A Mindset for Serving Customers
Skills and techniques are important in providing excellent service to customers, but they aren’t the only keys to success. Leading organizations have identified seven traits they see in their highest performing service providers.
We call the seven traits The Service Mentality. These characteristics create a mindset for serving customers. Let’s look at each one.
- Empathy is the capacity for understanding, being aware of and sensitive to the feelings, thoughts and experiences of your customers. They want to know they have been heard and understood no matter how large or small their problem. They want to know that you see the problem from their point of view. A caring, empathetic tone, more than words, allows the customer to hear your concern. Customers don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
- Enthusiasm brings an observable high level of energy or interest to a situation.
It can be shown towards your customers and your work. It’s not wildly over the top, but it is energetic, positive and openly expressed. Your enthusiasm influences your effectiveness in a service position, because the appropriate enthusiasm determines how the world sees you as able or willing to help. Enthusiastic people enjoy helping others and show it with a positive attitude and high energy. They enjoy being proactive and going the extra mile.
- Ownership is about having the commitment to solve a problem. It’s the opposite of the mentality that says, “That’s not my department,” and then shifts the resolution off to someone else. Ownership makes a clear connection with the customer that says, “I am your partner and own this situation with you,” which more effectively represents you and the company. It shouldn’t take two people to give good customer service. Step up and take ownership of the challenges that come your way.
- Responsibility involves living up to commitments. This trait relates just as easily to your co-workers as to your customers. In every case, it’s critical that we live up to our commitments. Colleagues need to know they can count on each other to be on time for a scheduled shift or meeting. A co-worker who can’t be counted on disrupts everyone’s schedule. Ill will and stress is a chain reaction that can radiate outward until service mentality slips among team members. As they saying goes, “There is no I in the word team.” Follow-through and dependability demonstrate a service mentality of responsibility.
- Adaptability is having an easy flexibility to deal effectively with different types of customers and situations. As your customer base becomes more diverse, adaptability is crucial. Aging populations, language and cultural differences and related factors are challenges to providing excellent service, but people who are adaptors are accepting and tolerant. Their mind-set is evidenced by their ability to adapt and to respond and react positively. With the service mentality trait of adaptability, you’ll assist all of your customers respectfully and effectively.
- Balance requires the capacity to be successful at satisfying the customer, while taking into account the resources and needs of your organization. Going too far either way puts you out of balance. Customers must feel they have been heard and treated fairly. The company needs employees to operate within guidelines and practices. A secret to having balance is knowing that you can acknowledge the feelings of the customer, even if you disagree with the facts presented by them. Acknowledgement does not mean agreement, so acknowledge the feelings, move on to the facts, and address the issues.
- Resiliency means having the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity. Resiliency allows a representative to remain calm in adverse situations or recover quickly from crisis and not show discouragement. We’ve all had setbacks, both personally and in our daily work. We need to be able to bounce back emotionally and professionally and handle those setbacks, while never taking out frustrations on customers or co-workers.
Exceptional customer service helps a great organization stand out from the competition. It’s the tie breaker and the added value that gets the business for your company that pays for jobs—including your job. A high-performing customer contact employee requires The Service Mentality mindset. Make it your goal to become more aware of all of the seven traits as a first step to more effective customer interactions.