Give Great Customer Service To Secure Your Business Future
I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s one simple key to effective customer service. It’s a principle that’s so obvious that it is quite simply missed most of the time. Sometimes genius lies in the simple, the unsophisticated and the literal. The key that I’m talking about here is the practice of hiring only people for customer service roles who are naturally inclined to help others.
One of the best business practitioners of this sort of policy is Southwest Airlines, which has long known the importance of finding the right person for the job. I believe the story was that they discovered that most customer complaints were the results of the actions of a few employees. The causes of the complaints generally came down to the customer needing assistance and the employee being reluctant to accommodate.
Minimize The Negative
Toxic employees are deadly to a service based company. Being the type of person who is focused on their own needs just has to be accepted as normal for many people. But it’s a huge problem in any customer service environment; if your staff hesitates to fulfill requests or blatantly dodges responsibility it is a bad day for your business. It may not often result in a complaint but it will quietly corrode away the customer base and accelerate the pace at which you have to replace customers who move on elsewhere.
The best solution by far is to avoid taking them on initially. The most obvious attribute that indicates that you have the right candidate is their willingness to serve and accommodate the needs of others. The attitude of service and the willingness to help enthusiastically is extremely gratifying to customers and it helps to keep bringing them back time after time.
Caring Is A Two Way Street
It’s great if you have people who want to take care of your members but you need to give them the freedom to do so. It’s about putting trust worthy people in place and then trusting them. A caring and accommodating employee will lend a sympathetic ear to customers who have legitimate complaints. If that is all they can do then the customer will be even more dissatisfied and the employee will go home that evening with a little more self-loathing and resentment toward the job.
Being able to create positive outcomes with the least amount of supervision necessary is a win for everyone: It avoids awkwardness, the customer is more likely to be satisfied, the staffer will feel rewarded for doing the right thing and the company retains a customer at relatively low cost.
At the end of the day it is all about minimizing the staff and membership turn over, creating brand enthusiastic brand advocates in your membership who do the selling of your service for you. Great customer service in a service related business is the only way to keep costs down and revenue up.
With the right employees, empowered to serve customers, you’re more than half way there. Hiring for customer service may be an art that requires experience and sensitivity to get it right. It might be worth hiring an HR consultant to create a hiring process that filters for the right attributes before you commit to interview candidates.
It may also be an investment to include the HR consultant in the hiring of each new staffer. This was another thing that Southwest Airlines discovered early on; the extra effort to hire the right person pays off even if, at face value, that effort is unreasonable.
A Natural Gym Management Customer Service Mindset
Most gym employees are naturally helpful and people oriented, so that this industry perhaps has an advantage. As owners we need to remember that and empower employees to take responsibility for service and to deliver results. It is a process that starts at hiring and extends to the culture as a whole. The cost of helping customers is always less than the cost of finding new ones.
Fagan, Lawrence. What is Gym Customer Service? October 4, 2013. https://blog.gyminsight.com/1873-what-is-gym-customer-service/ (accessed August 24, 2015).
Muduli, Ashutosh. “Southwest Airlines Success : A Case Study Analysis.” Academia. 2011. http://www.academia.edu/2436134/Southwest_Airlines_Success_A_Case_Study_Analysis (accessed August 24, 2015).