Great Service is a Team Effort

"TEAM" SKETCH NOTES (teamwork meeting strategy business ideas)The ability of a team to deliver good to great service is not the responsibility of just one or two people. It doesn’t matter if someone works front-of-house or back-of-house. It doesn’t matter if someone answers phones at front reception or sit in a corner office. Everyone plays a role in the overall customer service experience.

It takes a team of committed service providers working together to meet and exceed customer expectations and it takes a team to build a strong customer service strategy. As the leader of a service team, if you want your team members to buy into the process, don’t forget the following:

1) Identify key players on your team to help build your customer service strategy. Who has the ability to connect with other team members to get ideas and input? Who has the trust of other team members? Who has great listening skills? Those are the people you want to pull into this very important project.

2)  Demonstrate what great service looks like. Treat your team members the way you want them to treat their co-workers and your customers. Smile.  Use their name. Remember personal things about them.  Be respectful.  Don’t judge.

Creating a customer service strategy is not a one-person job. Give your team a chance to help build the plan and increase the odds of success.

How to Lose Customers (and Potential Customers) in Five Easy Steps

Companies with short-term vision, companies concerned only about making the sale and closing the deal, instead of building trust, credibility and relationships have mastered the following five tips on how to lose customers:

  1. Ignore them. During the busy holiday season, I conducted a little experiment.  I decided that I would only purchase items in stores where someone offered to help me.  I browsed each store with a list in hand, in same cases wandering multiple aisles trying to find an item on my list.  Thankfully my list wasn’t too long because I walked out of a lot of stores that had what I was looking for.  The number of employees who looked past me or who walked right by me without any acknowledgement was astonishing.  All they had to do to get me to pull out my credit card was acknowledge me and ask if they could help. That’s it.
  2. Talk down to them.  Sometimes customers ask stupid questions. Oh wait … no they don’t! They are valid questions to the customer. The customer is not the expert on your business or the products and services you offer.  You are!  Plus, there is a lot of incorrect information floating around that your customer may have heard.  Treat their questions with respect.  Making the customer feel stupid is not good for business.
  3. Take them for granted.  You are not doing the customer a favor by offering your product or service.  You are meeting a need, solving a problem, providing entertainment or joy, but chances are another company can also meet that need, solve that problem or entertain them.  When a customer chooses to spend their time and money with you instead of your competitor, that is a reason to be thankful.  Customers want to be appreciated. They want to feel valued and special.  Let your customers know you appreciate them.  Thank them for their business, their support and their loyalty.
  4. Make promises you can’t keep.  This isn’t about service breakdowns. Those happen to even the best of the best. (The best of the best have plans in place to deal with those breakdowns when they happen.) This is about telling someone a lie or stretching the truth in order to close a sale. It’s about deliberately omitting information on a product or service that if the customer knew, they would not purchase.  It’s about looking to close the deal instead of about looking to build a relationship.
  5. Spam them.  Just because we exchanged business cards at a some networking event does not mean you have my permission to add me on to every one of your mailing lists.  The same thing applies if I download a free whitepaper or fill out a form.  At the very least, let me know that if I do request a free download or complete a form, I will get multiple emails from you. That way I can decide if what you are providing is worth the email bombardment.

These are just five things I came up with.  What are some things that have turned you away from doing business with a company?   Please feel free to share by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of this post.  


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You’re Fired!

Just when I was starting to think there wasn’t one more blog post in me, a City of Winnipeg truck tried to beat a yellow light by making an illegal turn and in the process, cuts off the truck in front of me and blocks traffic in the intersection.

When a team member is in uniform, wearing a name tag, on shift, or driving a branded vehicle they represent your company.  Their behaviour, good or bad, reflects back onto the company.  So what do you do when a team member represents your company poorly? The easy response is “Write them up and warn them of the consequences if they are caught repeating the negative behaviour”.

When a team member doesn’t perform to standard, breaks the rules, or acts badly, the behaviour needs to be addressed.  Turning a blind eye and letting it slide isn’t an option.   But I have heard too many stories of supervisors and managers who jump to the conclusion that the person has a bad attitude, doesn’t care, or is incompetent.  They immediately resort to punitive measures instead of looking for causes or underlying reasons behind the behaviour.

Instead of immediately jumping to the negative, effective supervisors and managers ask the following:

  1. Did I provide the service team member proper training and support on hire?
  2. Am I continuing to provide meaningful feedback on a consistent basis?
  3. What have I done, or not done, to ensure everyone on my team understands the impact they have on our team and the organization?
  4. Are my team members proud to work for this company?

