Customer Service and Company Culture

I usually start my customer service training programs by asking participants to document individually what they believe Customer Service is. It always amazes me how diverse the answers are. This is because what is "good" service is so subjective. Managers often say to me "I just want them to treat others how they would like to be treated." This is often where the problems start.

Unfortunately we do not all have the same high expectations of how we would like to be treated. As an example, I could go into the same shop with you and consider buying the same products. We would go in one after another and each be served by the same person. A quick debrief outside afterwards will often uncover a big disparity in how we felt about the service. This is because we all have different expectations of what they service should be and how it should be delivered. What does all this have to do with company culture I hear you ask?

The heart of the matter is that when Managers and owners of businesses let their employees treat customers how they the employees would like to be treated the range of service delivery is too wide. Therefore, it is a "hit and miss" affair and the service a person gets hinges entirely on the individual that serves them. This is opposed to the great companies that create, support and monitor a collective culture of service delivery that oozes from the business and everyone that works there.

Now, no one is saying that creating a service culture in your business is easy. In fact, it is incredibly difficult. I believe that it is the difficult nature of this challenge for business that means it can get neglected altogether. While presenting to a Managing Director and his team one day I raised the concept of Raving Fan service where customers are so happy they cannot help but rave about you to others. He looked up at me and said "Joe, is there one level just below Raving Fans that we can aim for?" The truth of the matter was that he did not believe he was capable of getting his team to deliver this type of service.

Therefore, to create a "Raving Fan" type culture in your business it must genuinely flow from the top down and be supported 100% by Management. Some of the following points may get you thinking about how to achieve this admirable aim:

  • Hire people with the right attitude. You cannot train attitude.

  • Do you like the person serving your customers? If you don't like them then maybe your customers don't either.

  • Have service standards in place that you train and measure on a regular basis.

  • Inspect what you expect. Use mystery shoppers to find out what is actually going on.

  • Reward your staff publically for great service and good feedback received.   

  • Provide a good place to work with certain flexibilities that help create loyalty from your team.

  • Conduct quarterly or bi annual performance reviews. Your team need to know what is expected and how they are performing.

  • If someone is not the right fit and they do not serve your customer properly, don't put up with it. Help them find another job that is more suited to their skill set.

  • Lead by example. I see so many management teams that want a great service culture but do not deliver it themselves.

  • Seek customer feedback regularly.

  • See complaints as a gift and make the changes necessary to reduce complaints on an ongoing basis.

  • See service as a competitive advantage, because all else being equal it is often the sole defining feature of your business.

  • Last but not least, encourage your team to be creative in service delivery. If it is viable then let them do it. Company policies are often too restrictive and not conducive to fantastic customer service.

Good luck with implementing a service culture in your business. Contact Select Training if you would like some expert assistance and advice in this area.

Just remember if you shoot for the moon you will hit some stars so don't delay this project, it will cost you more than you know if you do.  

By Joe Doyle