by Laura MacLeod
The foundation for most customer service training is: the customer is always right. So the employee must serve the customer with a bright smile, no matter what. This picture of the customer/employee relationship is not only inaccurate, as nobody is always right, it is also misleading. Customers don’t hold all the power and the employee is much more than a servant.
If you change the power dynamic between customer and employee, can you still please the customer? The answer is YES. In fact, when you empower the employee to direct and guide the customer, customer/employee relations and service will improve. If employees feel that they are equals with the customers, rather than mere servants, they will develop the ability to be more relatable, interacting and engaging customers. Customers can connect and feel valued by employees, strong relationships are built, which translates to customer loyalty and company profit through word of mouth and customer retention. Using this empowerment method, everybody wins. Changing the focus and goal of customer service training is key to the success of any company. Here are a few tips on how to successfully go about this.
Employees need to use their personalities to make sales. Customers want to interact with an authentic human, not an actor or robot reading from a script. Offering specials, discounts and benefits of a store credit card to shoppers are great sales strategies, but there should be more to the relationship. Workers should be encouraged to use humor, empathy, and common sense, all of which will ultimately show who they are. Personality needs to shine through the sales and promotional scripting.
What happens when there’s a problem? Workers need to know how to work through difficult situations with customers. They must get the facts and identify the problem, demonstrate empathy, then work through possible solutions. Instead of immediately being passed on to a manager, this methodical approach calms and reassures the customer that the issue will be resolved and that the employee is empowered to help them.
Even empowered employees need to know where and how to get help from management when it is really needed. Sometimes customers are unruly, and even the most skilled worker can’t please them. Workers need to know how to effectively bring in the manager. The manager needs to be accessible and graciously step in to handle difficult situations. This back up is crucial to employee confidence and performance.
Empowered employees are confident and happy. Confident and happy employees leave customers feeling assisted and valued. It’s a proven recipe for success. Try it, and you’ll see.