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Recruiting talented employees to enhance customer service

smile!Happy employees make for motivated people who want to deliver the best customer service they can to assist consumers and clients. These are the people who become the eyes, ears, and voices for any organization, often beginning at the receptionist desk  and progressing all the way up the corporate ladder to the person in charge of operations. Recruiting and keeping talented employees therefore is very important when building relationships with people and developing a company’s brand, because it’s what people say about you and your business when you’re not in their presence that makes a profound difference in the world of customer experience.

If we consider that customer service is the most important part of our marketing plans, both immediate and future, then we must concentrate on hiring and keeping the best employees because these are the people who can drive a company forward. Too often we read stories of disgruntled employees who have complained about belittling actions from their superiors, the lack of benefits for health and retirement, the absence of training programs, or the lack of confidence and permission for employees to perform their duties without having to get special permission every step of the way during a customer crisis. Once a company creates doubt and demonstrates a lack of integrity, employees lose faith and thus there is no denying that the elephant is in the room. Will your employees be your dream weavers or will they make nightmares come true?

So how do we keep employees happy and engaged? Since it’s a reality that it costs money to hire and train the best of the best, shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to recognize and celebrate accomplishments – much as we would want done to us as we reach new milestones? Start with the best training, the best coaching, and the best communicators who can teach all aspects of one’s business. Once employees have the same vision and want to help improve the experience by sharing, they become more confident and empowered to put their best foot forward when faced with unique situations. Employees are empowered when they are well-trained, well-advised, and encouraged to improve and help to advocate changes as needed.

Organizations need to be transparent, for the more that is shared with the staff, the more opportunities there will be to iron out the problems and move ahead with new ideas to make better choices. Encourage personal development, and celebrate career advancement when it is deserved. Employees are proud when their accomplishments are recognized at staff meetings and celebratory events. Make the working environment a place where employees want to show up every day; not a place where they stand outside dreading the tick of the clock.

Encourage employees to participate in community events; having rewarding and humanitarian experiences enrich a community and our country. Humanize your company, build relationships with people because everyone has family and friends who can spread the word and appreciate your efforts.

In the fiercely, competitive struggle of fashion and service, Burberry does it well

burberryy-logoWhat keeps a company in business in today’s competitive retail market? For the luxury brands, buyers insist on the quality of  merchandise accompanied by exceptional customer experiences.  Within minutes of entering a boutique, can a prospective buyer be confident of a friendly atmosphere, of comfortable surroundings, and that of a customer service consultant capable of expertly assisting without being annoying?

Welcome to the world of Burberry, a company which dates back to 1856 with 21-year-old Thomas Burberry opening his own outdoor apparel shop in Hampshire, England. Introducing gabardine, a water-repellent and comfortable fabric, Burberry’s trench coat eventually became a household word often included in the wardrobes of the rich and famous, and happily filtering down to the working class.

But it’s not just about the high end clothing even though the men’s single breasted trench coat sells for $1,295 or the cotton polo with the Burberry distinctive tartan trim sells for $150, it’s also interesting to observe some of the innovative methods used in a highly competitive market to set themselves apart. Chief creative officer Christopher Bailey made sure only one central location would be responsible for the Burberry theme; thus concentrating on design and the ‘brand’ which is inexorably fashion. The strong growth in China has boosted the organization’s growth more than 13 percent in the last three months, and according to Wikipedia, the organization has 500 stores in over 50 countries.

With the expert incorporation of social media, Burberry has more than 10 million Facebook followers, but even Twitter was not to be the final public method of expanding the younger consumer desire of fashion and function communication. Burberry began its own social platform capitalizing the roots of their 150 year-old British tradition with The Art of the Trench, described as a “living celebration of the Burberry trench coat and the people who wear it.” Where one might think that customers may have turned up their perfectly coiffed hair at such a public display, the site is full of young, good-looking customers; even featuring a few pint-sized kiddies modeling their trench coats.

And in my own experience, the Burberry store in Palm Beach Gardens offers the visually appealing, experienced sales consultants, and the ease of completing a purchase with the least amount of stress. Since 2012, sales personnel use iPads as part of the company’s technological makeover which contains customer history,  buying preferences, and all that is needed to tailor one’s shopping experience. Match that with their online collections, excellent return policies, concierge service, and alteration facilities, the customer experience keeps you smiling and relaxed. Shopping should be enjoyable, and should it matter if we pay $49 or $149 for a polo shirt? Can’t other stores take a lesson or two from a London tradition who just seems to do it better than most stores?

Personalize your customer service

Everyone wants to be treated as an individual with their own specific needs catered to; in the perfect world that’s the epitome of “wow” customer service. Of course whether we use one company or service over another usually stems from past reputation, helpfulness, integrity, or a friendly referral. That personal touch is an ever developing finely tuned rapport emanating from new products, discounts, and the knowledge and behavior of those valuable customer representatives who are an integral part of a successful organization.

Where brick and mortar establishments may have an advantage in serving up some initial pleasing customer service as smiling, friendly, and knowledgeable representatives are there to personally greet and meet, Internet and online customers are saved from those sales people who “hover.” Who hasn’t had the experience of being annoyed by an over zealous employee following you around or seemingly lurking too closely into your personal space even after you informed them you were only browsing? Who hasn’t had the annoying experience of a too pushy salesperson? And equally as annoying, is being in a store where there is no visible salesperson to help with a purchase when needed.

Internet sales continue to pull forward. First of all, customers get it the way they like it. Online companies are even making it personal with Facebook and Twitter. Representatives post on Facebook; customers get to reply, ask questions, and learn more about the product without having to find a parking space at the mall. No pushy salespeople, bigger selections, value, and competitive prices. The most competitive organizations even offer free delivery and returns.

So it would seem a valuable key to outstanding customer service would be expected service, but with an unanticipated value that sets an organization apart from others. For instance, a spa service in West Palm Beach is offering tremendously discounted prices in July and August for facials, body wraps, and massages. As a customer walks into the spa, she is lavished with the same topnotch service as would happen at the height of the Florida tourist season. Therefore, besides the value of the expected service  provided, the additional giveaways, complimentary extras, and a thoroughly pampered experience brings that personal touch that incorporates unexpected additional value.

It’s still all about building loyalty, and all about taking care of customers.  In 1901, John Nordstrom started with one Seattle store, and his philosophy hasn’t changed in over 100 years.  Amazon, Apple, and Zappos continue to hold the top reasons their customer service is so exceptional. Each company continually assesses customer service and views it as a positive challenge, each company’s founder has been personally involved, and employees are treated as valuable assets to the company and given the training, knowledge, and trust in their capabilities to bring out the best in each organization.