What happens when your front line fails? Thanks to an increasingly connected global economy, an overwhelming number people know exactly what your company did wrong in near-real time. That negative publicity informs your current and potential customers’ buying choices, and it can result in a blow to your business’ bottom line. It’s a plague for companies whose front lines let them down, as we’ve seen in the news lately.
Maybe this isn’t par for the course for this company, but two terrible, newsworthy incidents in a year make us think it’s time for a reminder about the simple truth for excellent customer service.
Keep your opinions to yourself.
That’s it. Granted, it’s not the only thing necessary for excellent customer service skills, but it’s an important start. No matter your position within your company, it is never OK to talk bad about your customers (even when they’re being unreasonable, confrontational, or plain annoying).
Don’t say bad things about them under your breath, or write or pass around bad things about them to anyone else. It sounds pretty simple—so how can you make sure your entire company follows this rule? Here are five things you can do.
1. Start From The Top With Prioritizing Your Customers
The most important thing you can do to provide excellent customer service across your entire organization is to make it a core value to your leadership. If your customers hear you talking bad about a customer, they won’t have a second thought about doing the same thing. Customer service is actionable—you have a chance to show you prioritize it every day; as a leader or manager within your organization, you must show your team how to prioritize your customers every day.
You can do this two ways: proactively and reactively. The first means starting from where you are to make sure prioritizing customers is built into your company’s structure and goals. You can find out how to do that here. The second option is one you’ve probably already incorporated, and that’s to make it a company policy. You may have to work a little harder to make sure you’re doing this legally and appropriately, but when you’re serious about your customers, you’ll realize how valuable policies like this can be in making sure you avoid catastrophes like Comcast’s.
2. Hire The Right Way
Employee churn is a plague—in fact, it’s the most expensive mistake businesses make. By hiring the right employees, your organization could save many departments and employees a lot of frustration, wasted time, and thousands of dollars. Invest time in the whole structure and process if you’re serious about hiring employees you won’t have to worry about. Make sure your hires immediately understand your stated and acted-upon customer service “lifestyle.”
3. Continuously Train Your Customer Service Representatives
Being proactive about excellent customer service means treating training as a cycle, not a one-and-done task. To train your CSRs, you need to give them real-life situations they can encounter. That way, they train with examples of just how frustrating, time consuming, and patience-testing calls can actually be.
Use recorded calls to give reps experience with real-life examples as a part of both new employee orientation and continuing education.
Use call evaluation to deliver customer information after inquiry calls. When a call is not booked, a notification can go out to a sales manager quickly letting them know who called, details on what the customer was looking for, and why an appointment wasn’t secured, providing a second chance to call the customer back and make the sale.
4. Monitor Your Calls
To understand what’s really going on with every single call and to alert you of any red flags, you need to record every call. Poor customer service is not a singular event. Once you’ve trained your employees, record their activity so you can monitor what’s really going on. While the example above may just be a really unfortunate, public example and not illustrative of what’s going on with Comcast’s customer service, it still happened. While call monitoring can’t guarantee your employees’ behavior, it is an invaluable insight into their patterns and attitudes day-in and day-out. Having an archived recording of each call to your business also provides a legal advantage to protect your company from potential liabilities.
5. Avoid Fallout By Using Data To Make Changes & Corrections
Unfortunately for Comcast, their employees’ dirty laundry (and language) is now available for all of us—including current and potential customers—to see and judge. From an outside perspective, the company is hurt more than the individual employee. This is why it’s important to make sure your quality control is giving you accurate, unbiased views of your entire staff. Third party recordings can provide objective results that protect your entire company (not just individuals). With those recordings, you can reference specific customer calls to see exactly how your customers are being treated, how your sales are being lost, and then provide the best form of training to your employees to correct the problem.
It comes down to this: with proactive, thorough training, you’ll be able to avoid damaging (and potentially costly) customer service embarrassments and build a team that consistently provides excellent customer service.
To find out exactly how our lineup of solutions can help you make sure your front line doesn’t go too far, contact us today.