In today’s competitive economy, good service is nice but, it will not keep customers from looking at your competition. You need awesome, incredible and WOW service consistently. I want to share several critical steps necessary to create a service culture with good customer service skills so every employee knows the “Customer Is King.”
Step One: Drive this strategically. Money will flow from the skies if you master a customer service strategy. Too many CEO’s simply give lip service to customer service. Too many HR people think it is training and have no urgency plus they are too involved in internal politics. The real objective should be to have rapid growth to crush your competition so that you own the market. Look at Apple. Apple owns the market. I just came back from Russia. While there, I observed that the leaders in government and private business are mainly using Apple products. Make your goal to be the first choice provider of your product and service.
Step Two: Eliminate the dumb rules, policies and procedures you have in place that upset customers. Most organizations eliminate 99% of their prospects to make sure that one percent of themdo not take advantage of them. They throw the baby out with the bath water. Most companies tend to increase overhead and hire people to enforce the stupid rules and employees LOVE rules and policies. They tend to look for great people to enforce dumb rules. Eliminate dumb rules and make it easy to do business with you. Focus on convenience and customer experience improvement.
Step Three: Be careful to hire people for attitudes first. Do not hire employees that hate customers. Hire 1 out of 100. All service leaders are very careful who they hire. Anyone can learn the skills, but attitudes are harder to change. Remember, once you have an employee that has a bad attitude it takes a lot of work and time to get rid of them.
Step Four: Master empowerment with EVERYONE. All employees must be able to make fast, empowered decisions in favor of the customer. If you have overhappy customers your competition does not have a chance. Of all subjects I teach empowerment is the most difficult skill and attitude to teach and get employees to use. I estimate that over 90% of empowered decisions cost less than $50 and have a huge emotional impact on the customer. Teach your employees to say “YES”.
Step Five: Train everyone on a part of customer service at least every 4 months. During the last 20 years the effort to educate the staff has failed in probably 99% of organizations. Everyone buys or creates one program they provide for their employees every 5 -10 years. They actually expect a 24 year-old to change their habits and become perfect for the rest of their life because they went through 4 or 8 hours of training on some aspect of customer service. SQI has a 3 year service culture plan that saves over 50% off the normal retail prices and puts your company on a sensible schedule to educate and guide your employees to change their attitudes and develop their skills in customer service.
Step Six: Create an organization with Speed. Do everything 10 times faster than your competition. Amazon built a company around Speed. In 2011 they had a 41% increase in sales to $48 billion. In 2010 they had only a 40% increase. Why not focus on Speed? The problem is two-fold. The first problem is that employees have a slow mindset. Typically, if they have 3 days to get it done they wait until the 3rd day to start. A good example of a company that embodies speed and great service is Amazon. I just ordered a large computer monitor for a friend on Saturday from Amazon and it was delivered on Tuesday. I had great prices, free shipping and speed. The second problem most companies face is stupid policies and rules that are not needed and that slow everything down. They cost money and often have no value except to top management.
Step Seven: Master Service Recovery. All of us make mistakes. It’s inevitable. So, when you or someone in your organization screws up… master service recovery. I estimate that at most 1% of organizations in the US and world use service recovery. The magic is in what a front line employee does. It is more powerful, less costly and keeps your customer. In my seminars, books, and training programs I teach four steps.
- Act Quickly
- Take Responsibility.
- Be Empowered
ALL four steps have to be used in 60 seconds or less.
Step Eight: Measure and inspect what you are doing. All service leaders know the financial impact of inspecting what you expect. If you are willing to commit to the time and money necessary to accomplish these eight steps you will increase revenue. You will increase your market share. You will keep and expand your customer base and build a brand around a service strategy. Your goal should be to crush your competition. Be another Amazon or Apple.