07 December 2006

Take the time to debrief

Customer service is all about communication, specifically finding ways to be better at it. One example that I think is highly beneficial is taking the time to talk to your staff after either a good or bad customer service experience. Often we tend to put these experiences, especially the bad ones, out of mind because they can be quite confronting. The most important point here is to take the time to discuss what you did right or what you did wrong, ideally to prevent what went wrong from happening again or to duplicate what went right.

With a good experience, it’s an opportunity to praise a member of staff regarding their outstanding service, or perhaps it is opportunity to thank the entire team. We all like to receive praise and feedback and it is especially powerful in a group situation. Taking it one step further is where the real benefit can come from this exercise.

If you are discussing a good experience based on customer feedback, run through every stage of the sale or interaction. Highlight what worked and make this the normal rather than the exception. By explaining to your staff the benefits that everyone receives from happy customers and therefore encouraging all members of your team to aspire to this same level, your entire customer service can take a real boost.

Likewise a bad customer encounter is an opportunity. It is a chance to highlight potential problems with your business and ways to overcome them. The debrief following a bad experience shouldn’t be a witch hunt, trying to find out who messed up. They know it and they are generally pretty apologetic about it. During the bad experience debrief look at every stage of the interaction. Where did it go wrong and what should have been done to prevent the situation becoming a complaint? This needs to be conducted in an open and analytic environment that welcomes input from everyone involved.

So, the moral to this weeks article is that good and bad customer interactions represent opportunities. If we don’t take the time to review what happened, we miss out on this opportunity which is a real shame.

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