Customer Service Excellence Tips From Experience
Most people know when they are getting bad service or service that doesn’t meet expectations. But when you get excellent customer service, you can see and feel the difference! Have you ever stopped to really understand what you would put on a list of customer service excellence tips?
We have stayed at high end hotels and resorts that talk about service quality but many times they have not hit the “excellence” bar. While you might see it from one or two staff, it is clear that service quality excellence is not embraced by everyone, staff aren’t hired for those skills or replaced when they fail to deliver. On a recent cruise we were reminded how great it was to see a culture totally focused on exceeding customer expectations!
What 10 things go on a customer service excellence tips list?
1) Starts At The Top
The leadership in the organization must be totally committed to customer satisfaction. It must be ingrained into the mission statement and values. Delivering excellence must be rewarded and sometimes staff who don’t “get it” must be moved out of the organization. If you don’t deal with those who tarnish your reputation, nobody will take it seriously either.
2) Visible Management Staff
Closely related to the first is the need for management to be visible in all areas of service delivery. They need to walk the floor providing feedback to staff, checking on the client satisfaction and pitching in when an extra hand is needed.
3) Never “Not My Job”
Staff need to own an issue, an inquiry or a request until they can be sure the right person is resolving it. Customers should not have to chase around in an organization to try to figure out who can address their need. We all have “other duties as required” in our job descriptions, so it “IS” your job until you have done everything you can.
4) Asking For Feedback – All The Time
Organizations who care about delivering quality ask about the quality – all the time! Every person who interacts with you should genuinely want to know if everything is good. Formal requests for feedback can be done with mid-stay surveys, a personal discussion or when you are leaving. On our recent trip, we were asked by everyone from the restaurant manager to the sommelier to the head waiter to the server about the quality of our food and about the service.
5) Respond To Feedback – Immediately
It is not enough to ask for feedback, you must be prompt in responding to feedback. It has long been established that service recovery will drive client loyalty. How a company responds to a problem is more important than having no problems to begin with. In less than 24 hours after I had provided some minor comments on my mid-cruise survey, I was contacted to get more details, to apologize for the issue and to assure me that the issue would be corrected. When I had an issue with a meal, the executive chef had been told and he made sure to stop at our table to apologize, commenting “you think I wouldn’t know?”
6) Don’t Have To Ask Twice
If you ask me for my preferences in advance, don’t treat me as if I walked in off the street. Once I ask for the same thing a few times, remember my preferences (ice in my room, where I liked to sit). Excellent staff will even be proactive without asking (our breakfast waiter on watching us bring in real barista-made cappuccinos, stopped offering us machine coffee).
7) Interact With the Customers
Most people appreciate staff who try to interact at a personal level (without being too familiar). It shows a genuine interest in the person, not just in doing the job at hand. But time management skills are imperative. It may seem to be appropriate to spend an endless amount of time with a client, but at some point you need to draw a line in the sand and politely move on.
8) Staff Coach Each Other
Even with visible management around to provide guidance, the staff can be seen to be coaching and helping each other. Peer mentors are valuable in really showing what customer service excellence looks like. It is especially important when new people are brought onto the team. Clients have had their expectations set and they might not understand if there is a steep learning curve. (P.S. I wish I had a picture of my favourite staff member Gede who exemplified this in everything he did)
9) Smiles Are Free
They cost nothing but the reward is high. It helps to start the interaction off on a positive note. It creates a more positive working environment. And a smile is contagious. We will smile right back!
10) Be An Expert
Really know the products or services you sell. There is nothing worse than trying to fool a customer pretending you know your stuff.
What You Should Do As A Client
We have talked about the customer service excellence tips for a company or service, but as a client, if you get excellent service on a consistent basis, you can do your part to ensure it is maintained:
- Patience is a virtue. All too often this simple skill is forgotten, especially during the busy periods.
- Accept an occasional slip. Anyone can have a bad day.
- Smile back and be polite.
- Provide constructive feedback when asked – both good and “needs improvement”.
- Ask for what you want. People are not mind readers.
- Tell others (including on social media). Although I might suggest that excessive criticism maybe should go through a more private channel.
Real customer service excellence is hard to find but you will know when you get it. And it will make it very hard to accept less!
If you ever want to read about how to engineer awesome customer service you should read the Disney story! It has inspired me since the very first time I heard about it. Plan for failure and flawless recovery!
When did you last see great customer service? What would on the customer service excellence tips list?