CREATE A CUSTOMER SERVICE CULTURE
Start at the top and let it spread
A common characteristic of highly successful businesses is the ability to deliver excellent customer service. It builds lasting customer relationships and fosters valuable “word of mouth” advertising. If you’d like to create a stronger customer service culture at your company, here are five fundamentals to keep in mind:
- Make customer service a clear priority.
For true impact, the focus on customer service must be a strong one, beginning with upper management and spreading throughout your company. Employees should clearly understand that they work for the customer, no matter what their job title. Don’t rely solely on your salespeople or customer service representatives to keep your customers happy.
- Train your entire staff.
All employees contribute in some way to customer service, whether they typically have direct customer contact or not. This is why it makes sense to provide training for your entire staff. Remember, when customers have a problem, they don’t want to be shuffled between employees that are not trained to assist them. During training, use role-playing to help your staff prepare to handle even difficult customer service challenges.
- Empower employees with the tools they need.
Don’t have your customer service representatives say, “Those are the rules I have to follow; there’s nothing I can do about it.” There is always a way to satisfy a disgruntled customer. To do so, however, employees must be given the latitude to take the necessary action to provide exceptional service and resolve issues promptly. One major hotel chain established a yearly monetary fund that select employees could access at their discretion to right wrongs with customers.
- Recognize and reward employees for outstanding service.
Behavior that is rewarded will be repeated. To foster the growth of a customer service culture, take the time to recognize and reward employees who demonstrate excellent service behaviors. Acknowledge them at staff meetings. Put an article in the company newsletter. Give them extra time off, tickets to a special event, or a plaque at a recognition dinner. Seize every opportunity to celebrate and publicize the times when employees go the extra mile for your customers.
- Regularly ask customers what they think of your service.
The best way to find out if you’re satisfying customers is simply to ask them. Formal efforts could include customer surveys or comment/suggestion cards. Informally, get out and talk with your customers and your staff on a regular basis. Ideally, use a combination of both methods. After you gather this feedback, always communicate the results to your employees so they can use the information to improve their performance.