Posted by: Christine Donovan | May 13, 2009

Two Essential Levels of Customer Service

Since I was ranting a bit in my previous post about the state of customer service today, I thought I should share some service principles that I’ve learned through years of study and hands-on experience.   

After all, I shouldn’t be griping about customer service without offering some concrete ideas on how to improve it.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, as a manager with the Walt Disney Company for two decades, dealing with thousands of challenging guests, (plus a few years at a casino/resort), I’ve had a little bit of experience with the subject.

Although there are literally thousands of books on customer service (When last I checked, Amazon had about 67,000 available, and I got 241,000,000 Google hits), customer service seems to be dying a slow death. So I’m going to share some experiences, theories, tools, and ideas to help you provide exceptional customer service in your business or on your job.

There are always two levels of customer service, but we usually only hear about one.

The first is the front-line employee, usually trained to smile, use eye contact, and sometimes taught some techniques for problem solving and conflict resolution. This is the level to which most books, articles and seminars are directed.

But there is another equally important level of knowledge, and that is the executive, manager or business owner who first must clearly decide what his/her service philosophy IS; set clear standards; hire and train employees; hold them accountable for service performance; and “inspire” them to sustain enthusiasm toward the customer. In other words, for a culture of service to thrive, there must first be a high-level philosophy that sinks into every morsel of the organization.

That philosophy has to be broken into smaller and smaller chunks which are then introduced and reinforced through new employee orientation, staff meetings, newsletters, performance reviews, coaching, intranets, town hall events and a list of other communications media.

For the next couple of posts I’m going to concentrate on “Leading the exceptional service culture.”

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