The secret to improving customer service (and therefore, increasing
customer loyalty) is simple: Hire friendly people and don’t make them
use scripts. In the past few weeks I’ve experienced both sides of this
I’ve had to deal with my share of customer service robots. Too many
of these people use scripts like life-support. They’ve erased all
traces of personality from their souls (at least when dealing with
customers.) Dealing with them satisfies my customer expectations no
more than a plate of baked cardboard would appease my appetite.
But there’s good news!
If you are persistent, you can find companies where people are not
plastic replicas of computer generated models. These organizations hire
real people who act like real people. When you talk with them they
actually seem glad to help you. And they show some personality.
One example is well known for their customer service: Zappos.
Recently I sent an email to their customer service with a question and
a request. The person who responded seemed happy to help me. You could
feel her warmth right through the email. (That’s not easy to do.) Every
email from her painted a picture in my mind of a smiling, fun-loving
person who enjoys her job, her customers and probably everything in her
I find this completely refreshing. And fun. Working with someone like this makes my day.
The other example came from the Texas Self Storage Association.
My new friend there let her personality shine through her emails with
no filters . Like the Zappos person, she seemed to enjoy the personal
connection she made with people and it showed. She made a boring flat
communication medium come alive. That’s not easy to do either.
The most recent customer service survey
my company did showed these traits are important to customers. They
told us the best customer service companies have employees who are
(among other things) friendly, caring and helpful.
So how do you get beacons of personality like these on your team?
I know some people will consider this heresy but the first step is
to lose the scripts. When you force people to conform to scripts you
remove their spontaneity and much of their personality. They focus on
following the script rather than on listening and responding naturally.
Their ability to listen and learn how to help their customer is
If you want your employees focused on their customers, you need to free them from their scripts.
The second thing is to hire friendly people. A friend of mine brings
every employee candidate to lunch. It’s informal, not part of the
interview. He likes to see them as they are outside of the HR process.
The way they treat people (like their server) tells him more than a
resume ever could.
Ask others how they hire friendly. Do a Google search. Read all you
can about Zappos or call them and ask how they do it. They’ll probably
tell you. Find ways to hire people who enjoy helping people. Then let
them do what they do without the shackles of scripts. Encourage them to
let their personality loose with every customer. You’ll find customer
loyalty increases because they’ll enjoy doing business with you more.