One of the unsung business assets of the area where I live is a customer service training program called “Montana Superhost”.
In the old country, er I mean a few years ago, the program cost $15-25 per trainee. The last time I saw a course offered , it was *free*.
Why every session of this course isn’t overflowing with people is a mystery to me. People should be lined up out the door as if someone is giving away iPads or fresh crispy bacon or something.
Even if they do start charging a fee, you’d be nuts not to send your entire staff – and *especially* the newbies and temporary summer employees.
It only takes one
Yes, even your temporary summer employees. In fact, ESPECIALLY those folks.
It might seem like a waste to pay them for their time at Superhost training (yes, you should) and the course fee (if any)- but I suggest that it isn’t waste at all.
No matter what every tourist season customer spends at your business, all it takes is one untrained, unfriendly (and/or surly, uncaring etc) employee to prevent that customer and their family from returning.
But that isn’t the worst part.
The worst part is that they’ll tell 10 of their friends about the experience (market research has shown that bad experiences are related to 10 people, good experiences are related to 3).
It doesn’t take much study to see the value of this investment, especially for those businesses with a lot of first-time public-facing employees.
Old man take a look at me now
About six years ago, I sorta dragged my then-15 year old son to Superhost training one summer morning. My interest was in seeing what was being taught so I’d know whether to advise customers to send their people to take the course.
He came away with a few lessons that have repeatedly paid off in every job he’s held.
I think Superhost should be taught a few evenings a year at every high school.
While the course varies a little from year to year, I’ve found that the training is definitely worth the investment of time and money for every staffer you have.
With money tight this summer and your employees perhaps being a little older than normal due to employment levels, you might be tempted not to provide customer service training for your staff.
Don’t make that mistake. Your employees might be under a little more pressure than normal due to their employment situation. A spouse might be out of work. It’s easy to get distracted when things at home are tense.
Training of this nature goes a long way to assuring the kind of consistent customer experience that brings people back again and again, plus it makes your employees (permanent or not) more valuable to your business.
That’s a critical concept, because the impact of their job reaches far beyond what they might think.
A few years earlier…
Many years ago, I was sitting in a course when the group was asked about the impact of attitude on a customer’s experience.
Specifically, the question was about why it mattered what attitude someone uses when working with customers.
In an almost mockingly depressing Droopy Dog kind of tone, I said “Because every job is a sales job”.
The instructor detected the point of my tone and asked me to repeat myself.
This time, I said “Because every job is a sales job” in a freakishly effervescent, pleasant tone of voice – again with the intention of making the opposite end of same point.
From the occasionally snarky customer service person having a bad day to the kindest delivery person, from the nicest hotel concierge to the annoying little computer tech support person with no patience for anyone who calls to report a bug, the interactions of any and all of these people has a substantial impact on your sales.
Bigger than you might realize. Big enough to run off every customer they work with, if left unchecked.
It’s not at all uncommon for staffers who don’t typically interact with the public, or don’t *want* to because they have work duties that require no customer interaction mixed with duties that do require regular customer interaction (bad combination for what should be obvious reasons).
Some of them don’t recognize that fact, because they haven’t been trained to recognize the value of their behavior to every customer whose paths they cross.
It’s your job to make sure they HAVE been trained…because their job IS a sales job, no matter what they do.