Thursday, May 30, 2013

Customer Service Excellence is Business Etiquette Plus Personality

Consider customer service as business etiquette plus personality and you'll have happy, loyal customers. Policy alone never serves customers as it does nothing to foster business relationships.

Service is what customers expect based on your branding. Personal encounters with anyone in your company, your public image and reputation, hearsay, and web presence all contribute to your branding. Yet, it's more than that. What customers believe is the only reality you need to embrace.

Business etiquette is making others feel comfortable in a business setting not a social setting. The key to making a great outcome for both parties often lies in the personality of the customer care representative. A rep that can only follow a script almost always infuriates customers. Hiring the best personalities and then allowing and encouraging these reps to express themselves is the opportunity to create a connection.

Look at etiquette as the framework around policy and service. Making others feel heard, comfortable and respected is sound business advice. Yet, it isn't always easy to do, especially if you are still operating in the era of the "golden rule." The "do unto others as you would like done unto you" only works if those others think and feel the same way that you do.

If you've gotten this far in life, you've learned the harsh reality that others don't think the same way as you do. Here's where personality and a bit of savvy can add integrity to customer service.

Policy plus politeness are good things to have in place but they don't create, save or enhance a customer relationship. Only personality can do that.

Some will quibble over the term personality but if you listen to stories about outstanding service rarely are guidelines mentioned. No-it's the attitude, humor, empathy and good judgment demonstrated by the interpreter of the guidelines who made the difference. Character created the rapport. And this is no more important than with an upset customer.

I've seen even the most out-of-control customers calmed and turned around by service providers with exceptional personalities. One front desk associate comes to mind. Her ability to sincerely, sweetly and in the most soothing voice you ever heard take an outraged client threatening to cancel an order and turn them into a fan. She knew how to listen beyond the words to personalize her conversations.

Policy, politeness and a winning personality are the keys to outstanding customer service.

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