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Thursday, 25 May 2017 18:29

Creating a Customer Care Culture, Finding and Inspiring Staff To Support It

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TrappMcNaughton May17 Rigina

McNaughton taught WIN Conference attendees about the importance of potential employees possessing the right traits and high emotional intelligence.


On the final day of WIN's 2017 Educational Conference in Denver, CO, Steve Trapp of Axalta Coating Systems and Rigina McNaughton from Salsapants, Inc. discussed "Creating a Customer Care Culture, and Finding and Inspiring a Staff to Support It."

Stressing the importance of the HR process, Trapp stated, "We need to retain the people we have and attract new people. Then we need to take care of them all."


To begin the recruiting process, businesses need to become the "employer of choice." Trapp explained, "First, determine what makes your business special, and then include these factors in your employments ads. You should also post an employment resume on your website to demonstrate what makes you so unique."


Effective methods for advertising include employee or customer referrals, window signage, company websites and social media, as well as advertising on local high school and college job boards and initiating internships. Trapp cautioned, "Younger employees have to know there's a career path, so it's important to recognize people's aptitude; we need to rethink what direction these impressionable people entering the industry go."

When screening applicants, begin by determining which candidates meet your criteria and then perform phone screens to ascertain their emotional intelligence which determines how people manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Since a customer service representative will be the first person with whom a customer interacts, these individuals must be positive, articulate and responsive; they should be curious about other people because it's important to understand why customers react a certain way.


Because interviewing is imperative to selecting the right people to employ, a face-to-face interview is next. This includes a welcome, a description of the interview and hiring process, a company history, and a job description. Questions should generate examples that are not hypothethical, and then the interviewer should look for contrary evidence to ensure the candidate is genuine and if they possess the desirable behaviors, traits and skills for the position. Potential hires should also be given an opportunity to ask questions. The initial interview will be conducted by the General Manager, but if a second interview is required, it should be done as a means of obtaining a second opinion and should take place with another authority in the company.


Interviewers should be looking for customer service traits in candidates, such as patience, attentiveness, clear communication skills, positive language, time management skills, tenancy, a willingness to learn, and the ability to read customers. McNaughton stressed, "Reading people is important as a way of figuring out what your customer wants and being able to reassure them. It's okay to test people in interviews to determine if they have the traits and emotional intelligence necessary for the position."


Once you've made a hiring decision, it's vital to put a new employee "in the right seat." Define their work schedule and job description, and set expectations of their job accountabilities and your company's pay plan. Employers should also customize and set a daily training schedule by position with quizzes and a checklist to be signed by the manager and the trainer. Managers should also explain the company's mission, values, key policies, procedures and history, ensuring that this message is provided consistently.


Job specific orientation and training is the next step, and shops should also find additional ways to develop staff. Review work and quality standards, consider using I-CAR or AMI curriculum for new hires, and send appropriate individuals to OE certification training or Axalta product and color training, Trapp advised.


Employee mentorship programs are also beneficial as the mentor provides a focal point for the new employee to get help and information, plus this establishes an early notification system for potential problems and lost opportunities to integrate new employees effectively. McNaughton warned that 75% of apprentices leave in their first year due to a lack of communication and false job expectations. To circumvent this cycle, she suggested matching the communication and learning styles of the mentor and mentee to enable better communication. Mentors should meet with their mentee regularly, every few hours for the first month, to provide accountability, but it's important to remember that everyone learns at different rates. Feedback should be delivered in a ratio of four positives to one negative.

Establishing a reward structure can make work fun and meaningful. Rewards can be spontaneous or given through contests or at pre-shift meetings to recognize superior performance.


A company's culture is set by its owners and managers. According to the Circle of Customer Service, if the owner takes care of the employees, the employees will take care of the customer who, in turn, takes care of the owner. McNaughton warned, "When you set expectations and fall short, you have a lower satisfaction rating because people remember what happened last. Keep it positive."


To develop a 90% retention rate, make a connection with employees and encourage them to connect with customers because happy employees and customers lead to a happy work environment which improves employee retention. Holding an annual review and coaching session is valuable, but it's important to provide negative feedback and coaching immediately, rather than holding it for the review; the annual performance review should hold no surprises.


When coaching, managers should set high standards for themselves and others. They should be present, get involved and pay attention without being sneaky, and they should also discuss and redirect poor performance. Before coaching an associate, managers must ask if there's a difference between the standard and actual performance, whether the standard is realistic for the situation, if the employee knows and understands the standard, including why and how it's measured, whether there are hindrances beyond the employee's control, and if the employee has received feedback on the subject before.


It's also imperative that leaders reinforce good behavior by describing the specific actions being praised, explaining the results of those actions and stating their appreciation. Additional keys to success include using customer feedback as a positive coaching tool and creating a culture that promotes honest, integrity and consistency.

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