Inspiring Exceptional Service

Is it possible to teach someone to provide great service, or are top-notch customer service providers born, not made? Darryl S. Doane and Rose D. Sloat, Canton, Ohio-based trainers and authors of “The Customer Service Activity Book: 50 Activities for Inspiring Exceptional Service” (AMACOM, 2005), believe that you can help your team increase their customer service quotient.

As customers have become more demanding and exacting in their desires and expectations, companies have failed to make the grade, say the authors. Fortunately, this collection of activities – divided into categories such as “Customer Treatment,” “Communication” and “Service Attitude,” can help jumpstart your team to a greater awareness of and ability to respond to the realities of a customer-centric workplace. While many of the activities will seem a bit simplistic for your seasoned sales reps, the book is perfect for a new customer service team or inside sales team that may not have a lot of experience dealing with customers.

There are some gems that will benefit any salesperson, regardless of tenure. For instance, “Transformations and Their Impact: A Reality Check” will help your team think in broader terms about the way their company and their customers’ companies have changed, and how those transformations have impacted the way they do business – in only 40 minutes. In this activity, participants are asked to think about changes in their own and their customers’ businesses, discuss how that has changed the way they work and then discuss how these changes are affecting their customers’ needs and expectations of the product or service provider.

In another activity, “Customers’ Perceptions: How Their Expectations Are Created,” participants learn how customers develop a sense of a company and form perceptions and expectations. Participants examine a collection of customer communications – the company Web site, advertising, data sheets, etc. – and then analyze these documents to see what messages are given to the reader and what expectations are created. Next, participants examine potential “moments of truth” within their organizations to see if the verbal or non-verbal promises made in their customer communications are upheld.

The volume is full of handouts, worksheets and ready-to-copy overhead diagrams, and each activity includes a materials list, preparation and room setup instructions, and a step-by-step walk-through of the activity, as well as a time estimate. Busy meeting leaders can grab the workbook, pick a topic and find a suitable activity in a matter of minutes.

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