We are all consumers, and as consumers, we all like to be treated well. But, as much as we want to receive superior service, at times it can be difficult to provide the same standard of service to our clients, especially if our idea of exemplary service differs from those who are on the receiving end.
Ben Franklin, a Founding Father and an entrepreneur, had much to say about the importance of customer service. “Endeavor to be as much in your shop, or in whatever place your business properly lies, as possibly you can. Your presence may prevent the loss of a good customer.”
While in 1749 he may have meant this literally, in today’s culture there may be many people representing your brand and, as owners, it’s impossible to be everywhere at the same time; therefore, it’s imperative that your employees know the level of service you expect for your customers.
While hiring enough people to accomplish the work of a business is crucial, even more important is the training for these individuals. And one of the most important aspects of training should be customer service. As everyone’s view of great service differs, corporations have differing views on what’s best for their client experience. Your company should have a standard policy in place - from the CEO to the newest hire, everyone should be offering the same level of service. And it starts at the top. As owners of our businesses, it’s imperative we lead by example and provide a manual that outlines the customer service process.
Your clients will come to know what to expect from your company, and as word gets out about their great experience, your brands’ reputation will increase. This is what separates average companies from the truly outstanding ones.
Here are some examples of corporations that exemplify the best in customer service.
The Ritz-Carlton’s three steps of service are simple – greeting each guest upon their arrival, anticipating/fulfilling their needs and a fond farewell. The key component is anticipating, and then fulfilling, guest needs. Something as simple as mailing an overseas letter for the guest (at no charge) provides an inclusive atmosphere. Guests go from strangers to family, and will likely return again to spend time with their family. The company’s credo states “. . . The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”
The lesson: Going above and beyond provides a great experience and opens the door to future business.
When asked why his employees are so nice, Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A, says “Every life has a story, and often our customers and our employees, need a little grace and a little space when you deal with them because they are either experiencing a problem, just finished having a problem, or are about to have one.” Keeping this in perspective, Chick-fil-A employees offer the same service, regardless of the interaction with their customers, with a smile and a “My pleasure.” Additionally, Chick-fil-A’s store operator turnover rate is less than 5%, while the industry average is 35%. The reason is simple – the training program goes beyond the four walls of the business. Employees are encouraged to invest in their future, and Chick-fil-A provides scholarships and development programs.
The lesson: Strive to treat others as we would ourselves. Encouragement within the company builds self-esteem, and fosters loyalty among the employees.
The Walt Disney Company
When Disneyland opened in 1955, at the first orientation – employees learned that they were not just employees, but they were an integral part of the guest experience. Disneyland was the stage, the attendees the guests, and as “cast members”, each employee played a specific role, with a premium on guest service. The service vision was simple: “We Create Happiness.” As Walt himself said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” He knew it would take everyone to provide the ultimate guest experience. And everyone, from the boardroom to the bathroom, is integral to the overall experience. After Walt’s passing in 1966, the program was evolved to share company history. Known now as “Traditions”, every new hire spends their first day learning the “Disney way.”
Additionally, The Walt Disney Company’s guest service experience is so highly-regarded that they offer training programs for corporations through Disney Institute.
The lesson: Using a common script, all employees play an active role in a client experiences. Offer training and guidelines, providing employees with the foundations and principles on which the company was founded. And create happiness.
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