Now more than ever, customer loyalty and engagement is vital to the success of any business. Customer service has become a priority and businesses that fail to equip staff to create amazing customer experiences will not survive. Fancy marketing isn’t enough. We’ve got to KEEP customers once we gain them.

Knowing how to equip staff with these skills is not an easy one because it’s dealing with people. People are messy!

In this article I share where I stumbled, figured out what tripped me up, and then created some actionable items my staff (and myself!) incorporated into our every day lives.

The difference it made in our business growth, in my staff’s engagement, company culture, and customer satisfaction was phenomenal!

Is the Task a Priority Over the Customer?

How can I teach my employees that the customer who is standing in front of them is more important than finishing the project I gave to them?

I found this problem perplexing and confusing. To me, I automatically assumed that when a customer came in, my staff would give them their full attention. What I found instead, was that staff was hell-bent-to-election on finishing up the task that they were doing and at times the customer had to wait.

Even if this wait time was 5 seconds or 10 seconds it didn’t matter. Waiting does not make the greatest first impression on the customer.  (It certainly does not to me!)

The solution to this conundrum did not present itself overnight, it came about through continued training, working to empower my staff, and looking at my own self as part of the problem.

While I didn’t like admitting this, I realized that I was very task oriented and I often put the task in front of the person. After all, there’s so much to do when running a business!

Case in Point – Leading my Staff by Example

When one of my fabulous staff would pop into my office to ask me a question, I was usually deep in thought. Not always, but as an introvert, and a busy business owner, often. I would finish up a thought stream and THEN help them.

I was communicating to them that whatever it was I was working on was more important than they were.

They simply modeled my behavior and replicated it.

The Financial Cost of Not Being Immediately Engaged

Financial Value of Training Staff -

This was costing  money and growth.

  • Customer experience has fast become a top priority for businesses and 2021 will be no different.
  • Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies due to the experience they receive. If you cannot keep up … your customers will leave you.

Correcting the Problem – Customer Engagement Skills

I needed to model to my staff what I wanted them to model to the customer. I realized my example was a big part of the problem. Not as easy as it sounds.

It’s straightforward to train the tasks needing to be done. It’s natural during Onboarding to train tasks and systems. It’s altogether another ball of wax to train the skills needed to interact with the customer. There are MANY skills to train when it comes to interacting successfully with, and serving the customer well.

I found that training these skills was VITAL to build business especially with a marketing budget that was close to nil. My business grew directly as a result of consistently providing amazing customer experiences.

The Solution – Training First Steps

Far and away training and practicing the three things needed to make a great first impression made all the difference in the world. In the list above, it’s #3: First Impressions.

We practiced these three:

  1. Eye Contact
  2. Smile
  3. Greeting

We practiced them not only with our staff but with one another.

KEY TAKEAWAY: We practiced with one another. Immediately when we came into work and saw someone (that might even be in the parking lot!) we worked to make these actions rote. We practiced these three with fellow staff, vendors, and, of course, customers.

It took time to have these three be automatic responses, but the results were incredible!

  • Increased workplace satisfaction
  • Staff ‘get to work’ mindset happened immediately – not after they had clocked in and processed some tragedy with a colleague
  • Customers LOVED seeing our team
  • Grumpy customers turned around their attitudes more quickly
  • Complaints were less confrontational (really not at all)
  • Customer Retention skyrocketed (one customer returned to the hotel 10 times within the first 3 years!! It was a two hour drive from her home)
  • We retained staff longer (less turnover)
  • Our workplace environment became more positive

There is not one magic bullet, but we started here -with the three – and built on that foundation. Getting these three under our belt was key to our growth.

These three sound simple. They are! But they are anything but easy. Try it and see for yourself.

If you would like a digital workbook to walk you and your staff through training these three skills, click this link and it’s yours! (The digital workbook link is right at the top of the page)

The skills trained in the workbook were the foundation for building and growing a fantastic and robust business.

Samantha works with business owners helping to ‘tame the overwhelm’, assisting with customer acquisition & retention, employee training & retention, and honing your Customer Experience so it kicks butt.

She conducts workshops and training in hospitality, Customer Experience, and creating a culture in the workplace that inspires and motivates employees and customers.

There's untapped, untrained power in your staff just waiting to be unleashed to help grow your business! Grab a copy of the eBook and Guide: First Impressions Matter to equip staff and grow your business today.

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