Water Well Journal

March 2016

Water Well Journal

Issue link: https://read.dmtmag.com/i/643500

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Page 56 of 85

I n an industry consisting largely of small family-run companies, employing someone solely to manage a well drilling company's customer service efforts is virtually unheard of. Does that mean customer service goes by the wayside? Of course not. Customer service is at the heart of every business. It flows from employees who engage customers, who meet their needs—who exceed their expectations. Good customer service leaves a positive impression and encourages repeat business. Ideally, good customer service is the key ingredient that refers other customers to your company. So what does customer service mean at a small company? Every employee needs to be a customer service expert. How do you get your employees onboard? Make sure your staff knows four critical elements of good customer service. Attitudes and Mind-Set Customer service begins with having the right underlying attitudes and motivations. This means not only hiring people with the right service mentality who want to help and satisfy their customers, but also encouraging the right focus and attitudes. How is this manifested? Any number of ways. Talking pos- itively about the company's customers. Communicating how important customer service is to your business' success. Train- ing employees on customer service practices your company has decided to emphasize. Recognizing employees who serve the customer extraordinarily well. The key indicator of customer service potential is a high level of what mental health professionals call "psychological hardiness"—qualities such as optimism, flexibility, and the ability to handle stressful situations or criticism without feel- ing emotionally threatened. These are, of course, good qualities for many jobs. But the experts note the personality of a worker for whom customer service comes naturally may be markedly different from those of high achievers in other business venues. Verbal eloquence and persuasiveness, for example, aren't as important as the ability to listen. Key employee attitudes that drive good customer service include: • Viewing customers positively • Understanding customer service is most important to the business' success • Feeling motivated and accountable for providing good customer service • Having the information and tools needed to provide good customer service • Believing they can take the initiative to do what is best for the customer. Effective Communication Exceptional customer service requires mastering communi- cation with all types of customers—internal customers (other employees in your company), external customers (those out- side your company), as well as difficult customers. Customer service issues almost always arise from a failure to communicate properly. For example, customers may not know what to expect or not be accurately informed. Effective communication with customers involves listening and understanding your customer's viewpoint or problem and handling emotions. It also requires organizing and preparing your thoughts, speaking clearly and succinctly, and respond- ing to or following up on questions directly and in a timely manner. Good communicators know how to watch for non-verbal cues like tone of voice and body language. They know how to solve a problem and close a conversation to keep the door open for an ongoing positive relationship with the customer. Communication is as much an art as a science and takes practice. Building self-awareness of communication strengths and weaknesses and teaching skills through training, role- playing, scripts, and conversation coaching are just a few methods to drive better customer service. However, relying solely on books or online lectures won't cut it. Employees must practice, engage in changed behaviors, and obtain feedback as they are doing so. Practice on Peers Practice good service with your internal customers—your fellow workers. Employees generally don't provide good cus- tomer service to their customers if they aren't communicating well with those they work with. Good customer service is the result of positive interactions between employees who depend on one another for informa- tion, especially when any number of workers and services are involved in delivering a service to the customer. Companies that provide good internal customer service: • Have collaborative cultures that recognize and reward teamwork • Share information freely with one another and enable free flow of information ALEXANDRA WALSH PUTTING CUSTOMERS FIRST Every employee needs to practice good customer service. PEOPLE AT WORK 54 March 2016 WWJ waterwelljournal.com

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