Are you worried that your customers are trying to survive tough times by seeking better deals from your competitors?
Are you having an even tougher time finding new customers for your product or service?
Superstar Customer Service follows Superstar Leadership and Superstar Sales, three titles aimed straight at achieving the highest levels of performance in these three essential areas.
Customer service may be one of the most demanding and difficult jobs you'll ever have... but it has the potential to make you a Superstar!
Develop your skills, manage yourself, master your ability to address the relationship problems experienced by your company, and you can go anywhere you want to go! Job satisfaction, success, and personal accomplishment are all within your grasp!
This book is organized as a month-long journey of improvement and discovery. Each chapter is a daily lesson with a core concept, skill-development idea, and resources to support your practice and application of the lesson.
Superstar Customer Service will help you distinguish yourself as someone who can get things done. It may very well help you forge a new pathway in your career that is far beyond anything you previously imagined!
About the Author
Rick Conlow is the CEO and cofounder of WCW Partners, a global management consulting and training firm. He has helped numerous companies like Target, Costco, Andersen Windows, and Canadian Linen reduce complaints, improve profits, and increase sales. Rick has been a general manager, vice president, training director, program director, and national sales trainer and consultant. He has authored 11 books, and regularly facilitates presentations to audiences of all sizes.
Doug Watsabaugh is the COO and cofounder of WCW Partners. His knowledge of experiential learning and skill at designing change processes and learning events have enabled him to significantly improve the lives of thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations in various industries, including Coca Cola, Accenture, Hasbro, 3M, and General Mills. Doug is the author of seven books.
Read an Excerpt
Beginnings Are Prophetic
The Power of Knowing Your Role in Your Organization
Imagine a world without customer service. You wake up in the middle of the night because it's cold in your house. There's no heat coming from the furnace. You grab your cell phone to call the energy company, but the tower that services your area is inactive. Both companies have cut power to save money. There is no one to which you can call and complain.
Let's say you go to the grocery store, grab a cart, and start walking down the aisles. You find that some of the shelves have food but some don't. After searching for help, you finally come across a store employee who is sitting on a bench, having a smoke. You ask, "Can you help me?" The person responds by asking, "What makes you so special?"
On your way home, you stop to get gas. It's a self-help station, of course. As your tank approaches full capacity, the pump malfunctions and gas begins to spill all over the ground. You run into the station for help, but the store clerk irately declares you to be at fault before threatening to call the police. You end up paying extra to cover the cost of the cleanup and wasted gas so that you can avoid further escalating the situation.
Later, you stop at a restaurant for dinner. The hostess eyes you suspiciously and says, "You better pay your bill. Go seat yourself." You order a meal, but when your drink arrives you realize that it's not what you had ordered. The waitress never returns to your table and you're forced toflag down another one to help. She tells you to wait your turn for service. Shortly thereafter, a man lumbers over to your table and begrudgingly slides your overcooked dinner in front of you and says, "No more complaints from you. Eat your meal, pay for it, and get out."
A world with a complete disregard for customer service, as this scenario demonstrates, can leave customers feeling victimized. Consumers who feel mistreated in this way are significantly less likely to invest capital in a store or corporation if they feel that even their most basic service needs aren't being met. Stories of substandard customer service travel quickly in the age of social media, and companies that may not have incurred any public relations damage a decade ago are much more susceptible to bad press today.
The words customer service imply a degree of support to consumers who have already invested money into a business or who may do so in the future. All jobs require customer service at three levels:
1. Product. It needs to perform as promised.
2. Price. It needs to be honored as advertised.
3. People. People need to interact with customers in a helpful and courteous manner.
If the quality of the product or the accuracy of the price is in question, employees — the customer service representatives — must resolve the issue. If the customer needs assistance in selecting a product, a sales-oriented employee must be able to offer help. The competition is destined to overtake a company that lacks strong customer service. As a result, employees who work at the point-of-sale and can't deliver basic customer service are expendable. The better a company services its customers, the higher its potential for long-term growth. High customer satisfaction stands to benefit the employees themselves in the form of salary increases and promotions due to their good work. The fate of both the company and its employees is closely intertwined with the quality of its customer service. The following data outline the benefits of customer service.
