As a manager, you have a key role in taking your customer service operation to the next level.
Sometimes, your front line customer service staff “doesn’t know what it knows.” So on a regular basis, such as weekly, briefly ask your staff one or more of the following key questions.
Even if your front-line-staff is only one person, this technique works wonders. Ask one or more of the following questions on Friday. Staff have a much harder time remembering things that occurred the previous week, so once the week is over, it is much harder to retrieve information accurately.
What was the best comment or order of the week?
We often start, and focus on, the problems or complaints. But even more important than what you are doing wrong is what you are doing right.
You have to know what customers like, and the good news about registrations or orders for the week. That is your strength. That is what you build on. That is what you make sure you keep on doing. The first thing to do every week is to find out what you are doing right.
What was the biggest, or most common, complaint?
Now zero in on the 1-3 biggest problems of the week. For most common complaints, try to fix the system or procedure to eliminate or reduce that problem in the future.
For the biggest complaint, you might have to get out the checkbook, issue a refund, apology or letter.
But don’t stress over the minor complaints, the few customers who always complain about everything, and those things which you simply cannot control.
Were there any new questions this week?
You need to know the first time a new question is asked, so you can train your front line staff on how to answer it.
And you want to know new questions because they might become trends or indicators of future new programs or possibilities for your organization.
Every so often, but not weekly, think about asking your staff one or more of the following questions.
What activity or task do you spend the most time on?
This might change by month or time of year, so ask it more than once a year. If this activity is one of the most valuable things that staff person does for your organization, good. But this might also be a place to look for increased efficiency or training, so that the activity can be done either faster or better.
What was the biggest time waster of your week?
This is an activity or task that you want to get rid of, delegate, stop doing, make more efficient, or brainstorm about how to reduce it in the future.
Anything you as a manager can do to figure out how to reduce the amount of time this “time waster” takes will greatly improve your staff’s efficiency, your participants’ service, and staff morale.
What could we change to make your job easier?
From the list, look for those items that a) can be changed most easily; and b) would have the greatest impact on the staff, customers and your organization.
You cannot change everything, especially in the short run. But when you focus on one to three procedures or efficiencies, you can make a lot of progress. Of course you will get some quips as answers, and some obvious ones (new computer, better software). But you will also get insightful, helpful, and awesome responses. So keep asking...