I was quoted by Borneo Bulletin today (4th November,2011) here:
“Customer Service has nothing to do with how good your English is, or any language for that matter. If you are not professional, that’s fine. You just have to have the heart, passion and action to deliver it.” Shaun said.
I wish to clarify that the reporter has taken my words out of context.
My response to this is below:
I was making a point that moving from Good to Great customer service, one needs to look beyond just being Professional. Companies need to transform from doing the Check-List-Robotic (‘Professional’) approach to a more holistic and humanistic of being thoughtful and proactive about solving customer’s problem.
My standing on the topic of Professionalism is that: Being professional is of paramount importance in any service sector. I do not condone to any unprofessional practice with servicing customer.
I gave two illustrations to support my point. They are direct excerpt from the opening of my book, The Heart of Service.
For full context of my examples: see below
Everything was perfect. the lighting, the temperature control and the scent of the entire room were tailored to my preferences. Even the music and the ambience were set to transport me back to Mother Nature, right in the midst of the busy city. This upscale spa couldn’t have thought of a better way to delight their customers. One would think. Would I go back again? Not likely.
Don’t get me wrong, the masseur carried himself extremely well throughout. At the end of his service, he stood with a straight posture and uttered a scripted verse thanking me for choosing his company. He executed the speech flawlessly and even managed to carry a smile on his face the whole time he spoke (I have no idea how he pulled that off).
That was it! His performance was the equivalent of watching a peacock rehearsing a speech with fake emotions.
As I tried to analyze what was wrong, I realized what was wrong was not the lack of professionalism, but the exact same word; “professionalism”.
Too often companies wear the slogan of customer service on their lips and, like this elite spa, they have strict measures to ensure a certain level of ‘customer service’ is being achieved and steps are being ticked off the list.
One may think that there is probably not much more a company can do to ‘make’ another person outdo the performance carried out by the masseur. Actually, there is.
Stepping out of the spa, I was determined to prove that a better way is indeed possible. People do not need to be robotic in their approach. The phrase “we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” should not only be a slogan limited to the Ritz Carlton. I began my quest to recollect my past memories and experiences and dive into research on the organizations that have done well by doing good both locally and internationally.
This is how this book was born. I set out to explain the intrinsic aspects of a better customer service culture, not just rewards and punishments. To my surprise, I discovered that there are more like-minded people who uphold the same beliefs about customer service than I anticipated. Along the way, I also uncovered some customer service champions within Brunei, whose examples are no less impressive than major corporations overseas.
Like me, I hope you will be inspired.
What Customer Service is Not?
My best attempt to help understand the notion of customer service can be illustrated through the story of our encounter with a pharmacist in Tokyo.
The pharmacist declined to sell us a painkiller that was perfectly legal for over-the-counter purchase, insisting that we seek propermedical attention for my wife’s ear infection. In doing so, she not only helped us to pinpoint a specialist, but went the extra mile of booking an appointment for us. the majority of our conversation was translated through the help of the lady’s iPhone, which took a good 15 minutes of the pharmacist’s time and did not result in any sales.
This Japanese woman understood service. It has nothing to do with being articulate , being ‘professional’ or even anything to do with closing the sale. Service is about the basic calling to help another human being.
You can coach your sta! on the ability to execute the precise speech at the exact moment to impress customers. But without the intrinsic desire to serve, people will see through it no matter how smooth the performance.
Service is an attitude; it is a set of values rooted in a person, and a belief system. One’s mindset has to be people centered; it is not even a skill. How do you even attempt teach that?