“What did you say?”
Do your employees speak to customers according to approved scripts? Do you think that they are saying what you’d say in the same situation? Are they using the same words, phrases and body language you might use?
Think back to the last few times you were served by an employee at a restaurant, forecourt, supermarket or take away. What did he/she say to you? Did he/she say anything or was it a one-way conversation?
I use the example of the supermarket cashier frequently. You know the story, you step up to pay for your groceries, but she is only interested in the conversation with the packer. The entire conversation with you consists of one question: “Bags?”
Now I don’t have much of a choice when it comes to supermarket shopping, none of them are particularly good at having conversations with me. Very few greet me every time I show up to spend my hard earned money, even fewer thank me for it.
When they do speak to me it is a variation of off-hand comments directed in my direction. But, sometimes you find an individual that does the unthinkable.
– She looks at you when speaking to you, greets you and waits for your response before proceeding
– She gives you her full attention as if you are the most loyal customer and not just another part of her day
– She notices what you do and say and changes her service accordingly
– She does the basics: Greeting you, Listening to you, Offering to help and Thanking you
– She uses words and phrases that show respect such as “Sir”, “Ma’am”, “please”, “you’re welcome”
– Her body language acknowledges that she is there to serve you and not the other way round
Dealing with an employee like that is remarkable. So remarkable that customers tell other customers. It’s how loyalty is created. It’s how a store/restaurant/service station moves from being just another one to being your store/restaurant/service station.
It starts with a basic script. A simple list of what your employees should and shouldn’t say/do. They shouldn’t:
– say Hi, Heita, Howzit, or just nod their heads
– look away when speaking or listening to you
– slump, walk slowly or appear bored/tired
– say “good morning sir/ma’am, how can I help/assist you?”
– look at you and listen attentively when you speak
– stand upright, move quickly and appear concerned about you as a customer
These are the basics. Your employees should know the basics. They should practice the basics. They should deliver the basics.
It isn’t always easy to find employees that deliver the basics every day. It is even more difficult to get back a customer who has decided not to visit your business again. After all, there’s a service station on every corner.
We are accustomed to receiving terrible service in South Africa. There is no reason we should be providing it too.
DON’T leave it to your employees to write their own scripts. You can’t afford to waste an opportunity to interact with your customers.
DO set a standard, write it down, make it clear and easy to remember and part of every day’s activities.
DO put up a copy of your script at the cashier area, the attendant pay point, the change rooms and the kiosk.
Each site is different. It may be easier to identify the things that shouldn’t be done e.g. chewing gum as opposed to the things that should be done. Whichever way you approach it make it clear to your employees what they are allowed to say to customers. Make them aware that customer’s feel uncomfortable and unappreciated if employees don’t greet them, listen to them or thank them. Explain that an employee’s personal feelings and circumstances are not allowed to influence the level of service they provide. Reward those employees who put this into practice.
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