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5 More Tips for Improving Service Peggy Carlaw

My co-worker, Mon­ica Postell, wrote a blog post a few months ago called 5 Tips to Improve Ser­vice for Your Cus­tomers. I love that post for a num­ber of rea­sons, one being the fact that it fea­tures our cul­tural change hero, the HEART ModelTM. In the spirit of con­tin­u­ously improv­ing cus­tomer ser­vice, here are another five tips to add to your toolbox:

  1. Hire good people.

  2. One thing I can tell you from years in the cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing trenches is that you can't train some­one who isn't smart enough or moti­vated enough to learn your sys­tems and processes. And although we do a darn good job of inspir­ing peo­ple to serve oth­ers, there are peo­ple who just won't go there-people who shouldn't have been hired in the first place. You will spend less money if you invest more in hir­ing the right per­son to begin with. For tips on doing just that, check out Peter Carbonara's arti­cle, "Hire for Atti­tude, Train for Skill," in Fast Company.

  3. Invest in cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing for all employees.

  4. When the deci­sion is made to improve cus­tomer ser­vice, who gets trained? The customer-facing employ­ees. That's the best place to start and that's where the biggest empha­sis should lie. But if you really want to pro­vide stel­lar cus­tomer ser­vice, you need to pro­vide train all of your employ­ees so that they under­stand where the orga­ni­za­tion is head­ing, who their inter­nal cus­tomers are, and how work­ing together makes a dif­fer­ence to the eter­nal customer-the one who pro­vides their pay­check. Why? If your front-line reps need to pro­vide cus­tomers with infor­ma­tion and they can't get it in a timely man­ner, or if depart­men­tal processes are work­ing at cross-purposes, they can't sat­isfy the cus­tomer, even if they want to. Which brings me to…

  5. Empower employees/re-evaluate processes.

  6. I'm sure you all know about the Ritz-Carlton's famous pol­icy which allows their empow­ered employ­ees to com­mit up to $2,000 of the hotel's funds to instantly resolve a guest's prob­lem if needed. Yes, it's impor­tant to empower employ­ees to resolve cus­tomer issues within cer­tain guide­lines and if you haven't thought about how you can do that, you should. But how about empow­er­ing your employ­ees to come up with bet­ter processes for serv­ing customers?

    Inef­fi­cient processes are bad for cus­tomers, frus­trat­ing for employ­ees, and costly for the com­pany. When we do cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing, we keep a flip chart (or two or three) in the train­ing room and we jot down all the process improve­ments that reps mention-unsolicited-while they're learn­ing skills for pro­vid­ing bet­ter ser­vice. We present these at the end of the train­ing to the man­ager. We're often shocked to see how sur­prised the man­ager is by the great ideas their employ­ees came up with. Why wait for Team Impact to sweep in? Just ask your employees.

  7. Tie cus­tomer feed­back to your mon­i­tor­ing form

  8. Often, deter­min­ing the voice of the cus­tomer falls under the aus­pices of the mar­ket­ing depart­ment. In many com­pa­nies, this depart­ment is a far reach from the QA depart­ment in the call cen­ter or sup­port center-the depart­ment that deter­mines whether the front line employ­ees are doing a good job in serv­ing the cus­tomer. To be sure that your ser­vice is in align­ment with customer's wants and needs, be sure that what is mon­i­tored ties directly to what the cus­tomer wants. This may seem obvi­ous but we fre­quently are called to help com­pa­nies improve their mon­i­tor­ing process and the peo­ple who have been cre­at­ing mon­i­tor­ing forms for years have never seen cus­tomer feecback.

  9. Boost the morale of your employees.

  10. There's a dif­fer­ence between morale and moti­va­tion. When morale is high, employ­ees approach their work with energy, enthu­si­asm, and will­ing­ness to serve the cus­tomer. They want to come to work and engage with cus­tomers. Moti­vated employ­ees, on the other hand, are dri­ven to get the job done. Highly moti­vated employ­ees tend to be high pro­duc­ers, but that doesn't nec­es­sar­ily mean their morale is high; they may be moti­vated by neg­a­tive incen­tives such as a fear of los­ing their job.

    Morale and moti­va­tion work together. When morale is high, it's com­mon to see that a high per­cent­age of employ­ees are nat­u­rally moti­vated. When morale gets low-and employ­ees become less self-motivated-managers often resort to unpleas­ant, heavy-handed, moti­va­tional tac­tics such as nag­ging, threat­en­ing, mak­ing more rules, and micro­manag­ing which in turn lower morale even further.

    How do you cre­ate high morale? There are a num­ber of ways. Sher­rie Mers­dorf men­tions three in her recent blog post (with a par­tic­u­lar nod to the upcom­ing sum­mer months). If you want more in-depth guid­ance, pick up a copy of Man­ag­ing and Moti­vat­ing Con­tact Cen­ter Employ­ees.

Peggy Car­law is the founder of Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, a lead­ing train­ing com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions between front-line employ­ees and cus­tomers. Peggy is co-author of sev­eral books pub­lished by McGraw-Hill, includ­ing Man­ag­ing and Moti­vat­ing Con­tact Cen­ter Employ­ees and The Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games.
3 5 More Tips for Improving Service
Peggy Carlaw
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