do your customers value most?

Understand your customer and who you’re targeting, and reflect on what it is that your customers expect and how they define great service.

If everyone understands what you’re aiming for it makes it so much easier to make decisions based on this outcome. It becomes a part of your culture and way of doing things. And it certainly makes training easier as you know exactly what you’re aiming for.

What’s the experience you’re trying to create?

Over 50% of the customer’s experience is down to emotions. The emotions you create for your customers will define your brand and ultimately build advocates. Focus on – and consistently deliver – the things that matter so your business stands out.

So define those emotions you’re looking to achieve. This then helps get a discussion going on how you might achieve these (which you can incorporate into your training), but this becomes a useful reference point for everyone if they know this is the end goal.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you are a business offering luxury services or products many of your team members may not have experienced these themselves first-hand. So do they really understand what’s expected of them or know when they have delivered it?

Exercise

Here’s a short exercise to see how you fare and where you might need to focus to get the best from your team in delivering a great customer experience.

  1. How would you define your customer service values?
  2. What aspects of service do your customers value most?
  3. How would you define the type of experience you’re trying to create?
  4. How readily could your team relate to this experience?
  5. What else needs to happen and who else do you need to involve in defining your customer service values?

Once you’ve completed it for yourself, ask your management team to answer each of the questions and finally ask your whole team to answer questions 1-3 (not just customer facing). It will be interesting to see if you all agree!