Do you know how powerful you are when you provide great service? Or when you inspire your team to provide great service?
Do you realize the difference you make when you serve not with just the Golden Rule--doing unto others as you would want them to do to you--but rather, the Platinum Rule--providing the level of service the customer wants, needs and deserves?
Service is very powerful. Right now we're living through a time when service to customers, co-workers and our communities really matters. The power of great service comes from the simple wisdom of core values that guide us to make a real difference in the lives of other human beings.
Everyone is being tried by this virus. Whether we've been thrown into complete chaos or simply out of our comfort zone, we face change that impacts us with great challenge.
We have amazing examples of service under challenge. Everywhere right now in health care, people are going above and beyond, over and over, because they took an oath, and they believe it's the right thing to do. We see people stocking shelves, delivering packages, preparing meals because they believe it's the right thing to do for others.
That kind of powerful service is fueled by core values like compassion, truly caring about another human being; quality, always doing the best you can, with whatever you've got; and gratitude, appreciating what you have so much that you know it's good to share.
Here's a short piece that shows you the core values of great service:
Values of Great Service
The power of values isn't in having them described in a book, or displayed in a frame in your office. The power comes when they are unleashed in words, actions and cultures that help us remember why we do what we do for others.
I hope you're doing well. I hope this virus is seen as a challenge that brings our the best in you and all those you work with. And I hope your values help you be the most powerful you, every day.
Last week I studied Zoom so I could offer an intelligent idea on how to virtually deliver customer service training for a new client. Several years ago I conducted an entire customer service series on-line for the University of Nebraska, but someone else handled the technical side.
Thankfully, Zoom makes it easy to interact with people. The same for social media. Both offer you great assistance in building and maintaining customer connections during this pandemic. How important is that? Consider this:
Connecting is about building community, and community IS the new content that offers value to our customers.
How can you use that idea during this time?
Tell your story. Use Zoom, or Facetime, or other apps to keep your customers current on your story. Show customers your products, especially new products they likely haven’t seen with the pandemic. This one-on-one experience may be time consuming and thus saved for your very best customers. You could feature people with great experience as well as new employees who can’t wait for life to return to normal. If your employees are shy, you can do this by simply walking around and introducing staff along with products.
Educate your customers. You could offer a Facebook Live session to educate your customers by showcasing what’s new. Greenhouses, for example, could show what they’ve been growing, the status of the greenhouses, new plants, staff, etc. Non-profits could show the need for supplies and how they are serving those in need. People are looking for positive messaging on social media, and with your audience, you have tremendous opportunity to deliver in ways that connects with their hearts.
Bonus idea: I believe you could get some serious media coverage for offering this kind of program on social media. Local media is showing tons of good will efforts like this. Yours could be next!
If you like this idea and just need some brainstorming time to make it work, email me at email@example.com.
Remember: You’ve got a community of customers. Connecting with them builds customers for life because they know you care, and that never gets old.
How can optimism make your service stand out?
Let’s say your customer isn’t happy with something. Perhaps the food wasn’t what they expected. Maybe parking was really horrible to even get to your place. Or maybe something they bought just didn’t measure up.
Whatever the issue, they complain, slightly, or a bit more. Whatever the complaint, optimism makes a very real difference for this simply reason: optimism means no need for hesitation. Let me explain.
Hesitation is very natural when you have to figure it out. But when your service policy is grounded in the idea of finding a way to say yes, the normal hesitation is replaced with a confident belief that every problem can, and indeed will, be solved, because solutions means several things:
1. You’ll do everything you can to say yes instead of no;
2. You’ll do everything possible to meet your customer’s needs and desires;
3. You’ll use your positive attitude and communication skills to convey your ownership of the situation.
When you hesitate, you’re pressing the pause button. All customers want to know is that they matter, you’ll fix it, and you’ll of course be fair about it. Your hesitation suggests thinking through options, which, of course you need to do, as soon as you assure the customer that yes, of course, you’ll be able to solve this problem for them.
