How is your customer service? Part I
The Emery County Economic Development Council hosted a Customer Service Symposium in Green River which also touched on tourism. In the afternoon session Ethan Migliori from the Rural Small Business development office and Rob Powell from CEU gave their perspectives on customer service. Migliori asked, "How are we doing on customer service." Our business is not about what we sell, it's who we serve. Migliori had the participants list all who we serve in a business. The list included: taxpayers, customers, family, ourselves, employees, boss, coworkers, vendors, etc. Migliori said businesses need to get the big picture and they will do better by defining who we serve; we serve everyone.
Migliori said he is fascinated by Julius Caesar. Caesar learned about politics; got an education and he was a great military genius. His troops were very loyal to Caesar. They even defended him while he had his epilepsy attacks which lasted for long periods of time during a battle. How many of you are loyal to your boss or employees?
When it comes to customer service it is both internal and external. Four key principles are: service, attitude, consistency and teamwork. What do those whom we serve expect from us. Caesar was a powerful leader he could move his army faster than any other army. Inside your organization everyone must be on the same page, communcation must be there. Have the courage to make things right for the customer.
Migliori encouraged the audience to think about your customer experience. What was your problem? What was the solution? Why did you choose to buy what you did? He said you can gain focus by doing a 360 survey with you in the middle looking out at the whole big picture. Realize the internal and external parts of your business. Reputation might allow more opportunities in, opportunities flow through if we have our internal workings in line including team work. If an opportunity comes and we don't meet expectations then there is work to be done.
"Have it your way, was a great slogan for Burger King but their operation couldn't support it, their sales decreased because it slowed them down, individualizing orders took more time, it wasn't fast food anymore. How often do we have an operation that isn't supported, there could be an easy solution.
"Attitude, is a manner of acting, feeling or thinking that shows ones disposition and opinion. I coach a little boys baseball team, some of the boys stand out because of their attitude. If they strike out, then out in the field they miss the ball. They dwell on their mistake, some of those boys you can tell them to shake it off, some can shake it off, but some it puts farther in the hole and makes it worse. When it comes to us as employees, if something has happened we're having a bad day, not enough sleep, if we bring that bad attitude to work, it shows to everyone, attitude ripples, we need to learn how to deal with it correctly and nip it in the bud. Bad attitude will destroy profits and go through a business. If you want to have good customer service you need good attitudes. How you think about the customer is how you will treat them. Change that attitude and you will treat them differently.
"If we stop at a gas station in Green River and we are treated very nice we are more likely to stop there again and give a good recommendation by word of mouth. Consistency is important to customers. Consistency and pattern will help determine how a customer feels on the rare occasion we don't give them what they expect. Teamwork is important. Study perceptions and see the big picture," said Migliori.
Powell introduced himself to the class, he said he was a counselor at a drug and alcohol facility where they worked three days on and three days off because teenagers were most willing to talk at night. The last seven years Powell has taught at CEU. He has taught human relationships, how to play nice in the sandbox classes, He said customer service starts internally. He talked about a class he took on communication, for five hours they talked about great eye contact, asking questions like how does that make you feel, good technique, but it was like putting frosting on a cow pie, 'You can take a cow pie and dry it out, make it look better, color it, frost it, put it on a table with balloons and lights, play theme music and add sprinkles. The cowpie might look more attractive, but it's still a cowpie. Customer service has to be genuine, you can't pretend to be happy to be there to wait on the customer.
The news show 60 Minutes did a story on the problem with communication, you can smile your best smile, and learn very early what to say and what not to say, but it becomes frosting. One of the things that is deteriorating is our relationships. Donald Trump is famous for a quote, 'at no other time in history have we been more capable of communicating and been so lousy at it.' We are losing a lot of our communication skills.
Every great business is built on friendship. Does your job make a difference? Do you make a difference? What do people remember about a place? gas stations, motels? and who does it make a difference for? We are all connected, the things we do affect other people. We don't just hurt ourselves. Make it enjoyable and fun for everyone. Sam Walton said, 'There is only one boss. The customer, and he can fire everybody in the company simply by spending his money somewhere else.'
Powell talked about businesses who have their pens on a chain, because they are worried about people taking them. "Put your name on the pen and let them take all they want." Consistency. Do what you do so well they will want to see it again and bring their friends.
Recreate every day, some days aren't good days. Customers when they come in, they need to know we want to be there and not in a fake way. Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends. Customers usually don't come alone. When we can give to our customers and make them happy then they'll come back. Relationships get them to come back. We may have quality products, but relationships are the most important part. If you work shiftwork, sometimes you want to know who you are working with. Does it make a difference? You should be able to get along with those you work with no matter who they are. If you want to do it well people will want to come back.
Bill Gates said your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
Sometimes we get upset if we're not perfect or our employees aren't perfect. Learning mistakes are OK. We aren't critical of kids when they are learning, but sometimes we don't give those same learning mistakes for employees. When you make mistakes you will learn from them.
When we make mistakes we know we haven't done it exactly as good as we should, we recognize that. If you make customers unhappy they will tell countless others. Customer service is even more important now with the Internet and how fast word spreads. Powell likened first impressions to biting into an apple with a worm right in the middle. He said, "I apologize here take another one, are you ready to try another one? Would you be hesitant?" To every customer that you meet you are the face of the company, for someone who walks into the door you are the first apple they pick up. One of the most important factors is a first impression. If you enjoy what you do, the day goes better, you leave with more energy, it will show in other areas of your life, if you feel you are doing a good job. If you don't take care of the customer somebody else will.
You are your first customer. Take care of yourself first and extend from there to co-workers. Service is a huge part of customer service. Golden rule, if we don't take care of our customers someone else will. Nobody cares what you know until they know you care. We all want to have purposes, communicate and define those purposes," said Powell.
Powell related a story of when they operated a group home; they had a 13 year old, and 11 year old boy in the group home and they were struggling. They were playing games at a Toys R' Us store, and the 11 year old was back there playing and he told him it's time to go and the boy said no. Powell had been trained as a family teacher to go through the steps. He told him if he did not come he would carry him out of the store. Powell told Johnny, the 13 year old that he had a job for him to do in this situation. Powell tells Johnny that he is a family teacher and he has a card that says that so as they leave the store with the 11 year old kicking and screaming Johnny was to tell everyone that Powell was a family teacher and show them the card.
He told Johnny they had a little incident going on, his eyes got huge, Johnny said, 'are you serious,' and now Johnny had a job, a purpose, So Powell carried the 11 year old, kicking and screaming out of the store and Johnny was weaving through the store telling everyone it's OK we are family teachers. After they got him in the van, Johnny turned to Powell and said, 'I think we handled that pretty well.'
It was so much better with Johnny from that time forward. Give people a job and a purpose. A lot of time we forget that. Part of growth is empowering. It doesn't matter what we know if people don't know we care. Look at the big picture and don't dwell on the little things, instructed Powell.