5 ways to "power up" your team's customer service lights

I am regularly contacted by Business owners and Managers from Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne who are seeking help to motivate their Frontline staff to keep providing excellent service. They tell me they recruited Frontline staff that had the skills and the enthusiasm for providing consistently excellent customer service and in the first few weeks or months of them commencing in the role, they did provide great service.

But over time, the motivated and customer focused employee’s “care-factor” for providing excellent service had diminished and their own needs started to replace that of the business and the customers.

When one, two or a few staff are allowed to drop your standards, you risk existing service excellence focused staff feeling taken for granted and before you know it, you have a team of people providing inconsistent levels of service. Once customers sense staff are losing interest in them, they will lose interest in the business.

Service excellence lights don't go out over night, they dim and flicker first and this is the sign you need to do some maintenance.

If you are in this place or you are worried it could happen, below are the 5 things you can do to re-ignite (or keep bright) the customer service excellence lights in your team.

1.     Be clear on what you expect

Don't assume your Frontline team know what service excellence is and how to do it. Too many times employees are left to use their common sense in this area. Service excellence is not common sense or a "one size fits all" approach. To have all customers delighted and telling everyone they know about your fantastic team and business, you need service excellence standards in place. Be pro-active and put time aside to create your own specific customer service standards and yes, write them down.

2.     Talk to your staff

Once you have written standards, you need to confirm your staff understand them and have the skills to implement them. Talk to your staff - preferably face to face. Your Frontline can make or break a business so you must make time for individual Service Excellence conversations. Hearing you speak about your customer service standards will confirm to staff how important the standards are and how much power and value they (the staff) have in the business.

3.     Ask staff what they need

Once the team is clear on the standards, ask them what would stop them from achieving those standards consistently and what they would need to remove that stop sign. Let them share their limitations and write those down. Writing limitations on paper or a whiteboard with a column for solutions, shows that you intend to help them solve the problem. Encourage the team to help each other with any limitations.

4.     Consider outsourcing the solution

Well of course I would say that, I’m a customer service specialist trainer. But, there’s many reasons why you should consider engaging external training support. Whether it’s the soft skills (people skills) of the role or the hard skills (technical skills), do you really have the time and skills to train staff? Do you understand adult learning styles, customer expectations, what motivates people to learn and how to adjust your training to suit each staff member? If you do, great but if not, get an expert for expert results or you could be wasting time; yours and your staffs.

5.     Step back and let them try

Make it OK for staff to make mistakes – it really is a powerful learning tool. Give them feedback on customer interactions that were carried out well and help staff review the ones that could have been better. Build their confidence by telling them you know they will do better, next time.

Final Note: When creating your customer service standards, be specific and most importantly, ask your customers for input. After all, it’s your customers who determine if your business provides excellent service, not you and not your staff.

To create a culture of service excellence, there are 3 Key areas you must address. Book your FREE Customer Service Analysis today and find our what you can do to keep the service excellence lights of your team on full power.

By Cate Schreck - Author of "The A-Z of Service Excellence".