It’s a great time to say, Yes, we will!
There's one thing I never heard in any of the nearly 100 customer focus groups and employee retreats I have conducted in my business. I have never heard a single person, ever, say they were thanked too much.
I have seen people feel underappreciated, and frankly, unappreciated. I have seen a woman stop supporting a nonprofit because she felt taken for granted. Her name was on one of the buildings downtown in that community.
And she was right. I volunteered alongside her and watched her knowledge of the market get used to make a huge difference. I saw her plan and execute a tremendously successful event to celebrate a milestone in the organization's history. And I heard her offer advice on how much to solicit from key people, because she knew who had money in that town.
And then she resigned. She had not heard thank you very much.
She didn't want a plaque for her wall or desk. She didn't want a huge public thank you. She simply wanted her work to be appreciated by staff and fellow board members
I have actually heard managers say they feared thanking employees would go to their heads and they'd expect more from them. Thankfully, they didn't last long in their jobs as managers.
Gratitude changes us. It helps us feel more joy in our work. Feeling appreciated changes us. Just read a few surveys by the Gallup organization. Gratitude is critical for feeling engaged in the workplace, and feeling engaged is critical to giving great service.
This month, remember the role of gratitude. Find ways to incorporate gratitude into your organization in ways that teach employees to express thanks to customers. And that will make the spirit of Thanksgiving something last beyond November 30.
In honor of National Customer Service Week, I first want to thank each and every one of my readers who delivers great service to customers and co-workers, as well as to all of you who INSPIRE great service every day. Thank you for making a very real difference in the world. We need it.
If, like me, you believe in the good stuff of life: harmony, profits, teamwork, having fun (OK, it’s a short list for today, but you get it, right?), then you can easily see how customer service impacts our lives.
When we serve with patience, we ARE patient! And have you ever heard anyone at a dinner table criticize their parent for being patient with them???
When we serve to help others, we ARE being a great team member. Have you ever seen someone criticize the teamwork that led to a great concert, a great football game, or even a great rummage sale?
OK…so you don’t go to rummage sales. That’s OK. I’ll bet you know a lot of people who do.
It always requires patience to deal with people who aren’t like us, because, well, WE ARE PEOPLE!!!! We’re complicated. OK? WE don’t always intend to be that way, we just are.
But your patience to another says something special: “You’re worth it!”
Isn’t that what you want your customers to feel? Your co-workers to believe? Your leadership team to know in their gut? Your customers are worth the effort, every day, to deliver your Service Brand Promise, an experience created by core values, like patience. Your Service Brand Promise is the reason you give them to keep coming back, to tell others how great you are, to decided to buy more from you. The magical three R’s of Customer Service: Retention, Referrals, Relationships, which help us with Redemption when we mess up, and absolutely build Revenue, which help us make a profit.
All of that from customer service.
A client wanted to build interaction and appreciation between departments to help his team sustain the quality service they provide. Here are three ideas I shared that you can use during Customer Service Week or any time. Even more than once a year!
First, thank your customers! Each employee ought to write at least one note to one customer, thanking them for being your customer. It connects your employees to service in a very nice way.
Second, have employees thank each other. My favorite way to do this is to have an employee gathering, like a meeting, and give each person three sticky notes and a pen. AFTER your inspirational talk on how they make a very real difference for customers by how they serve, create, etc., and how much you appreciate them, tell them it’s their turn. They get to write a thank you not to the person on their left, on their right, and one to anyone else in the organization. Post them all on a wall and let the reading begin!
Third, as much as is humanly possible, thank, in person, each of your team members. And for your bonus: send a thank you note to them at their home address so other members of their family can see the appreciation expressed.
They’re worth it. So are your customers, and so are you.
Happy Customer Service Week!
Dee Dee has helped create and coach "customer care" programs and cultures for healthcare, government, travel, financial services, plumbing, retail, publishing, automotive and entire communities.