Here at The Covenant Group, we value our client relationships just as our clients do theirs. We spend a lot of time thinking about how we support our clients, and in turn, the service lessons that our program participants can learn from us. We think it is so important that entrepreneurs who want to address their companies’ client service models first reflect on their own experiences as a client or customer.
When calling a utility, airline or retail company with a question or complaint, did you have to wait for a long time, listening to a corporation’s hold soundtrack on loop? Were you passed from one representative to the next, with none of them able to solve your problem or give you a definitive answer?
In past posts for this series, I have talked about how organizations can learn from Apple’s meticulous product design process and customer service model. Now I’d like to talk about how Apple has extended control of the experience for the client to its employees and how that has put the company among the best in its class.
If you have ever been an Apple customer, what was your experience? Apple’s retail stores are famed for their customer service. As a distant observer, I can only conclude that one of the reasons for the company’s success is because it has empowered its employees, Geniuses or not, to do whatever they can to offer solutions to customers’ technological questions and challenges. Essentially, Apple has grasped one of the tenets of client relationship management.
Giving employees skills and permission
It enables customer service by creating systems that make it easy for employees to deliver client satisfaction with product replacements, deep knowledge of the items they are selling and a genuine commitment to helping the people who walk through their doors.
I remember stumbling across a Gizmodo post about Apple’s so-called “secret employee training manual,” the “Genius Training Student Workbook.” Editor Sam Biddle explained that one of the lessons Apple conveys to its newest employees is the process of selling:
(A)pproach, (P)robe, (P)resent, (L)isten and (E)nd.
Although the overall article is critical in tone, by his telling, the company encourages workers to share their own desires, worries and needs with customers in an effort to create a deeper relationship. As Carmine Gallo writes on the Forbes blog, Apple also walks its employees through various scenarios that they will likely encounter on the floor, and equips them with strategies to not only solve technical issues but also communicate in an effective way.
Consider your own employees. Are they capable of doing their jobs at the basic level, as well as guiding clients through any problems to a solution? If not, it may be time for you to take a peek at the Apple training guide.