Customer service is an interesting aspect of any business. Whether you call it inside sales or customer care, your frontline employee may have the most difficult job in the company. Do you find that your most difficult customers and situations are handled by your least trained and lowest paid employees first? Have you ever cringed when listening to one of your frontline people on the phone? Do you find your staff to be too strict with the policies or too loose?
I recently interviewed Anne MacKeigan, Sandler trainer and author of the Sandler book, Customer Service the Sandler Way, on the how to succeed podcast about how to succeed at customer service. Anne wrote 48 rules for Strategic Customer Care, and here are a few of my favorites.
The Goldilocks Principle
Customer service is about getting things just right. You don’t want your people to be too hot or too cold, too hard or too soft. Make sure you look to hire people with the right balance, but also demonstrate and train appropriate customer care. One of the easiest ways to make sure you get it right is to ask the customer before committing to any course of action.
Set Clear Customer Service Expectations
Expectations are the cause of positive or negative customer services experiences. You don’t expect a valet at McDonalds, so you are not disappointed when it is lacking. Setting clear expectations with your staff and clients can help you deliver exceptional customer care. Your employees will find it easier to exceed your client’s expectations and yours if they know what they are.
Check for Icebergs
The problems you see are probably ten times as bad as you think because you only see the top 10% of the iceberg. The disappointment, fear, and other emotional problems with the client are often hidden under the surface. At the same time, only 10% of your customers may actually bring a problem to your attention. The others just leave never to return. Inspect your icebergs and take action to resolve the real issues.
Check for a Bias Toward Action
Great customer service people take personal responsibility and take action. Bad reps will say things like, “That’s not my department.” Look for a bias toward action in your employees, and look out for a tendency to make excuses. Neither you nor your clients want to hear an excuse about why expectations were not met, what you both love to hear is that someone is already on it!
Click here to Anne MacKeigan’s book: Customer Service the Sandler Way.