Instead of “Hire for attitude, not aptitude” or “Hire for personality, train for skills”, remind yourself when you recruit to
Select for passion, not past performance.
You hire an employee. At some point, before employees start or while they begin working, they may think that you could be a top-down, one-way, “I know everything, you know nothing” command-and-control dictator. They would feel that, as their boss, you don’t care much about them. And, soon, they could care less about you and your business.
As for attitude and personality , thinking and talking about service excellence does not make it happen; doing something does. Service excellence is passion, not attitude or personality. You HAVE TO have attitude and personality to serve customers. But when you have passion, you always WANT to WOW them.
QUI Takeaway: Select for passion, not past performance. Don’t train your people with your top-down, one-way, “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Instead, educate your people interactively, frequently, and continuously. With suggestions, recommendations, and encouragement, empower your people to develop, not a business, but themselves. Your people will be enthused and energized to passionately engage customers. They will create an emotional connection with your customers. The more emotional the connections, the more memorable the experiences, the more loyal the customers are. And everyone, your people and your customers alike, will be enriched, literally and figuratively.
BUSINESS LEADER FORBIDDEN PHRASE: “We’ve always done it that way.”
If your customers and employees are raving about you as a customer service leader, then that’s GREAT! But if they’re not saying anything at all about you, then that’s not. Satisfied people feel that your customer service leadership is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied people won’t return as soon as they find something better. So be GREAT out there! Otherwise, well …
A complaining customer would ask you, “Well, if you’ve already done it that way, why don’t you guys fix it?”
Business competitors would say to their people, “Well, if they’ve already done it that way, then we’ll just do a little better to WOW their customers with us.”
Your employees would say to themselves, “Well, if you’ve already done it that way, then we’ll go somewhere else that pays more.” or “We’ll go somewhere else where they communicate, support, and motivate us,” or “We’ll go somewhere else where they recognize and appreciate us for our team and individual achievements, accomplishments, or personalized acts of customer service.”
Instead of serving your customers on what they expect and leading your people on how they are treated, ask yourselves, as leaders, to envision “What if?”. And don’t just think and talk about it. Thinking and talking about customer service leadership doesn’t make it happen; doing something does. Customer service leadership is action, not attitude.
Focus on creating a GREAT experience for your employees as much as you do for customers and you will earn the loyalty of both. Soon, without a focus on profits, profits will grow. And everyone will be enriched, literally and figuratively.
Satisfying current customers’ and employees’ needs and innovating to consistently deliver WOW customer and employee experiences will maximize the ROI of CX. So do more than what you always have done. Do better than what you always have done. And be GREAT out there!
In retail customer service, your people are NOT your most important assets.
In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes that “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”
Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, claims that success in any job is 20% knowledge and 80% interpersonal skills. Ultimately, success in retail customer service is all about interpersonal skills.
There are a lot of people wanting to enter the retail business. And for an industry set to take advantage of retail sales that will be generated by Gen X and baby boomers, that is good news. Unfortunately, while there are people who want to work in retail customer service, there are many who simply are not the right people. As a resort general manager who personally interviewed every candidate finalist and as a former college instructor interacting with students and displaced workers from other industries, I feel that many people lack the necessary interpersonal skills because they have grown up or interacted with others in a generation far different from our own.
I am convinced that people can only deliver an experience that they themselves have experienced. In order to succeed in retail, they would have had to personally experience and learn from great examples of others exhibiting stellar interpersonal skills in their day-to-day interactions with them.
But those opportunities to learn firsthand from face-to-face interactions have all changed in less than a generation. Not too long ago there was no direct deposit or internet banking. If we wanted to deposit our paycheck, we would have to go weekly to the bank. After a while, the teller got to know who we were, where we worked, what we did there, and regularly asked how work and our company were doing. Remember when gas station attendants checked your oil and tire pressure, cleaned your windshield, and asked you if there was anything else they could do for you for a little over a dollar per gallon? How bad has customer service gotten when we never see an attendant and actually pump our own gas for more than four dollars per gallon?
The average Facebook user today has 338 friends. When a person posts on his or her page, they don’t have a loss of self-esteem when only 50 “like” the post. The other 288 have ignored them and they are OK with that! Today, we have cell phones. But what are many doing with their cell phones? I’m so old I remember someone actually laughing out loud on my phone. Texting is really one-way communication. You don’t hear voice tone or inflection or a pause. In real life, there is no “delete” or “backspace”.
Where is the reinforcement of interpersonal skills in those experiences?
