Want To Create Great Customer Service? It’s Your People, Stupid!

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22Jan Want To Create Great Customer Service? It’s Your People, Stupid!

bad-attitudeThe latest research from The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) shows that the attitude of your staff is much more important to customers now than it was five years ago.

Based on the views of 10,000 UK consumers, the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) reveals that for the first time in a number of years, customer satisfaction levels are up, which is good news. However, what it also reveals is that in this age of online business, “competence of staff” is considered the most important element for customers in 2015. It was ranked only 11th in 2010. The next most important priorities for customers are:



  • Staff “doing what they say they will do”
  • Competence on the phone
  • Helpfulness of staff and…
  • Friendliness of staff

So yes, it’s your people, stupid! They are the ones that make the difference and too often they still get it wrong – We call them Sales Prevention Officers! However, it’s not always their fault – sometimes Sales Prevention Officers can be created by the systems and processes that prevent them from doing their job properly and prevent customers from enquiring, buying and re-buying from you!

Do Sales Prevention Officers exist in your business? I bet they do! Who, what and where are they? Your job is to find them and exterminate them – and no, that doesn’t mean firing them! It’s about identifying the things that irritate or annoy your customers, spotting the blockages, discovering the things that are holding your business and your people back from delivering remarkable customer experiences, and then doing something about it!

They exist in all sorts of businesses (that could include yours!!!) Here are just a few examples of things I’ve seen… Think about your business as you read them.

As I mentioned, although it’s the ‘people’ who appear to be the problem, sometimes it’s the…..

SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES…. Typical causes are they are geared around the business needs and not your customers; as long as people ‘follow the system’ then they are ok, or simply that they just don’t work!

Computer says noSome examples I’ve experienced:

  • Ringing at 4.45pm and getting an answer-phone (advertised opening hours 8.00am to 6.00pm)
  • Being passed to 4 different people when enquiring about customer care training! (A competitor of ours when a friend rang to check them out!)
  • The website that has the ‘latest news’ 6 months old (They were a PR business!)
  • Receiving a letter that says ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ from a personal business advisor who’d spent an afternoon with me (Must have been the skirt I was wearing that confused him!)

ATTITUDES…. This is where people are allowed to ‘not bother’, ‘mediocrity’ is tolerated, no clear standards set or monitored, and the reward for doing it well is that you get to do more work!



Am I BovveredSome examples I’ve experienced:

  • “Not my job”
  • Not returning phone calls (often senior people!)
  • Car parking for senior people only nearest the reception
  • Not picking up other people’s phones when they’re not in!

POLICIES…. These are policies that reinforce the wrong behaviours, standard’ policies in a non – standard world, sometimes they’re ‘written policies’ and sometimes they’re ‘unwritten’ ones that people quote to justify their behaviours

customer service is closedSome examples I’ve experienced:     

  • Being charged to park in the customer car park!
  • Support / help / customer care lines that ‘cost’! Why should it be the customer that pays if they’ve got a problem, question or query about something you’ve supplied?
  • Small Print!
  • pp’d letters (couldn’t you be bothered to sign it?)
  • Discounts for new customers but not for existing customers

‘SCRIPTEASE’ …. This is when it’s easier to follow the script than interact with the customer naturally – it could be due to a lack of training, or even worse, it could be due to the fact that they are trained…. to say things like this!  

ScripteaseSome examples I’ve experienced:           

  • “Would you like any help with your packing?” when you’ve only got one bottle of wine at the supermarket!
  • Message on the phone: “Your call is very important to us – please hold” (Important? How come I’m still holding after 10 minutes!)

Here are some 3 simple actions to take…

  • ‘Stand in Your Own Queues’ – Find out what it’s like on your ‘front line’ – ring up your own business, visit your own reception, depot or shop, go on your own website. If you’re a small business and they’d recognise you, get someone else to do it for you. Use this FREE TOOLKIT TO DO IT
  • Ask Your People – Your frontline people will have seen lots of things – what do they see that irritates or annoys customers? What’s holding them back from delivering outstanding customer service?
  • Ask Your Customers – What do they think? What irritates or annoys them? Get their thoughts, views and ideas. Yes, questionnaires can work – so can simple conversations with them over the phone or face to face. A simple one we like is STOP, START, CONTINUE – find out what they think that your business should ‘Stop, Start, Continue’ doing – it’s all about creating some dialogue with your customers!


Whatever you do, the critical bit is DOING SOMETHING ABOUT WHAT YOU FIND OUT!

Having put all that time, money, resources and effort to win customers, for goodness sake, look after them!!!!

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