Floating your boat

Have you ever been to a restaurant and you’ve come away saying that it was just ok?  The surroundings may be lovely and the food was good but you just didn’t feel terribly positive about the experience.  Perhaps it’s hard to put your finger on what was wrong.

Read more

Top tips for manning a trade stand

Manning a trade stand can strike fear in the hearts of even the most confident employees.  You may have worked in your organisation for many years and know all about your products and services but the thought of talking to random strangers and “selling” your products brings a chill to your bones.  So where do you start? Read more

WorldHost Food Ambassador Workshop leaves a good taste in Antrim and Newtownabbey

Representatives from the local tourism industry attended a WorldHost Food Ambassador Workshop at Daniel’s at Tweedies, sponsored by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Tourism NI. Lynda Willis from Customer Sense Training delivered the course which was designed to provide insight into the rich food provenance in Northern Ireland and highlight all that is happening the growing food industry.

Read more

What is Customer Service?

Customer service is all about how a business “serves”  its customers – or let’s put it another way, customer service is how a business “looks after” its customers.  When a customer decides to use a business, he or she is on a journey and every touchpoint is part of the overall customer experience and businesses must work hard to meet customer expectations throughout the whole journey.

What are the stages in the Customer Service Journey?

The stages of the customer service journey may vary and may include some or all of the following:

Stage 1:   Say “Hello” digitally

The customer may start their quest for information by a Google search for your business.  They find your website and decide that your business is one that they are interested in exploring.  But they have a question not answered on your website and decide to send an email or use the online enquiry form.

So how do we get the digital customer service right?  Answer emails and respond to online enquiry forms quickly and professionally.  No slang or typos here please. Create a positive first impression from the first online communication otherwise the customer may be turned off your business and decide to go elsewhere.

Stage 2:   Email Ping-Pong

Next up is some email ping-pong between you and the customer.  The tone is friendly and the customer seems interested in doing business with you but is asking lots of detailed questions which you are answering quickly and politely.  Rapport starts to build up nicely between the customer and your business.  This is the start of a good customer service experience.

Stage 3:   The Phone Rings

Good customer service also minimal waiting time.  Answer the telephone within three rings, smile and say in a friendly voice: “Good morning, Customer Sense Training.  Lynda speaking.  How can I help you today?”  It’s the customer who you have been playing email ping-pong.  There are more detailed questions which you answer politely and patiently.  The customer (he is called Brian) is really interested and decides he is coming to meet you next Tuesday morning.

Stage 4:  Be prepared

Tuesday arrives and the exterior of the business is clean and tidy – no rubbish in the car park and the hanging baskets are full of pretty flowers.  You have the products and information ready for Brian.  Clean shoes, clean shirt, mobile phone off and all spruced up – ready to create a positive first impression of yourself and your business.

Customer service is about good presentation – not just how you look but also how your premises look.

Stage 5:  A warm welcome

“Good morning Brian.  How lovely to meet you today.  Thank you for coming …”  Start with a warm welcome, a smile and a firm handshake.  Make Brian feel welcomed and important throughout his time at your business – pretend he is your best friend and treat him like a VIP.  Even though he asks the same questions that you have answered hundreds of times before, don’t roll your eyes and tut but answer them patiently and politely.

Stage 6:   Time to say goodbye

All questions are answered and Brian wants time to think about everything.  The reality is that he is probably talking to two or three of your competitors at the same time.  Hand him a card and invite him to call or email with any further questions.  Say “Goodbye Brian” as customers like you to remember and use their name.

Stage 7:    Thank you

You have done your best to demonstrate the quality of your customer service by helping Brian today and you hope he will do business with you in the future.  Take a moment to send him a follow-up email to thank him for his visit.

So what is customer service?

Customer service is how a business looks after its customers from the moment they visit the website, send an email, make a phone call or arrive in your premises ie stages 1 to 7.  You (and your whole team) have to get it right at every point of the customer journey.  Otherwise the customer simply ends their journey with you and starts a journey with one of your competitors – and we don’t want that to happen, do we?

