The following is the third post of a three part series by Barbara Stevens, an experienced executive who has held management positions at professional sports teams and global franchises for over two decades.
So, how do you build that dedicated service team? It’s all about the people and it starts at the top. To be successful, the entire organization needs speak the same common language of core values and buy in to your message as the root of that language.
The Right DNA
It takes a certain “type” of individual. You have to have the right DNA for service. I find the characteristics that lead to the best service people are being open to learning, leadership, problem solving, team mentality (plays well in the sandbox with others) and basic good manners. It is important that they are technologically savvy - Technology will not displace talent, but it will make your talent that much more impactful.
Removing The “P” Word
Never use the P word. P word = POLICY…no one ever wants to hear – “I’m sorry it’s our company policy…” The customer becomes more frustrated and infuriated. What customers want to hear is what solutions you can offer and what it means for them – not what you cannot offer and why you can’t do it. Defuse rather than incite.
Empowering Your People
As a manager you must empower your employees and you can do this by teaching your employees a framework through which they can make better decisions. For example, client services representatives should be asking themselves –‘How does this help move our business forward?’ Successfully teaching your representatives not only helps you offer client service but also demonstrates that you are invested in your employee’s career growth, which makes them work harder for you.
The same principles and practices applied to customer retention should be used to cultivate talent internally. Your employees have needs…addressing them will show them your investment in them and they will return the favor. Your company’s culture of not having high turnover of employees will create a positive vibe throughout the workplace. Your employees grow happier and become advocates for your business - they build better relationships with your customers and your customer satisfaction skyrocket.
Training, scripting and role-playing daily are both fun and keys to success. This is low cost/no cost to the organization and it helps the entire team get smarter and reinforces the company‘s objective. Part of your training should be ongoing education – what are the best practices in other industries? I remind my teams to always “shamelessly” reapply best practices outside our industry to make our own work better.
Tactics To Build Empathy
Practice listening skills. I ask my teams to listen carefully to noises in the background on phone calls - a dog barking or a baby crying may all be future conversation fillers with your customers that contribute to deepening your relationship to them. They also help you anticipate what is personally important to your customers (pet owner vs parent) so you can add a human touch to your service.
Lead By Example
It’s our job to be a positive leader. We need to effectively communicate and practice what we preach to our teams. Our attitude and how we conduct our professional presence is essential. Great employees take what you show them and run with it…how you conduct yourself is setting the benchmark for acceptable practice. Be smart about it! How would you want your best employee to act? Embody that so your staff knows what they should do.
Barbara Stevens has a 15+ year track record in engagement and loyalty marketing with previous executive positions with both NBA and NFL teams. To learn more about Barbara, see her LinkedIn profile here.