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In my experiences working in a “brick & mortar” business, I have come to believe there are Six Progressive Levels of Service that Staff can attain with our customers. While supervisors can provide expectations, interaction tools, and knowledge training, empowering staff through autonomy to provide service within their personality is most effective. Supervisors need to coach through the expectations and frequent feedback for continual reinforcement.
Setting, discussing, and clarifying expectations is the most powerful tool an organization has. I believe the most powerful outcome an organization can strive to attain is that the staff and customers feel like “they are part of something special”. Progression of staff competency through these six levels will create special relationships with your customers. Here are the Six Levels:
Alertness/Movement-More often than not, customers notice when staff are “heads down” on their phone, looking bored, not making eye contact, etc. Simply having eye contact, moving around, and having positive non-verbal cues give an appearance of a staff member who is engaged and invested.
Acknowledgement/Knowledge-Staff need to make eye contact and give a greeting upon a customer’s entrance, exit, and travels through the space. Staff providing the acknowledgement and looking open to conversation creates an environment of rapport. Customers who ask questions that can be answered without staff needing to call for assistance or pass onto another person feel very good about that organization.
Conversation-Magic begins to happen when staff and customers engage in conversations. During these moments, insights on the customer’s true experience, level of satisfaction, reason for using your business, and creating identification of this staff members representing the brand can take place. If the situation exists when the customer habitually uses the business at the same time that a certain staff person is present, a bond will develop if the conversation has started. Staff simply asking how their experience was today can start the talk. I am always amazed on the number of areas of “common ground” that are discovered during the conversation.
Connection/Re-Connection-When the conversation becomes more frequent and longer in duration, a connection has been established. If a staff member has the competency to recall a previous conversation with the customer and reference the previous conversation in the next interaction, this staff member is able to Re-Connect and demonstrate to the customer they were truly listening and valuing their connection.
Relationship-When customers begin asking other staff where a particular staff may be, it is evident there is a strong relationship present. When a staff member is perceived as the “Go-To” person to a customer, valuable word-of-mouth will often occur on the part of a customer. Networking can often result from these relationship, as opportunities will present themselves from the deep conversation taking place at each interaction, whether it’s meeting associates of each other, helping each other, or working together on a project.
Partnership/Advocacy/Community-It is a special situation when the relationship is so deep that the relationship has gone from a want to a need in the person’s personal perception. When customers advocate for the business and will DEFEND it when others have negative comments, that is the epitome of the value the customer derives from the relationship. In situations where there is consistent, constant participation within a niche community, this group will often reach connection, kinship, & partnership within each other. The participants in this community will develop a partnership with the staff member(s) to the point they may no patronize the business if the staff person leaves. The community has become a cult that will often work & play together outside of the business. Feelings abound within this community truly feel they are part of something special.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these levels and the stories of great staff-customer relations. Thank you for reading.