So, the experiences for many people are not full of good examples of emotional intelligence, body language, or verbal communication that only face-to-face interactions can teach. I believe that translates into the real world that is OK to ignore the customer and your co-workers. You don’t have to greet your co-workers every morning or every customer who walks through the door. Having not experienced often enough good examples of communication, collaboration, or relationship-building skills, how will those people entering retail customer service, the people you entrust to customers, be successful? And if you allow yourself to accept that level of performance as adequate, how will your businesses succeed?
The answer is that you, as manager, are responsible for the education of those who do not have those skills. For you to succeed in this very competitive retail marketplace, you will need the right people. You will need people who know how to consistently welcome your customers with eye contact and a smile, inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to them, listen and respond empathetically, and bid them a sincere fond farewell. So, you will need to ask the proper interview questions with the specific intent of finding out if the candidates have the necessary skills of expressing sincerity, empathy, and trust. And you will be the one who will have to educate the people you select to deliver that experience for your customers. Interpersonal skills training cannot simply end after the first-week orientation. It must be consistent and continual. Only then will you build the interpersonal skills of your staff to drive their success and yours.
Through social media, people are talking about you whether you know it or not, like it or not. Customers who are dissatisfied with your service rant about their no class experience to others. They’re not just talking about you to their friends on social media. They’re telling everyone, even complete strangers.
If they’re not talking no class, then they’re just not talking about you at all. Customers who are satisfied with your service feel that their experience is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers won’t come back when they find something better or less expensive.
So don’t just serve to sell your products or services to customers. And don’t just serve to satisfy customers. Instead, serve to WOW them. Serve to CARE.
COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. Inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to them.
ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to you and your company.
RESPOND empathetically to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
ENRICH the experiences of every customer.
And when you CARE, each customer is WOWED and happy, intent on returning again and again, raving to others along the way.
The New Marketing is not advertising online to your customers. It’s your customers raving about you to others on social media.
Ever since I had my stroke in April last year, writing has been literally a labor of love. I hope that you have gained some insight into how to Deliver the World’s Best Customer Experience by not just serving to satisfy customers, but rather to WOW them.
I want to thank each of you for reading my blog this year. I very much appreciate you. In appreciation, and in paying it forward, for this New Year, I don’t wish you good luck in the future. I wish you GREAT success and fortune, literally and figuratively.
Merriest of Christmases and happiest of Holidays and New Years! May your New Year be GREAT out there!
Business leaders are happy because their customers are satisfied. But that’s not good enough. Customers feel that service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave once they find something better or less expensive. So don’t serve to sell to customers. And don’t serve to satisfy customers. Serve to delight them.
And just exactly how do you do that? In his book, The Revelation Conversation, Steve Curtin will tell you. But he doesn’t expect you to train your people.
Training is top down, one-way, “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the how and what of customer service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. Training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. In the end, training instructs your people on how to TAKE CARE of the customer.
Instead, Steve is speaking with you as a coach, not at you as a trainer. He recommends that you educate your people. Your education is interactive and frequent, so much so, that you remind them every hour of every day.
Your education gives you the how, what, and WHY Of customer service. You not only give your employees job knowledge and skills, but also the PURPOSE of customer service. Your daily reminders will inspire your people to focus on the purpose of delivering exceptional customer service. Your education will develop YOUR PEOPLE. And the purpose of your employees is to serve to delight your customers. In the end, your people will CARE for your customers.
Reminding yourself and your people of Steve’s stories, examples, and encouragement, you will enthuse them to engage with customers. Your customers will be delighted and happy, intent on returning, raving to others.
Be sure to read The Revelation Conversation and take action to enthuse your employees to delight customers. And when you do, everyone’s lives will be enriched, literally and figuratively.
QUI QUOTE: Nobody raves about a company that meets customer expectations.
When you are working in customer service, you have been happy that your customers leave satisfied. You have sold them a product or service that meets their wants or needs. Or you solved their problem for them. You were happy because, in the end, you met their expectations and they were satisfied.
But that’s not good enough. Satisfied customers feel service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave when they find something better or less expensive.
So don’t serve to satisfy customers. Don’t treat customers as they would have expected. Instead, treat them a little better than they want to be treated. Serve to WOW them.
We don’t offer customer service training. Training is top-down, one-way “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the “how” of service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. Training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. In the end, training instructs students on how to TAKE CARE of the customer.
