MT Expert: Make your employees more customer-centric

Are you worried about the attitudes of your customer facing staff? Use these six tips to give them the right mindset to provide quality service, says James Prior of employee engagement specialists INVOLVE.

by James Prior
Last Updated: 04 May 2012

In order to compete in tough times, companies across all sectors are striving to be closer to their customers which means many managers are faced with getting all staff more focused on customer needs.

Front line staff in service industries are often hired for their innate people skills; they tend to be calm, thoughtful and good communicators. But what happens in sectors or roles where those skills are not the first thing you want from your employee? Perhaps their technical, numerical or analytical skills trump the need for a customer friendly tone.

Our recent research shows how critical it is to get customer service right. 79 per cent of people surveyed have never been persuaded to return to a company or service provider after leaving them. The figures showed that once you lose a customer’s trust you won’t be able to coax them back with a special deal or by dropping your prices. 

The impact your customer-facing staff have on holding on to your customers was also made explicitly clear when 65 per cent of people agree that if they like a service but the people representing the service treat them in a way they don’t like, then they will cancel the service. And even if a service is inconsistent, but the people representing the service treat customers well, 48 per cent of them will not automatically stop using the service.

And for those who think social media might protect them from direct customer contact, we found that 84 per cent of consumers surveyed agree that if there was a problem with a service they would much rather speak to a person representing the service over the phone than through a social media channel.

Customer service is not easy to get right, as it’s not one size fits all. Change can only come from employees living their company’s values by connecting with them both emotionally and behaviourally. 

1. Help employees to see their customers as human beings by putting themselves in their shoes and analysing their own service

2. Encourage employees to bring out their own personalities rather than rely on a checklist or process

3. Customer service is an emotional experience so it is important to treat it in this way

4. Involve them in developing ideas for what they can do to deliver great customer service 

5. Ask employees what processes get in the way of serving customers well – this may be something you can change for them

6. Show every employee how they each play a key role in helping the business to achieve its customer vision.

All businesses have customers. Even if a member of your team never deals directly with customers, their work will eventually affect the customer experience so it’s important that they understand this and use this knowledge in the way they work.

Our research showed most customers are reasonable and give businesses an opportunity to treat them well and keep them as loyal customers, even when problems occur. 84 per cent of them agree they are more likely to recommend a service if the people representing it impress them and treat them like human beings.

In this way your employees are critical to retaining customers as well as gaining new ones through recommendations; we all know how powerful it is when a friend recommends a service or product to us.

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