Effective supervisors and managers don’t just ask themselves those questions.  They also ask their team member those questions.  The answers to those questions help create solutions to low employee engagement.

Digging deep takes time, it takes effort and it takes an open mind, but the extra work is worth it. Retraining is less expensive than recruiting and training a new employee.  Helping employees recognize and understand their value increases employee engagement. And, last but not least, engaged employees who are proud of what they do and where they work  don’t do things like run lights and cut their customers off while driving company trucks.

Pizza Anyone?

Recently, my husband called and placed an order for pizza. A few minutes after hanging up the phone, he realized that he’d ordered regular crust instead of thin crust for one of the pies. So he called back to see if he could change the order. The conversation went something like this:

Pizza store employee: Name of pizza company (Yes, I am protecting the guilty. There was no thank you for calling, no offer of assistance, just the name of the store)
Chad: Hi. My name is Chad Barkman and I called just a few minutes ago.  I ordered the wrong type of crust on one of the pizzas. Can I change my order?”
Pizza store employee:   (After a few moments of silence) Actually sir, you called 5 minutes and 14 seconds ago.  Your pizza is already in the oven.  We can’t change it.

Here’s another scenario.  Debbie needed to order pizzas so she went on-line to Papa Johns and placed her order.  Forty minutes later two cheese pizzas were delivered. The problem … she hadn’t ordered two cheese pizzas. So Debbie called to let them know an error had been made.  Here’s how that conversation went:

Papa John’s employee:  Thank you for calling Papa John’s.  How may I help you?
Debbie:  The pizza I ordered just arrived and it’s wrong.  I got two cheese pizzas instead of one cheese and one pepperoni & cheese.
Papa John’s employee:  I’m sorry to hear that.  How did you place the order?
Debbie: I placed the order on-line
Papa John’s employee:: Thank you. Yes, I see your order here. I’m sorry you didn’t receive the pizza you wanted. Would you like to us to deliver a pepperoni pizza or would you prefer a credit?”

Debbie opted for the credit.  Later, after her guests  left, Debbie opened up her email. She read the email from Papa John’s confirming her order, and realized she had ordered two cheese pizzas.  She had made the mistake, not Papa John’s.  The lady answering the phone on the other end knew she’d made the mistake. After all, she found Debbie’s order.  Instead of arguing with Debbie and proving they hadn’t made the mistake, she apologized for the disappointment and offered a solution.

In both situations, the customer made a mistake. They placed the wrong order, but in the second scenario, the company focused on customer satisfaction, instead of being right.  There are times customers are unhappy because they made the mistake. Sometimes they know it; sometimes they don’t.  Either way, if you are really focused on winning, define winning as ‘finding a way to solve the problem and keep the customer coming back another day.’

Which is better for the bottom line? Being right or keeping a customer?  In the first scenario, being right saved the company the  cost of one pizza, but it lost all the many pizza orders to come.  Not much of a win.


Sunshine, Rainbows and Unicorns aren’t All They’re Cracked up to Be

… or why whiners and complainers are worth listening to.


Broc Edwards, blogger at fool with a plan, recently included the following paragraph in one of his blogs.

People who truly care about the results they are creating in their jobs aren’t always happy. They’re frequently frustrated, irritated, and torqued off at the people and processes and policies between them and the outcomes they are trying to create. Engaged people take ownership and responsibility and that doesn’t always bring sunshine and rainbows and unicorns.

 It’s easy to brush off whiners and complainers as nothing but whiners and complainers but when we consider the above comment, perhaps they shouldn’t be brushed off so quickly.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every person on your team truly cared about their job and owned their role in the success of your business and their professional goals?  But chances are, you have some people on your team who don’t care, who are the walking zombies Broc refers to. They are warm bodies who fill up a time slot on your schedule.  They may not complain but it’s because they don’t care enough to complain.  They may walk in with smiles but if you asked them how to improve a process or customer service, they wouldn’t be able to tell you, because they don’t care.

On the other hand, the person who keeps coming to you with complaints may be someone who really cares and if you brush the complainer off as nothing but a whiner, they may stop caring; they may stop coming to you with information that could make your business better.

Some people are lousy communicators, which is really too bad, especially when the information they are trying to share is valuable.

The next time someone comes to you with a complaint, take the time to really listen. Ask questions, including suggestions on how they would address the problem. If they hadn’t thought that far, ask them to.  You just may help turn the whiner and complainer who cares into a contributing ally.


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