I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of customer service in these terms before, but I think it’s important to understand the difference and why each is important at different times.
Indirect customer service is the presentation of your business. It involves the landscaping and upkeep of your property, the cleanliness of your store or office, the accessibility and parking accommodations, the displays in your store or office, appropriate lighting (inside and outside), etc. Indirect customer service is important, but it is never more important than direct customer service. All the aspects of indirect customer service should be scheduled and should never interfere with the daily service of your customers. If, during business hours, you have too many people busy with these periphery activities you will hurt your customers’ experience with you. There’s nothing worse than trying to get help while employees are running around your store doing anything else but helping customers. Personally, I don’t put up with that for very long. I’m okay with just setting everything I was going to buy on the counter and leaving, even at the grocery store.
Many of these activities can be worked in throughout the day. If your business doesn’t have periodic down times during the day, then you will have to schedule these activities. Several of these are best done during off hours; such as resetting displays or seasonal decorating. The main objective is to stay on top of these things without interfering with the customer’s experience at your business.
Direct customer service is what all the business and sales books talk about. How your sales people treat your customers, how quickly problems get resolved, how well you serve the customer’s needs. This is always the top priority in business. As Orrin Woodward says, “It’s people before tasks. The task is never the major.”
Direct and indirect customer service can live together at the same time. The key is to realize when to stop the task at hand and welcome and focus on the customer standing right in front of you. This seems like it should be common sense, but clearly in today’s society it’s not. It has to be okay if employees don’t get some things done during the day, as long as it’s because they were busy serving customers.
The best way to empower employees to understand these differences is through leadership training. If you grow your people, they will grow your business. There is no more effective work-force than a group of men and women who are developing as leaders and “thinking business”. I highly encourage you to plug your people into a LIFE subscription. You will see a difference, and so will your customers, in just 30 days. If not, LIFE offers a 30-day money back guarantee-you have nothing to lose! Get plugged in yourself and get your people plugged in, your business will never be same.