Article by Mark Anthony, President of Training for Success
Throughout the food service industry, the standard of customer service each and every business is held to is extraordinarily high. Whether you are in the restaurant/ hospitality sector where a few poor service ratings can ruin your bottom line, or you are further up the chain as a food distributor or other service provider, we all need our team to deliver great service.
WOW customers even when they are difficult.
Each month we are committed to helping you develop your team and gain practical knowledge and resources. This month we have a two-part piece that will allow you to better develop your staff’s communication with difficult customers. There is a cliché, “The customer is always right.” Although it is a great mantra, the reality is the customer is not always right. So how do you deliver great service when the customer is “not right” and, to make it even more challenging, they are being rude and difficult too?
The A.N. A.W.A.R.D.® formula calms difficult customers.
A.N. A.W.A.R.D. ®reminds restaurant employees, sales reps, managers, and any members of the team how to deliver a level of service so high, so consistent, that even Yelpers would give you an award.
Each letter on A.N A.W.A.R.D.® reminds your staff to address a key communication principle that can shift even the most difficult customer to sing your praises.
The first “A” stands for AVOIDING making the customer wrong. Even when the customer is wrong, (and the reality is, sometimes they are) telling them they are is a trigger to an argument. People don’t like being wrong; they are embarrassed when they are wrong. As children, we feared being called on in class, for fear of being wrong in front of others. It is no different as adults. We hate being wrong AND we will argue vehemently to make sure we are not wrong.
Key communication principle #1: AVOID saying, “You’re wrong,” to the customer. You may need to calmly educate them so they better understand the situation and the facts. We may even let them know they are mistaken, all while educating them so they understand and can make the “right” conclusion. The essential point is: Don’t tell them they are wrong. Those words are no longer part of your team’s vocabulary.
Second key communication principle is: making people feel they are significant. One of the simplest and quickest ways to do this is to use their NAME. Let them know they are being addressed and thought of as a person, rather than just another customer or an account number.
This principle is further leveraged by making sure the customer knows your name, too. So, introduce yourself and during the interaction, use your name so they feel you are taking ownership of the situation. When you are using their name and they know your name, you have shifted the interaction from company and customer to two individuals working together to resolve their issue.
People are much more forgiving and tolerant of people they know and connect with rather than policies of a faceless corporation. Remember the “N” stands for the power of using people’s NAMES.
The third communication principle is symbolized by the second “A” of A.N.A.W.A.R.D.® and stands for ASK them what they want.
Sometimes customers complain, and all they want is to just be significant by pointing out what they observed, and want their viewpoint acknowledged. They may complain, but don’t even need a discount, a freebie, or any other perk other than being acknowledge, heard, and respected.
Other times, the difficult customer rambles and complains without even knowing what they want. Just ask, and they may suddenly stop and say, “I want nothing,” or “I just wanted you to be aware of the situation.”
Giving people the opportunity to develop clarity about what they need empowers them. It makes them special, and makes them feel heard, all of which are WOW factors in customer service.
So, next time a customer “is in need,” “be a friend indeed” and ask. You may be surprised how simple it is to accommodate them.
The three communication principles of:
- Avoiding making the customer wrong
- Bonding with them as a unique individual by using both their name and yours
- Simply asking them what they want, thus acknowledging their view point as well as helping them gain clarity
Each make up the first half of A.N.A.W.A.R.D.® Practice these three principles daily throughout the month and watch service and customer rankings improve. Next month we will share the additional 4 steps of A.N.A.W.A.R.D.® as you continually develop lasting service habits throughout your entire team.
Mark Anthony is President of Training for Success. He has trained teams on customer service for over 25 years and delivered his programs on 6 of 7 continents. For information call 212 683 1834 or email@example.com. Serving & Presenting custom workshops for Clients on 6 Continents since 1988. For more information, visit their website.