By Sharon Glancy, managing director of The People 1st Training Company
In tough economic times, companies must do everything they can to maintain a competitive edge and reputation is critical.
Companies should never underestimate the importance of how they are perceived by their customers.
This can be a crucial element in whether a company succeeds or fails as it is much harder to regain good standing with your customers once they have lost faith in your brand.
The national case for the significance of customer service training has been made through the effect of the Olympics.
Thousands of volunteers, including the 70,000 ‘Games makers,’ who received comprehensive training from LOCOG, with help from McDonald’s, were trained using content from the WorldHost customer service training programme.
We’ve also been working with Britain’s leading hospitality and travel businesses to create an impressive industry standard of service by training thousands of people prior to hosting the Games.
These ‘Games makers’ and ambassadors were at the frontline of the Olympics and their friendly and helpful attitudes helped turn around the UK’s reputation for customer service.
Since the Olympics, businesses have had the opportunity to cement our newfound reputation for good customer service in the UK.
We must make sure that these improved service levels don’t fall by the wayside.
We think that the best way to do this is to make sure that managers and supervisors have the training to ensure that they can create a customer service culture within their teams.
Our research found that managers have a critical role in supporting and enabling frontline staff to deliver excellent customer service.
In response to this we have created a new customer service training programme – WorldHost Principles of Supervising Customer Service Performance – designed specifically to help managers motivate and coach their team members and show them why their role is essential to delivering a great customer experience.
In the last few years customer service has become an even more important part of the travel industry.
As travel companies have moved online, so have the ways in which customers rate travel providers. Websites have sprung up to judge how travel businesses are performing and the anonymous consumer isn’t afraid to complain.
Holidaymakers can now rate a hotel, flight or travel organisation almost instantaneously in a very public way.
However, this also presents travel businesses with an opportunity: It is now easier for businesses to monitor how they are perceived by consumers, and therefore use this feedback to improve the customer experience.
Staff may not think of themselves as customer-facing but most staff interact with customers or clients everyday.
Anyone who picks up a phone and speaks to someone from another company can be an asset or a potential liability to how your company is perceived.
One of the crucial ways a company can change their staff’s attitudes is to enlighten their managers about the importance of customer service.
Once managers understand the significance of customer service, they can get each member of staff to see the real and broad value of it.
Creating a service culture enables staff to see themselves as an integral part of the companies’ service standards and we’ve also seen it foster team spirit and real energy.
Loyalty is a rare thing in this market but good customer service can make all the difference. It’s not enough to just train people in your sales department in customer service if you want to make an impact on reputation.
The travel industry has an exciting opportunity to carry on the Olympic legacy of good customer service, and furthermore to use this to impact positively on their bottom line.