Blog

hello
6 Characteristics of Great Customer Service

In order to be successful at any endeavor, one has to identify the essentials required to accomplish that feat. It’s the same in customer service. What essentials are required to create great customer experiences which lead to maximum customer retention? I’ll give you six characteristics that I feel are key ingredients.

Reliability – Customers expect product/service providers to be dependable and accurate during interactions. Take your home electricity – as long as you pay the bill you expect the lights to come on when you flip that switch. Do customers consider your organization to be reliable? Are you rated high for dependability? Can your customers trust that you will do what you say you will do? These are key factors to providing a great customer experience.

Competence – This characteristic measures knowledge and skill level in regards to one’s product/services. If you surveyed your customer, what would they say about the level of competency exhibited by those within your organization? Internet access allows today’s customer to gain knowledge about yours and your competitor’s organization. Once the interaction begins, will your customer know more about your products/services than front line personnel and others within your organization? Make sure that everyone within your organization is a product/service expert in order to receive a high rating for competency.

Responsiveness – When customers enter your brick and mortar location, call on the phone, email or initiate a web chat, how long does it take for someone to acknowledge their presence? One of the most dreaded customer experiences is waiting to be serviced or even just to be acknowledged! How long are your customers waiting for service? When issues arise, how long before the situation is addressed and a resolution provided to the customer? The responsiveness clock is ticking in your customer’s head while waiting to be serviced or to receive a reply to inquiry.

Courtesy – In my opinion, this one is the easiest characteristics to exhibit. If there is one thing that we can all control is our ability to be kind and polite. All customers deserve common courtesy. Courtesy goes a long way with customers, especially when they’re unhappy with your product/service. Body language and facial expressions also contribute to the courtesy factor. What score will your customer contact personnel receive for courtesy?

Credibility – Can your customer deem your organization as credible? This characteristic is an image builder. We’re taking about trustworthiness here! Does your performance match what you advertise? Does your organization deliver on its promises? Choosing to take the steps necessary to ensure credibility helps to create a reputation for believability. One act by one person which puts your organization’s credibility into question can be an image killer. Protect your organization’s future by insisting that everyone perform their duties in a manner that passes the credibility test.

Consistency – This is the glue that holds it all together. Consistency creates long term customers. Consider this – If your organization is consistently reliable, competent, responsive, courteous and credible, you’re probably providing many great customer experiences. Consistency means establishing a pattern of behavior. Does your customer’s rating of your organization indicate a pattern of great behavior in regards to the customer experience? Can your customer depend upon your organization to provide a high level of service every time they choose to utilize your products/services? The ability to intermittently exercise the five aforementioned characteristics will not help in your quest to provide great customer service. When consistency is added, long term retention is usually the result.

I’ll say it again – Be Consistently Reliable, Competent, Responsive, Courteous and Credible. Exercising these characteristics will assist your organization in its quest to provide great customer experiences!

0

read more
hello
3 Words New Employees Should Avoid

While assisting my wife in preparing for one of her workshops, it became apparent that a few more seats were needed. As I was familiar with this location, I proceeded to the storage room to retrieve the chairs but found the door locked. While speaking with the new receptionist in regards to gaining access to the storage room, she utilized the three words new employees should avoid – “I’m new here and I have no idea where the keys are located.” When one finds him or herself in the position of a new employee, it’s important to refrain from using these three words. Let’s talk about why.

Does Anyone Really Need To Know? – I have often heard supervisors or employers apologizing for the actions of an employee by stating – “I’m sorry, but he/she is new here.” Does the customer really need to know that and furthermore do they really care? Customers are usually unconcerned about a service provider’s tenure with an organization. As we’ve all been that “new employee”, there are times when one may not know the necessary actions to take to handle a particular situation. The apprehension felt by a new employee when presented with a situation for which we may not have an immediate resolution can be overwhelming. It’s important to maintain your composure and do what the veteran employees do – Stall! Ask the customer to allow you a few minutes to get the answer, develop a resolution, etc. Most people are understanding and will grant your request. The customer does not have to know that you’re new and you might even impress your supervisor/manager by taking the necessary actions to provide the best solution. In my example at the beginning of this article, the receptionist could have stated “Sure sir, let me locate those keys.” As she is the receptionist and is responsible for incoming calls, I understood that she was unable to leave the front desk. It would have been okay with me if she had called another employee to assist in locating the keys.

It Sounds Like An Excuse – When a new employee uses the three words “I’m new here” it may be perceived by the customer as an excuse for not being fully prepared to provide a great experience. The organization has a responsibility to provide comprehensive training to new employees which should assist in instilling confidence. Even when equipped with the best training, there will moments when new employees will either “go blank” (a temporary memory lapse) or just have no idea what to do in a given situation. In either case, it’s real easy to resort to that old standby – “I’m new here.” I suggest that one not get into the habit of using these three words as it usually results in a supervisor or manager intervening to provide whatever is needed for that particular situation. Pretty soon everyone grows weary from a new employee’s usage of those three words. Watch, listen and learn from more tenured staff as they handle various situations.

