Few would argue at the statement that “the key to exceptional customer service is in your staff”. Obviously, your front-line staff — those that have direct contact with your clients — are of vital importance, however, you musn’t forget the rest of the team that provide support and backup to the front-line. Administration, Accounts, HR — these teams are often behind the scenes but play a large role in ensuring that your customers receive world class service.
If having excellent staff is important then, it goes without saying that your priority must be to hire and retain top quality employees. Easier said than done! Hiring staff can be relatively simple, but hiring the “right” staff for the job is a lot harder. You have to make sure that you hire people who are willing and able to serve your customers to the best of their abilities — No acting, no fake smiles, just plain and natural caring qualities. Without quality staff and people you will never have loyal and satisfied customers.
Once you have found the right staff, you now have to make sure you keep them! For the moment we’ll concentrate on the hiring side of things — we’ll leave staff retention for another time (or article).
Whenever I hear anyone make a reference to Customer Service, I can’t help but think of the increadible job Disney do in this department. Anyone who has been to one of their theme parks will know what I am talking about. They have a very interesting way of looking at the hiring process. Their staff are not mere “employees” they are cast members. Their HR Department does not “hire” for a “job”, instead they “cast” for a “role”. This is a great way to look at your customer service — All their staff play an important role in ensuring that the park visitors have a wonderful experience and this is usually the case.
All job positions are important and play their part in the “show”. I remember when I visited one of the parks in Orlando and was amazed at how there were staff whose job it was to clean up rubbish that people dropped on the floor, they were literally picking it up the moment the person dropped it, and they did this with a genuine smile on their faces! Now some people would say that they were mere cleaners but to me they were more than that, they were an integral part of a well oiled customer experience machine — the fact that I remember that story from over 20 years ago just shows how powerful good customer service can be!.
Ok, I’m getting off track here but I just wanted to emphasize the importance of hiring the right staff at all levels of an organisation.
Here’s a few things you need to Keep in mind when you are hiring staff:
* Take your Time – Make sure you don’t rush in to things and hire the first person that remotely fits the bill.
* Hire someone that is Natural and genuine – You need someone that can create a relationship with your customers and in order to do this they cannot have one of those “False Smiles” you often encounter.
* Do they have good communication skills ?– This may seem obvious but it’s amazing how many companies hire staff that are incapable of having a friendly conversation! You need someone that has great person-to-person skills, someone who is willing and able to listen and empathise with your clients and put themselves in their shoes.
* Control over Emotions – Anyone involved in dealing with customers has to be able to handle high pressure situations, both from interactions with clients and with the rest of the team. The only way to do this is to have complete control over their emotions. You need someone who keeps cool when under fire!
* Flexibility – Your chosen candidate has to be flexible and willing to accept constant change within the organisation. They have to be able to adapt to different ciscumstances and learn form their experiences. If they can apply the positive aspects of what they learn along the way, then all the better.