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Customer service: a spontaneous echo

etsy, pop up, customer, shop, serviceSo much is written, preached, remonstrated and demanded in the quest for this elusive circumstance. Employees will regurgitate verbatim the latest version, dependent on the audience, yet most will not act upon them in their dealings with clientèle.

Despite the deluge of instruction and pleading, there is an intrinsic misconception by learning and development departments in their efforts to deliver the concept and in management’s comprehension of what drives the behaviour. Both parties fixate on a small section they label “customer service” in an extraordinary conviction that it is skill-centric.

There is nothing worse or more off-putting than artificial interaction and a disingenuous sentiment. The caricature affectation of the staged smile of the corporate marionette is enough to turn the hardiest of constitutions doing little to endure a target market. No amount of indoctrination will enthuse demonstrable passion from team members unless there is meaningful engagement. No prizes for guessing that engagement cannot be manipulated or forced.

Likewise, the overzealous intentions of a commission based salesperson, whose direct and obvious agenda intimidates and invades personal space, incites targeted punters to erect self-protective walls of botheration. Intense training and the threat of underachievement and failure are key drivers for these individuals who have little self-awareness and a poor grip on emotional intelligence.

Fulfilling customer expectation is a spontaneous echo of an engaged workforce in a business, which includes them in every aspect of its endeavour and success. “Customer service” is an insight, a reaction, to how an individual perceives themselves within an organisation. If alienated they will respond with apathy or anger; intimidated – defensive or detached; undervalued – minimal output and uninspired.

There is no greater joy in exceeding customer expectation through the synergy of a dedicated and happy workforce where social grace is au naturel. Where ambition thrives with success, sense of achievement connects with sales, value collaborates with being valued and accountability unites with inspiration. Lofty ambition perhaps, but goals we all must strive toward before detracting responsibility to an oft inundated and under appreciated shop floor. Most of whom love what they do and work very hard for.

Forget the archaic vestiges of “customer service” as a subject, title or label for it is a small part of an intricate set of behaviours fashioned from the top. Rather identify opportunity and implement reform in the crusade for the wonderous reverberation of the spontaneous echo. Always reaffirming to oneself and others that retail is about people, for people by the people.

Dave Farrell is a retailer and writer with three decades of experience on three continents. He can be reached at Freelance Alliance NZ on  alliance@vodafone.co.nz.

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