Hello there! Did you know that happy customers will tell 3 others about your services? This is great obviously. But did you also know that unhappy customers will tell pleeeenty others, as in thousands? Well, thanks to social media, it is super easy to reach that many people within two shakes of a dead lamb’s tail. A friend was so frustrated with a Telco that her wifi had gone off for days. After calling them severally for so long, she took to social media. Guess what, the Telco noticed and responded fast!
OK, so today’s blog post is not about using social media for customer service per se. Maybe I’ll do that some other time. However, I wanted to iterate how important it is to consistently improve customer service in your business. Are you a business owner? Sit tight and read 5 things to improve customer service in your business.
Determine the culture you desire and create it
The hotel I used to work for once hired 2 employees from another hotel. I noticed that they had a peculiar way of greeting. They would bow with their right arm across their chests. I thought it was interesting and seemed chivalrous of course! And so I asked them why they greeted in that manner. Apparently, that had been their way of greeting at that other hotel. So cool, I thought. This was about 8 years ago.
Last year, I stayed at the said hotel and was impressed to find they still had the same greeting standard. Now, that is a corporate culture! Their leader created or learned it from somewhere and decided ‘this is how we will greet’. This is just an example of how the leader of a company can decide and create a culture.
These key things also determined by the leader will help shape the created culture:
- Vision – what the company wants to achieve, the big picture.
- Mission – why the company was established
- Values – core beliefs and practices of the organisation, e.g. respectful, transparent, service with a smile, etc
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) – the laid down actions for each given situation. So for instance, bowing to greet as described above is part of that hotel’s SOP.
Question; do you know your desired culture as a leader? Let me ask another question please: are you clear about your vision, mission, values, SOPs, etc?
Hire the right attitude to fit the culture you desire, especially your leaders
Have you ever gone to the reception of a company, expecting a warm welcome and received an expressionless face instead? Recently someone asked of this situation: what is an expressionless face even doing at a reception! Well, someone did hire him/her.
Now I know hiring the right fit may be easier said than done in some organisations. Because the pressure to hire ‘people’s nieces and nephews’ can sometimes be quite overwhelming. I had my fair share while I was HR in a corporate environment. Here is my take on this; when hiring, please do what is best for your company. If the wrong hires ‘collapse’ your company…please fill in the blank.
Live your culture to encourage all to do same
For instance, if you say ‘in this shop we don’t chew gum while on duty, don’t do it as well’. If you say ‘we shall be respectful and use magic words’, please do the same. Like I mentioned last week, the number of times I’ve heard ‘Ama, train our bosses’ eh!
Why is leadership by example important, it gives your employees the confidence to trust you. Further, if you are living your culture then they have no excuse to do otherwise. It is so inspirational to see a leader serving a customer as if he/she is a king. And why not? They are our cash abi?
Consistently orient, train and supervise everyone on your culture
Let me clear my throat for this one hehe! I have heard this statement too many times; ‘I paid XXX to train them, why are they still not changing?’ Well, I have been training for over 12 years. I can confidently tell you that one training session won’t do jack. Nope, two won’t cut it as well. Neither will three nor four. It has to be CONSISTENT. Haha I remember one General Manager telling me to ‘train them on our values until they vomited them’
When new employees are hired, please orient them on your company culture NO MATTER THEIR EXPERIENCE LEVEL. I see the temptation not to orient especially when the person is coming in as a manager/supervisor. Remember that everyone has their own set ways of doing things already before joining you. And so your responsibility is to educate them about your way of doing things.
What next after orientation?
Consistent training. Because there are so many different things to be trained on, it is physically impossible to even finish in one session anyway. You may decide to incorporate mini training programs in your daily briefings for instance. Then in your weekly team meetings as well. In addition, you can have monthly or bi-monthly scheduled training programs. No, it will not be too much. It takes a loooong time to change behavior. That is, if you have a trainable employee. However if they don’t care, then you are in my prayers!
What if they leave?
Yes they will leave eventually. We all do. I recently encouraged a group of business owners to see it as a Corporate Social Responsibility. I am a better person than I was when I had my first job, partly because I have been privileged to work in companies that invested in my development. Even though I don’t work for them anymore, I am still applying many of the valuable skills I learnt. Imagine an Africa in which the peoples are consistently trained in a way that actually improves the way we work. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but the thought is music to my brain.
And then of course, please have them supervised. One of my colleagues says this all the time: ‘in God we trust, everyone else we monitor’. You see, it will be great if our team members were all angels. While of course, some may be angels we know the heart of man can shock even the devil! One of my General Managers had a saying ‘a manager has 3 jobs; to check, double-check and check again’. Period! I am sure you know why, right?
Conduct mystery shopping
When companies hire my team to do customer service training, we normally start with a mystery shopping trip to its outlets. This is part of our Training Needs Assessment process. On one such trip, I covered my head in a hijab. Yes, Anas Aremeyaw Anas style haha! At the reception, I engaged the manager in a conversation…
Me: You have a beautiful hotel.
Him: Thank you.
Me: It must be nice being a manager here.
Him: Actually no, I am really considering quitting…
Whaaat I couldn’t believe this man just opened up to a complete stranger with their dirty laundry!
Anyway, now to my point. In mystery shopping, you arrange with someone to visit your outlets pretending to be a customer. He/she patronizes your products and services while interacting with your employees and observing specific behaviours. And then brings you feedback. Do this and you will be amazed to know what reeeaaally happens in your absence.
You see the thing is that customer service is a culture; hence it takes lots of work in order to create it. These 5 tips I’ve shared may seem like a lot, however I encourage you to take it one step at a time. It is so possible.
Anyway, I gotta bounce now. Catch me here again at the same time next week. You are sooooo fabulous!
PS: Are you fed up with your staff not knowing how to take care of your customers? Let us help you. Our virtual Customer Service Training For Professionals happening on Saturday 24th April, 2021. Call/WhatsApp +233246252330 or click https://bit.ly/VirtualCustomerServiceTraining
Photo by: Vera Obeng Photography