Stop, just stop it. You’re not perfect and neither are the people you have working for you. And don’t even get me started about how “perfect” your business is. So, you must realize that your customer service will never be perfect either. Agreed? Good, now we can move on.
So, how perfect can we ever expect our service to get? Good question. Our customers expect us to be perfect, right? What do we do? First, let’s look at 8 reasons why customer service will never be perfect. Then, I will give you some solutions.
- You Don’t Have All the Answers
Today’s customer is informed in ways not dreamed of just a few short years ago. The internet allows customers to research your company, your product, your pricing, and your management team as never before. When they’re ready to buy, they’re armed to the teeth with all they need to be a worthy adversary for your sales team.
When the customer walks into your showroom or has completed an exhaustive search for an item online, they already know what they like, what questions they need to be answered, and what’s important to them to make a final determination to buy. Your showroom staff members are in for a difficult time if they aren’t knowledgeable enough to give them the answers they need.
Is it reasonable to expect your employees to be the authority of every product you sell? No, of course not. But ask the same question of your customer and she will say yes, they should be. I wonder how many sales are lost because the employee didn’t have instant access to each product tidbit and made the customer wait while they found the answer. Probably more than we realize.
When a customer enters your business ready to buy, they want all the answers and they want them now. If you don’t have them, your customer service will never be perfect.
So, how do you fix this problem?
Solution: Provide consistent and thorough training on your products and service methods for your entire service and sales team. Another option is to make your employees a “customer” and give them your product. Let them use it in their homes. They can push all the buttons and try it out just like a paying customer would.
“But Steve, how can we ever afford to give all our employees free products? Don’t you know how much this will cost us?” Sure. But how much will you lose from sales that are never made because your team doesn’t know enough about your product to sell it to the customer? Lastly, even if you do this your team will never be perfect. But you will have a noticeable advantage over your competition.
- Your Service is Not Consistent
People are not robots that operate in the same way under every condition. At times, we wear our feelings and emotions on our sleeve, and it gets the better of us. One day we feel great, provide the best service, and don’t miss an opportunity to WOW the customer. While other days, we can barely bring ourselves to do basic tasks because we’re burdened by our own personal issues or workplace conflict.
Then, there are differences in management styles. Some are micromanagers who use a heavy hand with all operational issues and personally direct most customer and employee interactions. While some managers are free spirits and give great leeway to their team to do as they see fit to service the customer.
If your business has both types of managers, there is no way your service can be consistent. Guidelines and operational standards will vary depending on who is leading the team that day. And, that’s without even discussing the differences in the hourly employees who are interacting with your customers.
Customer service will never be perfect without consistency.
Solution: Develop clear, easy-to-understand SOPs (standard operating procedures) for all tasks. There are many ways to complete a task but only 1, or maybe 2, ways that management wishes it to be. There should never be variations in how something is done unless a change is made to service a specific customer with a specific difficulty to handle the request.
All SOPs must be developed through trial and error methods to determine the “best” action for any task. Then, management must monitor, and adjust the SOPs as needed to continually adapt to the changing needs of the business.
- You Can’t Please Everyone
There are a few similar quotes attributed to many people that goes, “The key to failure is trying to please everyone”. And it’s true. No two customers are alike in their needs, wants, and desires.
Just when you think you have your standards tweaked to their highest level and you consistently get rave reviews, someone comes along who’s not happy with your product, your service, or your problem resolution (if needed). How can that be? Everyone else is happy with it? Why not this person? Well, that’s the issue. You can’t please everyone and because you can’t, your customer service will never be perfect in someone’s eyes.
The worst thing you can do is to change your already fine service to match the demands of the “squeaky wheel” customer; especially if the few who are unhappy are far outnumbered by those who are completed satisfied with what you do, how you do it and will go out of their way to be your customer.
Solution: Become laser-focused on the customers who can’t live without the goods you sell. Market to them as if they are the only game in town. Make connections, real connections with the customer. Continue to nurture the relationship you have with them and show appreciation for their business in everything you do.
Sure, you can’t please everyone. But for the ones who matter, you can!
- You Don’t Have the Right Team Players
SHRM, the Society for Human Resources Management, states that a bad hire (warm body) could cost up to 5 times the person’s annual salary). The usual reasons behind this are that a warm body provides a lower standard of service, has more missed days, lower productivity, and creates morale issues affecting others; just to name a few things that cost money better spent elsewhere.
Instead of qualified candidates who excel in service, empathy, and can anticipate the needs of your customer, you hired many “warm bodies” over the years. Warm bodies; you know, those applicants who graced your door without the foggiest notion of what your company does, who your client base is, or what products you sell. They “just want a job” and you hired them.
Well, of course, you “had to” hire them because you had a rash of departures and had positions to fill. You figured you can train them as you go. So, how has that worked out so far? No wonder why your customer service will never be perfect.
Without having the best possible team, you will continually fight an uphill battle to provide service that makes a difference. You will continually have employees call-outs, and will continually make excuses for failing the customer.