When it comes to leadership, you are likely well aware that what you do for and to those employees you lead impacts and rubs off on the customers they serve. Yes? Thus, you lead, even if indirectly, those customers and your efforts, behaviors, and actions are contagious to perhaps more than you might think. So, are you doing things that might be giving those very customers that you pay to attract, work hard to keep, and want to stick around – reasons to leave? Eek! Hope not, but let’s check.
In Contagious Customer Service, there are three areas of focus: perceptions, expectations and functions.
What your customer perceives is their reality. No big shock there! Let’s take a department store for example. There is one Dillards in Florida that has far more helpful customer service than all the others, it seems. The perception of the customer, namely me, when I walk into any department is they have a leader who consistently focuses on service and being helpful. At the Dillards in Florida Mall, the employees help instead of hover. They offer suggestions and will take you to what you ask for, instead of point. Thus, would I, as a customer, leave the other stores in the area and drive all the way to this one to get better service? You bet. Perceptions are powerful. What are the perceptions of your customers?
Using the same example, clearly your customer’s expectations of service determine how well they perceive you to provide such service. Based on your marketing, your reputation, word of mouth, and a host of other things, what are you doing to create certain expectations for customers? If you are setting up expectations of great service and falling short of those, will they continue to buy from you? Most likely not. Can you always control the expectations of your customer? No, but you have more influence than you might think. Also, keep in mind, the expectations we all have when we go to a fast and cheap place are different than one where we are looking for luxurious service – don’t advertise one if you really plan on providing the other. Your efforts are what help to build your customers expectations.
How we function with a customer who is happy, mad, pleased or ticked, makes all the difference. Customers will usually forgive a mistake if you handle in a way that leaves them satisfied and the problem resolved in the end. BUT, if you become defensive, argumentative, or determined to be right and prove the customer wrong, you will likely lose that customer and all of her friends. How do you teach employees to function or behave with all of your customers?
Leading employees to do right by the customer, to provide what they need, and to listen carefully to what those needs are is critical to continued business success. Of course, that also means when you interact with an employee, that you model what you expect them to do with a customer. After all, employees are your internal customers, too.