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Training Employees on Customer Service Made Easier with Steps

Businesses have been using the basic strategy of “steps of service” for the better part of the last two decades. No matter the size of your business, developing steps of customer service and training your employees to follow the steps is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner to develop your brand. Padgett Payroll Services® created this overview and guide to steps of customer service.

Successful brands with names you may recognize have taken customer service steps to a whole new level. The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, for example, pioneered the steps-of-service method in their hotel chains. Every Ritz-Carlton hotel in the world is powered by employees who offer a warm and sincere greeting, anticipate and fulfill your needs, and offer a warm goodbye with an invitation to return upon checkout. Simple hospitality is an incredibly simple way to build brand loyalty.

Apple’s recent unveiling of its newest models, the iPhone 5S and 5C, drew harsh criticism from designers, app developers, consumers and journalists for design flaws, pricing and lack of sustainability in mobile technology. The launch of Apple’s newest iPhone operating system, iOS 7, garnered even more criticism as Apple servers were unable to handle the traffic of users attempting to download the update to their iPhones. Yet, even amidst all of the complaints and criticisms, Apple managed to sell enough of its newest iPhones on their first day on the market to cause supply shortages. In some cities, consumers began lining up in front of Apple stores two weeks in advance of the new iPhone launch just to be able to purchase the new product.

That kind of customer loyalty is not easy to come by, especially when each new product improves on the old design by a little bit and is yet still far more expensive. The reason for Apple’s success comes primarily from the steps of customer service each and every one of Apple’s stores implement. The Apple training manual teaches each employee to follow the A.P.P.L.E.[1] steps of customer service.

Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome

Probe politely to understand all of the customer’s needs.

Present a solution for the customer to take home today.

Listen for and resolve and issues or concerns.

End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Other businesses, such as AT&T and AAA have adopted their own acronyms, such as AAA’s H.E.A.R.T., to give their employees a simple, easily remembered motto for delivering the best customer service possible. This method works because steps help to create a consistent experience across all locations and across all interactions.

Your business may not have more than one location, but it probably has more than one employee, and it is important for each member of your organization to have a unified approach to handling your customers. One poor experience with one employee who is not on board with your company’s mission can turn away a customer for life. Using acronyms, like A.P.P.L.E., to explain your company’s customer service procedures is helpful for employees to remember and execute. These steps build relationships with the customer that makes them feel appreciated, heard, informed and inspired. The relationships between your employees and customers play a large part in making customers lifelong supporters of your company.

To create your own steps-of-service method for your own business, first think about how you want to interact with your customers. Limit the amount of steps in your method to three to six steps. You and your staff need to follow the steps in every customer interaction, so the list has to be easy to remember.

Even the best methods would be useless without leadership. Employees are unlikely to adhere to any prescribed code of conduct with your customers if they do not see their management implementing those methods in each and every interaction. This means that the steps of service you implement in your business not only apply to your relationships with customers, but in how you treat your employees as well. It is not just about engaging customers in your brand’s philosophy but about engaging your employees as well. Consistent training and role-modeling is a crucial component of brand representation on all levels.

Padgett Payroll Services® has been helping small business owners with their payroll needs and responsibilities for more than 40 years. With more than 400 locally-owned operator offices around the U.S. and Canada, there is sure to be a Padgett Payroll Services® office near you. To contact us about your payroll needs, you can contact us online, or by calling (706) 548-1040 today.

Do you have the support you need to manage your small business bookkeeping? Schedule a 30-minute appointment to speak with a local small business adviser.

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