“I don’t know …” was the response I received to my question about whether or not it was supposed to rain a few years ago. My kids and I went to the roller coaster mecca of the United States: Cedar Point, the tourist attraction in Sandusky Ohio. If you’re familiar with the location you know a strip of hotels is located on the road right outside of Cedar Point; the hotels’ entire business is dependent upon the traffic brought in by the amusement park. Weather is of utmost importance to their guests, and yet the hotel employee who worked at the front desk not only didn’t know what the weather forecast was, she didn’t seem to believe she should know.
If you don’t want this to be the experience of your clients, you need to take a multi-pronged approach to customer service, and realize great customer service is really about changing and influencing the culture. Delivering excellent service is complex; one key element is constant reinforcement and a comprehensive training and communications program that includes a combination of the following:
Formal professional skills training: employees within the organization should have baseline training that trains employees on the firm’s service philosophy, customer service, difficult clients and proactive service training. Note: It’s important to not only train your current employees but new employees as well.
Informal training: this is the ‘training’ that occurs on a department-level i.e., during staff meetings and through various corporate communications. Employees should be communicated with frequently in a variety of ways, so that service permeates existing and stand-a-lone venues. Generating the communications can be time consuming, however, which is why I offer Service in a Box. Service in a Box is a combination of short service tips, templates, stories and powerpoint presentation slides that can be customized and utilized in various venues. The communications are designed to generate discussion, so employees understand what is expected and how they personally can identify service opportunities and deliver an excellent experience. Service in a Box is sent electronically monthly, so communications may be customized, and materials include a ‘theme’ that follows the steps found in The Service Journey. Guidelines that give best-practice ideas on how to implement the communications is also included with the communications. And a short monthly call is included as well, to help optimize utilization and customize the data. The best thing about Service in a Box? It is designed to leverage existing meetings and communications, so service becomes evident throughout the organization.
Impacting the culture requires everyone in the firm and every conversation, decision made, and product or service offered reflects a client-centric mentality. Formal and informal training and communications is necessary in order to ensure clients have a consistently excellent experience. When this occurs, even when something is not within an employees’ formal job description, they still know what to do to impress clients. We’re planning to stop again at Cedar Point again this summer, on our way out west. Hope we have great weather.