The world has become a digital marketplace, and businesses must keep up with changing customer expectations if they want to compete with their competitors, both locally and globally. To stay competitive, business owners need to understand how their employees can help them provide better customer service. Encouraging employees to provide excellent customer service can be challenging for many reasons, but one of the biggest is just our natural human tendency to serve ourselves rather than serve others. We all like to think of ourselves as focused on others. Still, in our day-to-day reality, especially after working in customer service for a while, we start seeing our customers as getting in the way of our work rather than the reason we have a job in the first place. To keep customers at the forefront of your employees’ hearts and minds, you must take active, regular steps to refocus them on your customers.
Communicate your service expectations
Communication is the most essential element of good customer service. It’s important to talk with employees and provide clear instructions on what they need to do, what they have to address, and how they are performing. Employees will listen better if you give them information and direction in a clear way. Ensure every employee knows what’s expected when it comes to helping customers in your business; from greeting customers to managing complaints and returns, your expectations should not only be communicated by you but documented in Standard Operating Procedures.
Provide ongoing training
One way to encourage employees to provide better customer service is to provide ongoing training in customer service, communication, conflict resolution, assertiveness, and other customer service-related skills. Companies should ensure that their employees receive the type of training they need to meet customer expectations. As a business owner, you should identify which training is necessary for your team and ensure they have access to it. If you need help determining what training might be required, reach out to us. We have tools and assessments that can get to the root of your customer service issues and can design a customized program to help you achieve your goals.
Celebrate accomplishments and address service failures quickly
It’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of employees and managers. When praising an employee, it’s not necessary to give them a lot of feedback. Simply mentioning what they did well and why it was important will help to encourage better behavior. Good work that gets noticed gets repeated. It’s also essential to provide people with private recognition for their work. This can include a short, written note, one-on-one conversation, or a small gift from the company.
When things go wrong, it’s vital to address service failures quickly to avoid them repeating and bad habits setting in. Always provide corrections in private and use my Performance Improvement Feedback process to guide your conversation.
Hold regular meetings focused on customer service
Hold regular meetings throughout the year to discuss best practices for customer service. This can be done in a variety of ways, but it’s crucial that employees feel involved and heard when making suggestions. A tip for these meetings is to get employees involved. Don’t always let leaders and managers dictate or lecture. Make employees accountable for helping train their fellow employees. One way to do this would be to identify subject-matter experts and have them develop a short talk on a customer service topic. Alternatively, you can assign topics to teams of employees to research together and come back and present to the team.
Don’t micromanage and give employees autonomy
As the boss, you must be aware of the company’s culture and how your employees interact with customers. You have to ensure that your employees provide good customer service, but you can’t micromanage every move they make. If you continue to micromanage, it becomes more difficult for them to do their job effectively. At the same time, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to know what is happening in your business. It just means that you need to give your employees autonomy for them to perform well. I like to use a red light, yellow light, and green light method to identify levels of autonomy. To do this, you’ll need to identify for your employees what customer service steps they can take without permission or approval (green lights), what customer service steps would require approval (red lights), and anything that doesn’t fall into the category of red or green would need to be checked before taking action.