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Customer Service from the Inside Out


Studio Owner Article


Improve Staff and Customer Communication

Many big businesses have been trying for decades to import good service practices and graft them into their own work settings. They use training programs or other means to try an outside-in approach that seldom makes things any better and often only makes things worse. Truly customer-focused businesses deliver outstanding service from the inside out. The key is to get your employees coming up with their own ideas for delighting customers, and then letting positive feedback from happy customers motivate your workers to continue implementing more of their own innovative service strategies. This is a very powerful concept where employee motivation and customer satisfaction fuel each other in a chain reaction of contagious enthusiasm. That's easier said than done, of course, unless your business has an actual process in place to keep the chain reaction bubbling. Such a process doesn't have to be complicated.

These three guiding principles will help your employees generate their own ideas for improving the customer experience. Then step back and watch how quickly these service enhancements give your business a powerful competitive edge!

Exceed your customers expectations. You can create these "wow" factors. Set up a brainstorming session in which your faculty and staff break a typical customer transaction down into its individual steps, and then challenge the group to focus on each step, one at a time, and uncover ways to add a "wow" element of delight in each step. For teachers this will be easy since we interact with the students in many ways. It may be as simple as making sure that faculty members point out a students strength and not always their weaknesses. They'll probably come up with more ideas than you can implement, so afterwards, let them choose the best ones and help them implement these ideas successfully

 Make the customer feel important. It's just common sense, right? Maybe, but it's certainly not common practice. Here is one challenge we have taken on. Take a good look at all the signs in your studio. We did and found that there were way too many dont do this and dont do that kind of signs. Not very friendly and too many negative messages especially when we are trying to get new students to sign up. Find a new way to say anything you would like them to do without any of the usual do not phrases. During your employee brainstorming session, try to get your staff and faculty thinking about ways to make your customers feel welcome and appreciated during each step of their process at your studio. The ideas that emerge often cost nothing to implement (like smiling more or addressing customers by name). Yet these are the little things that can make such a big difference from the customers' point of view. A welcome mat outside your studio and a thank you will go a long, long way.

Tailor the Experience to Fit the Customer. When we first started our studio we wanted all of clients to be in the same mindset as we were. Being former professional dancers, our mindset was that this was serious business and you had to train like a professional. We were, after all, going to give them this kind of training whether they liked it or not! Well, it wasnt long before we realized that what we wanted really didnt matter at all. We recognized that we had to deal with different categories of customers and that each category could and would have unique expectations. We learned to survive and we had to abandon the one-size-fits-all mentality and look for ways to provide something special for each major customer category. Now our programs are geared for the serious student all the way to the recreational one. They all have value and if you want your studio to grow it will be imperative to make each group feel wanted and important. So, invite your brainstorming employees to list the major customer categories in your studio. Ask them to think of ways to "wow" each category individually. These are often the kinds of "personal touch" ideas that deliver the biggest impact. Even customers from different categories will be impressed with the efforts your business is making to improve the overall customer experience.

 Try applying these three principles in a brainstorming session with your own employees, and discover for yourself how creating a customer service culture from the inside out really can be as easy as one-two-three.


Steve Sirico

Steve Sirico

Steve is co-founder of Dance Teacher Web the number one online resource for dance teachers and studio owners worldwide.He is Co-Director of the very successful D'Valda and Sirico Dance and Music Center in Fairfield, CT for the past thirty plus years. His students have gone on to very successful careers in dance, music and theater. Originally from Norwalk, Ct, Steve excelled in track and football. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a sports scholarship. Deciding to switch and make his career in the world of dance, he studied initially with Mikki Williams and then in New York with Charles Kelley and Frank Hatchett. He has appeared in a number of theatre productions such as Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls and Mame in New York and around the country and in industrials and television shows. He was contracted to appear as the lead dancer in the Valerie Peters Special a television show filmed in Tampa, Florida. After meeting Angela DValda during the filming they formed the Adagio act of DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Author of his Jazz Dance syllabus and co-author of a Partner syllabus both of which are used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America, He has also co-authored two books one for dance teachers and one for studio owners in the "It's Your Turn" Book series. He is available for master classes, private business consulting and teacher training development

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