As a manager, never forget the importance of teaching and emphasizing the importance of client service to your staff.
I was in Washington, D.C., for the second time in three weeks to provide training to a client. On my first trip to Washington, I was able to stay at a Marriot Fairfield Inn right next door to my client’s office. For the second trip, however, I was forced to stay at a hotel about three miles away because there was a convention in town and my hotel of choice was filled.
On the morning of the last day of my second trip, I returned to the Fairfield Inn with luggage in hand. The person behind the registration desk recognized me from my prior stay at the hotel and asked me if I wanted to check it. I told her that not being able to secure a reservation at her hotel because of a local conference, I had stayed a few miles away at a different hotel. I went on to say that I had come to the hotel that morning to ask if they would please check my suitcase for a few hours so I would not have to bring it to my client’s meeting. Being a frequent Marriot client, she happily agreed to provide me assistance and even offered me cup of coffee as I was leaving the hotel. This may seem like a trivial, easy and no cost way to help a customer. Well, it is, but for the customer, it was of great value.
The moral of this story, for managers of all types and professions, is to remember the importance of fostering a culture of customer/client service within your team. Small acts of kindness, common courtesy, and remembering to follow up on client requests are of little or no cost. They also can pay great dividends in the way of client/customer satisfaction, repeat sales, follow-on contracts, and/or top rated performance reviews for you and your team.
As a manager, there are a number of things you can do to help instill a can-do client service attitude within your staff:
1. Hire people who by their nature are friendly, outgoing, and like to please others.
2. Be sure that your team members correctly understand their level of authority regarding customer-related interactions. This allows your team to comfortably go the extra mile to help customers without the fear that they have overstepped their authority.
3. Provide training to assure everyone in your team has the technical ability to perform needed tasks. This will allow them to properly complete the requested assignments.
4. Provide training in cultural awareness. This protects your team from accidentally insulting customers of different cultures and/or embarrassing themselves in front of others.
5. Provide training in active listening, conflict resolution and other interpersonal communication skills. These types of skills can dramatically enhance customer experience.
6. Treat your team with respect, fairness, and professionalism. If your team feels they are treated well, human nature is such that they will naturally be better to the customers they serve.
In closing, I don’t know what type of hiring, training, or employee treatment is being done at the Marriot Fairfield Inn. What I do know is that, from a customer’s perspective, whatever they are doing, they are it doing right.
The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:
- It is important to foster a culture of customer/client service within your team.
- Small acts of kindness, common courtesy, and remembering to follow up on client requests are of little or no cost.
- Great customer service pays big dividends in the way of client/customer satisfaction, repeat sales, follow-on contracts, and/or top rated performance reviews for you and your team.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, manage well and continue to build your professional brand.
Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a management training company specializing in information technology leadership and is the governing organization of the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a keynote speaker, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of the books “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity,” “Your IT Career: Get Noticed, Get Promoted, and Build Your Professional Brand” and “52 Great Management Tips.” Contact him at eric@ManagerMechanics.com, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom and @MgrMechanics or visit www.ManagerMechanics.com.