NOTA AICEX: non basta pensare di servire i clienti fornendo loro un customer service eccellente, ci sono altri elementi, come i dipendenti, che influenzano il risultato finale.
To provide successful leadership you need to serve your customers, and the employees who serve your customers, successfully. Here are seven elements of doing so; I’d put money on the likelihood that you’re overlooking some of them.
1. Consistently good customer service comes through systems, not just smiles. Any frontline employee, even any random CEO, can give great customer service on a one-off or once-in-a-while basis. You can’t always be “rising to the occasion”: in between such heroic gestures you need the backing of systems to ensure most things go right most of the time.
2. Extraordinary customer service comes through smiles, not just systems. Having the best systems in place is crucial, but your systems can only be brought to life and liveliness by the extra efforts and emotional involvement,of your employees.
3. Having the best customer service and best customer experience in your own industry may not make you all that good. You have to draw your models from everywhere. Truly. This is why Apple benchmarked Ritz-Carlton Hotels And Resorts, not CompUSA, when they wanted Apple Stores to be the best in the world, not just the best in electronics retailing. (Conversely, this is why Ritz-Carlton benchmarked great manufacturing operations to reduce their level of defects: because being the best in the hospitality industry wasn’t sufficient for them; they wanted to incorporate the best they could learn from everyone.)
Apple Store: Instead of benchmarking their retail competition, they benchmarked The Ritz-Carlton © Micah Solomon firstname.lastname@example.org
4. You can’t give good customer service if you don’t hire appropriate employees. Hiring improperly and expecting great results nonetheless is like picking the wrong Olympic team and expecting to get the gold.
(Bonus: Here are the traits that make for a great customer-facing employee. They spell “WETCO”):
W is for Warmth: Simple human kindness. Warmth is perhaps the simplest and yet most fundamental of these five personality traits. In essence, it means enjoying our human commonality, flaws and all.
E is for Empathy: The ability to sense what another person is feeling. Empathy is a step up from warmth; empathy moves beyond the plateau of liking other people and is more like reading hearts—the ability to sense what a customer needs or wants, whether or not this desire is even yet apparent to the customer.
T is for Teamwork: An inclination toward ‘‘Let’s work together to make this happen’’ and against ‘‘I’d rather do it all myself.’’ Te amwork is a slightly paradoxical member of the WETCO group of traits. After all, customers need the help of entrepreneurially minded employees who will take charge of the situation without prodding, people who are willing to fix a problem all by themselves, if necessary. But that attitude needs to be seasoned by an inclination to favor a team approach, or your organization will soon suffer from the friction created.
C is for Conscientiousness: Detail orientation, including an ability and willingness to follow through to completion. Conscientiousness is a key trait for successfully serving customers, and unfortunately may not always be found in those who are otherwise suited to customer service work. The quintessential ‘‘people person’’ may lack conscientiousness, and this one flaw can be fatal: An employee can smile, empathize, and play well with the team, but if he can’t remember to follow through on the promises he made to customers, he’ll kill your company image.
O is for Optimism: The ability to bounce back and to not internalize challenges. Optimism is a necessity in customer-facing positions. Employees who can’t shake off a drubbing from a customer won’t last long. Support from management is, of course, important here, but the employees themselves need a positive, optimistic self-image as well to propel themselves forward in the face of daily adversity.
5. Even after you hire (or, the term I prefer, “select”) those great employees, if you treat them poorly, make them scared about their long-term prospects with you, fire their colleagues by fiat, and so forth, you’ll never get their best efforts, their extra efforts applied to serving your customers. And those extra efforts are really the ones that count.
6. You can’t micromanage your employees and expect them to treat customers superbly. Unless you’re a lot smarter than I am, or than anyone I’ve ever met is, you can never predict in advance every single thing in every situation that needs to be done for a customer. Employees need the latitude, the breathing room to do what’s best for the customer. Even if you say on paper that you offer employees the power to “do what’s right for the customer,” if the stories you tell around the office are all about how customers took advantage, how you caught customers cheating, and so forth, employees will understand that they are there to do the least, rather than the most, for their customers.
7. You can’t not-manage your employees and expect them to treat customers superbly, either. No matter how talented and emotionally appropriate an employee is for customer service work, improper or nonexistent training, guidance, or leadership means throwing away a potentially great resource.
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, corporate culture speaker, and author most recently of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service
AICEX Associazione Italiana Customer Experience