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Responding to Alison’s Post

Per Alison’s post where she asks – How do your companies talk about customer service? How do they teach it, and how do your corporate leaders embody the company’s service principles (or do they)?

Per Alison’s post where she asks – How do your companies talk about customer service? How do they teach it, and how do your corporate leaders embody the company’s service principles (or do they)?

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Customer service is something that Whole Foods Market stores spend a lot of time talking about with store team members (store employees). It is an essential part of a shopper’s experience at our stores. Customers expect to go on a taste journey and an educational journey when they shop at Whole Foods.

Our Team Members are trained to deliver upon that expectation. That’s why we sample products to customers and there are classes that team members attend to learn more about the products we sell and to learn basic ways to connect with customers. But it comes down to our team members being real and living the core values of the company. Living the values happens from the CEO to the 20 hour a week store team member. When you are a mission-based company, all employees must live the mission in order to teach the mission.

Now, The best piece I have ever read on delivering great customer service comes from the book Improvise This! How to Think on Your Feet So You Don’t Fall on Your Face.

The authors, Mark Bergen and Jim Detmar, are part of a corporate workshop/sketch comedy/improv company and in chapter 10 of their book, they brilliantly show how using basic improv techniques can unleash the creativity of employees to deliver memorable customer experiences.

Many companies believe that the best way to deal with customers is to treat them all the same by developing standardized greetings and stock answers to all customer questions. Not only is that boring for customers, but it is also boring for employees.

The authors write about two easy ways to teach employees to deliver better customer experiences — Learn It and Burn It and Take a Moment to Make a Moment.

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Learn It and Burn It
This technique acknowledges that an employee has been trained to understand all facets of the products/services their company provides. It asks that after learning all they need to know, employees should throw away their script (the training manual) and engage in real conversation with customers by adding a little personality to the information that they are communicating. The real world example of this Learn it and Burn it technique is from Southwest Airlines flight attendants and how they personalize the preflight safety instructions.

Take a Moment to Make a Moment
Gifting is a term used in improv when someone gives you a great opening (a gift) to follow-through on with a funny remark. Customers give employees gifts everyday. The harried customer who dashes into the store with a puzzled on his face is a clear sign that he needs some help. Employees need not to act, but react to what their customers are saying or doing. If employees can learn take a moment to make a moment, then they will better deliver a memorable customer experience that will lead to building customer loyalty.

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