Today, it’s just a fact that if you’re not focusing your attention on how your customers are being treated, your business is almost certainly doomed for failure. Increasing competition has created the need for customer service to be a fundamental business component. If you’re not paying the necessary attention on how your staff is treating customers, you might want to be asking yourself why?
Sure, time and money needs to be spent on operational efficiency, strategic planning, and marketing initiatives, but developing and executing a customer plan that includes regular assessment is extremely important. Managers and C-level executives can easily become detached from the frontlines and often have a very inaccurate picture of what customers are experiencing. Often what’s being missed is that the customer service team is lacking in enthusiasm and is not dedicated to helping customers or actively trying to close sales.
One of the best tools for learning about your frontline team is to record mystery shop calls where a third-party shopper poses as a prospective customer. Of course, you’ll learn a great deal about what words are being said, but also about the tone and manner in which they’re being heard.
However, mystery calls are only valuable if they are being used to help employees improve their sales and communications skills. Once you have the data, you then need to:
Review Calls with Employees
Sure, it can be enlightening for you to hear the calls, but it’s your employees who really need to listen to them. Take the time to review calls with employees before any specific actions are taken.
Once an employee has listened to a mystery shop call, begin the dialogue to highlight areas in which he or she has excelled and faltered. Discuss ways to improve techniques, and emphasize the important that each and every call has on day-to-day business.
Develop the Guidelines
Without clear guidelines as to what good customer service entails, training can become very random, and employees will decide on their own how to treat customers. This isn’t the best way to deliver the best customer service. Clearly define what is expected and how best to deliver it.
While it’s important to offer constructive criticism, it’s just as vital to encourage practice. Customer service and sales techniques are learned skills. Give the support and encouragement employees need to reinforce behaviors. Use role-playing in training and discuss tips and techniques during meetings.
Get Outside Help
Sometimes, there just aren’t the internal resources to effectively develop a customer service team. This is when outsourcing might just be the answer. An outside training partner can help define objectives, clarify challenges, and tailor training to meet your particular organizational needs.
There is clearly no short-term fix for building an effective customer service organization. It’s always a long-term commitment, and mystery shopping is only one component. To stay competitive, it is essential to invest in assessments, evaluations, and training to make positive changes that will permanently and positively affect company culture over the long-haul.
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