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Why Good Customer Service Is Not Good Enough Anymore

Why Good Customer Service Is Not Good Enough Anymore

People complain that business is getting tougher, well, in many ways, yes it is. Ten years ago the internet and especially eCommerce was not such a ubiquitous entity. We were in a boom rather than the current changeable financial environment and customers often had less choice.

Today I can go online, order and have a product delivered within an hour. I think nothing of having groceries delivered to my door, books telegraphed to my eReader by Wi-Fi and even food cooked and delivered at the touch of an app button. It really means that the number of human interactions I make when I am a customer is reducing.

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In another ten years time we may not see anyone (what a lonely place). Customers now use bricks and mortar shops for ‘showrooming’ (see the product and then find it online). This means that, as customer service professionals we need to ‘up our game’ considerably. Good customer service is just not good enough. Just being good may have been okay when we were the only show in town, but in a world where a drone could delivering my shopping autonomously, we have to be provide great customer service!

Lessons from London 2012

I was immensely lucky to have spent a year working for the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympics. This was an amazing opportunity to undertake as a customer service professional. However most of the workforce would be volunteers. As a team we had a common aim, to deliver the very best games experience we could, but this would require immensely long hours, hard work and some tough times. I was salaried, however that was not a motivator for me to deliver excellence and certainly wasn’t for my volunteer colleagues who worked alongside me.

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Lesson one is that money is a motivator, but it cannot be the sole reason for people to deliver great service. Your team needs to:

  • believe in the organisation and what they are offering
  • feel their place in the organisation and the empowerment to really deliver in their job
  • be supported, they need to feel loved by management and their colleagues

You will not be running something as big as an Olympic games, however you still need to embody belief within your team. Do your staff feel that they belong to the organisation? Do they feel listened to? If they make suggestions, are they taken seriously and acted upon?

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Building a better working environment

It is important for management to nurture their colleagues and make them feel that the organisation is as much theirs as it is the management’s. Do your staff know their place and more significantly their importance in the organisation? A colleague should not feel that he is ‘just’ a checkout operator, instead he should feel he is a vital part of the customer facing team. You need to ensure everyone uses language which develops responsibility and does not belittle individual roles. Every member of the team is a vital piece of the organisation and they need to know that. If they are not, you need to re-evaluate why you have as many staff as you do.

Once they know their worth to to the organisation you need to empower them. Consider valid decisions they make to support good service. One of the worst things you can do to a colleague is overturn a decision they make, which they feel is for the good of customer service. No, don’t let them hand over the contents of the till, but if they accept a refund in good faith to appease a long standing customer, don’t overturn the decision. The staff needs to feel that they have responsibility and that you, as management, trust their intelligence and decision making.

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Engage and create trust

Finally there needs to be love (not too physical of course!) – but you need to engage and create trust and friendship within your staff. Simple things will help: speak with staff, say good morning to everyone you see, listen to people. As a manager, a good proportion of your time should  be reserved for your staff, to support them. Never be aloof or unavailable when they need your support. During London 2012, we looked to ensure that we supported our volunteers and other colleagues. We were available and supportive and we all greeted each other. It became fun, despite the hard work and we felt like a real team who had a common purpose and a real role to play in the bigger picture.

We need to ensure that we make an impact on a customer, reinforcing the joy of human interaction – this can be as simple as each staff member greeting and acknowledging customers, smiling and being genuinely helpful. Remember to lead this by example, as managers if you smile and greet, you will find your staff will also do the same.  It is really driven by wow! moments where we go the extra mile to deliver service which just does not and cannot exist in an online environment. In London this changed the whole city! The Games-Makers were an amazing team of hardworking people who smiled, greeted people and were just amazing.

Delivering Wow! moments

Think to yourself, are you delivering wow! moments? Am I adding value? And especially would I bother to shop here? An example from everyday shopping, my wife bought a tablet from a well known chain store. It was more expensive than online, but she wanted the advice and service. What she got was pestering to buy additional insurance (the sales person would not let her leave the till she did!) and she got a product where the security seals had been broken. The result, the next day we went back, returned the item where it was grudgingly refunded (but not without some retraining on the rights of customers) and we bought the product online cheaper. The shop experience was:

  • more expensive
  • annoying
  • we still had to wait until the next day to get a working unit

No customer service wow! moments there. Now one customer will not change the world, but they can tweet and they can start to reinforce the trend to shop solely online… The time is right to up your game…

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Last Updated on December 5, 2018

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

How do they do it?

By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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3. Demand Learning from Your Team

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

“The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

“We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

  • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
  • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
  • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
  • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
  • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
  • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

  • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
  • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
  • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
  • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
  • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

    “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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  • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
  • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
  • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
  • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

10. Empower Your Employees

Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

11. Nurture Your Company Culture

Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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