I’ve had a few experiences recently that prompted me to think about customer service. I’m a big believer in the power of good customer service and for me the treatment I get often makes the difference between buying something or not, and my loyalty levels. This is probably the case for a lot of people I know. However, when I found myself feeling grateful when a delivery man was pleasant and helpful - I wondered if my values had overtaken me!
The more I thought about it though, the more I realised my feelings were justified. It is just a shame that good customer service is perhaps the exception rather than the rule, or that I feel that it is. There’s no doubt that training can help and so I was pleased to see the case study in this month’s Training Journal on a leading retailer and its ‘Always Happy to Help’ initiative. Underpinning this initiative were three key behaviours:
- always being warm (when greeting customers)
- always being interested (in customers’ needs)
- always being willing (to help customers).
Common sense really. So why is it so difficult to put this into practice?
So why is this the exception rather than the rule? It’s pretty complex - there are many organisational influences that affect customer service. For example how much an employee is rewarded, if they are engaged and motivated by their work, whether they feel valued by their employer/line manager and the extent to which the culture supports good customer practice . So when you are on the receiving end of bad customer service, it could be for any number of reasons - some of which sit at the heart of an organisation and are therefore pretty hard to change. It could also be because people haven’t been trained how to deal with customers. And this is where I feel that basic skills training can genuinely help. I know this from being a customer and from some of the client work we do. I just wish it were more widespread!