Your business depends on your customers, and your customers depend on your employees. Therefore it makes sense to invest time, effort and money into recruiting, training and keeping the best staff possible. Happy workers create customer happiness, which will leave you smiling all the way to the bank.
Once you have established your customer service goals, you can hire people who will most effectively meet them. For example, if your goals tend to revolve around speedy response you will want employees who have worked in similarly deadline-oriented jobs. On the other hand, if your goals emphasize thorough explanation or patient communication you may prefer experience in more nurturing fields. Be sure to make personal contact with each job candidate, over video call if necessary. Pay attention to how well the personality and character of your potential hires will fit with the culture of the company, their peers and your typical client base.
After hiring the best people, take care in how you train them. Research has shown that of the four basic learning modes—visual, auditory, reading and kinesthetic—27% of people prefer to be exposed to information in at least two ways. For greatest efficacy, therefore, training programs should incorporate several modes of learning. More recent studies indicate that training must take place both in person and online. Training sessions should be engaging, with ample opportunity for learners to demonstrate mastery. Harvard Business School indicates that for maximum retention, each session should end with learners being asked to reflect on recent lessons. Incorporate significant hands-on education as early in the program as possible and ensure information will be easy to access in the future when questions inevitably arise. Follow up with ongoing training using current employees as mentors, small-group trainers or subject matter experts. Include cross training, in which employees are trained in tasks outside their usual scope of duties; this pays off in process improvement, coverage during staff shortages and overall morale.
The best staff and the most advanced training programs will not guarantee stellar customer service. Workers need constant support. First, communicate clearly so that clients and employees start out on the same page, especially regarding pricing and refund policies. If a procedure changes be sure to issue several reminders of the modification to avoid confusion. Second, share product knowledge with front-line employees so they can share that knowledge with authority and clarity; technical manuals and product specifications should be readily available to everyone in the company. Third, observe how your employees interact with customers. Listen to phone calls, read emails, monitor internet activity and pay special attention to how complaints are handled. Fourth, treat your employees with the same care and consideration you want them to show to customers—listen actively, admit mistakes, fill gaps in knowledge and follow up to confirm issues are resolved. Most importantly, reach out to everyone from managers to entry-level staff to ensure cohesion, satisfaction and unity.
When customer service goals are not being met, supervisors and managers should address shortcomings quickly. Correct inconsistencies, ineffective behaviors and undesirable habits. Remind workers of company goals and how their actions relate directly to those goals. Intra-company competitions or visual “scoreboards” may motivate greater involvement and help a business achieve certain customer service metrics. However, some metrics can be difficult to quantify and not all employees are inspired by competition. Furthermore, you cannot take action only when goals are missed; for best results throughout the business cycle you need to reward your staff when goals are being met. Positive reinforcement, or highlighting and rewarding instances of desirable behaviors, can increase employees’ self-confidence, enhance work environment and inspire loyalty. This can be done at the organizational level with pay incentives including bonuses and time off, and at the individual leadership level with personal thank-you notes, public recognition, gifts and perks. Satisfied employees feel they are an important part of a successful team; when your employees bring that positivity to customer interactions, you all win.
Publish Date: December 17, 2019 9:57 PM