Their Confidence Is At Stake – Should a new employee decide to utilize the dreaded three words in an attempt to garner a customer’s sympathy, it most often results in a blow to the employee’s confidence. Usually, utilization of these words really means “I don’t know what I’m doing.” It’s important for new employees to gain and maintain confidence as quickly as possible. Repeated exposure to situations and scenarios that new employees are ill-equipped to handle can lead to a loss of confidence and increased anxiety or frustration. It doesn’t feel good to be face to face or on the phone with a customer when one is not prepared to provide a great customer experience. Make sure new employees are placed in areas where they can experience early success with customer interactions. Otherwise, sooner or later, someone will surely resort to “Sorry, but I’m new here.“

New employees are dependent upon the organization for proper product/service knowledge training. The use of “I’m new here.” is a sure sign that the employee may not yet be comfortable in their role. Remind new employees to ask themselves before using those three words – Does Anyone Really Need To Know? Remind them that It Sounds Like An Excuse when advising customers that “I’m new here.” Make sure they are properly trained because Their Confidence Is At Stake.

0

read more
hello
Six Words To Avoid in Customer Service

The are many ways to antagonize a customer – poor service, less than stellar product or the failure to keep the customer abreast of changes that impact the customer experience among others. One sure way to get on the customer’s “bad side” is to use these dreaded words during interactions – “Sir/Ma’am – What you need to do is….” I have witnessed (both face to face and phone interactions) customers becoming agitated upon hearing those words! There have been instances where the words were not meant in a condescending manner – the customer service person may have been simply attempting to provide directions or perhaps trying to give instructions while assisting the customer in resolving an issue – the outcome was the same nonetheless. The customer was offended by being told “What you need to do is…” Now some may say that perhaps the customer was a little too sensitive, but one must remember that some people are sensitive!

When providing your customer with information or instructions, word usage is important to the outcome of the interaction. Utilize the “ask or suggest/not tell” method of communication. From my own personal experience in the customer service industry, the need to choose one’s words carefully can prevent the creation of a sub par customer experience. Instead of saying to a customer “What you need to do is get a pen and some paper to write down this information.” try asking ” Do you have a pen and some paper available sir/ma’am? I would like to provide you with some information that will help you with this situation.” The initial statement may be vocalized with no harm intended, but most adults would rather not be told what they need to do! Exercise extra caution here when the customer is angry or complaining. Utilization of our featured statement may only lead to big trouble when the customer is upset or unhappy with your product or services.

It’s important to stay on the offensive when providing customer service. Effective communication is a critical component in your customer service toolbox. One’s ability to establish rapport with the customer rests on making the decision to communicate in a friendly, yet professional manner. The wrong choice of words can quickly put you in a defensive mode where you’ll find yourself attempting to explain to the customer and or someone within your organization (supervisor, upper management) what you really meant! When attempting to point your customer in the right direction, use suggestive language such as “May I suggest that you….. or “In order for me to assist you with this issue may I ask you to…… . Such language is hard to be construed as confrontational by the customer. Oftentimes, our word choice can be the difference in our provision of a great customer experience. Every customer deserves a measure of respect, therefore it’s important to ensure that the customer feels that you’re providing assistance versus their being a lecture recipient. Be conscious of how you provide assistance and be sure to stay away from the dreaded six words – What you need to do is….

0

read more
hello
Team Effort at the Resort

During the Christmas holidays, my wife and I took a quick weekend trip to Lakeway Resort & Spa located in the hills of Austin, Tx. The resort allows for a great view of Lake Travis and is absolutely beautiful at night! From the moment of our arrival until our departure, the service was impeccable. Beginning with the spotless parking lot and the greeting at the resort entrance, I felt that we might be in for some extraordinary customer service. Marcus Davis at the front desk provided great check-in service. He advised us of the facility’s amenities, evening events and patiently answered my wife’s questions. Service during the happy hour was provided with a touch of class. After our arrival, we took a self guided tour of the resort. Every resort associate that we encountered wore smiles and proactively offered assistance! The outdoors fireplace was an added attraction on a brisk winter night. During checkout, I asked if the manager was available as I wanted to bring awareness to how a customer feels about the level of we experienced during our stay. Front office manager Jon Moser appeared and was thoroughly grateful when advised of how pleased we were with the level of customer service. When you combine the physical facilities with the great customer service, it’s just fitting that Lakeway Resort and Spa is the January 2013 recipient of my “Now That’s Customer Service!” Award. Great job guys!

0

read more