Customer service means different things to different people. To some it means going beyond what’s expected of you. To others it means adding value and integrity to every interaction. To others it means taking care of customers the way you would take care of your grandmother. We might all define customer service a little differently, but we can all agree on one thing: to provide great customer service, your team needs to put energy and enthusiasm into their interactions with customers. Great customer service begins with a great attitude.
Your Team’s Appearance Counts in Customer Service
As a society, we are all aware that a lot of emphasis is put on individual appearance. To some extent this is actually something regrettable, as it means that people are prepared to judge a book by its cover. Conversely, however, your team should be aware that the opinions of its customers matter. Those opinions may not be the same as that of the team members, but when it comes to ensuring the success of a team they still matter. In fact, the saying “the customer is always right” could be considered to apply here. Most customers wish to be treated with courtesy and to deal with individuals who look like they have made an effort with their appearance. Therefore it is beneficial to ensure all the members of your team takes heed of this fact.
This does not mean that in every business it is important for customer-facing staff to be Stepford-style automatons who look, act, and behave as though they had been prepared for their role to ensure that every business operation is the same as the last. A certain amount of character, which includes a modicum of individuality, is desirable in a customer services situation. It is important to maintain standards, but also to give the appearance that each transaction is different from the last.
Even if the transaction or the enquiry is not carried out in person, it is still important for your team to consider the matter of appearance. “Appearance”, after all, is not just a term which applies to physical appearance. It also refers to how things seem. If a customer is dealing with a team member on the phone or via e-mail, they will be well advised to ensure that their professionalism does not slip here. Often in businesses which do not directly face the customer – such as call centers – the dress code is “relaxed”. Team members can wear jeans and a t-shirt, or whatever feels comfortable, as long as their performance is polished and professional. Some businesses prefer to have a strict dress code even in these circumstances, feeling that dressing smartly equates directly to a smart performance.
The Power of a Smile in Customer Service
Often opinions differ on what constitutes a strong approach to customer service. There are some who would argue that efficiency is everything – providing the customer with what they require, when they require it without them needing to ask for it. The overall impression that this method aims for is that things happened without anyone needing to try, as if by magic. This means that courtesy counts for an increasing amount in customer transactions.
Being positive and friendly in customer interactions plays a major part in ensuring that a customer walks away from the experience having felt that everything was done in a way that suggested the customer is valued. This may impact on how much they spend in a single transaction, and just as important, whether they return to the business with more customers, because of their positive experience. In this respect, a smile can make a world of difference to how the customer feels about their treatment, and about the business in general.
Having a smile on their face will make your team look more welcoming. It is something that cannot be overestimated as a customer service and retention tool. If you were to walk into a store, and saw two sales assistants – one who looked cheerful and open and one who looked like they had just opened an overdue credit card bill – instinct would dictate that you approached the cheerful one should you have an enquiry about the item you wanted to buy. Therefore it is advised that in dealing with customers your team is always alert, friendly, and personable. Even if they are not particularly feeling that way, it has been argued by body language experts that the act of smiling releases endorphins which make you feel happier. So it is worth making them making the effort to put a smile on their face however they are feeling.
Your Team Staying Energized Improves Customer Service
All teams experience low points during the course of the day, but there are ways to boost your team’s energy when it is lagging.
- Take a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom.
- Drink a glass of cold water.
- Be sure to eat a good breakfast and lunch.
- Plug into others – being with energized people, keeps you energized!
- Listen to up-beat music.
- Try to stay humorous.
A working day usually stretches from around 8-9 AM and goes on until approximately 5 PM. Though there is some movement in these times, the typical structure of a staff timetable is that a working day will extend to around eight hours, and will involve some short breaks in between times. The importance of this information is that it can be difficult to maintain a positive demeanor for eight hours straight, especially if team members are thinking about matters beyond the workplace. Eight hours of appearing positive and upbeat can be the hardest part of a job, without even considering the brass tacks of the job – ensuring that the customers are seen to.
It is essential in this respect that anyone in a customer-facing job approaches their day in a sensible, structured fashion which allows them to get the most out of themselves. Staying energized is often difficult, but as long as your team develops a routine for dealing with the difficult events, then they can find a way to deal with even the dreariest day. There will be times during a working day when they would like nothing more than to go and get their jacket and walk out the door. However if we all did that whenever we felt like it, the chances are that we would mostly be out of a job.
It is essential for your team members to find something that allows them to break out of the “lows” that anyone will experience during a working day. These lows are common to all of us, and we all have different ways of dealing with them. One of the most commonly used methods of shaking out of this kind of torpor is a “change of scenery”. If they have a moment and they can leave the shop floor, it is beneficial for them to get up and go somewhere else for a moment. Maybe it will be something as simple as going to get a drink or get some fresh air. Whatever they do, it should be vastly preferable to scowling at every customer who simply asks them the price of a certain item.
It should also be noticed that making the effort to have breakfast in the morning – even if they feel as though eating is the last thing they want to do – can be of huge benefit to the team. It allows them to maintain energy through the morning, which for many people is the hardest time of say to stay positive. It may be a cliché, but making sure that your team members don’t skip breakfast can go a very long way to keeping them energized through the day.
Your Team Staying Positive Improves Customer Service
Your team can’t control all of the problems and irritations that come up during the day. They can control their attitude and how they react to the situation.
Tips on staying positive:
- Rearrange or redecorate their work space.
- View negative situations as a training session for their future, use them to their benefit, they may help them later in life.
- Find ways to spend more time on tasks they enjoy.
- Look for opportunities to learn new things.
- Realize that they can find positives in any negative situation. Albert Einstein said: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”
At the beginning of the day, they should think about one important thing that they want to accomplish that day. Think about why it is important. They must tell themselves that they have the ability to accomplish it successfully, and congratulate themselves when they have accomplished what you set out to do.
Positivity is something that is very hard to create out of nothing. It occurs naturally in some people, and others are deficient in it. Positivity can result from good things happening at the right time – or for that matter at any time. It can act as an energy source on which a person can access to bring the best results time and again. Whether you are a team leader looking for good results from a sales team, or a team member looking for your own positive results, it is essential to bear in mind that the best results come from situations where the individual, and those with whom they work, feel that positive energy that feeds into a good performance.
Most of us have spent time with positive and negative people. Although those who are negative may be so for perfectly good reasons – past experience may have seen them consistently fail to get what they want – they can be difficult to deal with, even to the point where they seem to sap the positivity from those who have it in supply. This is something that you will tolerate from a friend, but in a team it is essential to stop this kind of negativity by whatever means necessary. Having a bright outlook can be difficult, especially when luck seems to be in short supply, but this is what separates good team leaders and team members from bad ones.
Outlook and attitude are essential for any team, but particularly in one where the team will be dealing with the public. It may seem that the day is not going their way, and that they are permanently going to be frustrated, but the essential thing to remember is that if they project this mood on to the customers, they will certainly have a bad time sales-wise. Positivity is hard to manufacture out of nothing, so sometimes your team will have to project it when they are not necessarily feeling it. Eventually, if they keep this faux positivity running for long enough, it will create the conditions for real positivity to take hold and thrive. Of course, if they already feel it so much the better – as far as possible they should share it and allow it to become a prevailing condition.