I just finished reading The Welcomer Edge by Richard Shapiro, and I got a lot out of it about customer service. We’ve all come to expect our experiences with call center reps, cashiers and customer service agents to be bad, based on the fact that many of them are. But think back to one or more times where you were pleasantly surprised by your interaction at a business. Maybe the cashier asked how your day was going (and meant it). Maybe when you called a customer service hotline, you actually got to speak to a friendly human being. Whatever your experience, I bet it stuck out in your mind.
Shapiro calls these people “Welcomers.” They’re the ones who make you want to return to that business. The ones that make you feel at home in a store. The people who make a business successful. He says that no matter what type of business you have, you can have Welcomers on your staff.
Robots are the converse to Welcomers. They’re the ones that do the bare minimum at their job, and don’t go out of their way to be helpful.
Here are some examples the difference between Robots and Welcomers.
- When asked on the phone what the store hours are:
- A Robot gives just the store hours.
- A Welcomer asks if she can help the customer with anything else.
- When a customer arrives in the checkout line:
- A Robot says, “Hellohowareyou.” She doesn’t mean it.
- A Welcomer remembers a repeat customer, perhaps even his name.
- When a customer calls with a problem on the customer service line:
- A Robot says insincerely, “I am sorry for your problem.” But then doesn’t fix it.
- A Welcomer goes out of his way to fix the issue.
How to Hire Welcomers
It can be hard to know in a job interview if a candidate is truly a Welcomer. Ask about past examples they have of how they have made a customer feel welcome. Create a scenario where you are the customer. See how the potential hire responds, and consider whether that is the experience you want your own customers to have.
Once you’ve hired staff, be it front-line cashiers, accountants or HR Managers, pay attention to how they interact with clients, and with other employees. Provide constant feedback on how they can improve customer service, and always lead by example.