Resist the Bandaid Solution

A recent blog post detailed the 2012 Traveler Rants & Raves, based on millions of on-line review.  Customer service led both the rant and the rave categories.  On a positive note, there were far more raves than rants. (Read entire article here.)

So what does a service provider do when they notice that the service rants for their property are trending upward and the raves are going down?

Often, the answer is “we need some customer service training here.” Unfortunately, very often that is a bandage solution to a deeper problem.

Poor customer service happens due to a number of reasons.

  1. A lack of clear service standards.  When service teams do not clearly understand service expectations, it’s very difficult to meet or exceed them!  Yes, there are some employees who think “friendly” looks and sounds the same as their boss does. Others have a very different idea.  With different personality types, different backgrounds and different experiences to draw on, “friendly” can have different meanings to different people.
  2. Poor internal customer service.  Poor internal service leads to poor external service. Very, very few of us are able to turn off the negative feelings that result from a squabble with a team member, a dressing down by a supervisor (especially when done in front of others), unreasonable workloads, no response or slow response to requests … the list could go on and on.  And when your service team is not happy, chances are your external customers aren’t happy either, or at least not as happy as they could be.
  3. Poor skills training.  When somebody on your service team does not know how to complete the tasks associated with their job, if they cannot answer basic customer questions or know who to go to for the answers, they become frustrated and the customer becomes frustrated.  Putting someone on a shift too soon is not good for business.

Customer service training can be effective.  It provides a forum to discuss challenges and develop solutions.  It provides an opportunity to focus on and identify specific customer needs, wants and expectations and come up with ideas on how to meet or exceed those expectations.  It can help build confidence and skills in dealing with difficult or challenging situations.

Customer service training is not the answer if internal service is poor, if employees are not confident in their knowledge or skills or if they don’t clearly understand what is expected of them.  Take care of those issues first.  (And if you need help with that, feel free to give me a call!)

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