Providing excellent customer service isn’t something you can do once in a while – you need to do it consistently. Meeting and exceeding customer expectations needs to be top-of-mind at all times. If the quality of your service is inconsistent, your customers will not be pleased. Once the bar has been set, lowering it will disappoint customers. And disappointing customers means losing revenue.
To learn more about how to provide excellent customer service, we spoke with industry expert Shep Hyken about the tricks of the trade.
Read an excerpt from the interview below or click here to download the full interview.
InsightSquared: What can customer service managers do to continually provide excellent customer service as their teams grow over time?
Shep Hyken: There’s one word: training. It’s getting people on board to start with and then constantly reinforcing. And that’s where, again, companies sometimes fall short. They think that once they’ve taught employees how to do it right and told them to go out and do it, they don’t think they don’t need to do anything again.
Training is not something that you do one time as soon as somebody comes into the customer support department – it’s ongoing. And sometimes, it’s not a big deal. Sometimes, you only have meetings and spend five, maybe 10 minutes once every week or two to say: “Hey, let’s make sure we’re doing a great job. Here’s an example of somebody that did a great job. Here’s an example of something that went wrong and this is how we fixed it and restored the customer’s confidence.” So it may just be sharing examples of what’s going on. But it’s constantly putting concepts in front of people that are necessary to deliver excellent customer service.
Training is not something that you do one time…it’s ongoing.
It’s not that people forget, it’s just that they get into situations or they get veered off course, and maybe they need to be reminded of the things that they need to be doing in order to give and deliver a better customer experience. Because it’s really easy to get sidetracked or distracted. Even something as simple as how you answer the phone, when you’re in a hurry or you’re impatient, you answer it with a different tone of voice.
But instead, look for consistency. You want the experience for the customer to be consistent and predictable, which means as somebody in the company, you have to deliver a consistent experience, consistent attitude. And if you don’t feel good that day, it doesn’t matter. You need to step up and recognize that your job is like show business, it’s a command performance. As soon as I walk on that floor and I’m answering the phone, I’m in business, putting on a show for my customer. So why not make it a great show?
How can managers consistently exceed the expectations of their employees?
I call it the “employee golden rule,” which is to treat the people you work with the way you want the customer to be treated, if not even better. It’s that simple. Recognize that your people are internal customers as well.
Treat the people you work with the way you want the customer to be treated, if not even better.
What do excellent customer service teams do differently?
Some customer service teams aim to solve the customer’s problem and get off the phone as quickly as possible. That leaves customers satisfied that they got a prompt answer allowing them to move on. However, the best companies will actually work toward building the relationship while at the same time, taking care of the customer. Does it mean spending a lot of extra time on the phone or whatever channel they’re on? Not necessarily. But it does take a little bit more nurturing. If somebody calls with a problem, don’t just answer the problem. Answer the question and deal with the problem. Look at this customer’s profile. What have they called about before that you might be able to help them with something so they won’t have to call again? Taking care of it now and spending a little bit more time saves everybody more time, especially the call center, when they don’t have to deal with the call again from the customer, which ultimately means saving them money.
What are Moments of Magic® and why is it critical to create them?
Jan Carlson, said years ago that a moment of truth in business is: “anytime the customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business is an opportunity to form an impression.” I have terms for positive and negative moments of truth. The positive ones are Moments of Magic®, above average experiences – not over the top, just consistently above average. The negative ones are Moments of Misery™ – those are complaints, problems, or issues that the customer has. The third, Moments of Mediocrity™, are interactions that are average or satisfactory. Satisfied customers are not your best customers – loyal customers are. How do you create loyal customers? You give them Moments of Magic®.
How do you create loyal customers? You give them Moments of Magic.
For example, let’s say I walk through a hotel and all the employees are genuinely nice. They wave at me, they smile at me. Seldom will I walk by an employee that doesn’t engage with me, even at the level of eye contact and a smile. That, over an extended period of time, becomes an above average experience, yet it’s not over the top. Where can we deliver those above average experiences and try to do it all the time, not just some of the time?
How can service teams recover from Moments of Misery™?
First, recognize that your job is not to just fix the problem, it’s to restore confidence – and that’s a big difference. Anybody can say, “Okay, let me fix it and then it’s done,” but you want to get the customer’s confidence restored. There are five steps to making that happen:
1. Acknowledge the problem.
2. Apologize to the customer.
3. Fix the problem.
4. Maintain a positive attitude throughout.
5. Act with urgency.
How can service teams analyze what’s working well for them and learn how to repeat it?
Analytics is one way, feedback from customers is another. Ask your employees what they hear the biggest problems are and ask them how they’re solving those problems. Then take a look at what the best practices are for resolving those problems. I love when companies put together a best practice manual, meaning: if this happens, here’s the best way to handle that. And make sure that people share their examples of how they use this information, to reinforce the validity of it.
Do you think the trend of having one customer service team and a separate customer success team will become mainstream?
I think companies already are starting to create proactive service, and they aren’t necessarily tied. I have a software that I use and as soon as I signed up, they assigned a coach to me. Now, that coach is not part of the customer service team – the coach is basically a customer success person who’s there to walk me through the product and makes sure I understand the basics. This cuts down on my frustration as well as the number of times I’m going to have to call and ask for help.
I think that companies are integrating both. If a customer service person is looking at a customer’s profile, and doesn’t take a moment to share with the customer how to be more successful with whatever their product is, they are doing that customer a disservice. Your customer success managers may not be as focused on support, but support reps have to be focused on success as well.
Want more insights from Shep? Download our full interview here: The Keys to Customer Service Excellence with Shep Hyken.