Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Value and Service

Value and Service

We talk about “value” “adding value” or “value added”.  What does this really mean the Webster’s dictionary definition is: the desirability or worth of a thing.

Are we creating value for our customers, both internal (our co-workers) and externally everyday?  Think back to yesterday, did you created value within your own department?  Are you making it easy for people within your organization to do business with you?  As a sales rep, do you check to make sure that all your information is correct and readable before you hand it in?  The front desk staff, do you put the person’s emotions on the message for the phone calls you take?  For the managers and supervisors, are you clearing the obstacles out of your staff’s way for them to service the customer better?

Here is a question for you, what value does your organization bring to your customers?  What value do you bring to your organization?  I often ask this question in my seminars and I want to present this to you.  If you had to reapply for your position today based on just yesterday’s results, would you get rehired? (some people have responded “do I want my job”)  Did you bring your “A game” yesterday or just go through the motions?  Everyday we need to bring an energy level to the table that exceeds our customers.  We as salespeople, managers, front office, administration, production and customer service are not allow to have bad days. I had a baseball coach tell me one day the “you have to be good to go into a slump”

Today just “servicing” your customer is not enough. If you want to hold onto your customer base, whether the external or internal, you must consistently exceed your customer’s expectations. Today’s buzzword is “1% of separation”. How can we as an organization, department or individual be one percent better than the competition?

Up until about seven years ago the customer service department was better known as the “complaint department”. Today things have changed drastically, from the person who answers the phone, customer service, field personnel, production, engineering, salespeople and managers everyone who comes in contact with the customer must be superior in their service.

In my years in training and development, which is over 25 years, I have been in many organizations that have exceptional service and wanted to do some research which sets these organizations apart from others selling the same product.  What I came up with is the number one thing that separates these organizations from their competition and also want customers are looking for is:  knowledgeable staff.  

There are 3 things that make-up knowledge.  First do the people that come in contact with your customers knowledgeable about your products and services?  Or does the customer have to go through 4 or 5 reps, repeating their request over and over until they finally find someone to help them?   I understand and have been part of the “on the job training” which is a common training program for companies, however this process is both frustrating to your staff and the customer.  This creates turnover and lost customers.   Before your staff comes in contact with the customer have they gone through an extensive or at least product knowledge training or given a computer, desk and phone and told “have at it”?  Again, turnover and lost customers.

The second part of knowledge is policy and procedure.   I always ask the question in my seminars “is the customer always right?”  The answer of course is “no”, they are the customer though.   Customers lie; they know who to go to within your organization to get the answer they are looking for.  They will go through representative after representative to get the answer they are looking for and once they have that person they will continuously go back to that person.   While the rest of the organization is following the correct policy, these individuals are getting yelled at or told “the last time I called the other person say I could do this”.   One of my pet peeves in grocery shopping is the sign that says “Cash only, 8 items or less”.   When was the last time you were standing in this line and had cash and less than 8 items and the person in front of you hand a credit or debit card in hand and 25 items.  Two things bother me, the person in front of me is an idiot (too many items and no cash – again for those of you that know me this is my issue), and the second thing that bothers me is that the cashier lets them go through.  The next time I am grocery shopping and have 10 items (I know, over the limit) and try to go through the Express Line, different cashier from the last cashier and she counts my items and tells me “sir this is the express aisle you need to go over to the other lines”.  I am thinking that the last person was able to go through, 2 different people and 2 different policies and procedures.   Are you changing the rules in the middle of the game for the customer?  Sometimes it is not the customer at all; it is us making it hard for them to do business with us. 

The third part of knowledge is self awareness.  What are your hot buttons that when pushed you react rather than respond to customers?  What the words or phrases that you hear and the hair on the back of your neck starts to rise?  We all have certain things, words, phrases or even people that when heard or seen we get in a defensive mood. 

To summarize, in this very competitive world the number one thing, which I have found, in exceeding customers expectations is a knowledgeable staff.  Does your staff understand your products and services, policies and procedures and understand themselves.  If you would like more information on customer service please let me know.