A+ Customer Service: Does Your Brand Make the Grade?

A smiley emoticon, a ‘thumbs-up’ like, or a multi-paragraph positive review on a third-party website – satisfied customers are the hallmark of a successful business. With an increasingly competitive marketplace, simply being friendly with clients is hardly ever enough. As a brand, your organisation must consistently demonstrate superior service quality across all customer touchpoints. This is accomplished by first recognising the aspects that your customers deeply care about. As customers, most individuals feel strongly about professionalism, dependability, responsiveness, and empathy while dealing with a business. Also, there is usually a level of trust involved when a customer invests their time, and money into a certain product or service. But the question remains: how does one measure an organisation’s customer service quality in the first place?

Here are some methods for organisations to gauge their customer service skills with:

A) Surveys


Customer satisfaction surveys provide easy access to customer feedback. What is interesting is how it can be readily distributed in multiple formats. Shoppers can answer the questions being asked by a store representative while they are browsing the aisles. App users can give their ratings, up to five stars, after using the service on their smartphones. Restaurant-goers can tap in their impressions on a tablet while the server arranges for the bill. Guests can log on to a third-party travel advisory site, select a forum, and share their experiences about a particular resort. Customers of a ride-hailing service can rate the service while waiting to talk to a customer service representative on the phone.

As a business, you can gain valuable feedback on just about anything –  how reliable is the brand, how responsive is the staff in case of an emergency, and so on – through a survey. Surveys are a great tool for evaluating a business’s performance and ensuring that your customers remain with you for the long-run.

B) After-Sales Service Feedback


After-sales service involves customer support after a product or service has been delivered. Service providers, whether over the phone or through a mobile app, often use a rating system to gain immediate feedback. The core purpose is to ensure customer satisfaction – even months after the original sale has been made. Over time, successful after-sales service programs can foster brand loyalty, customer retention, and repeat business for the company.

C) Mystery-Shopping

Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping provides management with actionable insights into the actual customer experience. This is a common method to evaluate and help compare the customer service of one company with another. It requires hiring an undercover “customer” to visit a store (either online or in person) for the purpose of testing their service quality. The mystery shopper effectively audits the particular outlet’s customer experience based on set criteria. This criterion can be similar to the one the company uses for its customer satisfaction surveys.

D) Social Media Monitoring

Social Media Monitoring

Social media, and more specifically social media marketing, has become an integral part of consumers’ lives. Customers often resort to social media to make their purchasing decisions as well as to share their experiences with the digital community. Whether they have a complaint or an accolade to share, there is a strong possibility that your customer is sharing their experience through a social media post. Customer experience experts recommend consulting social media to find genuine, unfiltered opinions about your company’s products and services.

E) Tracking Customer Service Performance

Tracking Customer Service Performance

You can have trainers on board, team-building materials at-the-ready, a positive work environment and even customer feedback but it will all be pointless if their effectiveness is not measured. Unless monitoring is taking place, the organisation will not know where the problems lie. An entire department can lose track of business objectives, and damage the brand’s hard-won reputation along the way. Managers responsible for customer success can employ pre-established customer satisfaction key performance indicators (KPIs) such as First Response Time, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Retention Rate. Organisations must set systems in place to measure, evaluate, and improve their quality of customer service on a regular basis.

F) Taking Action

Taking Action

The final step in tracking customer service quality involves making an action plan and setting it in motion. An executive team must first gather relevant customer service-related data – be it from social media reviews, surveys, phone calls, feedback from walk-ins, or email-based complaints. Next, they must work together to study the data to find patterns that signal a deficiency.  Finally, they must generate a practical, measurable plan to ensure real impact on the company’s existing service quality.

What is the desired end result? Ideally, it’s a noticeable increase in customer confidence. Customer service and employee behaviour are intangible yet intertwined.  To provide the best customer experience, your organisation needs to take steps to understand your customers and also evaluate your service. Through these methods, you can easily gauge where your brand stands when it comes to customer service quality.

Fill the Gaps with Emotional Intelligence

There will be times when the biggest challenge is keeping your employees happily-engaged in the workplace. Misunderstandings can easily arise between colleagues, even when they are sitting right across from each other. Maintaining optimal communication within an organisation is often a manager’s primary task. Often the conflict arises when one is insistent on sticking to their particular point-of-view or perspective without considering the other individual’s opinion. Emotional intelligence (EI) can resolve most problems that occur in a workplace setting. In a list compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF), emotional intelligence ranked sixth out of the top ten skills necessary to thrive in the future workplace.

