Oh the joy of retail and services opening up again after the long hibernation of the pandemic. Some of us have battled to stay on some kind of footing throughout, clinging onto our clients by our fingernails, whilst others have managed by furloughing themselves and/or their teams. What is true for many is that our ‘customer service muscles’ have been underused lately, becoming a tad weaker than they were. So let’s tighten them up again!
Over the years Stratus has delivered many successful customer care workshops but what is the real secret? There is plenty of debate around what people want from excellent customer service but we feel it boils down to three basic requirements. Give your customer the three things they want more than anything else – Control, Choice and Contribution. Great sentence – what does it actually mean?
The ability to affect the outcome of a situation or event in a way that brings the ‘correct’ results
When people feel out of control or impotent, they tend to micro-manage the few areas where control remains, becoming picky and awkward over the most trivial of things. An airline passenger who is neither in control of when the aircraft takes off nor flying the vessel themselves can become quite pedantic about minor issues, such as the stowage space above their seat. If other passengers’ bags are already installed there, much grumbling and spreading of belongings to ‘own’ a bit of the environment can ensue! The problem isn’t the lack of room, it’s the lack of control.
Perceived flexibility, variety or room for manoeuvre.
People can become bewildered with too much choice (try ordering a plain cuppa and a pastry at any American-style coffee shop) but most baulk against being ‘told what to do.’ It is not the breadth of choice; rather it is the power that comes with the act of being able to choose that feels good. You don’t need to give a small child a whole menu to choose from in order for them to feel happy about eating their lunch. Often a choice of chicken or ham is enough to help them flex their ‘choice muscles’
Ability to add input for a common purpose or to suggest solutions.
Being consulted helps people feel important and nurtured. If the customer doesn’t feel able or allowed to contribute to the conversation/proceedings then they can feel displaced. In customer complaints where recompense is in order, you may find that given the opportunity to contribute to a solution, the customer a) knows exactly what would make them feel satisfied and b) often wants less than you expected them to ask for – or indeed less than you were prepared to offer. But it is their solution so that is what makes it OK.