The Four Levels of Service Awareness

The Impact They Have on Employees and Customers

By Jana Love President, ProSolutions | April 09, 2017

“Optimal service awareness” begins with the team you have assembled to represent your organization. Great service organizations start the path to wowing their customers by training their employees on service awareness, which is actively paying attention to and understanding your customers and their needs. This training includes how to notice customer body language, to observe their surroundings for all customer touch points, and to react and respond with informed knowledge. This training is best conducted right at the job site, so that you are helping each employee physically see the opportunities to connect with the customer in their real-world setting. The value is once they see these moments in action, they are much more likely to be able to “catch” them themselves.

The training itself, though, isn’t the biggest part. Holding employees accountable for this level of service is what makes the difference in shaping these behaviors. To do this successfully, everyone in the organization must first be on the same page in regards to performance. You can only hold someone accountable for what they understand. Make certain you have outlined exactly what your expectations are for the types of experiences you want your customers to have. Also, confirm what empowerment ( monetary and otherwise ) your employees need in order to make those experiences happen. Once everyone is on the same page, you must enforce the right performance. While “enforcing the right performance” sounds negative, the most important and successful way to do this is to catch your employees doing it right so you can acknowledge and reward their positive behavior. Not only do these actions motivate employees and promote loyalty, but their successful examples also inspire other employees and are an excellent training tool.

Before you ever get to the training phase, however, it is important that you choose your employees wisely. Some people come “pre-packaged” with service awareness, others can be trained, and then there is the large group of people working in the industry that are service deprived. We all experience each of these levels of service daily as we interact with various businesses. In fact, these are so common, that I have broken them into categories to create, The 4 Levels of Service Awareness. Understanding which category an employee falls into should definitely aid in the hiring and training process that you implement.

The Four Levels of Service Awareness

  1. Awareness Deprived - We have all experienced this level of service and asked ourselves, “Why were they hired for a service position?” This level has little regard for the customer’s needs and no appreciation for their patronage. For example, this is an employee on the phone that clearly doesn’t listen and asks the customer to repeat information several times, or one that shows no interest or is insensitive to a situation that has caused the guest problems. These employees don’t belong in a service position and can do more harm to your business than good.

  2. Trainable Awareness - This level can be good, as well as challenging, in regards to how clearly they understand the level of service that is expected. It is positive because they are trainable, and they care about the material they are learning. However, it is important to be careful because what constitutes a memorable service exchange can look very different to each employee. Some employees will take the details of their job very literally, while others are more figurative. Both can cause issues. For example, consider the case of an agent taking reservations at a hotel that has been told to talk about the hotel services. This agent may understand that to mean on each call they should simply list all the features the hotel offers, instead of connecting with the guest by asking discovery questions on what interests them most and then responding with the most important features.

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