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The aim of customer service stays the same

The industry is always changing the way it delivers customer service but is customer service itself any different? SHEP HYKEN offers retailers a customer-focused service refresher.

Every week I’m asked, “What is changing in customer service?” The expected answer is that I’ll talk about all the new ways that customer service and support is conducted… and I do.

There are self-service solutions that include video and answer frequently-asked questions (FAQs), social-media customer service across multiple channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and even AI (Artificial Intelligence) that the experts believe – myself included – will change everything about customer service.

"In the end, the aim is that the customer is happy. That’s it. When it comes to customer expectations, they’re essentially all the same."

Yes, there is much that is changing about how we deliver customer service so I’m about to make a bold statement: despite all of these advancements, customer service is still the same as it was 50 years ago and will still be the same 50 years from now.

Customer service is just a customer needing service, whether it’s having a question answered or a problem resolved. In the end, the aim is that the customer is happy. That’s it. When it comes to customer expectations, they’re essentially all the same. In other words, nothing has changed in customer service!

Faster and better

Okay, maybe it’s better said a different way. When it comes to the outcome of a customer service experience, the customer’s expectations haven’t changed; they still just want to be heard.

That said, there are new and different ways to reach the outcome. What has changed is the way we go about delivering service; we’ve figured out how to deliver customer service faster and even better.

Back in the day, speaking of some 20 years ago, there were typically just two ways to provide customer service: in person and over the phone. Then technology kicked in and we started making service and support better and more efficient.

Employees are often the only representatives of a business in contact with customers
Employees are often the only representatives of a business in contact with customers

For example, there is now a solution for those choosing to offer support over the phone that lets customers know how long they have to wait on hold to speak to a customer-service representative.

Sometimes customers are given the option of being called back at a time that is more convenient if they don’t have time to wait.

In addition to the phone, there are now many other channels through which customers can connect with businesses.

Beyond the phone, there is email, live online chat, social media posts and more.

Businesses that are thinking about implementing a new customer-service solution, adding AI to support customers and agents or deciding which tools they want to use should remember one crucial piece of information: the customer’s expectations haven’t changed. Customers still just want to be served, regardless of how businesses choose to go about it.

Customer service starts as a customer who needs help, who is dealing with a problem, who is upset about something or who just wants to ask a question. It should end with that person feeling resolved, walking away knowing they made the right decision to do business with you.

Customer-focus mindset

How you get from the beginning to the end is not nearly as important as how customers feel when they walk away, hang up the phone or turn off their computers.

Customer service might be the same as it’s always been; however, it’s vital these days for retailers to help staff adopt a customer-focused mindset.

"At any given time in a customer transaction, one employee has the responsibility to deliver an experience that is in alignment with your vision – the one who is currently interacting with the customer"

That is, your staff probably attend customer-service training to learn techniques on how to deal with complaining customers, angry customers or customers who just need a little support.

Training ensures staff are taught the right answers to some difficult yet common scenarios but what happens when scenarios occur that are outside the parameters of normal retail training?

Good customer-service training teaches employees how to do it but great customer service training goes deep into the mindset, which is more than having a great attitude, a smile and a warm personality.

Those qualities are important but a customer-focus mindset encompasses the ‘how-to’ training and the positive attitude with an understanding of the reason why businesses relentlessly pursue an amazing customer experience.

Such reasons are usually considered intangible – they might be about an inner drive and an ambitious effort to take care of the customer. Sometimes they can be intuitive. Certainly, they’re different for all businesses but here are five concepts that will help create a winning customer-focused mindset.

Take care of people

Not every employee has this mindset coming in and it’s possible that they might not achieve it even after basic customer service training.

Sure, they may understand the techniques to deliver service but still not get the essence. A customer-focused mindset must always includes a strong desire to serve.

Be in the moment

This is the ability to know when you are delivering a positive service experience.

There are certain aspects of delivering service that are natural and automatic; however, people must be conscious of what they are doing and always looking for ways to make it better.

Know the line in the sand

An environment that fosters a customer-focus mindset empowers people to do what is necessary to take care of the customer without crossing the line.

The boundaries are typically further out than most people think. Teach employees by example just how far they can go when taking care of their customers.

Always learning

The best of the best are continuous learners, and not just about their own products.

They learn about competitors, they stay abreast of the latest and greatest in the industry, they boost their general product and service knowledge and much more. They are interesting people with whom to talk because they understand how to address customers the right way.

Recognising responsibility

At any given time in a customer transaction, one employee has the responsibility to deliver an experience that is in alignment with your vision – the one who is currently interacting with the customer. This one person represents your brand and all his or her fellow employees. Does he or she deliver on that vision?

Employees are central to the customer-service experience as they are often the only representatives of a business to be in direct and constant contact with customers. Don’t leave customer service to chance.

Regardless of how good your employees’ people skills are, you can’t simply hope they will understand how to apply what they know to your business. Train them and train often. Reinforce the positive and learn from any problems that arise.

Ensure your staff have a customer focus to ensure your store is delivering upon its customer-service promises. Amazing customer service doesn’t happen by accident. It happens on purpose!












ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken is a speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author who works with companies to build loyal relationships with customers and employees. Visit: hyken.com









Wednesday, 23 May, 2018 07:02pm
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