Teamwork = Customer Service Excellence for Small Businesses

20 03 2013

TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. This is the message corporate managers try to convey to their employees.  That customer service is not just the right thing to do; it is a part of your job requirement.    Yet, we all have been to the local restaurant,  shopped at the small mom and pop retail store, had work done by a local contractor, and after a terrible customer service experience, we shook our heads in wonder of how the heck are they still in business!

If you are a small business owner and have just one or a couple stores, excellent customer service is of utmost importance to you.  Why?  Think about it, and the answer should be clear.  If you go to a Target or Pizza Hut and the service is terrible, chances are you will blame it on just the employee or that store.  You will often hear from friends and family in different areas that they ‘hate’ a certain brand because of continued bad experiences at that store, yet your own experience is good with that same brand locally.   With hundreds or even thousands of locations, national franchises and brands can, unfortunately, afford to have the occasional bad store and/or employee experience.  Yet if you are a business with one or two retail storefronts; a local contractor with only a handful of clients; or just one restaurant; your reputation is ALWAYS on the line.  One bad experience and the damage can be done, permanently. With reviews easily available on Google, Yelp, Foursquare, and many industry specific sites, all it takes is one pissed-off customer to downgrade your customer service rating. We have all heard the saying that a happy customer will tell ten friends about their experience, but an upset customer will tell a hundred.  With the ease of submitting an online review, that hundred can become thousands very quickly.

Teamwork

So now that we know the downfall of bad customer service, how do we prevent it?   The best way is by creating synergy and making sure all your employees have ‘bought in’ to your company. You will know when your employees have bought into the product and you as the owner.  Tardiness, turnover, gossip, laziness, and negative reviews will lessen, while teamwork, volunteerism, going the extra mile for customers, and energy will be displayed.  The return of investment (ROI)  in training and creating a teamwork atmosphere is easy to see, but only after it is implemented.  However, this strategy is not something to be done just once.  To successfully implement a teamwork environment, you must make it a continuous effort.  Here are some suggestions on how to drive your team to success by creating synergy:

  • Short, yet informative meetings (if there is nothing new to share, do not have a meeting just to have one!).
  • Training on new products and services done by employees, with supervision by the managers.  You want to create a team of superstars, then have your new workers do a training session on a product or service for the experienced workers.  Again, this should only be done when there is something new to share, or at least once every couple of weeks.
  • Training can also be cross-promotional.  Have your employees teach a different division on what they do.  If you own a restaurant, have the waiters teach the hostess, the cooks train the waiters, etc.  By having an understanding of the other personnel’s duties, it will create greater appreciation for that position throughout the organization.
  • Team outings during work hours.  That is right, shut the business down once every quarter for a team outing on a Friday afternoon. You may lose a couple hours of production (do it by department if you have to), but again, this is about long term rewards.
  • Recognize! If someone does something above and beyond, give notice to the employee.  If someone is promoted, do a simple press release and spread the news.  Everyone loves to see their name in print…well most of the time…and what better way than a simple press release that will give kudos to those who have helped your business grow.

The most important thing to do is to create an atmosphere that is rewarding and fun. Remember, all employees do not have the same motivators. Some may be energized by money, some by extra time off, some by just a simple “thank you” or “job well done”.  Have discipline and consequences for poor performance, but know that most customer service issues are preventable if your company’s employees have the right attitude.

What is it that makes a good Real Estate Agent Great?If you are ready to create a teamwork environment and would like more details on how to implement different team strategies,  please do contact us! From press releases to marketing plans, we can help your small business.   For more information, Tayloe Marketing WhitePaper

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