May 10, 2012 — Theresa DaBiere-Craig
Do you have a mindset of providing service to others when you set out for school or work each day? We all have opportunities to have a positive impact on the people around us. At school it can be by participating in service projects or by just being helpful to others and practicing civility. At work, it may be in the form of direct responsibilities for customer service or by having an “attitude of service” to our co-workers and the people with whom we do business.
The Center for Employer Services at FM provides training that includes interactive activities to build strong customer service skills. We have broadened the scope of training by addressing the needs of the two types of customers that all businesses serve. External customers are the consumers of our products and services. Internal customers are employees and other people we do business with to accomplish the mission of the organization.
In order to provide great service, it is important to look at the needs of our customers. Through training we examine ways to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s customers in various business settings such as retail, healthcare, manufacturing, wholesale, distribution, and service based organizations. Improving communication skills is always a big part of elevating customer service. We need to ensure that we communicate with a welcoming and helpful tone. It is important to demonstrate to the consumer that we understand and care about their needs. Learning to practice active listening is also an important part of providing excellent service. Once we have a clear understanding of their needs, we must let the customer know that we have a sincere intent to respond in a timely and accurate manner.
Response time and follow through are known to be the most important things we can do to satisfy a customer. It is essential to train company representatives on how to focus their attention on the finer points and little details of service. Customer loyalty is often established through many small interactions with the people who represent the organization, not just a single aspect of service.
All of these best practices for interacting with external customers hold true for service to our internal customers. When we provide training on teamwork, we include the behaviors that mirror customer service. We all expect our co-workers, vendors and other people we work with to treat us like a valued customer. How do we know what consumers, co-workers and suppliers expect of us? Ask them! What is a reasonable response time? What additional information is needed? When expectations are clear it is much easier to satisfy the customer. Asking good questions is an important part of the customer service, communication and management training programs FM offers to employers.
Investing in training can sometimes be funded by grants. The Center for Employer Services is gathering information about the training needs of local employers for a SUNY Workforce Training Grant. If you would like to explore how that project can support the training goals of your organization, contact me at (518) 424-9370 or via email at Theresa.Craig@fmcc.edu.
Theresa DaBiere-Craig is the Outreach Representative for the Center for Employer Services at FM.