I’VE been writing for InterPark for some time now. Each article has been on customer service and who would have thought that they could just keep coming!
I’d like to think that most people who read this magazine have been enjoying these articles. However, now that you’re getting to know me more and more, I thought this article could be a great way to give you more of my background, but not for my own self-indulgence, rather because there are some key themes that my story can give, that may be useful for your attraction and the delivery of customer service.
I’m referred to as a customer service expert. It’s a humble title to hold and it succinctly describes what I’m all about. But hang on a minute, in our own lives, we are all customers. As every customer is different and knows what service means to them, that would make us all customer service experts in our own right.
While we all may be customer service experts, I’m often asked why I do what I do. I’ve got a huge childhood story that brings me to the time that I entered the workforce (I’ll save that for another time), but let’s start from when I got my first job at the age of 14 as a checkout operator at my local supermarket, Woolworths.
I was always good at being of service. I’d get regular positive feedback from managers and customers and most importantly I really enjoyed it, even as a 14-year-old working just to earn some money on the side while I was at school, doing two shifts per week on Thursday night and Saturday’s (we didn’t have extended trading hours back then).
I stayed in retail as I transitioned from high school into university. I continued to thrive at customer service and then officially started my role as a customer service trainer. Unfortunately, many retail organisations have a simple criteria to be promoted to become a trainer – either you’ve been there the longest, or you’re just good at it.
But as a trainer, I noticed that customer service training wasn’t working. Functionally, I was doing a good job, but for some reason, service training lacked substance – there had to be something missing! One of my favourite quotes (and I don’t know who said it) is “you can’t be more Catholic than the Pope.” There’s something unique with some of the organisations around the world that are renowned for their customer service and that is that they are driven by leaders that fully embrace service as an integral part of business. This is where I wanted to make a change.
Here is my vision for the world of service. If organisations can just as easily be known for poor customer service, then every organisation can be known for exceptional service. People, both staff and customers alike, are all stressed, time poor and busy. Surely receiving better service will lead to more positive outcomes to both team members and staff members. Finally, business has changed. In Australia, the emerging phrase of 2018 to 2019 was “people before profits.” Organisations are subject to Royal Commissions due to fundamental service failures and this will only be scrutinised further. Surely it makes good business sense to serve customers better – it’s simply the right thing to do.
Now while I may have a bold vision, there are a few things missing that are needed if we are going to make a difference to customer service. Wouldn’t it be great if I yelled out the term “customer service” and everyone cheered with a loud “Yeah! Woohoo!!” It just doesn’t happen and I think that’s the first problem – that there is not enough excitement when it comes to customer service.
Secondly, customer service is a long-term game that requires persistence. But people don’t often persist with things if they are not encouraged. Encouragement can go a long way when people need it. Because we’re all busy people there’s never enough time allocated to service and our customers. We must all be encouraging to one another.
Finally, service is one of those things that requires us to set an example for others to follow. If we are going to talk about service, we must serve well. I’ve said before that organisations can be known for bad service, but then there are plenty of organisations known for good service – organisations like Disney. Those who do well can be examples for those that are in need of help.
If we put excitement, encouragement and example together, it’s certainly going to help in achieving the bold vision!
So here are some key questions that you may wish to consider after reading this article:
- How do you select people to train customer service? Is it based on their tenure or their proven success?
- Are the efforts you put into customer service training working at your attraction?
- Can you see the potential in your attraction for being known for customer service excellence?
- How are your staff metrics going (i.e. satisfaction, engagement, etc.)? Could they be better with an increased focus on customer service?
- Is your industry immune from a Royal Commission or inquiry? Is your service up to scratch?
- How exciting is the phrase “customer service” in your attraction?
- Are you and your frontline supervisors encouraging the team to serve customers better?
- Are you aware of best practice both in the industry and globally when it comes to service?
- Are you setting an example for your team members to follow?
- Can you see the relationship between your focus on service now and how that can potentially shape a new team member in the future for the rest of their career?
By Chris Smoje
Chris Smoje is a customer service speaker, trainer, facilitator and founder of the DIME™ Customer Service approach. Chris works with organisations and their people to develop a common interest and excitement about delivering exceptional customer service results.