I often write about handling more difficult situations like my recent airline blog, Standing In The Shoes Of The Customer Creates Great Customer Loyalty but then you feel frustration when the basics are not done as happened to me last week. Whenever this happens, I look at why.
You can blame the person who served you, but I have learnt that customer service is leadership driven.
Last Wednesday night I checked in at my Accor Hotel in Brisbane, I stay with them because I’m loyal and have been a Platinum member for more years than I can remember and they reward me for my loyalty with upgrades and extra benefits.
When I walked through the door, I saw two check-in counters one with a customer being served by two staff and one with another staff member who looked available to serve me. I wondered if she would look up before I got to the counter which was approximately 6 meters from the main door. No, she did not.
She did not look up until I stood in front of her and then there was nothing except an awkward moment of silence. So, I said my name and her first words were, “do you have any ID.” No smile no greeting. I then gave her my ID, again nothing just silence until she asked for my credit card and let me know they will do a $1.00 charge. Nothing else was said, then just before I left the counter with the room key she said, “Oh do you want your VIP letter.” I responded, “Yes please.” It was then she flippantly happened to mention as she handed me my letter that there were free canapés at bar for me.
When I went to bar later, I not only found that there were canapés which consisted of a lovely cheese board including an assortment of meats but also free drinks until 7.00pm for Platinum members. Nice to know!!!
Here’s what it could have been like, it’s not rocket science!
I enter the hotel; she looks up and smiles as I approach and greets me with eye contact and a genuine smile. On finding my name in the bookings she welcomes me, “Welcome Mr Cherry it’s lovely to have you staying with us again”
Then just before she hands me my keys and my letter, she lets me know “we have upgraded you to lovely room with beautiful view and we have organised canapés and free drinks in the bar for you until 7.00pm. I hope you get a chance to enjoy these, as we appreciate your loyalty.”
She then offers a farewell statement, “Enjoy your stay.”
What a difference in feeling? Right?
Service Starts From a Distance
Service from a distance – 80% of the service experience is often made before you serve your customer.
From a distance customers form a number of impressions. These initial impressions may be even more significant than the service itself, which can be very brief. Initial evaluations certainly create expectations of the service that will follow. Good or bad impressions can effectively form the basis of customers’ judgements of staff performance, as well as your own.
It is the consistency you and your team provide ‘every time’ that will not only have your business stand out but ensure your customers come back.
There are fundamental behaviours that create a basic service standard including a positive first impression, effective communication, and a great finish.
Positive First Impression
- POSTURE – Standing upright facing the customer
- EYE CONTACT – Holding eye contact as the customer approaches
- FACIAL EXPRESSION – Smile with teeth
- GREETING – Greet customer with a positive tone, holding eye contact throughout the statement.
- OPEN QUESTION – “How can I help you today?”
- PARAPHRASE – Reflect back key feeling and facts to show you understand.
- SUMMARY – Review main points (e.g., product/quantity/name/details of delivery or pick up, etc.)
- GRATITUDE – “Thank you for your business, we appreciate you choosing us”
- HAND TRANSFER – Money/card etc handed to the customer’s hand.
- FAREWELL – Holding eye contact throughout the statement. “Enjoy the rest of your afternoon”
These form the fundamentals of a service standard. Each person can add their personality, but the basics are in place, and leaves room in the conversation to acknowledge loyalty – add a loyalty statement by simply explaining what you have organised for each customer related to their level of loyalty. What you have done especially for them, that they do not know about – like, canapes and drinks at the bar, room upgrade etc.
To download a copy of my 5 Key Service Standards simply, click here.
Remember you are ‘selling a feeling’ it must be consistent so ensure you have your best people in the right places when interacting with your customers. Remember my blog Aces in the right places!
What’s the role of the leader when it comes to customer service?
One thing I did notice when I walked into the hotel, was that there was a manager at the other counter training a new team member, whilst she assisted another customer. The leaders are the key to ensuring high levels of service are in place. I believe there is three key facts to Leadership,
- Leadership is about getting things done through others.
- You need your people more than they need you.
- You get paid for what your people do, not just for what you do.
A lot of leaders look at themselves and think, “Well, I’m doing a good job”, but they’re not looking at the role of a leader and supporting their team to do a great job.
I believe every leader should live and breathe the following philosophy.
I need to do everything in my power to help my people be as good as they can be… WHY? Because, when they succeed, then I succeed. To do this I need to behave as a Coach.
The responsibilities of a leader include training service standards and coaching people on the service standards. There is no point having customer service standards if you don’t train them into the teams.
I am sure the hotel has service standards that their team needs to follow but do they provide on-going coaching to ensure that all staff are meeting all the standards, all the time.
The role of leaders is critical as part of the coaching process, are they modelling the right behaviours? Are they giving feedback and allowing for repeated practice?
Coaching for improvement is equally about non-performance (reinforcement) and praise (catching people doing it right)
Set your team up to win the game they are playing.
This needs to happen every day.
It is the responsibility of leaders to ensure these behaviours are delivered to everybody, every day, every time, without fail, no exceptions!
It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure they do everything in their power to help their team succeed.
If you’re like most people, you’re probably keeping tabs on your favourite team and statistics. What’s surprising is that if you look closely, you can actually learn powerful training and coaching lessons that are relevant to any business from the weekend’s action. Click here to read 5 Important Lessons You Can Discover In The Sports Section
If you would like to have a chat with me about ‘Customer service being leadership driven’ contact me I look forward to hearing from you