Did you know it only takes seven seconds to make a lasting impression on new people that you meet?
If this is true in personal relationships, how significant are the impressions your business makes with customers? Great entrepreneurs know that if you want long-lasting, loyal clients (who spend AND who voluntarily advertise your excellent service by word of mouth), then you must prioritize customer relationships and consistently offer superior service.
Going From Good to Great
What does five-star service look like from a patron’s perspective?
Here is a snapshot of where a business moves from average to above-average:
3 — Service is average, fair, "the usual" satisfactory, expected, etc.
4 — Customer is very satisfied. Service is average, above average, exceeded expectations, etc.
5 — The client is delighted and amazed. Service is extraordinary because employees "walk on water" for customers.
To elevate your customer experience, you have to be proactive, not reactive. Five-star customer service gives extra attention to the smallest of details and does this with an authentic care for each individual you serve.
Here are four areas of focus to grow a culture of excellent service in your team:
1. Be Visible
Whether you respond to clients through e-mail, phone, or live service, be accessible and prompt in every response.
Let clients know they can always reach out to you and where you can be reached if they need anything. Never break communication – whether clients are pleased, waiting, or upset, don’t leave any attempt to communicate unanswered. Acknowledge the feelings behind the communication, and – in difficult situations – offer creative customer reparations (refunds, replacements, bonus items, etc.) if possible.
2. Anticipate Unexpressed Needs
Five-star service providers seek to surprise and delight their clients.
Here employees deliver not only “at” the level expected, but above and beyond what is promised. When you check in with a client, what do you expect they MIGHT need (i.e., help navigating your new software)? Can you have the solution ready before they ask (i.e., a tutorial video attached to your check-in e-mail)? Seek to bring solutions, even if the client is at fault, and your business will be more memorable and responsive.
Anticipating needs is a way you tangibly care for people, and when you do this, it touches emotions. One general manager with five-star hotel experience put it perfectly:
“It is the small, simple, special moments that we create through personal engagement with each guest that they will recall when they return home. To accomplish this type of sustainability, we carefully and methodically select our employees, and then continuously train. It’s not about the tactical as much as it is about speaking the language of the guest.”
3. Train Your Team to Employ Creative Problem-Solving Skills
Five-star service includes the ability to think outside the box and create unique solutions to problems.
Customer service is primarily about problem-solving, so train your team to embrace problems rather than dreading them, and you will shift the culture in your business. A great team member isn’t afraid to come up with creative solutions. Give them the authority to do this and see what happens!
Publicly commend employees who do, and you’ll reinforce this attitude for everyone.
4. Use the Feedback You Receive
Five-star teams are never satisfied with the status quo.
Teams that excel in service are ruthless about gathering feedback and doing something with it. Do you collect customer comments? If so, how do you review it and identify areas for improvement? Companies that make specific changes in response to feedback are strategic, dynamic, and are genuinely customer-focused.
Build “Every Day” Excellence
Excellent service is something that happens consistently, so challenge your team to create memorable experiences that are repeatable every day.
Be visible, creative, and proactive, and challenge everyone on your team to take ownership as they follow through on guest requests every time.