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Just like any other week

Next week (2-6 October) is National Customer Service Week.Engaging your team in customer service

Customer Service Week is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the critical role customer service plays in running a successful business.

Of course, customer service plays a vital role at any time of year, not just during customer service week.

But if nothing else it provides the perfect opportunity to put customer service in the spotlight.

As you and I know, delivering great service and a memorable customer experience starts with your team.

So…

here are 10 ideas for raising the profile of customer service and engaging your team in the whole customer experience.

1. First impressions

You probably already do some activities involving your team in the customer journey (and if you’re not, now might be a good time to start!).

Take them a step further back and ask them to review the very first customer service to touch points. These might be a Google search, your website (how clear as it, how easy is it to navigate, contact you, etc), telephoning you (how quickly the phone is answered, what happens out of hours, how messages are taken, etc), signage to your property, etc.

Get them to identify what’s good, but what could be better. Get a plan in place to make these improvements. The good thing is you’ll already have their buy in if they’ve suggested them

2. Opportunity knocks

Prepare a flipchart with a list of all the touch points on your customer journey down the left-hand side. Divide everyone into small teams and allocate each team 2-3 touch points.

Give each group a stack of Post-it notes and ask them to identify as many opportunities as possible for adding value or up-selling to customers at the touch.

3. Internal service superstars

You may already have something in place for recognising good service for your front of house/customer facing teams. But what about those who beaver away behind the scenes supporting your customer facing teams.

Set up ways for your internal customers to put forward internal service superstars.

4. Learn from mistakes

Ask your team to analyse any negative customer reviews, be they feedback forms, social media or direct customer feedback. Set them the task of analysing what led to the customer’s perception (even if in their eyes it was unfounded), what can be done to minimise the risk of this happening again, and what actions they can take responsibility for.

5. Back of house perspective

It’s easy for those who are customer facing to get accustomed to flaws in the system. Allocate one aspect of your service to each of your back of house team to experience it from a customer’s perspective.

Not only will you provide you with invaluable feedback, it gives them an opportunity to understand more about your customers’ experience (and depending on your services could be giving them a bit of a treat into the bargain).

6. Service champions

Nominate team members to be ambassadors or champions the different aspects of the customer experience, building on personal strengths. This works best when people volunteer for the role or are nominated by their peers.

Being a champion gives them pride in what they do and they will appreciate that you’ve recognised that they do a good job. This allows the champions to delve deep into the task, plus gets their buy-in.

7. Feedback on performance

Is only natural that people will put more effort into things that get measured than those that don’t. So if all your emphasis is on the bottom line or productivity, guess what? That’s what people will focus on!

Set some metrics for evaluating service if you don’t have these in place already; ideally involve the team this. Make these a regular feature an agenda item for your team meetings.

8. Say thank you

Recognise and reward those who go the extra mile for customers. Not only does it show you appreciate their efforts, and also reinforces for others and demonstrates examples of best practice.

9. Simon says…

Do remember the game Simon Says, when everyone ends up copying what you do, rather than what you’re told to do?

Well, it’s the same with your team! Walk the talk. Ensure you and your management team are shining examples.

10. Last impressions

Ask your team to review the very last touch points from your customer’s perspective. If you’re selling a product, this might be when they come to use the product, or phone you with a query. If you’re selling a service this might be how well you demonstrate your appreciation of their business after the event. Anything that might impact the customer either positively or negatively.

Challenge each of your team to come up with one idea that would leave your customers with a positive binding memory or GLUE

Whichever of these activities you do, make sure you follow through. Get a plan in place to implement the ideas. The good thing is you’ll already have buy in from your team if they’re the ones who’ve suggested them.

So, what will you do next week to demonstrate your commitment to delivering great customer service?

Maybe you’re doing some or even all of these things all the time, so for you customer service week is just like any other week!

Here are some more ideas for customer service week.


Butts, Brand and Buyers’ Remorse

So what might cigarette butts have to do with your brand and buyers’ remorse?cigarette butt

Well bear with me on that.

Wouldn’t you agree that your brand isn’t what you tell people it is; it’s what the customer perceives it to be?

The other day as I was returning home a liveried delivery van (i.e. the name of the company was blazoned across it) was parked outside my house, making a delivery – sadly not to me – but my neighbour. It preventing me from turning into my drive, but that was fine; it’s a narrow road and we accept it’s difficult to park without blocking the road. So far nothing remarkable.

But as the driver came out from my neighbour’s drive before stepping back into his van he dropped his cigarette on the ground (to the entrance of my drive). I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned a cigarette butt it just another form of litter. He obviously didn’t seem to think so because as I got out of my car and handed him back his still smouldering cigarette butt he seemed somewhat shocked!

So what has this to do with brand and buyers’ remorse? The van was from a well-regarded white goods company who spend a small fortune on advertising and building their brand. But what did this driver’s actions leave me feeling about their brand and their attitude towards customers? Even though I wasn’t the customer the power of referral and recommendation is undeniable.

And as I recounted this tale to my neighbour – and whereas I didn’t intend to leave her with any buyers’ remorse – inevitably she was not impressed (and maybe even a little embarrassed).

As we said earlier, your brand is it what you tell people is, it’s what the customer experiences.

 

But it’s not down to us

One of the ‘excuses’ I often hear from businesses is that it’s down to a third party provider and they have no control over it. But just think about this. These suppliers could be your customers’ very first impression or very last impression. The two most critical points of your customers’ journey, so doesn’t it make sense to get it right.

For example:

  • You outsource your IT or your telephone answering service. How often is your website or call to your office the customer’s very first touch point?
  • You work from serviced offices. How often is the grumpy security guard or miserable disengaged reception desk the first physical point of contact?
  • If you outsource your cleaning, how often do your customers encounter your cleaners? (And bear in mind how often the toilets become the first or last port of call!)
  • If you are a hotel and you outsource your leisure or spa facilities, how influential are these in determining your guests’ overall experience?
  • And if you deliver anything to your customers, be it white goods, printing, or engineering support, how often will this be the very last touch point and lasting memory of your business?

 

So how do you control these?

When appointing your subcontractors choose businesses that are compatible with your customer service values and can demonstrate their ability to meet these.

Find out what they actually do to meet these. What systems do they have in place for when things go wrong?  How good a role model for customer care is the person you deal with one a day to day basis? What do their other customers say about them? Is there any evidence of customer service training?

For example, some of my clients ask me to provide them with information for their sales proposals so they’re able to demonstrate to perspective customers how they take customer service seriously.

Just the other day one of my clients asked for extra copies of some of the training materials I’d produced for them so they could share with some of their customers and prospective customers.

Set criteria and KPIs/SLAs for your subcontractors so they know exactly what’s expected of them, what’s acceptable behaviour and what’s not. Ensure you have ways to measure these, don’t just assume they are living up to them. Ask your customers for feedback or carry out mystery shopping exercises where you can.

And if things are not going according to your standards nip it in the bud, unless they are aware they’re falling short they’re unlikely to change.

(And of course if they need some help on their customer care you know where to send them! J)

By the way… as we’re talking about cigarettes… one last point I’d like to add.

What image do your own team give customers when it comes to their cigarette breaks?

Is your customers’ first sight of your team seeing them puffing away outside your building? Worse still do customers (or the general public) have to fight their way through a haze smoke to get to your front door?!

I’ll leave you to reflect on that one.

We all know it’s a hassle switching suppliers or contractors, but don’t leave your customer’s experience and your brand to chance.