Five service sins…and how to break them

sins of customer service
Butler or waiter holding a card reading customer service on a silver platter concept for first class or excellence

Good service is no longer about competitive pricing and quality products, it’s now about long-lasting relationships that cut through the noise. We’ve evolved from transactional needs to relational needs, from providing commodities to finding commonalities with others.

That means, there are five service sins you’ve got to be aware of and to break if you really want to get ahead in today’s competitive world.

Sin 1: Spreading negativity

We’ve all been there – dealing with rude customers or employees. But talking about them behind their back is asking for trouble. This behaviour becomes a habit, and you soon find it easier to be negative than positive. This can filter throughout your whole company and soon becomes “the norm” for your brand – which is a killer for small businesses that rely on good word of mouth.

Hence, never gossip about anyone, ever. Stop and think before you say something you regret. Ask yourself, “What will gossiping about this person achieve? Is there something more productive I could do, like getting on with providing them with a solution?”

Sin 2: Playing the blame game

None of us likes to be wrong. So, when things do muck up or we don’t meet customers’ or colleagues’ standards, our ego is sometimes too quick to protect us by blaming someone else for the breakdown.

Serving others require you to take full responsibility for your actions, regardless of your role. It’s better to direct your energy and effort into creating a solution rather than into ducking and weaving, pointing the finger at who caused the problem. People are not perfect, we all know this. How your company deals with an issue when it does arise means more than getting it right every time.

Sin 3: Controlling every move

You can’t control other people’s reactions, and it’s unrealistic to think that you’re in complete control of a situation that involves another human being. Humans are unpredictable!

When you see yourself, at the beginning of an interaction with a colleague or customer, holding tightly onto the result you want or what you expect the other person to do or say, just remind yourself that you cannot control everything. This will help you work towards an agreeable outcome for all involved and you’ll build a solid reputation based on that.

Sin 4: Burying your head in the sand

In small business, you’re continually challenged by situations that may never have occurred before. Often, we hold off on asking for help in such situations because we think we should know what we’re doing.

If you don’t know how to answer a customer or colleague’s question, it’s much better to ask someone who does. Not having the answer straight away is not a weakness. You’ll do more harm than good if you bumble along, digging a bigger hole for yourself. Don’t let your pride and ego get in the way of finding a great solution to a new problem!

Sin 5: Getting stuck in “business as usual”

Small businesses, by their very nature, are dynamic, unpredictable and sometimes a little messy. No team needs a member of staff who just wants to clock in, and clock out again as quick as possible. Everyone needs to be on the same page about the direction of the business and everyone needs an open mind when it comes to identifying areas of improvement.

No business is perfect, so if you notice something that needs attention, the best way to serve yourself, your team and your customer is to raise it in a solution-focused way. Conversations around continuous improvement.

Jaquie Scammell, customer service expert and author of “Service Habits”