I have a fairly big bee in my bonnet about Customer Service. It’s such a crucial part of the brand experience and so often overlooked or a last minute consideration. Which is why I was so impressed by the Games Makers at London 2012, who were spot on.
My hairdresser shares my interest in the subject – he is, after all, in the customer service business himself. He’s had terrible problems finding good juniors to work in his salon (washing hair, answering the phone, making clients coffee and so on). The students he has on day release from the local beauty colleges struggle with basic concepts like turning up to work on time and not yawning on the salon shop floor and I’m afraid that their customer facing skills are equally poor.
But the latest trainee is on holiday this week. So my hairdresser called on the son of a client who is just 15 and helped out at the salon as a Saturday job last year. When I watched this lad work during my hair appointment yesterday he worked harder (and smarter) and was more engaging, polite and enthusiastic than any of the trainees I’ve seen who are two years his senior. My hairdresser confided in me that the lad’s tips also outweigh what the trainees make by a considerable amount.
So what was making him deliver great customer service? It wasn’t training time, the trainees have clocked up more salon hours than him, plus a year of classroom study at hairdressing college. I get the feeling from (trying to) talk to them at previous appointments that the girls who went to beauty college had done so because they weren’t qualified for anything else or expected by their school or family to do much with their life. But this lad had come from a middle class family where manners must matter and is at a decent school that has obviously instilled politeness, respect and the ability to just-get-on-with-it.
What I really can’t understand is why a hairdressing college, which is churning out students into the customer service industry doesn’t seem able to give them the skills they need to make it? Even if the student’s families and/or schools fail to provide them with the tools to connect with customers and give great service, surely the college should be picking up the slack?
If LOCOG can train up 70,000 Games Makers in just a few months, I don’t see why colleges that are in the business of training customer service focused professionals can’t take learning from London 2012 and apply it to their own students.