Lex Tannenbaum

Look in the culture statement of every business, and you’ll find a statement about good customer service.  

“The customer comes first, second and third”, or

“Rule #1: the customer is always right.  

Rule #2: if the customer is wrong, refer to rule #1”.  

These are common sentiments, but the truth is that the ideal is seldom, if ever, reached.  Somehow, service never seems to reach the level that constantly leaves the customer feeling delighted.

The reason often attributed to this lack of success is the motivation and ability of team members to deliver excellent service.

Motivate your team

In his book, Building the happiness centered business, Dr Paddy Lund makes the point that people will not provide great service unless they see a benefit to themselves – whether it be financial, intellectual or the avoidance of punishment.  This often means that customer service comes across as forced or insincere, and customers are sensitive enough to notice.

So how can the team be motivated to give that great level of service?

Lund points out that “the most effective motivator for providing great service is a sincere interest and care for the person you are serving.”  But how do you get team members to really care about customers?

Ensure that your team is happy at work.  If team members feel valued and empowered, and the atmosphere in the workplace is one in which each team member is treated with genuine care and respect, there is a good chance that they will treat customers the same way.  And if they treat customers with genuine care and respect, there is every chance that the aim of awesome customer service will be achieved.

Give your team the authority to act

Even if team members are treating customers with genuine care and respect, they still won’t be able to deliver that special level of customer service if you don’t allow them to take risks.

A customer of Zappos, an online supplier of shoes, handbags and just about any other item, tells a wonderful story.  She had arranged to return some shoes. When Zappos hadn’t received them after a couple of days, they emailed the customer to enquire.  The customer emailed back, apologizing for the delay, and explaining that her mother had just died, and that she wasn’t ready to deal with the return of the shoes.

She received an immediate reply to the effect that Zappos had arranged for UPS to pick up the shoes, so that the customer wouldn’t have the bother of sending them back – even though this was against company policy.  The customer, understandably, was very grateful.

The next day, she came home to find a beautiful bunch of flowers, with a condolence card from Zappos.  The telesales girl had taken it upon herself to show the customer that Zappos cared, knowing that the company would back her up.

Zappos have a well-defined culture of customer care, and make sure that every team member has the authority to put it into practice.  They achieve the aim of awesome customer service.

Jet Blue is a budget airline.  A customer tells how a flight attendant was able to turn a bad experience into a good one.  He was on a flight that had been delayed, as had every other flight that day. They were about 2 hours late taking off, and the passengers were not a happy bunch.  The flight attendant got onto the PA system, and apologized for the delay. She told the passengers that, even though the delay was due to the weather, and was not the fault of Jet Blue, all movies for the flight would be complimentary.  She wanted the passengers to end what had been a long and trying day, on a happy note. The atmosphere on the plane immediately brightened considerably.

When the passenger asked the flight attendant what allowed her to make the call, she told him that the team were allowed to make any decision, as long as they could justify it by one of the airlines 5 core values: Safety, Caring, Integrity, Fun or Passion.

So many examples of wonderful customer experiences come from a team member being allowed to act outside the square, even it means an additional cost to the business.

How empowered are your team members?  Would you back your team members if they used their discretion, and spent money to create an awesome customer experience?  Would they feel comfortable doing that?

If you truly want to create and excellent buying experience for your customers, make sure that you create a really happy working environment, and that you give you team members a feeling of empowerment to put the culture into effect. Want to discuss strategies to empower your staff to deliver great customer service? Book a chat with Lex Tannenbaum today.