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The worst possible customer service training is one that neglects to explain the “why” behind great customer service. The second-worst customer service training is one that neglects to show the “how.”
Every customer service training session (or keynote speech or workshop or breakout session on the topic) needs to include both the why and the how: conceptual/inspirational/cultural themes on the one hand and behavioral examples and instruction on the other. Depending on a few factors (the type of presentation; the nature of the positions being trained for; the company or division in question’s overall thrust and immediate circumstances), it may be appropriate to emphasize one part over than the other, but you need to include both.
A customer service keynote speech will be weighted more (but not entirely) toward the “whys”: the inspirational concepts, key philosophies and bedrock principles of exceptional customer service and of a superior customer service culture. Yet, essential though this “why” is, still, in order to propel the audience toward action, a customer service keynote needs to also include behavioral examples and some tradecraft instruction to help attendees learn how to pull off these desired behaviors.
A customer service training workshop will be weighted more (but not entirely) toward the nuts and bolts: the behaviors that support great customer service and the tradecraft involved in successfully performing these behaviors. However, if a training curriculum goes too far in this direction and leaves out the “why,” it’s going to be disastrous. If you don’t take the time to explain to employees, why your organization values particular behaviors, you’ll have trouble getting more than the minimum of what the employees attending the training are capable. To phrase this more positively: If you offer the “why” rather than just dictating behavior after behavior without sharing the goals behind those behaviors, employees in attendance will later, in their daily work, find creative ways to help the organization that their leaders never even conceived of.
Here are three examples of customer service “why” and “how”: the conceptual/inspirational/cultural portion of what should be covered in a customer service keynote speech, customer service training, or workshop; and the behavioral side, the “how,” which should consist both of examples of behavior and the tradecraft/tradeskill that can help employees succeed with such behaviors.
1. Inspirational/Conceptual/Cultural Theme: The importance of wowing customers. In introducing the subject of “wow” customer service, I would discuss the importance of building powerful memories with your customers through experiences that go beyond the expected. I’ll offer my definition of a wow experience: when service goes beyond fulfilling basic customer expectations and does so in a creative, unexpected way, and discuss the importance of doing so: that by creating such an experience, you give rise to a story in the mind of your customer; since humans tend to think, and remember, in terms of stories, the “wow” approach is a powerful way to build lasting connections with customers.
• Behavioral Example: In the case of “wow,” which is a broad and essential concept, I would offer two types of examples intended to model and inspire similar behaviors by the employees in attendance.
First, I’d share an elaborate example of inspired, empowered employees creating a “wow” experience, perhaps the story of how Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain seamlessly replaced a lost Thomas the Tank Engine for a distraught toddler in a way that actually improved the situation rather than merely mitigating the initial loss. Two young employees, when the toddler’s mom alerted them to the loss, drove to a toy store and purchased a dead ringer of the original train for the little boy, then composed a note in longhand to the boy–in the voice of Thomas himself –telling a sweet tale about the extended vacation Thomas had taken after being accidentally left behind. The account included adorable pictures of Thomas exploring the property, cooking in the Ritz-Carlton kitchen, and more.
Second, I’d share a more workaday example of how Zappos strives to create “everyday wow” on each and every phone call by having that phone call go above and beyond the ordinary.
• Tradeskill/tradecraft: Here, I would dive into the reality that, with customers, it’s not always the right time for ‘wow.’” With the help of some role-plays, we’d learn to pick up on the subtle messages from customers may give off showing that they are rushed/stressed/in a private mood, and that, therefore, any attempt right now to wow them will feel like an intrusion or a delay.
2. Inspirational/Conceptual/Cultural Theme: Building a Cultural Default of Yes. Here, I will talk about the importance of “yes” as a cultural default that should be central to your mindset and how seriously this theme is embedded in great customer-focused cultures and companies, such as Virgin Hotels, where every guestroom telephone has a single button with the word “Yes!” in bright red letters, telegraphing the answer a guest can expect when they press that button and make a request.
• Behavioral Example: How employees, regardless of their positions in the organization, can become adept at “taking ownership” of simple requests, even those that fall outside of their typical area of responsibility. Language an employee should learn to use here would be along the lines of,
“Absolutely, I can help you with that,”
(even if providing that help requires them to lean on a more knowledgeable employee) rather than,
“I can’t help you with that; that falls outside my department.”
• Tradeskill: How to respond in the situations when you simply can’t say “yes”:
A tricky part of the dictum that “the answer should be yes” is the reality that you can’t, actually, always say yes. This is where tradeskill comes in: learning to never say no without offering one or more reasonable alternatives; when you offer an alternative solution and an apology, it’s likely to make your “no” easier to accept:
“I’m sorry, Mr. Henderson. Although we are unable to ship all eight pieces of luggage you ordered on our website to Madagascar without charge, would it help if we shipped the suitcase you plan to give to your wife overnight at our expense?”
3. Inspirational/Conceptual/Cultural Theme: The importance of customer service recovery. Here, I would explain that that learning to handle upset customers is a skill so powerful that it can turn customers around to the extent that they’ll sometimes become stronger advocates for our business than if the error had never happened in the first place.
• Behavioral Example: Here, I will discuss the importance of avoiding defensive language, and offer two animated graphics with defensive vs. non-defensive language. As an exercise, we will select which words and phrases fall in which category and practice using the non-defensive language in a simulated real-life situation.
• Tradeskill: To become truly adept at service recovery, you need to learn a service recovery framework that you can later refer to–when the situation is tense and stressful, with emotions flying all around. So, I will offer participants/audience members my five-step AWARE framework for customer service recovery, and we will do an exercise to begin to get AWARE into attendees’ repertoire. [Readers: If you’d like your own copy of my AWARE customer service recovery methodology, let me know and I’ll send it your way.]
March 1, 2019 at 12:01AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs