“Products and prices can be duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied!” This quote by speaker Jerry Fritz, truly embodies why organizations should put more focus on their customer service training.
The foundation for a great relationship with customers is respect. When respect is built, it is much easier to handle unexpected and unpleasant situations.
How do we define the difference between respectful and disrespectful behaviors? What one person may intend as a respectful behavior may come across as disrespectful to the person receiving the message. Understanding the difference between intention and perception is a key factor in developing respectful behaviors.
Customer respect is defined by a standard of conduct, a mutually agreed upon set of established behaviors, and a list of guidelines for how a group of individuals will interact and communicate with one another in order to serve one another and their external customers. These can include expectation for how they behave, act, speak, interact, email, share, communicate, and/or represent themselves in their workplace.
These practices are what create an organizational environment or culture focused on customer service respect.
Before an organization can provide excellence in external customer service, the employees of that organization must first respect one another and the important roles played by everyone. At all levels of the organization, staff must value treating others with respect and civility.
Consider throwing away the golden rule. It is not about treating others the way you would like to be treated; it is about treating others the way they would like to be treated.
A study done by marketing professional, Dan Kennedy, noted that 68% of your customers who choose to leave you and do business with one of you competitors in the marketplace do it because of the attitude of indifference they experience.
A respectful attitude goes a long way with your customers. When you are effective and efficient with communication and are giving your attention to the customer that needs you now, you will increase the chances of that customer having a pleasant experience.
It is also imperative to proactively contact a customer if you know you will not be able to honor the time commitment you gave as a sign of respect. Keep your internal customers informed of your time commitment and influence the result for the external customer. And if you need help, ask for it! Everyone on your team and your customer has the same goal.
Here are some customer communication tips:
- Make an effort to interact with and see colleagues
- Extend a courteous greeting
- Pay attention to body language and facial expressions
- Consider your appearance and its influence
- Smile before picking up and be aware of your tone
- Extend a courteous greeting with identification
- Leave concise, to-the-point voicemail messages
- Respond to voicemail messages within the same business day
- Be aware of a negative vocal tone and adjust your approach accordingly
- Ask callers to be placed on hold
- Remember this is not a substitute for personal contact
- If more than two email exchanges are required to clarify a topic or issue, consider picking up the phone or have a conversation in person
- Don’t engage in email battles
- Use professional language (no emoticons)
- Make content concise, actionable, and direct by using bullet points
If your organization is striving to improve customer service, start with building an organization that values respect between colleagues and the customers you serve. By building a respectful relationship you are able to then build a service mentality, adapt to different social styles, develop solid proactive service approaches, and perfect your service recovery methods.