The Z-Man Experience: What does Confidence Have to Do with Customer Service?
The other day I had breakfast at The Corner Kitchen in Asheville, NC, with my good friend Holly Stiel. Holly and I always have much to discuss as we have similar personalities and are passionate about treating people like stars with love so they know they matter. Holly is a former concierge who trains concierges and speaks worldwide to a variety of audiences about creating a service love culture!
When we're deep in conversation, it's not always easy to get our attention. Yet, our server Zach captured us immediately with his easy smile, attentiveness, and friendly manner. He was clearly knowledgeable about the menu, and with his stellar recommendation, we both got the Breakfast Quinoa: Cinnamon Quinoa, Toasted Coconut, Medjool Dates, Local Berries, Spiced Pecans, Unsweetened Almond Milk, Vermont Maple Syrup. It was scrumptious!!
Throughout the morning, Zach (an entertainer who goes by the Z-Man) was engaging and attentive, without being intrusive, anticipating our needs, and even added his own personal signature to the bill.
After our delicious meal, Holly and I lingered for a while because...well...when we get together, we just can't stop talking! I expressed concern that we were taking up a table, and Zach assured us we were fine and let us chat without interruption or guilt. We were so impressed with him that we not only left him nice tips but raved about him on the comment cards and requested a photo with him as well.
None of these actions were above and beyond! It was ordinary good service, but Zach's delivery made it extraordinary. He was able to do that because of the one thing I think helps people deliver an experience like this one: CONFIDENCE!
I see this all the time in our customer service seminars. We're not teaching rocket science, but we are giving people tips and techniques for delivering red-carpet service. More importantly, we're helping them have confidence in their delivery. It's the secret ingredient that ensures our attendees are doing something different out on the floor the very next day. Here's how you can help your team members have service confidence as well.
Give Them Knowledge: Do your team members know what your service standards are? Do you even have service standards? If yes, have you shared with them what they look like in action? Your team members need to be able to connect the dots between your expectations and their daily work activities. Do they have excellent knowledge of your products and services so they can confidently answer questions and make suggestions? The more they know the better they'll be at serving your customers. In order to help your team members have confidence, you've got to stop assuming customer service is common sense and start giving your team the information they need to deliver an exceptional experience.
Give Them Time to Practice: This may seem silly, but in one of our customer service seminars, we have people making eye contact, smiling, greeting, and using each other's names repeatedly throughout the day. There's a lot of laughter, but there's a method to our madness. At the end of the day, we know that most people are going to go out on the floor and be more engaging with customers as well as co-workers! We've seen it time and time again. Our customers have even exclaimed how they've seen changes in even the shyest individuals after one of our sessions. It's part of the not-so-secret sauce - setting clear expectations and giving them time to practice their skills, in a safe setting, with the rest of their colleagues. It gives them the confidence to go out and engage a little more because the rest of the group will do it too! They all practiced and giggled about it together.
Furthermore, you can't expect people to perfectly handle the challenging situations that come their way if you haven't given them a safe place to walk through scenarios and come up with solutions and responses. People need time to practice when they aren't in fight-or-flight mode. Zach, a performer, seems to come by his engaging presence naturally. Maybe so, but he's probably also had hours of practice on stage and off to hone his skills. Your team needs to practice too.
Give Them Praise: When you see someone delivering on your service standards, tell them! Holly and I made a big deal out of Zach, and you can tell it made his day. Just one word of praise from you, pointing out something specific that they did well, and you'll see someone who wants to keep doing well and getting even better! Do you want people to roll out the red carpet for your customers? If yes, then when you see it in action, say something about it! Nothing boosts confidence more than a well-timed word or two of appreciation.
To read Holly's take on the Z-Man Experience, follow this link. Thank you, Zach, for being so engaging and reminding me of the link between confidence and red-carpet service.
Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder of The Red-Carpet Culture Club (TM) and the author of three books on customer and employee experience. When not speaking, writing, or working with her members, she loves to dine out on delicious food with friends like Holly and hang out with her husband, Jim and their two rescue dogs, Moxie and Tonks.
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