Service Excellence

Looking at Culture

It is important for each of us to step back and look at our organizational culture. What does it look like for a customer? Is it friendly and welcoming? Have you considered asking a visitor?

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Commit to Connecting

If the months keep passing and you keep forgetting to connect with customers, use your calendar to establish a cadence for connecting. Set a 30 minute appointment on the same day of each month and use that time to schedule your connections. Then, treat the appointments as sacred events on your calendar. Avoid canceling and adjust the number of appointments each month, as you learn what works best for you.

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Talk is Cheap

…unless it’s a manage up. Messaging and celebrating the impact of an individual doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple manage up of an individual’s impact in front of the larger team means more to most than a purchased prize.

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How Can You Exceed Customer Expectations?

Start by asking your customers. Find out what their expectations are, and probe customers for ways your organization can improve the customer experience. Your current customers have the best insight into your customer experience, and asking for their feedback will make them feel valued and important. Don’t forget to thank them for their input.

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Unmistakable Recognition

Remember to recognize those providing unmistakable value in your organization. This recognition can be as simple as a shout-out during the next team meeting. Recognizing an employee’s commitment to being unmistakably valuable to stakeholders encourages more of this behavior and mindset across the team.

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Engaged Employees Inspire Loyal Customers

Employees who are engaged are more likely to be enthusiastic and emotionally attached to their work. They are fully committed to the organization and more likely to go above and beyond to provide excellent service. A positive employee experience directly enhances the customer’s experience, after all, it is your employees who create the customer experience. Take action by implementing one recommendation for increasing engagement on your team this week.

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Check in with Stakeholders

Schedule time each quarter to connect with a few external stakeholders. Ask for feedback and perceptions about the organization’s progress. Directly ask if there are any trends to which you should be paying close attention.

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Analyze Your Complaints

Keep track of the complaints you receive and respond to. Every 6 months revisit that list and make note of the complaints that arise the most. Ask your team and yourself if there is a barrier in the process or if there is a change that can be made to decrease the most common complaints.

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Master Storytellers

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to harvest stories for your organization. Whether the story is from a customer and can be used for marketing purposes, or from an employee and can be used to showcase company values, good organizations make an effort to collect and distribute these stories. Make it your goal to harvest at least 1 story per week.

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Treat Every Interaction as a First Impression

It is often the small things that we remember during our experiences as a customer that form our long-term perception of an organization. Make every interaction a positive one, no matter how quick or seemingly insignificant it may be. You never know when a small gesture will make a big impact.

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Utilize AIDET in Many Situations

AIDET® is a valuable tool for all types of interactions. Elements of AIDET® do not have to be delivered in any specific order, nor do all of the elements have to be included in every interaction. You can use AIDET for a brief introduction, to set expectations, or even to reduce anxiety. The possibilities are endless.

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Serving with Excellence

Movement to excellence is first seen in our interactions with internal and external customers. This means we speak to people in the hall, or as soon as they approach our desk or office area. The tone of our voice is pleasant, and our intention from the beginning is to meet the needs of the customer by listening first, delivering the best possible experience, and providing something extra. This extra may not occur all the time, but often enough that it makes a difference.

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Define Service Standards

Service excellence is about providing high-quality service to both internal and external “customers.” Leaders must define what excellent service looks like. They must also make sure they have best-place-to-work standards that define the way people are expected to behave in their work environment. Does your organization have clearly defined standards in order to deliver aligned services?

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Take Ownership of Customer Complaints

Avoid placing blame on someone else, sincerely apologize, and take ownership of the situation. Try not to offer customers a prescribed solution to their problems, the suggested solution should be personalized. Don’t forget to thank your customers for their feedback, whether it is positive or negative.

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Practice Your Response

It’s normal to feel defensive when listening to a customer complain about their experience or service. Practice listening and responding to complaints with team members. Remember, the complaint isn’t personal and mostly the customer wants to feel listened to. Before responding to feedback in an emotional manner listen, empathize, and ask questions to get as much clarity as possible about the situation.

