Train and Measure; Don’t Find and Punish A Two-Step Formula for Consistently Excellent Customer Service
I visited a well-liked and very busy restaurant in Fort Worth yesterday. It’s the kind of place where you order your food up front, and then someone brings it to your table for you. The food was great, but the lady taking my order was less than hospitable.
Customer service! How can we increase the chances that our people will consistently give good customer service?
A Two-Step Formula for Customer Service
For a recent overseas trip, Emirates Airlines was recommended to me. The service on the plane was excellent. The flight attendants were welcoming and attentive; consistently superb. But on the ground in Dubai, the service was not the same. They were not very friendly.
When it comes to poor customer service, most of us follow the formula of find and punish. It’s reactionary. We find out about an undesirable experience or exchange with our customers, and we punish the employee.
If you’ll consider the customer service in your own organization, I have a few questions for you. Do you really know how your customers are being treated? Do your people smile? Do they make the customers feel welcomed and valued?
There are many factors that determine how our people treat our customers—from how well we treat our staff, to how overworked they are, to how rigorous our recruiting efforts are. The list can get lengthy. And it can seem impossible to put all these things into practice to give us the quick results we hope for.
Let me propose a different approach. It’s the train and measure formula. If you apply this simple two-step formula, you will be ahead of most companies just in the level of customer service you consistently offer.
Step One: Train
Customer service must be taught. As a doctor, if I don’t treat my patients well, they will not come back. Sadly though, I know many physicians who don’t treat their patients well. You hear about it all the time; it’s poor bedside manner. During my recent trip, I hired a doctor to cover me for one shift. That doctor mistreated one of our patients so badly, that the patient threatened to report us to the local news. Our administrator was quick thinking and promptly asked the doctor to leave. Subsequently, she made sure the patient was cared for.
Consistent training can make or break an organization. And when a lack of training cripples them, there are companies standing by that specialize in taking over the failing organization. They buy them at a bargain and turn them around. And this is the method they follow every time: first, they fire the leader. Second, they immediately train the remaining staff in customer service.
The challenge with training is twofold. One, we must have a simple training program for our organization or team. And two, we must carve out time to perform routine training. We must have both if we are to see positive results in customer service.
Step Two: Measure
When I receive less than satisfying customer service from someone, I find myself thinking, I wish I had one of those go pro cameras on my head so I could send a video to the CEO of this company. I would love to help out the CEO. I wonder if just by seeing that video, the CEO would hopefully change something drastically. And immediately, my second thought is, How do I really know the kind of service my people are providing in the organization I lead?
Is training enough? What if you train people, but their behavior doesn’t change? We must find ways to measure how our people are doing. The difficulty is getting past the road block that often prevents most organizations from measuring and monitoring: deciding upon the most effective method.
Do you use cameras and spy on your staff? Do you hire secret shoppers? Do you wear fake mustaches and pretend like you are a customer, like in some TV show? Or do you have customers rate and review the service of each person or the team?
Regardless what you decide for your team, measure everything you can when it comes to customer service. And include yourself in that measurement. Measure so you help people to improve, not to punish them.
Many times we are so busy, that we simply resort to punishing people when problems arise. We must be proactive though, not reactive. A skilled leader will stop and think on these two questions and determine how to adapt them at different times:
- How can we consistently train customer service?
- How can we measure how we are doing in customer service?
The answers to those questions are not easily found, but once you do, implement your findings. And you will rise above your competition and start reaching excellence in customer service.
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