Deliver premium service through people
Often when the 3Ps are weighted, People comes out as the most important. While Product and Place are of course important, on their own they will not make a customer feel special. Only a person can do that. What are the key touchpoints for when your people interact with your customers? What does good look like?
Every person needs to know how you expect then to behave with customers. They need a sufficient level of knowledge to their job. They need to have a positive attitude and of course they need an appropriate set of skills to do the job that is expected of them. In this age where customers have access to so much information, what knowledge do your customer-facing people need in order to really help and sell to customers? They should at least have more product knowledge than the customer can find on the internet. They should know your best and worst sellers, supply chain, out-of-stocks and your customers. They should know your processes, rules and regulations and they should know your competition.
What are the risks if your people don’t have this knowledge? How will it affect their confidence? How will it affect customer service and sales? Every organisation has its own set of unique answers to these questions, so the responsibility of ensuring your people have this knowledge lies with you. When morale is good and your people have a positive attitude, that usually translates to customers getting a good experience. Customers will notice a bad or negative attitude instantly by the way they are treated. Now you can teach your people everything that they need to know and you may even train them on relevant skills. But if they don’t have the right attitude, then all the training in the world won’t make a difference. A poor attitude permeates and infects the team. So hire the right people for their attitude and then train them on the required skills. Every single customer-facing person in your organisation should be trained on the 3Cs of great customer service.
Connect — Smile and greet each customer in a friendly way
Consult — Engage with the customer to establish and satisfy their needs
Conclude — Show appreciation for the business and thank the customer
This is a simple mantra for all your people and it applies to all forms of customer interactions; on the telephone, in-person, webchat, emails. I’ve studied customer complaints over the years and I can vouch that most complaints are to do with rudeness and unfriendliness. Even though in our society we have become less formal and more relaxed, it doesn’t mean that basic manners shouldn’t prevail. Intermingled with the 3Cs, we should be conscious of behaviours too. You need to think through what the appropriate behaviours are for your organisation, based on your brand DNA and the expectations in your industry. But you’re unlikely to go wrong with these generic behaviours.
Courtesy — This is about the please and thank you that your parents taught you as a child. Be nice and ensure a pleasant tone of voice.
Efficiency — Most customers are under pressure for time and they don’t appreciate unnecessary delays. Make sure you show respect with a sense of urgency.
Finesse — It is never okay to be gruff or sloppy with your customer. Even if you position yourself low on price, it’s never okay to be rude, or dismissive with your customer.