This week’s guest post is from leadership consultant and keynote speaker Bill Hogg. I have been an avid reader of his blog where he writes about “the critical relationship between leadership, employee engagement and delivering an exceptional customer experience as a competitive advantage.” So I’m honored that he has offered to share his customer service insight here. If you commit to following consistently his four steps of service, you will Deliver the World’s Best Customer Experience. You can find out more about Bill at the end of his post.
Providing exceptional service is the ultimate goal. However, many organizations limit their teams’ ability to provide the type of service they want to deliver because rules and policies get in the way.
Each and every person in your organization has the opportunity to create a positive impression on your customers — to impact their experience and potentially convert them from a lukewarm satisfied customer to a red-hot loyal customer. Here is a simple 4-step formula to help your team remember how to GIVE exceptional customer service each and every time they interact with customers.
4 Steps to Provide Exceptional Customer Service
In my experience as a leadership change consultant, the following four guidelines can help you effectively engage with your customers in all situations:
Greet: Greet every customer with a smile, make eye contact. This lets them know you see them and are ready to help. Asking “how may I help” rather than waiting for people to approach will create a positive experience. Greet your customers in a friendly and approachable manner and adjust your tone according to their needs — your greeting would be different for a customer asking for information versus one who might have a problem and is a bit upset.In every case, you want to let the customer know that you are ready to listen and respond to their needs — and help build long-term loyalty.
Interact: Listen carefully to each customer’s request. Are they looking for help? Do they have a complaint? Be careful not to jump to conclusions about their needs, and never take their comments personally. Remember, customers often don’t express their needs clearly and ask their real question. So make sure you listen for the real question behind the question.
Choose your attitude — be courteous, friendly and polite. A positive, caring attitude will sooth even the angriest customer and will turn a satisfied customer into a red-hot loyalist. Help them — make it easy for them to accomplish their outcome faster, easier and more conveniently — and you will create long-term loyalty.
Verify: After you have listened to understand their needs, make sure your actions address their opportunity or concern? It is often a good idea to confirm with them what you have heard and then whether the solution you propose will address their need — before taking action. For example, if they ask your closing time — what they might really want to know is “what the latest time they can receive service”. Or if their preferred brand is not available, you could ask how often they would be purchasing, and potentially offer to order the product for them.
Little will be accomplished by rushing an answer or hurrying off to solve an issue they don’t have. There is little value in taking action that the customer doesn’t need.
Express Thanks: Always say “thank you” — it makes all the difference. Customers often express thanks when they receive help from a sales person or change from a cashier, but it really should be your team expressing thanks to your customers for their business. Letting your customer know their business is appreciated is an essential part of making them feel welcome and valued.
No two customers are ever alike, so train your team to follow these 4 simple steps to GIVE exceptional customer service: Greet, Interact, Verify and Express Thanks.
Why Your People Need Guidelines, Not Policies
To give exceptional service, it’s important for your organization to provide your team with guidelines, not strict policies and rules, if you want them to create memorable customer service experiences. Rules and policies can be restrictive and sound scripted, and your frontline service providers need flexibility with how they interact with customers in order to provide the best service possible.
Rules are an essential part of any business. Rules are necessary to ensure we make intentional decisions. Rules are written to make sure people are treated equally and consistently. While there’s nothing wrong with this in principle, there are always going to be situations where a certain degree of flexibility is essential because people are unique. The way they react to situations is also unique, and if you’re trying to offer great customer service, you have to be flexible enough to respond to their needs.
So, apart from rules that tell an employee what they can or can’t do, it’s also essential that employees have guidelines as well. These guidelines will provide the boundaries that allow your team to make appropriate decisions for the benefit of the customer — and the organization — without having to seek a supervisor’s approval every time.
What changes to your approach could you make that allow your team to give exceptional service?
- Allow common sense to prevail in all service situations
- Empower your frontline team members, and give them a reasonable amount of authority to act
- Get rid of the canned responses and processes that impede your employees ability to provide personalized and effective service
While rules are a necessary evil in some situations, flexible guidelines make it easier for your team to give exceptional customer service and help your customers get the service and experience they expect.
Bill works with individuals and organizations to stimulate change — that excelerates passion, productivity and performance! For over 30 years, Bill has been the go to guy when the world’s most recognized brands are faced with challenges that require change — to improve bottom line results. Bill takes no prisoners and his clients love him for it.
Bill provides world class executive consulting, dynamic keynote presentations and transformative workshops for clients that include; Adecco, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Pita Pit, Thompson Ahern, Toronto International Film Festival and ServiceOntario.
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