Discuss with your colleagues ways you can make the most of these suggestions. Ask, not just, ‘Do we do that? But 'How well do we do that – and how often?' ‘How can we know how our customers feel about our service?’ and 'What would help us improve?'

1. Know your real business

What ‘business’ are you really in? It’s a fundamental question. Whether you’re selling a product or providing a service, its people you are serving. What do those people want to achieve with your product or service? Are you really helping them do that? (The classic example of real business? The hardware store that sells you a drill bit is really helping you make holes. It's the hole that matters to you, not the bit.)

2. Consult yourselves

You are all customers. Ask yourselves which doctor, retailer, internet provider or airline you’d go back to and which you wouldn’t. Be specific about the differences. Ask your team members the same question, then ask ‘What’s it really like being a customer of ours?’ Ask them to include their internal customers, especially colleagues in other teams.

3. Chart a course

Develop a values charter to guide how you interact with customers. Once you’ve agreed on it, hold everyone to it.

4. Check how well you listen to your customers’ needs

Whether it’s through direct conversation, feedback forms, or online satisfaction surveys, make sure that your organisation is listening to your customers - and responding to what they tell you.

5. Check that everyone is consistently courteous

We have long memories about who treated us well, and didn’t. Courtesy is perennial. Consistency is essential. A single impatient response can do a lot of harm, especially on social media.

6. Monitor your team’s empathy

Whether it’s an enquiry or a complaint, it’s the customers’ perspective that counts. With active listening and real empathy, your service becomes personal. Delivering facts and correct responses isn’t enough. Showing that you’ve understood both the customers' issues and how they feel about them is essential.

7. Discover then remove the barriers

You should be asking your customers how you could provide a better service. Ask yourselves the same question, constantly. That question opens the way for new ideas to flow. Make the improvements happen. Your team will be more committed to customer service if you can remove the barriers to putting improvements into action. Only action creates momentum.

8. Match the size of the problem and solution

Even a single event with potential to damage your reputation for customer service could justify major action. Sometimes you’ll decide that the feedback from the customer is too unusual and the consequences too minor for remedial action and you’ll just live with it. Tell your team your decision and the reasons.

9. Stay personal

Phone voice response menus and on-line enquries may be necessary, but make it easy to talk to a real person.

10. Rate yourselves

Ask how you measure up on these issues: communication, responsiveness, credibility, courtesy, and making the customer feel special. Go deep. Ask what if? questions ('What if several people are away? How well do we respond then?')

For those things you are doing well rate yourselves on consistency. (Do we always do that?')

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Does your organisation share these common customer service issues?

  • Staff not committed to customer service
  • Staff cynical about customer service training because you tried it before and nothing changed
  • Issues taking too long to resolve, including customers having to enquire repeatedly
  • Customers left in ‘support limbo’, not knowing what you are doing to resolve their issue.
  • No one taking responsibility for following up on inquiries
  • Staff rude or impatient with each other - maybe customers too
  • Callers passed from person-to-person so they have to repeat the issue each time

Skillset can help

A session with a skilled workshop leader could be a very valuable investment.

Our approach is consultative. For customer service, we facilitate more than train. Your staff are customers too and we treat them as the experts on how your service could be. It’s all about engaging them in customer service, not telling them what it is.

Call us on +64 3 365 3164 or send us a message. We'll match you up with a specialist, not a salesperson. There'll be no pressure. (That's not our style.)

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