Welcome to the second part of our series giving you great tips on how to establish rapport. Last month, we covered listening, linking interests and asking for advice. This time, we cover the next four steps…
Over the next few months, we will be outlining ten key ways that you can build a brilliant rapport with your customers. The first in the series follows…
We get frustrated when we come across a website that looks very impressive only to find after reading a couple of pages that we still don’t know what the organisation actually does.
That was the one trap we were determined to avoid in revamping our sister company’s (Maximum Performance) website, so we’ve tried hard to avoid too much ‘consultant speak’ and we’ve tried to give you a real feel for exactly what we do, the ‘look and feel’ of our development programmes, the type of projects our clients ask us to undertake, and the range of tools and techniques we use to deliver them.
Please do visit the site and have a browse. We would also like to know what you think so if you have any comments please leave them on this page.
5-stars is not an award, it’s a declaration to your team that good is not good enough and only excellence will do…
Championship winning coaches have a habit of demanding excellence from everyone on their team. They never tolerate mediocrity from anyone. Incredibly high standards are discussed everyday (yes, everyday).
This article, however, is not about sports. Nor is it about AAA ratings, Mobil ratings, or Michelin Guide ratings. It is about what separates very good from exceptional.
I’ve had the privilege to work with 5-star hotels, restaurants, and spas. I have also worked with 4-star establishments. The difference between the two is like night and day. 4 star properties are reputable and very good.
In most cases, the staff knows what they are supposed to do, and they even have an idea about what great service is. In a 5 star establishment, excellence is demanded from everyone every day.
Mistakes are always reviewed. Follow through is always done. The best employees are always recognized. Everyone works like they have a personal stake in the property. To put it bluntly, good is never good enough…employees in 5 star properties strive to be perfect all the time. The leadership in 5-star properties always challenge their teams and themselves to get better. Being 5-stars is more about a mindset than it is about adhering to certain standards.
So what are the best ways to implement this 5-star mindset? First, recognize that 5-stars is not about an award or designation. It’s about a mentality, a way of working, discipline and most of all, a healthy disdain for anything mediocre.
Whenever you find yourself thinking, “Well that’s ok” or “It’s not that bad” or “It’ll be perfect next time”, then you’re drifting away from the 5-star mentality.
Let me be clear, you don’t have to work in a 5-star establishment to have a 5-star mentality. I’ve seen 3 and 4 star establishments with the 5-star mindset. I’ve seen grocery stores and airlines with the 5-star mindset as well. 5-stars is about excellence and striving to be world-class in whatever you are doing – all the time.
I recently stayed at the Wynn Las Vegas, and had a 5-star experience. One of the true testaments of a 5-star experience is how well the staff takes ownership and follows through.
Shortly after checking in, I ordered room service. When the order came, the server was refined, yet very personable. She asked me where I would like the table to be set up, and I told her in front of the television. She then asked about my television station preference, turned the channel to the desired station, and placed the remote control right next to me.
After uncovering my food and describing each dish, she asked if there was anything further she could do to assist. I had forgotten my lint roller at home, so I asked if the hotel might have one for me. She said that she’d be happy to take care of it, and I would have an update within a half-hour. Less than 15 minutes later, someone was knocking at my door. It was a laundry attendant with a silver tray and 3 lint rollers for me to use. By the way, the attendant also used my name and inquired about further assistance also.
Keep in mind that these were the laundry attendant and the room service server. Those are not the highest paid employees, but their actions created a 5-star experience. The true test of a 5-star establishment is not whether they can create a single memorable experience. It’s whether they can create memorable experiences repeatedly everyday.
From a leadership perspective, one of the best ways to do this is to continuously solicit and share examples of memorable experiences. Every week, solicit examples from your team, or you can read letters submitted by past guests. Just make sure that you focus on the level of service you want to see repeated. Focusing on excellence will stimulate more excellence.
Talking about excellence will stimulate more excellence. Rewarding excellence will stimulate more excellence. One general manager with 5-star hotel experience put it perfectly:
“It is the small, simple, special moments that we create through personal engagement with each guest that they will recall when they return home. To accomplish this type of sustainability we carefully and methodically select our employees, and then continuously train. It’s not about the tactical as much as it is about speaking the language of the guest”.
So be sure to be very clear about your vision for service excellence. Share some examples from various industries. Ask your team about the most memorable service they ever received. Most importantly, challenge everyone on your team to take ownership and follow through on guest requests all the time.
5-stars is not an award, it’s a declaration to your team that good is not good enough – only excellence will do.
Williams, B. 5 Star Customer Service, accessed on 12/03/2013. Available at http://www.customerservicemanager.com/5-star-customer-service.htm
Learn from these customer service mistakes and keep the heart of your business beating…
Caring for your customers and clients should be easy – after all, these are the people who pay your bills.
