It is not the employees’ responsibility to have high Service Aptitude; it is the company’s job to teach it to them.
Who’s to blame? If your employee disappoints your Customer, whose fault is that? Typically, the blame is placed on the employee for using poor judgment or being indifferent to the Customer. However, 99 percent of the time blame should be placed on the company or supervisor for putting someone in a position they were not qualified to handle. Most companies have their new employees go through technical training only, and when they end up delivering poor Customer service, management gets frustrated with that employee’s decision making. It is not their fault! Most would agree that the hospitality side (how our Customers are treated and cared for) is just as important as the technical/operational side of what the Customer receives. However, our training contradicts that. We would never think of having an accountant, lawyer, nurse, doctor, hairdresser, or technician perform work without the proper technical training, certification, and licensing. Yet most companies have little to zero Customer service certification. To my knowledge, there is no college major in Customer experience that prepares our next generation of workforce on how to have strong Customer service skills.
Companies don’t engage emotionally with their Customers – their employees do. If you want to create a memorable company, you have to fill your company with memorable people. The quality of your Customer service, and the level of your organization’s Customer service, comes down to one thing and one thing only: The Service Aptitude of every employee you have. From the CEO to the account executive, sales clerk, call center, receptionist, corporate office support team, to every front-line employee-it’s all about Service Aptitude!!! The most critical component in building a world-class Customer experience culture is the Service Aptitude of every individual employee in your company.
Service Aptitude: A person’s ability to recognize opportunities to exceed Customers’ expectations, regardless of the circumstances.
Service Aptitude scarcity – No one is born with it; it is not innate. The vast majority of the workforce has extremely low Service Aptitude, especially when they are entering the workforce after finishing school, regardless if that is high school, college, graduate school, or a trade school. As a result of poor training and paranoid management, many employees, including management, don’t have high Service Aptitude even after years of working. And sadly, a high percentage of senior-level executives continue to have low Service Aptitude during their careers. Why? Why is high Service Aptitude so rare? What dictates it, and what impacts it? There are three things that shape everyone’s Service Aptitude:
- Life experiences
- Past work experiences
- Current work experiences
Life experiences – are a significant factor in people’s Service Aptitude level, especially in the younger workforce. Think about home environment, groups of friends, and life experiences growing up. Frontline employees’ standard of living typically does not afford them the opportunity to fly first class, stay at five-star resorts, drive a luxury automobile, and enjoy other higher-end experiences. Yet we, as managers, expect those same employees to be able to deliver world-class service to clients, guests, patients, or whomever we call our Customers, who may be accustomed to these types of experiences. It doesn’t make any sense.
Previous work experiences – have a major impact on a person’s Service Aptitude. Think about how small the percentage is of organizations that are truly world-class at Customer service. It is a good bet that most of your frontline employees have previously worked for an average or less-than-average Customer service company, which means that not only were they not trained on what excellent service looks like, but they were brainwashed by a policy-driven, ironfisted manager who taught them that Customers are out to take advantage of businesses.
Current work experiences – dictate the current state of an employee’s Service Aptitude. Nearly every company states on paper, plaques, and its website how it has a Customer-first philosophy, but how many really back that up? New employees typically get initial training on a company’s operational processes-product knowledge, how to do the fundamentals of the job, and so on-but very little if any Customer service or soft-skill training is invested up front. Actions speak louder than words.
Call to Action – It all comes down to Service Aptitude training. Think about this: If today’s younger generation lacks the skills gained from human interactions, who is responsible for improving their people skills and increasing their Service Aptitude? The businesses that hire them! We need to have better training programs, not just training on product knowledge and the technical side of the job, but also training & certification on the soft skills. The companies that deliver world-class Customer service are the companies that understand this fact and provide training in Customer service skills. The second theory is about how well companies like Zappos, Chick-fil-A, John Robert’s Spa, Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton, and Disney make their frontline employees part of a bigger purpose in which they play a major role. This is why each of those companies has young, fully engaged team members.