Stellar service is easy when the coffers are flush.
Being in the black isn't a guarantee that you will have good service but it makes the job a lot easier. It is easier when there are no compromises required and when you can pull out all of the stops to satisfy the customer. Whether it is more perks, more staff or better systems. It is easy to have good service when there are no constraints.
Many companies today do not have this luxury. They have been forced to deal with constricting budgets, smaller work forces, and customers that (since they are probably also being squeezed) demand more for less.
As a service manager this is difficult. We all have a picture in our heads of what the best possible service is. If we are struggling to meet this ideal we take it personally. Likewise, it is equally difficult for the rest of the staff. They also have their ideas of what good service is (hopefully it jives with your own) and they also hurt when they aren't reaching their ideal.
What can we do to work through these tough service times?
- Everyone in the team needs to understand the situation. If everyone understands the constraints, they are more likely to work within them instead of against them.
- Affirm the commitment to good service. The team needs to understand that the number one priority is still to satisfy the customer.
- Streamline process as much as possible. I've discussed process before. It is important that they are only as complicated as required. Especially when short on resources.
- Focus on the simple things that will make your customers happy. You might not be able to take every customer out for a round of golf or something more exciting but you might be able to provide a quick solution to a problem or make one of their daily tasks a little easier. Sometimes the little things have big impact.
Maintaining excellent service isn't a guarantee that business will improve but it might be the advantage that keeps you ahead of your competitors in tough times.