Does your staff groan and complain when you announce Customer Service training? Do they dread it, think they are already doing a great job, or just dislike sitting in training? Do we still need Customer Service Training?
Here’s the thing… Yes, your organization needs it. For all the reasons you already know, including improving your Customer Service or improving parts of it, but also because you need to keep up with changing trends, most of them driven by the online environment. The “customer” is changing in a Google and Amazon “on demand” world. You can get pet food delivered to your door almost instantly. Don’t think that people will wait days to hear back from you on their question about their pool pass.
And – for your staff – do it for them. Give them the tools they need to navigate the sometimes challenging path that includes unhappy customers. Help them not feel beat up at the end of a tough encounter, empower them with the tools they need to say “I can help you with that”, and help them be in control when policies and procedures need to be followed.
Here are some business trends you should know about with Customer Service. Some impact the Recreation sector as much as the business sector:
- Chat: Use of instant chat is on the rise. What does that look like on the back end? When does a person take over from the auto-responses that get the conversation started? (I also wonder how many chats is that person juggling at once? And where in the world they actually are).
- Artificial Intelligence: Forbes.com says that 80% of companies will use AI by 2020. That is just around the corner now, after using the statistic for a few years, so I wonder how that will hold up.
- Social Media Service: This is a big one for Recreation. People have a question, first they Google it. If they cannot find it quickly, they click on Facebook or Twitter and they message either your organization or the universe at large. The Universe does not always provide an accurate answer while they are waiting for your answer. If your answer doesn’t come until four days later or after the weekend, you have a 35 message feed waiting for you to now navigate. But how realistic is it to have someone (the exhausted Director?) checking social media all weekend?
- Google: People with a question go to Google first, and then they want a human. It’s that simple. The trends are showing less time and patience in seeking out the answer themselves.
- Remote Customer Service: It’s much more likely now that your Customer Service agent is stateside rather than overseas, depending on the international level of the company you’re dealing with and very likely that person is working from home/remotely. So, within recreation, is there an opportunity to have a designated customer service team who is not actually on site?
Only you can know how busy your organization is and what level of customer service you need to start providing. But keeping an eye on the trends is important.
If you’re not sure where to start, start with social media. Be sure you are posting updates and precise easy to find information to prevent as much confusion as possible from the start. Consider a banner on your website for important things like pool closings, weather related info, holiday event updates, etc. Also, take a look at the back side of your website and what people are most navigating toward.
There is a word that pops up often in the Customer Service field: Customer-centric. That means your processes and navigations and available options need to be tailored for exactly what works best for your customer. The flip side is sometimes that it’s not always what is best or easiest for you and your staff.
This a great exercise during that staff training that you’ve been putting off having! Be aware of what is challenging or what customers are complaining about, what is the customer-centric solution, and then how can you actually make it work on the back end?
This is all important work that will pay off in the long run and it’s important to keep up with the rapidly changing times.