We’ve done it. We finally discovered that relying on scripting frontline responses only takes us so far on the frontier of great customer service. It was a study by Katzenbach Partners that illuminated this latest fad fallacy. Do we really have to write down things like: be courteous and wow your customer?
Try that with your spouse or significant other tonight, if you will. See how far you go. In our haste to standardize, we’ve lost sight of what we were trying to do in the first place: have a relationship with our customers. A great part of being in a relationship is really about knowing what to say and do in conversations with the other.
Everybody talks about it, yet few seem to know what it feels like to have a normal experience with a company. In the research reports I read I often see things like “over-reliance on escalation to form opinions of customer service”. Pray tell me what that means in plain English. Do we get upset only when customers scream at us?
Lost is not only a TV show, it’s a place of disconnect between what we intuitively knew about talking with people and allowing people to talk with us. Outsource a little bit here, automate a little bit there, and voila’, when was the last time you actually saw a customer? Some of our organizations have such convoluted systems that we have no idea if there are people at some point in the journey.
Remember that shopping scene from Pretty Woman? Companies today think we’re all like Julia Roberts when she first walked into the store: no connections, no money, just one more body worshipping consumerism. The staff at the store in the movie felt confidently in charge. “We can choose who our customers are going to be,” you could almost hear them think that.
Guess who was in charge instead?
The best companies will tell you that face to face is where it’s at, body language that follows the intention to deliver on a promise helps too. Most of the time we have been educated to follow the company’s unwritten script: get the credit card out, make the purchase and go away content. That is how we navigate most purchasing processes. When things don’t work out that way, we may appreciate a company taking the time to address us personally.
Going from canned to personalized is a fairly straightforward process:
– Make eye contact
– Approach what you say in a way that signals you mean it
– Use your name, and mine during our conversation
How can you do that over the phone?
– Answer the phone at the first couple of rings
– Put a smile in your voice
– Stay present to the conversation
It’s amazing how far we can go, if we just put our minds to it.