Today’s events are having an unprecedented impact on consumer habits, confidence and spending. It is no longer business as usual, and it’s likely to stay that way for some time. This means businesses must start to demonstrate their value beyond price, quality and convenience, in order to create long lasting customer relationships that will sustain the test of time – especially in the transition to online services.
Strengthening relationships and creating an emotion connection between those who are serving and those who are being served is the key to value in today’s competitive and unpredictable world. But how do we do this, and do this well?
There are three essential service habits you need to master in the everyday, seemingly ordinary interactions you have with others.
1. Stay present
Good service is about maintaining your energy and your state over a long period of time.
The art is in allowing situations (which are often out of your control) to reveal themselves, and when they do, maintaining presence whilst serving customer after customer and colleague after colleague in the best, clearest state of mind possible.
Think about busy call centres. When we’re on the receiving end of a script reader, we feel like they’re going through the motions, mindlessly performing a routine task.
The ability to stay in the present and deal with challenges in service interactions and make people feel like they are the first person you have served that day is an asset.
You have to manage the ebb and flow of energy and motivation in between each customer interaction or meeting, on a long-term basis. This may mean taking a short break to make a cup of tea or just focusing on your breathing for four seconds.
When you manage these cycles rather than ignore them, you’re far more productive, happier and less drained.
2. Think in questions
Sometimes, we feel we have a responsibility to ‘know everything’, and get anxious if we don’t have all the answers. The truth is, however, that to be great at service, curiosity is one of the strongest character traits we can have.
It’s more valuable to ask the right questions than to produce the right answers. Yet, we’ve generally been taught how to answer, not how to ask.
When you ask questions that generate yes or no answers – closed questions – they result in little information exchange. You don’t get to the core of the issue or provide the right solution, because you have limited information.
Open-ended questions, however, allow the respondent to provide as much information as they like. They’re particularly useful for uncovering information or learning something new. These include:
- When did you shop with us last?
- Who are you buying for?
- What are you in the mood for?
- Where are you coming from today?
- How else can I help you today?
- What else might you need?
In a nutshell, if you ask a better question, you’ll get a better answer!
3. Listen to understand
Only 7% of our communication comes from the words we use, while the remaining 93% is made up of body language and tone of voice. Hence, we need to listen, and learn to listen deeply, because social distancing and lack of physical contact makes human connection much harder.
Only when you are willing to be with what actually is – not focusing on how you want the conversation to unfold or how you expect the sale to turn out, but openly listening and hearing the other person’s truth – only then can you start to understand someone.
‘Holding space’ means giving people the gift of silence, rather than speaking over them while they’re thinking or deciding something. You’re intentionally being with them, being comfortable in the silence, not needing to fill the space with words – but rather, holding the space for what they need in that moment.
Practise humility by allowing other people to do most of the talking, or pause to let them expand on their topic, and you may be extraordinarily surprised by what you learn and accomplish.
JAQUIE SCAMMELL is a sought-after speaker, facilitator and coach working with some of the largest global workforces in retail, banking and hospitality. Jaquie has managed and advised workforces of all sizes, from small teams to staff of more than 9500, interacting with millions of fans on a daily basis. Service Habits is the second book in her ‘Service’ series, published by Major Street Publishing. Visit www.jaquiescammell.com