By Steven Grady
Joe Reale is a “service-a-holic”. He’s been addicted to the mechanics of delivering stellar service for over 15 years. From directing $2,000,000+ departments at Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue to operating ModCloth’s bustling customer service department, Joe knows a lot about creating world-class experiences. Working for fine dining restaurants has also helped him to paint a unique vision of the service industry. He started “Service is Selling!” consulting in July of 2014, using his expertise in people management and SaaS to transform fledgling service organizations into industry leaders.
Great service is a lot like magic. We don’t always know how it happens, but we are often mesmerized when it does. I like to call this “invisible service.” Service so good it seamlessly integrates satisfaction into your experience. So what’s the secret? Why are there only a handful of companies out there constantly trying to improve customer service? Wait for it…wait for it…the secret is…there is NO secret.
You just have to really want to help people. If compassion is embodied in your core mission statement, your employees will feel empowered with purpose and your customers will become loyal fans. Loyal fans that will spend more money and spread the good word to their family and friends. I have proven this with tremendous success in a variety of retail situations. Here are a few starter tips you can use to inspire great service across your organization:
1. Start with hiring
When I screen candidates for customer-facing positions I always lead with the same statement: “If you get out of bed every day and you want to help people, then you are in the right place. If you don’t, then this is probably not going to be a good fit for either of us.”
It’s pretty brutal, but people definitely appreciate transparency more than unfair expectations. This tactic has worked amazingly well in finding employees who really understand providing great service at a fundamental level. Try leading with a statement like this in your next interview and I think you will be surprised by the reactions you receive. Most importantly, use your intuition. A good hiring manager should be able to spot a bad fit from a mile away.
2. “Walk the talk”
Make sure to walk around the office often. Getting in front of your team every day and saying hello can go a long way towards increased sales and satisfaction. Your team and other departments will not only appreciate this gesture of common courtesy, but you will find that it aids future successful partnerships. Team members and direct reports feel comfortable knowing you’re approachable, which leads to valuable feedback and insight on how to improve morale and operations. Happy employees usually equals happy customers.
It’s funny that something as simple as basic human interaction is often overlooked in many companies as a useful tool to improve sales. Instead of an email, try writing a handwritten note to thank a colleague for a job well done. You might be surprised how much more it means to the recipient that you took the time to write with ink rather than your keyboard.
3. Stay in front of your customer
Research new customer experience tools. Search for companies that intertwine customer service into the fabric of their business model. It’s much easier to work with people who are aligned with your service vision. If you don’t have a mobile app, then I hope you are making its creation a high priority for the future. Your customer WILL be completely mobile soon. If you are not thinking about how to create a mobile service experience that really stands out from your competitors you will most likely fade into the background. Continue to be agile and don’t get too comfortable with the systems you have in place. There will always be something better out there that can provide a more robust experience. You owe it to your customers and your team.
The secret to my success has always been keeping the customer focus just that, customer-focused. There is NO secret, remember? You just have to care, and you have to really mean it, too! Everything we do should be rooted in our customer experiences. After all, if it weren’t for them we would all be eating bon-bons and looking for a new job, right? Staying on top of the latest in service technology today is crucial to your future tomorrow. Spending money on the best customer experience is no longer a luxury or a choice. If you don’t do it, your competitor will. I hope these tips help you bring your service levels to new heights. Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to dissect your customer experience and find more ways to improve it! Selling is service and believe me, Service is Selling!