I don’t know about you, but my biggest pet hate when out and about is when the shop assistant, bank clerk or any other person you are talking with for that matter asks the question, “How are you today…” and then continues talking and doesn’t wait for you to answer the question. It drives me mad! If you are not interested in the answer then don’t ask the question in the first place!
We all read about new marketing strategies and ways to attract new business, I even wrote an article recently about how to build better relationships with your clients. Here’s a revelation for you, one of the most effective marketing campaigns you could ever embark on and certainly one of the most cost effective, is to ensure your staff are providing good, honest, sincere customer service.
You know, those age old marketing techniques like, “please” “thank you”, “you’re welcome” or even some of the more difficult actions such as Smiling, eye contact and good old sincerity…
The only person I know who says “you’re welcome Peter” when I say thank you to them is my girlfriends’ three year old niece, go figure.
I think what we need to understand is that any of these things used on their own don’t really cut the mustard, don’t get me wrong some service is better than no service but even when you do get the occasional thank you from the person serving you, how often is it actually made sincere with eye contact and a smile? Unfortunately these days more often than not, it just isn’t.
For anybody outside Australia reading this I am not sure if you are going through the same trends as we are here, but there is currently a big push from the heads of large corporations going undercover and posing as either customers or employees and seeing how the companies are being portrayed out there in the pointy end of the market.
Not surprisingly some of the results are pretty scary… rude employees, bad customer service, etc. but more than that, it has been a big wake up call for a lot of the company heads and they are realising that they have actually lost touch with the most important money making aspect of their business… the actual customer and the service they are receiving.
Think back over the last twelve months. I bet everyone reading this article has several stories about how they have received poor customer service. How many of you have stories about exceptional customer service you have received? Not just the type of service that made it ok to leave a tip, but service that made you call for the manager and congratulate them on their staff or actually made you sit down a couple of days later and write a letter about the exceptional service you have received. Unfortunately I think the second list of stories will be a damn site shorter than the first one.
This isn’t me pointing the finger in any one particular direction either, I think the majority of us are guilty of this type of behavior, not bad service but just not good service! We live in a society that is rushed, we want everything yesterday only have 5 minutes to perform a ten minute task and we cut out the niceties of human interaction… We have been talking about the service we receive, but what about the behavior we offer, as customers.
We talk about the people serving us but when conversing with people in this manner, as the customer, do we always offer them the courtesy of manners or is this lack of communication skills coming from both sides of the fence? Next time you are out and about listen to the service being offered by both parties, make up your own mind…
Now, customer service is not just as simple as please and thank you, although that is a great start. It about the little things and the way we interact and ask questions. It’s even as simple as actions like the way we give change to a customer.
When you hand someone their change you should place the coins in the palm of their extended hand and then pass them the notes so they can hold them with their finger tips…
If you don’t do this, and just put the coins on top of the notes the recipient has to juggle change from one hand to the next or put the money back on the counter and is made to feel awkward. They also take longer to leave the counter and allow the next customer to be served.
As you place the coins in the palm of someone’s hand, generally, they will look up at you and this is when you have the ideal opportunity to look them in the eye and thank them…
So just by performing this very simple everyday task in the correct manner, what are the advantages and who benefits…
1. We speed things up for the customer being served because it’s a quicker process and they are not made to feel awkward.
2. The customer behind them loves it because they get served quicker.
3. The actual company gains benefit because service time is quicker and overall probably means less staffing costs.
4. The actual action of placing coins into the hand means there is personal contact, when the fingers tips touch the palm of someone’s hand. Not in a sleazy way but pleasant human interaction, almost like a handshake.
5. People feel they are being served by professional friendly people and are more likely to return in the future.
There is nothing wiz bang about this idea or even new, but how many people working in the customer service industry have been taught how to do it? How many of them have even been supported in the correct manner by the company they work for and trained properly in the art of customer service.
Nearly everybody out there has trained for their profession in one way or another. I bet in these large companies, you know the ones we talked about earlier who are trying the whole mystery customer things. I bet, all of the managers have been on team building weekends, or time management courses that has cost the company thousands of dollars, but when was the last time the company invested in a simple customer service refresher course for the front line service staff… the ones who actually handle the company’s finances, literally?
Just a couple of thoughts…