4 Simple Ways to Start Your Revolution
by Dave Murray
Senior Customer Service Consultant for The DiJulius Group
As the calendar changed from 2013 to 2014, many magazines, websites and blogs began to publish articles about becoming more productive, becoming more organized. Many of these go under the premise that the first few weeks of the year are slow for most, and they attempt to focus on a few easy ways to kick-start the process in hopes of developing some new good habits.
These articles got me thinking: What are the best ways to kick-start a Customer Service Revolution throughout your organization? Don’t get me wrong; the process is not necessarily an easy one. When we engage our clients to revolutionize their Customer Service, it is a systematic approach that includes multiple workshops producing deliverables such as training manuals, customized training tools and new methodologies designed to maintain momentum.
That being said, what can one do if he or she is looking to simply begin the process of making things better for both Customers and employees? Here are my top four ways to get things moving in the right direction – and these are all things you can work into your day, whether you are experiencing a winter slow down, or your days are busier than ever.
1) Use “F.O.R.D.” on your employees – FORD is the acronym we use for the information you need to gather on clients, suppliers, employees, etc. in order to really build quality relationships. FORD stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. All things that people love to talk about, and that will help us grow a relationship.
Think about this for a moment: How much information do you know regarding the people who report to you? If you can list five things per employee– good for you. If you cannot, there’s no better time than now to start. By the way, we are not recommending that you begin interrogating or even re-interviewing your employees for these important bits of information. Simply make sure that you take the time to have quality conversations with your employees, and work FORD related questions into the discussion when appropriate.
2) Make a connection – Use your Customers’ names. You have heard it before, and it is true – the sweetest sound to a human being is his or her own name. There is no better way to connect with another human being than using their name, whether it is on the phone or in person. If you are in a phone center or a Customer-facing area, challenge your employees to get the Customer’s name and then use it. Many times getting the name is the easy part. So many of us are in situations where the Customers must give us their names. But do we all use the very useful information other than just looking up an account?
It is one thing to tell your team to use names, yet it is quite another to show them. In a meeting, take some time to roll out the plan to connect, and use role-play to demonstrate to your team your anticipated end product. Set a goal for the number of times (many organizations shoot for three times during an interaction), and then use the role playing to show how the name usage should be natural, never forced simply to hit a number. Decide if your organization wants to address Customers by sir name, or if you want to connect on a first name basis. In my opinion, this is primarily based on the standards that already exist within your industry.
3) Give your team ways to say, Yes – Many companies say, “The Customer is always right,” or “No is not an option,” but very few companies teach their front-line teams how to say, Yes. How do you do that? One great way is to get your team together and ask them to track the top three to five things that they must say ‘no’ to over a period of time. Then, as a group, find ways to say ‘yes.’ I am not suggesting that we change the way we do business, but what I am suggesting is that if there is a request that does require a ‘no’ for a legitimate reason, arm your team with alternative solutions. Can’t refund the purchase? Make sure offering an exchange is top of mind, if feasible. Get your team thinking that they are in the resolution business. No challenge is too tough; find a positive in every negative. Once you have set this guideline in motion, re-enforce it with the “No-No Game.” As a group, throw out difficult ‘no’ questions, and make your team members come up with positive solutions on the spot. It is a fun way to maintain momentum and celebrate successes.
4) A day in the life – There is no better way for your employees to really focus on and connect with your Customers than to build empathy for them. Empathy is that magic emotion that helps our teams to NOT treat the next person in line, or on hold, like a number. Empathy helps our teams remember that this is the Customers’ time with us – no matter how many times we have heard their question today.
Many companies write, develop and create award-winning quality videos focused on the day in the life of Customers that are then shown to existing team members during a kick off event, and then made part of the orientation process for all future employees. The first step of this process when we are working with clients is to have team members break into small groups and write scripts based on combined real-life experiences they have had. The real fun begins when the small groups are asked to act out the script they have created. While you will not be producing an Oscar winner, you will be creating a fun way for your team to put themselves in the shoes of the people they serve – and hopefully begin to charge their way of thinking. You will also be gathering some great storylines for when it comes time to create your video.
I hope that you will find with just a little time and effort, these four ideas can really get you moving in the right direction. I am open to answer any questions, and hopefully hear some of your success stories!