Improving Customer Service

Issue # 48 of 70 

John T. Self, Ph.D.
By: Dr. John T. Self

Smile. You're a Star

Training is such a great word. Every company swears they do it. But are they seriously doing it? I wonder.

I say that because if a company is not training on a continuous basis, they are not serious about it. It has to be done with sincerity and fervor. I guarantee your employees will know it if you are just going through the motions. If you don't take it seriously, they won't either. We're talking about leadership, pure and simple.

A great technique that is often forgotten or not even considered is to use the best to help the rest.

I'm sure that you can identify your best customer service people. They are the ones who:

  • are selling the most
  • are selling consistently higher
  • are continually having customers ask for them by name

There is a reason why they are succeeding! They are doing something extra or a series of something extras that produce results. These results in turn establish relationships with their customers. It might be one of several things:

  • the way they describe a product
  • their mannerisms
  • their extra knowledge
  • another entirely different quality

Something sets them apart and allows them to excel.

Don't you want to know what those certain things are? Don't you want them replicated by your other team members? Isn't the name of the game providing high-performance customer service? The way to accomplish this is through the following series of steps:

  1. Carefully identify your superstars.
  2. Video/audio tape them
  3. Find the common denominators in their behaviors
  4. Incorporate this new knowledge into your daily and weekly training
  5. Don't forget your beginning training classes and your manuals.
  6. Train your trainers in the new techniques
  7. Train some more.

I would be very surprised if you didn't see similarities between the superstars. The same phrases, the same mannerisms or the same attention to details and knowledge.

Remember the ultimate point of all this is to increase sales and revenue by establishing (and keeping) an ever-expanding, loyal customer base, from which everyone benefits.

  • Your superstars will be immortalized on tape and on film.
  • Your not-so-superstars will learn how to be more effective in a non-threatening way
  • Your entire staff will get a tremendous boost in morale from the excitement of the process.
  • Your customers will receive better service
  • Your business will be stronger because your entire staff will be better.

Video/audiotaping can be done by a professional or by yourself. I would recommend contacting a local company and having it done professionally. It is worth the investment. One or two hours of taping and an hour or two of editing will produce first class training materials which you'll be able to use for a considerable amount of time.

This aggressive investment sends a strong message to your employees; you are serious about service. Your business will thank you.

John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academia, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including Chili's and Steak and Ale, and as vice president of a regional restaurant chain overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants, including a comedy club.
Dr. Self has also been involved in the development of international hospitality programs. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

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For more customer service articles, visit the Customer Service series on the new Sideroad: Practical Advice Straight from The Experts.

Text © Dr. John T. Self, 1997,1998. Part of the original Sideroad.