Powerful Customer Service Resolutions for 2016

I do love the idea of making New Year’s resolutions.  Every year I thoroughly consider what my biggest goals will be for the coming year and then I attack them.  If you are going to have more success with your resolutions than those who abandon the Gym after two weeks then you must have a plan.

This takes force of will.  The secret isn’t to have big ideas for the coming year – most folks get that far.  The key comes from having the force of will to stick with them.

When our resolutions are plotted they have a certain amount of magic about them and that gives us the inspiration to start.  But as the winter drags on and the holidays get smaller in the rear view mirror, it takes perseverance and leadership to keep advancing them forward.

Folks ask me all the time how I drive success in the businesses I help – here are the goals I think we all need to have if are going to be successful in 2016.

Understand Your Guests.
There is so much data to be utilized when it comes to serving our Guests better that it takes willpower to dig in and read it all.  Rereading comment cards, looking at survey trends, and reviewing one-on-one Guest interactions sure isn’t the sexiest things to do, but it can absolutely arm you to win.  Review everything thoroughly with your team and then set actionable items to resolve issues or build upon strengths.  This is also a great time to look at your Customer communication channels.  Are they robust and are there many ways for Guests to communicate with you?  Sure, social customer care is going to continue to grow, but there are still those who will never send you a tweet (even if there is a fire in your lobby).  You have to embrace the idea of comment cards, phone calls, and surveys.  Most importantly, don’t lose out on the face-to-face communication.  So many businesses now have no way to reach a live human and that is unfortunate.  So often one of the biggest frustrations for Guests is that they can’t call and talk to someone – are you listening airline complaint departments and software companies?  If you don’t let them talk to you – they will talk to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of others freely about their issues.

Embrace the Spirit of Service.
I am playing the role of the Ghost of Customer Service here.  Yes, Dickens would be spinning at this point, but hang in there.  One of the key ways we can drive great Customer service to put the Customer at the center of everything we do.  That has to be more than just lip service though – you have to genuinely find a way to love your Guests.  If you got into your chosen profession because of a love for its core values, then you can embrace that connection to win.  If you aren’t so enamored with your job, then perhaps you love the people you work with or those you serve.  Dig deep into that feeling so that you can provide the very best service.  Great service is about connection after all, so you have to find a way to make the overall Guest experience important to you personally.  If it isn’t then you’ll never really find the success in this area that we all seek.  If you find yourself miserable and not able to find that connection, you may need to find a new line of business.  This is the New Year, so it may be time for a new job.

Refocus on Training.
In 2016, Guests will continue to look for EXPERIENCES and EXPERTS.  Competition isn’t going to get any less fierce in the coming year, so that means we need teams who are ready to deliver.  That means they have to understand their jobs from day one and be ready to execute upon our brand promises.  If you ensure a solid onboarding process (after hiring top-notch talent) then move into positional training you can set yourself up for success.  The power of a brick and mortar storefront is the ability to impact the Guest experience face to face – but that advantage dries up quickly if we can’t explain the features of our product, benefits, or how to use effectively.  An electronics store that can’t give advice on buying the best tablet or camera has little advantage over an online retailer.  Also be sure that you are training the basics of service as well.  Too often even those who are well versed in their craft struggle when it comes to the nuts of bolts of the Guest experience.

Give Meaningful Feedback: 
Things move fast and the new year won’t change that one bit.  One of the casualties of our fast moving marketplace is feedback.  For my purposes, feedback to our teams is generally either a thought on improvement or recognition for a job well done. There is really no wrong way to recognize, but some ways are better than others.  Just make sure it is truthful, specific, and in the moment.  In person feedback is more powerful than a call or text, but never underestimate the power of a hand written thank you card.  Yes, you heard me right.  Pick up a pen and put it to paper.  The other side of that coin is not waiting too long to let folks know when they need to improve.  Most folks want to do a good job, and if you handle it kindly and constructively, you can see real change happen with minimal hurt feelings.  When you let it all build up and then dump it on your teams during reviews you set yourself up for issues and resignations.

So overall the new year will likely feel much like the one that just passed.  We will continue to grapple with how Social Customer Care and self-service will impact our marketplace.  The battle between online and brick and mortar will wage on.  And in the middle of it all will be our Guests – who just want to be treated well and served competently.

Don’t let them down.

They are counting on you.

I am very proud of all of you who leave it out on the field every day for your Guests.  Your service is appreciated and I want to thank you for a fantastic 2015.  Best wishes for a safe, happy, and profitable New Year from my family to each of you and yours.

Happy New Year and don’t forget to treat all of your Guests like cherished friends.

Tony

Tony Johnson
Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

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About The Author

Tony Johnson

I’m a 22 year veteran of delivering terrific Guest experiences. I believe in putting the Customer at the center of what we do everyday. . .Let’s face it, if we take great care of our Guests, the rest just falls into place.