Want to know a secret about amazing your customers? Here it is: Don’t start by focusing on the customers.
To consistently deliver high-quality customer service that will give your business a competitive edge and keep customers coming back, you must first amaze your employees.
Amazing your employees—by showing them the same type of treatment you want to be present for the customer—will set the stage for operationalizing a customer-service culture. If you think about it, it makes sense that employees who are treated well by management would be better equipped and much more motivated to deliver a high-quality customer experience.
Employees, or internal customers, must be treated with respect and consideration if they are expected to show that same respect, along with responsive, helpful service, to the company’s outside customers. Two things result from owners and managers treating employees in this manner: employees have a role model for the customer service they are to provide and are motivated to provide that amazing service for the company that is so good to them.
There are a few other basic points to keep in mind as well as you undertake the process of operationalizing an employee-centric customer service culture:
- Amazing customer service, by my definition, does not require an over-the-top wow experience for every customer. What it does require, however, is offering service that is above average—even if just a little bit—every time. Do this and customers will bypass the competition to come to your door; this is true for any type of business, in any market, even any economy.
- It’s the consistency that is the key. Employees need to be in alignment with a commitment to consistently provide an above-average level of customer service. When they understand what it takes to amaze customers, they will realize that it is within their reach; the high level of service will first instill confidence in customers and ultimately lead to loyalty.
- Hiring and training are essential considerations in building a customer service culture.
- Don’t leave customer service to chance. The best companies—the ones recognized as offering a higher level of customer service—analyze their day-to-day operations and make sure they are providing amazing (above-average) service in every interaction a customer may have with the company. These “touch points” might include face-to-face interactions, phone calls, email and more. As technology advances, it’s an ongoing process—today’s “touch points” have grown to include social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
- At times, special situations will allow for you to provide a customer with that over-the-top experience. When the opportunity to impress a customer with a wow moment presents itself, by all means take advantage of it. These often begin as “uh-oh” moments—customer complaints or problems—but the right response can impress a customer even more than your day-to-day variety of amazing service. Handled well, they can lead to stronger customer relationships and loyalty.
What is the reason your company exists? It’s not just to make money.
That is a very important goal in business, but without customers, it’s an unattainable goal. The reason a company exists is to have customers. All the employees of a business must understand the function of the business is to serve the customer. If every employee is committed to providing a high level of service for every customer, every time, what will happen? Customers will leave with a positive feeling they will remember the next time they are in the market for your product or service. And many will share their satisfaction with their friends and colleagues, so it’s easy to see how a focus on service helps your company keep customers and gain new ones. Keep the focus on service and the money will follow naturally.
So whether you are just beginning to build a service-focused culture or working to maintain a high level of employee and customer relations, remember consistency goes a long way. Wow the customer (internal or external) when the opportunity arises, but keep your focus on maintaining an above-average experience in all interactions.
Hire the right people, then add specific training in both the technical aspects of the job and your company’s customer service expectations. Respect your employees and remember this: The customer will feel what is happening inside an organization on the outside. To win in business, build a base of happy employees and then trust them to deliver amazing service to every customer, every time.