A while back I was delivering a training program for the front line employees of an organization which I will keep anonymous. I gave the same program several times over a couple days to enable everyone to attend.
The people were great, stayed engaged throughout the programs and it was a lot of fun for me and, hopefully, them.
This was a “basic” two hour customer service skills training on how to give a sincere welcome (smile, eye contact, use names, shake hands, escort, etc); act with urgency; recover from service gaffes; and personalize, surprise and delight your customers.
At the end of one of the sessions a young woman approached me. She thanked me for the program and then became emotional. She confessed that she had been told she needed to smile more and have better customer service skills.
Then she said, “they tell me I need to get better at it, but never tell me how. All these things you talked about today are NOT things I see in my home. I wasn’t sure what they wanted me to do differently. Now I understand.”
She indicated the training materials she held in her hand. “Thanks to the customer service skills training, I have a guideline. I know what to do now to become better at this part of my job.”
By the time she was finished, we were both crying and hugging each other.
This woman clearly had the heart, the empathy and the ability to show care and concern for others. What she didn’t have (until that day) was customer service skills training.
As a leader, it’s easy to believe that delivering good customer service is just “common sense.” That’s not always true.
If you truly want to create a consistent red carpet experience for your customers, you’ve got to do a few things.
- You’ve got to hire people who have empathy and the ability to care.
- You’ve got to clearly define your customer service expectations.
- You’ve got to provide your staff members with the customer service skills training they need to deliver on those expectations.
- You’ve got to continuously and creatively communicate the message to new and current employees alike. This involves orientation programs, job descriptions, employee evaluations, staff meetings, additional training and more.
How do you get an hourly employee who has never received red carpet customer service to give red carpet customer service? You must give it to them, model it for them, and provide them with the support and skills training they need to be the best they can be!
Donna Cutting is the author of two books on red-carpet customer service including “501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers: Easy-to-Implement Ideas to Inspire Loyalty, Get New Customers, and Leave a Lasting Impression.” She is a sought-after keynote speaker and also the Founder & CEO of Red Carpet Learning Systems, a firm which provides training and tools to help your team improve the customer experience.