Required Reading: Service With a Smile?
The smartest, most effective service reps know that the key to turning interactions into exceptional customer experiences is a little behavioral psychology. In Great Customer Connections,
Richard Gallagher writes about converting scientific research into remarkably easy-to-apply business practices. CRM
magazine's Colin Beasty spoke with the author about his book.
magazine: How can good customer service training techniques improve a company's standing with its customers more than a multimillion-dollar CRM implementation can?
The overarching point of the book is that most people think customer service is a nice person with a good attitude. While that is partly true, my experience is that it's about specific communication skills based on known communication and psychological practices.
A perfect example is a training session I once did with a parking and traffic bureau, which makes a living by towing people's cars. When I asked them how they would respond to a citizen asking about his or her car, they would reply with "You shouldn't have parked here" or "You'll have to pay a fine." I then asked them how people reacted to that. They said, "Well, really badly." Understanding how to diffuse a situation with an annoyed customer is a matter of speaking against human nature. There's a structured, psychological methodology in terms of the mechanics of what you say that lets you speak to the other person's mindset.
magazine: Can these training techniques also be used by industries whose primary customer touch points are outside of contact centers, sales forces, and marketing departments, such as cashiers at a retail store?
Absolutely. Many times these lower-level employees don't have any training or professional experience dealing with customers. They lack the training and, thus, the confidence to help themselves help the customers. Training such as this gives them that power and confidence. [It is the opposite of] feeling like they have no control over when the phone rings next or when the next person shows up at the counter.
magazine: What will readers find most interesting about your book?
The most important chapter for CRM's audience is the chapter on coaching. I look at the ways to use these same communication skills to coach the people you work with. That's because there is one interesting trend within the CRM industry and it's your fault. We measure people on more things than ever before. When you do that, it's important to use positive strength-based training to focus on the problem and not the person.
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