Excellence in customer service from onsite security officers doesn’t just happen; it’s a managed process, based on hiring the right people with a real service orientation, supporting them with solid policies, continuous training, positive supervision, praise when they do well, and corrective coaching and feedback when they need to improve.
The following list of five key service-oriented behaviors comes from Dr. Karl Albrecht and his work with organizations to make customer service excellence—especially as it’s perceived by the customers on the receiving end—a managed event. Consider implementing this Code of Quality Service for your security officers.
1. Greet each employee immediately or when passing by.
Make eye contact with every person you encounter at your post or on your rounds, inside and outside the facility. Not only is it courteous and attentive; it allows you to verify that the person’s ID photo matches his or her face, to size up any potential security problems, and make an assessment as to the reason the person is on-site. This could include employees that you already know or don’t know, with or without an ID badge; visitors or vendors with or without access badges; potential trespassers, vandals, or transients; or ex-employees whom you know should not be on the property.
2. Give each employee you talk to your complete attention.
Security officers can have a tendency to multitask as they engage with people, especially at busy security stations in a lobby, reception area, or warehouse entrance. The key to good customer service and heads-up security is to talk when you need to talk or check the computer screen or camera system when you need to do that, but do not try to do both at the same time. Multitasking may seem efficient from your perspective, but it can be perceived as abrupt, rude, or dismissive to people on the receiving end.
3. Make the first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds count during the beginning and end of any interaction.
Focus on providing good service, however briefly that may be, at the beginning and at the end of any encounter with a person. People tend to best remember how they were treated at the start of any encounter and at the end of it. If things go well at both these critical points, the encounter is usually judged positively. We can still rescue an encounter that starts badly by ending it well, by apologizing for errors, validating the person’s concerns, and correcting any problems so they don’t happen again.
4. Play your part to be real, not phony or bored.
People can tell when service employees are going through the motions, often because they see or hear them say the same things to other people, over and over again. For security officers, this can happen as employees wait in line to enter the facility and hear the officer say, “Get your IDs ready. Next!” instead of greeting each person with a smile and a “Good morning!” Officers who answer their desk phones the same way every time can sound officious, bored, or robotic. Just as being overly friendly can seem fake, it’s important to adjust what you say or do on post, to act like a human and not like a machine.
5. Show your energy with sincere friendliness.
We can all tell when people with customer-contact jobs came to work grouchy, distracted, or even angry. Being in a public-contact job requires security officers to realize they are always “on stage” in front of the employees and vendors they see all shift long. They need to see their work as if they were acting in a play: same location, same efforts, day after day, but perhaps the person they encounter has no history with them, so first impressions matter. Officers need to modulate their tones and body language to always appear approachable, friendly, polite, and professional.