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In this age of digital transformation, face-to-face service and compassion mean the most to customers
It’s not uncommon today to provide products and services to consumers without ever having a face-to-face conversation. Customers type questions into live chat feeds on websites, Facebook Messenger and other online services. We see more and more people in stores with headphones on, sending a strict message to service staff that they are not to be disturbed.
Our desire for speed and convenience is compromising our customers’ greatest and basic needs as humans: care, kindness and one-on-one attention.
Service is simple
Yet we have made it overly complicated. We have created complex systems and internal processes that, while designed to help our teams, often stop us from delivering the service we know our customers crave.
We get set in our ways, stay in our own heads, and forget that we are simply serving humans with our product or service. We try to control what happens in a service environment, which as you well know isn’t possible.
Like many other small business owners and companies, you have probably tried many times – and failed – to operationalise your customer service culture. You’ve probably forgotten that human beings are unpredictable creatures and customer service is anything but routine and automatic. Customer service is a privilege, and those employees who interact with your customers on a day-to-day basis have the power to positively impact someone’s life, not to mention your brand.
Look at your behaviour
When it comes to winning the hearts and minds of your customers, it’s the behaviours of your frontline employees that influence the performance and results of your entire organisation.
How customers feel when they interact with your employees determines how they feel about your company itself. This is what determines whether they will be a one-click wonder or a customer for life.
Set procedures for service may be great for robots and androids, but it’s the way your service staff act and the emotional connection they create with your customers that will determine your ultimate success.
Rather than looking at complex customer service strategies and ways of engaging your staff, you must look to the most powerful and influential people in your business – you and your frontline employees.
Get the edge
As a small business owner, you are responsible for your people, who are responsible for your results. Even if everyone in your business is already excellent at what they do, sharpening their emotional competencies and their behaviours at work will contribute to a service mindset that will give you and your organisation an extra edge.
When we are highly tuned into the people in front of us, we start to frame questions differently, pause before we speak, and even start to see things from the other person’s perspective.
Small business owners and leaders who operate with a service mindset help build a service culture: a high-performing culture in which customer loyalty is constantly increasing. In fact, if we replace the word ‘customer’ with ‘human’, we can say that our goal in business is to create greater loyalty in other humans.
Develop six service mindsets
So the best, simplest and easiest way of developing this successful service culture is to work on your service mindset. This is a continuum of behaviours that impact the performance of your employees, which in turn impacts your customer interactions and loyalty, creating a virtuous circle that enhances your whole business.
The six mindsets you need are:
- Empathy: Practise empathy to create a team of employees who feel understood. Cultivating trust in this way is essential if you have teams who are continually coaching, mentoring, teaching and caring for others.
- Questions: Show sincere initerest in your employees as humans in order to help them grow into their roles. Ask the right questions and you’ll start to encourage your staff to think for themselves and learn the effect of their decisions.
- Energy: Shift the focus, the energy, towards supporting all of your employees in delivering great service. What you give attention to grows.
- Heart: Trust and appreciate your staff and they will have a greater willingness to serve, which automatically increases their discretionary effort. This creates a cumulative advantage for a business.
- Purpose: Make your staff feel valued and that will motivate them further. An engaged workforce interacts with your customers more positively, and this creates customer loyalty.
- Practice: Seek information, develop your people, and help them grow in their working roles. Knowing that you are only as good as your last performance is the key to continual growth and improvement, as well as the longevity of your business.
When you work to build a service mindset in your employees instead of just relying on automatic procedures for customer service, then and only then will you start to move the needle in your business. You will connect with your customers as humans and watch your profits grow.
Jaquie Scammell is a customer service relations expert. She works with companies who want to influence their staff to love serving customers. She is also the author of Creating a Customer Service Mindset. To find out more, visit www.jaquiescammell.com.