But when it comes to actually delivering this key benefit, are your front-line employees truly accommodating – or are they “service Nazis?”
Flexible customer service processes are essential to delivering truly shareworthy results. Make sure that your service isn’t so rigid that it winds up frustrating your best clients:
Don’t jump to conclusions.
Seek first to understand. Employees with service responsibilities typically want to solve their customers’ problems – it’s a big part of their jobs! But remind front-line employees not to jump the gun and make assumptions when presented with service issues.
Train your team to be patient, to ask great questions and to truly listen to each customer’s complaint (even if it’s one they think they’ve heard a million times) before recommending any solution. Remember, customers’ issues come in all shapes and sizes. Even a seemingly “typical” problem may have an important wrinkle requiring a unique approach.
Offer answers and support in a variety of ways.
Offer a diverse menu of options:
- Some like ramen. (Work with me here; it’s a metaphor.) These customers need a quick and easy way to find answers on their own. If you haven’t already, consider adding a searchable Help database or a robust FAQ to your website.
- Some want the soup du jour. They need more customized service and support. Make it easy for customers to get questions answered quickly via chat or email, or by opening a support ticket.
- Some need a bowl of lobster bisque. They need to speak with a real person! In some cases, there’s no substitute for real-time conversation. When a client calls, does a live person answer? What’s your policy for after-hours calls? Revisit your phone support standards to make sure clients get high-touch service when they need it – especially for time-sensitive or important issues.
Use common sense.
Do whatever you can to make it easy for front-line staff to solve problems:
- Remove red tape. Instead of setting up insulating roadblocks or using rigid scripts, give your employees the tools they need to put the wheels of resolution in motion. Make sure front-line employees have immediate access to the appropriate supervisor, without hierarchical restraints, to expedite resolution.
- Train your team – then get out of the way. Balance a solid service framework with sufficient flexibility, so employees can adapt service policies when it clearly makes sense to do so. Empower your employees by clearly defining their roles and authority, as well as the process for making decisions. And instead of micromanaging, set specific guidelines and goals for delivering exceptional service that’s rooted in practical decision-making.
Make “flexibility” more than a meaningless buzzword for your staffing firm. Make it a core value. Take a flexible approach to serving clients – and give them the soup they want!