What Dogs Teach Us About Customer Service
With Memorial Day weekend behind us, summer is officially underway! In honor of the dog days of summer, today's blog takes a light-hearted look at customer service from the canine point of view.
Customer service is going to the dogs. And, for the purposes of this blog, that’s a good thing.
While some may think that looking to canines for customer care wisdom is a bit odd, the dog lovers among us would disagree. Sure, dogs don’t speak our language, struggle with keyboarding, and if allowed, sleep about 20 hours a day. But if you look past those obvious limitations, man’s best friend is a great role model for customer service best practices.
After all, as the late Andy Rooney once noted, "The average dog is a nicer person than the average person."
With that thought in mind, below are six tricks dogs can teach us about the art of customer service:
1. Greet customers with enthusiasm
Think about how a dog typically greets you. No matter how much time has (or hasn’t) elapsed, it’s like they haven’t seen you in ages and can’t wait to get the party started. Imagine getting that kind of welcome every time you contacted a customer service department. No waiting (a dog would never put you on hold) and no transferring to another dog. And no getting knocked off your feet (disconnected) due to poor training. An upbeat, friendly and sincere welcome is a great way to start every interaction, whether in person, by phone or via a web chat. Getting the conversation off on the right foot will set the tone and, worst case, help neutralize even the grumpiest customer.
2. Be an empathetic listener
Dogs really listen, but not just with their ears. They take it all in and listen with their hearts as well. And they don’t judge. Author and columnist Dave Barry once observed, "You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!’” While human ears aren’t as keen as those of canines, there are other tools at our disposal that can aid in the customer service listening process. An integrated CRM can help you see the bigger picture without requiring the customer to repeat information. Another way to ‘listen’ to customers and capture keen insights – use your IVR for automated feedback collection (e.g., “Press ‘1’ to take a short survey.).
3. Sniff out the issues
Good customer service sometimes involves doing a little extra legwork beyond the initial interaction. Once a dog is on the trail of a scent, good luck trying to distract him or her. The best customer service operations demonstrate the same level of single-minded determination when it comes to solving a customer issue. And once you find out the answers, don’t rollover and play dead when it comes to follow-up. Retrieve the information and get back to your customers as quickly as possible via a channel they prefer – phone call, email, web chat or text.
4. Everyone benefits from training
The owner of any well-trained dog will tell you that reinforcement is key when it comes to maintaining performance. The same can be said for customer service. While orientation training is essential to getting everyone started off on the right foot, ongoing training is equally important for both the young pups (your newest agents) and their more senior counterparts. It never hurts to revisit the basics. Plus, in this age of rapidly changing technologies, it’s important to keep everyone current on the latest and greatest tools.
5. Teamwork matters
The pack mentality works for dogs. It not only maintains a sense of order, but also helps ensure that someone has your back. In a customer service setting, your team or department is your pack. Everyone has specific roles and is expected to carry them out. No need to bark out orders. Today’s technology tools are designed with various members of your pack in mind. For instance, supervisor oversight features such as silent monitoring and whisper coaching give managers the ability to provide feedback and guidance without interrupting the conversation. Other features such as barge-in and call takeover enable managers or team leads to become part of the live call and assist in resolution.
6. Earn your customers’ loyalty at every touch point
Dogs can teach us a lot about customer service, but perhaps the best way they enlighten us is in the outcome itself. Great care – be it for canines or customers – results in unrivaled loyalty. We take care of their needs, we help them with their problems and we help make their lives just a little easier. And because of that, the relationship lasts a lifetime. And THAT is golden.