Factoring In Feelings

Extra sprinkles on a dessert, a voucher for free car repair services, or a complimentary manicure session – all of these can lead to enhanced customer experience as well as a smiling customer. When an organisation is unable to deliver an optimal customer experience, the culprit may be a team with an untapped or out-of-sync collective emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EI) can be defined as the capacity of an individual to understand and manage emotions. The impact of a team’s collective emotional intelligence on the customer experience is worth a closer look. On-the-job performance can suffer a significant blow if an employee feels that their colleague is not taking them seriously. Whether they feel patronised, ignored, or dismissed, this negative feeling can demotivate them and hamper their day-to-day work. Rather than holding on to a misunderstanding or nursing resentment, an emotionally-intelligent supervisor will invite all relevant employees to engage in dialogue. But, what can be done to avoid a conflict in the first place? Organisations can choose to invest in emotional intelligence-building training sessions for their entire staff. Not only will the participants gain greater emotional awareness from the sessions, but they will also learn how to better navigate both their professional and personal lives.

Emotional Intelligence In Action

Emotional intelligence comprises of the following five skills:

  • Empathy: An empathetic individual possesses the ability to understand other people as well as their feelings. Empathetic employees are better able to connect with other people compared to those functioning on assumptions or outdated data. They can clearly perceive what motivates another individual, whether they are a colleague or a customer.
  • Self-awareness: A self-aware individual can clearly gauge where they bring value and in which areas they have a void. Not only that, they can identify their emotions as well as their possible impact on the organisation and its customers.
  • Social Skills: An individual with social skills has the ability to build and maintain good relationships. This includes all types of communication: spoken, written and listening skills. Social skills enable employees to sustain positive relationships within the company as well as with the customers.
  • Motivation: Individuals who are driven to pursue goals for their own growth will probably have higher-than-average emotional intelligence. They look beyond external awards, like money, status, or fame, to achieve a personal “best”.
  • Self-regulation: Self-regulation refers to the ability to manage one’s emotions rather than immediately acting on them. An individual who can self-regulate knows how to deal with difficult situations. They also know how to use rational thinking to arrive at a solution.

Nowadays, employers are likely to give equal importance to a prospective employee’s emotional intelligence as well as their formal academic qualifications.

Working Better, Together

Let’s suppose your department is faced with internal customer service issues and a decision needs to be made immediately. No matter how much experience you possess, it is necessary to get all the relevant team members on board before finalising a plan of action. An emotionally-intelligent professional will be able to consider the team’s best interests while controlling their own reaction. According to leadership and organisational expert Gary Yukl,  a self-aware individual is better equipped to interpret their own needs and possible reactions if a particular event takes place. This self-awareness also encourages them to seek out alternative solutions. Within a team, emotional intelligence makes the members consistent in their behaviour. This consistency leads to dependability and reliability – some of the building blocks of a successful team. Emotionally-intelligent employees can also develop and maintain healthier relationships with their colleagues as well as their customers.

As a supervisor, one can take advantage of emotional intelligence tests to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of individual employees. In addition to the self-assessment, team-building activities and training workshops can also enhance the team’s existing customer service skillsSuch bespoke training sessions can help employees recognise their true capabilities and encourage stronger bonds between the team members.

4 Reasons Why Team-building Works

Building a team comes with its own set of challenges. Sometimes, it has to do with hiring the right kind of talent and at other times, it has to do with retaining them during times of serious financial crisis. Even the best product or the most innovative business plan is meaningless if there isn’t a dedicated group of people behind it for the execution. As a team lead, first, you must be able to communicate the core business vision. This must inspire team members in a particular direction.  Secondly, you must then motivate the team to transform the vision into a concrete reality. Team-building strategies are vital for both employees and customers. Team-building activities are known to boost employee morale while also strengthening the overall customer experience.

Team-building works because it:

#1. Boosts Teamwork and Collaboration
Boosts Teamwork and Collaboration

Team-building activities help employees understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. These activities create empathy, build trust, and generally encourage participants to cooperate with each other. Training and workshops provide numerous learning opportunities, albeit in the form of smaller, collaborative tasks. Mini-challenges help demonstrate the stronger skill sets and abilities of individual team members.

