Customer service happens head first

Categories: Winnthinks

Following my last Winnthink someone asked me to post up a few thoughts about this knotty problem: How do you get your customer service people to do it better – particularly when you can’t promise them any more money or a promotion for doing an extra-great job?

Great question, and as I have spent a large chunk of my professional life helping organisations work this one out, I shall be pleased to offer some observations and ideas over the next few weeks.

So join me, if you will, at the starting point for pretty much all things Winnthinking. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

Success at anything you want to achieve in life – in your career, academic success, personal relationships – will only come if your head is in the right place.* Once you have your motivation, belief and commitment sorted, achieving what you want is about getting a game plan together and working through it.

Or as I am very fond of saying: “If you are not enthusiastic, you can never be anything more than mediocre.” (I must put that on a tee-shirt one day).

Customer service is no different, and if you want your people to raise their game, just running a training session that dishes up a load of phrases to say and the same old “make sure you smile down the phone” message won’t hit the spot any more, I’m afraid. Yes, the staple ingredients (listening skills, positive language, great vocal delivery, smiles, please-and-thankyou…you know the stuff) – are as valuable as they ever were, but all too often they are trotted out in the wrong order. These ingredients belong in the ‘game plan’ stage – and that has to come after the bit about ‘getting your head in the right place.’

(Actually, trying to engage people in the game plan stage before they are fully on board with the ‘head place’ stuff is at best a waste of effort, and at worst completely alienating).

So, mull over that until next time, when I shall suggest something fun you can do with your customer service people to start them thinking differently about the job they do. In the meantime, stay enthusiastic; you know what the flipside is, don’t you?

*There are, of course, always exceptions, like the person given the winning lottery ticket as a birthday gift, or the heir to an oil dynasty who never has to do a day’s work, or the student who pays someone else to write their final dissertation for them. But for most of us, life is a journey that requires our own foot on the gas pedal if we are ever going to get anywhere…