One of the most amazing mistakes many business owners make is not training their staff in the area of customer service. Whilst the owners of the business rely on customers being treated in a way that would want them to return to their business, sometimes the major factor of informing the staff on how exactly they want that experience to be seems to get lost in the process of doing business.
Don’t think for a minute that your staff will naturally be good at servicing your customers just because they said so on their résumé’s. You have to ensure that you train each and every one of your employees in YOUR desired way of service. Don’t just think that any old way will do with them, as your business is most probably different to others hence you need to have your own brand of service that your customers can distinguish your business from others.
One of my businesses that I am now involved with, mentor’s business owners in assisting them to get their businesses to the next level. As a part of that process I am constantly asked to evaluate every aspect of their particular business. I am constantly amazed when I see how the staff of those businesses are treating their customers. A lot of the time the one thing that is stopping that business to grow any further is the staff’s relationships with the customer.
I have had numerous excuses as to why some staff feels as though they have the right to treat the customer badly. Excuses such as:
- Having a bad day
- The boss doesn’t respect me so why should I do him any favours
- I don’t feel as though that is part of my job description
- No one else does it so why should I?
- It’s not that important is it?
Are just a few examples that constantly floor me and leave me perplexed as to how some of these people have been able to keep a job for as long as they have.
As the owner of the business, it is your responsibility to educate your staff about how important and how much of an integral part of your business customer service is. If you don’t you then only have yourself to blame as to why they may be letting you down.
I remember in my early years of working for a major chain, we would be sent to courses on service. Whilst one would assume that it would be common sense to treat a customer correctly, it was quite evident that due to us going to these courses it wasn’t.
Those courses really proved invaluable to that organisation. They knew that all of their employees would be taught the exact same principles hence ensuring that the culture inside all of their stores were uniform and consistent.
How often do you take time out to notice how your customers are being treated by your staff? If you don’t do this, you may never know what is actually happening in that part of the business.
When you do this, you will then see the areas that need addressing and by addressing these areas, you are able to ensure things are operating correctly within that part of the business structure.
You would probably be surprised as to how many “service based” companies fail to assess how their service is rated.
It is a constant irritant when I am on the phone on hold for hour being told by a recording that “you are an important part of our business. These conversations may be recorded as a tool for training purposes”.
Well I really wish that my conversations were recorded most of the time as “customer service” departments of most large companies really need to hear what is actually being said to their customers.
Recently I rang my office telephone provider as my phone had been turned off due to a late payment mix up. I was on holidays and the due date had come and past. After only 10 days they turned my phone off. Now my business is totally phone based so this proved to be a major problem.
The first time I rang them I asked why they just didn’t call me to inform me that they were going to turn off my phone and I was told by the ‘customer service representative’ that I should be more alert to my due dates and he hung up the phone!
Now, I already knew that I was an idiot for not paying my bill on time and I certainly didn’t need someone to tell me that, but I was more livid that he decided to hang up on me. So, I rang back. Once again, I had to go through the whole process of explaining my situation and also adding in the fact that I was hung up on. To my amazement, the new “customer service representative” said, “Oh that wouldn’t have happened, no one would have hung up on you”. Now here is where my first issue was. Yes I was hung up on, whilst it was annoying that it happened, I wasn’t really making a big fuss about it but now due to the comments coming from this representative, they now made it a problem.
I had my say and tried to get the problem fixed. I paid with my credit card and was told that within 1 hour everything would be back to normal.
Two days later I was still waiting for my phone to be turned on again. I once again rang up and had to go through the whole process only to be told that no one had put an order in for my phone to be put back on.
This whole processed lasted 4 days and left two clear messages in my head.
- pay my bill on time next time
- move all of my phone lines (including mobiles) from this company
I only wish that they did record my phone calls as that company would see straight away that their ‘service’ representatives are letting them down by not doing their job correctly.
These customer service representatives were responsible for losing my business. It wasn’t the product: it was their service (or lack of it).
Just because you may have a customer service department does not mean that they will service the customer correctly by default due to them understanding their actual role in your business. You need to ensure that you are constantly training and re-training your staff if they are dealing with customers.
Small businesses need to learn from the big businesses. By that I mean, the bigger the business the worse they tend to treat their customers.
I know personally of many small businesses that are picking up customers from large corporations purely because they service their clients and customers better.
Never underestimate the power in educating or re-educating your staff in the area of customer service. You can’t over train your staff in this area.
What you need to ensure is that your staff all know exactly where you stand on customer service in your business and how important it is for them to adhere to your way of servicing those customers.
Make sure every single one of your staff signs off on a “treat the customer the way the boss wants us to” form.
Your staff are the front line and the face of your business. What face are they portraying?
To see how Customer Culture can tailor a Customer Service training package for your business, click here.