Businesses that have poorer ratings in customer service:
* Charge prices that are only 98 percent of their competitors.
* Lose 2 percent market share.
* Have 1 percent profitability on sales.
* Grow at an average rate of 8 percent.
Businesses that have higher ratings in customer service:
* Charge prices 107 percent higher than their competitors.
* Gain 6 percent market share.
* Have 12 percent profitability on sales.
* Grow at an average rate of 17 percent.
What does this mean for you? No matter which position you hold within a company, a focus on customer service offers your greatest chance for success. Some jobs require a more specialized focus. For example, occupations that involve developing the product, such as an aircraft mechanic, technical illustrator, pipefitter, or web designer, require a different level of customer service. They typically involve relatively little interaction with the public or customers, but the quality of their work still directly affects a company's customer service. A poor-quality product draws in poor press and lessens customer loyalty, whereas an excellent product can overcome a lackluster point-of-sale interaction and create a long-term customer. For example, Lincoln, Lexus, and Toyota are car manufacturers whose products have set the standard within the automobile industry and garner a certain degree of customer satisfaction due to their high-quality, reliable vehicles.
Other employee positions may deal with the public and provide direct customer service on a more regular basis. For example, in positions like flight attendants, retail sales clerks, administrative assistants, and waitresses or waiters, an impersonal employee will drive people away. Friendly, courteous, and helpful service draws customers back. Southwest Airlines' flight attendants have an excellent reputation within their industry due to their high quality of customer service. In the retail arena, Wegmans grocery chain and Nordstrom set the bar for going above and beyond for their customers.
The role of any position can be classified in two ways. External roles involve working directly with the customer on the phone, online, or in person. These employees serve as the interface between the company and the consumer. Internal roles support other employees who work within the first role to some degree. People in internal roles often forget the impact they can have on the paying customer. Their customer is their fellow employee on the front line. Within these two roles, teamwork is essential to successful customer service for any company. Think about it. If you're a manager within a company and always treat other managers or employees with disdain for their mistakes or shortcomings, you are contributing to an oppressive work environment. It can be easy for a belittled or unsatisfied employee working in this environment to allow this kind of atmosphere to negatively affect the relationships with their customers, thus driving customers to look for better customer service elsewhere.
Your understanding of both the importance of customer service and your role as it relates to the consumer is crucial to your success as an employee. The results of your work directly contribute to your company's reputation and success or failure every day. Beginnings are often prophetic because if you don't know or don't care what your role is from the start, a miserable outcome will likely follow. If you know your role and want to do well, you can expect a more promising outcome.
If you don't fully understand what is expected of you, ask a coworker for clarification. Better yet, grab a sheet of paper and write down the top three to five activities on which you think you are being evaluated. Be as specific as possible. Next, write three to five questions pertaining to those activities that you would like clarified. Then go to your supervisor and request to review it with him or her in person. Few employees ever do things like this, but it builds confidence in both the employee and the employer. Most managers will be delighted. Why? Because you've demonstrated care, competence, and initiative, which are traits of a Superstar employee.
To be a Superstar customer service representative you must perform your role with care, treating the internal and external customer with dignity, respect, and humility. You must also give great consideration to the correctness, completeness, and quality of the technical aspects of your position. Employees who remain diligent in fulfilling these aspects of their job will find themselves faced with more career advancement opportunities, as well as higher salaries, than coworkers who were hired for similar positions. Who could say no to that?
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.
— Mahatma GandhiCHAPTER 2
What's My Job? What's Expected of Me? Why Am I Important?
On many occasions at work, you may feel like you wear many proverbial hats. One moment you are helping a customer find the perfect birthday present for his or her child, the next moment you are playing resident IT expert, troubleshooting the error message on your boss's computer, and the next you may feel like the resident janitor, picking up after coworkers in the break room. Often, your perceived roles and responsibilities become so many that it is easy to lose sight of what you were initially hired for. To start on the road to becoming a Superstar customer service representative, it is important to define your role and identify what your job is all about. Though other impromptu roles, like IT expert or garbage disposal specialist may arise, identifying and improving upon the fundamental roles of your position will not only make you a better employee, but will also help when it comes to raises and promotions in the future.