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Empower Employees

Give individuals on the front lines the authority to do what it takes to make customers happy, so their issues are solved the first time. Employees closest to the customers are most in tune with customer pain points and how to solve them. Harvest this information for continuous customer service recovery and improvement.

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Remove Service Barriers

The number one complaint customers cite is the difficulty of resolving their problems. Analyze your customer service process. Are there obstacles your customers must face to resolve their issue? How can you make it easier for customers to have their complaints resolved?

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Service Sets You Apart

Think from your customer’s point of view; what does your organization do to provide its customers with unmistakable value? How do your employees create loyal stakeholders? Do you see room for improvement?

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Recognize Service Excellence

Who provides unmistakable value within your organization? Who follows the standards for service excellence? When you see it, recognize it! Thank this person for living the organization’s values and being an example of what right looks like. You can let them know on the spot, or bring it up during your next team meeting. Recognizing the behavior and actions that are most important to our organization’s success positively reinforces the performance we want to have continued.

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Connect to Serve

When leaders help their teams connect their daily work to a greater purpose, people become motivated to serve. Behind all of the daily tasks, what is the ultimate outcome and what actions can your team take to get there? Help your team connect to purpose while providing clear directions for serving stakeholders.

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Salute Customer Praise

Collect customer comments that reflect the unmistakable value your organization provides. Share those comments with your team to open up team meetings or as a quick email to remind them of the difference they make by providing unmistakable value to those they serve.

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Standards Guide

Standards of service describe what it looks like when we are living our values. The standards guide employees on how they should treat each other and those they serve. To create standards, start with what the organization’s values and define those values. Next, determine what behaviors and actions align to living those values with our stakeholders. Finally, share the standards with your teams.

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Measure to Provide Unmistakable Value

To illustrate to teams the value of their service, it’s critical to measure progress, gather feedback and share that information with employees and customers. Having conversations about those numbers will enable you to identify opportunities for improvement. These conversations facilitate how to get better at providing stakeholders with unmistakable value.

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Leaders in Service

Team leaders and organization leaders set the example for how customers are treated. When leaders connect with employees, employees learn how to connect with their stakeholders. Connect with at least one employee each day this week.

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Reflect on Service

Gather data from your customers and front-end employees about their service experience with your organization. Listen to the feedback and analyze it to identify themes. Then discuss this information with your teams and brainstorm ideas to improve the experience. Choose 1-3 actions for improvement and decide which team members will own them.

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Satisfaction Surveys

How do you know your stakeholders are satisfied? The best way is to ask. Create a stakeholder feedback survey and distribute it to customers, clients, the community, parents, etc., to gather essential data used for decision making and future success.

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Reflect on Values

What does your organization value? How do you role-model one of the values? How do those you work with role-model this value? How can your organization strengthen its commitment to living out the values?

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Forward Virtual Wins

When you receive an email from a customer or client celebrating an individual who makes a difference in your organization, spread the love. Forward the email to your entire team. Not only does it provide an example of what the right behavior looks like, but it will also help the team stay connected to their purpose.

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What is Their Preference?

Do your customers prefer an email or a phone call? Do they prefer 1 email a week, or 1 email a month? Learn your customers’ preferences and use the information to ensure they’re engaged the way they prefer.

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Develop Norms for Emails

Create organizational standards for email communication. Should the sender receive a response within 24 hours? Are your employees expected to answer emails after-hours? After email standards have been created, leadership will set an example by role-modeling the expected behaviors.

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Check Before You Send

Avoid embarrassing and sometimes costly mistakes by double checking every email before you click send. Once it goes out, you can’t get it back.

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Catch Them in the Act

Look for who is modeling what’s right today, and thank them. “The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right. Catching people doing things right provides satisfaction and motivates good performance.” Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson – The One Minute Manager

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