When I consider a statement, such as “Providing positive reinforcement helps create the right atmosphere for providing great customer experiences,” it irks me to think that basic good manners often do not feature in the basics of customer service delivery. Surely, giving praise where it is due and noting good work for its worth, should be part of the basics?
And it has nothing to do with training or skills development of customer service workers (and management).
Is it not, after all, common courtesy to say please and thank you, to ask before taking, as well as acknowledging a great idea, AND attribute the positive outcome from the idea to its originator?
With this, of course, comes the intent when exhibiting good manners - it is not just about being civil, or even correct, it is about saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
However, to create good customer service, teamwork is a necessity and should be encouraged within business, while performance standards, on the other hand, should acknowledge teamwork and not just focus on individual performance.
Personal experiences over the Christmas week have highlighted a lack of basic good manners, and where I have encountered good manners, it has made the lack elsewhere so much more obvious.
In helping my adult son search for a bicycle, we started with price comparisons. Apart from the price shock (there are some mean machines with hefty price tags), there were several ‘generic’ stores that did not have any knowledgeable support staff available to assist and when finally found, they seemed to be doing us a favour, rather than what they are paid to do – provide customer service.
In this category, Game just takes the cake, but consumers seem to have, over time, adjusted to Game’s seeming ‘self-help without guidance’ system, and when they really need help, off they go, looking for a staff member, often to be sent back “to wait for someone”. Perhaps the organisation will one day have to consider the negative impact of customers’ willingness to loudly share bad experiences in the store, while waiting for service in the aisles, or while queuing at checkout points and even once they’re hopping on their smart-phones to complain online.
Of course, staff from other companies simply floored us with their excellent assistance, like the lady at Cyclesphere, who told us what we would certainly NOT be doing, while offering an alternative that turned out to end our search. And it was all done with a smile, a thank you for considering them in our shopping and most of all, allowing us to feel we had received service and that a referral would be a matter of fact.
Trying to get a better deal on data bundles led me to the Vodacom shop in Windermere Centre, where the staff remembered me from previous visits, immediately assisted me in applying for a better deal and, as the process took a day or two, gave me a call back to advise on the next step.
Unfortunately, on my return, the manager (who had been off sick at the time of my visit) could not assist, blamed his staff for not doing their work properly, and then used ‘having been sick’ as an excuse for poor communication with his staff. Naturally, I had to return at another time, when the staff member who had helped me before, was available, and his usual courteous and helpful self proved to be customer service in action. I suppose the saying “third time lucky” could be applied, yet I wonder whether, in cases like these, having the company pay the customer’s costs for a return visit, would be the best incentive to ‘get it right the first time’.
There’s a lot to be learned from personally servicing customers, such as what the customers prefer or what delivery processes are effective or may need improvement, and customer service workers will only achieve this through basic good manners. In my book, a friendly and helpful attitude constitutes good manners, not just a mere please and thank you, and good service, I believe, is grounded in good manners.
Being able to effectively communicate the features and benefits of a company’s products or services should also not be the sole responsibility of staff in specific sectors either. From the owner, to directors and from the cleaning and maintenance staff, to the mailroom staff, each one sets an example for other employees on how to treat customers and if all apply the same due diligence and good manners, good customer service will result.