Few behaviors are as detectable to a customer as insincerity. We train our employees to handle difficult situations through steps and processes, which I happen to think is an extremely valuable practice because it creates consistency. However, it’s not enough to learn the steps; they must be delivered genuinely.
I’m sure we have all received service from both ends of the spectrum. On the good side, you probably remember an extremely competent person who seemed to exude customer service like they were born with it; you probably couldn’t even detect that there was a process or method being followed. You’ve also probably experienced the zombie employee who scarcely looks up as they follow their script in a monotone. In the middle of this spectrum is where a significant percentage of your workforce probably falls.
With this in mind, I want to highlight 3 unconventional intangibles that I feel should be taught and managed alongside processes to keep sincerity a priority and help your middle performers grow in competency while avoiding common pitfalls.
- No excuses! Excuses aren’t made maliciously; they are made innocently by naïve employees who are trying to calm a difficult situation. Unfortunately, they usually have the opposite effect. Instead, teach employees to acknowledge, accept responsibility, and use it to calm the situation. For example: “Thank you so much for your patience! I know you’ve been on hold for more than 20 minutes, so my goal is to get your order processed as quickly as possible so that we don’t take up any more of your time!” With a statement like that, the customer doesn’t even have to complain to get what they want!
- No egos! Remember that nice words can easily be negated by attitude; it’s called passive-aggressive. Customers can and will become unreasonable when experiencing poor service; especially if combined with a poor solution. When this happens, even your best employees will be challenged to handle the situation without agitation. The employee often feels personally attacked and reacts with a snarky attitude. Teach him how satisfying it can be to win the customer back by keeping his ego in check! For example: “I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize that you had anticipated something different – I would feel the same way. I’m going to do everything I can to make this right for you!”
- “Sir” and “Ma’am” are not swear words! This is an obvious one, but I hear it every single day. Once a customer shows irritation, the employee’s ego is challenged and she begins to use “Sir” or “Ma’am” to loudly and precisely begin every statement in order to let the customer know that they are being irrational. “Sir, if you would let me explain, Sir that is our policy, Sir…” Stop it before it starts!
Role playing is an underused resource at your disposal. Exposure to difficult scenarios can prepare your people to control their responses in tough situations. An ounce of customer service practice is worth a pound of customer service cleanup.
Do you have any pitfalls that should be added to this list? Please share!