Are Your Staff Really To Blame For Their Terrible Customer Service?

No manager wants their staff to provide lousy customer service. In fact, given word of mouth remains ones of the best ways to reach new customers, this is an entrepreneurial nightmare. Hence why, when a feedback form names and shames bad service, most managers take action. Most even choose to hand out disciplinaries or formal warnings as a result. This isn’t something a business owner can afford to mess with. Once you have a reputation for bad service, after all, there’s no coming back.

But, what happens if feedback like this keeps landing in your inbox? You can only discipline staff so much before you risk losing your whole team. Besides, when patterns like this emerge, there’s usually a reason for it. Admittedly, this is by no means a straight cut issue. It may be that you picked a bad lot. Or, it could be that your staff isn’t to blame for their mistakes, after all.

We know what you’re thinking; how can anyone say employees aren’t responsible for giving bad service? And, to some extent, you’re right. As a manager, it’s reasonable to assume staff will show some common sense when it comes to customers. In reality, though, it’s possible you’re more to blame for their mistakes than you realize. Before you get up in arms about your innocence, read on to see if you’re guilty of these four fatal customer service oopsies.

You haven’t taken care of training

Customer service training is about the most important thing any manager can embrace. If you fail to provide this then you really can’t be surprised by those negative reviews. It’s all well and good assuming your staff have knowledge here, but you know what they say about assumption. Nothing’s guaranteed. There’s every chance the people you employ have never had to deal with customer service in the same way before. Every job is very different, after all. Even those with customer facing roles may not have relied so heavily on interaction. What’s more, using your common sense with customer service can only take you so far. If a customer is expecting high standards, a smile won’t win them around. As such, it’s down to you to remove that margin for error by taking care of training ASAP. There’s no excuse not to take care of this, especially when you consider that companies like ej4 offer ready made training videos in this field. Even if you want to take care of matters yourself, something as simple as a half-hour training session should be enough to see you through. So, stop shirking the responsibility. Give your staff the tools they need to flourish.

You aren’t clear about what you want

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Along the same vein, the issue here may be that you aren’t clear about what you want. This is especially the case with companies which have precise customer service targets. Admittedly, training should help you take care of this. But, it may also pay to write out explicit guidelines to which your staff can stick. If you have specific phone manners you’d like to adhere to, for instance, it pays to place an outline by their phones as a reminder. Remember that you can’t assume staff know how you’d like them to start and end their phone calls. If customer service is a real problem, you could take things further by outlining points they must adhere to. Walmart is a fantastic example of this with their happy to help policy. This outlines pointers each colleague has to follow when serving. You might not need to go that far. Still, a checklist including polite chit-chat and information staff need to pass on may not be a bad thing.

You’re piling too much on their shoulders

It’s also worth taking a close look at how much work you’re piling onto your staff. It just isn’t possible to provide fantastic service when trying to juggle ten jobs. Nor is it reasonable for you to expect this. In reality, a successful workforce is one which has the time to dedicate their full attention to each task. You should never expect staff to multitask or tackle mountains of work. If you do that, is it any surprise your staff rush customer interactions? Instead, it’s down to you to get into the habit of proper delegation. You should never pile more work onto an employee than they can reasonably manage each day. And, whatever you do, don’t ever ask them to tackle multiple jobs in quick succession. Instead, work out your scheduling so that they have adequate time to complete every task. And, make sure to carve time out for them to dedicate to customer interactions. It’s a simple change which could soon make a huge difference.

You aren’t providing adequate support

It’s also worth remembering that the support you do or don’t provide makes a huge difference to your team’s success. There will be some instances when a colleague won’t be able to deal with a customer. It may be that they don’t have the know-how, or that the person in question will only speak with a manager. Either way, the interaction could fast deteriorate if you aren’t available to step in. Hence why you or your deputy should ALWAYS be available to get involved if things turn nasty. Even the most well-versed colleague will struggle if they have to deal with these situations unaided. Of course, you’re a busy boss, and there’s a temptation to fob calls for help off with simple solutions. But if a customer is determined, that won’t help your colleague any. Instead, always make sure to show support by turning up within moments of your staff phoning you. It’s the only fair way to ensure they’re able to provide the service you expect from them.

So, you see, it’s not all your staff’s fault. In fact, as manager, excellent customer service should fall on your shoulders. Only after putting the above in place can you reasonably punish anyone for getting this wrong

Jesse Fin

Jesse worked as a journalist for a large tv station in Korea in her past life. She now works full time at home as a blogger and loves to help her friends manage their personal budgets.

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