As I travel around North America for various business opportunities, I find myself encountering all sorts of customer service styles… Some good… And some very, very bad!
But something big is going on…
It seems that no matter how many consultants and business coaches and in-house customer service trainers teach employees how to provide good service we, the consuming public continues to fall victim to bad service in almost every sort of establishment that wants our money!
The Exception or The Rule?
In sake of fairness, I must say that I do come across establishments that offer extremely good service.
However, those seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
In order to encourage more good service, when I am fortunate enough to find it, I thank the provider and tell them how much I appreciate the fine service that they have provided me. Occasionally, I will even seek out the manager of the establishment to tell them what a great job their employee did for me and to ask them to keep up the good work.
A pat on the back goes a long way!
The main reason that people provide bad service comes down to a simple bad attitude. The person who doesn’t care enough to give good service generally has the attitude that what they are doing doesn’t matter.
They feel that:
- The establishment does not matter
- Their customer’s do not matter
- The thing(s) they are selling does not matter
- Or that nothing in life matters
Leaders Sharing the Blame
When poor service prevails at an establishment, it is not just the customer-facing employees or supervisors that are at fault.
It is also the owners and operators of establishments that give bad service are also to blame.
Unfortunately, they often seem oblivious to the bad service their employees offer or that they are losing hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars every week because customers hate dealing with them!
On Attitude and Altitude
Various surveys and studies over the past decade indicate that 60% to 70% of all lost business is a result of the attitude of customer service personnel or salespeople. The lost business accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business every year world-wide.
Despite these alarming losses, businesses continue to tolerate employees with bad attitudes and will often defend the attitude of their miserable or thoughtless employees as being “unusual” or even by simply denying it.
I think that business leaders all over the world would agree that they want their business to be considered a good place to do business.
With that in mind, here are some things you might consider doing to improve the “attitude” of your employees and recover some of those lost “bad-service dollars”:
When you observe a bad customer service attitude deal with it immediately
Wait until the customer is gone and then confront the employee, letting them know where they went wrong and how to improve. If the attitude or behaviour goes unchecked it will be hard to change later.
Put on seminars and workshops to explain to your employees what good customer service should look like
Tell them and what you expect from them when they interact with customers and what is not acceptable. Give them a “customer service road map” to follow.
Some of the best establishments have actual, written customer service manuals
These can help even the most “block-headed” employees understand the difference between good and bad customer service and the value of it. Write it down so that they can read it and retain it in their minds.
Inspect what you expect
It is not good enough to simply tell your people to provide good service. Monitor your establishment’s customer service by getting out of your office and watching your employees as they interact with customers. Just your presence on the floor should improve service…If not, you might need to work on your leadership skills.
Ask random people you meet
Ask other business people, folks you meet at parties, or people you meet in the grocery store, if they have been to your establishment and if so, how they felt about the service. You might be surprised what you hear.
Send out customer service surveys
Send out surveys to as many customers as possible in order to get a fair sampling. Some people complain about everything when asked but if your get the same complaint over and over again, you can be quite certain that you have a problem.
Put a customer satisfaction application on your website
Allow customers to rate their satisfaction with your service and provide a box for comments. We live in an online world and many people are more likely to comment if they can do it online.
Tell your employees what you have learned
When you have done your monitoring, inspections and surveys, have meetings with all employees to let them know what you heard, what their customers are saying about them, and what you would like to see in the future.
Thank your superstar employees for providing great service
Let everyone in your establishment know who that stars are and what they do that is different. A good service attitude can become contagious when it is openly praised or rewarded.
Get tough on bad service providers
This area of business leadership is often ignored or avoided due to the simple fear of confrontation. As tough as it may be to be critical of another human being you have to accept that the establishment leader is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the business. You must deal directly and sometimes harshly with the bad attitudes of your employees. Don’t become the victim of someone else’s attitude!
Don’t let your business earn a reputation for bad service. Get involved with your employees to assure that their interactions provide the best possible buying experience for your customers. Make service the number one priority of your business and assure your longevity and success well into the future!
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