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Be Aware …

December 8, 2015

Great Customer Service is Only a Philosophy, Not an Action Plan

Some of the best customer service comes from one word, awareness.

Too often new employees are told to provide excellent customer service and only given the old catchphrases when they come aboard.  They are given philosophies like “the customer is always right” or “treat customers how you would like to be treated”. While these are good philosophies if this is all an employee is given it does not mean they will be able to provide excellent customer service.  As a matter a fact, many opportunities to deliver great customer service will be missed if an employee is solely focused on these philosophies.

In a service and sales environment, awareness is your action plan; it is a level of discernment that best positions your staff to make win-win decisions for themselves and their customers. Employees that keep awareness top-of-mind will stay sharp and always have a better feel for the pulse of the environment they are in. Having a great sense of awareness may be the single most important factor in their ability to deliver great customer service and optimize their performance potential. Awareness can reach beyond those old philosophies and in many cases, it is the awareness that allows them to deliver on those philosophies.

So, how do you train awareness? It all starts by analyzing your environment and giving your employees examples of awareness. When you are sharing examples try replacing the words “great customer service” with awareness. Why? Ultimately, it is not your employee that will decide if they delivered great customer service; it is the perceptions of your customers that will determine whether the service they received was poor, mediocre, or great!

Great customer service is the destination, awareness is the map. When you take a long road trip, do you focus on your destination or do you focus on how to get there? Awareness, being focused on the journey to great customer service, can create an efficient environment that feels seamless to customers even though every action has a purpose.

Think about a busy hair salon with customers waiting and two stylists finishing with their customers at the same time. Since they have only one cash register, one stylist allows the other to go first, utilizes that time to double-check their work, and finds a few spots to touch up. The touch-up lasts a few minutes and the customer appreciates the extra attention to detail. Once completed, the customer proceeds to pay their bill, the register is free and the transaction feels very fluid. This quick awareness action created a positive final moment of experience for that customer. Without awareness, perhaps that additional wait time and the lost opportunity for that added sense of appreciation for detail would have resulted in that customer’s overall experience changing from a 10 to an 8.5.

Challenge yourself to look for how people use awareness at every customer touchpoint in their place of business and how it works for them. Even look for opportunities where better awareness would have created a better experience. Think outside the box … challenge your team to do the same and discuss them in your weekly meetings. Make it fun because after all, you are creating awareness to look for awareness.