“To give real service, you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is integrity and sincerity.” – Douglas Adams
The quote above complements beautifully the subject of this exposition – sincerity in customer service is not a ‘product’ or a tangible object, and yet without it customers would receive rote, apathetic, and insincere service from a company. Customers today are smart enough to perceive the good from the bad, and it hence differentiating between genuine and feigned sincerity would not be hard for them. Once customers believe that a company were being insincere with them, it would be impossible to keep them and even harder to attract more customers. Without customers, there would be no business. Sincerity in customer service would reflect the overall values and culture of a company – research proves that customers tend to associate with and stay with companies whose values match their own. They prefer companies they can like, and those that make them feel important. The premise of sincerity is respect and gratitude – two attributes that encourage customers to associate and remain with a company.
Sincerity in customer service goes beyond just a company’s interaction and dealings with its customers. It is about being honest and genuine with employees such that they remain motivated to work hard, produce optimum and top class work results, and care for the company’s customers in the same sincere manner. Sincerity in customer service is also about creating product and or services that reflect care, consideration, genuineness, and respect for customers. All these attributes would then mirror the culture and values of the company, enabling it to gain more business from existing customers, attracting fresh customers, and enhancing its market reputation in an unprecedented manner. Sincerity in customer service therefore, would be the catalyst and stimulator for business excellence and prosperity.
As mentioned, customers are extremely perceptive and can easily distinguish between real sincerity and feigned care. How many times, as a customer, would you have encountered service representatives who may try to sound sincere and empathetic, but it would have been obvious that they would much rather be laughing at you or letting out expletives. For example, the statement that is most piquing “Sorry for the inconvenience – I truly understand how you feel” – repeated in the same rote, scripted, and robotic manner, and lacking the slightest trace of truth. The worst part of this statement is that the service rep would be completely oblivious of what would be required make the problem right, and neither would the person be offering a real solution – being ‘sorry’ for the customer does not cut it – does not reflect sincerity in customer service. The fact of sincerity is that you cannot enslave it, script it, or even force it – and unless a company has a culture of authenticity and customer focus, its employees would never be able to display genuine sincerity in customer service or in their dealings with their co-workers.
The companies today, considered smart and successful and known for the service they provide to customers, did not get to be so by being fake and dishonest. Instead, they would have displayed concern, genuine care for employees, empathy, and sincerity in customer service consistently, in order to reach their current heights of success. Their success in the long-term would be guaranteed to if they continue being sincere and genuine.
The reason that most companies struggle with sincerity in customer service and in other realms of their business is that sincerity cannot be taught or ‘injected’ into people. This effectively means that when hiring, companies must hire people, especially for customer service, who would inherently be caring and empathetic, and genuinely concerned about creating robust and heartfelt connections with customers and their co-workers. Hiring wrong could potentially damage any of the existing customer relationships, and stop a company from forging new and strong ones. Sure, it is possible for a company to fake sincerity for a short time – but the effort put in to being something it is not would probably catch up sooner than thought possible. The same applies to employees – they may be able to feign sincerity in customer service, but soon their inherent personalities would resist and they would blow their cover of patience, care, empathy, and sincerity – leading to poor behaviour with customers and their co-workers. The fact is that customers can be difficult and unreasonable many times and without a genuine desire to understand them and remain calm, service representatives would be incapable of dealing with what they would deem as less than acceptable behaviour, and soon the experiences customers have with the company would become unpleasant.
The underlying fact is that insincerity and mendaciousness can kill customer relationships and loyalty extremely speedily. Customers today have far too many options and choices and do not need to put up with such treatment and behaviour, meaning that a company would end up losing customers and market goodwill, and find it extremely hard to up for the losses. How can a company have a positive, sincere, and emotional connection with its customers if its employees display insincerity and a lack of emotion for customer needs and problems? In order for a company to get genuine and good service staff and other employees, it would be imperative for the company’s top line to lead by example – the leadership of a company would define what sincerity in customer service and in other realms of business, would be. Once a company can define what they expect from their employees, the process of hiring would be a lot more clear and smooth. Employees can be trained for skills and knowledge – values such as sincerity and empathy, should already be part of their inherent nature.
Sincerity in customer service, and in all realms of business, is perhaps among the top virtues for any company to possess. In the realm of sales, for example, a genuine sales person would not need to try too hard to convince prospects about the benefits of a company and its products. The customized offer, unscripted conversation, focus on the customer’s needs, and providing holistic information to the customer, would be enough to enable customers to see the genuine intent. In the contact centres, sincerity would enable the service reps to deal patiently and calmly even with the toughest, frustrated, and angriest customers, ending with them diffusing the anger and tension faced by the customers. Research shows that irate customers, whose issues have been dealt with patiently and sincerely, have not only remained with a company, but also gone on to become one of the company’s loyal customers.
As mentioned, sincerity and empathy are impossible to fake, and only persons who are genuinely interested in their customers and have positive feelings towards their company, would be able to display it regularly even when it seems the hardest thing to do. Hiring good employees – ones with customer focus and a high level of sincerity is of extreme and prime importance for any company – it is through the employees that service is provided to customers. People with personalities suited to succeed in customer service would be the ones who display a high level of tolerance, patience, passion, commitment, empathy, and over all sincerity in all they do. With all the distractions that customers have today – channels of communication, a growing number of options, companies vying for their attention, and their own business and personal needs – it would hard to arrest their attention unless a company can constantly be worth noticing. Consistent sincerity in customer service would be one such stand out attribute that would not only gain customer attention but also keep it directed towards a company for a very long time. Where does your company stand in this respect?