Customer Service Week is here. You know I much prefer to call it Customer HAPPINESS Week, because when Customers are happy about doing business with you, they tell friends.
Oct 2-6th is set aside to pay special attention to your customers and your customer care efforts. Many companies have been planning their activities and readying themselves with bells and whistles and buttons and mugs. That’s great news – I love a celebration. There is still plenty of time to make this week special.
Let it start with your intention to use the week well.
In addition to celebrating, what can you do to make it a week packed with learning that will last? The luncheons, buttons and little gifts businesses give to their employees and customers are all nice touches, but if the culture of your business doesn’t support outstanding customer care every day, well, it’s a nice party but next Monday it’ll be business as usual.
Make Customer Happiness week work for you this year by using it as an opportunity to change the conversation you have about the customer, and how you as a company can create more value and keep those customers coming back with money and friends. You may not be able to change the culture in a week – but you CAN change the conversation – and I say that’s the first step!
Here’s my recommendation for making the week useful:
- Take 15 minutes each day to focus on your customer CARING.
- Plant the seeds of change by talking about what you CAN do to make a difference in the customer relationship.
- Have a quick stand-up meeting in the morning, make it part of lunchtime each day, or bring in breakfast for the week. (If you have a call center or round the clock coverage – you may need to have the same meeting for each shift. Make sure everyone is involved.)
During this meeting you have the power to shift people’s minds, attention and focus in the direction of creating a more positive, caring customer experience.
Don’t know what to talk about? Here are 7 simple suggestions to get the ball rolling. Share one a day, every day during Customer Happiness Week, (we’re giving you one for each day for a FULL week – you don’t get off the hook on weekends if you are working on weekends.) Watch what happens when you invite people to share their feelings.
1. Let ‘em Feel the Love.
Let’s face it, the Customer Experience is all about emotion – loyalty is an emotional attachment. At the Customer Care Coach®, we say the “Customer Experience is the sum total of the feelings evoked as a result of any interaction a customer has with you at any touch point in your organization. It’s based on their PERCEPTION of the value delivered, both tangible and intangible.” It’s all subjective. If they think you’re great, you’re great in their eyes. If they say you’re rude, then, er, um, you ARE rude.
Ask your team about their own experience as customers. Who do they love doing business with and why? Who did they quit and why? Why did they take their money elsewhere? How did it make them feel? Ask them about companies to which they’re loyal. How do those businesses EARN their loyalty – what do they do, and how does it make them feel? Your business has that same power – to keep customers, or to turn them off and away. What can you do to actively EVOKE the feelings that will make ‘em feel good?
2) Nix the Negativity.
Any negativity in the house? “Woe is us” syndrome? Think not? Think again. Are there any sarcastic posters on the walls or hanging on the bulletin board above the copy machine? Do people respond to requests and thank you’s with the term, “No problem,” (the two words that no customers really wants associated with their needs or desires)? Negative words, thoughts and experiences ‘shut us down’ on the inside, causing employees to give less, customers to buy less, and everyone to be on the lookout for what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Teach your team to replace responses like, “No problem” and “OK” and other such words with, “It’s my pleasure…I’d love to…We’ll do that right now….Certainly.. Thank you!” Look for signs of hidden negativity everywhere – ban it!
3) Up the Ante.
Are your standards based on what matters to the customer? If you’re looking to deliver CARE that stands out, look at those expectations on a regular basis. Start a discussion about what matters to the customer- what do they *really* buy from you?
Remember that what gets rewarded gets repeated. Make sure your measurement systems are in alignment with the customer keeping behaviors you want employees to have. Raise your expectations of yourself and your team based on the things that matter to the customers. Ask the people that talk to the customers every day to brainstorm their ideas with you. Start thinking about what can create Customer Happiness and Customer JOY!
4) Free the People.
Do you make it hard for employees to make it easy for customers? If there are obstacles in the way of delivering an unforgettably wonderful Customer Experience, remove them. Some typical examples:employees who aren’t empowered to make decisions on behalf of customers on the spot, who aren’t well-educated in the company’s customer care goals, or who are overly involved in “paper work” instead of “people work.” How can you identify obstacles and free people to have great relationships? Ask them: “Do you have everything you need to create exquisite customer experiences?” Everyone I know knows deep down in their heart what they need to do to make the customer really happy – it’s just that there are barriers (or negative consequences) to doing it!
5) Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.
Frankly, there seems to be more lip service than customer service in today’s business world. Don’t just talk a good game; invest money, time and other resources into tools, activities and training that foster a profitable customer caring culture. Ask people what they need to do a good job. Ask people what skills (listening, questioning, resolving conflict, problem solving etc.) they need to be OUTSTANDING and memorable in your field. Start a library of books, courses and other tools that will help people get better everyday. Pay people to read, absorb and teach what they learn. Train your managers and supervisors to provide the kind of environment that has people wanting to come to work every day and give their best!
6) Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
Part of your job is to create a culture of positivity in your workplace. After all, *happy employees create happy customers*. The task of creating happy employees can, at times, be formidable when you consider that psychologists say that about 80% of what we ‘take in’ is negative.
Happiness is not just a vague, fuzzy state of mind. It’s a physical state of well-being that undoes the effects of stress, creates resilience, pumps the body full of happy hormones, builds up the immune system, optimizes health and helps people to be more open to new ideas. Ask people what would make them happier at work, what would make them feel more positive. Focus them on what’s going well, and what’s possible, by asking them at the end of each day, “What did you do today that made you feel proud?” or “What was the best part of your day today?” Shine a light on the things that people do right.
7) Truth Heals.
Business is all about relationship. To be the best you can be at keeping relationships on track, you have to acknowledge the truth. At the Customer Care Coach®, we use the acronym TRACK to remember the most important tenets of relationships: Trust, Respect, Appreciation, Communications and Kindness. Ask yourself, and ask your team to think about, anything they do or say (or any outmoded assumption, policy or procedure) that might take away from any of these qualities on the job. Then brainstorm ways you can all work together to support those positive relationship qualities. For a FR*ee report on TRACK http://www.returnonhappiness.com/track/
Remember, while Customer Service Week, err, Customer HAPPINESS Week is once a year, exquisite customer care is a day in, day out mission for those who intend to create consistently winning Customer Experiences. Use this upcoming week as the beginning of your year of exploration and learning how you can be the BEST you can be. Even one better – start thinking about the things that you can do that will help you be the ONLY ones who do what you do. What is YOUR brand of service? What do YOU want to be famous for as a leader?
Happy, lively and provocative conversations!
PS – Enjoy some teachings at https://www.youtube.com/user/JoannaBrandiCompany/videos
If you still want some bells and whistles – http://www.csweek.com/customer_service_week_planning_tools.php