Exceptional Customer Service
In the competitive world we all operate in, customer service is one way to set yourself apart from the crowd.
If you want to deliver a great customer service, it HAS to be consistent – at every point of contact, every time, even if someone is having a bad day. An important starting point is to look at how you treat your team, and how they behave to each other – a happy, positive, engaged workforce are absolutely key to providing a branded experience, which is differentiated and valuable.
The Eurostar Model
In 2012, Eurostar lost its monopoly on running passenger services through the tunnel, triggering a drive by the company to become ‘Europe’s most loved experience’. The Eurostar Academie was set up to promote this vision and provide necessary training to all Eurostar employees, with the aim of putting customer service at the heart of everything they do. They focused particularly on all the ‘touch points’ where the staff have an opportunity to make the customer experience a bit more special.
Vision and Values
The Eurostar example also highlights the importance of involving everyone in the process. The organisation’s initial statement of its vision and values didn’t engage the employees on the ground, so they involved the entire workforce in developing those values into ten customer service promises. Each promise lists five ‘standards’ that describe observable behaviours associated which each level of performance. This then becomes a vital part of the induction programme for new employees
Like many organisations, Eurostar have moved away from reliance on annual performance appraisals or reviews, to focus much more on immediate, regular feedback, and ‘management by wandering about’. Performance targets are tightly linked to customer satisfaction feedback, and the different sectors are extremely motivated to meet or exceed their targets. Managers can refer back to the ‘promises’ to illustrate when someone is exceeding expectations, or what they need to do to improve. Try to spend as much time as you can ‘catching people doing something right’ to give them positive feedback; model the behaviours you want to see in your team.
Be careful not to force everyone to follow a ‘formula’ though, which can feel forced and artificial. Employees should be encouraged to use their personalities to engage with every customer, and increase the emotional bond they have with your brand. Exceptional customer service doesn’t just happen by chance, it requires constant, ongoing effort.