Getting To The Heart Of The Matter In Customer Service
By Holly Stiel President, Thank You Very Much Inc. | April 01, 2012
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote-and the spirit in which it was written-should serve as the foundation for every customer-service training program. Training that focuses exclusively on imparting the mechanical skills of the job is missing an integral piece-the human aspect of the transaction. Focusing on the heart and soul of customer service is an essential adjunct during both the initial orientation and the ongoing education for all who have chosen this rewarding, and sometimes challenging, career.
Whether one serves guests in a hotel lobby or customers in an automobile showroom, there are bound to be trying days. It seems to come with the territory. There are irate guests and customers, seemingly relentless requests and the tedium of answering the same question or performing the same task a thousand times over. After a difficult day, more than one service provider has thrown up his hands exclaiming, "They don't pay me enough to do with this!"
Regardless of the monetary compensation, there are simply times when it seems the reward is not commensurate with the rote routine of the work. One of the ways I encourage service providers to discover more depth and satisfaction in what they do is by introducing the concept of the "psychic salary™." The psychic salary is applicable not only to the tough days, but each and every day on the frontlines of service. Of course, a paycheck is a welcome and necessary reward for a job well done, but the "psychic salary" is an invaluable bonus that all service providers can grant themselves throughout the day, on a daily basis. Simply put, it constitutes the positive feelings one experiences when serving others, which can override the frustrations that are bound to occur, and enhance job satisfaction tenfold.
Training programs for service providers should begin, literally, at the heart of the matter-identifying the reasons participants began a career in service in the first place and the intrinsic, non-monetary rewards that keep them motivated. Building this vital awareness of the positive feeling state is the first step in empowering service providers to contribute to their own "psychic paycheck."
The best way I have found to shift participants to this level of thinking (or better yet, feeling) is asking: How does serving others serve you? or What is it about your work that makes you feel good? To some, the answer comes easily, especially if the reason they were drawn to the hospitality profession was an inherent desire to help people. Some may need to give it some thought before they can put their finger on how they're served by serving others. And, there may be a few who are at a complete loss when it comes to identifying positive aspects to their jobs. At the risk of sounding harsh, it might be appropriate for this third group to consider pursuing another career path.