Why is it that when we start talking about customer service that everyone perks up with a story? And whether the experience is about a product or service, it’s the experience with that product or service that we discuss. “Oh my goodness, listen to this one…..”
People are so willing to communicate their most fabulous or most horrendous experiences. We find solidarity in our customer service moments; those of neglect, lack of courtesy, ineptitude of training. We rave of exceptional experiences and speak with passion and dramatic flair, “You simply must go….”
In conversations, the essence of customer service seems simplistic, even elementary in nature. We can express eloquently how we want it delivered and how others should provide it. We want to receive it. We agree there is a need for it. And yet, when lacking, sub-par, inconsistent and non-existent, we become personally affronted.
I recently spoke at FABTECH on How to Deviate from the Process to Deliver Superb Customer Service. The dialogue suggested a proactive approach; establishing processes and knowing when a practice might be hindering business operations or the client experience. During the workshop, one of the attendees communicated, “my company believes whole heartedly that they are customer-centric, when in reality they are production driven.”
For an automation trade show, this statement didn’t come as a surprise. Developing product is what these companies do. We typically don’t associate manufacturing with hospitality or client engagement. It was refreshing to converse on how to humanize production. I was impressed by the exchange and the intent to enhance their customer experience; the distributors and suppliers that move product to the shelves we shop. How to provide deliberate communications and set expectations were the most prevalent concerns.
It reinforces, no matter the industry, customer service is a hot topic. It’s like food and water. We want it. We crave it. We need it. But, how do we provide it? How often do we forget why we are in business? Why is it when it comes to customer service, we often forget that the guest, the client, the customer; however, one might label their patrons, that these purchasers of goods and services are the life blood and the reasons our companies exist?
And I love to have this conversation near the holidays because as Q4 comes to an end, no matter the industry, we try to squeeze in as much production, shipment, services, or sales as possible. We push for a year-end number. We’re wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the season. We’re in a rush. Expediting operations becomes the concentration, and we can forget why client engagement is so paramount. We become “me” focused, and the goal becomes to move the line. Yet, are we grateful the line is there in the first place? (Business plug, if you’re relating and need help, let’s connect.) How are we expressing gratitude to our clients? How do we show appreciation to the teams who deliver those exceptional moments?
Operations and client engagement work in concert. The businesses that operate with this in mind, creating positive interactions and memorable moments, discover a sustainable path to success. As the holiday season arrives, consider this:
Does your team focus on being customer-centric or production driven?
This season FOUR STEPS to provide consistent customer service.
- Review Your WHY.
Does your team know your company mission? Do you talk about it? Do you consistently operate to keep the mission in mind? The company values should be the backbone and artery for every operational decision. It should be a force that makes client engagement thrive. Know your purpose. Never stray from it.
- Communicate the WHY to the team.
Consistent client engagement is the result of consistently communicating the mission and expectations to the team. Our staff cannot deliver great experiences unless we train, provide the resources to deliver, set expectations and hold the them accountable. Be specific on expectations. Make customer service a non-negotiable and a MUST Do.Exceptional client engagement happens when we connect on a personal level. The exchange is remembered because what was delivered exceeded expectations. There’s emotion attached to it. Encourage your staff to be in-service for the client. How? Give eye contact. Tailor the experience to the client. Learn about a client need and go above and beyond what’s requested. Add a special touch that communicates, “I’m looking out for you. I’ve got your back.”3. Be thankful (to your team and your clientele).
When you see any team member deliver on your WHY, express gratitude. Thank them for building your brand and creating an avenue for client loyalty. Celebrate it. Reward it. Then pat yourself on the back for training your staff appropriately.
Remember that we are in business because of the client. Show appreciation to your clients. Thank them for their loyalty. Thank them for their patience. Thank them for referrals. Thank them for future patronage. Let them know they are valued. Show them how they are valued through consistent and exceptional client engagement.
4. Live in this space.
Stop making it because it’s Thanksgiving or 4th Quarter. Stop restarting or making resolutions to start at the new year or when it feels right or might be a better time. Decide. Commit. Live in Gratitude.
This season may you discover the power of gratitude and appreciation in all things. This season be thankful for the vendors and suppliers that support your business. Be thankful for the clients, the customers, the guests who support your income. Revisit your WHY to remain client-centric. Remain ever thankful to the frontline staff who make those memorable moments happen. This season discover the ability to live in this space.
May you have a season of blessings this holiday and throughout the new year.