#2. Enhances Overall Communication
Enhances Overall Communication

It is fair to say that just about everyone desires a work environment where they feel comfortable talking to each other. Apart from training sessions, there are several ways through which managers can facilitate easier communication between team members as well as with other departments. Project management and collaboration tools like Asana, Slack, or Trello not only keep track of tasks, and deadlines. They also provide a transparent, and convenient method through which to bridge the gap between individual employees. A simple, yet effective way to improve communication is to dedicate a cafeteria or meeting room for people to sit together have a chat or share a meal. Trainings designed around game-based learning can help employees in customer-facing roles improve their communication skills.  Such workshops will eventually result in better customer experience for the organisation.

#3. Improves Problem-Solving Skills
Improves Problem-Solving Skills

Knowing how to deal with regularly occurring issues is an important part of any job. Employees should be empowered enough to take ownership of the situation and select the right course of  action in a timely manner. Team-building activities help increase overall efficiency by enhancing problem-solving skills, and by teaching employs how to strive in high-pressure environments.  Having to deal with multiple customers, while  on the retail floor, or on the phone, can be an extremely stressful experience. Through role-playing and other similarly designed team-building sessions, facilitators can introduce best practices that ensure an overall positive customer experience- no matter how difficult the customer!

#4. Unearths Hidden Skills and Talents
Unearths Hidden Skills and Talents

Usually, team-building activities involve performing tasks in an environment completely foreign from the participant’s daily work routine. From tug-o-war to a life-size game of chess, apparently wacky team-building sessions can bring to the surface previously undiscovered skills. There might be a logistical mastermind or a practiced athlete amongst a group of scientists – all that was needed was a fast-paced escape room activity to make it apparent.

#5. Bonus: Acknowledges  Individual Contributions
Acknowledges Indivial Contributions

Building a team can consist of co-attending workshops, participating in scavenger hunts, and surviving escape room experiences. As a department head, one must also invest in customised training sessions to continually enhance their team’s customer service skills. Regularly-held training sessions can provide employees with the opportunity to identify and address areas of improvement in a safe, judgement-free environment.

Supervisors are expected to keep their employees motivated while also retaining superior customer service quality – quite a formidable task! They can cultivate vibrant, adaptable teams by providing them with an organisational direction and purpose. With the aid of personalised training games and workshops, managers can ensure that their teams will thrive in the fast-paced global marketplace.

3 Signs of a Broken Customer Experience

All businesses provide products and services, but your relationship with your customer does not stop there. Brands need to provide exceptional service, pre-sale and post-sale, as well.

The following are some hard-to-ignore signs of  broken customer experiences:

#1.Overconfidence in Action

Whether the business offers professional certifications or personalised legal services, it is imperative that the employees maintain humility while dealing with customers. Cutting off customers mid-sentence, assuming their needs, or not bothering to listen carefully – all of these actions indicate overconfidence. Managers should be on the alert for complacency within their ranks, as that threatens the overall customer service quality. Team members, whether in a traditional customer support role or as a salesperson, may gloss over the basic details while trying to resolve an issue or make a sale. Essentially, unchecked overconfidence over one’s knowledge or skill set can result in communication breakdowns and poor decision-making.  One needs to always be open to new ideas and know that there is always room for improvement. As a team leader, one must cultivate a positive attitude towards all kinds of feedback and encourage team members to learn from their mistakes.

#2.The Complacency Factor

Another clear indicator of dismal customer experience is a lackadaisical attitude towards customer complaints, concerns, and suggestions. Here are some ways to bring your team back on track:

  • Encourage customer-facing professionals to treat every customer interaction as an opportunity to make a positive impact.
  • Facilitate self-awareness sessions that allow team members to have a 360-degree view of their on-the-job performance.

Getting feedback can be quite difficult sometimes, so make sure you dedicate a well-trained person or a team, depending on the size of the company and the number of customers, to follow up and ask for feedback. Your customer-facing staff must possess above-average speaking, writing and listening skills in order to be able to deal and communicate with clients.

#3.Demotivated Team Members

Behaviour matters, especially when in a work environment where it is repeated on a regular basis. Demotivated team members, those who feel bored or dissatisfied with their role, can unintentionally convey that attitude to the customers they deal with. If your employees do not get along with each other or feel that they are not being treated well, it will eventually affect the customer experience.  

