[First published on StartupCentral]
Running a business is a battle, as much as it is poetry. It takes a lifetime of determination, weeks of grit and yet promises those moments of sheer joy and a sense of fulfillment. The challenges in a business are many and effective customer service is one of them. It cannot just be you fighting all the battles and writing all the poems. There is a need for you to build a community of like-minded people within your organization, focused on the common goal of startup nirvana — great success in what you’re doing.
Having warriors and monks
Customer service is a team game. From the front ranks to the folks who handle the back-end, the team should be equally motivated and aware of what goes into your product or service in order to delight your customer. If they are upset, can a smile on the phone help? If their requirement is urgent, can going out of the way help? If they are very happy, can sending over a few muffins help? And the best ways to be diplomatic while saying ‘no’? You understand how the entire team should be on one page while communicating with your customer.
Warriors win you battles
We do need team members with hearts of lion and claws of steel. We need them to be brave, confident go-getters who won’t take an easy ‘no’ for an answer. These warriors are motivated as much by the potential of their personal success as their growth with your company. When a customer complains, warriors are at the forefront mollifying the troubled soul, taking prompt action against those at fault and suggesting changes to the system that brought about the complaint. Warriors are charming, decisive and aggressive. You can trust them to handle those tough situations.
Monks win you hearts
Soft spoken, conscious and empathetic-monks delve into the human essence of every customer interaction. There are times when the customer is unreasonable and a warrior might be tempted to take an extreme step. Or perhaps a team member has committed sacrilege in customer service and a warrior might be tempted to be upfront, not caring that the customer is around.
Monks come in with cool heads and grasp the situation from a holistic perspective. They are polite, humble and diplomatic. Their few, well chosen words almost always yields desirable results. Monks make poetry of situations, they blog about the experiences, they photograph smiles and are gifted with content marketing skills.
Warriors might break open the gates and solve most of your problems. Monks, however, come in when the problems are sensitive, complicated, escalated and ‘convert’ for the greater good.
Two sides of the same coin
Ideally, it is best for your warriors and monks to be the same people. If they can consciously decide when to sheath the blade and handle the present, you have winners on board. Customer service is all about interacting with people who have the same emotions, the same opinions and the same reactions as you. However, the trick is to keep that in mind when you run the other side of the counter.
The combination of a bloodthirsty army and enlightened monks will take you a long way in building a winning customer service culture. Identifying the problem at hand and dealing with it using a relevant solution makes sense.
Train your tribe
Your team needs to be convinced about some traits that are often forgotten when in the field. From basic courtesy, punctuality and sincerity, to taking responsibility when the situation threatens to get out of hand. Identify dominant traits in your team members and groom them right. Send them out in the open, test them and discuss what was to be learn’t over coffee.
Be good to them, they look up to you. Share what made you startup, share what keeps you going. When you share your motivations behind providing delightful service, it inspires them. They relate to the stories you tell them and the stories get shared.
Have monks in your ranks along with warriors.
That will ensure great customer service.
As the wise Yoda once said, “Wars not make one great.”