Stephen Milford

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Value Delivered Through Customer Service | Griffin Training

Stephen Milford

November 20, 2008

5.0/5.0 (3 votes total)

What is customer service? Have you ever stopped to really think about this question? We have trained literally thousands of people and hundreds of organisations in customer service. No matter who the person or what the organisation, the answer to this question is always generic. They will say: "Customer service is about giving customers what they want" or perhaps "it's about satisfying customers" some times they will say that it is about "making customers happy."

While at first glance these answers may sound correct, nothing could be further from the truth. Say for example that you ran a restaurant. If a customer were to enter your restaurant and ask for some office supplies would you be able to give the customer what they want? Would you be able to satisfy a customer who was looking for some jewellery if you worked in a hardware store? No, it would be impossible. The best that you could do would be to politely tell the customer where they can go and get Jewry. Obviously, customer service is not about giving customers what they want, or even satisfying customers.

The same is true for the way we give customer service. When we ask the question: what is the most important thing for good customer service, almost everyone we ask will answer: smile. While this may be good in some cases it is not appropriate in all cases. Just imagine if a distressed mother came up to you and told you that she had lost her 2 year old child in your store. Imagine how she would respond if you were to smile at her? Or imagine if a customer told you that he/she slipped while climbing the stairs or escalator in your store and as they explained their excruciating injuries you smiled back at them.

The truth is that customer service is not about practicalities, it's about principles. The practicalities may change but the principles stay the same. Staff are not meant to smile all the time, to give customers everything they want, or to satisfy all their needs. Staff are meant to promote the organisation and its values. If you want to increase the impact of your customer service teach staff to represent your organisation and its unique traits.

When we teach customer service training modules we first focus on what the organisation values, what it's all about and what does it want customers to see. Once we have done this, we move on to how to serve in light of these values. This is a very easy way of getting staff to change the way they serve, it produces better results and is a lot more fun to teach.

Here is something you can do to help your staff engage in effective customer service. Take a black/white board and draw a very basic house. Ask staff to take a piece of chalk or the white board marker and to take turns to turn this basic house into your organisation/company. They may add pictures or words to the basic drawing. Some will add words like: quality, professionalism, friendliness, service, money, speed, or simplicity while others may draw things like customers and staff.

Now ask staff this simple question: in light of this picture, what does a good customer service representative do? The participants will now find it easy to see what customer service is really about in your organisation. They may say for example, in light of us being a friendly company we should smile. Or perhaps they will highlight the organisation's professionalism and explain that it's professional to stand up straight and to dress appropriately.

Instead of teaching staff practicalities teach them principles and the practicalities will follow naturally.


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