Friday, August 5, 2011

3 Trends in Customer Service that Your GrandPa Would Love

How many times have you gone into a store and been greeted by a surprisingly cheerful cashier and thought to yourself that you just want to pay for your purchases and go home?  Technology has changed and we’ve found that there were faster ways to do things, sacrificing along the way, to the point that now; we miss the good ole days.  We want friendly customer service. We want technology to take a back seat to providing an experience that we will have the desire to duplicate.

The grocery store chain Albertsons has responded to this feeling among consumers by announcing their intention to remove all of their “self-check” registers at their stores.  Kroger is also going to take on a similar policy. Reactions are mixed; with some feeling like it will do wonders for customer service (as well as adding additional jobs) and others feel it takes the “choice” to interact with a human being away from the consumer.

This comes at the same time that Albertsons is also announcing a DMV Kiosk in Las Vegas.
The trend here, when you consider it, is pretty simple to see: People want great customer service, but they don’t want to deal with rude employees. If you’re planning on removing a “self-service” or “automated” system, here are some things that I think you need to be sure to do.
  • Retrain front line employees in the art of customer service. You have to make customer representatives care about the interactions with their customers. It has to be a pleasing part of their day.
  • Create a Twitter account and assign someone (not an intern) to the responsibility.  There will be some people who will not be excited about the new approach to customer service, so you have to give options on how they can get in contact a member of your team.
  • Trust employees to make the right decisions. You have to give people some room to maneuver to turn what could be a losing situation into a winning one.  This comes down to educating phone operators and giving them some room to help.
It can be a bit of a daunting thought to remove all of the “non-personable” aspects of your customer service.  Albertsons and Kroger are both looking at a situation where they will need more staff on hand to create a great experience that will keep people coming back. If you’re currently considering this, just be sure that you plan ahead and be prepared to handle the additional volume that will occur.