But many businesses struggle with the basics of customer care, appearing to act as if their businesses would run brilliantly as long as there were no customers to stuff things up for them.
But customers are the lifeblood of your business, and with a little bit of care they will continue to keep the heart of your business beating.
So what are the 5 mistakes businesses make when caring for customers?
1. One hit wonders
These businesses go all out in attracting new customers. They spend a fortune on their marketing, with flashy websites and expensive ad campaigns. They woo customers through the door and once they have the first sale, then they roll up their tent and move on to the next prospect.
When serving customers you need to always look at it as if you are building a lifetime relationship. Look at how you can help them with their second, third and fourth sale. Look at ways of making each person feel valued and wanted. Get to know their names, extend the hand of friendship and find
out what makes them tick.
After all, it is much cheaper and easier to sell to someone who already knows you and likes what you offer, than trying to attract someone new.
2. Too much information
Then you have the businesses that understand the importance of keeping in touch with their customers, except they are like over-eager suitors. These businesses send you three emails the first day, at least one or two the subsequent days and then keep up a daily stream of emails, texts and other forms of contact. Their clients may feel flattered initially, but after a while, they burn out from all of the focus and attention. Pull back a bit on the efforts to stay in touch. Allow customers to come to you through reading your blog or articles, with only a few direct contacts thrown in, rather than constantly pushing your message onto them.
3. The silent treatment
Another mistake is the silent treatment. This is where a client may have an issue or a complaint and they contact the business with their concerns, only to be met with the sound of crickets chirruping (or worse, a standardized “thank you for your feedback – your opinions are important to us” letter).
If your customers take the time to contact you, whether it is via a letter, email, fax, phone or social media, and if you want to show you care, then you need to personally respond to their comment. In these cases, silence is NOT golden.
4. Broken promises
If you promise to do something, or deliver something by a certain time or date, then caring for your customers means actually delivering on your promises. Many businesses come unstuck with this one by over-committing themselves in terms of appointment times, or over-promising their skills or capabilities. Caring means being honest – and that means being honest about what you can or can’t do.
5. You are all the same
The last common mistake of customer care is treating all clients and customers as if they are all the same.
So, for example, not taking into account people with disabilities, designing your layout for parents with prams or communicating with people of a non-English speaking background. Simple things like the images used in your marketing can include or exclude people from using your services. How you physically set up your business, or how you design your website, makes the difference between the customers you get and the sales you lose. People are not all the same. They have different needs, wants, hopes and aspirations. Part of caring for your customers means understanding and embracing these differences, and arranging ways to make it inclusive of all people.
Take some time to look at your business with fresh eyes. Where are you treating clients as disposable objects or bombarding them with information? Where are you giving them the silent treatment or breaking your word to them?
Finally, where are you treating your customers as if they are all the same? If you take the time to review and adjust your customer care strategy, you will end up with more loyal customers, happier staff and better profits – not bad for simply caring more about your customers!
Cliff, I. Top 5 Customer Service Mistakes And How To Fix Them, accessed on 14/02/2013. Available at http://www.customerservicemanager.com/top-5-customer-service-mistakes.htm
Welcoming a customer takes approximately 30 seconds. However, to deliver a truly effective welcoming statement, each of the following must consistently convey that you are ready and willing to focus on the customer.
Does your organisation have a Sales Director? Are they focused mainly on new customer acquisition? Maybe now is the time to consider a ‘Director of Customer Retention’ role as well. This is not something you should leave to chance. Both Tesco and First Direct have a real focus on this area, reviewing statistics at board level. Their results speak for themselves. The first stage in developing a customer retention strategy is to start measuring it, the second is cross and up selling and the third is consistent follow-up.
Your customers don’t like being shouted at. The key thing is to interact with your customers, not simply ‘pitch’ to them. You need to develop an approach that turns every service contact into an opportunity for the customer to gain value or solve a problem. As Peter Drucker once said, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. Everything else is detail.”
If you want to be a customer service superstar, follow these 10 steps every time you interact with your customers:
- Make every customer a SPECIAL customer
- Believe the customer is always right
- Add the personal touch
- Build a business one customer at a time
- Turn complaints into opportunities
- Create ‘moments of truth’ … the extra mile is never crowded
- DELIVER! Nothing impresses like competence
- Do their best … nobody is ever motivated to do an average job
- Serve internal customers as well as external customers… customers make pay-days possible
- Define jobs in terms of adding value to customers
Just imagine. You have walked out of a shop or put down the phone after purchasing something and your immediate reaction is “Wow!”
How do you feel? Excited; satisfied; fulfilled – eager to return and buy again?