Revisiting “Value” as Part of Your Customer Service Training
(Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of blogs related to the training of financial institution employees. If appropriate, please pass this information to the training staff)
On December 21, 2009, Joe Swatek wrote his blog, “Customer Service as an Offer,” which talked about the risk in treating your perceived level of customer service as part of your marketing offer. Then, on December 22, 2009, Steve Topper cautioned against using customer service as a marketing tagline in his blog entitled, “Customer Service as a Tagline.” As Director of Training for ACTON, I couldn’t agree more with these assessments and I want to talk about this particular topic from a training standpoint.
In the December 21 blog, Joe mentioned the fact that the ACTON Trainers train in the area of customer service. We certainly do and so should you as a trainer. For this blog, I’m not going to go into specific customer service training, but instead focus on an aspect of it that I covered last August in a blog and I certainly feel needs repeating as I focus in on Joe’s and Steve’s blog entries.
One very important aspect of customer service to remember, especially if you are a trainer, is that your level of customer service is a matter of perception and that perception comes from me, your customer. It all has to do with “value.” How do we get this point across to our training attendees? That is always a challenge.
When I ask the question in class, “What makes you special?” or “What separates you from the rest of the financial institutions in your area?”, I invariably hear the same basic answer, “Because we have great customer service!” I always follow that up with…”so?” Remember, trainers, your job is to TEACH and CHALLENGE people in their thinking!
As I discussed in a previous blog, here is how I recommend getting your attendees to REALLY focus on what’s important. Either write the word “value” on a flipchart or state the word and then ask each member of your class to define what it means to them. As you are doing this, remind everyone to answer as to how they are providing “value” in their branch. State the question, “I am your customer. Why do I want to do business with you?” When you go around the room asking for answers, don’t settle for “we are friendly, we are nice or nicer than the competition,” etc., etc., etc. Financial institutions are full of nice, friendly people. I want to know why I should do business with you. Take it even further by asking your audience, “Why do you shop where you shop?” “Why do you go where you go to purchase your goods and services?” It’s all about “value,” in whatever form it takes, and that translates to good customer service and that, trainers, translates to sales.
As you work through this exercise, some of the answers will be mundane and somewhat irrelevant, but your people will soon get the picture. They need to understand what constitutes “value” in their respective branches and, hopefully, in their answers they will hit on one of the most important aspects of “value” and “customer service.” Sales is service and service is sales.
If you, the branch employee, are asking me questions and genuinely looking out for my financial well-being by putting me in the right products and services, you are providing me with the ultimate in customer service and therefore giving me a great deal of “value.”