All organisations want service programs, and any level of investment in its people, to be long-lasting and sticky. In business, when training and development is treated as a valuable activity, it is usually because it has not dissolved after a few months of the initial hype, but rather the initiatives have created a step change and the service behaviours have stuck.
If I were spending my own money on training frontline staff to deliver more superior customer service, I would start with the frontline leaders. If frontline staff do not feel supported by its boss, and if the expected service behaviours are not lived and breathed by its leaders, then quite frankly, a service program for frontline staff is a waste of money. I am not saying that frontline staff is not worth any investment, in fact, quite the contrary. The staff closest to the customer should be valued the most as it has the greatest impact on how your customer’s experience and perceive your brand.
My suggestion is more about the sequence and methodology that gets you the stickiest results in service, and it starts by creating a customer service mindset in frontline leaders. The figure below shows how I helped Hudsons Coffee employees, from Emirates Leisure Retail Australia (ELRA), gain closer connections with their customers.
This inverted pyramid (I call it ‘the funnel’) was inspired by a philosophy in the book The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence (Spector & McCarthy, 2012). Its intention is to remind us that customers are the number one priority and the employees closest to the customer should be valued the most.
The frontline employees (tier 1) are closest to the customer; they have direct contact with them every day. The frontline leaders (tier 2) are not in contact with the customer every day; however, they are most certainly closest to the frontline teams every day—and that counts.
If you want strength in your frontline employees when it comes to delivering exceptional service, then deliberate, daily focus must come from the tier 2 managers. It will be your efforts as a frontline leader that will have the greatest impact in shifting the dial, positively, towards a long-lasting service mindset in your organisation.
The perfect approach for creating a customer service mindset across a large workforce also includes the senior leaders and executive teams (tier 3), as well as any support office employees.
Leaders are teachers. The way you view the world, and the way you teach a task or an activity will have the greatest impact on your frontline team. You would never teach someone to ride a bike without walking alongside them first showing love, care and support, right?
Consistent quality service experiences will be the slight edge that your customers are looking for, and that necessitates having your whole organisation onboard.
To learn more about how Hudsons Coffee have trained and influenced its teams to keep the heart of their business pumping, grab your copy of Creating a Customer Service Mindset. Out now at http://jaquiescammell.com/#purchase-book
‘Love being in service’
Spector, R. & McCarthy, D. P., 2012. The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: The Handbook for becoming the “Nordstrom” of Your Industry. Second ed. s.l.:Wiley.