Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Being involved in delivering training to improve customer service I am mindful of the need to compliment when service is good and I make a point of doing this. I am very critical, however, when service is poor, particularly if management and staff in a business seem oblivious and the need for improvement. This was recently highlighted in a visit to a local Pub/Restaurant where I had two business meetings. My experience was of appalling customer service exacerbated by poor management and it just highlighted to me that management sets the tone for a culture of good – or bad – customer service.

At 1:50pm I entered the premises. I was early for my meeting (at 2pm) and I went to the bar to order a Coke. There was one male member of staff behind the bar and three customers waiting ahead of me.  The barman eventually served me almost 15 minutes after I had arrived and started by saying ‘Are you having lunch?’ I replied, ‘I’m not sure, I am waiting for a business colleague, I’ll have a large coke for now please’. His reply; ‘I hope he doesn’t keep you waiting as long as I have’.  I was quite shocked at this retort and so I said ‘some more staff would help’. The barman made no reply but had a shocked expression as though astonished I had the cheek to make a  comment.

A few minutes later, my colleague arrived and so I returned to the bar, which was now unattended. A second customer came along side me. The barman returned and went to serve the second customer, who pointed out that I was first. The barman looked and said ‘Don’t worry, he’s been served.’  I said, ‘No, I haven’t, I’d like a coke, please.’

After serving the two of us the bar was again left unattended.   A short time later, despite customers being at the bar, five staff from the restaurant area were standing in a group at the end of the bar talking and laughing. No one seemed interested in serving customers, who were obviously agitated but said nothing.  Eventually a female member of staff appeared from behind the scenes but as soon as the customers had been served the bar was left unattended again.

Around 3:30pm a young man in uniform appeared behind the bar and started replenishing bottles and glasses. A customer asked him for a drink and the staff member said he couldn’t serve him. There was no effort made to find someone who could serve him and he carried on stacking bottles and glasses. Eventually, the previous female bar staff appeared again and served the customer who was obviously not impressed.

By 4:00pm, the same young man who previously couldn’t serve drinks was now serving customers on his own. So what was the problem previously?

By this time my second business client arrived. She wanted a diet Coke with ice and Lime. I placed that order and also a Black Americano coffee (Costa Coffee) for myself.  I was asked ‘Is that Pepsi‘  ‘No ‘, I replied ‘Diet coke, it’s in the fridge behind you’.  I was then served a diet Coke with a slice of Lemon, so I asked for the Lemon to be replaced with Lime. Is it really that difficult?  My coffee order, remember, was for a Black Americano – I was delivered  a luke warm white coffee.

By this time I had given up!   Listening Skills – Communication Skills – Customer Service – obviously not in the remit!

I drank the coffee – but made the decision never to return to the premises.  Before leaving, I discovered that the original man behind the bar was the Manager. I was astounded! Perhaps if he had spent time managing the premises and staff, rather than doing all the work, he’d have been able to see the big picture.

I have no problem with Managers getting ‘stuck-in’ I’ve done it myself, but they shouldn’t be so involved for elongated periods to the point that they lose sight of the overall business, should they?  This manager, in my opinion, did not know what the rest of the staff were doing because he was so involved in doing all of the work. The culture seemed to me to be one of indifference to customers needs – and who’s keeping the business going?  We all know it is far cheaper to keep the customers you have than to actively seek out new customers – so why would a business not provide excellent service to keep their customers returning?

I have left out individual names of staff – but if Whitbread plc wish to review their customer service provision at Table Table, Arena Square, Sheffield, I shall be more than happy to deliver some training for them – and they are the only circumstances under which I would re-visit the premises.

 

Service makes the difference – and people provide the service!

Testimonial from James Barrett – owner of Barrett’s Bistro and Barrett’s @235. We recently provided some training for James’s staff in Customer Service, Communication and Body Language.

From an article published by

 

 

 

 

Original article available at http://www.impactlearning.com/building-rapport-and-maintaining-meaningful-relationships/

If your busi­ness relies on sat­is­fied cus­tomers, your staff needs to under­stand how to build rap­port and main­tain a pos­i­tive rela­tion­ship with cus­tomers. Accord­ing to Glenn D. Porter in Forbes, “Build­ing rap­port means forg­ing a trusted rela­tion­ship. It means being an adviser, not just a ven­dor. Rap­port, ulti­mately, is about empathy—and you can’t fake empathy.”

How do you build rap­port with customers?

Use the Customer’s Name

There is a fine line between using a customer’s name to show you are lis­ten­ing and using a customer’s name because you were told to always address the cus­tomer by name. Both may be true, but employ­ees need to be trained to incor­po­rate the customer’s name into their ser­vice routine.

The other day, I was in Star­bucks and ordered my drink. I gave my name as usual, and after the cashier wrote my order and name on the cup, he looked up at me and asked, “May I get you any­thing to eat this morn­ing, Sarah?” Now that is the way to use someone’s name! I didn’t want any­thing to eat, but my Star­bucks expe­ri­ence left a last­ing impres­sion on me.

Lis­ten to Your Customers

After work­ing in one job role repeat­edly, it gets dif­fi­cult not to assume you imme­di­ately know the answer to your customer’s ques­tion or the solu­tion to his or her prob­lem. Employ­ees need to be trained to first lis­ten, and then respond.

The prob­lem with try­ing to get ahead of a customer’s prob­lem is you may be solv­ing the wrong prob­lem or answer­ing the wrong ques­tion. If employ­ees spend all of their time on the wrong solu­tion, it will end up tak­ing longer than if they waited, con­firmed the issue or ques­tion, and then took action to com­plete the customer’s inquiry. The impor­tance of lis­ten­ing in build­ing rap­port is explained in more detail in another blog post on build­ing rapport.