Would you like to find out more about how Customer Sense can help to improve customer service in your business? Then visit our Customer Service Training pages for more information, call us on 07773 423675 or email lynda@customersensetraining.co.uk.

By Hook or By Crook

Have you ever heard the saying “By hook or by crook”?  It actually traces back to 1170 when Henry II was searching for the Norman Lord Strongbow on County Waterford coastline.  The village of “Crook” is on the Waterford Harbour estuary and there is a headland called “Hook” at the mouth of the estuary.  Hook is the home of the Hook Lighthouse which is over 800 years old and is the oldest operational lighthouse in the world!

Read more

The “Are you getting?” Customer Service Experience

“Are you getting?” was how I was greeted in a fast food restaurant recently.  It was accompanied by a scowl and it came after a three minute wait while I watched the disinterested employee put a few orders on to trays.

Customer Service Experience FAIL!

Was I a valued customer?  Definitely not.  Was I given a warm welcome?  Definitely not.  Will I return?  Let’s say, it won’t be top of my list of “must return soon” businesses.

This assistant in the fast food outlet failed on a number of reasons including:

  1. Although she was busy serving other customers, she didn’t acknowledge me at all and say “I will be with you in a minute.”  Instead, I had an uncomfortable wait while I wondered should I walk out and go to a competitor.
  2. She scowled at me – I wonder was she able to smile at all?  It’s not hard to smile at customers and let them know you are glad that you have come to your business.  It wasn’t the only restaurant I could have visited in the area.
  3. She said “Are you getting?”  That’s not even a proper sentence.  “Hello, how can I help you today?” would have been a much warmer and professional greeting.

Am I being fussy?  Perhaps so but if I was an American visitor arriving in Northern Ireland for the first time, I wouldn’t be too impressed with the greeting that I received.  It’s definitely not the way that we would welcome a good friend or family member to our workplace.

5 Top Tips to Improve Customer Service

Here are five top tips which will help to improve the customer service experience for all of your customers, new or returning.

  1.  Acknowledge the customer on arrival with a greeting e.g. ‘Good evening, I will be with you shortly’. In doing so, make eye contact and smile to convey positive and welcoming body language
  2. Speak politely and professionally – ‘Can I take your order please?’ or ‘What can I get for you today?’ or ‘How can I help you today?’
  3. Thank them for their custom and encourage them to return again soon – e.g. ‘Thanks for coming in today. Please come again soon’.
  4. Upsell eg ‘Please take a copy of our menu. You can also telephone your order in advance or order online. We also offer a home delivery service.’
  5. Request feedback – ‘We are on Facebook and TripAdvisor so please feel free to tell us what you thought of our food and customer service today or give us a call’.

Customer Service Experience SUCCESS!

Even though you are really busy at this time of year, try to remember the golden rule of welcoming customers as they enter your premises with a friendly smile and a “Hello, how can I help you today?” instead of “Are you getting?”  Hopefully that will be part of the solution to get customers to come back to your business in the future.

Good customer service, a latte and a plug

It was just a typical day for me working as a freelance marketing consultant and trainer.  I had a meeting in the morning and then had another meeting later in the day.  It was pointless in returning home in the interim so it was a good excuse to have a coffee and catch up on a few emails.

Read more

No mobile phones at work?

This has always been a hot potato at any of my customer service courses.  Most people say they don’t but in reality, I think a lot of people have sneaky looks at their phones during their core working hours.

Read more

All aboard the Holiday Inn Express Antrim

The Holiday Inn Express has become the first hotel in Antrim to receive WorldHost Recognised Business Status.  WorldHost is a customer service training programme that was developed for the Northern Ireland market by sector skills council, People 1st, in partnership with Tourism NI.  The programme offers delegates a comprehensive training toolkit that can be used across a wide variety of industries.

Read more