Updated: Jan 19
Have you ever walked into a store and by the time you left you felt better, about yourself, about your purchase and about the brand? Or called a hotline expecting the worst only to be pleasantly surprised by the interaction? Or checked into a hotel only to be blown away by the exceptional service?
There is one thing each of these scenarios have in common and it might surprise you. Processes. Yes, you heard me right. By developing processes for basic functions customer service representatives can and will perform better.
There are three areas that should be a priority when it comes to processes.
Training, templates and checklists.
Think back to the amazing hotel front desk agent and compare that to a less than pleasant experience. In both cases, you received your room assignment, key, information on breakfast and maybe another useful piece of information. However, one agent smiled, asked you questions about your stay and seemed genuinely interested in you. That agent went through the steps of providing you with your key, room assignment and additional information flawlessly while the other fumbled, didn’t smile and seemed distracted. I bet if you went back to the great hotel even if you had a different front desk agent you would receive the exact same experience. So what was the difference?
The first agent had better training.
An excellent training program isn’t complicated or hard, but it does require work, planning and execution. When creating a training program start out with a clearly defined objective. For example, "Train staff members on how to check-in a guest with a smile". Write out the steps for what your ideal check-in process looks like. Be specific on the order and the language. Create steps such as: As guest approaches the front desk, stand smile and say "Welcome to Brilliant Workplaces, we are delighted to have you staying with us!"
It's important to not only give your new staff members a printed version of your ideal check-in process, but to also practice it with them. Explain why each step is important and then practice, practice, practice. The goal is to make the task seem effortless.
While this may seem like a lot of effort it saves time and resources in the long run. It ensures that every guest has the same experience and that service is kept at a high level.
The next piece when it comes to training is the incentive program. If an employee sees that the incentives are directly tied to the process, it reinforces the process. For the front desk agent every good customer review or positive feedback would be directly tied to their performance review or maybe a bonus or raise. Just make sure the incentive reinforces the process.
A final thought on training. When the process is so well laid out and becomes a habit it actually allows for more time with guests. Rather than wondering if the guest has all the information or if a step was missed you can engage the guest in casual conversation. It lets an employee learn about the guest and make a connection. While it seems confining at first it is actually liberating and allows for more creativity.
Not sure where to start on your training program? Brilliant Workplaces has a specialist that's ready to work with you!
Consider a customer service agent that spends the entire day answering emails and phone calls. They are bound to have the same questions come up repeatedly. It can be time consuming and monotonous to answer the same questions over and over. It also leaves you feeling rushed when a new problem arises.
A simple solution is templates and standard answers. Templates are life savers. Most email platforms make it really easy to save templates and easily insert them into an email. When the same questions come up over and over, drop in or insert the template, add a personalized greeting and salutation and you’ve saved all kinds of time. Then when that crazy question comes up that requires research and more information, there is time. Take that time to be the end of the line and resolve the customer's problem above what they needed.
If the company’s customer service is excellent, 78% of consumers will do business with them again after a mistake. (Salesforce Research)
By freeing up the time with templates and standard answers for easy questions you can easily add extra personalization and then go above and beyond with harder issues because you’ve saved yourself time.
This also goes beyond just emails. What repetitive tasks do you perform each day? If it’s repeatable it can become a template!
The final process to consider is the checklist. When juggling multiple projects and numerous deadlines you need to stay on track. Consider the steps it takes to execute the project or what needs to be done to reach that deadline. Rather than trying to remember everything, write it down. This may seem like a no brainer, but if you are constantly doing the same steps over and over make it a checklist, so you don’t forget a step. This can be as basic as a piece of paper that you photo copy each time. (Does anyone still have paper? Drop me a note if you still use this method!)
If you've moved away from paper, look into creating an excel sheet that you duplicate for each project. This works well and can be easily sorted and color coded. Staffing schedules can also correspond with tasks this way as well. The nice thing about a spreadsheet is most people are comfortable enough with them and everyone you’re working with will have access.
To take this a step further look at a task management tool such as Asana. There is little bit of a learning curve, but once you have it set up it can be a huge time saver. Key features let you see what’s coming up, what tasks still need to be completed and by when. Rather than a separate staffing spreadsheet all tasks can be assigned in the program. A task management system can be incredibly helpful when you have multiple people working on the same project. It lets each person know what tasks they are responsible for.
When your processes are running smoothly, you’ll notice a difference in the level of customer service you can provide.
As a recap, nail the training. Spend the extra time upfront to reap the benefits down the line.
Use templates as much as possible. Tasks that are repeatable need to be easy and quick. Free that time up for larger tasks.
Find a checklist system that works for you and your team. Anything from a physical paper to a task management system.
Learn more about the services Brilliant Workplaces offers. We use a proven methodology for assessing your experience and current processes and will design an experience that will boost engagement, and ultimately revenue.
Rachael is the Business Operations Manager of Brilliant Workplaces, a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, service and culture design. Rachael has many tools in her toolbelt to improve processes, create organization and provide exceptional customer service. Rachael can be reached at Rachael@brilliantworkplaces.com.