The Four Essentials of Excellent Customer Service Training

As I was creating a customer service training program, I was reminded of an interaction that I recently had with a customer relations person and decided to reflect on the learning.

The Four Essentials of Excellent Customer Service Training I walked into a Microsoft flagship store, to check out the new  Lumia 950. As I entered the store, it felt as if I was at the right place to make the decision. I looked out for somebody to help me in the decision. After waiting for a minute, I saw a lady emerging from the other end of the store. Upon noticing me she bellowed out, “What do you want?” Without waiting for me to answer, she went to the end of the store and sat on a stool behind a counter. Since she was not expressing any desire to help me, I walked around and looked at the products on display. As I did not see Lumia 950, I asked the lady if she had a demo handset for Lumia 950. “No sir, we don’t.” pat came the reply.  I asked her, if the handset was in stock. “Sir, if we don’t have the dummy with us, how do you expect us to have the handset in stock. For every handset that we have in stock, we have the demos available as well.” she said, as if, it was something every customer should have known. Undeterred by her attitude, I enquired when they would get fresh stock. “There is a possibility, that we might get it tomorrow. You can come in and check.” was the reply to my question.

Being a soft skills trainer who conducts a plethora of programs on enhancing customer service, I took some time to ponder about why this transaction left me so angry and frustrated. Reactively I had even decided that I was not going to another Microsoft phone.

As I replayed in my mind the kind of customer focus interaction that would have left me desiring to wait to buy the Lumia 950 from the same store, the below listed ways to improve customer satisfaction surfaced:

  1. Empathy:
    • I would have liked the customer service rep to walk up to me and express interest in what I was looking for.
    • I would have liked the rep to apologize for the lack of availability of the product I was looking for.
  2. Managing Customer Expectations
    • I would have liked the rep to understand what I was looking for and suggest alternatives, as Lumia 950 was not available.
    • I would have liked the rep to tell me that she will call me back once the product was available.
  3. Going that extra mile
    • I think the rep should have taken my number and volunteered to call me as soon as the product arrived.
    • I think the rep should have found out if the product was available at their other locations.
  4. Listening
    • I would have expected her understood my expectations and suggested alternatives.
    • I would have expected her to confirm her understanding of what I shared.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Customer service is all about managing customer expectations and relationship building. My experience helped to drive this central theme in the Customer Service Training program and the participants experienced tangible benefits in their interactions.

Telephone Etiquette in Problem Solving

You can not solve a problem with the same mind that created it ” by Albert Einstein.

Two issues that affect the problem solving capabilities of people are that they focus less on problem identification and more on problem solving and they do not think explore the problem from different angles.

There is a famous incident quoted by General Motors where a person who bought a GM car encountered a strange problem – every night he would go to buy ice cream from a nearby store and on the night he bought vanilla ice cream the car would stall. This seemed ludicrous but the company took him seriously and send an engineer who after days of observation identified a critical problem. Why only the vanilla flavor created this problem? – This was because the vanilla flavor sat in the front of the store and the time frame was the critical contributing factor. But the willingness of the engineer to listen and explore without a pre-determined mindset was what resolved the issue. These are important elements in problem solving.

MMM often conducts training for BPOs on telephone etiquette as part of the problem solving program because the agents solve customer issues through phone conversations. This can be frustrating for the agents, as they do not get to watch the reactions and body language of the customers. So good telephone etiquette with the capability of reading the tone of voice is important for customer satisfaction.

Two issues that affect the problem solving capabilities of people are that they focus less on problem identification and more on problem solving and they do not think explore the problem from different angles.