“Be the change” you want to see in your customer service people: 5 ways to get started

Customer service employee with managerIn a recent Legendary Service course, one of my participants—we’ll call him Chad—wondered aloud if leaders ever adhered to the same standards they continually ask of their service providers.

When asked for an example of what he meant by this, he said, “Well … we are asked to acknowledge the customer, get details about the situation, listen, ensure relationship building occurs, and exceed the customer’s expectations. But when I call my manager with a question, he just gives me an answer.  For example, I needed to know if we could redo one of our customer policies given some new circumstances. My manager didn’t clarify, listen, or anything. He just said, ‘Follow the policy.’”

Chad’s observation intrigued me, as it made me realize that we forget sometimes how closely our people are watching us.  I love the question: “What are people saying about YOU at the dinner table?” As service champions, to properly support our frontline service providers we must model the service we expect others to do—we must CRAFT a vision of collegiality.

C – Connect:  Our role is to build relationships of care with the people who will be serving our customers.  One of the kindest ways to bring people together is to acknowledge the importance of their position and note that they have the power to change problems they discover. “Thanks for bringing this to my attention. We want to ensure our policies and procedures serve the customers at the highest level. Let’s follow the policy today, but let’s bring this up at our weekly meeting to see if others have similar issues. Maybe we’ll come up with a great idea to solve the problem.”

R – Recognize: We need to recognize the good others are doing. Praise individuals to the whole team—send an email specifying what someone did, how it made you feel, and its importance to the organization.  For example, let’s say the manager addresses the aforementioned issue at the weekly staff meeting. She could say, “I would like to take a minute to thank Chad for bringing up an issue that was driving a customer away and for providing his insights. It helped us to clarify our policy and exceed this customer’s expectations while creating a new policy to serve future customers at the highest level.”

A – Analyze: Consistently analyze information regarding customer issues so that you can see and share trends while proactively problem solving.  At weekly meetings, be a catalyst for innovative change by having people share their issues, examine the causes and impact of those situations, and then brainstorm best possible solutions. Creating communities of practice increases motivation to act and serve.

F – Follow up: Check back in to be sure customer situations were resolved properly, and to draw out ideas that could be utilized in the future to build organizational intelligence. A few days after resolving the situation above regarding the flawed policy, the manager might call Chad and say, “I want to thank you again for bringing up that issue regarding the policy change. Did it feel to you like our solution was a success? Do you have any other thoughts?”

T – Talk: Ask open-ended questions, listen, and acknowledge emotion while connecting to the heart of the situation. In the example above when Chad called his manager, the manager might have asked, “Is there anything else you’d like to share so I am sure I understand the situation correctly?”

By collaborating with your service providers and unleashing their best thoughts, you are modeling the service you would like them to provide for their customers. As leader and service champion, you need to CRAFT, then showcase, the behaviors that will create the devoted customers who will become your #1 sales force.

About the author:

Vicki Halsey is one of the principal authors—together with Kathy Cuff—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program.  Their other-focused posts appear on the first and third Thursday of each month.

4 thoughts on ““Be the change” you want to see in your customer service people: 5 ways to get started

  1. Pingback: “Be the change” you want to see in your customer service people: 5 ways to get started | UpSearchCoach

  2. Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .
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