Service Staff: Strategists and Trend Scouts

Ideally, they have an XL package of capabilities. And their experience from direct customer contact can be worth a mint for the company.

Think positive! For planned activities, this is easy. It's not as easy when you're often on the road as a ‘troubleshooter’. After all, this is also part of the role of service employees, sometimes even their main job: if something is not working for the customer as it should, the service technician often is directly on site. This also applies to remote telephone support, for example. Hardly anyone is closer to the customer than the service staff. There is enormous potential for the company in both: in direct contact with the customers and the resulting knowledge of customer's needs.

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For You at a Glance

Recognizing Trends

Service staff can be excellent trend scouts. If they are alert in dealing with the customers, they can derive trends from the customer's needs and situations. This would make these employees ideal conversation partners for the product development and product marketing in their companies. Even corporate strategies can be derived from the experience service professionals have. However, decision-makers should also want to listen to the service staff in order to use this strategic potential.

Recognizing and Using Your Own Potential

The majority of service employees know their potential, use it or have at least used it. But often there is little feedback. The result: employees often do not share their experience and insights from customer contacts within their company.

Acknowledgment of these achievements will be an important motivation to exploit this valuable potential. Companies that recognize this create a service culture with team spirit to benefit all sides.

Customers of the Customer

This way, learnings from the experiences of the service employees can become an essential success factor for the company. Their in-depth experience on site allows the company to account for the needs of the customer's customers as well.

At the ISS, we call this service understanding ‘kangaroo leap': thinking about the customer's business far beyond the obvious needs.

Business Expertise

“That's why we focus on service-business competence in our ISS programs,” explains ISS founder Michael René Weber.

In addition to his technical know-how, the service employee therefore needs business expertise. Because: “The core objective is to create professional added value for everyone involved,” says Weber.

Situations as an Opportunity

So it's not just about making things work for the customer. The customer relationship is at stake as well.

Any service employee who keeps his nerves and knows how to master distressing situations with confidence will, as a representative of his company, strengthen customer loyalty in the long term. The alleged problem situation thus becomes an opportunity to confirm his company as a top service provider.

Scientifically proven (PhD Dr. Horstmann): The solution competence of the service provider increases customer loyalty sustainably. The result will be ‘fan-customers’. 

XL-Skills Package

If you want to win fans, you have to offer more than flawless products or services. You will need to understand customer needs – both rational and emotional. Ideally, these needs should be proactively identified, that is, before they are expressed. For example, the customer wants simple solutions to complex tasks or innovations that will help them to do better business in the future.

Someone who understands the business of their customer can develop individually fitting solutions and show their benefits. This includes a lot of what is called ‘change competence': the ability and willingness to adapt to changing and new situations.

Understanding Wishes

Successful communication between service staff and customer requires emotional competence. Because understanding the customer also means seeing wishes for attention, empathy and closeness. If that reminds you of the current buzz word ‘mindfulness’, you are right. Since a stable, sustainable relationship with the customer should be built up and managed in the long term. And for that it needs mindful dealings with each other – by the way also inside your own company.

Getting Back Up

But be honest, if you are in close contact with customers every day, you know that service employees have to be able to endure a lot – especially when it comes to troubleshooting.

There is another word for this ability often used nowadays: resilience. Some just say: “get up and carry on.” Anyone with this skill can celebrate great success with calm breath.