By sealenterprises, Sep 3 2015 12:54PM
Good Customer Service - neglect it at your peril!
Once upon a time there was a land, a place where the interaction between staff and customer, that fleeting few seconds of inter communication between staff and client, was believed to be the most important thing in the success of any business.
Long before any new member of staff was allowed to practice their newly acquired skills on any member of the public or client, they had to undergo a rigorous and sometimes intensively demanding set of ‘customer code of practice’ training sessions. Not until they could demonstrate a minimum level of ‘customer service etiquette’ could they be allowed to deal direct with a customer or client. This code of conduct was rigorously enforced and regularly reviewed, with dire consequences if one did not fall back into line.
This ‘customer code of practice’ ethic, all started when you were growing up. If you were like me, the first education I ever received from my parents was I was only permitted to say just three words, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’. Once I had mastered the art of keeping my mouth shut, I was allowed to move onto the next phase of my human communication schooling. This involved the grand step of adding a few more words to these two phrases so that we then had, “Yes Please” and “No Thank You”!
In these few and brief early exchanges with other members of my species, I learned quite early this was all I ever needed to initiate a sound platform for human communication and mature discussion. However, this could only be done by adhering to a strict code of conduct and rules, which we also learnt at our peril:
You could only ever talk to someone, when you have been spoken too!
You never, ever talked out of turn
Whatever you were asked, your answer could ever only have two possible outcomes; “Yes please” or “No Thank You”
And you never talked with your mouth full.
That was it. For the first few years of my life, it seemed that’s all I was ever allowed to say. If you broke or attempted to break any of these early communicating rules, punishment was usually dealt out to you like you had committed some terrible crime.
I am now in my fifties and my first automatic response, when someone asks me for something or tells me something, is to say “Yes please” or “No Thank You”. I must point out, I have moved on since those early days and my fifty-odd years on this planet has allowed me to acquired a much more varied and in-depth vocabulary these days.
Being taught how, when and why to say, “Yes please” or “No Thank You” was my and probably most of us, first lesson in the lost disciplines of manners and social etiquette.
These lessons of social interaction and manners gradually increased in their complexity and effectiveness, throughout my childhood and teenage years, yet those four basic core rules, still form the heart of all my communication today. I call these rules the ‘art of effective, social, interactive communication’.
However, if like me, you go to a restaurant, retail outlet, hotel, entertainment theatre or virtually any place that involves, ‘effective, social, interactive, communication’, you will experience a void in this vital human skills department.
The phrase ‘effective, social, interactive, communication’ when used and applied in the world of business has a different name – it’s known as ‘Customer Service’.
Lets look at those two words briefly:
‘Customer’ - that’s anyone, you, me, and them. A prospective client, a current client or a former client, they are all customers.
‘Service’ – to provide something, for someone. To help, to inform, to address, to show, etc. When was the last time you experienced that? Phrases such as; “Thank You”, “Your Welcome”, “How Can I Help You”, “Please”, “What can we do for you today”, “How can I be of service”.
It has somehow become almost un-fashionable to be nice, to be courteous, to visibly show you want to help someone. Instead, it is taken for granted today that being helpful, having good and effective customer service etiquette is somehow not needed or cheesy. There is an old saying in the USA that is used almost like saying hello or goodbye; it has its variations but usually goes along the lines of “Have a nice day now youall!!!”. Now people complain it is false and not meant, but at the very least it oils the day along. Besides, I would rather someone wishing me to have a nice day, and being false, than wishing me a horrible day, and meaning it!!
In an era when companies and organisations are under intense pressure and scrutiny to yield ever greater profit margins, against increasing odds, one of the most fundamental, basic elements of any business success has been ignored and left to wither.
Businesses today will spend hundreds of hours poring over facts, data sheets, surveys, tables, trends and forecasts in order to ascertain some information or shed new light on how to achieve greater profits. They will invest large sums of money, employ the finest marketing teams and promotions experts, launch expensive advertising campaigns and if all else fails, try to baffle us at the point of sale with weird and complex discounts schemes.
Yet, one of the oldest, simplest and relatively cheapest methods of ensuring that your most important assets, your ‘customers’, are pleased with their purchasing experience, pleased with their product or service, (the ones you have so expensively marketed), that the experience of dealing with your business was easy and pleasurable, that they go and tell others (they spread the word) and will be returning time after time, is not being practiced.
If one analyses any sector of the business world and takes a closer look, comparing successful businesses with those who are struggling, you will find a strong ‘customer service’ ethic at the core of those companies that have done well or weathered the financial storm of the last ten years. You’ll find that their ‘mission statement’ is strictly adhered to, forming an integral part of their past, current and future success story.
Customer Service training for you and your staff - neglect it at your peril!