Take any personality profiling test and you’ll find that, somewhere in the report, it will identify whether you’re a task-focused person or a people person.  Most of us want to be seen as people-focused, but even if you’re a task-focused person, it doesn’t mean that you don’t want to help people.

Confession: I used to think I was more of a people person, but all the profiles I’ve taken say otherwise.  I’m a process and systems geek, I love a good step-by-step process to make life easy.

That doesn’t mean I don’t use my task-focus to help other people.  It just means I create structures, models and systems to make their lives easier.  I get lots of satisfaction from giving people something that will streamline their activities and save them time.

Process or Personal?

When my co-author, Peter Roper, and I were writing The Reputation Gap we discussed the difference between transactional and relationship driven businesses.  For instance, Amazon is totally transactional.  Everything is automated, even the feedback process.  It’s incredibly effective and mostly super-efficient.  They get 5 star reviews because it’s easy, reliable (mostly) and simple.

Working directly with your clients or customers is different though.  If you’re a consultant your value is embedded in your unique take on solving their problems – and your personal approach.

If you’re a bigger organisation, it’s the approach of every member of your staff when they interact with customers, whether that’s in person, on the phone or by email.  That’s why customer service training is important, for everyone, whether they’re front-of-house or in the back office.  It’s the only way to ensure your customers get a consistent service and that new team members understand how to present your ethos and learn ‘how we do things here’.

Even if you only have two people working for you – they need to know how you expect them to interact with clients, whether that’s answering the phone, what decisions they’re empowered to make, how they deal with cranky clients and so much more.

It doesn’t matter whether an individual is task-focused or a people person, a consistent and professional approach is essential to building strong relationships that ensure the company’s reputation is totally 5-star on every level.  And ‘professional’ doesn’t mean polite and distant – if the company ethos is friendly and approachable, then that’s how each member of staff should learn to present themselves.

I think that customer service should be retitled ‘Nurturing Relationships’!