Video Transcript

Hi, it’s David Patmore here from CAL Corporate Solutions.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying that customers are always right. I’m pretty sure we’d all agree that the customer’s not always right. In fact, sometimes they’re just dead wrong. The message in this phrase is not in its words, but really in its inferred, meaning and understanding. Because what we’re trying to say is that the customer is important is of high value. They are the lifeblood to any business or organisation who provides a service or product, so they need to be treated with a high level of respect and value. This doesn’t always make them right. And perhaps a better or a reengineering of that statement, one that I like to use, which really conveys the true intent is the following. The customer’s not always right, but must always be managed right. I think this phrase, the customer’s always right, often creates a wrong perception with the way poor customer behavior is tolerated or even allowed.

This can become emotionally abusive for frontline staff and really create hostile or psychological and potentially physically unsafe working environments. In fact, an excellent customer service organisation understands that great customer service is just as much about the wellbeing of the employees as well as the customer’s needs and demands. Sometimes in the desire to meet customers’ needs, the care of the staff may be overlooked or perhaps even ignored. When employees do not feel like they’re getting the correct support and care, particularly over time, it can quickly accelerate to retention risk. So what can we do when the customer’s not right and can even be mistreating or abusing frontline staff? Well, here’s a simple three point staff care strategy. Number one, protect. An effective customer service charter helps everyone’s confidence and expectation and clarity of the dos and don’t. So make sure you’ve got one of those.

This should also include an easy to apply escalation policy that is really behaviorally focused versus just some difficult to apply policy mumbo jumbo. Display elements of this publicly for customers to know what the behavior that is expected of them is and where applicable the consequence for non-compliance. Define where the lines of safety and boundaries are emotionally and physically for the team. This helps identify the points of breach for them. For example, abusive, yelling and ranting at a staff member, develop a framework for the team on how to implement those boundaries, whether it’s a face to face or phone or email or even chats, etc. So what does that look like for these different mediums or environments of communication? Give them some empowerment around that. Number two, train. One of the big gaps I see in customer service teams is the skill level can be quite variable, meaning that some people have got a better ability to manage a difficult customer say than someone else.

Training helps bridge that gap and create a team with a common language and skill set, which benefits the team with a higher level of confidence and ability when facing these issues. This also becomes apparent to customers who try and push the team’s buttons by playing one off against another for example. Only to find that the response shield wall is the same, as I call it anyway. Conducting regular training, whether that’s in house by the company or even bringing an experienced facilitator can be a powerful way to accelerate team skills and knowledge. Good training will equip them with the knowledge and tools and practical applications like real world scenarios so they can move their learning to that experiential level. And lastly, in number three is support. Implementing an effective and well thought out back end support makes the biggest difference with staff retention and job satisfaction in dealing with these issues.

Given customer service teams are facing the bullets on the front line like Kutch soldiers. If they feel they are in this together, there’s a sense of camaraderie and even family at times, as everyone feels they’ve got each other’s back. Where this is done well, I often find that there’s a high degree of job satisfaction and engagement and motivation, even when they’re having bad days for example. There is a definite correlation and this also feeds everyone’s basic needs for that sense of belonging. So there you have it, a simple three point staff care strategy. Number one, protect. Number two, train. Number three, support. Anyway, I trust these thoughts have been of value.

I look forward to seeing you on the next video and bye for now.