By: Brenda Robinson
What is this new idea of “coaching” the customer? What do we mean when we apply the term “coaching” to customer service? What happened to the “them” and “”us” approach?
We now work in a world of new and changing customers. We have customers who have higher expectations and greater demands. They expect to be included in decision-making, problem solving, planning and implementation of policies, procedures and strategies. They want us to listen to their input, review their feedback and appreciate their efforts. Indeed, customers want to be “on the team.”
Like all good team players, our customers need to be coached. Good coaching will bring the team together to achieve positive and constructive results.
The new customer / client / user / guest
The change in customers calls for a change in attitude and approach. We’ve always talked about the “front line” as if it were the “firing line.” We have used “at war” terms to describe the position we take in meeting our customers. What happened to people on the “front line?” They got shot at, wounded and worse. We had to send in relief when they became exhausted from ducking, dodging and fighting the “enemy.” Is this the way we want to engage our customers? Not only are our customers undergoing a dramatic change, so are we, as service providers.The Disney Corporation and West Jet refer to their customers as guests. Their guests are welcomed, enjoyed and invited to come back over and over again. This sheds a new light on the aspect of front line service. The front line becomes the place we meet instead of the line we defend. When we begin to meet on a common ground, we can begin to be on the same team. That is when the front line service providers become a coach. Ken Blanchard and Don Shula discussed the idea of a new perspective on coaching in their book “Everyone’s a Coach.” They suggested that the people who are doing the work together always have something to contribute from a coaching perspective.