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Customer Service Style - The Icing on Your Customer's Cake

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Whatever kinds of customer service you offer - whether big or small, expensive or cheap, large-scale or small - do it with style. Style means doing things in your own special way -- with confidence, charisma, and class. Here are 7 ways to put on your own style.

1. Put A Smile On Your Face And You'll Put A Smile On Theirs. Service with a smile is something of a cliché. But if you want to make people love your service, then do it with a sincere smile. The word "sincere" comes from the Latin "sine cire" meaning without wax, i.e. not false. A sincere smile makes people feel welcome, reassures them and leaves them with a pleasant glow.

2. Create Living Theatre. Management guru Tom Peters says that delivering great service is like putting on a show. And every new day is a golden opportunity to try something new. Think of yourself as a performer, magician, stage-manager, creator of good feelings, daredevil, and bringer of delights. Now who'd want to miss that show?

3. Reinstate Pride In Service. Ray Pahl of Kent University says that many service workers regard serving others as menial, second-class work with a low profile and little rewards. It is not much different from servility. If that's the way your staff views service, then you need fresh customer service programs to re-educate them and turn service into a prized profession which they can be proud of.

4. Reverse Bad Practices. One of the reasons why people don't "customer-care" in some organizations is because the organization hasn't shown them how. They buy second-class materials, let defects go through, and are sloppy about answering the phone. Put some style back into your service by aiming to be the very best at everything the customer gets.

5. Change Your Assumptions. Old assumptions about staff can stand in the way of delivering customer service style. If you believe that your front-line staff can't make decisions by themselves, are only interested in their own jobs, and need someone else to tell them what to do, then you need to re-think your assumptions.

6. Get Closer To Your Customers. When organizations focus on the customer's needs rather than their own, he or she becomes a partner, an ally, a friend. For example, Southwest Airlines businesses in the USA invite their customers to sit in on their recruitment panels when they take on staff. And in the UK, the staff at cosmetic retailers Body Shop get half a day paid leave a month to go and work on local community projects in the areas where their customers live. That's getting close to your customers.

7. Keep Working At It. Customer service doesn't happen overnight. You have to work at it and so does your team. It may mean reversing bad attitudes such as "second-best is OK". Or updating management assumptions that say the staff can't take decisions for the customer. (They can!). But in time a class act is yours for the asking.

Work on these 7 habits and you'll quickly discover that not only will you bring a touch of magic to your customers' lives; you'll also add something special to your own.

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