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Service with a Smile

customer service

Customer service training is one of the smartest investments a company can make…

Ever talked to a phone representative who was anything but helpful? Or asked a retail employee for help only to feel like you are inconveniencing them? As the old saying goes, good help is hard to find.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With proper training, companies can make sure their employees provide service with a smile—and make customers smile in return.

 

Customer Service as a Key Value

Consider customer service as an ongoing process, not just a one-time training, similar to the approach used by Quicken Loans. “Quicken Loans’ culture is built on core values that every team member is encouraged to conduct themselves by every day. One key value is serving ‘every client, every time, no exceptions, no excuses,’” says the Quicken Loans Training team. “Our Assurance team, which more than doubled in size in 2012, ensures team members have the skills needed to uphold this by providing ongoing coaching and positive enforcement when team members are speaking with clients. The key to training top bankers is reinforcing their skills and letting them know we care by not only highlighting the things they do RIGHT, but providing constructive criticism when they fall short on delivering excellent client service.”

The company also uses client feedback to provide insight into areas where they can improve. “Any time we receive feedback from one of our clients, we analyze the type of comments we receive for trends that then can be solved,” the Training team notes.

 

How to Measure Successful Service

To gain a client-based perspective, U.S. Security Associates, Inc. utilizes detailed customer feedback surveys that specifically address levels of customer service satisfaction. “To increase our overall performance, we must be able to identify the improvement opportunities available, as well as the successes we have achieved,” says Jonathan Jones, manager of organizational development. “Measurement is foundational to our goal setting and organizational accomplishment. The primary metrics the company correlates with customer service training include client retention, additional service requests by current clients, and client referrals.

“We also conduct client meetings on a weekly basis,” says Jones. “The client meetings and evaluation process are designed to measure how well our customer service and performance is meeting our clients’ ever-changing needs.”

 

service with a smile

Committing to Superior Customer Service

Treating customer service as an essential commitment is another way to increase the satisfaction of your customers. At Vi, an operator of continuing care retirement communities and home health care, all new employees receive a service commitment handbook and training is reinforced during the orientation period through classroom learning, online courses, and custom videos. In addition, Vi provides annual customer service training to all employees and offers service refresher training on professional telephone skills, managing difficult conversations, maximizing resident engagement, and resolving resident issues and concerns.

James Edwartoski, executive director, Vi at Aventura, points to the company’s customer service recognition program, which he says was a direct outcome from Vi’s 2010 employee satisfaction survey. “Employees have received this program with enthusiasm, and they feel they have a much more direct impact on how employees are recognized for customer service,” he notes.

 

Multifaceted Customer Service Solutions

The Rollins Corporation provides its subsidiary, Orkin, with training curricula in which customer service training is not just a stand-alone topic, but is part of the fabric of almost all field training programs. “One of the most successful customer service training programs in 2012 was the Orkin Promise, which was required training for all service employees,” says Training Director Craig Goodwin. “The Orkin Promise was a blended solution consisting of a 20-minute video-on-demand, featuring Orkin’s president and a fully scripted manager-led lesson, allowing the location manager to provide the corporate message while localizing content to meet specific service protocols.”

The Orkin Promise focuses on four areas of customer service that customers said have the greatest impact on their satisfaction and loyalty:

  1. Showing respect
  2. Accepting responsibility
  3. Delivering effective service
  4. Communicating effectively

Jiffy Lube International uses a similarly multifaceted approach to train employees in the art of customer service. “We incorporate customer service into every training course. We try to emphasize the customer, not the vehicle. Changing the focus has helped us change the culture at JL,” says Manager of Training and Development Kenneth Barber. “Jiffy Lube conducts thousands of mystery shops and customer phone surveys every month. The data is collected and tracked monthly, quarterly, and annually.

 

How to Start

If you want a stronger focus on customer service, start with these tips:

  • Measure your employees’ level of customer service via customer feedback on surveys, through email or with forms.
  • Use the expertise of successful customer service-oriented employees, encouraging them to mentor co-workers.
  • Make customer service a key part of your new hire training, asking all employees to make a commitment to providing a high level of service. Consider creating a form they have to read and sign stating their promise to exceed customer expectations as part of their employment requirements.
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Which is more important? Customer Experience (CX) or Employee Experience (EX)

Many professionals would argue that both are important. So is this a trick question? Which experience should take precedence?

