How many times have you heard something like this from a service provider: “It’s not my fault,” “That’s not our policy,” or “I’m sorry, but I can’t do anything to help.”
Now, consider this: How many times have you said something like that to a customer? Ever found yourself in a situation where you have felt that excusing yourself from responsibility was the easiest way out? Let’s be honest, we’ve all been guilty of this; and in Ron Kaufman’s new book, Uplifting Service, he provides ideas on taking personal responsibility.
Ron says that to build better teamwork, improve communication, and increase pride in our work we have to become “Service Champions.” In short, we need to push off the tempting fallbacks such as “I’m powerless,” or “I don’t have the time” and look for creative ways forward.
He says that one quality of a Service Champion is they feel empowered to do something about a problem, instead of throwing their hands in the air and giving up. If a customer has a problem they change their tone from, “I’m sorry I can’t help,” to “Our policy isn’t going to stop me from making this right.”
Here’s one example of a Service Champion from our book All In. Lisa DiStasio, works at the Clinton Shoreline Connecticut branch of First Niagara Bank. She got a frantic call from a customer with a complex problem.
The customer had been driving in Maine while visiting her son and had hit a moose with her car. The repair shop required cash up front, more than the customer had on hand, and the woman didn’t know how to get money from her account in Connecticut. Most employees might have told the customer a polite version of “I don’t have time for you or your complex problem.” Lisa, however, jumped into action. It took her several hours, but she found a resourceful way to get the customer the money she needed that very day to make the repairs.
In Kaufman’s Uplifting Service, he identifies 5 styles of service that can change “I can’t help” to “I’ll do everything in my power to make your experience with us better.” They include:
- Direction: Explain in clear and real terms how your client might be able to resolve a problem when you can’t—for instance an IT specialist might explain to a person over the phone exactly what commands he/she needs to type to fix a glitch.
- Production: Resolving an issue quickly and efficiently, while still doing a good job, is an obvious help to a client who feels wronged—but it’s a solution rarely offered by service providers.
- Education: Teach your service agents to think of themselves as patient educators who while they are helping are also teaching or tutoring your customers.
- Motivation. Provide verbal responses that make your customers feel right without making you wrong, such as (to a customer who feels offended), “I’m sorry. You are right to expect courteous service.”
- Inspiration. Create a real person-to-person connection with your clients by caring about their well-being. This starts with a sincere, “How are you today?” and ends with, “Thank for you this opportunity to serve you.”
These styles can help make customer relationships and more enjoyable for everyone. It’s a great way to Think Orange!