A positive and unsolicited customer service review is the Holy Grail that every company tries to obtain again and again. Reviews through word of mouth from a respected source, passed among friends or relatives, can greatly influence customers’ purchasing decisions. Customer service is a primary factor that causes consumers to return, so a company needs to understand, implement, and maintain customer service levels that go beyond the expected. This type of customer service has been dubbed “invisible customer service.”
Good customer service is the backbone of a company and helps to maintain customer loyalty. Most employees can at least fake decent customer service. A smile and basic manners can keep most customers complacent, but it won’t win any diehard fans. That’s where invisible customer service comes in.
What is Invisible Customer Service?
The Church of Customer blog, started by Jackie Huba, who has written several books on customer loyalty, gives an example of this phenomenon in a post about a recent trip to Nordstrom. While at the store, she discovered that the magnetic strip on her Nordstrom Visa card had stopped working, and the cashiers had to manually enter her card number. Jackie thought that she would need to call in and ask for a new one, but a few days later Jackie discovered that one of the Nordstrom cashiers had taken it upon herself to order a new one for Jackie. The cashier’s initiative went above and beyond the standard call of customer service.
Promote Customer Service to Your Employees, Not just Customers
The first thing all new employees review is their employee handbook, which typically discusses the policies about greeting customers and offering new sales promotions at every checkout. Yet, these customer service “requirements” aren’t going to produce the word-of-mouth recommendations that encourage new customers to purchase your products or services.
It is hard for employees to exemplify great customer service if its importance is not consistently reinforced. Hold meetings regularly to go over customer service expectations, and use that time to congratulate those who excel in front of the entire team. You can also discuss conflicts and provide solutions for the future, so all employees can address difficult situations in a way that exceeds expectations.
Give Your Customer Service Department the Gift of Foresight
Part of what makes invisible customer service so exceptional is that the employee knows what the customer needs even before the customer does. In Jackie Huba’s example about Nordstrom, the employee anticipated that Huba would need a new card and had the foresight and initiative to order it.
Finding employees who already have this skill can be difficult, but it is not hard to teach. This is one place where regular meetings can be very effective. Reviewing customer service opportunities and acknowledging where and how the team can improve is a great teaching opportunity.
Listeners vs. Talkers
One of the personality traits that many managers look for in new-hires is an extroverted personality. Employees with out-going personalities will not have a problem striking up a conversation with customers to show their expertise and passion about a product or brand. An employee must also be trained to listen to what the customer says and learn how to pinpoint a customer’s problem or frustration and then fix it. This ability involves interactive listening. This allows situations such as Huba’s to become commonplace in your business.
Good customer service has four building blocks: knowing what your customers want, creating a plan of action, supporting it from the top down, and reviewing your standards for new opportunities. The research, reports, and action plans from our customer survey process provides management with the guidance required to improve operations in the fastest way possible. Contact us today to take the next step.