Friday, October 7, 2011

If attitude isn’t the key to quality customer service, what is?

Many companies train their employees to treat customers as important individuals or groups to be valued and respected. However, some companies don’t train their employees at all, and as a result, lose more customers than they gain. So what’s the secret? According to customer service expert Richard S. Gallagher, “Think far beyond attitude and treat customer service for what it is: a profession. One that has its own unique set of skills…It is a profession that puts us on the cutting edge of behavioral psychology in how to interact with other people.”

In his book, “Great Customer Connections: Simple Psychological Techniques That Guarantee Exceptional Service,” Gallagher shares his insights for creating successful customer experiences and completed transactions:

[1] Focus on the customer’s expectations (for example: “I certainly understand. Normally we can straighten this out right here on the phone.”)

[2] Give the customer options worded in his or her benefit (for example: “If you can send the request from our website, we can process it as soon as our computers are up. Would you like to do that, or would it be easier to call us back later?”)

[3] Anticipate the customer’s reaction (for example: “I wish there was a way that we could do this because I hate to see you have to call back again.”)

[4] Speak from the customer’s voice (for example: “It’s really frustrating when we can’t help people in a situation like this.”)

[5] The customer needs to feel as if the clerk is taking an interest in him and his needs

[6] A level of trust needs to be established between the clerk and the customer

[7] Ask for the customer’s name and welcome him warmly – and use the name often

[8] Lead with a benefit to the customer (for example, begin the interaction with “How can we help you today?”)

[9] Use a light touch (for example, if the person is a first-time customer, add a dose of humor and say, “I have just a few nosey questions to ask and then we’ll be glad to put you in touch with the right person.”)

[10] Keep focusing on benefits – before asking questions, explain, “We just need to gather some information from you to update our records, so that we can track your issue and make sure you are getting the assistance you need.”

Prior to becoming an author and speaker, Rich had a long tenure as a customer support executive. As director of customer support for a West Coast software startup, he helped lead its growth to become a major NASDAQ firm and later led another 24/7 call center operation to near-perfect customer satisfaction and near-zero turnover. He started his own training and development firm in the mid-1990s and has been featured in media outlets worldwide. Rich has personally trained over 15,000 people in a variety of industries – but with a common denominator, attention to customer service.

Does your company address customer service in a unique way? Chime in with your comments.

Visit Rich’s site:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How do you MOTIVATE your employees?

Consider this statement made by Lee Iacocca, the American businessman who is best known for reviving Ford and re-inventing Chrysler, “When I must criticize somebody, I do it orally; when I praise somebody, I put it in writing.”

Now ask yourself, when was the last time you recognized an employee for doing great work – not at a scheduled review – and put your comments in writing? You probably can’t remember the last time. Instead, supervisors spend a great deal of time criticizing employees for missing deadlines, making mistakes, or not performing according to undefined standards. But the problem is, most supervisors don’t take the time to train their employees to meet their expectations.

The secret to solving this conflict is training. Sharlyn J. Lauby wrote a primer for Motivating Employees, published by Infoline/ASTD Press. Sharlyn is president of ITM Group, Inc., and has held senior-level HR positions in the hospitality, transportation, entertainment, and business services industries. She has designed and implemented successful employee retention programs and was named one of the “2004 Heavy Hitters in Human Resources” by the South Florida Business Journal.

According to Sharlyn, “If you aren’t getting the motivational mileage that you should as a manager, you may be making one of the five management mistakes.” These mistakes are:
  1. Misplacing ownership: motivation doesn’t belong to the HR Department – employees find that informal recognition from their managers for a job well done means more to them than a formal company program.
  2. Misaligning incentives: don’t give all employees the same incentives – since each employee is unique, determine the unique motivators for each employee.
  3. Saving recognition: Since it’s inappropriate to save recognition for special occasions, recognize employee success when it happens.
  4. Playing favorites: Managers lose credibility when they play favorites or give recognition when it isn’t warranted.
  5. Misspeaking praise: The words “good job” are insufficient – always be specific so that employees know exactly what they did to earn recognition and praise.
There are numerous ways to show employees that they are appreciated and valued. Here are a few ideas to motivate your employees:
  1. Provide time off for attendance at professional industry conferences or seminars.
  2. Provide one-on-one time with company leader.
  3. Provide time off for family events during the holiday season.
  4. Give a subscription to an industry publication.
  5. Provide a starring role – or leading role – in an important project.
For more inspiring ideas to motivate your employees: