Just like "plastic glasses" or "large shrimp", customer service is an oxymoron in many businesses. How many times have we stood in the "Customer Service" line and experienced anything but?
I've had the satisfaction to implement strong customer service programs at several businesses and while it's not an easy process, I've found a few areas to simplify and help ensure longevity of a heightened service culture. Below are those areas in summary form.
Stop building customer service programs as top-down models.
This is the difference in employees buying into a service model or being in a service model. Because of the demand for consistency is critical in great service models, monotony, shortcuts, and scoffing are far more existing when employees "have to" give great service.
2. For service delivery standards, consider only using employee provided standards.
How powerful, and more accountable, is the employee that is waitstaff, and says they can look a guest in the eyes and say, "I will check on you every several minutes to keep your drinks full and take away any dirty dishes so you can visit without worry." (Because that is what that very server wishes could happen to them when they go out and dine.)
3. Try to stop managing employees and learn to lead associates.
Definition of Managing- having executive or supervisory control or authority.
Definition of Leading- guidance or leadership, especially in a spiritual context.
Definition of Employee- a person employed for wages or salary, especially at
Definition of Associate- a partner or colleague in business or at work
I really like to think of the above as I am a leader in an organization. Because I demonstrate compassion, empathy, honesty, open-mindedness, and humility with my associates, we can foster a culture of welcoming, problem-solving, consistent and relationship-building business interactions where customers just want to return to when they can.
As I mentioned in the opening, these are a summary of a few elements of some very powerful service programs. Over my span of experience, and education in human development, the service structure for any business does not have to be overly detailed or long drawn out. To build upon what it means to truly empower a team is, as administration, handing over the reins and have the organization do what it can to back up the team with resources, training, and ongoing monitoring/enhancing periods. That is a simplified, yet extremely powerful, model for success.