Instead, enroll in Customer CARE University. We don’t have trainers or instructors. We have mentors and coaches. Our education classes are interactive. Our education is the “how” and “why” of Customer CARE excellence. As mentors, we educate you with customer CARE actions to practice your interpersonal skills. You will learn and appreciate the value of telephone etiquette, service recovery, and customer CARE. After graduation, as coaches, we remind you with our customer CARE excellence strategies. With suggestions, recommendations, and encouragement, we empower you and your colleagues to develop YOURSELVES. Ideally, all of you will be enthused and energized to engage customers. You and your colleagues will create an emotional connection with your customers. The more emotional the connections, the more memorable the experiences, the more loyal the customers. And everyone’s lives will be enriched.
In Customer CARE 101, our passion is to CARE for you and your colleagues.
COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any customer CARE information that you and your colleagues need or want to know. We will listen empathetically to your suggestions, concerns, and complaints.
APPRECIATE your role, responsibilities, and actions, and your suggestions and recommendations.
RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for you and your colleagues’ role-playing acts of customer CARE.
EMPOWER you to act on your own to do what is right for you, your colleagues, your customers, and your business.
In Customer CARE 102, we will educate you on how to CARE for your customers:
COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. Inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to the customer. Listen empathetically to understand the customer’s questions and concerns.
ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to you and your business.
RESPOND compassionately to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
ENRICH the experiences of every customer.
And, yes, we educate everyone. If we’re not caring for customer CARE representatives, we better be caring for your colleagues who are.
When we create a great experience for you as much as we do for your colleagues, you will earn the loyalty of both colleagues and customers. And soon, without your focus on profits, profits will grow, for you and your business, literally and figuratively.
Enrollment starts now. Tuition is free. But you must attend to learn each of the classes of the two courses or you will fail.
Enroll today. You won’t be sorry. And neither will your customers.
DISCLAIMER: Customer CARE University classes are my posts for either Customer CARE strategies for customer service people or Customer CARE actions for customers. You are always invited to “attend” the classes. Our discussions have been very interactive with open and honest opinions and complaints from some who have disagreed with me. With each interaction, I hope we can agree to disagree or agree. Whether you have the opportunity to “attend” regularly or can only “attend” when you can, I encourage you to remind yourself or your colleagues who interact with customers, when you say, “Let’s be GREAT out there!”
“Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!” Tom Peters. Customers are paying for their experience. It’s ALL about them, NEVER about us. To them, perception is reality. Image is everything. Feelings are facts. And they buy with emotion and justify that decision with reason.
Some customer service people will believe that customers will understand and be empathetic to the new employee. I get it. Customers will get it, too, but many are not going to like it. Customers are paying for THEIR experience. And they seek the best value in their experience, so, someone saying, “I’m in training” is, bluntly, a poor one. When someone new doesn’t say anything, the customer feels that the person must be knowledgeable and the problem is difficult. But that’s OK because the problem is the problem. But when someone says, “I’m new here,” that’s not OK, in fact, dissatisfying because the problem is not the problem. The problem is the person. They will leave and rant to others via social media. Customers thinking about coming to your company will decide otherwise because of his rants. It doesn’t have to be a customer they know. If you say you’re great, that’s advertising, but on social media, if they say you’re poor, that’s the truth. People are talking about you, whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not. You can give them a story that “We’re new here,” or be new here but not tell them. You decide.
The customer is paying for his experience, not your company’s service. Customers don’t care how many new people you have hired. They don’t care if self-service works for you or not. And customers don’t care if you think scripting will or will not work. What they care about is how big you care about them. New employees or not, self-service or not, scripting or not. To a complaining customer, you are not a representative of the company. You ARE the company. So own it. Be the CEO of the moment. DO take it personally. DO take it professionally. Just DON’T take it home. Simply apologize. DON’T offer an explanation. Customers feel that your explanation is an excuse. Customers want action, not excuses. Just do whatever it takes to fix it fast.
And when all alternatives don’t work, DON’T fire the customer. Simply ask him to resign. “I’m sorry but we aren’t able to resolve your problem. Could I recommend Brand X for your solution? I could contact them if you like.” Both are happy. And both will remember. The customer is happy because he has a fix. He has an emotional connection with you. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And loyal customers will return. Ideally, he will come back to you. The competitor is happy because you recommended them. Later when one of them cannot resolve the problem for the customer, they will recommend you. A Mutual Admiration Society of Sorts.
So you decide. Are you telling customers you are or have people who are in training? Or do you simply not say anything and do whatever it takes to fix the problem, even if it means going to a competitor? Whatever you decide, customers will decide, too.