By Yvonne Manzi
Social Media Officer, Profiles Asia Pacific
The lifetime value of one single customer is much greater than the added value of numerous single transactions. This is especially true in times when business is going badly, because loyal customers are more likely to heed a call for help or be patient through imperfect service. It is also true in our digitized era, where a bad online comment from a customer can go viral within minutes.
If you try and think of it from the customer’s perspective, you can see why it doesn’t take much for him or her to decide that your company isn’t worth their time and money. One bad experience is enough.
Profiles International, the affiliate of Profiles Asia Pacific, found that assessing core personality traits and a standardized set of skill measures provides clear indicators of probably success in a customer-facing role. In 1997, Profiles developed the Customer Service Knowledge Scale, and it has been refining its research ever since.
There are six behaviors that we finally identified in customer-facing employees that will make the biggest difference for your business.
1. Trust. Trusting individuals tend to believe that the motives of others are honorable. Find a good balance of trust that works for your business, you don’t want untrusting and unhelpful employees, but you don’t want naïve employees either!
2. Tact. How you say something to a customer can be just as important as what you say. If customers make mistakes or do not understand something, employees should take extra care to be patient and make them feel at ease.
3. Empathy. Customers need to feel that someone cares about their experience. Even if there is nothing the employees can do to solve an issue, it is important for them to show that they understand how important it is to the customer, and to still try their best to find ways to ease the situation. Frequent and honest communication is a good method to start with.
4. Conformity. The optimal degree of conformity for your customer-facing people depends on your business. The first thing to do is identifying your customer’s objectives and expectations, and then aligning your people with them. For a luxury hotel, for example, it is best to have low-conformity frontline staff that can make quick inventive decisions. But for a company that has to follow strict health and safety guidelines at all costs, it is best to have more conformed staff.
5. Focus. Customer service is about relentless focus. Your customer service employees should always stay focused and thus be quick and attentive, but they should also be able to identify when a customer does not want all of the information you are capable of giving them.
6. Flexibility. Companies that provide the best service think in terms of the customer, and this requires employee willingness and flexibility. However, highly flexible people can become bored of routine decisions, while inflexible people may appreciate routine decisions more than being exposed to important open-ended questions. It is important for you to identify what kind of people your company needs in selected areas, and then match the right people to the right jobs.