What is Silent Service and How Can I Start Using it Today?

By on April 15, 2015 | Topics: Culture, Employee Training, Quality Control

Successful companies know that making customers happy is the number one thing you can do to generate business in the long term.

Keeping prices fair and quality high are two of the best ways to keep customers satisfied each time they walk out the door. For most companies, this means gathering feedback and actively listening to what customers are saying about you and the experience you deliver. But this system has one glaring flaw: speed.

Customers give feedback only after they’ve had the chance to experience your store. While a bad experience can turn into extremely valuable insight you can use to make improvements, it doesn’t change the fact that someone had a bad time inside your store. Waiting for feedback, compiling that information, planning an improvement strategy and executing that plan takes time.

Today, companies are speeding up that process with a new way to gauge customers: silent service.

What is silent service?

Silent service is the concept of serving your customers without being asked. This means being constantly aware of your surroundings and reading the subtle signals that indicate how a customer is feeling at any given time.

When done effectively, it eliminates the need for you customers to ask for what they need in the first place––an easy way to generate appreciation and loyalty by setting yourself apart from competitors.

How to start using these techniques today

This new approach to customer service requires staff to be observant and active with customers––which may or may not be a big change from your current customer service model.

If you already have a “hands-on” approach to service, these first few tips might not seem revolutionary. If that’s the case, way to go! Your teams are probably ready to start taking the next steps toward adopting a more comprehensive silent service approach.

If you’ve been pretty “hands-off” with customers up until now, however, these may be newer to you.

Let’s start with three key signs that indicate it’s time for staff to step in without being asked:

In the store:

  1. If a customer is walking around with a visibly puzzled or frustrated expression, politely approach him or her and ask what you can help him find.
  2. If a customer appears to be overloaded with items they’re carrying in-hand, step in and offer to take the items up to the front counter for them. More often than not, this guarantees they’ll not only end up leaving with those items, they’ll also use their newfound freedom to find a few more things before heading to check out.
  3. If you’re a clothing retailer and notice a customer struggling to find a fit with a particular item, offer to assist in grabbing different sizes for them as they’re trying things on. This makes it easier to find what they want while saving the time and energy it takes to get dressed and find another size themselves.

In the restaurant:

  1. If a table just received its food, but guests immediately look around the table for something, step in and ask if they are missing anything or weren’t given part of the meal they ordered.
  2. If you see a child who is getting restless in his or her seat or high chair, have something on hand to keep her occupied and entertained. Simple puzzles, crayons, and coloring materials area can be all it takes to prevent children from getting agitated and loud––something other guests usually want to escape from as soon as possible.
  3. If a guest is walking around the restaurant looking for something, they probably have no idea where the restroom is. Step in and ask if they’re looking for something.

Using silent service wisely

There are many other situations that require this type of service, and it’s up to you to come up with the best solution, whether you’re a restaurant, grocery store, hotel, etc. No matter what your business is, if you’re doing it right, your customers will notice.

For some people, the approach comes naturally, but for others it can be uncomfortable, especially if you’ve had a more passive approach to customer service up until now.

If not done correctly, a silent strategy towards service can come off a bit awkward and at worse, invasive. Don’t over do it. Apply these active strategies only when it’s clear the customer is actually in need of something a team member can provide. So, if you feel like the time isn’t right to step in, keep it in mind, but don’t hover.

By going with your gut and being able to read your customers you can reach a level of customer service above and beyond what people expect – and it’s the unexpected little things that truly make a brand experience the best that it can be.

Approaching customer service silently is just one of many ways to adjust your customer service strategy to give customers the high-quality experience they’ve come to expect each time they walk through your door. Effective management is key to making these service strategies work each and every day. Check out our free eBook to learn more about managing each of your locations efficiently:

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