Today, every company promises to provide us with “<insert adjective> customer service.” At its most basic level, we can assume it means they’ll help us find what we need and, when something goes wrong, they’ll make it right. But difference-making customer service that builds an ongoing relationship is so very much more than that.
What is Customer Service?
Customer service is not a transaction. It’s not about following a roadmap of policies and procedures that all lead to the same rainbow. It’s about creating and nurturing a culture of accountability and empathy where everyone, at all levels, is passionate about listening, understanding and responding to the needs of each and every customer. 80% of the time, by following your regular policies and procedures, your well-trained customer service team will easily satisfy their customers. But what about the other 20%— the place in time where your team’s personal accountability can make, or break, the entire relationship with your customer?
Embrace the Opportunity to Make it Right
We have more choices than ever before. When we feel someone doesn’t care, it’s easy to find someone else who says they do. But starting over is not always easy or satisfying, and finding that company you can always count on is important. So when your customers let you know that they’re not happy, embrace the opportunity and delight them with an experience that makes your relationship even stronger than it was before the problem existed.
Think with Accountability
Teach your team to ask questions that lead to empathetic solutions, not excuses. If the first thought that pops into their heads begins with blame like “Why didn’t they read the details?”, “It’s the carrier’s fault” or “Why didn’t they tell us?”, change it! Teach team members to ask themselves “I” questions such as “What can I do to turn this around?”, “What solution can I offer?” or “What can I do to make a difference?” All it takes to provide great service is discipline, understanding and practice, practice, practice. Like beauty, good customer service is in the eye of the beholder. If you engage and energize your people and live and breathe a culture of personal accountability, you can’t help but create a memorable experience that builds lasting relationship with your customers.
My Relationship Building Favorites:
Book: “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability in Work and in Life” is a must read. Each of our team supervisors has a well-worn copy!
Blogs: GiveMore.com (212° the extra degree!) and sethgodin.typepad.com