It turns out companies with a balanced emphasis on the customer and the employee’s experiences position themselves in the sweet spot with the most potential for exceptional results.

It is difficult to provide a positive customer experience when the employee experience is negative. Unhappy employees don’t usually bring their best effort to the job. And that can adversely affect the customer experience.

So start from the inside and work your way out. Start by focusing on the employee experience. Then move quickly to the customer experience and create a balance where both are kept as top priorities.

Employee Experience

What’s at stake with the employee experience? If employees hate their job, their negative attitude will affect every aspect of their performance…which includes dealing with customers. If they dislike their job enough to quit, you will spend more of your valuable time and energy recruiting new help and then training and onboarding them.

On the other hand, if an employee has a positive and rewarding work environment they are more likely to be happier and perform better. It’s a proven fact that happy employees do better work.

Ask yourself this question…Why would someone want to work for our company?

It goes to the way employees are treated, but also directly ties to customer experience. Without happy employees you will not have engaged employees. And a lack of engagement can impact customer experience. Take a look at the list of the best places to work for and the companies with the best customer service and you are guaranteed to see an overlap.

 

Customer Experience

We all know negative news spreads faster than positive news, especially now with the prevalence of social media. If a customer has a poor experience, not only will they never return but they are more than likely going to leave a negative review, which will keep others from ever giving you a shot.

Customers are more than happy to tell friends, family, or anyone who will listen to avoid your business.

On the other hand, if a customer has a positive experience, they’ll become a repeat customer. In turn, they will refer others to you, which is the best kind of advertising!

Ask yourself this…Why should someone do business with me?

What makes us better than our competition? What do we do differently…and does it affect customer experience?

Finding Balance

What is happening on the inside of a company can definitely be felt on the outside by customers. But as much as you focus on creating a positive customer service experience, the same effort needs to be made to enhance the working environment for employees.

 

 

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How Social Media Can Enhance the Customer Experience

With the explosion of social media, customer service is more important than ever and businesses are taking steps to create memorable “customer experiences”.

Social media has put the power back in the hands of the customers and given them a voice to share their experiences. Companies now have huge opportunities to build relationships with their customers through multiple social media channels.

According to Dan Gingiss, podcaster and author of the new book Winning At Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, customer experience is how people feel about every interaction they have with a company. A customer who has a bad experience at a store or restaurant can quickly take a picture or video of the incident and share it on social media, which can create a firestorm of negative publicity for the company. Conversely, positive experiences can lead to great growth and promotion for a brand.

Walk a Mile in their Shoes

In order to best utilize the power of social media for customer experience, companies need to put themselves in the customer’s shoes by walking through their store, website, or service with the eyes of a customer. Observing things that happen from a customer’s point of view can reveal the challenges and roadblocks in the path and what it means to be a customer of your company. The key to a good customer experience is fluidity—everything should be smooth for the customer and work together to create a cohesive experience for them.

Social media also allows brands to be more authentic and transparent. Today’s customers can see right through automated responses and canned replies; the best way to reach out to people is to take the time to connect with them and build a relationship of trust and authenticity. Customer experience has changed greatly with the growth of social media, and it plays an important role in reaching out to customers and starting a conversation with them. In the future, customer experience will become the major differentiator between brands, so it will be more important than ever to provide customers with a high-quality, seamless experience.

Javed Matin, a sales and marketing consultant, adds: “Companies that truly understand social media are also truly customer-centric.  They understand the real needs of their customers and treat them like family. Social media is like talking to your mother: you can’t get away with anything, so you better be truthful.”

Do Your Research

Social media can also be a useful research tool for understanding the problems in the customer journey and an opportunity for improving the customer experience. Involve yourself in the numerous conversations on social media featuring your brand and turn that data into a research opportunity, highlighting customer grievances and what you can do to stop them from happening.

You can learn a lot from social media, including understanding your audience. Online conversations are a great tool for uncovering consumer insights and social media research allows you to ask interesting questions to get an in-depth look at your audience.

 

Get Creative

Think about the customer experience of following your brand on social media. If all a customer sees is a stream of advertisements, it distracts from the genuineness of your brand. Use a mix of content: share information from other sites, company news and culture, ask questions, be interesting, and have a personality.

 

Customers are people, just like us. Follow the golden rule: treat them how you want to be treated. Only then will you experience success in both social media growth as well as customer experience.

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