To identify your position's roles, it is best to go back to basics. When you were hired, one of the first things you probably did was review your job duties and goals with your manager. Take a moment to remember what this conversation entailed or, better yet, get a copy of your original job description. If you don't have one, ask your manager to define one for you. Why is this important? Our experience with our clients shows that nearly 80 percent of performance problems on the job are because of the lack of clear expectations and goals. Then, make a plan to do this job review process monthly or quarterly. Not only will it keep you grounded in the fundamental definitions of your job, it will also help improve communication, problem-solving, goal clarity, and motivation between you and your boss.
Knowing the ins and outs of your role is essential for success in the workplace. If you know your role and want to do well, you can expect a promising outcome; maybe you will get a raise or promoted. If you don't, the opposite happens. Your productivity goes down, you don't get as much done, and you could even get fired. If you don't quite understand what is expected of you, take initiative. Define three to five goals, five to seven key duties, and three to five questions that you need clarified or answered about your job. Then, go to your supervisor and ask if you can review it with him or her in person. By letting your supervisor know you want to clarify your job goals, expectations, and action steps, you will show initiative and drive, something few employees ever do. This type of motivation and drive are excellent traits of an employee and lays the foundation for becoming a true Superstar.
Why You Matter
Employees are among the most important parts of a business. As an employee, you are the face of your company. You are the company when you interact with a customer in person, on the phone, by e-mail, or through a text. If the company has a breakdown, you make the difference. If you are having a breakdown, how you deal with the situation, good or bad, matters.
Customer service on an employee level is an important asset to every company. Many organizations don't foster an environment that supports their employees in giving good customer service. Without support, it becomes harder to serve the customer well. No matter how difficult it may become, employee-level service is essential in maintaining customer loyalty at your company. Think about the following questions: If your company's product breaks, does the customer care whether you are supported as an employee? If your phone lines are really busy and the customer waited on hold for 10 minutes, does he or she care that the company hasn't worked out a better system? If your customer asks you a question about a new product that you don't know about, does he or she care that you didn't receive proper training? The answer to each of these questions is no. Customers expect what they want or need whether your company is perfect or not. It is your job, regardless of the state of your company, to take care of your customers. No excuses. Superstars understand this; the rest don't.
To be fair to companies, employees can slack off, can be lazy, and don't always do what they are capable of. If you are sick but you go to work anyway and you are moving slowly, the customer doesn't care that you are sick. The customer doesn't care if your coworker is mad at you and you are irritated about it, or if you are frustrated by continuous computer glitches that make your job more difficult. It is still your job, regardless of your state of being, to take care of your customers, because to them, you are the face of the company for that transaction.
You probably don't act like the employees described. As a customer, you know what we are talking about. How many times in the last week or month have you received unsatisfactory service? It happens regularly. In fact, WCW Partners' research suggests that the following are the two biggest reasons people quit being customers:
1. 68 percent leave because of rude, indifferent employees.
2. 14 percent leave because of unresolved complaints.
In total, 82 percent of the time, employees are involved in some way when a customer decides to leave. This goes to show employees, just like the companies they work for, aren't perfect either.
Now, how does this relate to your role and why are you important? Imagine you want to be an Olympic champion. You start working out and begin to get in shape. Your friends notice you are in sweats more often than before. They ask, "What are you doing?" You tell them you are training to be an Olympic champion. They ask, "Where will you be competing?" You say you don't know yet but you will figure it out. They look at you funny and say, "We see you're running, jumping, and doing sit-ups. What sport is that for?" You tell them you haven't decided yet but in time you will.
