Canadian Vending

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Top 7 reasons customer service slides


September 3, 2014
By Jeff Mowatt

Topics

Sept. 3, 2014 – As managers we often focus on gaining new customers. Ironically, that’s the
last thing we should focus on.

Sept. 3, 2014 – When I’m
asked to speak at conferences on how managers can boost business, they often
assume we’re going to focus on gaining new customers. Ironically, that’s the
last thing we should focus on.

Neglecting
existing customers to chase new business is akin to gathering water in the
proverbial leaky bucket. We can exhaust ourselves trying to collect more water
when we’d be further ahead by simply fixing the holes. The more sustainable
approach to growing business is ensuring existing customers are so thrilled
that they’ll not only return but also recommend you to new potential customers.
The challenge is that, without proper attention, customer satisfaction often
atrophies. To ensure that doesn’t happen in your organization, consider these
top seven ways managers and staff let customer service slide.

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1.  Assuming customers notice good service

They don’t.
Customers are too busy and distracted by their mobile devices to notice when
service is merely good. Employees need to provide service that’s remarkable.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean working harder. It just means choosing words
more carefully. Compare “Do you want us to deliver it?” with “Would it be
helpful if we delivered that for you to save you a trip?” The second phrase
didn’t take more work, yet the wording made the offer more noticeable.

2.
Establishing Customer Service as a department

If you set up
a customer-service department, it by default means other employees will assume
that taking care of customers isn’t their job. That means employees end up
redirecting customer concerns when they should be addressing problems
themselves.

3. Measuring
sales versus satisfaction

It’s
tempting for managers to evaluate the business by focusing on monthly or annual
revenues. That’s fine for measuring how the organization has been doing up till
now. But the factor that determines how the business will do in the future is
not sales; it’s customer satisfaction. Sales measures success today. Customer
satisfaction predicts how you’ll do tomorrow.

4. Rewarding
longevity over service

It’s fine to
have service awards for long-term employees. However, length of service isn’t
nearly as important as quality of service. Customer-service cultures that
thrive are those where recognition is focused more on internal and external
customer service than on just showing up.

5. Training
focuses on technical versus interpersonal skills

The term
“soft skill” somehow implies that customer communication skills aren’t nearly
as substantive as technical skills. The irony is that customers take for
granted that employees have basic technical skills. What customers do notice
are the interpersonal and communication skills employees use to interact with
them. Technical skills deliver the work. Soft skills create the customer
relationship.
 

6. Lack of
recovery skills

When
customer service training consists of providing customers with information,
performing transactions and being polite, that skill set will take the employee
as far as the nearest foul-up. If employees aren’t trained on how to interact
with customers when things go wrong, then they’re not fully trained.
Ironically, customers don’t notice (or appreciate) your service when everything
goes well. The time when they actually notice and judge you is when things go
wrong. That’s why, of all the customer-service skills you can provide, those
that get you the fastest return on investment are recovery skills.

7. Lack of
reinforcement

Without
regular reminders and reinforcement, employees revert back to old habits of
focusing more on transactions than on customers. That’s why we advocate a
three-phase approach to building a customer-focused culture. Phase 1 is conducting
a customized customer-service seminar – including recovery skills – that we
film to serve as an orientation for new hires. In Phase 2 we provide employees
with monthly bulletins and biweekly tips. And finally, for Phase 3, we teach
managers how to stage their own regular CAST (Customer Service Team) meetings
so they can continue to train employees in-house and adapt to changing customer
needs. That way you’ll convert a one-time customer-service training event into
an ongoing continuous improvement process.

Jeff Mowatt is a customer-service
strategist, award-winning speaker, and bestselling author. For more tips,
training tools or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit
www.JeffMowatt.com .