A lesson in service culture for the price of a coffee


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I saw a lesson in service culture first hand the other day. Waiting for my morning coffee, I observed the café proprietor coaching a new recruit. Ever the perfectionist, he observed every detail congratulating the good and coaching on the mistakes. To illustrate a point, the proprietor brought my coffee to me as I read the newspaper, made direct eye contact with a smile and said a few well-chosen pleasantries. The feedback to the new starter: “You need to show that you care.”

Encapsulated in that 30 seconds were sevefal of the lessons that the key to great customer service. Creating customer advocates is about making sure that customer facing staff have an innate genuine enthusiasm and passion to ‘do the best’ by the customer. So how can we irradicate unenthusiastic, laissez-faire attitude in our staff? Well, I break it down into the following steps:

  1. Identification. Where necessary, revise how you measure service interactions so that an unenthusiastic or laissez-faire interaction is spotted. Examples include a rating in a quality assessment evaluation form or for those of you who have direct customer feedback for the interaction, you may also see an average score for NPS or CSAT.
  2. Engage your employees in the process of improvement. Setup focus groups to hear their thoughts and build this into the plan of action so that they feel that they are involved and are critical to the success. Then build checkpoints into ongoing operational management.
  3. Apply to coaching. Set up a mechanism to feed examples of good and bad engagement back into the frontline coaching process. Direct customer feedback is also essential as we’re dealing with a topic that isn’t black or white. For an employee to have the message reinforced with data from customers helps with understanding and therefore engagement. It also removes the risk that this will be interpreted as “my manager moaning at me”.
  4. Setup for long term. Once the ‘how’ is understood, the other critical component is to build this behaviour into KPIs and career progression. Maintaining this positive, ‘can do’ attitude for every interaction is tiring so without this component, disengagement is inevitable eventually.

Get this right and the results will speak for themselves. The key is that people are not processes. You can’t sustainably force your teams genuinely care for your customers. They really have to believe it and want to care and that means respect, collaboration, fairness and leadership are required to nurture the service culture within. In the case of my local café proprietor, leading by example has created a great team and a happy repeat customer in me!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Johnson
David is an experienced management and technology consultant specialising in major customer-centred programs of change with a speciality in contact centre transformation and design. He leads our Contact Centre services practice. David has led numerous initiatives that have delivered significant improvements to his client's business results.


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