Here are a few steps that managers can take to boost employee morale:

  • Ensure that all of your employees enjoy access to a comfortable working environment.
  • Enhance your team’s skills by scheduling customer service skills trainings at regular intervals.
  • Host team-building sessions on a quarterly basis, both on-site and off-site, to improve intradepartmental relationships. Such activities will build trust and empathy between the team members.
  • Discuss challenges as well as possible solutions openly. Guide the team towards focusing on what works.
  • Carry out one-on-one goal-setting and evaluation meetings with individual team members. Work with each employee to set clear goals for their role as well as growth within the organisation. Employees must believe they have a future with a company, otherwise, uncertainty will translate into a lacklustre on-the-job performance.
  • As a manager, you have to realise the importance of being in tune with your employees. Whenever possible, foster direct rapport with your team members by asking about their loved ones, keeping track of their hobbies, and  inquiring about their health.

Customer-centric teams prioritize a balanced and professional attitude under all circumstances. To run a successful business, an organisation must  be open to external as well as internal feedback. Anonymous ‘virtual’ suggestion boxes can persuade team members to share their concerns without the fear of repercussion or office politics. By zeroing in on what the team thinks and feels, management can make the necessary changes to keep their employees motivated and focused.

Redefining The Guest Experience For Hotels

Which particular elements best define a hotel? Most people have their unique perception of what constitutes a luxurious hotel experience. For some guests, it’s the gourmet chocolate on the pillow while for others its the 24/7 room service facility.  Similarly, every company in the hospitality industry has its own special way of providing their guests with a pleasant stay. There are certain hotels that take great pride in offering customer-centric services, while others make the city or region they belong to the hotel’s reigning theme. Hotels, by virtue of their industry, are distinctly positioned to continually redefine the term true customer service.Guests no longer experience only one part of the hotel. Instead, they look for the entire package comprising of comfort and entertainment. The modern-day hotel guest is more informed and more selective about where they will spend their hard-earned money.  Most hotels are now entire destinations on their own. A superior hotel must do more than merely keep up with its immediate competition. They must keep innovating and through that innovation, keep exceeding their guests’ expectations.


A hotel cannot be built just anywhere. Hotel develop requires the input and coordination of many qualified professionals. The first impression any potential guest has of a hotel depends upon its physical location. While the specifics may vary, from city to city and region to region, guest pay close attention to the luxury hotel ’sproximity to key city attractions as well as the ease of access to public and private transportation.

The notion of contemporary luxury is constantly evolving, however, it begins with an aesthetically-pleasing space paired with undeniable comfort. All of that can be ‘designed’ into the hotel – even at the blueprint stage. This can mean plush carpets, wider aisles to accommodate wheelchairs, silk sheets with higher-than-usual thread counts, and numerous ways to communicate with customer support.


Now, more than ever, potential guests expect speed, efficiency and comfort from their hotel. Everything is now just a tap away; one can do their research, go through reviews, and make bookings from the comfort of their own home. Social media and live chat are outpacing all traditional means of communication with the customer. With a uniform online presence, be it an official hotel website or an actively managed social media profile, hotels can offer round-the-clock assistance with minimal delay. Hotels must make the reservation, check-in, and check-out processes as smooth as possible.


Hotels with higher levels of employee satisfaction will see that reflected in positive feedback from their guests. Whether it is through online reviews or the guestbook, happily-engaged staff members are bound to work harder to achieve true customer satisfaction. Each and every member of the staff, from the front desk manager to the bellboy, plays a vital role in securing the best possible guest experience. Experienced hoteliers make sure to invest in customer service training for their teams on a regular basis.  For example, game-based training programs are fun and extremely effective in enhancing soft skills.  Your staff will learn how to work in teams, deal with difficult customers and take ownership when it comes to solving problems. A well-trained staff will also reduce turnover.


The hallmark of a global hotel chain is the consistency in service provided by the staff, from Cape Town to New York. From the way the pillows are fluffed to how the lobby is designed, these hotel chains strive to maintain the same service culture and aesthetic at all of their locations. In 2019, hotels are being designed (and in some cases, re-designed) around the user experience. This is evident in cleaner, more functional layouts which contrast the congested, grandiose room designs of the recent past. The contemporary hotel guest more likely to queue up a movie on their personal electronic device rather than rely on the hotel’s own television-cum-cable set-up. So, now the priority is in providing high-speed wifi connection over a large-scale, wall-mounted television.

As hoteliers, one must honour the guest’s trust when they commit to staying at your hotel. From the pre-booking stage to the post-stay stage, hotel management should strive towards service excellence.

True luxury lies in providing the guests with exceptional customer service – day or night!