There’s never been a time when great customer service mattered more than it does now.
The economy is faltering, consumer confidence is down, and the customers who are buying have scores of choices of where to buy and how to buy.
And now, almost every product and service out there has been “commoditized” so it’s hard to determine who actually offers the best value (and so, many people just shop based on price alone.)
If you are looking to remain competitive (and who isn’t?) it’s more important than ever to differentiate your company from all the others. It’s critical to make sure that your whole value proposition is clear and is consistently delivered in a way that delights and even surprises your customers.
This gets done two ways.
The first is through a positive customer focused company culture that values, supports and nurtures relationships. The second is from the personal commitment and determination of the people that take care of the customers every day.
When customer facing people choose in every interaction to provide a level of care that is exquisite, they build big “emotional bank accounts” with customers that keep them connected to the company (even if they can’t buy as much today as they did yesterday.)
While customer care is everyone’s business and should be part of everyone’s job description, the customer facing people have the primary responsibility to “be the company” in the eyes of the customer.
Since it’s especially critical in these challenging times to take EXQUISITE care of the customers you already have, here are 7 things every customer service person needs to know in order to do that kind of an outstanding job. Please make sure you pass this article along to every person responsible for customer service in your organization. If you touch the customer, in any way, ever, I am speaking directly to YOU.
1. You chose this job, or it chose you. Either way, it’s in your best interest and the best interest of the customer for you to show up and be fully present to the job. Set an intention every day to be the best you can be at your craft. Make it a point to do a little learning about how to get better at it every day. You get better the more you practice. Find joy in doing your job well. Recognize and acknowledge yourself for all the “wins” during your day. (Even if, and especially if your boss doesn’t notice often enough.)
2. Be proud of what you do. You play an important role in the company’s success. I’m here to remind you that the experiences you provide for the customer could make or break their relationship with the company. Even if parts of the process are broken, even if the wait times are long, even if the customer is upset about some aspect of the company, a great experience with a customer facing person can make up for a whole lot. You have the opportunity to make deposits in the customer’s emotional bank account and keep those customers happy, coming back, and referring friends.
3. You have emotional genius. Being good at customer service requires a great deal of emotional intelligence. In fact, in your job, EQ is as important – and often more important – than IQ. Here’s the neat thing – being in a people oriented position gives you the unique opportunity to practice and even perfect those EQ skills. That’s going to help you in every relationship you have in your life. As you get better at your job, you get better at your life. That’s a bonus!
4. The customer is not always right. I know you might have a little card that came from the corporate office that tells you they are, but I’m telling you what you already know to be true. They are not always right. Sometimes they are wrong, sometimes they are mean, sometimes they lie, sometimes they drive you crazy. But being right or wrong is not the point. Your job is to be so skillful that even if they are wrong, angry, nasty or just having a bad day, you have the ability to turn a bad situation into a better one. A highly skilled customer facing person is a magician, able to transform and diffuse difficult situations into good ones.
5. You work in the performing arts. Service is not like a manufactured good. It can’t be made ahead of time and put on the shelf. It happens in the moment, as needed, and it’s all about performance. That makes you the performer. Just like an actor (or a public speaker or trainer for that matter) there will be days when you just don’t feel up to it and you will have to act “as if” you were. Here’s where your good training comes in. Rehearsal and visualization work to help you prepare for a great performance every time. Think of yourself as an improv artist. Ta-da!
6. You have a stressful job, but the amount of stress you take home every day is up to you. How you view your job is just as important as how you do your job. If you allow yourself to over dramatize, ‘catastrophize’, get defensive, and take everything personally, you’re in for a tough time. Your body reacts to the perception of danger with primal instincts to fight or flee – both involving a cascade of stress chemicals that can damage your body. You have the power to change how you view any situation – including your job. Find a “frame” that makes it less stressful and more enjoyable.
7. You have the opportunity to make the world a better place every day. Whether you deal with 10 customers or 200 customers a day, you have the power to create positive experiences for all of them. When you make your best effort to add sincere care and appreciation to every interaction, you are infusing it with positive energy and vibration. When the customer leaves the interaction with you feeling good they are likely to spread that positive emotion. Emotions are contagious – negative ones as well as positive ones.
You have the power to spread positivity and make the world a better place. We all know how important that contribution is these days. Take it seriously and you can make a serious difference in the lives of your customers and every one they touch. Allow yourself to see the ripples of good will and well being you are sending out into the world. Spread happiness and appreciation and you will feel energized and build your own good health. Optimists live seven to nine years longer than pessimists.
Use this list of “7 Things” to start a lively dialog in your organization. Spread the article around. Discuss each of the points, add a few of your own, really think about the good things about being in a customer facing job. Appreciate the power and opportunity that rest in your hands. Make the commitment to be the best you can be. Have fun and do good work.
Caring is contagious – go ahead, spread it around.
About the Author
JoAnna Brandi is the Publisher of The Customer Care Coach®, a weekly self study leadership training program in the “The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care” as well as “Monday Morning Motivation,” a tool to keep employees focused on keeping the customers happy.