Why Walking The Talk Is Essential for Effective Leadership and Great Customer Service

As we all know, the way our customers buy is forever changing as technology becomes more and more into play for traditional bricks and mortar retailing. Huge money is being invested into making stores look amazing so customers are wowed when they first walk in.

Anything that creates an experience has to be good for the customer, however, my biggest issue is the team have to back this up with their enthusiasm. It’s their enthusiasm that shows they want to be there, want to serve customers and it shows through as a genuine interest in wanting to make the customer feel special.

The big problem right now is the level of service that I see and experience is a long way (most of the time) from enthusiastic. We have all experienced the lack of attention as team members talk amongst themselves, put tasks first and when they do approach give a strong impression that the customer is an interruption. Retailers can have all the technological bells and whistles, but if the team doesn’t back it up it’s just not going to work anywhere as well as it should.

One of the many reasons why our service is still poor, or at best average, is because of poor leadership. Customer experience is management driven. If the leader of the business has a focus on service, then the team will too. Often senior leaders are too far removed from the frontline, they don’t spend enough time in the store talking to the team and talking to the most important people in every business, the customer. Little or no time is spent observing how the team interact with customers.

Senior leaders have to know what challenges their customers face, so they can solve them and they have to know what challenges and road blocks prevent their team from providing excellent customer service. The only way to know is to spend time at the front line – where the money is made or lost!

Here are some tips for senior leaders if you want to drive a customer service culture:

• Spend time at the frontline actually serving and talking to customers on a monthly basis – the team and customers will love it.
• Regularly spend time in store talking to both customers and team members – with no filter, you’ll actually find out what your customers and team are experiencing.
• Seek feedback from the frontline team on what’s working and what’s not – encourage team members to come up with ideas to improve the customer experience as well as other areas.
• Encourage a culture of exceeding customer expectations – share stories and examples of team members who have done this and challenge everyone to constantly focus on providing great service.
• Have a coaching culture whereby frontline team members are receiving feedback, particularly positive feedback on their interaction with customers – challenge store managers to lead this by being observant and watching how each team member interacts with customers.

There’s a bit of work to get this happening, but if you think just introducing exciting and cutting edge technology will do the trick, you’ll miss a massive opportunity to complement this with amazing, passionate and enthusiastic team members. This, to me, is the ultimate experience that customers will love.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.