What these programs don’t say or do.
I worked for a company that developed a contest to improve customer service/satisfaction directing us to deliver unimaginable service. The problem was the unimaginable was just that, unimaginable. “Delivering the Unimaginable”. Great tag line, but it might have been better without the “Un”.
When you try to promote friendly, warm & appreciative service with your teams, you’ll encounter some blank stares and confused looks. Most companies deliver this message with words that mean something different to everyone. We all know what we have to do, the problem is we haven’t been told how to do it. When we were told we had to deliver the unimaginable, we were given a PowerPoint on what we were trying to deliver. The word unimaginable was used over and over. We even had a contest that would reward employees monthly with cash and/or gift certificates with the best unimaginable service delivered in the prior month. Some really had a grip of how to do it. Stories flowed across the company and were reviewed at each location. Some were, well unimaginable, others hard to believe (also unimaginable) and some even oh-hum (not unimaginable-worthy). There was no trigger to get people thinking outside the box, to be creative and to keep it simple.
- Don’t set rewards for achieving it. The reward is your job. Why can’t you be friendly and pleasant with the people who generate your paycheck? If you’re bored at work, get another job.
- Give your staff training on what it looks like to deliver service or sell products that create loyalty in your customers. These are not PowerPoint training sessions, but actual customer interactions with live customers. Use willing customers who know what to expect and have high expectations. Let them know what you are trying to accomplish. They have something to gain as well.
- Generate enthusiasm in your staff to support the idea. They will feel better about themselves and their jobs if they know how the customers feel about the improved interactions. Do weekly round tables to get feedback while you ramp this up.
- Use historical transactions to troubleshoot. There’s a lot to learn from mistakes, faux pas’ and trips. At first, don’t make them an opportunity to put someone down for it. If it happens repeatedly, that’s another story.
- Share the improved business results with your staff so they can see how it works. Use revenues, market share or customer survey improvements to show hard metrics.
- Be consistent. Stay on top of it all the time. Give plenty of positive feedback. Nonchalantly let everyone see you giving the feedback so they know who to model for the good behaviors.
Whatever you call it, make it easy to understand. Don’t try to deliver the unimaginable if you can’t imagine it yourself. Keep it simple and keep it visible. Great customer service is not rocket science. It’s right there in everybody, you just need to set it free. Make sure that you hire people with great customer skills. It’ll save you time and money.