What are your chances of becoming an Olympic champion? Not good. To be the best, you need to focus and get specific about your role, expectations, and goals. You need to train like an Olympic athlete to be able to perform your best. It's been said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to win an Olympic medal. That's 50 hours of training a week for four years. To achieve your goal you would need to, among other things, identify your event, determine your best performance in the event, determine the best performances in the world, identify a training regimen to improve, choose events to participate in to gauge your results, outline an appropriate diet, and identify a coach who will help you. All of this requires belief, dedication, and persistence to do what it takes to excel.
WIFY (What's in It for You)
Excellent customer service benefits more than just the company and the customer. If you focus on delivering Superstar customer service, you will:
* Have more confidence and competence in your job.
* Develop more pride and job satisfaction in what you do.
* Perform better and help customers in a positive manner.
* Get more recognition for a job well done.
* Realize more opportunities for advancement if you want them.
We have traveled and worked with Superstars from Los Angeles to New York City, Minneapolis/St. Paul to Atlanta, London to Hong Kong, Johannesburg to Sydney, and Vancouver to Montreal. From these experiences, we have learned what the best do and what the worst do and, from this, have adapted fundamental principles for success. The philosophies, principles, and practices shared here will work for you as you learn, internalize, and apply them to your situation and personality, and will help you become the Superstar you have the potential to be.
Superstar Application: My Customer Service Role
My Goals (3–5)
Key Job Priorities (5–7)
Questions I Have About My Job
Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.
— Walt DisneyCHAPTER 3
How Serious Should I Be About This Work, Anyway?
Why Should I Care, Really?
Customer service is seriously lacking in most places you spend your money. Think about it: Can you recall a recent experience where the customer service was really poor? Typically, the answer is yes. Think of other places you have been in the last week: a grocery store, a bank, a restaurant, a fast food chain, a department store, a gas station, a hotel, an airline, an online merchant, and so on. How many of these had poor or average service? Probably most. Now think of how many really stood out and had outstanding service. Were there as many? That's part of the problem today; not many people and the businesses they work for really deliver excellent service. Furthermore, most don't seem to know how to or really care about giving good service even if they say they do.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Superstar Customer Service"
Copyright © 2014 Rick Conlow and Doug Watsabaugh.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Day 1: Beginnings Are Prophetic,
Day 2: What's My Job? What's Expected of Me? Why Am I Important?,
Day 3: How Serious Should I Be About This Work, Anyway?,
Day 4: What Does It Mean to Manage Myself?,
Day 5: To What Standards Should I Try to Rise?,
Day 6: The Difference Between Good Service and Superstar Service,
Day 7: How Do I Currently Stack Up?,
Day 8: What Do I Need to Improve and Why?,
Day 9: It All Begins With a Problem,
Day 10: What Would L.L. Bean Do?,
Day 11: You Can't Treat Me Like That!,
Day 12: What You Should Expect From Your Boss, and What to Do When Your Boss Doesn't Do What You Expect,
Day 13: Begin With the Highest Form of Courtesy,
Day 14: You Are Going to Have to "Gotta Wanna" Lead Yourself to Success,
Day 15: Problem-Solving Your Way Through the Forest,
Day 16: Time Management,
Day 17: Etiquette on the Phone, in Electronic Communications, and Face-to-Face,
Day 18: How to Deal With That *ss***e,
Day 19: How to Say NO! Hell No! (Nicely?),
Day 20: How to Handle Complaints,
Day 21: How Superstar Customer Service and Superstar Sales Go Together,
Day 22: Working With the Numbers,
Day 23: Surveys, Mystery Shop, Complaints, and Written Notes,
Day 24: You Are Going to Hear About It, So You May as Well Make It Work for You, Not Against You,
Day 25: Follow-Up Strategies and Going the Extra Mile,
Day 26: What to Do When Things Go Wrong,
Day 27: How to Impress Your Boss,
Day 28: How Do I Avoid Getting Stuck in a Rut?,
Day 29: Why We Need to Do More Than Just What It Takes to "Get By",
Day 30: Can Providing Good Service Take Me Anywhere?,
Day 31: Customer Service Slip-Ups: What to Do When It Isn't Working,
Day 32: Afterword: Action-Planning and Goal-Setting for Superstar Success,
About the Authors,
About WCW Partners, Inc.,