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Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Walking Dead have Taken Over Customer Service! The Antidote is Here

I don't mean to scare you, but the Zombie Apocalypse has arrived!

These are not the walkers and biters of horror fiction.  These are even more real and dangerous, as they are causing you sleepless nights and lost revenue in loyal and satisfied customers. They are the terrifying, "Disengagers."

How can you tell if an employee has been infected by this horrible disease?  Well, they are easy to spot in other businesses.  It is the cashier not smiling at the point of sale.  It is the sales person who has no enthusiasm for the product she is selling.  It is the server who forgets to refill your drink for 10 minutes after being asked twice.  It is the hospitality ride attendant who cares more about his conversation with a coworker and who is at Chili's on Facebook, than your safety as you board a roller coaster.

Disengagers can also be on the phone!  I kid you not! It is the contact center agent who's tone during a call sounds like they have already been bitten and can only grunt conversations.  It is the service professional, like a relocation coordinator, not returning your call.

How The Disease Spreads 

I am not versed how a bacterial disease spreads, but I can tell you this one is viral!

Employees arrive from new hire training, typically excited about their job and being a part of this interesting organization.  This is if you even have a decent orientation process (Read our Onboarding blog).  But regardless, the infection begins to take control as soon as they begin their regular job duties.

It is not through bites one becomes infected. It is through observation and talking to the infected, aka current employees.  The new hire begins to realize the high standards preached about in orientation are not the norm for daily operations.  She observe management hides in their offices, or does not keep tabs on her if they are At Home agents, afraid of confronting the infected.  He learns he can get away with not being his best at all times.  The tenured employees clock in, but they mentally check out.  They can show up unprepared with no enthusiasm, give mediocre performance, and that is acceptable.

The typical infection takes only weeks or months, depending on the organization.

The Gurus' Antidote 

1. Immediate Take Action Now Solution - As supervisors and managers, be very visible to the infected.  Get in their face! Great news: strong leaders are immune to the disease.

It is scary, but confront the infected by explaining, and more importantly DEMONSTRATING, what superior service looks like.   Leaders, you must hold the Disengagers accountable.  Your actions tell your team what are the acceptable behaviors on the job.  EQUALLY, your inaction speaks volumes what you will tolerate.  Zombies attack the weak!

2.  Long term Organization Solution -  Take Two Pills and Call Me in the Morning

Pill A. Put expectations in writing, or create short media clips what common interactions should look and sound like.   If the expectation is Be Nice (one of the pillars of The Gurus), get detailed what that means.  For example, does Be Nice mean to greet every customer, and if so how?   It is not difficult to make decent videos, and they tend to be the most helpful.  My caution here is keep the situations real and don't over polish it.  Many times I see the training situations created are too polarized and don't reflect real life for the Disengaers.  It makes it hard to connect you are talking about them.

Pill B. Give Disengagers the opportunity to cure themselves, of course with your critical care.  But if they decide to remain infected, they need to be removed.   If you do not remove them, they will continue to infect others.  This is a Lose/Lose situation for you and your organization, and possibly catastrophic.

Hope Has Arrived

Like a good Zombie movie, the survivors live on hope as they face the many challenges to finding a cure and a peaceful existence.  I am hopeful too that once solid expectations and processes are put in place, and constant informal performance monitoring occurs, our customer service zombie apocalypse will end.  This will take diligence and courage.  Be strong!


The Customer Service Gurus offers an engaging and customized training defending your organization against customer service zombies.  Call 407-495-0846 or email for details.


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