17 07 2013
It's Customer "Service" Stupid: Delivering Customer Service Training That Sticks
“Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense.”
This Ralph Waldo Emerson quote opens one of the most impressive works on customer service: Michael LeBoeuf’s book How To Win Customers and Keep Them For Life. I am a fan of the book, and of the man, who has become a good friend and mentor. What makes such a difference in Michael’s writing is that, while written over ten years ago, it remains consistent and relevant to us today.
Teaching customer service should be easy. After all, it is common sense to treat customers as we would want to be treated. Developing or delivering a program that helps people understand that proves more difficult. That’s because at the core of every customer service training initiative must be a clear understanding of the motives and purpose that drives us, accompanied by a clear strategy for delivering exceptional service that not only wins customers but also helps you keep them for life. Many companies have customer service program in place (or at least address the need for one). But most focus on practices rather than the principles that make them successful. Customer service training is often driven reactively by the need to solve immediate service problems. As a result, we fail to identify, promote, and train employees on the core components that drive service from the heart, not just the brain. No customer service program is complete until it addresses the integration of the following components:
Consistent performance is what customers want most. They want service they can depend on. More specifically this means that they want you to do what you say you are going to do… do it when you say you’re going to do it… and do it right the first time. If you can also get it done on time, you are being reliable. A reliable individual is worthy of reliance or trust, and trust builds long-term relationships in personal and professional life.
In business, sports, or in any field of endeavor, consistent, high-level performance is the major difference between the runners and the champions. Teach people to be reliable and you are teaching them to be winners.
One thing customers will readily pay for is peace of mind. We want security, integrity, and the assurance that if there is a problem, it will be promptly handled at no extra cost. If we buy products, we want them to be safe and guaranteed. If we buy services, we want them to be free from danger, risk, or doubt and kept confidential. We don’t want hidden agendas, hard-sell techniques, extra charges, and contracts with