In these uncertain and unprecedented times, organizations that are still able to operate are cutting both budgets and spending. Many organizational leaders I have spoken with are reporting that they are cutting all training resources for the remainder of 2020 in an effort to hang onto cash.
At the same time, many organizations are deploying sales and service teams to work from home – a new frontier for many. First, those of us that are still able to work and earn a paycheck need to be very grateful, as many others cannot right now. Secondly, we need to ask the question “how well are we serving our customers in these new environments?”
Here is where you can start: focus on these four service basics with your teams – being especially mindful that we are all in new environments.
Use of empathy
We are all in this together, we know that. We are all facing different levels of stress and fear. Some of us have been affected directly, others indirectly. It is a great time to remind our customer facing teams how important it is to put ourselves in our customer shoes. To remind ourselves that we don’t know what the other person Is truly facing but thinking about how we would act if we did know. Simples phrases, such as “I understand” or “I would feel that way too” can go a long way in helping to build empathy.
We all have negative cues. They hide in things like tone of voice, body language, and both spoken and written word. Take some time with your teams to talk about what negative cues we may be projecting to our customers. Keep in mind, negative cues are rarely purposeful or done maliciously. Typically, they are things that we do or say that are unintentional and unnoticeable to us, but very noticeable to our customers. As we all enter into new working environments, it is a great time to look for and build awareness about new negative cues.
Many of us already have several operational standards in place when it comes to our processes. Too many of us do not take the time to create experiential standards to supplement the operational. Start small! Things like using the customer’s name to help build rapport, referencing things that come up in the conversation, like: How old are your kids? What kind of dog is he? If every team member across the organization is focused on the little things to make our transactions more experiential as opposed to operational, our customers will notice a very positive difference!
Many of our team members are going to be faced with having to say “no” to questions that they are not used to receiving. Whether it is questions we do not typically receive, or questions where under normal circumstances, yes would be the answer. It is imperative we do not make our teams “fend for themselves” or “figure it out on the fly” when they are faced with answering difficult questions. Take some time either as a leadership team or with your team members to formulate answers to these questions. Make sure everyone on your team understands the answer, and more importantly, the reason for the answer.
As leaders, the last thing we can do is assume our team members know how to deliver the service we’d like our customers to receive – especially in the un-chartered waters we all find ourselves in today. Keep in mind, team members like to be part of the solution as opposed to being simply told what to do. That is why all of the exercises above make great team workshops, and a great excuse to get your teams together on a video call and work together.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.