Last weekend, I was visiting a nearby electronics store.  One of the salespersons tried to strike a conversation with a young guy to help him find what he was looking for. However, the guy was indifferent and kept moving around, even avoiding eye contact with the sales rep. It seemed like he had done enough homework to figure things out on his own and didn’t really bother about the presence of customer service.

There were times when we would approach the sales rep before buying anything, ask the ‘server’ for his recommendation at a restaurant, and roll the car window down to ask for directions.

Thanks to the Amazons, Zomatoes, and Google Maps, everyone seems to prefer ‘self served choice’ over ‘friendly service’. With the advent of the digital age, the human element of core customer service is rapidly being replaced with technology and recommendation engines. You learn the nuances of customer service, only when you become those customers! With the mindset of being self served, and with relatively limited exposure to traditional ‘in person’ customer service, would this young generation be able to offer high levels of customer service, if hired for those roles?

My team follows this holy grail built by Kate Nasser while configuring any assessments around customer centricity for our clients. Here’s how well she points out things that naturally great customer service staff do:

  1. They accept the absurdity of life without using sarcasm towards the customer.
  2. They easily adapt; their need for control is low.
  3. They initiate both caring and action. This is essential for dealing with upset customers.
  4. They know that they can’t change others — only their own perspectives and reactions. More importantly, they don’t want to change others.
  5. They are self-confident and not arrogant. They are comfortable with customers questioning their authority and influence appropriately.
  6. They have a thick skin and a warm heart. This makes them resilient and prevents them from burning out.

At Jombay, we have done a lot of work on customer centricity assessments for cabin crew of a leading Airlines company. The training needs have been identified at the granular behavior levels. We received testimonials from multiple trainers at their learning academy that a focused training effort has significantly helped and the overall customer service has improved. Moreover, the cabin crew themselves appreciated how the whole exercise (& the reports) has helped them develop on the most important aspect of the hospitality industry!

Going forward, customer centricity as a trait is going to be hard to find in people. And this will indeed be on top of the training needs list for any organization.

What do you think?