Get to Know Your Customers

There’s no rea­son why your employ­ees can’t attempt to relate to each of your cus­tomers. Not every cus­tomer will be recep­tive to this, but oth­ers will be pleas­antly sur­prised to see some­one gen­uinely inter­ested in inter­act­ing with them. A script or canned response will ruin this effort, so go through sam­ple exer­cises to get employ­ees com­fort­able start­ing up a friendly and warm conversation.

Accord­ing to Don Pep­pers in Fast Com­pany, “Great ser­vice hap­pens only when you relate to your cus­tomers ‘one to one.’ To do that, you have to iden­tify your cus­tomers, dif­fer­en­ti­ate them, inter­act with them, and finally, cus­tomize your prod­ucts or ser­vices to meet their needs.”

Main­te­nance

There’s no use in focus­ing on build­ing rap­port if you’re not going to main­tain the rela­tion­ships you have worked hard to build. Once you have built rap­port, you need to develop a pro­gram for fos­ter­ing those relationships.

From an article published by

 

Original article available at http://www.impactlearning.com/a-little-rapport-goes-a-long-way/

No mat­ter what prod­uct or ser­vice you offer, sell­ing to a cus­tomer you have truly con­nected with is much more ful­fill­ing than a sale to just some ran­dom cus­tomer whom you’ll never think of again. Not only will you come away feel­ing excited and opti­mistic, but your cus­tomer will too, and that can prove very valuable.

Devel­op­ing a con­nec­tion with your cus­tomers can do won­ders for your com­pany and give you a com­pet­i­tive edge by increas­ing cus­tomer loy­alty, the poten­tial for out­side refer­rals, and of course the chance to sell more.

So, how do you build this con­nec­tion? Fol­low­ing are a few tips and tricks to help you estab­lish a rap­port and trans­form a sim­ple sale into a good relationship.

  • Show inter­est in the human ele­ment. Show­ing inter­est in your cus­tomer is one of the eas­i­est ways to start build­ing rap­port. Ask him how his day has been, refer to him by name, or talk with him about more than just the topic at hand. You’d be sur­prised how just a lit­tle ges­ture can affect the tone of the call and the tenure of the relationship.
  • Lis­ten. Focus your atten­tion on what your cus­tomer is saying—not on what you want to say as soon as he fin­ishes speak­ing. Not only will you find out more about his needs than you oth­er­wise might, but you’ll also give him the sat­is­fac­tion of being heard and understood.
  • Find some­thing in com­mon.  Large or small, find­ing some­thing you and your cus­tomer have in com­mon pro­vides a lit­tle token for your cus­tomer to remem­ber you by.
  • Fol­low Up. Take a cou­ple min­utes out of your day and send your cus­tomers a follow-up email thank­ing them for their time and inter­est. Or, if it’s been awhile since you spoke, give them a call to ask them how the prod­uct or ser­vice is work­ing out.
  • Be a per­son that your cus­tomer wants to know. If you’re hon­est and sin­cere and if you act with integrity in all you do, your cus­tomers will have a pos­i­tive impres­sion of you, your com­pany, and the prod­ucts and ser­vices you provide.

Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business won’t be profitable for long.

Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. And about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers.

If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else.

The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that that individual customer feels that he would like to pursue. How do you go about forming such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; “You will be judged by what you do, not what you say.”

Providing good customer service IS a simple thing. If you truly want to have good customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently does these things:

1) Answer your phone. Get call forwarding. Or an answering service. Hire staff if you need to. But make sure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business. (Notice I say “someone”. People who call want to talk to a live person, not a fake “recorded robot”.)

2) Don’t make promises unless you will keep them. Not plan to keep them. Will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday”, make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don’t say it. The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, etc.. Think before you give any promise – because nothing annoys customers more than a broken one.

3) Listen to your customers. Is there anything more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that that person hasn’t been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? From a customer’s point of view, I doubt it. Forget the sales pitches and the product babble. Let your customer talk and show them that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting how to solve the problem.

4) Deal with complaints. No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time – and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.

5) Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit in it. The other day I popped into a local jewellers shop because I had lost the small piece that clips the pieces of my watch strap together. When I explained the problem, the proprietor said that he thought he might have one lying around. He found it, attached it to my watch strap – and charged me nothing! Where do you think I’ll go when I need a new watch strap or even a new watch? And how many people do you think I’ve told this story to?

6) Train your staff  to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.  Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at…”

7) Take the extra step. For instance, if someone walks into your store and asks you to help them find something, don’t just say, “It’s in Aisle 3”. Lead the customer to the item. Better yet, wait and see if he has questions about it, or further needs. Whatever the extra step may be, if you want to provide good customer service, take it. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people.

8) Throw in something extra. Whether it’s a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective.

If you apply these eight simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. And the best part? The irony of good customer service is that over time it will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever did!


The vast majority of people will not return to a company they have left due to poor customer service under any circumstances, new research has revealed.


A study released today (3 May) by employee engagement agency Involve found that 79% of Britons have never been persuaded to re-join an organisation after deciding to end their association.

Even financial incentives from firms do not work very often, with just 8% of the 2,000 individuals questioned admitted being won back with a discount or a better deal.

Over promise and under deliver ….the most likely reason for leaving an organisation was found to be when people had found there was a significant discrepancy between the services they were promised and what they actually received, with 68% of respondents indicating this to be the case.

Jeremy Starling, managing director at Involve, said that while companies should be “heartened” by the fact most customers will not leave the first time they experience a problem, they will if attitude of their customer services personnel is poor.

How good is your customer service? How do you know? Do you really talk to your customers and find out what they want and if your service meets their expectations?

Communication is the key and people make the difference when it comes to good service.