Super Customer Experience: Leaders, Are You Attitude Ready?
by Kate Nasser | 11 Comments »
Business leaders, your customers have read your marketing message on commitment to superior customer service. Yet it takes only one moment, one bad experience with a negative attitude for that message to become null and void.
Leaders, are you and your teams — attitude ready? Can you say that team members display a highly positive attitude on each interaction with every customer?
Most leaders reply, “I think so” or “I hope so” and then quote satisfaction metrics to support their claim. The attitude metric for super customer experience must be 100%.
The challenge of excellence is consistency — not repetition.
Customers will always interpret a bad attitude as a sign of personal disrespect. It scrapes emotion and breaks the bonds of loyalty. It creates that horribly inevitable question: Shall I accept this insult? Thus it drives customers away from you and toward your competitors.
Leaders, Are You All Attitude Ready?
Here is a readiness checklist to develop and maintain consistently positive attitudes for super customer experience. Consistent attitude is not scripted and robotic. It is sincere, in the moment, and authentic.
- Are front line leaders selected and/or trained to inspire or just to manage? What do they believe is their primary focus? Ask them. For super customer experience, the answer must include “modelling and inspiring” great service. If their answers are mostly a list of tasks including handling escalations, monitoring performance, managing volume, etc…, the team members will not be living a culture of attitude excellence.
- What is the team’s picture of displaying excellent attitudes? The definition of a great attitude including words like helpful, caring, respectful, warm, friendly, assuring, appreciative, going the extra mile … doesn’t completely drive behavior. Many reps display neutral attitudes and believe they are doing a great job because they are not insulting customers. The customers take this neutrality as lack of caring. It doesn’t produce bonds and loyalty.
Spot displays of positive attitudes during interview role plays and hire them. Else train with role plays and behavioral displays of positive attitudes to create excellence.
- Zero Tolerance of Bad Attitude. After hiring, training, and inspiring excellence, the zero tolerance of reps’ bad attitudes is critical.
Many leaders today have mistaken the new leadership style of understanding and engagement to be tolerance of bad attitudes and behavior. This is a red herring. Bad employee attitudes and behavior are unacceptable in customer service.
As a leader when you make excuses and create exceptions, you are creating the culture that will sink super customer experience. You also demotivate those with great attitudes for they want to work in a culture of excellence.
Listen to reps to understand the tools and other resources they need. Bring those solutions to the table. They must bring their positive attitudes to the customer interaction — regardless of the situation. When my clients ask me: “How long should I coach a negative attitude?” My response is: never. Model and inspire it? Yes. Coach it? No. Reps who choose to display a bad attitude would do better in a non-customer facing position.
What if great reps, who are consistently positive with customers, slip up in one instance? Anyone can have one bad moment right? Yes but their greatness is evident as they apologize to customers at that moment. They take ownership and make amends immediately. Their professional beliefs shine through. That’s the proof of greatness. They don’t make excuses or run and hide.
- No shame in leaving policy. Many customer service leaders strive for low employee turnover. It’s understandable from a cost and image perspective. Yet taken too far, this goal can infect morale, performance and results.
Managers have come to believe that high turnover on their team is an automatic black mark against them. They work to keep everyone there — including poor performers and those ill suited for the positions. Yikes!
Zappos got it right. They even pay people to leave if it is not a match.
There is no shame in reps leaving jobs they truly don’t want to do with a positive attitude.
If turnover is high on your teams, surely check all aspects of the job including pay, training, teamwork, leadership style etc… Fix those issues to attract and retain top talent; don’t keep bad attitudes around just to prove you are a good manager.
The consistently positive attitude for super customer experience has its roots in these beliefs:
- It is professional and rewarding to serve and give to others.
- Being highly responsible is better than highly entitled.
- People-skills matter as much as occupational skill and problem solving.
- Diversity is fun. It is an exciting way to learn and grow.
Succeeding on the Finer Points of Attitude
When customer service job applicants say that they like the feeling of helping others, dig deeper before hiring them. Will they only like it when the customer is being nice? If they are keying off how they themselves feel, they may struggle when the customer is not happy. Conversely if they see it as a professional goal to serve others, they can give empathy without getting it back.
Responsible vs. Entitled: One rep emailed his front line manager with the following request — “I would like to work from home three days a week. How can you make this happen for me?” This rep will not give superior customer service. There is no sign of responsibility, people-skills, or professional giving.
People who love to solve problems and do it well don’t always do well in customer service. If their focus is tunnel visioned on the end result, they may overlook the customers’ human needs for positive interaction along the road to the solution.
If you are a rep and or manager who loves and lives diversity, learning, responsibility, and professional giving, you are creating a culture of positive attitudes and super customer experience. You are strengthening the profession for the good of all those it touches. Bravo to you all!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
Psychological Barriers to Super Customer Experience
The Challenge of Excellence is Consistency Short video.
©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email email@example.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on delivering the ultimate customer service experience, leading change, employee engagement, and teamwork. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
Great article, the one piece I would add is “are your processes aligned to creating superior attitudes?” A lot of time this is where the walk matches the talk. In call centers, what is your wrap up time? What is your occupancy rate? Do you measure and incent on AHT? In broader customer service organizations, what does your personal development program look like? Do you incorporate fun in the job? Do you have clear paths to growth (learning or career advancement)? Remove the process hindrances.
I am with you this point for sure. Processes must match what you want the attitudes to be. I especially like these detailed examples you provided:
-What does your personal development program look like?
– **Do you incorporate fun in the job?
– Do you have clear paths to growth (learning or career advancement)
I think even when these things are absent, an agent or rep can still choose a powerfully positive attitude at any moment. Yet your additions strengthen any positive attitude with positive flow of the work.
I would add “take time to reflect and recharge”. I think that it’s easy to get burned out going 100% service action all of the time. We all need and should also encourage our team leaders and members to take time to reflect on the good that was done, be uplifted by the positive difference made in the lives of others, then reach out and recharge by taking time to connect, research, and be inspired to do more great service by what others are doing.
I just had a reflect and recharge week and it’s made a huge difference in the level of focus and energy I have to continue on our service quest.
Nice touch Flavio. And for reps you don’t get lots of time off the phone, use the 3 second reset in between each call. It actually works!
Great post as usual!
I would add to Michael comment and stress the need for KPIs!
Indicators within processes for customer relation excellence are the visible keys to other reps that this is the way to service customers extraordinary!
This will create a sense of reflection to the service provided to other reps so all will be focused in measuring his or her performance using such metrics.
Now there’s a metric that matters Khalid! Many thanks…. Kate
I would also like to add that I think this is a great article as well. The one thing that bothers me about customer service is that it can be a “dead end”. When you do the job well, your superiors want to keep you at the job and, therefore, there isn’t a lot of room for advancement.
It’s critical that #3 is applied to bosses as well as employees. Those who are in leadership positions set the tone for the entire company. If they’re held unaccountable, a customer-centric culture will never form. Even the best employee will wither when faced with a bad boss.