Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Overcoming the illusion of speed, part of Innovative Customer Service Techniques.
- Customers expect faster service than ever before. The instinctive approach is to work harder and faster. This may seem counterintuitive, but you can often serve customers much faster by going slower. This video will show you how. Let's start by looking at a real example. I like to play soccer in a local recreational league. One day, our season ended, and I didn't see the schedule for the next season on the website. So, I decided to send an email. Here's what I sent. Hello, is it possible to get a copy of the schedule for Buena Onda via email? We play in the men's over 30 league on Thursdays.
Thank you, Jeff. I received a reply just 14 minutes later. That's fast, right? Well, let's take a look at the email I received. Here's the email word-for-word. You probably notice a few problems. There's no salutation, no offer of additional assistance, not even the name of the person emailing, and there's an even bigger problem. Look carefully at the date. They sent me last season's schedule, not the schedule I was looking for. Okay, mistakes can and do happen.
I sent a reply that I hoped would clear it up. Thanks for the quick response, though I meant the upcoming season. Thank you, Jeff. That should clear it up, right? Well, you be the judge. You can imagine that I wasn't amused by this response. The little smiley face didn't help either. It ended up taking three emails to get the information I needed. Now, I've played soccer at this place for many years and I can tell you, they're generally nice people, but I also know that they're busy on Sunday afternoons.
The person responding to my emails was also working the counter in the office, handing walk-in traffic, and answering phones. They were focused on speed rather than quality. If they had just slowed down a moment, they would've understood what I was asking for, and sent me the information the first time. We face the impulse to work fast every single day. Contact center agents miss key details in an effort to wade through a flood of contacts. Social workers struggle to serve their clients while juggling an impossible caseload.
Receptionists feel overwhelmed and end up coming off as cold and unwelcoming. There are a few fixes to this challenge. The first one is the hardest: slow down. Working too fast causes us to make mistakes. The result is extra work, which makes us even busier. If you want to go fast, take a deep breath, and slow down enough to get things right the first time. The next tip is to prioritize what's most important and set aside the rest.
That means focusing on the customer right in front of you rather than the long line behind him. It means setting aside other tasks to give your customer your full attention so you fully understand her needs. It means tuning out other distractions that might take your focus away from serving your customers quickly. The final tip is to make a connection with the people you serve. My local coffee shop provides a great example. The guy working the register in the morning knows many customers by name. People don't mind waiting an extra minute when they're going to be served in such a warm and friendly manner.
Taking the time to know his customers also makes him more efficient. He's already writing names on cups or ringing in a customer's usual order as they approach the register. The pressure to work faster is a fact of life in many customer service environments. It's good to work quickly, but make sure you don't work so quickly that it actually slows you down.
- Identifying the most important customer need
- Making wait time more bearable
- Improving your power of observation
- Avoiding directed attention fatigue
- Increasing teamwork