It is hard to believe, but the pandemic lockdowns are finally easing. This is great news for the millions of small businesses that have struggled to survive the past 18 months.
The lockdown easing means businesses are busy!
And being busy often results in service issues.
When a business is busy, particularly in the retail or service industry, customers become demanding. And when customers are demanding, employees are challenged to provide a great experience – despite very difficult circumstances.
As managers, it is our responsibility to help coach employees through those difficult situations and show them how to please a customer – even the cranky ones!
6 Tips For How To Coach Employee Customer Service!
1. Know What’s Up
It is difficult to coach an employee when you do not have a clue what is going on.
Take the time to find what is going on with customers.
If you manage a call center, you should know how long customers are on hold or how many rings before the phone is answered.
When you coach your small business call center, you are helping employees respond appropriately to customers!
If you own a restaurant, you should know how long customers have to wait for a table or food order to table time.
When a manager is aware of what the customer is experiencing, he/she has the information to share with employees.
Track Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction feedback is another tool used to understand the customer experience better.
Invest the time in asking questions after the fact and use this information to help employees understand how they impact the customer experience.
You can also learn a lot by simply observing employees interact with customers or listening to phone calls.
Often employees don’t understand how they come across to a customer and need help with self awareness skills.
This is a great opportunity to share best practices and provide tips for improving customer interactions.
2. Share What You Know
We often forget that others don’t share our same knowledge base and benefit from our real-life experiences.
The chances are that you are in the position you are in because you have a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Take the time to share what you know and coach employees through difficult situations.
Talk to them about things you’ve learned along the way and secrets to communicating with angry or difficult customers.
Storytelling is a great employee coaching technique in that you share a visual of a real-life situation and simplify very complex issues.
3. Ask Employees How It’s Going
Front line employees often take the brunt of customers. Help employees by simply inquiring about interactions with customers.
Make them feel safe in sharing their experiences so you can get them to open up about their challenges and frustrations.
These conversations open the door for you to share insights and things you have learned along the way.
This also allows you to reinforce your expectations for caring for customers and reiterating internal service standards.
For instance, you can share expectations for communicating with customers when there is a delay in service. A service standard: “We will inform our customers of normal process time when they can expect completion and any delays that may arise in the process.”
4. Help Employees Learn Through Observation
Sometimes learning opportunities come from observing someone else doing something.
Help employees learn the proper way of doing things by allowing them to observe how you handle situations.
This is often done during the employee orientation process to a new job but can also be done on an ongoing basis.
For instance, you can incorporate role-playing in your training so employees can observe and practice service skills.
The best way to teach is to instruct, demonstrate, and then observe someone practicing the skill.
5. Provide Employees With Direction
Sometimes employees make mistakes and find themselves in a situation that they don’t know how to get out of it.
Be diligent in maintaining good communication with employees so employees will feel comfortable coming to you with these situations.
Help the employee by giving them specific direction on how to handle a situation.
For instance, if an employee flubs up a customer interaction, give them specific instructions on how to perform service recovery and then let them watch that process work.
Let them be the hero by offering a discount, refund, or credit for the next purchase!
This makes the customer happy and encourages the employee to fix a problem on their own.
6. Reinforce Great Service With A Pat On The Bag
Dealing with customers requires training, patience, and lots of experience. Make sure you reinforce those positive customer exchanges by rewarding great service.
Use the data you collect to share best practices and to pat great employees on the back.
Also, use your raise process to compensate for desired employee behaviors.
The Customer Pays Our Salaries
Business owners understand that it is the customer that pays all of our salaries.
Use coaching techniques to teach employees how to take great care of your customers and your business will be able to continue to pay salaries for yourself and all your employees!