Most organizations have a strategy to exceed customer expectations or to provide them with memorable experiences as the way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
The problem as I see it, however, is that these same organizations haven’t figured out precisely HOW to do it. And as a result their customer service intent is no more than a helium-filled
promise with no evidence to back it up
Typically the vehicle used to deliver those memorable service experiences is a human, notwithstanding the attempts that many organizations make at trying to use technology to do it (as you sit for 30 minutes waiting for a call center rep to take your call).
Hire the right person
So the key in 99.99% of the cases is to hire the right person into a service position if you want to dazzle
the customer or leave them breathless
from the service experience they’ve had with you.
Generally speaking I’m not impressed with the people recruited into customer service positions because many of them are incapable of delivering even a mediocre service experience
. Why? Well, many of them have been placed in the position becomes of their seniority in the company, or because they are looking for a career move and they want to try customer service.
And as a result, these people find that they really don’t like customers with all the complications they bring and they would really rather be doing something that didn’t involve interacting with other humans.
The decision making process to select people for service jobs is imprecise and severely flawed and in too many instances unqualified and unwilling people are let loose with your most precious asset — your customer.
So how do you fix the problem? How does an organization ensure they are hiring individuals who are not only capable of delivering mind-blowing
service, but also want to with every fabric of their body?
Can you train someone to like a human?
Many would say that you can train people to do it; certainly that’s what human resource managers generally believe — why else would they use seniority as a criteria to place people in service operations? The fact is, however, despite all the good intentions of cross-training, you simply can’t train someone to like someone else.
You can give them smile training
and have them grin
at others and use other tools intended to deal with customer better, but you can’t train a person to bring all the honest emotional energy to the table that is required to create a memorable experience for another person.
These people are born to do it, and so the challenge is to discover them and embrace them in your organization as they truly are the custodians of the loyalty moment
when a customer decides to continue doing business with you (and to tell others how great your organization is) or to leave for another service provider.
So how do you spot these people who naturally care for — love — other humans?
You have to start with the usual task of filtering through the profiles of potential candidates, looking for content that relates to serving customers as opposed to merely stressing academic achievements or other “hard” accomplishments. Most people avoid what they believe is the soft stuff
as it relates to their background, but for the delivery of remarkable service, the soft stuff
is absolutely essential.
And check their references to see if others commented on the candidate’s capability to effectively deal with others with care and affection.
But the critical element ent of the hiring process is the personal interview and I discovered an effective tool to separate the individuals who could really create magical experiences
for others from those that talked a good game but who didn’t have the attitude or inclination to do it.
Ask the million dollar question
I would ask the candidate straight out “Do you love humans?” As you would expect, their first response to the question was confusion but after I provided clarification on what I meant by the question they would eventually answer “yes” or “sure” or “of course”.
I would then follow up and ask them: “Tell me a story that would illustrate just how much you care for your fellow human beings.”
This was the question that separated the people who really got what it took to dazzle
others from those who had only a theoretical understanding of what it too to be a caregiver
Those that didn’t have the innate desire to move people emotionally left you cold with their response and I would show them the door.
Do you feel the goosebumps?
Those that were borne to serve, on the other hand, left me with goosebumps
while they told their story. Their story was rich with detail and the threads that bound it together were all about the importance of connecting with people on the emotional level. And their authenticity poured out with every word.
These individuals were the real deal. I hired them with minor interest in their other qualifications. And they always did me proud the way they dealt with our customers.
And many eventually found their way into higher level positions in the customer service organization to provide the leadership
necessary to sustain this strategy that was extremely effective is gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage for our organization.
So if you really want to achieve a service strategy based on remarkable and memorable experiences, hire for goosebumps
Related: What’s Wrong with Being Absolutely the Best?