In 1979 I saw firms spending a fortune on advertising trying to bring in new customers, but when they walked in the door employees hit them on the head with baseball bats (figuratively) driving them away. My concept was that if you loved the customer, and treated them like a king or queen business would soar.
The world’s first customer service program, our flagship Feelings program, was released in January 1980. It was designed so it could be implemented in hundreds of locations simultaneously, and be facilitated by customer driven employees. As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, customer service training creates customer service cultures in organizations.
Despite being released over 30 years ago, the level of today’s customer service at times seems as bad as it was in 1979 and that was 34 years ago. It seems everyone talks about customer service and most US CEO’s believe their customer service is awesome, but what customers really think about customer service is very different.
The Six Skills Successful Frontline Employees Must Have
There are six skills all employees need to master to improve the customer experience. Knowing these skills and execution is the difference between winning and losing.
1. Feel Good About Yourself. Help employees to focus on personal excellence and believe in themselves. If an employee feels good about themselves they communicate it on the job. Most employees have personal problems that make their day very difficult. Employees that feel good and feel good about themselves love going to work and are far more productive. Not enough executives understand why this is so important.
2. Practice Habits of Courtesy. It only takes a few seconds for a customer to feel appreciated. It takes seconds for an employee to communicate they care. It doesn’t matter if this is on the phone, email or in person.
3. Positive Communications both verbal and nonverbal. Do you smile? This is so simple but often so rare. I have spent the last 2 weeks in Russia and the Ukraine. In Russia it seems like there is a law against smiling. It appears that the world has just come to an end. Do you call the customer by name? A customer can read your body language and tell how you feel. It takes only 1-3 seconds to smile and say something specific to the customer. You could go to any High School or University for the rest of your life and none of these sills will ever be taught. The best retailer in the US to observe great service like this is Apple. They are consistently awesome and they reap the benefits. Apple has the highest sales per square foot of $7000. Now, that’s awesome!
4. Perform. Do what you said you are going to do. You can be the nicest employee in the world but if you do not deliver on what you promise customer service sucks. Speed is part of this. If you promise to call someone at 9 am …call. If you promise to ship on Tuesday… ship on Tuesday.
5. Listen. How often when you call a firm and give them your name do they ask you 30 seconds later for your name? The reason is very few employees really listen and tune in to the answer. Listen to what the customer is telling you not for what you want to hear. Re-phrase what you thought you heard to make sure you really listened to the customer.
6. Learn About Your Products and Services. A customer-driven employee learns everything he or she can about your products and services. I can tell in seconds if an employee knows what they are talking about. Instead of watching TV or going out with friends, spend time developing you and becoming more valuable. Learn everything there is about your organization. Be ready to fill in for any position. This is how you Move Up.
In 1980 the Feelings program had 3 audio tapes. Today we have 6 versions of Feelings, all video based:
- Service Retail
- Professional environment
- Health care facilities
- Higher education
All of these videos help the frontline employees in these industries use the 6 skills above.