How to Refocus Your Customer Service

Do you have a high-definition television yet? If you do, you're probably enjoying wonderfully crisp and colorful images. Watching a baseball game, you're feeling as if you are in the middle of the field. Watching golf, as if you are on the course.

There's no comparison, is there, to that old set operating on rabbit ears with its faded colors, snow, scrolling horizontal lines and flickering pictures?

When it comes to customer service, do you operate in high def or with rabbit ears?

Let me complete this analogy. Think of your company as a high definition television picture made up of thousands of pixels. When these pixels or dots line up, they form a complete, brilliant image.

If some malfunction, however, the picture breaks up or blurs. It might even disappear completely.

It's the same with customer service. To give good customer service, everyone in your company must line up to form a complete image. In other words, everyone — and I mean everyone, even top management! — must adopt good customer service practices.

How can you be sure everyone in your company is on the same page — er, television screen — when it comes to customer service? By shaping, nurturing and maintaining the individual attitudes that form employee behaviors to ensure that employees support and advance your customer service standards.

The question is how.

Here's a three-step approach that will keep everyone in your company on the same track when it comes to customer service:

Step #1: Develop a framework.

By this I mean describe the behavior implicit in the customer service excellence that you have defined.

Get down to the nitty-gritty of actions you expect from employees such as urging customers to ask questions and develop rapport with their clients, or taking time to understand what a customer needs, or learning and using the customer's name.

When developing your expectations, keep your business goals in the forefront. How? Ask yourself: How will the desired behaviors I set out align to our company's goals, that big picture of what we are trying to achieve?
And finally consider how do your practices compare to those of other companies. Do they depart from industry standards? Departing from industry standards might be a problem or could be just fine if your service behavior encourages excellence and supports corporate goals. Either way, you'll find it helpful to see how you are doing compared to others and to note "why we do it this way" where you differ.

Step #2: Conduct an internal behavior audit.

After you lay out your framework, measure attitudes toward the specific behaviors you are expecting so you will know if your workers are with you or not.

Do they believe in the importance of giving good customer service? Do their definitions and actions meet with your expectations?

Step #3: Fine-tune customer service behaviors to meet your expectations.

And now, with the numbers you get from measuring, begin to fine-tune. Mend the gaps where behaviors have broken down, whether with individuals or entire departments.

Incidentally, giving good customer service applies to everyone within your company. The way you and your managers treat your employees will influence the way they treat your customers. Include everyone in your company when you fine-tune.

Finally, remember that little thrives on neglect. Companies that perform best measure often. They regularly fine-tune their image through training and with regular maintenance. Then they lean back and watch the show without fear of technical difficulties or a distorted picture.

Tip of the Month: How to Remember Names

Embarrassed when you can't recall someone's name? Most of us are and for good reason. There's nothing more important to people than their names. Here are five tips to help you remember the names of people you meet:

1) Switch off your internal dialogue

When you meet someone for the first time, do you focus solely on the person you are meeting or does your mind fill with snatches of other concerns: "…mmm, that food looks good …when she finishes, I'll say…?"

With all that internal dialogue, it's no surprise that you find yourself embarrassed at not remembering a name. You just didn't bother to try to remember it in the first place.

Become conscious of your internal dialogue and focus on the conversation. Every time you start to drift inward, refocus on the external.

2) Listen

When a person's name is introduced into the conversation, be sure to hear it. Good listeners rarely forget names. You can learn to listen actively by applying the next few steps.

3) Bury the new name in your memory

4) Make eye contact

When meeting someone, look at him. Make eye contact and smile. Imagine his name written in luminous letters across his forehead. Then observe what makes his face interesting or different. Does he have a gap in his front teeth? A long nose?

5) Bring it all together

Once you have the name, a memorable association and distinguishing physical features, construct a mental picture for this person. Connect her unique features with the name's association to create a picture that will pop into your mind the next time you meet. The sillier the picture, the better.

With a little practice, this process becomes automatic and instantaneous and every time you meet someone you will recall your mental picture ensuring that face and name becomes filed away in your mental Rolodex®. Forever.

Your Solution Toolbox: Waging war against poor customer service

For years, Profile International's Customer Service Profile™ (CSP) has waged war against the poor treatment of the very people your company needs to survive.

For example, coaching and individual reports from CSP show which job candidates' attitudes best match your organization's expectations for excellent customer service. You can also use CSP to assess employees already on the job. CSP reveals which areas and/or individuals in your company would benefit from more training.

Now a new CSP report gives you one more strategy to battle poor customer service. Called the alignment report, this survey gives managers a dual-screen view of marketplace and employee attitudes in one convenient document.

First the alignment shows how well customer service standards in your organization match those typical of other companies. Second, it reveals how closely your employees agree with your company's customer service values.

Clearly, Profile's Customer Service Profile™ can help you drive another nail in the coffin of poor customer service. It's one more step to establishing a customer-oriented culture in your company.

What "people challenges" prevent your company from being as profitable as it should? MG Assessments would love to help you find out. We'll come to your company and with state-of-the-art tools, evaluate your workforce and propose solutions that will give you employees who are more motivated, productive and better equipped to meet their job requirements. Any solution we recommend will help you get the most out of the workforce you have to improve and sustain your profitability in these uncertain economic times.

Send me an e-mail or give me a call if you are interested in learning more about how we can help you assess and engage your employees. Or, call if you have questions about Profile's Customer Service Profile™.

Mary Gorski ♦ MG Assessments, LLC

Phone: 952-322-3330 ♦ Cell: 612-810-1293 ♦ Fax: 952-322-3335

E-mail: ♦ Website:

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