5 steps to faking customer service excellence
It’s 10am on a Sunday morning and myself and 3 friends are sitting in a café catching up on each other’s current affairs. From where I was sitting and sipping, I had a clear view of the kitchen and the staff.
This was like having access to the back stage of a theatre; an insight into what goes on behind the scenes before actors’ step on stage or in this case, staff present themselves to customers.
My eyes were drawn to an employee who was leaning against a wall and taking a long drink of water. Her posture was slumped and after she quenched her thirst, she slowly slid down the wall and popped her head between her knees.
A co-worker walked by with a cheeky grin on his face and patted the top of her head. She looked up and said – well I have no idea what she said but it wasn’t with a big smile.
And then she changed.
She stood up, threw her shoulders back and entered the stage – the customer area. A big genuine smile emerged, and she greeted customers with eye contact and a warm welcome.
I was enthralled so I kept watching.
Each time she finished with a customer, she went back behind the scenes, her smile disappeared, her water bottle appeared, and she would lean on a bench or up against the wall. But, as soon as she saw or heard a new customer arrive, she would put on her professional armour and off she would go again.
She was faking customer service excellence and she was doing a great job.
How good at faking excellent service are you and your team of human beings? We humans have lives outside of work; we get sick, we stay up too late, we have kids, pets and a whole host of non-work responsibilities that can (and should) take our attention away from work.
Leaving those non-work challenges (or hangovers from fun) “off stage” may not be easy but it is possible. Customer service ‘fakery’ skills are like armour – they keep the team safe from the daggers of unhappy customers and your business safe from the pain of bad reviews.
5 steps to help your staff fake it professionally.
1. Encourage your team to be honest with you when they are feeling less than service excellence focused.
2. Confirm you respect their external challenges and that you understand they (like you) may not always feel like providing excellent service.
3. Re-affirm their role requires them to choose a positive attitude and present professionally every day. (If the challenges require more than a positive pep talk, address this accordingly)
4. Remind them of the power of their body language and tone of voice ie: chin up, shoulders back, smile, use eye contact, walk with purpose, speak clearly, seek and use customer names.
5. Provide feedback when you witness an employee making the effort and/or if you assess someone needing to lift.
Remember: Inspect the service standards you expect, or staff will set their own standards.
There is a real need for training the skills of customer service fakery but I have to stress - I’m using the word “fake” because staff understand when I say that some days you have to ‘fake it’.
BUT, if you take the above 5 steps, ‘faking it’ isn’t necesaary as your team will know how to step up when they feel like lying down.
If you want a team of people who know it’s OK (and important) to be honest about how they feel and have the skills to self-manage negative behaviours when interacting with customers, my book “The A – Z of Service Excellence” is what you need, and you can download the first chapter for free.
By Cate Schreck