Published on September 25, 2017
Written by The Servion Group
A culture of customer service excellence doesn’t develop automatically, said Rob Bell, speaking at the 2017 Lending Conference on Sept. 19. Opportunities to deliver excellence are ones that many companies squander. “Wows only happen on purpose,” he said.
During his presentation, How to WOW – Deliver Service Excellence, Bell said the foundation for excellence is laid both in a personal commitment to service and a team commitment to success.
“Every member of a team needs to know why their company is different and what makes them superior to their competitors,” Bell explained. “If the team isn’t excited, how will the customers get excited?”
Winning teams consistently perform the basics well, which is critical in the age of social media. Bell, who spent a quarter of a century in the grocery business, reminded his audience that good news travels fast but bad news travels faster. “It’s never been more critical to deliver ‘wow’ customer service,” he said. Bell offered tangible advice to elevate customer service to the “wow” level:
Pay attention to the contact points. The moment of truth for delivering successful customer service is when people first interact with customers. Contact points include making eye contact, answering the telephone, and sending emails. “It’s about treating people well,” Bell said. He advised people to not appear distracted or interrupted. “Don’t make the moment of truth a moment of misery,” he said.
Be trustworthy. Think about all the ways you can serve the customer, and deliver on the promises you’ve made. “Even the little things count,” Bell said, “so have a system in place to not drop the ball.” Once customer trust is secured, barriers fall away. This is equally important, he said, with internal relationships. Team members need to feel trust so they will step up and say something if they notice a problem.
Be authentic. Bring authentic and appropriate energy to interactions so people will want to be around you. Use humor to establish relationships.
Be an active listener. When we listen effectively, we don’t evaluate the speaker but suspend our own thoughts and feelings to give the other our complete attention. “We must silence our thoughts to be in the moment,” Bell said. The top levels of listening are Empathetic, where one seeks to understand another’s words and know how they feel; and, Attentive, where one consciously chooses to stay in the moment.
Work toward empathy. Empathy is the ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts, or feelings in order to better understand them. “When you work with other people, it can be hard to get beyond our own notions of their appearance. Everyone wants to be treated with respect,” Bell said.
Actions speak louder than words. People care what you do more than what you say, think, or believe, Bell posited. “Your body language is a walking billboard of your brand so figure out what your body is saying,” he said. Positive body language cues include smiling, making eye contact, facing a person, and nodding your head and remaining silent while someone speaks. Negative cues can be a raised eyebrow, a turned back, even a quick glance at a wrist watch.
Thoughts are more visible to others than people realize. “If the words you choose are not consistent with your body language, which will people believe?” Bell asked.
Be positive. Borrowing the “yes, and…” technique used in improvisational theater, Bell said saying “yes” to people opens the door to greater opportunities. A positive response to any inquiry is “let’s see what we can do,” he said. Find a way to “get to yes.”
Bell concluding his presentation with key advice: “You never know how people want to be served unless you ask,” he said. Because people want to do business with friends, relationship building starts with communicating an authentic desire to know what the customer wants. The No. 1 driver of customer loyalty is friendliness and the No. 2 driver is listening. Both of these skills are within everyone’s reach.