Customer service can make or break a business. Earning a good reputation for customer service starts with interviewing and hiring customer-oriented employees, but it also requires having a philosophy that emphasizes and supports a customer-focused environment. For HR, that means setting up training so that new hires understand customer service and your company culture.
Employee Empowerment Starts with Good Decision Making
If employees are going to provide excellent customer service, they need to have the power and tools to do so. Your customer service philosophy should not be so restrictive that employees need to get manager approval whenever they want to do something extra for a customer. Customer service should not be bound by rigid policies because employees need to be empowered to make the decisions that can mean the difference between keeping and losing a customer. The key to great customer service and engagement starts with an employee empowerment program company.
Simulate Good Decision-Making in Training
The best place for employees to make their first customer-service decisions is in a safe environment. What’s the easiest way to do this efficiently?
Create easy training simulations with live web polls, embedded in PowerPoint, or presented straight from the web. All your new employees can use their own mobile phones to answer open-response questions and multiple choice alike. Responses show up on the screen immediately so you can discuss, correct, and explain in the moment. Here’s how it looks in action:
Here’s how it works in customer service training:
1. Show a common customer-service problem. (i.e. Customer complains that a product is damaged.)
2. Present a multiple-choice poll with possible decisions on how to resolve the problem.
3. Demonstrate the results of the group’s choice. (i.e. Customer escalates to yelling, or customer smiles and thanks you.)
4. Discuss what happened, or what should have happened.
For more advanced training, use a Q&A Poll to solicit possible decisions from trainees. This poll type allows everyone to type in an open response, and then upvote or downvote other responses. In less than a minute, you have a ranked list of the best decisions from the group.
Having a policy or employee empowerment program like this requires trusting your employees. This means employees should be authorized to give discounts or provide an easy replacement if a customer does not like a product. Focus on hiring employees who show good judgement, so you can have people in customer-facing positions who you can trust. Avoid forcing employees to use a set script or having specific things they must say. Such approaches can be impersonal and come off as forced and inauthentic. If you have hired employees with good customer service skills, you should not have to tell them exactly what they should say.
Have a Company Philosophy on Customer Service & Provide Training
If your business is retail, food service or another industry that is very customer-focused, include your company’s customer service philosophy in your employee handbook. As I mentioned, a good approach to customer service empowers employees to give excellent service. Include this in your handbook, and provide examples of what going above and beyond for customers means. This may mean giving a free sample or providing a discount to an unhappy customer.
Training new hires on customer service is more than telling them to smile and remember that the customer is always right. Include customer service training in your new hire orientation. Review your companyís philosophy and give real examples of good customer service. Present scenarios and ask new hires what they would do in these situations. Remember that good customer service means being friendly, positive, knowledgable, efficient and helpful, so discuss these things and incorporate them in your examples.
During the first few days, pair new hires with your best employees. If new hires have any doubts about what it means to do what it takes to make customers happy, seeing your star employees in action will help them. When you see employees giving excellent service, give them immediate positive feedback. Some employers take this a step further by having an incentive program that gives employees tokens when a manager catches them giving good service. It supports the existing empowerment program. The tokens can then be cashed in for movie tickets, discounts and other fun items.
Nurture Company Ethos at All-Hands Meetings
Kick off the orientation with an icebreaker question designed for building teamwork. Then follow up at all-hands meetings with live question slides in PowerPoint, about company policies, ethics, and best practices. Make sure to give recognition for great responses.
Lead by Example
Leading by example includes giving good service to customers, but it also means giving good internal customer service to employees. Ultimately you want employees to be loyal to your business in the same way customers are, so it makes sense to extend your customer service philosophy to how you treat those who work for you. Doing so sends the message that you value kindness.
Work on building a culture of respect between managers and employees, and this will trickle over to how employees treat customers. If employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to carry that into their work.
Stephanie Hammerwold, PHR is the co-owner of Hammerwold & Pershing and specializes in small business HR needs. Stephanie writes about a variety of HR, job search and workplace topics. She specializes in training, employee relations, women’s issues and writing employment policies.
This article is by Stephanie Hammerwold from blogging4jobs.com.